Oct 11, 2017

Guest Author Mike Garzillo on Gothic romances

Gothic romances have a long history of popularity followed by dismissal. Every October, ghost stories haunt theaters but only because of Halloween. Meanwhile, the paperback Gothics of the 1960s and 1970s remain known for their retro covers more than their stories. Gothic romances have an enviable history and deserve more respect. That’s why October should be Gothic romance month. 

They have every element that makes romances great plus supernatural peril, mysterious attractions, brooding heroes and the empowered heroines that define the genre. Not the modern version of paranormals, shape shifters or dragons; I mean humans interacting with ghosts in a Gothic mansion. The sex is puritan by today’s standards, and the hero always finds the heroine. It’s all he’s usually good for. 

Strong women drive the pacing of Gothic romances and maintain the willing suspension of disbelief because beautiful, smart young women can be invincible. Anything is possible. Romance readers who have said they don’t like Gothics blame the simplicity. That wouldn’t be true if they read The Picture of Dorian Gray or Wuthering Heights.

My editor believes stories are rarely criticized for being too much. They disappoint when they’re too little. Gothic romances showcase grand perils including the conflict between good and evil, especially among doomed couples. The setting is a powerful character in Gothics because it’s usually good and evil. For example, I lived in San Francisco for fifteen years. It’s a great setting for Gothic romances because it’s believable, which is the opportunity for heightened drama. Faint voices in dark alleys and whispers in the fog are Gothic dialog.
October celebrates ghost stories. Maybe it should be Write A Gothic Romance Month, especially if you live in, near, or love San Francisco. It’s an inspiring setting for any story but perfect for Gothics. First, buy a used 1960s or 1970s Gothic romance paperback and read it in public. It will remind you of why you fell in love with romances and may inspire you to write a Gothic romance set in San Francisco.     

Mike Garzillo secretly read Gothic romances in junior high, the way his friends stashed Playboy. He still reads Gothic romance paperbacks in public more than anyone he knows.

Visit his website at www.sfgothicromance.com for more information on Emerald Eyes, releasing Fall 2018

Sep 15, 2017

Celia Juliano on Sexy Billionaire Romances

Confession: I haven’t read a lot of billionaire romance (yet). My typical choices are millionaire businessmen or successful academics, working-class men, ballplayers, or a paranormal hottie—not billionaires. But there’s something about a sexy European billionaire who thinks he doesn’t need love in his life, who meets the one woman he can’t get out of his mind, one he’d do almost anything to have. And, being a billionaire, he can do almost anything. Yet the heroine doesn’t want just anything—nothing material (though those designer clothes, magical nights out, and private jets and limos—and islands—are fun). She wants a man who she can love and respect—and know his mind, his heart, his soul. His essence (I don’t mean that other essence. Yes, she wants that essence too, but let’s talk about the emotions, not the sexy times—though those are fun too!). But our billionaire hero doesn’t want to bare his soul—he controls, takes charge, deals ruthlessly, gets what he wants. She is what he wants most, but she desires what he wants least to give. For me, that’s the fun of the billionaire romance: watching the dance between the billionaire and his love, the steps of a pas de deux, where both hero and heroine explore what makes each unique, and perfect together. Billionaire romance feels like pure escapism, but that dance speaks to a truth about life and love: that love demands we give of ourselves, and we find ourselves—and our love—in return.

What do you enjoy about billionaire romance? Do you have any favorites you recommend?

Celia Juliano learned to read at the age of two, beginning her lifetime love of books, especially those with a happily ever after. She grew up believing in fairies, angels, Santa Claus, and the true love of an Italian prince. Now she writes delicious, heartfelt romance, and still believes in magic and love. A native Californian, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Billionaire’s Vow: A Novella (Romano Conglomerate, Book One)
Kat Argyris needs to let go. She’s flying to Greece to scatter her father’s ashes, try to resurrect her career, and forget sexy, reclusive Greek billionaire Stavros Georgatos. But Stavros won’t leave her alone, and when her day goes horribly awry, he rescues her and brings her to his island. Stavros has vowed to make her his wife, but can he convince her, and can he realize in time that love is the only way?

Buy on Amazon
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Aug 5, 2017

The Three Stories of the Romance Genre by Patty Blount

This month I’ve invited Patty Blount here after reading an insightful post on the Published Author Network of RWA. Not only is this great advice for anyone writing romance, and it also touches on a personal peeve of mine: the 30 year out of date term “bodice ripper”. 

Writing romance is among the most challenging genres because you're actually writing THREE stories His and Hers (or His and His, Hers and Hers, depending on your sub-genre).

Two main characters. Two trajectories and two distinct story arcs. 
The third story is their ROMANCE itself. 

It really fries my tomatoes when industry critics dismiss romance as bodice-rippers and lady porn and so on because that fact is often missed. Every romance novel has THREE stories that don't just intersect...they become enmeshed, melded, just as relationships do.

We start off with one character immersed in his world, his problems, his wounds. Then, we cut to the other character and get the same experience.

What makes romance so unique and so powerful, in my opinion, is how we authors craft these two people so that the story isn't simply "Person Meets Love Interest."

It's Person Struggling Through Life
Meets Another Person Struggling Through Life
and Learns How To Love This Person Despite/Because of Those Struggles
So That Their Ending Feels Like a Beginning 

That's the Third story... the love that develops between these two characters has to be real and be forever and that kind of love becomes its own story.  That's not just good writing, it's magic.
Patty Blount is the author of contemporary “Internet Issues” novels for teens including the 2015 Firecracker Award winning SOME BOYS, which is also a Bookseller’s Best and RITA awards finalist! A new novel, THE WAY IT HURTS, drops on August 1, 2017.   

Music is Elijah’s life. His band plays loud and hard, and he’ll do anything to get them a big break. He needs that success to help take care of his sister, who has special needs. So he’d rather be practicing when his friends drag him to a musical in the next town…until the lead starts to sing.

Kristen dreams of a career on stage like her grandmother’s. She knows she needs an edge to get into a competitive theater program — and being the star in her high school musical isn’t going to cut it. The applause and the attention only encourage her to work harder.

Elijah can’t take his eyes off of Kristen. He captures her in costume and posts the image and a provocative comment online. It goes viral, casting them both in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they could ever have imagined when the threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.

Jul 15, 2017

Jennifer Skully on Office Romance

Thanks so much to Ava Bradley for having me on the blog. I adore her books and have loved every one.

I’ve written over 50 books, and by far the majority of them are office romances. My latest series writing as Jennifer Skully is called After Office Hours. And as Jasmine Haynes, I write the West Coast series, which is my erotic version of what can happen in the office! Office Romance seems pretty self-explanatory to me. Wikipedia defines it as when two people who work for the same organization develop a mutual attraction. But for books, I’d add in there that it can be two people who work for different organizations. And it can be any type of organization: a manufacturing company, an investment firm, a law office, even politics. Anywhere you’ve got an office, you’ve got the potential for office romance.

There are lots of popular tropes in office romance. Office romance with the boss. Secret office romance. Or two people competing for the same job. Or working on the same project. The list of situations is endless. If you’ve ever worked in an office, you know exactly what I mean.

So what makes Office Romance popular? First of all, I believe it’s because so many of us work in an office. It’s a place we all know. And we’ve all heard the gossip about so-and-so sneaking off with so-and-so. Technically we’re not supposed to finding romance at the office, so a lot of times these relationships start out being secretive. There’s just something so sexy about that, isn’t there? Of course, there’s also something extremely sexy about dating the boss. Because that’s really a big no-no. But looking at the highest rated Office Romances on Goodreads, many of them are “dating the boss” romances. And most of these romances are also about people in a position of power. Power is sexy. Power makes for lots of conflict.

I started writing Office Romance because that’s where I worked. And they do say write what you know. It was a background I was familiar with, I could make it seem real to people. I was an accountant before I was a writer, so most of my characters are CFOs or controllers or even CEOs. I generally like to write about executives. I create a company, people it with my executive team, and set them up with very unlikely love interests. Yes, I love the boss and employee trope, because that’s the most taboo in the office. But I like pairing off my executives, too. Or maybe it’s an affair with a client or a customer.

I hope you’ll check out my take on the office romance. The latest book in the After Office Hours series, Pretty in Pink Slip, Book 3, is out July 14.

Anything can happen After Office Hours…

She's a single mother. He's a brilliant CEO. And she's got something he wants. Badly.

Ivy Elliot dreams of being a stay-at-home mom, but in a career-oriented world, she's reluctant to admit it. Besides, she's a single mother and quitting work to homeschool her daughter just isn't an option. Asking for a raise, however, is an alternative. But when she works up the nerve, disaster strikes. Instead of a raise, Ivy gets the dreaded pink slip.

But Ivy is also handed the key to making her dream come true. If she sues the company for the terrible names her boss Rhonda called her when she asked for a raise... she might very well get millions.

Brett Baker has worked his whole life to be able to take a company of his own into the Fortune 500, and he's sitting on the cusp of his dream. Until Ivy could potentially ruin all his plans by suing the company for discrimination and harassment. He's got to use every weapon in his arsenal to make sure she doesn't do that.

Even if it means falling in love with her.

She gave her heart and soul to the wrong man once. Can she ever trust enough to give it all again?


NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jasmine Haynes loves giving readers sexy, classy stories about real issues like growing older, facing divorce, starting over. Her books have passion, heart, humor, and happy endings, even if they aren't always traditional. She also writes gritty, paranormal mysteries in the Max Starr series. As Jennifer Skully, she writes laugh-out-loud romantic comedies laced with a heavy dose of mystery. Look for Jennifer’s new series written with Bella Andre, starting with Breathless in Love, The Maverick Billionaires Book 1. Having penned stories since the moment she learned to write, Jasmine now lives in the Redwoods of Northern California with her husband and their adorable nuisance of a cat who totally runs the household. Join her newsletter for updates on contests, new releases, and freebies by going to jasminehaynes.com.


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