For the love of romance fans

I’m sitting down yet again to write about the need for editors and how they are worth their weight in gold and instead, I find myself drawn to romance. I can’t stop thinking about it.

It kinda goes like this:

This last weekend was the Virginia Festival of the Book. I’ve gone every year since I’ve moved back to Virginia. Some years have been better than others. This year was definitely packed. I met some great authors including Jenny Gardiner, who has the type of humor that the cynical part of me can really appreciate. I got crushed in crowds and rained on. It wasn’t entirely pleasant and to be honest, I wasn’t really feeling the vibe. I wanted to, but it just seemed pointless right up until I went to the romance panel at Barnes and Noble.

I have a confession to make. I have a soft place in my heart for romance novels, the steamier the better. I don’t know if it was from the sneaky reading of all those large-print “bodice rippers” that my great grandmother used to have stashed by the side of her bed at the age of 9 or being in college stuck up on a lifeguard’s chair with nothing better to do (no one drowned on my watch). I have read hundreds of so-horrible-they’re-good trashy romances.

But and this is a big but, I haven’t read one in years. Why? Because I didn’t want to be associated with Jackie Collins or the saucy Barbara Cartland or any other old lady reclining on a chaise longue with a yippy little dog, soft rose filter, and a box of chocolates. I know, how judgmental right? Sorry, it happens, I can’t help it.

Anyhow, so it was my dirty little secret that I sneaked off to the romance panel on Saturday at B&N. I was curious, in a car crash sort of way. After all, I knew a little something of sexual tension and libido as I was dealing with my own characters’ love situation in Watcher. And I’m not afraid to say that I was hoping to get the inside track on writing, ahem, sex scenes. (It’s kinda hard to write a steamy scene knowing that your father is reading your book thinking, “Oh God, my daughter is talking about sex.” You think I’m joking. My dad called me every day that he read through Watcher and reminded me every single time about that.)

So off to B&N I went. I almost didn’t go because I was tired and over it by that point, but I went anyhow. And you know what? I’m super glad I did because


Seriously. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself. Firstly, it was crammed full of people and I mean every chair was taken and when I say people, I really should say women cause let’s face it, that was like 99.9% of the audience. Secondly, their excitement was infectious like a case of herpes. They chattered, squealed, whispered amongst themselves, carried their well-worn copies of this or that romance like a badge of honor. And when the authors were introduced you would’ve thought I was at a rock n’ roll show. They whistled and clapped and even rushed the table with stuffed animals for their favorite authors.

I was gobsmacked.

And then I thought to myself, “Holy crap! These authors are rock stars to these ladies. I have entered the realm of the superfan, but I’m not at a MUSE show, I’m in the middle of Barnes and Noble. WTF?”

I have to tell you right here and now, it was surreal. They knew all the characters names, followed their stories religiously, asked questions like “Will X marry Y in the end?” and all that crazy stuff that you read about when a moviestar gets a stalker. I mean no disrespect when I say this. This was more like cute and cuddly stalker not like bat-shit-crazy-going-through-your-trash-stalker. It was fabulous. I was truly shocked and excited by their loyalty and power and their unabashed love of their genre. It made me want fans just like that. Where were my pink teddy bears and who was asking me compelling questions like was Adam truly that sexy? Or where does Poesy get her hair cut?

So hat’s off to all you romance writers out there. I may soon be joining you.