Posted On January 11, 2010 by Print This Post

Contemporary Romance – Hot? Not?

Welcome to the first of a yearlong series of lectures on different romance fiction sub-genres. One Monday each month, Crafting Your Career will be dedicated to this topic, and today’s post focuses on the contemporary romance. Those of us who’ve been around know sub-genres wax and wane in popularity, so which “w” word applies to contemporaries in the current publishing climate?

Today, New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips and literary agent Laura Bradford are here to share their insights and predictions. RU crew, hang tough as this is a long post, but 100% worth the time to read! Carly and Laura will also check in throughout the day to answer questions.

NOTE: This interview was primarily directed toward the single title—rather than category—romance, but feel free to ask category related questions in the comment section.

Welcome, Carly and Laura!

Kelsey: Carly and Laura, What are your opinions of the state of contemporary romance today, especially single titles?

Carly: I admit to being biased in my interest on the state of contemporary romance today. I answer with two hats, as an author who writes contemporary romance and as a reader who loves reading contemporary romance. In order to answer the question, I think you need to define contemporary romance – for my purposes, contemporary romance is a story set in the present day and the characters and their journey is what drives the story and the hero and heroine towards their happily ever after. There are other sub-genres within contemporary romance that really are genres in their own right, such as romantic suspense. This is not the same as the suspense in a contemporary romance that I write – where the “light” suspense plot helps move the characters along, but the thrust of the story is the romance and the characters and their emotional journey.

So what is the state of contemporary romance today? I believe contemporary romance is on the cusp of becoming big again. For the last few years, paranormal has taken over the larger market share and as a result, contemporary romance has struggled for audience in comparison. As a reader, over the last year when I would go into a bookstore and look for a good, light contemporary romance, they were few and far between. Yes, the staple authors of the genre put out their contemporary romance novels, but for fast readers like me, there weren’t enough contemporaries to sustain my appetite.  With the advent of “soft romance”, character driven stories in smaller town settings (Robin Carr, Susan Wiggs, Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery), we are seeing a rebirth and regrowth of contemporary romance.

I’ve always preferred to write (and read) light contemporary stories – in this category I also include Rachel Gibson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Toni Blake, Susan Andersen, Jill Shalvis, Kate Angell, Lori Wilde, among many talented others who forgive me for not mentioning. In other words, the staple authors are continuing to do what they do and do it well. And I believe finally the market will begin to open up for newer authors again, just not at the rate which we saw a few years ago.

Laura: I have been finding them pretty consistently difficult to sell for some time.  I think when paranormal boomed, contemporary romance got squeezed out a bit and it hasn’t completely cycled back around yet.  Contemporary romance isn’t at all an unpopular genre, but there are a number of established contemporary authors that have been dominating for a while (Rachel Gibson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts and others).  So while paranormal has been the “It” romance genre lately and the (theoretically) reduced contemporary romance readership has been satisfied by the established contemporary romance authors already being published, there just hasn’t been as much room for new contemporary romance authors to enter the field.  Of course, what editors and publishers are looking to acquire more of is (again, in theory) what the major accounts buyers tell them is selling the best.  If book buyers are spending their money on genres other than contemporary, then it makes perfect sense that editors might be more resistant to acquiring more contemporary.  However, there are a few newer contemporary authors that have made the cut (like Victoria Dahl) and hopefully they will bring about some renewed interest in the genre.  I have been a consistent fan of contemporary myself and I have continued to pitch it throughout this “low period”.  If we don’t continue to try with contemporary, there won’t be anything new out there to buy in a couple of years.  Things could be really different in a couple of years. 

Kelsey: Carly and Laura, how do you think this sub-genre has changed in the last five years?

Carly: Five years ago, contemporary romance went through a boom period along with the rest of the country, where everything just seemed easier, more prosperous even. Contemporaries were all over, everyone wanted to write one, and the opportunities seemed to exist in all publishing houses for talented writers to break in. That’s not to say getting published was easy, but there were more slots for contemporaries. When the paranormal craze caught on, it changed how readers think when they read. As a result of world-building and new types of characters and plots, readers learned to be more demanding of content and complexity in books and the straight contemporary suffered as a result. This is just my opinion, mind you. But what went along with this change was also that by virtue of more paranormals being published, there was less room for other genres. Again, the straight contemporary suffered as a result. When there is the new “hot” thing, everyone tries to jump on the bandwagon and there becomes a glut in the marketplace as we saw with paranormal romances. But eventually, the cream rises to the top, the great books and authors stand out and withstand the test of time, and others fall away. Sometimes talented authors suffer as a result of a bad market. I know plenty of talented contemporary writers whose sales did not match their talent. And that’s a shame because it resulted in the lack of contemporaries I spoke about earlier.

Fast forward a few years. Paranormal romance has settled, here to stay, but publishing houses are being more selective in how they publish them. As a result, other genres, such as historicals, are becoming stronger again. We’ve heard a lot about the “death” of the contemporary romance, but I think reports have been greatly exaggerated. Peaks and valleys are normal in any business and I hope contemporary romance will emerge stronger than ever  – but the form it shows up in may differ, just as covers differ.  Remember the years of the cartoon covers when contemporary romance was booming, to the straight hero on the covers, to something a little different going forward.

I have always maintained contemporary romance is the backbone of all romances and won’t go away forever. In fact, contemporary romance is due to see a resurgence.  As I mentioned above, the straight contemporary romance books may segue into more “soft” romance books, valuing community, emotion, and character above all else, but character driven, contemporary romance stories will flourish.

Laura:  I think that everything having to do with the romance subgenres is cyclical.  For a long time, in the 90’s, I think historical romance was very much the dominant subgenre.  Then romantic suspense and romantic comedy became hugely popular.  Remember when Julie Garwood stopped writing historicals and started writing romantic suspense? Remember when Avon first started doing those “cartoon”-style contemporary covers?  They were a huge hit and that is what everyone started buying.  Of course today, saying the words romantic comedy is like the kiss of death…even if there are authors out there successfully writing it.  If I have to refer to it now, I call it humorous contemporary romance.  More recently paranormal romance boomed and that boom is really still happening, I think.  Contemporary romance has not really gone away in the meantime…if you look at the shelves, there is still plenty of it out there to buy.  Are there fewer contemporaries on the shelves than there were 5 years ago?  Yes.

Kelsey: Carly, why do you write contemporaries, and do you write in other sub-genres?

Carly: I write contemporaries because I love them. As a reader, when I walk into a bookstore, that’s what I want to pick up and read. As a result, writing them for me is pure joy. I lean towards a mix of the romantic light fun contemporaries as well as hitting on small town stories with eclectic secondary character elements. Occasionally I’ll also set a story in New York City for a more sophisticated feel. For me, it’s all about “write what you know and love” and that’s what I do.

I don’t write in other subgenres. I like to say that I have a very linear mind – that’s how I think, in straight lines – and complicated plot as in romantic suspense, or alternate worlds as in paranormal – might make my brain explode. Never say never, but I say do what you do and do it the best you can, learning and growing along the way. So right now, I’m loving and living contemporary romance.

Kelsey: What do readers tell you they love about your contemporaries?

Carly: A lot of readers tell me they love my characters, the stories and the journeys they take. Most comments are about character and I believe that character is at the heart of any good fiction book but most especially contemporary romance. My first editor, Brenda Chin at Harlequin, gave me valuable advice that I have tried to apply to every story I write: Readers have to be able to relate to your heroine and fall in love with your hero. Characters must have flaws that the reader understands but in some ways the characters should be larger than life, too. The reader should feel they are transported to another place, living that character’s life and feeling what they feel. So when readers tell me they enjoy my characters, that’s the greatest compliment I can get.

Kelsey: Carly, do you have any insight on “contemporary friendly” agents and publishers?

Carly: Good question! I would hope that a good story would trump anything else and an editor or agent who is looking for talent will find it no matter what they think their preference might be. That said, nothing replaces research. You don’t want to submit a contemporary to a publisher only interested in historical. So although I don’t have specific editors or agents to mention, I can suggest a game plan. In light of the ever changing market, I would say to people looking to break in, to research the most recent books on the shelves, see which publishers are putting out consistent contemporary romances.  This shows they have a commitment to the genre. The same with agents. Ask other contemporary romance writers who represents them to get a feel for who is contemporary friendly.

Kelsey: Carly and Laura, what advice do you have for writers who want to break into this sub-genre? Any trends writers should avoid or embrace?

Carly: When I “broke into” romance, the one thing everyone told me at every conference I attended was “athletes don’t sell.” Well, the one thing I wanted to write was an athlete. So I waited until I was established and pitched “The Hot Zone Series” (the first of which, HOT STUFF, is repackaged and in stores now) and it sold. I loved writing those stories because they were stories of my heart. So the answer is, don’t write to the trends, write from your heart. But don’t place a brick wall in your way, either. I may not have any specific trends to say writers should avoid because frankly I haven’t heard of any no-no’s or taboos lately. But if you do hear of one, don’t deliberately write one to buck authority and prove people wrong, because you’re wasting time working on something you’ve clearly been warned will not sell. Unless that story is embedded in your heart and your mind and you can’t not write it. Then you should write it because at the end of the day, it will probably be the best story of your life and with a little luck, some smart editor or agent will realize that and if not, you move on to the next story and keep on writing!

Laura:  I don’t really know that it is good to advocate following a trend…my feelings are that an author’s voice is an author’s voice and if she has “it” with contemporary romance than that is what she should write.  Maybe the timing isn’t fabulous for an author’s particular style…it happens…and the author does have a few options that might help set her apart from the pack.  First off, I would never tell an author to write anything that is contrary to her vision for the story, but I think a smart author looks at all the angles and tries to find an edge.  I have found that contemporaries with secondary hooks are easier to find homes for than those that do not have secondary hooks.  By secondary hook, I mean a contemporary romance that also has a dominant suspense angle.  Or a contemporary that is really, really sexy and explicit (though not necessarily erotic).  The market for very, very hot romances is really good right now across all the subgenres.  I have also heard from several editors that they are looking for that kind of contemporary romance-women’s fiction hybrid ala Debbie Macomber, Sheryll Woods, Lisa Kleypas.   

Kelsey: Carly, what do you think it takes to be a NYT bestselling author of contemporary romances?

Carly: The same thing it takes to be an aspiring writer of contemporary romance: persistence, dedication, and the willingness to dig in for the long haul no matter what obstacles present themselves on your journey. I’m the same person today that I was when THE BACHELOR was picked by Kelly Ripa for her Reading with Ripa Bookclub and I hit the New York Times for the first time. I’m just a lot more battle scarred and jaded. Treat every release as if it were your first one. It’s your baby and no one – and I do mean NO ONE – loves it as much as you do – so do whatever you think is necessary to make it succeed, which includes playing nice with others. Success won’t always happen. You won’t always achieve your goals. In fact, I’d venture a guess that more times than not you’ll be disappointed, but then something will happen that makes it all worthwhile. When I was unpublished, an editor rejecting my book but saying, “I’d like to read something else” was cause for celebration. Now that I’m a NYT bestselling author, there’s just more pressure to succeed, to hit higher on lists, sell more books, etc. Too many times I forget to take a deep breath and say, “So I didn’t hit where I wanted, but there are people who would kill to be where I am.” So celebrate all the little achievements and then get back into the trenches. If there’s a bestselling writer out there who has no problems, no issues, no disappointments, I’d like to meet them!

Kelsey: And finally, ladies, what are your predictions for contemporary romance in the next one to three years?

Carly: I wish I had that crystal ball, I really do. The reason I was thrilled when you asked me to do this series with you is that I’ve been questioning the state of contemporary romance myself. Questioning what I write, asking myself what I could do differently to change the status quo, or whether it’s the market itself that has to change first.

Unfortunately, as I write this, I just don’t know. I predict though, that contemporaries will experience a resurgence along with the economy – at least I hope so! And the light, fun, take me away storylines that I love so much will continue to resonate with readers like me, who want more of them.

Laura: I think it will gain popularity again.  There are plenty of readers out there like me who love a good contemporary read and at some point everyone will get tired of it feeling like there is nothing out there to buy except paranormals.  We’ll be looking for some new contemporary authors to reinvigorate the genre and to keep everything from getting stagnant.

So RU readers, what are your opinions of the state of the contemporary romance? Would you like to see more? Who are your favorite authors in this sub-genre? And please remember that Laura and Carly are available to answer questions. Long live the contemporary!

Be sure to check in with us Wednesday when Wayne Levine discusses how to have the “sex talk” with boys/sons. Bet we all know men who would have benefited from a better one!

Carly’s Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips has written over 28 romance novels with contemporary characters and plotlines that today’s readers identify with and enjoy. She sold her first novel, BRAZEN to Harlequin Temptation in 1998 and has continued to write for Harlequin ever since. Carly’s life is filled with a devoted energy and passion to romance, family and career. Carly lives in Purchase, New York, with her husband, two daughters and two soft-coated wheaten terriers.  More information on Carly can be found at her newly redesigned website: www.carlyphillips.com.

Laura’s Bio:

Laura Bradford has fifteen years of professional experience as a literary agent, editor, writer and bookseller. Laura began her career as a literary agent at Manus and Associates Literary Agency and formed Bradford Literary Agency in 2001. She considers herself an editorial-focused agent and takes a hands-on approach to developing proposals and manuscripts with her authors for the most appropriate markets. The mission of Bradford Literary Agency is to form true partnerships with their clients and build long-term relationships that extend from writing the first draft through the length of the author’s career. Her recent sales include books placed with Berkley, Grand Central, Harlequin/Silhouette, Kensington, Spice Books, Pocket, Virgin Books, Avon, Dorchester, Hyperion, NAL, Eos, Macmillan and Mira Books.  She continues to actively build her client list and is currently seeking work in the following genres: Romance (historical, romantic suspense, paranormal, category, contemporary, erotic), urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mystery, thrillers and young adult as well as some select non-fiction. 

She is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) and Romance Writers of America and she is an RWA-recognized agent.

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Discussion

88 Responses to “Contemporary Romance – Hot? Not?”

  1. Carly – Thanks so much for being with us today! I’m so glad I got a sneak preview of today’s lecture, but you can be sure I’ll re-read it several times.

    If you were a pre-published contemporary ST writer in today’s publishing climate, how might you target your career plans? Would you still look at breaking in by writing category first and then moving on to ST? Or any other strategies you might use to pursue publication?

    Thanks!
    Kelsey

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | January 11, 2010, 4:57 am
  2. Honestly, I think the days of “start in category” are over. If you want to start in category, do it because you LOVE it and want to write it. When I started, that was how I felt. I thought, if I can write successfully at Harlequin Temptation forever I’d be thrilled! The opportunity to write single title came to me and I grabbed it with The Bachelor series. But sadly, many category authors over the last few years didn’t have the success they should have based on their talent alone – I wish they had – because contemporary would be booming today! I’d love to hear Laura’s take on this because I think category background may make an editor hesitant in an already shaky marketplace because of the tighter restrictions on length and content in category as compared to ST. Then again, I’m not an editor! So if you’re writing in category and want to move to ST, write a fantastic story, find a fantastic agent who believes in you and pitches your new ST and you may be the next big thing!

    Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 7:30 am
    • I don’t know that I really advocate starting in category if the only goal is to become a single title author. To echo what Carly said, I think an author should write category because the LOVE it. It is totally possible to debut in single title and I just don’t know that starting in category seeking to eventually move to ST is in any way an easier or better way to get there. There are plenty of category authors who I know would like to jump to single title and it isn’t always easy.

      Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 12:41 pm
  3. What great information from both of you! As both a reader and a writer, I just find the nearest pot of sand (w/o cigarette butts in it) in which to stick my head whenever I hear the gloom and doom about contemporaries.

    Is there a trend towards tighter/smaller contemporaries, versus the sweeping epics of Susan Elizabeth Phillips? Or is there/will there still be room for the meaty book with the multi-year plots?

    Posted by Keri Stevens | January 11, 2010, 7:43 am
    • I think the trend is towards what is being labeled as “soft” romance – small town, contemporary setting, warm, familiar characters who the reader can relate to and return to with consecutive books. I can’t even say I fully comprehend its scope yet!

      Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 8:38 am
    • Interesting question … I guess I I’d say the trend is towards more “all-encompassing” books – broader characters, plots, storylines – the kind of multi-year plots you ask about I think of as more “Women’s Fiction” as opposed to “contemporary romance.”

      I tend to write more of a tighter, smaller contemporary, so I hope they stay in favor.

      Did this help?

      Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 10:01 am
      • Thanks, Carly.

        I’m still learning how to define “women’s fiction.” I’ve always thought of it as the story of a woman’s personal growth, in which the romance may be pivotal but not central. But then, I can’t define “contemporary” succinctly either–which won’t stop me from reading or writing it! ;-)

        Thank you for writing for us. I’ve been adventuring lately with the Costas sisters myself!

        Posted by Keri Stevens | January 11, 2010, 4:35 pm
    • I have heard from a number of publishers that they are really looking for that contemporary romance/women’s fiction mainstream hybrid in the vein of Debbie Macomber and Susan Wiggs and Sheryll Woods.

      Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 12:46 pm
  4. Contemporary romance will return, but as pointed out in the interview, it needs to be BIG to capture the readers who are used to the complex, larger-than-life stories found in paranormal romance. I actually think that contemporaries have become more sophisticated and “current” compared to what was produced in the past because of the erotic romance boom of the last five or six years. I used to ignore contemporaries and head straight for historicals or suspense or paranormal simply because they read a bit dated–writers like Victoria Dahl, Louisa Edwards, Julie James, et al are producing some sexy, funny, and emotional contemporaries whose characters I can identify with.

    Posted by Sandrine | January 11, 2010, 7:45 am
    • Sandrine –

      I would love to hear more about what’s attracted you to these contemporary authors. I’ve read Dahl, but not the others, although I do have a Julie James book on my iPod just itching to be read :).

      Can you elaborate on what you mean by “more sophisticated?”

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Kelsey

      Posted by KelseyBrowning | January 11, 2010, 7:55 am
      • What attracted me to Dahl, et al were the premises: they weren’t too sexy to be contrived, nor were they those “soft contemporaries” mentioned above. The writing was sleek and current–which is what I mean by sophisticated: I frequently felt, over the years, that contemporary h/h’s were too put together externally. Not to say the writers I mentioned write about characters who are broke or homeless per se, but I couldn’t relate to heroes and heroines who had the house, the car, the vacation, the clothes, etc and all at age 27! Particularly today–things aren’t going to be the way they were 20 years ago, and I feel that today’s rising contemporary stars get that.

        Posted by Sandrine | January 11, 2010, 9:11 pm
    • All true, Sandrine. I think a lot of contemporary authors are struggling with what that “big” means. At least I am :!:

      Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 11:20 am
  5. Laura –

    Would you be willing to comment on Carly’s take on starting out (or not) in category length? See her answer to my original comment.

    Thanks!
    Kelsey

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | January 11, 2010, 7:57 am
  6. morning all…

    Carly…great post…I too am hoping for the contemporary romance to rise again! I am not a paranormal reader at all, so my book choices have been severely limited lately. No fair! I personally am trying for category romance as a starting point even though I know the writing is shorter, needs to fill certain criteria, etc…mainly because they have such a large readership AND a consistent readership and consistent output as well. Is that the wrong way to be looking at it? I do have an ST in the works, just to keep my options open, but its definitely romantic comedy…and I’m worried it won’t go anywhere!

    Laura…what do you think of the soft romance genre..Susan Wiggs, Debbie Macomber etc? rising to the top? or staying just where they are?

    thanks for the great post ladies!

    carrie

    Posted by carrie | January 11, 2010, 9:44 am
    • Nothing wrong with starting in category! I started there. I think my point is you should only start in category if you love the genre, not as a deliberate stepping stone in a career.

      For me, personally as a reader, I don’t want “soft romance” to replace the contemporary light fun book (that used to be called romantic comedy) because that contemp. light fun book offers an alternative to any kind of sweeping epic. I do think the two may merge over time and that will come to define contemporary romance.

      Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 10:04 am
  7. Carly and Laura, thank you for giving us a peek into the world of a bestselling author and her highly successful agent.

    My thought concern the relationship between film and movies.

    While there’s an understandable trend in film-making toward bigger, more computer-enhanced productions — the sorts of movies that are so visually dynamic that you must see them in the theater to fully appreciate (and are hard for the sleazy guy with the camcorder to pirate) — there’s also no shortage of romances. There’s always a current release, in fact, that I’d call “contemporary romance,” if not “romantic comedy.” They’re “date movies,” and the industry is unlikely to ever stop making them as long as they continue to make money, because money drives the production of commercial entertainment, whether we’re talking about movies or books.

    There are plenty of people who will gladly watch, say, “It’s Complicated,” but wouldn’t think of walking into the romance aisle at B&N, even though I suspect they’d enjoy reading a Carly Phillips.

    Question: How do you think we can bring romantic-movie-lovers into the romance aisles? Is it all about the movie tie-in? Are we working backward from the movie deal to the book sales? Or is there another way we can cross-market romantic novels to romantic-movie watchers?

    Posted by Jamie Michele | January 11, 2010, 9:47 am
    • Laura isn’t my agent. I’m just lucky enough to be sharing space with her at Romance University! I’m with Kimberly Witherspoon at Inkwell Management.

      Your question, however, is a fascinating one. I think the way you do. Why do movies like The Proposal (Sandra Bullock) do well and we’re struggling for audience in contemporary romance? We must cross market to romantic movie watchers – which is why the TV channels that feature those movies are big commercial markets. But there’s just no easy answer as to how to reach them and convince them the contemporary romance BOOK is just as valid as the movie as a form of entertainment!

      I saw Leap Year with my friends this past week. they loved it. I thought it was too contrived. I was like, YOU DON’T READ MY BOOKS and yet you think THIS IS GOOD? You need to be READING WHAT I WRITE.

      GRRRR!

      Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 10:07 am
    • Jamie–

      I think this is a question we’ve all been asking ourselves for years. Given the relative steady popularity of romantic comedies (or “date movies”) in film, you’d think that romances would be getting optioned right, left and center for film and tv deals, but it really isn’t the case. Certainly it happens, but not as readily as one would think. And it is likewise the case that date movie watchers aren’t running out to find books on the shelves that echo The Proposal or Sleepless in Seattle. I wish I had a solution but these two mediums have been surprisingly far apart for a while.

      Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 12:56 pm
      • I guess I’m glad I’m not the only one scratching her head over this question.

        Great books don’t always make great movies, of course. Single-title romances are too lengthy to translate directly into a two-hour movie. If every scene were filmed as written, the movie would be more like a mini-series. Category romances are closer to the two-hour mark, perhaps, but I doubt agents even bother trying to sell movie rights for category novels.

        It seems to me that the relative ease of coming up with a high concept for a contemporary romance trumps the difficulty and expense of buying the movie rights to a book, unless that book is already a rampaging bestseller.

        Perhaps we can bring romantic-movie watchers to books by marketing books more like movies. We can’t exactly buy TV time to run book ads, but we can create compelling trailers and spread them around the Internet. Designers can create covers that appeal to a cinematic sensibility.

        Posted by Jamie Michele | January 11, 2010, 3:22 pm
  8. Thanks Carly & Laura.

    Hi Laura,

    I liked your comment about the author’s voice.

    I heard many comments lately that YA is really up and coming and often get questions from other writers why I don’t write YA. And my answer is always: I love a different sub-genre (paranormal) even though mine in probably currently a little oversold, especially when it comes to vamps.

    Here’s my question: when you represent an author and know their voice really well, do you suggest to her what her voice might be suitable for, especially when her current sub-genre is not selling as well?

    Thanks for your time,
    Bettina
    San Francisco

    Posted by Bettina Clairmont | January 11, 2010, 9:56 am
    • Bettina–

      Sure, I make all kinds of suggestions. But the game plan is ultimately established based not only on what an author has (or might have) talent for, but also what they want. For example, if I had an author who had written a Science Fiction/Romance…that book could either be pitched as a SF with romance or a romance with a SF theme. Maybe one opportunity is more wide-open than another, maybe the author identifies more with her romance half than her SF half. We look at all the angles and possibilities, weigh everything and then factor in desire and try to make the best decision based on what the author wants and needs. It isn’t uncommon for me to float an idea…say, have you ever thought about writing a mystery? I think you have the right voice for it. The author might come back with, ugghh! I hate mysteries (in which case it is a short conversation, lol), or they might say, you know I toyed with the idea for a while but never really gave it a go. Then we might decide it is equitable to take that subgenre out for a spin.

      Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 1:08 pm
  9. Great post, Kelsey! A big thanks to Laura and Carly for their forthright answers. Very informative!

    Tracey

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | January 11, 2010, 10:08 am
  10. Thank you to Carly and Laura for being here today. At one of the RWA workshops in July, the agent panel discussed contemporary and how it was hard to define.

    Carly and Laura, do you think agents and editors have differing opinions on what a contemporary is?

    Thanks!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | January 11, 2010, 10:12 am
    • I do. Other than time period, contemporary can mean anything from light, to dramatic, to almost women’s fiction. I don’t think that would hinder a sale or representation if THE STORY WAS GOOD. And again that’s what it all comes back to – the story, the author’s voice, can they hook a reader?

      I’m not sure I’d get hung up on what is contemporary – as whatever your definition, I think on a gut level, we all get it.

      Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 11:15 am
    • Sometimes. I think especially as it relates to women’s fiction. I think there is a bit of a spectrum between those two genres and where something might fall on that spectrum is in the eye of the beholder. This is not to say that all women’s fiction relates to contemporary romance because some of it doesn’t AT ALL. I do think that there is some ST contemporary romance out there that utilizes some kind of secondary hook…like a small paranormal element or some suspense or a mystery. Some editors might consider that work to still be a contemporary romance while some others might consider that work to be a paranormal, a romantic suspense or a mystery. In my book, it depends on the dominance of the secondary hooks.

      Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 1:17 pm
  11. Hi Carly! :grin: :grin: I always love to read your thoughtful, super-intelligent comments especially about publishing. And of course anything you have to say over in the Jungle.

    Hi Ms. Bradford! We met at the Heart of Denver awards luncheon back in October. Not sure if you remember.

    I too love contemporary romance. Long live the contemporary!

    Anyway, hearing–“…saying the words romantic comedy is like the kiss of death”–is a bit disconcerting to say the least. I am barrelling toward the finish line in a light, fun “contemporary” romance–some might even say “romantic comedy”–Yikes!–about a wedding planner and a mortician that Tracy Farrell at HQN is interested in seeing when it’s finished. I LOVE this book I’m writing and I hope she will love it too. But if she doesn’t, I’m determined to find a home for it.

    I read everything by Rachel Gibson and Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Nora and Shirley Jump…and of course Carly. ;-) The Hot Zone books are AWESOME! I too believe that publishing like everything else is cyclical and most things come back around into popularity again. Something that Paula Eykelhof said once has stuck with me. “A good book is a good book is a good book. Editors are looking for good books.”

    Personally, I think there is such a huge glut of Paranormal/Urban Fantasy on the shelves today, RT is full of advertising for them. Vampires, Werewolves, Demons…yada, yada, yada ad-infinitum. Occasionally, I’ll see a fairie story on the shelf. Once in a while a mermaid story will appear but the vamps and weres overtake them in short order and they get lost in the shuffle. I RARELY read a paranormal unless it’s Jeanne Steine who ironically writes about vampires in her Anna Strong series. I’ve never read the super authors of Paranormal like Sherrilyn Kenyon, Charlene Harris, Christine Feehan…even though I know they are immensely popular and regularly appear in the top 10 of the NYT list.

    That said I do have an urban fantasy I want to write that has not one vamp or were in sight. But I also have a mainstream historical I want to write in addition to more contemporaries. I simply try to write the best books that I can. I can’t write a book I really don’t want to write simply because they are “hot” right now.

    Thanks for being here today, Ladies!

    Cher

    Posted by Cher Gorman | January 11, 2010, 10:21 am
    • Hi, Cher. Thanks for visiting! You’re right. Write the best books you can :)

      Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 11:18 am
    • Cher–

      I think you should write the books that you want to write, staying true to your natural voice. I also think authors should be aware of market climate and keep it in mind as they work. You may choose to let the market influence you or you may not. At the end of the day, the market is always in flux and writing to trend (or trying to) isn’t ever a guarantee. If lighter books aren’t currently in vogue but that is what your voice is all about, it is what it is. When an author really tries to write against their natural voice I think it comes across, often, as feeling pretty forced. In my opinion it is better to write the best book, than the trendiest book.

      Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 1:25 pm
  12. Very interesting discussion and a perfect pairing of opinions.

    I agree with Sandrine that the reason paranormal is so hot is because it is so different. If someone had told me 10 years ago I would read stories about rage demons, fairies and werewolves or shapeshifting cougars, I would have laughed at them. I’ve read vampires ever since Anne Rice, and, frankly like today’s sexy ones much better.

    My problem with some contemporary stories is the lack of a strong Alpha male. We may marry a beta, but I think the majority of readers like to read about an alpha. JR Ward said this in DC last summer.

    I love the creativity of the world building that goes on in paranormal, and how they function in society. Having said that, there isn’t any reason contemporary can’t do the same. There isn’t anything like a good book to escape to. Whether it is small town or big city, creating a world that’s different with strong characters I love is what I enjoy,

    Do you also think the boon in paranormal has then helped the contemporary romance? Could this be breathing “supernatural life” into those stories? :mrgreen:

    Posted by Sharon | January 11, 2010, 10:42 am
    • FAscinating take! So you’d rather read an Alpha male … how do YOU define Alpha? I’m curious. Thanks!

      Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 11:17 am
      • Carly,
        Complicated answer, but I opened my big mouth.
        I think alpha to me is the guy who likes to lead, take charge, and perhaps a bit overly confident. He has a soft side he covers up well. He may not be as intuitive as the beta, and this sometimes gets him into trouble, but brings us a nice character arc. I like to read strong men who like to command, but have a heart as big as the ocean and eventually learn to trust it. And in paranormal, he has so many obstacles, and yet a myriad of special powers for dealing with those obstacles.

        Anybody else? And Carly, you’ve developed another fan today.

        Posted by Sharon | January 11, 2010, 11:46 am
        • LOL. Sorry to put you on the hot seat! I do know the standard definition of Alpha but many readers have their own take on what it is, and what about that kind of man they enjoy reading, so I’m always curious. Thanks!

          And thank you, Sharon! :grin:

          Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 12:22 pm
  13. This is just beyond fabulous info!

    Thanks bunches to all of you!

    And Carly, I just loooooove your books! I’ve been hooked ever since your Bachelor stories!!! You’re a true inspiration!

    Sexy Sassy Smart RomCom Wishes — D. D. Scott

    Posted by D. D. Scott | January 11, 2010, 11:04 am
  14. Great interview! Of course, like Carly, I have a vested interest in the return of the contemporary ;-) , but I do believe we’re seeing a shift in popularity, both with readers and with editors.

    I will also say, there are some advantages to writing in a less populated subgenre; there are certainly readers who are hungry for these kinds of stories, and the fact that there aren’t a glut of them mean it’s easier for a debut author like me to keep from getting lost on that crowded shelf.

    Thanks for the good questions, Kelsey, and the thoughtful answers, Carly and Laura!

    Posted by Louisa Edwards | January 11, 2010, 11:10 am
  15. I can’t believe I only just found this site – such helpful info. Thank u Twitter.

    My ? : when agents/editors read a query and see an MS described as ‘humorous women’s fiction’, is it likely that they would translate that as ‘chicklit’ and immediately be tempted to pass on it? Might ‘light, fun contemporary following the heroine’s development’ or something like that carry the same risk?

    (As you can see, I’m at the giving-myself-a-chronic-migraine stage of query-writing.)

    Posted by Maya | January 11, 2010, 11:11 am
    • I’m curious to hear Laura’s take on this too. Good question, Maya. Don’t over stress on the query. :grin:

      Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 11:19 am
      • Maya–

        I think the words chick-lit tends to cause a kneejerk reaction. Originally, when chick-lit was the “it” genre, it was something really, really specific…some combination of shopping and girlfriends and cosmos and shoes and misadventures in dating in the city. The popularity of the genre spiked, it got overbought, it stagnated, the cream rose to the top and that was about it for chick-lit. Frankly, there was not a whole lot of room to grow there. Now, there are authors who first hit during that chick-lit wave who are continuing to sell and sell well but I think they have all grown their subject matter beyond that original chick-lit box while keeping the funny, pleasing voice. While I do feel that all chick-lit is humorous women’s fiction, I do not feel that all humorous women’s fiction is chick-lit. So if I do see a submission labeled as light or fun or funny contemporary women’s fiction, I do not automatically assume it is (what I consider to be) chick-lit. At the end of the day, chick-lit was always more about subject matter and theme more than voice, to me. Certainly we have seen that prototypical chick-lit voice, the one that is zippy, breezy, snarky, funny used in other genres to good effect. And I wouldn’t call that kind of material chick-lit. Other editors and agents might feel differently, of course.

        Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 2:47 pm
  16. What an interesting post, Carly and Laura. Thank you for your insights.

    My sister writes contemporary and I write paranormal, so we discuss this all the time. She’s been told (like you, Carly) that no one buys athlete-hero stories and no one’s buying contemporaries. But I keep telling her, it’s gotta shift sometime. She considered switching genres, but contemp is her love. She did just get a request from a NY editor for the full, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    Regarding “soft romance,” I attended a Jayne Ann Krentz booksigning this weekend and she echoed some of the same things you’ve said. The huge popularity of paranormal series, with the complicated worldbuilding, shows that readers enjoy returning to the same world. She talked about the success of those “soft-romance” contemporary writers who center their stories around a similar setting or problem for multiple books. They’ve met that same reader-need, but in a contemporary romance world.

    I’m going to tell my sister to get her butt over here and read your post!

    Posted by Laurie London | January 11, 2010, 11:32 am
  17. Oh my gosh! What a fantastic post. I’ll freely admit to shivers of excitement as I read. I’m a contemporary girl myself (currently writing category) and I love love love reading great ST contemporaries.

    When you mentioned the contemporary/women’s fiction hybrid I was so happy. I am seeing a lot of books come out now with that “soft” approach you mentioned that is women’s fiction but with the core of romance at its spine.

    I also agree with the cyclical thing and I think the most important thing is to look at the way things are going as opportunities. Write the best book we can and be prepared when that opportunity comes along!

    Thanks for the fab responses, Carly and Laura! Man, this made me so jazzed. :lol:

    Posted by Donna Award | January 11, 2010, 12:06 pm
  18. PS. Apparently I was so excited in the last comment, I misspelled my own name. :oops:

    Posted by Donna Alward | January 11, 2010, 12:07 pm
    • Hi, Donna. Okay thanks for the laugh!

      The whole “soft romance” thing … for me that’s still an intangible. I know what it’s supposed to mean. I haven’t figured out how/if it translates into my own writing. Glad the posts were a pick me up for you! :grin:

      Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 12:23 pm
  19. Contemporary always has and always will be my first love. All I need is the hero and heroine trying to get their act together.

    I’ve been reading Carly since her Temptation days. BTW, I love an athlete hero. :grin:

    Some of my other favorite authors are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rachel Gibson, Erin McCarthy, Jennifer Crusie, and Susan Andersen.

    A new favorite is Julie James. I’m also excited to try a Louisa Edwards.

    I agree with Sandrine that contemporaries today are more “current.” To me that means the heroines are doing their own thing, have their own lives, and aren’t just waiting for a man to come sweep them away and/or solve all their problems. If a guy does cross her path, the heroine has a lot more say on where the relationship is going or if she even wants a relationship. She may just want to have some “fun” (at least at the beginning of the relationship).

    That’s what I’m trying to

    Posted by Jamie | January 11, 2010, 12:25 pm
  20. Hey Carly what a great post!! As a multi-published author of contemporaries ST myself I found myself nodding in agreement throughout your thoughtful replies to the great questions. Great job! Laura, great job too! I posted a link from my Facebook pg and Twitter pgs to this insightful article. Cathie

    Posted by Cathie Linz | January 11, 2010, 12:32 pm
  21. Laura – you mentioned a contemporary romance-women’s fiction hybrid and cited Debbie Macomber, Lisa Kleypas, and Sheryll Woods as examples.

    I appreciate that you listed authors I can reference with regard to the hybrid, but I was wondering if you could specify what characteristics mark a work as a contemporary romance-women’s fiction hybrid?

    Carly, if you have an opinion on this hybrid, I’d love to hear it as well.

    I wrote my last MS as an experiment — trying to merge contemporary romance and women’s fiction, so I’m excited to hear that something like that is actually out there.

    Thank you.

    Posted by Christy | January 11, 2010, 12:37 pm
    • Christy,

      I think the defining characteristics of that contemporary romance-women’s fiction hybrid are pretty fluid and will differ from publisher to publisher. To me that hybrid is a romance plus. I feel they tend to be bigger books with not only a romance thread, even a dominant romance thread, but also some secondary storylines. Maybe they function as much as a family drama as they do a romance. And I think that some publishers will be more attracted to those hybrids that fall closer to romance and some will tend to go for the ones that are headed into Jodi Picoult-land. Since the defining characteristics vary, I think that ultimately gives authors lots of room to play around with it. From a marketing perspective, I think that publishers are interested in buying hybrids that can legitimately be given a mainstream cross-over kind of package because that can translate to a bigger readership.

      Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 4:30 pm
  22. Carly, Loved your “Hot Zone” series. I’m a sports fan & think they make terrific heroes. I, too, would love more light, romantic Contemps.

    This is a reader’s perspective. First of all, I don’t like Paranormal, or even elements of it. I find it difficult to find good Contemps, & because of that, find myself consistently buying Category, which I still love.

    I’m not a fan of Women’s Fiction, but, with Robyn Carr’s “Virgin River” series, I’ve fallen in love. I believe Carr calls it her version of Women’s Fiction, but, her elements of brave, gutsy women & ex-Marines & ex-Army guys, both who love their partners, children, neighbors & town really works for me (& it’s sexy, too). I particularly find it refreshing that her primary woman character, Mel, never slights her career as a Midwife for anything else in her life, but, her guy, Jack, picks up the slack with the children, even when he’s at work. Sorry to rave, but, it’s so hard to find a series like this.

    I’m also enjoying NR’s new “Wedding Quartet” series, which, to me, shows a wonderful relationship between 4 childhood friends, as they work together in their all-encompassing wedding business & bond over their guy relationships. Thanks to Nora for coming back to what she has always written so well.

    This has been a very interesting & thoughtful subject. Thanks for participating,

    Posted by Patricia | January 11, 2010, 1:41 pm
  23. Hello,

    Thank you for you informative post.

    I have many questions, but I’m going to muse on them for a wee bit, and then perhaps ask another question.

    One thing I do not quite understand is”

    “really sexy and explicit (though not necessarily erotic).”
    How can the writing be explicit but not erotic?

    Thank you,

    Laurel Aisling

    Posted by Laurel Kahaner | January 11, 2010, 2:09 pm
    • Laurel,

      To me, erotic romance is something very specific, though I understand the definition changes a bit depending on who you talk to. In my opinion, an erotic romance is a romance that has a plot that is largely sex centered and that sex is what drives the plot. It can be kinky, it can be more vanilla, but it is definitely more than just a romance that uses a lot of four letter words. How erotic romance differs from erotica is the actual presence of romance. An erotic romance definitely has a romance at the core of the story being told. Erotica doesn’t necessarily have romance anywhere in the story at all. To me, what I call a sensual or very sexy romance is a romance that contains explicit sex even though the story is not propelled by the sex. If you closed the door on the physical aspects of the romance being developed in the story, you would still be left with a complete, wholly realized romance. Because a lot of people are not comfortable with the level of sensuality or explicitness in some romances, I think there are plenty of people who might label a work as an erotic romance something I would just call a sensual romance. For the sake of what I was trying to convey above, explicit simply means a blunt, non-euphemistic treatment of sex complete with all the four letter words (or not, as tastes vary). Erotic speaks more to the plot structure and the themes than actual language, in my book, at least.

      Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 4:50 pm
  24. Hi, Carly and Laura! I loved this blog topic, and how honest both of your answers have been. I have such a vested interest in the topic since I write “soft” contemporary romances and have an agent. Laura, my cp and dear friend, Maggie Robinson, is a client of yours, and she always raves about how fabulous you are. I’ve always been a fan of Carly’s books; I actually started reading you when Kelly Ripa picked your book. And you, SEP, and other contemporary writers have been the cornerstone of my own writing. Plus, we share an agent. ;-)

    Carly, there’s one point you made that really stuck with me—the one where you mentioned that don’t just write to prove people wrong unless you really, really can’t ignore the book. I took that risk with the book that got me my agent, and I really pushed myself in the writing of it, and thankfully, it paid off. I think I loved and cared more about that book than the two mss I tucked under my bed. But, thank you, for reminding me that it’s always important to listen to your gut instinct, no matter what.

    Also, I really hope that contemporary makes a swinging comeback since I love reading the subgenre and I miss the lighter, funnier contemporaries that used to be so prevalent at the bookstore.

    Posted by Elyssa Papa | January 11, 2010, 2:40 pm
  25. Very interesting discussion, all. I have one contemp ST out and plan to do more, once my paranormal series (light, no vamps, shapeshifters or demons) is done. I really, really want to go back to contemporary–my first love, so to speak, and I’m very interested on your take in what’s working right now. I tend to “write light” in that there is humor in my stories.

    I love stories from authors like SEP, JAK, and you, Carly. I want escapism these days, not so much angst. If I want angst, I’ll read the newspapers.

    Sometimes I wonder if romantic movies are so popular because it’s a way for women to get their men to enjoy a little romance, and maybe give them some ideas. After all, so few men read romance and wouldn’t be caught dead doing it. Now, to get those women to pick up a book and maybe get some ideas of their own!

    Anyway, RU, excellent topic.

    Ann

    Posted by Ann Macela | January 11, 2010, 2:54 pm
  26. Maya,

    I think the words chick-lit tends to cause a kneejerk reaction. Originally, when chick-lit was the “it” genre, it was something really, really specific…some combination of shopping and girlfriends and cosmos and shoes and misadventures in dating in the city. The popularity of the genre spiked, it got overbought, it stagnated, the cream rose to the top and that was about it for chick-lit. Frankly, there was not a whole lot of room to grow there. Now, there are authors who first hit during that chick-lit wave who are continuing to sell and sell well but I think they have all grown their subject matter beyond that original chick-lit box while keeping the funny, pleasing voice. While I do feel that all chick-lit is humorous women’s fiction, I do not feel that all humorous women’s fiction is chick-lit. So if I do see a submission labeled as light or fun or funny contemporary women’s fiction, I do not automatically assume it is (what I consider to be) chick-lit. At the end of the day, chick-lit was always more about subject matter and theme more than voice, to me. Certainly we have seen that prototypical chick-lit voice, the one that is zippy, breezy, snarky, funny used in other genres to good effect. And I wouldn’t call that kind of material chick-lit. Other editors and agents might feel differently, of course.

    Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 3:05 pm
  27. Interesting and thought-provoking post! I’m a fan of paranormal, but I’m biased somewhat toward that slant, since it’s what I write. I didn’t realize contemporary was getting squeezed, though – seems like venues like Wal-Mart, at least, still carry a lot of contemporary titles.

    I think the reason I like the PR more is because it often offers a more intense read. Someone commented on the alpha males, and I do think that’s part of the draw. It is especially compelling to read about the pairing of alpha’s though (men and women).

    Posted by Madison Woods | January 11, 2010, 3:44 pm
  28. What a fabulous post. This is just what I needed to read before heading upstairs to work on my straight contemporary romance. :) I don’t mind reading a good paranormal on occasion (my sister and CP writes them, so…) but my first love is contemporary. I’m so happy to hear it might be making a comeback.

    Thanks for all the insights. I’ll just keep typing away and submitting.

    :)Becky

    Posted by Rebecca J. Clark | January 11, 2010, 4:01 pm
  29. Just FYI, I’m having some technical difficulties with getting my comments posted. Just hang in there while we get it all sorted out. I promise I am still reading all your questions. Thanks!

    Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 4:07 pm
  30. So, Laura, with perhaps some good news of the economy long overdue on the horizon, will there be more opportunities for new authors in the next 12-24 months than there has been over the past 24? And I am talking about good stories in both genres. Are you having more luck placing debut authors with houses this year as opposed to, say last year? Are there signs of life out there? And do you see a further “blending” of elements, like paranormal (but light) in other more traditional genres just to mix it up without turning off readers who are loyal to the line?

    Thanks so much for your time.

    Posted by Sharon | January 11, 2010, 5:43 pm
    • Well, Sharon, I think the economy is rebounding but I don’t know if I would say I foresee MORE opportunities for debut authors. I sold several debuts last year, so I didn’t really think it had dried up, exactly. Did I sell more books for established authors than new authors? Yes, but that is probably true for most agents because we generally have more established authors than new authors. I certainly didn’t let the state of the economy hold me back from pitching a debut author if I felt they were ready to get out there in the big, bad world. And I do think that there is still room in the marketplace for genre blends, even mild ones. Sometimes genre blends that are subtle can have a harder time getting sold because it IS important to put labels on books simply in order to get those books in front of the right buyers. Certainly, if someone, say, puts a mild paranormal thread into their contemporary romance, that could compel some readers and drive others away. We don’t always know how these things will work, so a lot of times we take a risk, or rely on our gut. I do all the time. But publishers are often more conservative…they have to be with the financial implications they bear.

      Posted by Laura Bradford | January 11, 2010, 6:23 pm
  31. I’ve tried to just go through the day’s posts and catch up. I hope I haven’t missed anyone and feel free to nudge me if I have!

    Posted by carly phillips | January 11, 2010, 5:44 pm
  32. Hello,
    I am a newbie to your site.
    Great interview, and thanks Laura and Carly for the loads of information.
    Neecy

    Posted by Neecy | January 11, 2010, 5:52 pm
  33. Ladies, it’s 11.50 p.m. on Tuesday the 12th in Australia, so I hope your discussion isn’t closed.

    Re one question I haven’t seen asked re contemporary/category: explanation follows. Some time ago a fellow writer remarked she’d followed the guidelines for Harlequin Mills & Boon when she submitted her ms. They asked for “a strong story line”, yet they rejected her work on the grounds it was “too plot oriented.” My own book was similarly rejected. (Since taken up by e-publisher).Story line too strong? Do HM&B really require the contents of their list to be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator?

    I add hastily I’ve read plenty of HM&Bs with strong storylines, or at least with strong characters working through strong relationships. I realise the great majority of publishers these days are simply cogs in big conglomerates, yet do all of them have as their absolute criteria for acceptance “Will it sell 50,000 copies?” Smaller houses once took chances on unknowns if their work was of good quality. Now authors are required to shoulder the huge burden of marketing and promotion which publishers once considered their share of the business. While authors market and promote we are NOT writing. This is even truer of the e-publishers than the print publishers. (My last contemporary was rejected on slim grounds; I assume it was because the first had not sold a sufficient number of copies.) And as an older person I find the burden too much, and am on the edge of opting out and writing for my personal pleasure only.

    After that gripe-whine, I will happily add that I found your discussion honest, lively and informative!

    Monya :lol:

    Posted by Monya Clayton | January 12, 2010, 9:13 am
  34. Monya, no it’s not too late to ask! I’m not too familiar with Mills and Boon’s criteria today but I have submitted to them in my prepublished days. I can tell you that reasons for rejecting a book don’t always make sense on paper. The editors do their best to give you something you can understand as a reason. But when a story works, often there is an intangible “it” factor that strikes the editor. You can’t always go by what the older M /B authors write since they can get away with more and are probably given more leeway. Look to what the newer authors are doing for criteria.

    As for dumbing down – no I don’t think so. I think that if a story is too plot heavy the editors are looking at book length – and thinking you don’t need that much external plot when you have a short space to tell a ROMANCE. Smaller plot that helps move the story along works better.

    No bones about it – writing as a career takes a certain amount of stamina and willingness to shoulder burdens. Only you can know what’s right for you but I wish you the best of luck in making your decision!

    Posted by carly phillips | January 12, 2010, 9:41 pm
  35. Hi, All,

    I’m a little late coming in to this post, but I have read with interest all the comments and responses. The encouragement to write the story which you hold in your heart is especially heartening. I am more inclined toward historical romance, but one thing I thought all you “contemporaries” out there might find interesting–Jane Austen was writing contemporary romance, and look where she is today (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies notwithstanding)!

    Write on!

    Diane

    Posted by Diane | January 13, 2010, 7:49 pm

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  3. […] you all who visited Romance University for my discussion on The State of Contemporary Romance Today. It was a wonderful day … and […]

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