It's All About The Money, Honey

Welcome to the Money, Honey Blog tour, in which author Susan Sey celebrates the July 6 release of her debut novel by counting down the Top Ten Most Common Reactions an ill-groomed stay at home mom receives when confessing her secret career as a romance novelist.

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Hello, Romance Junkies!  Thanks so much for having me today.  I’m so happy to be here because I’m dying to discuss Response #7 on my list:  “Oh, romance.  When are you going to write a REAL book?”

(If you’re all a-flutter to know what the other nine responses are, feel free to visit susansey.com for the details.)

Now then.  Regarding romance novels as less than real books.  I’ll admit, most people don’t say this one to my face.  Not on purpose, anyway.  It would be terribly rude.  But the truth comes out eventually.  Or at least accidentally.   Here’s my favorite example:

I went to Williamsburg a few years ago with my mom.  (Have you been there?  Oh my gosh, if you haven’t been, GO.  You’ll be ready to join the Revolutionary Army by day two, guaranteed.)

Anyway,  we were traipsing down the green toward the Governor’s Mansion, me in my new colonial straw hat with the saucy pink bow, Mom with an eagle eye out for the historical re-enactor playing Patrick Henry.  (We had sort of a crush.  Don’t tell my dad.)  I remarked to my mother as we walked how being in a place like Williamsburg made me want to write a historical.  She literally stopped in her tracks, clasped her hands together and beamed at me.  I stopped, too, startled.  I backtracked over the recent conversation but couldn’t find anything that might produce a response of this magnitude.

“Oh, honey,” she said.  “I knew you couldn’t write romance forever.  A historical!”

We gazed at one another for a moment, her thrilled, me baffled.

“Mom,” I said finally.  “I meant a historical romance.  Not historical fiction.”

“Oh.”  Mortified, she went back to scanning the horizon for Patrick Henry.  “Set here in Williamsburg?  How wonderful!”

Now let’s be clear on this.  My mom is endlessly proud of me.  She tells everybody she meets about my novel & has all her friends lined up to buy a copy the instant it hits the shelves.  Nobody is prouder of me or more supportive.  But here, in an accidentally candid moment, she let it slip:  she doesn’t think romance is worthy of me.  She thinks I can—or should—do better.

The implication, of course, is that other  genres—mysteries, thrillers, even sci fi, darling!– are somehow more worthy or important than romance.  Now I’ll grant you, solving murders or saving the world from nuclear holocaust or spinning a tale of intrigue in the court of King Henry VIII requires a larger stage than a simple love story.  But as we romance readers know, size isn’t everything.

Yeah, okay.  Falling in love isn’t always flashy.  The fate of nations don’t rest on it, it probably won’t solve a murder or stave off nuclear war.  But love—the real deal—takes immense courage.  It requires utter vulnerability & brutal honesty.  And love, if you do it right, creates families out of strangers.  It transforms sex from an energetic workout into something transcendent.  It connects you to another human being and makes you bigger, better than you are.  To me, that’s magic, pure and simple.  What could be more important?

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Now Money, Honey’s Liz and Patrick both come from families broken beyond recognition.  The best they can say about their childhoods is that they survived, & neither has much use for love or the vulnerability it requires.  But when the universe presents you with the person you were made for, who was made for you?  Yeah, it’s tough to argue your way out of it. Not that they don’t try.   Check out the excerpt below to see them giving it their best shot.

~~~~~~

“Listen, I get it, all right?” She eased off the edge of the conference table where she’d almost let him do any number of ill-advised things to her person and crossed her limp arms to keep them from flailing around like beached fish. “I know you’re pissed about this. About cooperating with an FBI investigation, especially now that you’re no longer obligated to even be civil to us, let alone work for us. And then I was a colossal bitch to you in front of God and everybody. I’m sorry about those things, Patrick. I really am.”

“Mmmm-hmmm.”

“I know you want to punish me, to keep me off balance, but purposely injecting a”—she groped for a word; it was hard with her hands tucked safely into her elbows—“a sexual note into our relationship is not only stupid, it’s bad business. No matter what you think of me personally, we’re colleagues of a sort, okay? We can work this out like grown-ups, so knock it off, will you?”

He took a step toward her, and she took a hasty step back only to meet up with the edge of the table again. He reached for her, and everything in her entire being went hot and liquid with delicious anticipation. Good Lord, was he going to kiss her? She closed her eyes briefly, whether for strength or just to enjoy it, she wasn’t sure. But he only smoothed her lapels, laid his hands on her shoulders and was looking right into her eyes when she opened them.

“I’m not doing anything, Liz,” he said. She snorted and tried to shove past him, but he held her with an easy strength that had her eyes widening and her knees weakening again. He put his mouth very near her ear and she tried hard not to breathe because she didn’t want the smell of him hanging around her brain doing stupid things. “I’ve always been attracted to you,” he said. “A feeling you’ve returned, whether you knew it or not. I just clued you in, that’s all.”

He stepped back while she gaped at him, then smiled at her as if he hadn’t just kicked the shit out of her reality. He flicked her hair back over her shoulder and said, “Don’t look so surprised, darling. Everything evolves. You’ll learn. Just keep that badge nice and close.”

“I don’t believe you,” she said, but Patrick only gazed at her with fond amusement. She shrugged, as if he hadn’t just tapped into her most private fear and weakness. “But whatever. If this is what it takes to make you feel better, fine. I’ll . . . deal with it.”

His mouth curved slightly at that. “You have your agenda, I have mine.”

~~~~~

Writing these two prickly, wounded, deserving characters into a happy ending was one of the more rewarding challenges I’ve ever faced.  I hope you enjoy their journey as much as I did.

So how about you?  What’s your favorite pro-romance argument?  What do you say to the people who disparage your favorite genre?  We’ll pick five commenters to receive free copies of Money, Honey so get your witty repartee ready!

Can’t wait for luck to deliver your copy?  You can find Money, Honey at fine bookstores everywhere:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Borders

41 Responses to It's All About The Money, Honey

  1. Susan Sey

    Hello, Romance Junkies! So glad to be here today! Looking forward to our conversation!

  2. Scorpio M.

    Most of the disparaging remarks I’ve heard have come from the media. Oprah apparently called romance novels…’women’s porn’ and other so called “experts” have called it trash. I read a variety of genres, my favorite being romance, but I appreciate and devour general fiction, literary non-fiction, memoirs, as well. Reading is personal. Who is anyone to judge? I love Cormac McCarthy but hate Philip Roth. Toni Morrison makes me want to slit my wrist but Elizabeth Hoyt’s lovers makes me feel butterflies in my belly and Rachel Gibson makes me LOL! I want to learn hockey just because her fictional heroes are playing it and are so sexxy!!

    Notice how all the exclamation points came out the moment I started to talk romance!?! So that is my pro-romance argument: Reading romance brings me joy & it makes me HAPPY!! Take that you snobs! 🙂

  3. Lindy

    I wish I had a witty response… I’ll be watching everyone else’s posts to see if I can get one. If I say anything at all about the ONLY genre I read anymore, I just say that life’s stressful enough, and I like a guaranteed happy ending. 🙂

  4. Knicole

    Hellooo,
    Congrats on your book. I must say you should be very happy with your publisher because everytime I see a romance from Berkley I pick it up. Very few times am I ever disappointed with their authors and I often find new ones that way. In fact after I went to their website a week ago and saw their new books I put yours on my borders wish list 🙂 OMG i loooove williamsburg I am quite obsessed with it actually! It is soooo amazingly fun and they have even more attractions near by.

    and why romance books? I read them because I need a happy ending. Life is full of enough saddness that you just want to read something where everything turns out all right. Not to mention it fuels your fantasies 😉

  5. Susan Sey

    Scorpio M wrote: Notice how all the exclamation points came out the moment I started to talk romance!?! So that is my pro-romance argument: Reading romance brings me joy & it makes me HAPPY!! Take that you snobs!

    Amen, sister! That’s the heart of it right there, isn’t it? Romance is so JOY-centric. We put our characters through a ton but the reader hangs in because it’s a romance novel. The contract between the author & reader (snobs would say the ‘formula’) guarantees a happily ever after. That’s what we’re in it for–if we’re going to have all the angst & worry & fear of falling in love, we’d better get the hope, joy, and laughs as well.

    p.s I don’t care for Phillip Roth myself. My person belief is that we have punctuation for a reason–so paragraphs don’t go on for a page & a half. Mr. Roth doesn’t seem to share this idea. 🙂

  6. Susan Sey

    Lindy wrote: If I say anything at all about the ONLY genre I read anymore, I just say that life’s stressful enough, and I like a guaranteed happy ending

    I *know*, right? I don’t get that whole unrealistic argument. Sheesh, if I want reality, I have to go no further than the laundry in my basement & the dishes in my sink. When I read, I don’t want a slice of life. I want better than that. Or at least more uplifting & entertaining. I’m a romance girl, all that way.

    And I think you said it just fine. 🙂

  7. Lois M.

    Well for me, I haven’t had this problem, so I don’t have a prepared response. But I imagine if I’m seen reading the science books I get, I probably would get stranger looks. LOL And it’s amazing in bookstores — not all, but some feel like they are taking away space from the romances. . . with all of them pretty much, they definitely are taking away space from all science related books. You usually will find all of Steven Hawking’s books, but they aren’t all of science, and I already have them all, so doesn’t help me.

    Anyhoo. . . I guess my answer would be to either genre if someone asked me why am I reading that stuff is simply because I want to. I don’t know of every book Oprah’s ever put out, but the ones that have made the news or seen people talk about are simply ones I will never have interest in. But that is certainly not the case for everyone; you like that, go for it! But it’s not my interest. Mine is Romance (and Astronomy too), and if you don’t like it, tough.

    So there. LOL

    Lois

  8. Susan Sey

    Knicole wrote: I must say you should be very happy with your publisher because everytime I see a romance from Berkley I pick it up. Very few times am I ever disappointed with their authors and I often find new ones that way.

    Thanks, Knicole! I’m thrilled to be with Berkley. I like to tell people I share a publisher with Nora Roberts & Tom Clancy. 🙂 Makes me feel good on even the worst days.

    And, oh, Williamsburg. (big happy sigh) I’m dying to go back but I’m waiting until my girls are just a little older so they can appreciate it. It’s totally the kind of place that makes me wish I could write historicals. But oh the research. It scares me.

  9. Susan Sey

    Lois wrote: I guess my answer would be to either genre if someone asked me why am I reading that stuff is simply because I want to.

    I think this is a great response. It minds me of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who advises romance writers to simply respond to the odd smirky remark with a politely puzzled silence. Like you’re a little confused as to what, exactly, is so unseemly about people falling in love, having great sex & a wonderful marriage.

    Isn’t this what we all want, after all? People in our lives who feel like family, who love us, who we love in return?

    Eventually, she say, the offender sort of trails off into an embarrassed apology. I haven’t had the guts to try this one yet but I’m working up to it.

  10. Quilt Lady

    Congrats on your book. If anyone makes remarks to me about what I read I just tell them that I love reading my smutty romance noval and you can read what you want to read!

  11. Nancy Evertz

    I use numbers (since that was my background). Over 50% of fiction sold is in the Romance genre. I don’t want to write the American novel. I want to sell my book and entertain.

    PS – Love the book! Almost done with it.

  12. Barbara Elness

    I don’t apologize to anyone for what I read, and if they don’t like it, I guess that’s their problem. I’ve been reading romance for many years and I’ve been so excited that it’s gotten more popular and so many sub genres have popped up, such as paranormal romance, scifi romance, even steampunk romance. I think the bottom line for me is the happily ever after. My life has never been perfect, and if I can live vicariously through a romance novel’s HEA, it makes mine more bearable.

  13. Susan Sey

    Quilt Lady wrote: If anyone makes remarks to me about what I read I just tell them that I love reading my smutty romance noval and you can read what you want to read!

    LOL! That’s great! I’m going to use that one. “What? I enjoy my smutty romance. Go suit yourself.”

  14. Susan Sey

    Nancy E wrote: Over 50% of fiction sold is in the Romance genre. I don’t want to write the American novel. I want to sell my book and entertain.

    PS – Love the book! Almost done with it.

    I like to tell people that, too. We romance readers are the engine driving the publishing train. It would be nice if we got some respect. 🙂

    I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book. Like you, I not trying to write Great Literature. I’m trying to entertain, & I’m thrilled you’re entertained with it.

  15. Susan Sey

    Barbara E wrote: My life has never been perfect, and if I can live vicariously through a romance novel’s HEA, it makes mine more bearable.

    Absolutely. And you’re right–I think the rise in acceptance & popularity of romance can only be a good thing. And the mash-up of subgenres is fascinating. I haven’t tried Steampunk yet but I’m really intrigued. Any good recommendations?

  16. Maureen

    I think it is pretty ignorant to make generalizations about romance novels since there is such a wide range of stories under the genre. I can understand if a person felt a particular story was not well written but that can be found in any category of fiction or non-fiction. What I enjoy most about romance is the optimism that I find in the stories and the emphasis on family and love.

  17. Barbara Elness

    My recommendations for a steampunk romance would be both of Gail Carriger’s books, Soulless and Changeless – supernaturals living among humans in Victorian England, with a soulless heroine and lots of steam powered inventions. Also, I loved Katie MacAlister’s Steamed – our hero gets thrown into an alternate reality where steam run devices rule, with a lovely dirigible captain and a hilarious crew of misfits.

  18. Susan Sey

    Maureen said: I think it is pretty ignorant to make generalizations about romance novels since there is such a wide range of stories under the genre.

    I know! This just steams me so bad. It’s like, because romance novels are aimed at women, somehow it’s okay to denigrate them. As if hardboiled detective fiction (the ultimate male fantasy IMHO) is somehow laudable while romance novels (the female fantasy) are scorned.

    Arrrrrgh. It makes me make pirate noises.

  19. Susan Sey

    Barbara E writes: Also, I loved Katie MacAlister’s Steamed – our hero gets thrown into an alternate reality where steam run devices rule, with a lovely dirigible captain and a hilarious crew of misfits

    Ooooh, this one sounds very intriguing! I’m going to check it out!

  20. Jane

    Congrats on your debut release, Susan. I think reading is important and it doesn’t what you read. I know that some people don’t think picking up comics is considered reading, but I think they’re wrong and the same goes with romance.

  21. Jen X

    I’d love to read Money, Honey. I love contemps filled with sexy banter!

    I hate people who look down on the romance genre. It’s a billion dollar industry! What witty comeback do I have…how about, “When I’m in the mood for an unhappily ever after, I’ll look ya up.”

  22. Susan Sey

    Jane wrote: I know that some people don’t think picking up comics is considered reading, but I think they’re wrong and the same goes with romance.

    Oh, I read the comic first every morning. Guess I’m not very high brow. I refuse to do serious & depressing before I’ve even had my breakfast, you know?

  23. Susan Sey

    Jen X wrote: What witty comeback do I have…how about, “When I’m in the mood for an unhappily ever after, I’ll look ya up.”

    Ha! Good one! I’m writing that one down.

  24. kh

    congrats on teh book
    sounds very hot

    it is still selling big
    hot romace and eortic books are still selling

  25. Chris Mead

    Congratulations Susan on your debut book! When others comment on my reading choices I always tell them that romance makes me happy! Not very witty I know, but the truth.

    Best Wishes!

    Chris Mead

  26. Gigi

    Hi Susan I loved your post.

    Years ago I used to put my romance books in these cute little fabric book covers when I would take them out. It wasn’t so much to hide what I read but I read a lot while waiting for my girls at dance and band practice. I didn’t want a younger child to see some of the suggestive covers.
    Yes, I read romance and all kinds. I love romantic comedies and some dramas.
    The media has ruined anything really serious for me. I read to escape and I love escaping where you know that there will be a HEA at the end.
    I would be thrilled if either of my girls wrote romance. I mean you have to have a really good imagination to be a great romance writer. There is also a lot on research and work that goes into historical romance. It is a history lesson for the reader with a fictional story to go along with the history lesson if done right.

  27. JOYE

    When people give me that look or ask me why I read that kind of book (romance) I always reply with “I am an avid reader and I read all kinds of books. I would be happy to discuss with you the last book you read. What was it?”
    Of course, they stammer around trying to think of a good comeback and most don’t even remember what or when they last did some reading. Occassionally I meet someone who has actually read a book.
    When my husband sees that I am reading a romance book and asks if it provides any NEW IDEAS for us as he stands there with a big grin on his face. I tell him “it has better ideas than Popular Mechanics.”

  28. Valerie

    I always say that if men would read romance they would really know how to please a woman and there would be a lot more satisfied and happy women in the world.

    Of course, my hubby says that our sex life is much better since I started reading romance….lol!!!

    Valerie
    valb0302@yahoo.com
    in Germany

  29. Hellion

    I actually teared up reading this response. The “What could be more important?”–it is so clear why you’re published, that was so honest and emotional and wonderful.

    And as my student worker said, after I read the excerpt aloud and explained the situation behind it, “That’s so beautiful…and you can totally hear the F-U behind it too.” (Okay, I laughed…)

  30. Pam S

    Hi Susan, I love your post! Money, Honey sounds like a great read.

    I can be a facts kind of girl so I just say have you seen the #’s in sales for romance, the tons of sites catering to readers/authors for romance, not to mention all the romance books being made into tv series and movies? I’m definitely not alone in enjoying it.

  31. Susan Sey

    kh wrote: congrats on teh book
    sounds very hot

    Thanks, kh!

  32. Susan Sey

    Chris Mead wrote: When others comment on my reading choices I always tell them that romance makes me happy!

    Exactly! Do we really need any other reason to read something? I told somebody just the other day that I was through proving I was smart by reading hard, boring books. I know I”m smart. When I read, I want entertainment not punishment. Give me romance!

  33. Susan Sey

    Gigi wrote: There is also a lot on research and work that goes into historical romance. It is a history lesson for the reader with a fictional story to go along with the history lesson if done right.

    Geez, I know! I don’t have the voice for historicals, which is great, because I don’t have the research chops, either. Man, those ladies know their stuff! Do *not* get into a trivia match with anybody from the Beau Monde (the RWA online chapter for historical writers.)

    But I love to read historicals, & thus astonish my friends with my obscure knowledge of noble titles, women’s clothes & dueling swords. 🙂 They say, “How on earth did you know that???” to which I reply, “Romance novels, baby. Taught me everything I know.”

  34. Susan Sey

    Joye wrote: I always reply with “I am an avid reader and I read all kinds of books. I would be happy to discuss with you the last book you read. What was it?”
    Of course, they stammer around trying to think of a good comeback and most don’t even remember what or when they last did some reading.

    Ha! That’s great! I love it that you ask them what they read, then wait for them to defend their intellect rather than you defending yours. Very tactical. I’m impressed. 🙂

  35. Susan Sey

    Valerie wrote: I always say that if men would read romance they would really know how to please a woman and there would be a lot more satisfied and happy women in the world.

    Amen, sister! If men spent less time denigrating the genre & more time taking notes, imagine how much better we’d all get along. 🙂

  36. Susan Sey

    Hellion wrote: And as my student worker said, after I read the excerpt aloud and explained the situation behind it, “That’s so beautiful…and you can totally hear the F-U behind it too.” (Okay, I laughed…)

    Ha! I’m so glad the F-U came through–I like it to be subtle but detectable. 🙂

    And I’m so glad to be here with people like you, my fellow romance junkies, people who get it. Who appreciate that love and family and loyalty & commitment aren’t necessarily flashy but they’re everything.

    People who read & love romance get that. I only wish there were more of us.

  37. Susan Sey

    Pam S wrote: I can be a facts kind of girl so I just say have you seen the #’s in sales for romance, the tons of sites catering to readers/authors for romance, not to mention all the romance books being made into tv series and movies? I’m definitely not alone in enjoying it.

    Cold, hard stats can’t hurt this cause, can they? Numbers don’t lie, & people not only love romance, they *buy* it. Writing it is a small business move.

    But the other side of that coin is, people who buy it, love it. They can totally tell when an author is phoning it in, or trying to make a buck without putting their heart into it. I think that’s why the bad reviews are particularly hard on us romance writers. We literally put our heart on the page. It’s the only way to write a true story, & when you throw your heart out there, it’s so easy to look ridiculous. To BE ridiculous.

    But you’ve got to risk if you’re going to love. That’s the deal. And if you’re going to write love, you’ve got to risk there, too. There’s no shortcut. You got to splatter it all on the page & hope people are kind if you miss the target.

  38. Susan Sey

    Oh, ack, SMART business move. In that last post, I wrote small business move.

    That’s what I get for typing faster than I think.

  39. Pauline Baird Jones

    My mom wishes I’d write “real” books, too. I write books I’d like to read, so I guess I don’t read “real” books either. lol It used to bother me, but I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t have time to care what other people think about what I read or write.

    Your books sounds very fun. I ordered a sample for my kindle. (I LOVE that feature, though it is dangerous to my TBR pile lol)

    Congrats on your first release and you go, girl!

  40. Carlya Carson

    Your book sounds wonderful. Congrats on the release!

    I just had someone on the machine next to me at the health club this morning ask what I was reading. I showed her the Jayne Anne Krentz book and she actually grimaced. She was speechless with disdain. I had no comeback. She didn’t actually say anything.

    With my writing, my friends try to be supportive. And you can’t be snippy with friends, esp. when they’re trying.

    The comeback I want to try with a stranger is: It’s a great profession. My husband loves to be my research subject.

  41. kh

    ANY WINNER

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