Romance Fiction – not just Porn! from Chelle Cordero

“Hi, my name is Chelle and I am a romance writer.” I receive a round of applause and several personal shouts of “Hi Chelle!” And over milk and cookies, we discuss the 12-steps towards REAL writing… (the preceding is a dramatization and should not be attempted, etc and so forth)

Why is it that many writers in the romance genre feel that they must announce their forte in clandestine meetings and apologize for their behavior?

Hey all, I write romance. I am not ashamed of the stories I weave. Yes, there is sex and sometimes I may even find myself blushing as I read aloud at an author event. I have oft been the recipient of “tsk, tsk” and “I’m sorry, I won’t read romance books.” And men, oy, they won’t be caught reading a romance novel, no matter how good a story you may tell. My son-in-law teased me that he planned to cover my first novel with a cookbook cover so he could read it on the train while heading in to work!

The romance genre has gotten a bad rep and romance writers are regarded with condescending amusement. And yet, Romance Writers of America has the following statistics on their website: “Romance fiction: $1.375 billion in estimated revenue for 2007, Religion/inspirational: $819 million, Science fiction/fantasy: $700 million, Mystery: $650 million, and Classic literary fiction: $466 million. Of those who read books in 2007, one in five read romance novels.” Impressive.Often referred to as escapism or fluff, the romance genre is known for the “formula” – boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy loses girl over some stupidity that can’t be helped, boy wins girl back, and they live happily ever after. But if all writers followed the “formula” without a real story plot, do you honestly believe that $1.375 billion would have changed hands in 2007? Romance has many sub-genres as well and contemporary romance (the here and now, situations the average reader can relate to) remains the leader of the pack.

During a recent discussion with my editor/publisher, I asked for her definition of romance, erotica and porn – all too often used to delineate categories of romance. Her response was simple, the focus of the story and whether the plot and love came before or after the sex in the book. This put it all into perspective for me. Just like the ingredient label on our breakfast cereals, which comes first?

To date I have written four contemporary romance novels; three have been published and the fourth, Courage of the Heart (actually a modernized re-release from 2001) is due out in February. The ingredient labels on Bartlett’s Rule, Forgotten, Within the Law and the aforementioned Courage of the Heart would read: Love story. Sub-plots and twists, Sex – yep, they are romance novels. A fifth novel, due out in the summer, is called Final Sin. Final Sin’s ingredient label would read Crime-Suspense story, sub-plots and twist, love story and sex; while there is certainly sex involved, it is more relevant to the crime than to the love story. (I have been assured by the haters of romance novels that they are looking forward to reading my NON-romance.)

Some of the most popular stories throughout time have involved intricate love stories although some do not have happy-ever-after endings: Romeo and Juliet, Gone With the Wind, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Gift of the Magi, and more. Many modern day movies and box-office hits illustrate the theme of love and sex: 27 Dresses, Pretty Woman, Love Story, Casablanca, Sleepless in Seattle…

It seems that the story of romance is here to stay. And if you decide to pick up a romance novel, you just might find yourself intrigued by the story.

Romance Novels by Chelle Cordero

http://chellecordero.blogspot.com

available from Amazon.com

 

43 Responses to Romance Fiction – not just Porn! from Chelle Cordero

  1. Chelle Cordero

    Thank you so much for today’s spotlight!

  2. Namid

    Your books are AMAZING. What I loved about your books is that you are anything BUT a formula writer. There is so much more than cheesy pick up lines in your books. There’s mystery, intrigue. As one of your readers, I have to say that the romance part was the icing on the cake. It was sweet, it was beautiful & decorative, but there was so much more that I was sinking my teeth into and I LOVED it!

    Yes, sadly romance writers do not get the credit that they deserve. You, my dear, deserve a tremendous amount of credit for your TRUE talent!! 🙂

  3. Vanilla Heart Publishing

    I’ve found the same response – ‘I don’t read romance’ – from many people. It is an almost (or openly) derisive sneer. Funny thing is though, when I’ve given the press kits and a sample copy of your books to booksellers, Chelle, they don’t KNOW it is romance and love them!

    As Namid said, you have so much in each book that leads the reader on a journey through mystery, intrigue, suspense. And, yes, romance.

    Great blog!

  4. Chelle Cordero

    Thank you so much Namid and Kimberlee (VHP) for stopping by.

    Yes, the story IS the thing and I am so happy you feel that I am accomplishing that. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. Karen H.

    Great post, Chelle!

  6. Karin

    Your post is fantastic, Chelle. It definitely brings up some good points. I only wish that non-romance readers would take a moment to look at those statistics and realize that at least one or two of the people around them are most likely furtive romance readers.

  7. Chelle Cordero

    Thank you both Karen and Karin –

    One would think that in this day and age when there is so much in the news about money that the statistics would go a long way in enforcing that fact that the romance genre is a legit buisness.

  8. Lavada Dee

    Chelle,
    I’ve been getting better responses to writing romance. Still the men in the crowd phoo phoo. I’m proud of what I write and I think that helps me present it better then I did when I was first starting and unsure.

    Thanks for the stats. And, a fact for all those men out there…. James Patterson writes some really good romance and is a member of RWA or so I heard.

    Lavada

  9. Chelle Cordero

    Thanks Lavada – And that is a great fact about James Patterson!

  10. J.K. Coi

    Awesome post, Chelle! I know how you feel (I’m sure we all do). It’s amazing the looks on some people’s faces after I tell them that I write romance. As if I’d just sneezed on them or something. LOL

    But I think that I’ve had just as many people express an honest interest, and have gladly admitted that they like to read romance.

    Can’t wait to have you on my blog in the new year!

    Take care,

    J.K. Coi
    Immortals to Die For
    http://www.jkcoi.com

  11. Miikell & Gizzy

    It’s funny how people have to categorize everything. It might seem like it makes things simpler but it doesn’t. Look how when you go to a bookstore. You can’t find a book unless you figure out what category they put it in.
    Then authors face the same thing.. My favorite writer Dean Koontz started as a Science Fiction writer and in order to write a suspense or humor novel he had to write under different names. Many of his books I consider great romance novels.. two that come to mind right away is “Watchers” and “Lightning” but they’re not categorized as such. Maybe that’s the trick?

  12. Rebecca J.Clark

    Great post. It’s a shame we sometimes get bashed for our genre, isn’t it? Whenever someone tells me they hate or don’t read romance novels, I ask what their favorite movie is. Nine times out of 10 it’s a romance. I then proceed to tell them they should give romance books a try.

  13. Kayelle Allen

    Well put – thanks for the stats and the encouragement.

  14. Chelle Cordero

    It is obvious that romance has a following – so it’s obvious that we are doing something in demand. We’ll just keep those love stories coming.

    Thank you JK, Miikell (& Gizzy), Rebecca & Kayelle for all of your encouragement.

  15. Kiki Howell

    I loved your choice of words, “condescending amusement.” I was shocked when I first got published at the mean-natured comments, hidden under uncomfortable laughs, I got about what I write. There is one lady I come in contact with often at sporting events that always makes the comment when my work is brought up, “Well, she doesn’t write Barney books, that’s for sure.” On the bright side, I have certain relations that no longer speak to me because my website comes with a content warning! LOL!

  16. Chelle Cordero

    I still get some rather nasty-jokes from even friends but hey, my books are selling so somebody is reading them. what is that old statement about laughing all the way to the bank.

    Seriously, I enjoy what I write and I know some enjoy what they read. I am proud of my accomplishments.

    For those who choose not to read romance, there are other books out there – I even read some of them.

  17. Debbie Beverley

    I love romances. They are the only books I read and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve been reading romances since the age of 16. I don’t care what anyone says about them. I love them.

  18. Mary Ann Johnson

    Hi Chelle, I have been reading romance stories since I was about 14 and love them. The first one I can ever remember reading was The Gold Shoe by Grace Livingston Hill. I thought it was the greatest story and hoped I would find a love like the heroine. I think that is what all people who read romances are ultimately looking for. My real love did not turn out like that but it is still the love of my life. I don’t care at all who knows I read romances and I take them with me to the doctor’s office and anywhere else I think I may have to wait before being seen. I have not read your books but will be checking them out soon.

  19. Rebecca J Vickery

    I agree whole-heartedly that the diference between romance, erotica, and porn is whether the sex comes before or after love. But I would add that it also has to do with is there a plot and a well told story or is the entire book just sex? Are there interesting people in differing situations to hold our interest or do we just read about sex with multiple partners in varying locations and positions? Personally I’ll take ROMANCE every time.

  20. Renee M

    I read romance books and I am proud of it. People at work know that I do. I take my vacations to Romance reader events whenever I can and I don’t make a secret about it.

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