I’ll Take Romance in My YA

CampForgetMeNot_FinalCover_2014It’s no secret that the writers behind the JK Rock books are also adult romance authors. I (Joanne) have been writing romance for many years and have written widely across romance subgenres. A little romantic suspense here, a lot of medieval historical there, and a great deal of contemporary steamy stories over all. So when I thought about writing Young Adult novels, there had to be some romance in them.

When my sister-in-law writing partner, Karen, talked to me about possibly writing some YA books, that was my only caveat. I was all in for YA (I love YA!) but if I was going to put my stamp on a story, there had to be a love interest. It didn’t have to be the whole story, but it’s the part of the story I’m always most interested in, both as a reader and as a writer. I want romance, baby!

Falling in love is my story. It’s the tale that is important to me. I love hearing couples’ “first meet” tales or listening to older couples reminisce about the first time they saw one another. It doesn’t matter how old a guy is when he talks about the first time he saw “The One.” He is transported to that moment. He sees his loved one all over again in that perfect, shining light, with the movie slow-motion effect. Ten years, twenty ye9780373608706 (2)ars or fifty years later, it’s still a magical moment.

In YA stories, we aren’t always dealing with “The One.” Not many people find their love of a lifetime as a teenager, although it certainly happens. But I like that the experience of the duds—the cheaters, the liars, the people who don’t like you as much as you like them—all combine to give a character the vision and understanding to recognize the right person when they come along. Dating can be equals part fun and frustrating, but it’s necessary work to help us figure out what qualities we really need or want in a romantic interest. What are your deal breakers? What quirks can you live with and even learn to love?

I guess I like romance in my YA for all the obvious reasons—the swoony moments, the great kisses and my_ladys_favorthe encounters that make my heart beat faster. But I also like it for some less obvious ones. Romance teaches us about love and in doing so, it teaches us about ourselves. Even better, reading romance can provide some of those insights without all the risk to our hearts! I really think that reading romance helped me to know what things I couldn’t accept in a relationship. By reading about a heroine who got her heart broke, I could be a little wiser about dating.

Nothing takes the place of the real thing. Of course. But give me a love story any ay of the week. It’s a story that never gets old for me.

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Where’s the Love?

OK, maybe this marks me as a crotchety spinster (heck, maybe this is why I’m a spinster, crotchety or not) but lately I’ve come across a number of romance manuscripts in which there’s all kinds of lust…and hardly any romance.  The protagonists take one look at each other, realize that their opposite number is sizzling hot, and after that there’s nothing but lust, interspersed with quarrels and story obstacles—and almost nothing of getting to know each other, getting to like each other, discovering why this really hot person is worthy of being loved…

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not a prude.  I don’t have any problem with a good sex scene.   (Though when you’ve got one every 20 or 30 pages they do get kind of repetitive.)  I also like nudity in movies, and profanity in most forms of fiction.  But if you’re going to call it a love story, shouldn’t there be a bit more connection in this personal connection?

I also have to confess that I don’t read a lot of romance (like you hadn’t guessed that already) but surely there should something more heartfelt, to even category romances than a classy version of, “Oooooh.  I’d like to get me some of that.”

I’ve lately found that even in the romances I read (Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Elizabeth Lowell) I’ve been more interested in the relationships between minor characters than the protagonist’s romance, or with the mystery than the romance.

And maybe it is me…but whatever happened to “the meeting of true minds?”  Whatever happened to hearts and souls, as well as bodies?

In fairness, I should say that I think it’s a lot harder to create characters who fall in love for reasons of character, instead of hormones, and that I don’t think I could do it—though I’m beginning to be inspired to try.

For my money, the best romance writer today is SF author Lois McMaster Bujold, and I think the reason her romances work so well for me is because her characters aren’t interchangeable.  In most romances, you could probably swap any of the author’s heroines or heroes out for any of their other protagonists, and write exactly the same book—but I can’t imagine Aral or Cordelia ever loving anyone but each other.  The Sharing Knife series is the most “romantic” of all Bujold’s books, and Fawn and Dag’s May/December love story works for all kinds of reasons.  But mostly it works because, while I must admit that Fawn might have been able to find happiness with someone else, she was clearly Dag’s last chance for happiness in this life—and he gave up just about everything to hold onto her because he knew it.  (Though I have to say, that first sex scene between Fawn and Dag was delightful—but that was probably because it was more about Fawn and Dag than about sex.)

Anyway, does anyone but me feel the same way?  And what authors have you found, whose characters fall in love, as well as in lust?

 Bell_Thief_cover-12-16Hilari writes SF and fantasy for kids and teens—without, it must be confessed, a lot of romance.

Fathers in Fiction

(note: I’m cross-posting today on Indie Writers Monthly)

With Father’s Day being today, and with my son’s recent obsession with Star Wars, the power of the Force compels me to post this scene:

Though this is a good one too:

It seems that there are a lot of father-son relationships in fiction that are problematic. A missing or dead father (Harry Potter, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe), an abusive father, a crazy father (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) father as the enemy…well, there wouldn’t be anything interesting in a normal relationship, right? Fathers can serve as both positive and negative role models. They can be motivations for accomplishing a quest. Yet, often, they have to get out of their offsprings’ way so their kids can grow up.

What are your favorite father-child relationships in fiction?

BOOK EXPO AMERICA 2014

I attended Book Expo America a couple of weeks back at the Javits Center in New York City. For those of you unfamiliar with BEA, it is the most amazing place in America for book lovers to be! Authors, editors, agents, publishers, librarians, bloggers, readers—you name it, they come! Publishers showcase their newest titles, give away tons of ARCs, and authors sign their books throughout the conference.

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My highlights from BEA:

*When I first arrived, a girl walked past me and yelled out, “I read your book! I read Triangles!” It made me feel like a celebrity! It’s an awesome feeling that I hope every writer gets to experience one day.

*Hanging out at the Spencer Hill Press table with the amazing people of SHP and their authors.

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*Meeting some new friends in person that I’d only met online.

*Having a delicious dinner at Five Napkin Burger with a fellow book lover and new friend as a storm swept through the area, followed by an evening of chatting at the hotel in the bar area.

*Of course, collecting upwards of 75 ARCs from some familiar and some new authors! Every year at BEA I find a few new authors to love, which is my favorite part of BEA.

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Were you at BEA? What was your best moment?

The Monster Within MONSTER Giveaway!

Squee! The Monster Within releases June 17th! That means it’s time to celebrate! And what better way to celebrate than by having a giveaway? But before we get to the giveaway, check out the cover and blurb for The Monster Within.
 
The moment seventeen-year-old Samantha Thompson crawls out of her grave, her second chance at life begins. She died of cancer with her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, by her side—a completely unfair shot at life. But Ethan found a way to bring her back, like he promised he would. Only Sam came back wrong.


She’s now a monster that drains others’ lives to survive. And after she kills, she’s tortured by visions—glimpses into her victims would-have-been futures had she not killed them. Barely able to live with herself and trying to make things right, Sam ends up a pawn in a vicious game of payback within the local coven of witches.


But when the game reveals what Ethan had to do to save Sam, she must make a choice that will change all their lives forever.
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
ISBN:  978-1-937053-85-7
Release Date: 6/17/2014
Formats: Paper, e-book 

Add it on Goodreads.
Pre-order on B&N or Amazon. 
 
So, what can you win? 

 
  • 1 signed copy of The Monster Within
  • The Monster Within bookmarks
  • a mask (winner’s choice of purple, green, or gold)
  • a mood ring (winner’s choice of small, medium, or large)
  • a triquetra necklace (not shown in picture)
  • a paperback ARC of Cold Calls, a YA thriller by Charles Benoit
  • a hard cover copy of The Magnolia League, a witchy YA by Katie Crouch
  • a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (winner’s choice; gift card not shown in picture)

Sound good? Enter by filling out the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

June Preview

It’s summer!!!! And we’ve got some great new releases coming up 🙂

Toni Kerr’s Unleashed, book 2 in the Makai series, releases June 5th:
front UNLEASHED 051214Tristan can’t wait to get to Darnell—a place where people have similar powers to his own and won’t know about the horrific events that led to being exiled from his previous home. Unfortunately, they do know, and so does Lazaro, a ruthless man determined to regain possession of the powerful emerald Tristan stole.

And Lazaro isn’t the only one on a quest for Tristan’s blood.

A secret society of overzealous dragon slayers believes Tristan is a worthy target to hunt. When he is captured and put on trial for being an abomination to mankind, his continued denial of dragon ancestry won’t keep him safe for long. The Slayers have been hunting for generations, and in a private museum of artifacts and past conquests, Tristan discovers a handful of gems akin to the emerald and a new mission—if he can survive long enough to escape captivity.

But then…no amount of protection or denial can save him from himself.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22075712-unleashed

Michelle McLean’s Romancing the Rumrunner releases from Entangled’s Scandalous on June 9th:
RTRR 300x450Prohibition Era Chicago

She’s worked too hard to be run out of town…

Jessica Harlan spends her nights as The Phoenix, the owner of the most popular speakeasy in town. Her days are spent running her respectable butcher shop and dodging prohibition agents and rival club owners who all want to put her out of business.

He’s worked too hard to let his heart get in the way…

When the opportunity arises to go undercover for the Feds to catch The Phoenix, Gumshoe Anthony Solomon jumps on it. But he never suspected the notorious rumrunner would be a dame – or that he’d be so drawn to the feisty little minx.

They play a dangerous game of cat and mouse, knowing they can’t trust the other, but unable to walk away. While their hearts dodge the crossfire, the mobsters raise the stakes, and even The Phoenix may not rise again.

Kelly Hashway’s The Monster Within releases from Spencer Hill Press on June 17th:
TheMonsterWithinfinalcoverFLATcropped (2)The moment seventeen-year-old Samantha Thompson crawls out of her grave, her second chance at life begins. She died of cancer with her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, by her side—a completely unfair shot at life. But Ethan found a way to bring her back, like he promised he would. Only Sam came back wrong.
She’s now a monster that drains others’ lives to survive. And after she kills, she’s tortured by visions—glimpses into her victims would-have-been futures had she not killed them. Barely able to live with herself and trying to make things right, Sam ends up a pawn in a vicious game of payback within the local coven of witches.
But when the game reveals what Ethan had to do to save Sam, she must make a choice that will change all their lives forever.

Jennifer Allis Provost’s Copper Ravens releases from Spencer Hill Press on June 17th:
copper ravensSara should be happy. She has what every girl wants: a man who loves her, a beautiful home, and wealth beyond imagining. She rescued her brother from the Peacekeepers, destroyed the Iron Queen, and doesn’t have to go to her boring job any more. And yet Sara still doesn’t know if her father is alive or dead. Her mother hides in the garden, brooding about her missing husband. Her sister, the Inheritor of Metal, is scared of her own shadow, and her brother spends his days fighting and gambling. To add to Sara’s misery, the new queen (gold, of course) is more than a bit crazy, she misses her life in the Mundane world, and, worst of all, Micah wants to have children. A lot of them. As Sara wavers between happiness and homesickness, a conspiracy emerges against the Raven clan, implicating them in a plot to dethrone the Gold Queen. How can Sara prove her family’s innocence, and become the consort Micah needs her to be, without losing herself in the process?

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Our theme this month is a free for all! Can’t wait to see what our authors come up with 🙂