Saturday, February 27, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger Linda Swift




Today our guest blogger is Linda Swift. Linda divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She has been writing since she was ten and is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Her first two books were published by Kensington.


Linda's Awe-Struck Publishing books include Single Status, available as an e-book and in print and The Twelve Days of Christmas, an ebook. Her first published historical will be available in 2010. Her contemporary books also include Circle of Love, available as an e-book and in print and Let Nothing You Dismay, an ebook, from The Wild Rose Press.


NO APOLOGY NEEDED

When I began writing romance about fifteen years ago, I learned very quickly that the genre was looked down upon by a surprising number of people. I had read only a few paperback romance books and considered myself a mainstream writer at the time. Several of my short stories had been published by small presses and I'd had a play produced on television but my two finished book manuscripts had not found a home.

While attending a writers' conference in Missouri, I met a romance writer who encouraged me to contact her agent. At the same conference, a New York editor introduced a new line of romance books targeted for women over fifty that her publisher was launching and she invited me to submit something. I had an idea for a story that would fit and I put together a synopsis and the requisite three chapters and sent it in. Almost simultaneously I acquired a publisher and an agent and gave my attention to finishing the book on schedule.

I was elated to have a book accepted and announced my success to all my family and friends. It was then I realized that romance authors were not necessarily held in high esteem. An older cousin who was a school principal told me that she was concerned about my good mind now that I was wasting it writing romance books. After the book was published, my husband and I visited another cousin and his wife and attended a program where my cousin was performing in a musical show. At intermission, he introduced his visitors to the crowd and told them that I wrote "those…little paperback books." He could not even bring himself to say the embarrassing word "romance."

Then there were all the people who asked if the book was about my own life. The heroine's husband left her for a young woman during his mid-life crisis. When my husband and I were having breakfast out, we saw one of his former classmates. My husband introduced me and the man asked if I wasn't the writer. (I'd had some local promotion on the newspaper and on TV) When I said yes, he looked at my husband, then me, and said "Didn't he leave you for another woman?" And we both said together, "No, no, that's in the book. It's fiction."

Mainstream writers aren't usually asked if they have done everything in their plots, but it seems romance writers are suspected of having experienced every passionate scene they write. Don't they know romance writers can do research as well as resort to hands-on (pun intended here) encounters? When people used to raise their eyebrows or smirk at the mention of romance books, I defended them by saying they were more chaste than mainstream as the plots involved love between one man and one woman. But of course, the genre has changed and I couldn't say that now

Today I am writing ebooks which, depending on the publishers' guidelines, may also be available in print. This has presented another stigma with which to deal. There seems to be a general consensus that ebooks are somehow inferior to trade paperbacks. And that authors only resort to that type of publication if they can't get "real books" published. So to be a romance writer of ebooks is reason to be doubly apologetic.

But I have finally reached the conclusion that those of us in this category have no reason to apologize to anyone. If people weren't reading romance, this genre wouldn't have the impressive sales record it has today. And if electronic books were not in the forefront of the publishing industry, the NY publishers would not be getting onboard. So I take pride in being a romance writer and being among the current trendsetters. I hope my friends and family can appreicate my accomplishments as an author, but if they can't it is their loss, not mine. For my creative passion has found an outlet that gives me great pleasure and the friendships I have made in this business are an added benefit. And you know, I'll bet if Shakespeare were alive today, he would be leading the way in this challenging new direction.
Linda can be reached at her website at www.lindaswift.net

45 comments:

Linda Swift said...

Good morning, Jana. Good morning, all. Happy Saturday. Happy weekend. It is still unseasonably chilly (we never say "cold" in Florida) here midway down the Gulf Coast. But compared to other parts of the country, we have a lot to be thankful for. So I hope wherever you are, you and those you love are safe and warm. I want to thank all who stop by and I'll be in and out all day to read your comments and get acquainted. And a special thank you to Prairie Chicks for giving me this opportunity to express my thoughts on a subject I feel passionately about.

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--You were spot-on with every comment for your topic. I can identify with each one, and I bet most others, can, too.The first question people asked me was, "Do you write under your own name?" I mean it, every single person asked that. In itself, the question suggests a lurid tale with sex and mayhem. My stock answer became, "Yes,there's nothing to be ashamed of in there, and much of it is adventure." Interestingly, the word "adventure" usually hooked the buyer.
Your story about people thinking your romance books are all about you and our love life has also happened repeatedly. I laugh when I think about the confirmed sterotypes floating around out there.
My husband has become annoyed by the oft-repeated suggestion that the love scenes were patterned after him!Well...
I wanted to be your first visitor this morning, and I made it! Celia

Linda Swift said...

I want to add here that when I speak of "family" in this blog, I do not refer to my immediate family. I couldn't do what I do without the support and help my husband gives me. He does all the mechanical computer things I know nothing about. And my son-in-law has made four book videos for me, two already available. My daughter has put my profile on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. And my son has offered encouragement and appreciation of what I do. So a big thanks to them for their acceptance and love.

Linda Swift said...

Thanks for stopping by, Celia. I had hoped to add my comments about family before you got here, so I hope you'll be back. I never want to fail to give credit to them for their love and support, and also to my friends like you whose support and understanding mean so much. People like you are one of the things I appreciate most about writing for epublishers.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Linda,
Welcome to the Prairies! I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder when it comes to the weather. It's going to be -3 C (25F) in my neck of the woods which is a fantastic February day on the prairies!

I laughed when I read your blog. I have to give you kudos for putting yourself out there. It's only been in recent times that I've even told people (and then not everyone) that I write romance. But I'm getting better. I did a presentation on epublishing at my husband's Rotary club and brought my Sony reader. They were fascinated by the concept of epublishing and asked many smart questions. Last summer at a family reunion I had some cousins ask me about what I write and they were fairly supportive. One of my cousins buys all my books; she's been a gem. A few made the same old joke about where I research the sex scenes (yeah, we've never heard that one before) but it was okay.

I so envy you having your family's support with your work. My husband's great about keeping my computers working - Heaven knows he's had to fix 'em up a few times. But to have someone help you with trailers, facebook and twitter, that's gold. I have a MySpace page but I haven't ventured into these other areas because of lack of time. Good for you!

Jana

Sharon Donovan said...

Good morning, ladies. Kudos to Linda! As always, your topic is both interesting and one that presents room for considerable debate in the publishing world. I think we've all gone back and forth with the concept of NY publishers vs small print/electronic companies, wondering who was right and who was wrong. We must keep up with the times and eBooks are growing by leaps and bounds. Romance is still number one out there, despite of or maybe because of all the heckling that goes with it. But I'll just end with the reason I think authors write and readers read it again and again, whether in print or eBook. Romance still rules the heart.

Linda Swift said...

Jane, thanks so much for sharing your own experiences with your writing career. Now don't let me mislead you, I HAVE a presence on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter but I didn't say I'm active there. I don't seem to find the time to really utilize these promo places like I should. But thanks, to my daughter, I'm there. The promo opportunities overwhelm me and I'm still not sure what helps most. But I know I enjoy most the guest blogging and communicating with other readers and writers. So who cares if it sells books? Well....book sales would be nice but we write most of all to communicate, don't we?

Linda Swift said...

Oooops, that's JANA. I know that. But I still don't always check my words before I send. Sorry. I'm multi-tasking with a one-tract mind today as I'm preparing for dinner guests tonight. So far I've discovered I had the wrong kind of pie crust (yep, I confess I use the frozen Pet Ritz) and had to go out in a rain storm to the grocery, then screwed up the great chess pie recipe I have by trying to turn it into a French coconut pie. And yes, I am a disaster in the kitchen. Sharon, I see you have visited today. I need Oliver in my kitchen in the worst kind of way. With him here, who would care what the dinner turned out to be?

Linda Swift said...

Sharon, you always come up with the most succinct words of wisdom. "Romance still rules the heart" is definitely one of those gems.
I have told men who stopped by a book sign or made snickering comments other places when they learn that I write romance that men need to buy and read romance to learn what women like. Since most are written by women, I think the male species could learn a lot from them. Thanks for stopping.

Linda Swift said...

Well, here I go again. That's a one TRACK mind, isn't it? All of you are proofing these words of wisdom, aren't you?

Morgan Mandel said...

I believe Romance is the highest selling genre. It's nothing to be apologetic about!

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Suzannah Safi said...

I’m so happy you wrote about this subject, and I’m proud of you, Linda, and proud of all the women who reached a destination to fulfill their goal in life.

I do agree with you on how people look at romance genre, and those ones are the ignorant among the living, really.

75% of the women who read romance have a better life with their partners, we write about love, peace, and give the reader a world to live in and enjoy away from the daily routine life.

Most New York publishing houses are heading to the e-book market, and as for the e-book publishers, they do have paperback.

Love your article Linda and I wish you and all of us the best success as published authors, and strong ones too.

Janet said...

Excellent post, Linda - I say "Amen!" to all of your points. It's time we writers stop being apologetic for what we write - and start promoting romance novels as wonderful books full of adventure, conflict, suspense, love, and hope. And a note to all of us, including me, who are not yet published to stand up and declare that we, too, are writers.

As for research - my husband proudly claims that he is my research guinea pig :)

Glad to have you visiting with us on The Prairies today - nice to see so many new faces.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Linda,
Yes, I agree with you about promotion. I'm not as active on MySpace as I should be. I've come to enjoy blogging in the year or so I've been doing it. I think we have to go with our strengths and with what we enjoy when it comes to promotion.

And don't worry about calling me Jane. I get that a lot!

Jana

Liz Flaherty said...

Excellent post! I read the whole thing doing a silent mumble of "yeah, what she said."

Linda Swift said...

Hi Morgan. You are so right about romance being the best selling genre. And that ought to tell all those people who lift their eyebrows and roll their eyes that they may be missing something good out there. Thanks for stopping.

Linda Swift said...

Hi Suzannah. Thank you for all your lovely comments and for your positive thoughts about romance writers and our genre. And a good point about how our books make life happier for a lot of people. They realy are, for the most part, "feel good" books that leave us glad to be women and with the feeling that life can have a happy ever after ending.

Linda Swift said...

Janet, it's nice to meet you. And you are already ahead since you proudly call yourself a writer. If you think you are, then you are. (We are what we think, a quote from someone) And I think husbands enjoy having people think they are the source of all our romance scenes. Quite an ego trip, huh? I'll be watching for you name on a book soon. Good luck.

Linda Swift said...

Hi Liz. So nice to meet you and I'm glad you agree with the article. We should all be proud of first, being women, second, being writers and especially romance writers. We write about emotions and there is nothing more important than what we and other feel. That's what makes us human beings, right? And I'm glad to be part of a genre that promotes positive feelings, love, caring, courage, and success.Thanks for stopping and adding your comments.

Zequeatta Jaques said...

Hi, Linda. Everything that you stated in your blog is so true. And really it is funny isn't it. Romance is alive and well, that is why we write it.

Mary Ricksen said...

It's chilly here in WPB, unusually so.
Thank goodness for ebooks!
I wish you the best Linda, this is not an easy genre. A lot of it is due to those old stereotypes.
Now we have a lot of great competition, and that makes for better stories.
I can identify with a lot of what you said.

Linda Swift said...

Hello Zequeatta, What a lovely name. It sounds "romantic." I love to discover new names and I'm always looking for one that seems right for a hero or heorine. It's nice to meet you and I appreciate your stopping by. And I agree it is humorous that the genre of romance generates so many comments from everyone. It seems no one is neutral on the subject. They either love it or won't "lower themselves to read it" or judge us as writers of it.

Linda Swift said...

Hi Mary, I'm glad you stopped by.
This is a weird winter in Florida. We've been coming down a number of years now and this is the strangest season, weather-wise, that we can remember. I'm sure not getting a sun tan! But I comform myself that it is not snowing. And it is great weather to curl up with a good book. I don't own an e-reader (for shame) and it's a little difficult to curl up with my computer but a book is a book after all.

Just for information here: I have today created a new recipe. It's called French Coconut Cobbler. Okay, it's a French Coconut pie, made by a fool proof reciep that went wrong. To be specific, it didn't get firm, so my dinner guests will be eating it in a bowl with a spoon. My husband has pronounced it delicious, but then he's the kind of guy who has a very positive attitude (and he loves me)

Linda Swift said...

Mary, if you read my reply to you, let me correct that statement about conforming myself. I don't know how to do that as I'm not a conformist! I meant comfort myself. And I can spell recipe when I really try. Oh well. A few typos or spellos never hurt anybody, right?

Danielle Thorne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danielle Thorne said...

What a spot-on post, Linda! People can be a little hypocritical toward romance authors..who in fact make the world go round. Every author should be proud of his or her genre. If you weren't doing something right, no one would be loving your books, and I certainly do!

Linda Swift said...

Hello again, I just wanted to say that I'll be occupied till about eleven. So if you stop and leave a comment, be sure that I will respond late tonight or in the morning so please check back again.And thanks for stopping by.

Karyn Good said...

Hi, Linda. Thanks for stopping by the Prairies and sharing your thoughts on writing romance and e-publishing.

There's nothing better than a romance - to read or write. Thanks for the reminder to stand tall and proud as romance writers. It's also made me realize it's worthwhile to think about potential answers to the questions and the smirks that might come my way as I tell more and more people "I'm a romance writer and proud of it."

M J Watson said...

Hi Linda, Do you think that those who criticize the romance genre think it's easy to write? The same elements that are needed in a mainstream novel are required in a
romance story. Thank goodness that good writers such as yourself have remained true to what you love! Keep up the good work. Joyce

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Linda,
Wonderful article. What you said is so true and almost mimics my writing experiences except for the Agent bit.

There does appear to be a stigma with romance writers, and yet year after year, more romance books are sold than any other genre. That should tell the sceptics something.

Regards
Margaret

Linda Swift said...

Hi Danielle, thanks for the kind words about my books. Yes, I think the romance genre will always be with us as long a people fall in love. And how nice to read a story with a happy ending with all the other things going on in our lives and world today. I'm so glad you stopped by.

Linda Swift said...

Hi Karyn. It is so nice to meet you. Sounds like you're no stranger to Prairie Chicks site but I'm new here. And it took me a while to stop apologizing for being a romance writer but I got there. And yes, we should all be proud of who we are and what we do.Thanks for your comments.

Linda Swift said...

Hi Joyce. You made an excellent point that hasn't been mentioned before on this topic. It truly does require the same skill and use of the same elements to write a romance book as any other book. Plus we often have more strict guidelines than mainstream or women's fiction genres. Thanks for your compliments also. I appreicate it and you.

Linda Swift said...

Hello Margaret. It is so nice to see you here. And yes, we seem to get a double whammo writing romance and writing for ebooks. Some people think we only write on the Internet if we can't get published anyplace else. And that we only write romance if we can't writer anything else. But as the last person mentioned, the same elements are required for writing any fiction and the same work is required to submit to any publisher also.

Linda Swift said...

It's almost midnight at my house, and my coach is about ready to turn into a pumpkin. So I'm calling it a night. I have had a great time here today and I do hope all of you who stopped have enjoyed it also. It was nice seeing old friends and meeting new people. I wish all of you success in fulfilling your dreams, whatever they may be. Goodnight all.

Ellen said...

Hi Linda, Wonderful blog! It brings to mind a PCC instructor, I'll call her DR, who blatantly made snide comments about the romance genre. And I remember my joy when Jane Ann Krantz (Oh, I hope I spelled her name correctly!), a college professor also wrote romance. But why is it that we always need "validation" from others to do what we want? It's because we writers/artist are very, very sensitive evidently. My favorite aunt, a retired school teacher, told me she "just couldn't believe it!" It really changed her attitude toward me. And she was an English major! My parents never lived to see my book published, but I believe in my heart, they both would have been proud of me. However, I do think when one knows the author, it is difficult to separate the author from the character in the story (for non-writers, I mean). Another thing that strikes me is that the general public does not seem to understand the difference in vanity publishing and being bought by a publisher. Of course, that's another subject, but it really rankles me....They just don't "get it." Love ya, Ellen

Linda Swift said...

Hi Ellen, thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the thouoghtful comments. Yes, I remember DR of PCC and those comments, myself. I think there is a whole "society" of "literary" writers who look down their noses at those of us who write romance and sell it. These so called literary group seem to write more for the approval of other writers and than for a reading public. And as for understanding the differnece between vanity publishing and commercial publishing, the lines are even more blurred when ebook authors' books are available as POD rather than mass market produced. And of course, this is what makes them more expensive than NY books which are produced in volume. Never mind all those returns by bookstores!

Lynne Roberts said...

Hi Linda,

So far, my experience with writers of other genres has convinced me what awesome generous people romance writers are!

Recently ran across a conversation where several authors claimed romance was so formulaic and so restrictive you couldn't be creative and every book was like every other book.

I responded that every genre has elements to which they must comply, romance is no different, and she told me to stop feeling sorry for myself.

Argh. Well, that's my experience. : )

Linda Swift said...

Lynne, I responded to your comments but they haven't appeared yet so it case they are lost in cyberspace, I'll repeat that I agree that romance authors are very supportive. And ebook authors especially so. I have found the ebook editors to be more accessible and supportive also.

MAGGI said...

Hi Linda, romance novels are just stories about life that have been told since the days of Homer. And the sex scenes are nothing new either. A well-written romance is as good as any other good fiction.I've been asked how I research my sex scenes, my answer is, the same way I do my murder scenes.

Kaye said...

Successful writing requires true talent and getting published is a measure of success, so real talent never needs an apology...and that's the truth! Kudos to the successful writer that I am also proud to call my Mother!!

Linda Swift said...

Oh, Maggie, I simply love your answer to the question about research for your sex scenes. It is priceless and I'm going to memorize (or write it on the palm of my hand?). It ranks right up there with the best answer to the personal question on any subject that I learned ages ago. Look the questioner right in the eye, smile if you can, and ask right back "Now why would you want to know that?" Stops them every time! Thanks for coming by, Maggie.

Linda Swift said...

Thank you, Kaye, for providing a happy beginning to my Monday morning. I have no greater reward for my efforts and small successes than to have earned the respect and pride of my family. And you already know that pride goes goes ways. And thank you for taking time out of your busy life to read my blogs.

StephB said...

Great topic, Linda, and I'm glad you stuck through it, remaining with ebooks and print. I think you've touched on a lot of things that have resonated through the years. And I have to keep wondering - why is romance so popular? Why does the genre continue to do well. Because romance is more popular than "the critics" seem to think.

Smiles on a great topic!
Steph

Linda Swift said...

Thank you for your kind words, Steph. And I do believe the critis are aware of how popular the romance genre is and that just fuels their flaming tongues!