Nancy: Romance is the Shizzle

OK, that might be a terrible and decidedly dated title for a blog post, but what’s important here is the message. Romance is hot! I’m not talking about 4-alarm heat levels based sexual explicitness. I’m talking about the state of the market. While other fiction genres struggle to recover from the hit book buying took last November (after something happened…something cataclysmic and unprecedented…ring any bells?), the romance genre is leading the pack in rebounding.

According to an article on Salon.com titled Welcome to the Romance Resistance, booksellers, publishers, and indie authors are reporting record sales in the genre. The article credits the escapism the genre offers its readers, something many women (remembering that women make up 84% of romance’s readers) are seeking  during these trouble times. No doubt there’s something to that. But other genres offer escapism, too, so what else is romance offering its readers?

It’s another e word. Empowerment. We’re seeing tremendous pushes toward regression in women’s rights, on issues ranging from workplace protections to bodily autonomy. Much of the romance genre provides a ballast to this frightening trend. Authors across the genre write about heroines who are smart, capable, and full of agency. Heroines who are empowered.

We’ve seen how threatening empowered women are to the powers that be and the pushback that women’s societal strides forward have engendered. But we must keep that forward momentum. When fighting the good fight exhausts us, we can take a break and sink into a good book for a little bit of escapism and a big dose of ‘woman power’.

Friend of the blog Jennifer Crusie has said romance is the most subversively feminist genre she’s ever read. That subversion, and the escapism, empowerment, and celebration it brings with it are center stage right now. So let your romance flags fly, readers and writers of this awesome genre!

 

Note: This week, whether you’re stoking your creativity by writing your own romance story or immersing yourself in someone else’s story world, how about a little musical accompaniment? Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the smash Broadway hit Hamilton, has undertaken a musical project to help victims of Hurricane Maria. If you want to hear him talk about the creative process of writing and recording the song Almost Like Praying with a whole host of Latinx stars, check out NPR’s interview with Miranda. To get straight to the music, check out the video on YouTube. Whether you stream the song or buy, the proceeds go to the Hispanic Federation’s Hurricane Relief Fund.

Michille: Who Reads Romance?

novelsThe birth of the modern romance novel is generally considered to be in the early 1970s with the publication of The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, but the first romance novel was actually Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson, published in 1740, followed by Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen published in 1813. Romance novels have been around for a quite a while and they have changed a great deal. So who reads them?

According to Romance Writers of America,64.6 million Americans read at least one romance novel in the past year, up from 51 million readers in 2002 and 41 million in 1998. Of those readers, 78% are women, 50% are married, and 42% have a bachelor’s degree or higher (I found these statistics here). Continue reading

Jilly: Celebrating the Serious Business of Romance Writing

Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding ...

Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding …

I’d like to propose a toast.

Tomorrow is Labor Day for many readers of this blog, though not for us here in the UK. I’ve spent most of my life working for US corporations, so I know the holiday falls on the first Monday in September. I know it marks the start of the NFL season (we love football, American-style, here at Casa Jilly), but beyond that, I never gave it much thought – until now.

According to that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, Labor Day is “… a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers.

So today seems like the perfect day to reflect on and celebrate the social and economic achievements of romance authors.

If you’re still reading, chances are you already know Continue reading