Romance Novels: Why I’m Reading Them

“All females are complicated, worse’n a riddle wrapped in a puzzle.”Alexander Dunwoody Jessup, Master, Confederate States Navy. Quoted in River Ruckus, Bloody Bay.

These words by one of my naval saga’s main characters explains, I think, why romance novels are difficult for us men to write. Of course, in a lady’s eyes, we men are probably riddles too.

After a quick perusal of my bookshelves, one won’t find romance novels. No, that person will find history books, historical novels, literary classics, Westerns (Louis L’Amour and Elmer Kelton, primarily), and numerous works of Christian non-fiction. But a romance novel in my house? I may have one or two, but not many.

Ah, things are changing now. I’m starting to branch out of my “literary comfort zone” by reading more of them. Not just reading, though. I’m studying them—how the stories are put together, character motivations (especially the female characters), plot twists, and so on.

Sure, I could purchase a book on how to write them, and I probably will at some point, but it’s also helpful to read outside of our genres every now and then. It gives us a “flavor” of the genre and the prose. My least favorite genre is fantasy and science fiction, yet I confess, I’ve read a few of those kinds of books, too.

Why branch out in our reading? It helps our writing. As for my current diet of romance novels, I’m counting on it to help me improve my development of female characters in my historical novels. Who knows? Maybe, one day, I can help Alexander solve those beautiful “riddles wrapped in a puzzle.”

Are you reading outside your preferred genre? What books are you reading this year?

Breaking News

One of the hard lessons I’ve had to come to terms with is this truth: I am a human. Wow! Breaking news, huh?

To be more precise, it used to bother me when I’d discover an editing error either I or someone else missed after my books were published. Not too many errors, fortunately, but errors, such as typos, nonetheless. I am human. We are human. No matter how many times we proofread our manuscript, no matter how many good beta readers we have, such minor errors still get past us. Hey, I’ve even found them in bestsellers: typos, wrong prepositions, an awkward sentence here and there. It happens to all of us.

For some reason, the things we missed jump off our published pages. We needn’t get bent out of shape when this happens (like I used to do). As I said earlier, I’ve found things editors of bestsellers missed. The main thing we need to be concerned about, though, is that we don’t have too many. However, if we miss a couple of things always remember the breaking news: We’re all human, including our editors.

Horse Trivia, Thoroughbreds

While researching my current work-in-progress, a novel about Thoroughbred racing in the antebellum South, I learned a few interesting bits of trivia about these magnificient animals. Although I’m sure most horse people know these things, they were new to me. So, I thought I’d share them.

Thoroughbreds can run between 35 and 40 miles per hour.

The Thoroughbred’s average stride is twenty feet long.

Thorougbreds can reach up to 150 strides per minute.

Fascinating stuff, at least for me.

Source: “Racing Explained: What Makes a Good Racehorse?” Horse Racing Ireland, 12 March 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOV2Ip69-3E

News Update

February 1: I will be attending the Southern Christian Writers Book Expo at Lakeside Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The Expo’s hours will be between 10 a.m and 3 p.m. I’ll have a book table and will be autographing books. If you’re in the Birmingham area, come by for a visit!