Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blog Today Compliments of Kimber An

I made the mistake of noting recently that I seem to be running out of things to say, so Kimber An kindly gave me a list of questions to answer and requested they be strictly my observations, so here we go . . .

1) Aside from Young Adult and Inspirational, must a Romance novel contain explicit sex scenes to be published these days?

No, absolutely not. Of course, the definition of “explicit sex scenes” differs from agent to agent, but no. In fact, I’m selling a book right now that doesn’t have explicit sex scenes at all. Sexy is in and hot, but sexy can easily be done without sex.

2) How is Science Fiction Romance doing these days?

IMHO it isn’t doing well. SF with romantic elements (shelved in SF) is doing well, but SF Romance hasn’t taken off like some would have expected it to.

3) Is Time Travel Romance dead?

Never say dead, but not selling so well. It’s been really difficult, seemingly impossible, to get me excited about a time travel book in years (try 10), but I think a new, different, and completely original take on time travel would work. Otherwise, yes, practically dead.

4) How is Women's Fiction doing these days?

Fabulous! [said in singsong voice]. Everyone wants it, so get it out there if you’re writing it.

5) What genre/subgenre do you see gaining popularity or remaining strong?

Paranormal romance won’t go away whether you want it to or not, historical romances are coming back, cozy mysteries still sell if you have the right hobby/craft hook and are with the right publisher.

6) What's the dog-honest truth - do agents/editors want "fresh and original" or "same old thing, but with a new twist"?

Same old thing with a new twist. I’m reluctant to say fresh and original because someone will then send me something that’s so out there it doesn’t even make sense and tell me, when I reject it, that I lied. The new twist has to make it feel fresh and original, though.

7) As a reader, I'm sick of "Dark & Gritty." Have you heard of any fun, humorous, and adventurous novels coming out?

Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox releases in August. Hilarious, fun, and with lots of adventure.

8) How do I teach my kid not to talk with her mouth full if I have to talk with my mouth full to tell her not to?

Ugh, there’s nothing worse than being reminded that you’re talking with food in your mouth by a two-year-old. Have you tried hand signals?



Liana Brooks said...

Thank you for pointing out the sexy does not mean a sex scene with pull tabs and instructions :o) A book can be hot even if the action happens off screen.

Kimber Li said...

What a pleasant surprise! Thanks for all these answers. I'll try the hand signals. Since my darlings are early readers, I could paint a sign, "DON'T TALK WITH YOUR MOUTH FULL!" I could keep it next to my plate and hold it up whenever there's an offense.

Kate Douglas said...

This from someone who writes the really graphic sex scenes, but I will admit that some of the sexiest stories I ever read never described anything even remotely R-rated. It's all in the tension, the verbal interaction and the emotional connection between the reader and the characters. It's not easy to do, but WOW! When an author gets it right, it's amazing.

Robin Lemke said...

Ooo, this was a great Q&A! Thank you, Jessica (and Kimber).

On a side note, I'm tired of "dark and gritty" too. I love crime fiction, but really would love to read it without being so disturbed by some new grotesque way to do someone in.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Adding to the chorus proclaiming that a scene can be sexy without being graphic. It's all about the emotion and tension in such cases.

Also glad for your thoughts on #6. I'm of the belief that even the most cliché plots can be made to work if they incorporate something new and exciting, and find that anything that sells itself as "the most fresh and original" is often trying too hard. Not always, of course, but it's obvious when someone is being weird/out-there/controversial solely for the sake of being weird/out-there/controversial.

Heather Massey said...

Kimber An, you've done it again!! Great questions, and Jessica, thanks for your observations.

The science fiction romance market may be tight, but from the numbers of folks I'm encountering online, I'd wager there's a lot more readers who would read it than publishers realize.

I think part of that number depends on how one defines a book, whether SF with romantic elements or futuristic or whatever. The other part is how books are being marketed. In an SFSignal post, author Lyda Morehouse suggested that SF publishers would do well to reach out to romance readers with SF fare that would appeal to them.

That'd benefit both markets, and might pave the way for more SFR.

Of course, I'm not biased in the least, hee hee! I'm lucky enough to be getting some advance glimpses of really cool stories, so I hope they see print (or digital format) soon.

What'll most likely happen is e-publishers will cash in on SFR stories long before NY ones.

Anonymous said...

Great column. Very helpful. Thank you Kimber an and Jessica.

What kind of historical romance is making a come-back? I seem to only be seeing regency based novels (which never left), and if I do happen to see medievals, for example, they're erotica and published by smaller publishers.

I think I'm confused. Thanks in advance.

Kimber Li said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Anonymous-- Regency novels DID leave. It was SUPER hard to get an agent with a regency a couple years ago, not to mention sell it. The regencies you were seeing were mostly established authors with just the occasional debut.

Now, i wanted to say, as far as "Time Travel Romance", in YA, these seem to be doing okay-- but the key is to have a hook other than just "time travel."

For isntance:

Mari Mancusi wore THE CAMELOT CODE, in which a modern day girl brings a young arthur to the 21st century, where he googles himself and learns his fate and refuses to return.

Jennifer Donelly (author of A NORTHERN LIGHT) just had a PM deal report this week for one about a girl who discovers the lost king Louis

Then there's SAVING JULIET which came out earlier this year, with a modern guy and gal who are playing Romeo & Juliet in a play and end up in the real thing.

And my own, PRADA AND PREJUDICE, sold a few months ago, about a modern teen who ends up in Regency england and must learn to navigate high-society. The romance parallels Austen's PRIDE & PREJUDICE in many ways.

So, time travel in YA can be pulled off. And I bet if you were able to find hooks like these novels have, a regular romance time travel would get more interesting.

Kimber Li said...

That's great news about the YA Time Travel!

At my book review blog, I've encountered some awesome Fantasy Historicals for Young Adults. I love 'em and there's quite a few. I wish I had time for them all, but I've had to cut back on my reviewing schedule. Tia at Fantasy Debut has reviewed a few I couldn't get to, like the Bewitching Season. I did the Red Queen's Daughter.

For Historicals, I've seen a surge in the Tudor era, but I'm not sure if that's still going. Next month I'll be reviewing an ARC of the Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran and, hopefully, throwing her a Cyber-Launch Party too. She's such a sweetheart. The Heretic Queen is set in Ancient Egypt. I'd love to see more set in Ancient History. I have a couple stories in my head, but they're no where near ready to be written down and polished up for submission.

I'd like to see more Science Fiction with strong romantic subplots too. I've read some excellent Science Fiction lately which would have been made perfect for me if it also had a strong romance.

It seems to me the challenge with Science Fiction Romance is that it combines two genres which have always opposed each other. The Romance plot is predictable and readers find it assuring. The Science Fiction reader craves the fantastic unknown. A few authors have managed to strike an awesome balance, but most fall on either the Futuristic Romance or the Romantic Science Fiction side of the SFR spectrum. That's okay, but it's challenging for potential readers to find what they're looking for. If anyone's interested, Heather has started a new blog to help, the Galaxy Express. Just click on her username. Her blog spawned a shelfari devoted to SFR which recommends books a variety of ways. Lisa started that and you can find the link near the top of Heather's blog.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. I am astonished by Kimber An's statement that YA and Inspirational are required to have "explicit sex scenes."

Who knew?

It's a good thing the Harry Potter series came to an end before things got to this point.

Julie Weathers said...

"How do I teach my kid not to talk with her mouth full if I have to talk with my mouth full to tell her not to?"

Phffft. Smack really loud with your mouth full and say, "Do you see how disgusting this is? Don't do it."

The secret is always to make it look like you planned it.

As for the sex scenes, I posted a sex scene from my WIP and the only really graphic thing was her tongue action on his finger. Someone sent me a pm and told me they never expected me to write something like "that."

Kimber An, thank you for this post.

I hate to be stupid, but explain to me what Women's Fiction precisely, or imprecisely?

Regarding historical romance is there any interest in old west romances based on real women?

I hesitate to even ask, but what about epic fantasy?

Thanks again,


Edie Ramer said...

Great questions and great answers! Even the last one.:)

I don't write time travel, but my CP wrote one that I love. And I just read two of Sandra Hill's time traveling Viking/Seal books. But she's an established writer, so that probably makes the difference.

Anonymous said...

A great time travel romance I read recently is The Time Traveler's Wife, but then again, if time travel means the characters have to be in love across different time spans, I'm not sure that one qualifies. Diana Gabaldon's Outlander would qualify and is one of my favorites.

And thanks Kimber for informing us of Galaxy Express!

Anonymous said...

"I made the mistake of noting recently that I seem to be running out of things to say..."

That wasn't a mistake. That was the little voice in your head telling yout the truth, only you quashed it and decided to continue filling the blog up every single day, even if it has to be with less-than-notable filler.

There's nothing wrong with skipping a day or two. The audience may even grow larger. Calling in a pinch-hitter to continue the spray of banal psuedo-gossip isn't helping.

More biz, less fluff. That's what'll attract more than the same *old* crowd.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I second the question over what exactly is meant by women's fiction? Is is not romance? Please explain!!

Julie Weathers said...

"More biz, less fluff. That's what'll attract more than the same *old* crowd."

I'm curious as to how you measure blogging success. Number of comments? Number of hits? Number of subjects on some list of things you want to know about?

I'll let you in on a little secret, some of us like our information presented with a little personality. If you want a cut and dried, boring business course, you're probably at the wrong place, thank heavens.

When I start looking for an agent, I have a list of things I'm interested in business-wise. That I can research with some statistics. Top of the list is that elusive quality, personality and sense of humor. There are going to be some rough times and I want someone who can go through them with me and come out the other side laughing about it.

Aside from the information most of us get from this blog, a peek into the personality of the agents comes through. That's a very important aspect to me.

Sorry you want something different, but perhaps that's a sign you should look elsewhere rather than criticizing what the rest of us seem to enjoy. I think most of do get some good out of these posts.

It really is kind of like going to a Garth Brooks concert and complaining about country music.

Heather Massey said...

Thanks for the shout out, Kimber An! You're my hero(ine)!

Kimber Li said...

And you're sweet as pecan pie. With ice cream!

Unknown said...

I love this blog!

Tia Nevitt said...

And thanks, Kimber, for the shout-out to Fantasy Debut as well! Sorry Bewitching Season wasn't your thing.

Kimber Li said...

Are you kidding? I WAAAANted 'Bewitching Season!' I did! I did! I also wanted Tendinitis-free hands and time to write my own novels. (sigh) So many good books, so little time.