Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Music hath charms. . .": Love Songs Past and Present

Continuing with the theme “Creative Romance”, here are a few interesting tidbits on the ever-popular love songs which flood the airways.

Here's a list of my all-time favorites!

“Goodnight, Little Girl of My Dreams” was possibly the first love song which caught my fancy. I played the old 78 rpm record belonging to my parents and fell in love with love.
“Young Love (First Love)” and “Only You” resonate from the 45 rpm player which filled the school gym for our dances and were also eagerly listened for on the local radio station each night.
“Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland” and “Because” are from eras long past but touched my heart in ways I can’t fully explain.
“We’ll Meet Again” and “I’ll Be Seeing You”, so honestly sung by (Dame) Vera Lynn during WW II are poignant reminders of too many loves which never saw tomorrow.

Finally, “Wind Beneath My Wings”, a more modern song, played on my heartstrings as I wrote ‘the great American novel’ which has yet to see the light of day after some 40 years!

Some searching turned up this website listing the 100 Best Love Songs of the 20th Century Perhaps you’ll find your favorites listed there. 

British playwright William Congreve (1670-1729) is the source of the oft-misquoted “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast”. Music has always soothed me in times of heartbreak and near despair and also lifted me in joyous (even ordinary!) times. And love songs speak to the best within us and give voice to our unspoken hopes and dreams when we’re young--and to our memories when we grow old.

February is the month for love and love songs. 
Sing along!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Romance is romance is romance!

On Wednesday I ran down all the different sub-genres of romance found on the shelves these days and mentioned my tastes ran to the ‘vintage’ type--stories happening in the 20th century from WW I through the 50s. (I have to admit my nose is a bit out of joint to consider the 50s as ‘vintage’ since that’s the era in which I grew up. However, age creeps up on all of us! But I digress.)
My first book dealt with a wealthy man, embittered because he was left blind after WW I, and a woman who lost her fiancĂ© in the same war and ultimately found herself impoverished and responsible for her brother’s young stepdaughter. I loved Alan and Lenore as portrayed in Where Is Papa’s Shining Star? A sequel, Finding Papa’s Shining Star, followed, and then I wrote Dancing with Velvet, a love song to my home town as it was during World War II. Celeste and Kent followed the traditional route: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back to live happily-ever-after. But the twists and turns along the way gave depth to the story. But again, I digress (and shamelessly self-promote).

Other kinds of romance, often overlooked, can be some of the best:
~~second-time-around in which people meet after previous marriages which ended either in death or divorce
~~May-December in which a younger woman falls in love with a much-older man
~~romance with obstacles in which one or both lovers must also deal with a life-altering handicap
~~young love/puppy love in which the players are supposed to be too young to know what love is, much less make a life-long commitment
The Showboat Affair (written as Gwyneth Greer) deals with second-time-around combined with danger and suspense. Nick, widowed for 20 years, meets Jean, newly-dumped in favor of a younger woman after 30 years. They meet, fall in love, and find their adult children will do almost anything to keep them apart. And someone is even willing to go even farther.
Recently I wrote a May-December romance/romance with obstacles (which I won’t title since it’s under consideration by a publisher), which takes place just after WW II. Ruthann, a young teacher, is pursued by Drew, the superintendent of schools who has a daughter her age! Because
of an injury during the first world war, Drew faces the loss of his leg.
Finally, in what I term ‘the great American novel’ which I’ve only been working on for 40 years and will probably never complete, young love blooms as Peggy and Vic meet as 15-year-olds during the Depression. She’s been handed off to a step-aunt because of her mother’s illness; he’s the son of the town drunk. They become best friends and realize their survival depends on the two of them together forever. But, as I said, the entire story looks to rival Gone with the Wind or War and Peace in length, so it will probably never see the light of day. . .
Perhaps it’s my age--or perhaps it’s the era in which I grew up--but
I view romance as much more than a tumble in the hay. And, in truth, happily-ever-after depends on real love, not just physical attraction. I don’t even want to think about the soaring number of single-parent homes resulting in brief liaisons and/or lack of commitment by one or both partners. I like to think I summed up my own feelings in what Ruthann says to Drew: “I believe in love. Mostly, I believe in you.”

You can read more/view video trailers at my website.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

So what IS 'creative romance'?

In yesterday’s blog on a few fascinating February facts, I mentioned the month had also been designated as “Creative Romance Month”. Then I asked, tongue in cheek,  “What’s ‘creative romance’? Do I really want to know? Probably not, so moving right along. . .”

But in all seriousness, writing is a creative process, so of course, the romance genre is also creative. And who knew there are so many different kinds, or subgenres, of the romance novel? I turned first to The Wild Rose Press since this outstanding publisher gave me my first contract--as well as three more!--and I have one “out” for consideration now.

They break down their romantic novels, novellas, and shorts into these categories:
      Contemporary western
Dark paranormal
(You’ll find other sub-sub genres here also like some mentioned below.)

An article at Writing World adds these categories:
Time Travel
Young adult

For a comprehensive list try Romantic Subgenres.

So how does one actually write romance? There are plenty of books out there,but I stumbled on this concise article which, if you’re a beginner, might be useful.

Disclaimer:  Now I’m going to shamelessly self-promote, so you can stop reading here. . .OR. . .if you’re in the market for a good romance, one of these titles might actually rattle your cage!

My favorite flavor is “vintage”, especially anything set in and around the Great Depression and World War II. Cozy mystery and romantic suspense, however, are also right up there.


Contemporary (under the pen name of Gwyneth Greer)

Cozy Mystery (The Penelope Pembroke Series)

Romantic Suspense  (The Dreamland Series)

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Few Fascinating February Facts

How can it be February already? And how many of you used to at least pronounce this month, if not actually spell it, Feb - u - ary? Never mind.

So what’s up for the shortest month of the year? Well, it’s American Heart Month and Black History Month, but it also celebrates Creative Romance Month. What’s ‘creative romance’? Do I really want to know? Probably not, so moving right along. . .

I looked up the origins of the month’s name and found the recital of the Julian vs. Gregorian calendars quite boring. It doesn’t really matter how it got its name, February will always be February. It won’t always be Leap Year, however, but this year gives us an extra day--29 instead of 28. The older one becomes, the more time one can use, so thanks, 2016.

We all know tomorrow is Ground Hog Day. Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? I certainly hope not! After the recent balmy days in central Arkansas, I’d welcome the arrival of spring six weeks early!

Two well-known Presidents celebrate birthdays this month: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. So, on the third Monday, school children (and banks and postal workers) will get a holiday from their usual pursuits to mark President’s Day. We used to get Washington’s Birthday off, but a holiday’s a holiday.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on the 10th, so of course Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras will proceed the more solemn occasion. 

For those with a sweet tooth, feel free to eat ice cream for breakfast on Saturday. I might try mine with maple syrup! 

The big day of the month is, of course, Valentine’s Day. The stores start putting out decorations, candy, and cards as soon as Christmas is over! I have fond memories of that day during elementary school. We always had a party (nothing banned in those days!), and some mother would donate one of her husband’s round hat boxes to be decorated as the repository of the Valentines we gave each other. Being chosen to be the postman and deliver all those cards was an honor. I don’t remember it being such a commercial enterprise in those days, but perhaps I just didn’t realize it.

Three days we should really celebrate--or at least remember--every day of every month are Send a Card to a Friend Day (7th), Make a Friend Day (11), National Organ Donor Day (14th), and Random Act of Kindness Day (17th).

For more special days in February, check Bizarre and Unique Holidays.