Wednesday, October 1, 2014


by Ursula Renée


Last year at the Brooklyn Book Festival, a man approached the RWA/NYC table and announced he did not believe in love as it is portrayed in romance novels. He believed real love had three stages.

The first was Romantic Love. During this period the couple meets and does not see each other’s faults. The second was Realistic Love. At that stage, each party in the relationship begins to notice the other’s faults. The final stage was Mature Love. At this time, the couple decides to loves each other despite their faults.

Once the monologue was over, the author sitting next to me asked the gentleman if he ever read a romance. His answer was, “No.”

This year, another man approached the RWA/NYC table and rolled his eyes when asked if he read or wrote romance. For a second I thought I was going to have the displeasure of listening to another monologue. However, instead of bursting into a lecture he asked, “aside from the obvious eroticism, what is in a romance?”

I explainedthat romances involve two (or more) people overcoming internal and external conflicts to have a happily-ever-after or happy-for-now. I also mentioned that a novel does not have to have sex in it to be a romance.

The conversation evolved into a discussion about research, the publishing industry and critique groups. Approximately fifteen minutes after he stopped by the table, the gentleman shook my hand and wished me well.

Though neither man read romance novels, the second was more pleasant to deal with. Instead of approaching the table and expressing a narrow-minded view, he asked questions.

It is easy to make assumptions about works we do not read or write.  Authors unfamiliar with erotic romance may not realize that character growth is essential to the plot. Others may believe that characters must act a certain way (i.e. an African-American character must listen to R&B or Jazz music) in order to stay true to their culture.

When exposed to a sub-genre you’re not familiar, don’t simply turn your nose up and make assumptions. Keep an open mind and ask questions.  By doing so, you may develop an interest in reading or writing something new.  Even if you cannot be convinced to try a new sub-genre, by approaching it with an open mind you will have earned the other person's respect.♥


Ursula Renée is the President of RWA/NYC. She is the author of SWEET JAZZ, a historical, interracial romance. When she is not writing, she enjoys photography, drawing and stone carving. Visit her at


Friday, September 26, 2014

BOOK COVER FRIDAYS: Seduction in the Snow by Julia Kelly

Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!
"Seduction in the Snow"
by Julia Kelly


Monday, September 22, 2014


by Jean Joachim

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Dear Mr. Dickens,
So who has great expectations? Is this Miss Havisham chick expecting a roll in the hay with Pip or what? Cougar stories are hot right now but this kid is underage…don’t want to bring the feds down on us. So make him older and add a few hot scenes and resubmit.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Dear Mr. Dickens,
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”? Really? Make up your mind, Mr. Dickens. Which was it, the best or the worst of times. Geez. When you decide which it was, revise and resubmit.

Stuart Little by E.B. White

Dear Mr. White,
A woman gives birth to a mouse? She’s cheating on her human husband with a giant mouse? Honestly…that may be original but is totally inappropriate for a kid’s book, Mr. White. Besides, it has creeped out the entire editorial staff. Don’t bother rewriting and resubmitting this one, I’m afraid.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Dear Mr. Cervantes,
A novel about a crazy old guy who fights a windmill and his chubby sidekick who goes along because he has no life? Honestly, this story has been done to death, Mr. Cervantes. While we loved the chivalry, the plot was ho hum and the characters too far-fetched. Please send us your next manuscript, we have not filled out quota of rejections yet this month.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Dear Ms. Shelley,
Your hero is made out of dead body parts sewn together? Yuck! Three of our editors threw up reading about that. Then you jump start him like a dead car battery with lightning from the sky. Yeah, like that’s ever gonna happen. What nice girl writes about something so grisly? Thanks but no thanks. Do send us your next attempt, we’re always looking for a good laugh.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Dear Mr. Carroll,
A girl disappears and this is funny? Down a rabbit hole? She eats pills that make her bigger and smaller then meets a floating grin that’s a cat? We suggest, Mr. Carroll, that the next time you take psycho-tropic recreational drugs, you remove pencil and paper from the room. Please, we know an acid trip when we see one. Good luck with your drug habit but don’t send us your next “trip”.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Dear Ms. Alcott,
We were disappointed to see from the title of your book that it wasn’t about a bordello. These girls are innocent to the point of totally boring. Four editors fell asleep skimming your book for sex scenes. Besides, there was too much telling and not enough showing in this book. We couldn’t feel the emotions of your characters. What a bunch of spoiled brats! Please, spice up this book, like one of them gets it on with the rich kid next door, rewrite and resubmit. Oh and make the girls all over sixteen. We like ‘em legal.#

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Jean Joachim, wife and mother of two sons, is owned by a rescued pug, named Homer. She’d been writing non-fiction for what seemed like forever until she got up the nerve to try fiction. It was love. Now she spends her days in New York City in the company of her characters, with a cup of tea and a secret stash of black licorice. She has 20 romance books published and seven non-fiction books. Her series include, Hollywood Hearts; Now and Forever; New York Nights; and Moonlight Series, Lost & Found. Visit Jean at

Friday, September 19, 2014


Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!
by Ursula Renee


Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 Golden Apple Awards Honorees!

RWA/NYC congratulates its
2014 Golden Apple Awards Honorees
Lifetime Achievement Award
Alice Orr

Publisher of the Year
Entangled Publishing

Agent of the Year
Jill Marsal
Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Author of the Year
K.M. Jackson

Editor of the Year
Megha Parekh
Forever Romance (Grand Central Publishing)

Media Source of the Year
Heroes and Heartbreakers

Librarian of the Year
Frank Collerius
Jefferson Market Library (NYPL)

Bookseller of the Year
Barnes & Noble
Winners will be presented with their “golden apples” on September 18, 2014 during RWA/NYC’s annual Golden Apples Awards Reception. 
For more information, visit♥

Friday, September 12, 2014


Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!


by Deborah Blumenthal


Monday, September 8, 2014


by Margaret Birth

Mary Queen of Scots was descended from both the English and Scottish monarchies—lest I forget the exact line of succession, two genealogical charts fill the opening pages of Antonia Fraser’s Mary Queen of Scots, which I reread recently.

Of course, that’s a real-life family tree. But some of my favorite novels also include a family tree in the book, to help readers keep multiple characters and their relationships straight.

Even if there’s no need for a genealogical chart for readers’ sake, though, should authors make a character family tree in the process of writing a book? I think it’s something worth considering.

During my twenty-five-plus years as a writer, I’ve deepened my interests in genealogy, and in given names and surnames, to the point where I’ve joined the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and the American Name Society (ANS). With these overlapping interests, I’ve learned certain things that have the potential to aid the process of character development:
● Everyone is related to someone—or, more specifically, to at least two someones: mother and father. Simply seeing these three names on a chart (person, person’s mother, person’s father) can give a visual reminder of the biological and emotional background and relationships among these characters.

● Our names reflect how our parents desired to identify us. This has several implications:

      ■ The “junior effect” can have a profound impact on a person. If your character has the letters “Jr.” or a Roman numeral like IV after his name, why? Does he come from a family that values tradition or takes pride in its names? How does your character feel about sharing a name? Does he resent it because he believes the duplicate name makes it difficult for him to feel unique, or does he share the family pride? Does he struggle, as an adult, with still being called “Tommy” or “Little Tom,” rather than “Tom” or “Thomas”?

      ■ Consider other variations of the “junior effect”: the woman named after her mother, the woman given some version of her father’s name (Andi, daughter of Andrew), the man or woman given elements of both parents’ names (Harper Clay Johnson, named after mother, Mary Harper, and father, Ronald Clay Johnson), the man or woman named after a grandparent, or the woman (often Southern) whose first name is a very traditional female name but whose middle name (and the name by which she’s known) is her mother’s maiden name (Catherine Campbell Smith, who goes by Campbell Smith). Family history, pride and tradition frequently go into naming choices like these, and such things can influence how a person reacts to and reflects his or her name (i.e., characterization in fiction).

      ■ Cultural background may also play a role. Different nationalities and religions have different naming customs. This is where a family tree that goes back a couple of generations (character, parents, grandparents) may help to visualize possible cultural naming patterns.

      ■ Parents sometimes choose names for their children because of positive associations they hope other people will make with those names—or in rebellion for negative associations they fear people may have had with their own names. Imagine a little girl named Destiny (a name implying anticipation for a great future) or Blake (even though Blake isn’t among the family surnames—but sounds distinguished); think of a little boy named Brad (after a parent’s favorite celebrity) or Gage (because the parents believe it sounds macho and cool). Do your characters live up to their names, or not? Did you name your characters, or did you consider why their parents might have named them what they did? Could anything in the parents’ choice of name be in rebellion to their own background (a mother named Sunshine Daffodil Jones by her hippie parents, who traditionally names her own daughter Elizabeth Jean Jones)?

● There’s blood family (biologically related), legal family (related by marriage or adoption) and family-by-choice (neither biologically nor legally related, but people we consider to be part of our family, nevertheless—such as those we call “Aunt” or “Uncle” even though they’re just close family friends). Even in the field of professional genealogy, a real-life family tree may include any or all of those relationships—because it’s the relationships people consider to be the most meaningful in their lives that shape who they are and who they become; and certainly the same could be true for a character’s family tree.

The next time you work on a story, think about branching out—and take some time to consider what your characters’ family trees may say about them and their characterization.♥

Margaret Birth is a Christian writer who has been widely published in short fiction, short nonfiction, and poetry, both in the U.S. and abroad; in addition to working as a freelance writer, she's spent over a decade freelancing for multiple publishers as a manuscript reader, proofreader, and copy editor. Please follow her—and give her page a “like”—at