Tumbling Through Time

 A few months ago, after writing thirty-four historical novels and novellas, I finished my first book for Harlequin Desire.  I was sweating bullets all the way.  And my respect for authors who write contemporaries has grown by giant leaps.

            Let me explain.  Yes, historicals take a lot of research.  The Westerns I write are easier than most because the Wild West is bred into my bones.  The Mountain West is home to me.  I grew up on my grandparents’ stories of what it was like to be a pioneer, a settler, a cowboy.  I wouldn’t think of trying, say, a Regency, which involves a feel for England and enough historic minutiae to fill a shelf full of encyclopedias.  But the West just flows for me.  And when I get to a blank spot in my story, I can always throw in a gunfight, a prairie fire, an Indian attack or a rhapsodic description of a desert sunrise.

            A series contemporary, on the other hand…What can I say?  A story for a line like Harlequin Desire is bare bones plot—a hero, a heroine, a compelling situation and some (lots of) sizzle.  There may be a child, as there is in my story.  But there’s no arch-villain, no historic setting, no grave physical danger, no spilled blood, chases, races, or cliffhangers to keep a reader turning those pages.  Just the intense, evolving relationship between a man and a woman.  What a challenge. 

            But then, as I keep reminding myself, isn’t that what romance is all about?

            IN HIS BROTHER’S PLACE, the Desire I finished in March, is scheduled for release in January 2013.  And yes, it’s a Western.  Set in New Mexico, its hero, Jordan Cooper, is a rancher/ investment banker who discovers that his late brother’s fiancée has a son—a son she’s kept hidden from the wealthy family who despised her.

            I’m currently working on a second book for Desire.  Technically it’s not a western, but it does have a ranch and a heroine who’s terrified of horses after a tragic accident robbed her of the ability to bear children.  I confess to loving these shorter contemporary romances, where the focus is on the emotional conflict.   Writing them has helped me discover ways to intensify the conflict in my historicals.

 But I have no plans to hang up my boots and saddle.  There are two more historical westerns in the pipeline.  The first, THE BALLAD OF EMMA O’TOOLE (a title I’ll fight to keep) is finished and awaiting a release date.  The second, THE COUNTESS AND THE COWBOY, is on hold but will be finished later this year.  For that one, I came up with the title first, then had to think of a story to go with it.  Has anybody else out there done that?

            How about you?  Which kind of stories do you enjoy most, contemporary or historical?  Those of you who write, which do you most enjoy writing?  Why?

Elizabeth Lane
I'm an internationally published romance author, coming up on 40 novels and novellas. Most of my stories have been Westerns for Harlequin Historicals, but I set stories in other times and places as well. I'll also be writing contemporary stories for Harlequin Desire, with the first release in January 2013. You can learn more on my web site.
Updated: June 7, 2012 — 2:55 pm

26 Comments

  1. Lately I’ve had the tendency to grab a historical novel first. I don’t think there are as many contemps as there used to be. A lot of the old contemp authors switched over to romantic suspense.

    However, I do read the quick cats when I’m waiting for someone or only have a short period of time to read. I’ll look for your first contemporary Desire and the western Desire too.

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    I can’t wait to read your contemporary. That’s so exciting to step into a time warp of sorts. I enjoy writing and reading both historical and contemporary. I think sometimes the brain needs a rest from old West lingo and gunfights, train robberies, etc., and it’s nice to visit with people from this century. :o)

    Best of luck with all your stories! (I’d fight to keep THE BALLAD OF EMMA O’TOOLE, too it’s a fantastic title)

    –Kirsten

  3. Thanks for your comment, Laurie. I love the way a good historical transports me back to another time. And we seem to be seeing more Westerns from top authors. Yay!
    I also enjoy contemporary romantic suspense and would like to write one sometime.

    You’re spot on about the brain needing a rest, Kirsten. But I’ll never really be tired of gunfights and train robberies. Have a great day.

  4. Elizabeth, you’re a brave girl. I’ve been thinking of striking out in a new direction. I’ll always write the cowboys, as long as a publisher wants them, but I’ve got this burning desire to write something else.
    I’m thinking…….Larry Cotter and the Twilight Hunger
    What do you think?
    How about Barry Snotter and the Hunger Twilight?
    Or maybe Carrie Slaughter and the Hungry Games at Twilight?
    I’ve almost got the title nailed down, now I just need a plot and then I’ve gotta write seven 1000 pages books for Young Adults.

  5. PS If I get them published, you can come visit me when I buy a castle.

  6. I read both contemporary and historicals.

  7. Hi Elizabeth,
    I too love historical western romance but once in a while I’ll change to a contemporary romance for a change of pace. I can’t wait to read your new books, they sound awesome!

  8. Mary you’ve got me falling off my chair. Anything you write would be wonderful. And yes, I’ll come visit you in your castle.

  9. P.S. Maybe you ought to try YA, Mary. I think you’d be a natural.

  10. Now that’s what I call a balanced point of view, anon.

    Thanks, Sharon, Yes, a change is nice once in a while. Hope you and others enjoy my new contemps.

  11. Avatar

    Oh this is wonderful Elzabeth. I am a big lover of Harlequin Desire. I will look forward to reading your book. And I love a western theme in the books too…
    I must admit after many years of reading historical books, I found that I am more into contemporary books, but I still read historicals. I like a balance the two. And I throw in some paranormals now and then just for good measure.

  12. Thanks for making my day, Kathleen (love your name by the way).
    I made several failed attempts to break into the Desire line. Then they got a new senior editor who wanted “something different.” I just hope she stays and keeps buying my stories.
    🙂

  13. Avatar

    Thank you Elizabeth.. and I know you will do wonderful with your first Desire book… Smart editor…

  14. I read just about anything except Horror and extreme Erotica. My heart is firmly with the historicals, however. Medieval romances were the first I ever read and still hold a special place on my shelf. Those and Westerns are my favorites. When I do read contemporary, I like a good intrigue/suspense. As you mentioned most of the others focus on the relationship and I want a bit more than that out of a book. Not that the relationship isn’t important, I just want something else happening. One of the reasons I like historicals is the inclusion of details about everyday life and historical events, no matter what the time period. I appreciate the research authors do and the effort by most to be as accurate as possible.

    I have enjoyed your books for years and look forward to many more in the future. A good author will put out books worth reading no matter in what genre they choose to write. I do read the Desire line when it is an author I like, so I will be looking for IN HIS BROTHER’S PLACE. Anthologies are a big favorite, no matter what genre, so I’ll be looking for WEDDINGS UNDER A WESTERN SKY. Best of luck with your new writing endeavor.

  15. Thanks again, Kathleen.

    You always leave such insightful comments, Patricia. I like romantic suspense, too (loved those old Gothics, by authors like Victoria Holt) And like you, I like a book I can learn something from. Thanks for making us think today.

  16. I can’t imagine you ever having a writing problem, Elizabeth. Your stories are very special and your immense talent shows on every page. I for one am thrilled that you’re not going to stop writing historical western romance because those are my favorites to read. And I can’t fathom ever writing anything else. Like you, my heart, mind and soul is planted firmly in the old west.

    Wishing you lots and lots of success! Can’t wait for your next one to come out. Love the title of In His Brother’s Place. The title has caused all sorts of questions to pop into my mind.

  17. Congrats, Elizabeth! How exciting to be trying a different-for-you genre! I love reading all different times and settings–part of what I love most about reading is that “getting away,” and hopping around a bit in terms of stories lets me do that without ever leaving my house 😉 Contemporaries are one of my first loves, partly because I feel like it really keeps the focus of the story on the characters. While I love the different settings and times with historicals, sometimes the setting and/or time is almost as much of a character as the hero and heroine 😉 Depends on my mood, I guess!

    Looking forward to your upcoming stories!

  18. Congrats goes out to you for trying something different. I willing for change most of the time. I read a lot of comtempory but historical is my first choice.

  19. Thank you for the sweet words, Linda. We’ve both grown up with the Western way of life. When I read your writing I can feel that about you. The title was actually one of my suggestions. Glad the editors picked it, because it fits the story.

    Thanks Fedora–I agree with you that reading historicals is like armchair time travel. I love stories set in exotic locales as well. But sometimes the greatest adventure is the adventure of the heart.

  20. Thanks for your comment Quilt Lady (I would love to see your quilts). I grew up reading historicals and, like you, will always love them.

  21. Hi Elizabeth, I love both western historicals and a good ol’ contemporary Desire. Sometimes we need a plain Jane boy meets girl and we all know they’ll live happily every after to ease the stress of life. I’m eager to read it when it comes out. I’ve written one short contemporary romance that’s, as you said, in the pipeline, and they are just as difficult in many ways as historicals. Even more at times, because of them being in real time. Looking forward to reading your new book when it’s release. Hugs, Phyliss

  22. hi Elizabeth, sorry to be so late getting here. I love reading historicals, and writing them, but I too have had fun writing the Hearts Crossing series. Although…my editors do not like the use of actual trademarked products etc. That’s so different, because in the historical, the more detail you use (and these products are old enough to be in the public domain), the more authentic your story. Sheesh. Good luck with the new release. I hear the Desire nut is a tough one to crack! Congratulations.

  23. Thanks Phyliss. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your contemporary when the time comes. I was amazed at how hard contemporary novels are to write. A whole new set of challenges.

    I know what you mean about trademarked products, Tanya. It would add a realism to contemporary stories if we could use them. But I can understand publishers not wanting to risk problems. And yes, it took me several years and multiple tries to break into Desire–even when my editors helped and encouraged me. Crossing my fingers the good luck will continue.

  24. Hi Elizabeth,
    I read both contemporary and historical, but prefer the historical. I have branched out, recently to murder and mayhem, but not the vampire. That goes too far. When I write I tend to go to the western, too, because of growing up in the west and my lifestyle is still cowboys and mule packers. Historicals take too much research, like you said, and the western is so much easier because I don’t have to do any research. I did write a novella that was adventure/drugs/FBI/etc.
    It did just flow out, but at the time I was VERY angry and I guess it just came out by killing all these people. Haven’t had such good luck, writing, since. Haven’t been that angry. Now, it takes me a bit longer to get it all out–and it sounds better, too.
    Good luck on the new book. The title does conjure up a lot of different stories.

  25. Hi Elizabeth,
    I love writing both historical and contemporary, but historical is my favorite. Like you, I love writing a story where the emotional conflict is what is at the core of the story. This one looks wonderful–just par for you! No need for you to sweat it–your stories are always good.
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  26. Just catching your comments this morning, Mary J and Cheryl.

    I’m with you Mary J. I would have to be really angry to write a violent story. Writing the one you did must have been good therapy.

    And thanks for the kind words, Cheryl. I’ve learned a lot from writing (almost)two of these bare-bones emotional books. Hopefully I’ll be able to switch back and forth between genres in the future. Crossing fingers. Hugs.

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