THE WAY WE WERE—A LOOK INTO ROMANCE READERS’ AND WRITERS’ PAST
And book giveaway!!!
Do you remember the first romance novel you read? I do. I remember it well because I was absolutely enthralled with it. I had no idea books like that existed because I was not a reader and more than that I hated history and the book was a historical romance — Sweet Savage Love.
No matter what age you are, if you love romance novels, you should read Sweet Savage Love and know that it is historically accurate (as far as I can tell) and that it paved the way for today’s romance novels along with Kathleen Woodiwiss’s novels.
Take a trip with me down romance novel memory lane and see how much you remember.
1. Once upon a time, romance novels were only written in one point of view—the heroine’s. 1970’s.
2. Barbara Cartland was the undisputed queen of romance with heroines who were virgins to the end and beyond. 1970’s.
3. A newly formed organization called Romance Writers of America was advertised in the back of a Janet Dailey book and a first conference in Texas was held. Early 1980’s.
4. Janet Daily stole the crown from Barbara Cartland with her contemporary romances, one set in every state in the Union. Late 1980’s.
5. The second RWA conference was held on board the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, and the aspiring writers met with the editors in the area of the ship known as the Shark Tank. We all thought that was very appropriate. Early 1980’s.
6. The romance novel industry was all the buzz in all the major newspapers and magazines and the term Bodice Ripper romances was born. Throughout the 1980’s.
7. Editors announced they would accept books with two points of view; this opened a whole new world for romance writers. Late 1980’s.
8. April 16, 1986 The Love Train carried 30+ bestselling authors on a whistle stop tour across the U.S. to New York for the Romantic Times Conference. The event was covered by Time, Newsweek, Playgirl, the BBC, UPI, AP and every major paper and TV station in the U.S.
9. The movie rights for Sweet Savage Love were sold, but the movie was never made doggoneit!
10. A book signing in Virginia City Nevada drew a number of authors. The Old Time photo was taken during that book signing event. From left to right: Rita Gallager, me, Barbara Kelly, Rita Clay Estrada, Janet Dailey. We had a wonderful time together. So sad that two of these wonderful writers are gone.
After finding Sweet Savage Love, I went hunting for more and found very little. There were gothics and nurse novels, even a few Westerns but not much more. I devoured everything I could find but it just wasn’t enough. That must have been when I decided to write my own. Little did I know what a struggle that would be. I lacked a lot of things that a writer needs: a good vocabulary, punctuation skills, knowledge of sentence construction and a whole lot more. And, of course, there were no conferences back then and no books devoted to the subject of writing romances. What was an aspiring writer to do?
Back to Sweet Savage Love with a handful of colored highlighter pens, one color for dialogue, one for tag lines, one for description, etc. I circled sections that really “got” me and analyzed why they “got” me. And along the way I discovered something interesting – that the book was full of historical events and characters and that they were interesting, not boring. That realization prompted me to make it my goal to give my readers (if I ever got published) painless history lessons.
It took me ten years to write my first book El Dorado (formerly Touch The Dawn) and during those ten years I saved every newspaper and magazine article that focused on the romance industry. You can read those articles on my website (www.chelleykitzmiller.com) under the “History” tab. They are in chronological order.
It was in 2009 that my plans to be a prolific romance writer got side-tracked by a new love—saving cats and dogs. I began Have a Heart Humane Society in Tehachapi, CA and now the rescue has over 30 volunteers. Our focus is on raising money to spay or neuter as many cats and dogs as we can—to make Tehachapi the first no-kill community in Kern County. I am always looking for ways to raise money for the animals (we are a non-profit 501c3).
So, what does this have to do with reading and writing? It occurred to me that I could use my writing to help raise money for our rescued pets. That said, I hope you that as soon as you finish reading this, you’ll type in Amazon.com (using Amazon Smiles for Have a Heart Humane Society, of course) and order the following three titles. Sedona Sunrise, a contemporary romance short story about a burnt-out doctor who finds peace and purpose with an innkeeper. A Family Affaire, a time-travel romance short story about a young woman who fulfills a romantic family tradition on her 21st birthday in an old Southern mansion. And Oscar Goes Camping, a non-fiction text/photo book that pokes fun at campers and RV’ers told through my Yorkie’s point of view.
All three are available through Amazon.com on kindle and “Oscar Goes Camping” is also available in trade paperback. The short stories are $.99 each and “Oscar” is $3.99 in an ebook. 100% of the sale goes to help the Have a Heart pets, who you can view on our facebook page or on Pinterest. We are a financially transparent rescue, which you can confirm at Guidestar.com.
Coming this April or May is yet another fundraiser book, “Touched By A Furry Angel”, an anthology of approximately 40 pet stories, photos and childrens’ drawings written by some of my volunteers and by a host of Tehachapi pet owners. I wrote three of the stories – my most memorable and touching rescues (nothing to make you cringe, I promise). The book is being published by Deb Smith, a best-selling author who is also a publisher. She is contributing her expertise to make this book happen. It will be both a Ebook and a trade paperback.
And so there you have it. I have two loves: writing and pets. It’s especially nice when I get to combine the two. You can contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. I would love to hear from you.
Chelley is giving away a print copy of El Dorado to one lucky commenter.
Tell us about the first romance novel you ever read or about your favorite pet.
Every one who leaves a comment will be entered to win!