Rebirth?

I saw over at the AAR site that Kaki Warner won a RITA at the Romance Writers of America conference just concluded for her ahem, cymbals and trumpets here, Western Romance novel, Pieces of Sky. Congratulations to Ms. Warner. Coincidentally, I saw somewhere and have forgotten the source (but it had to be blog comments or a forum post) that several traditional publishers are now actively seeking Western Romances, both historical and contemporary.

From the look of the Western Romance forum at Amazon, you’d certainly think our favorite Romance subgenre is dead or dying, but maybe even though separate forums for smallish subgenres don’t generate enough steam to keep themselves going, the books do. I’ll have to admit I don’t feel enthusiasm for seeing Westerns overwhelmed and done to death again like Regencies, but it would be great to have a wider selection and more opportunities for both readers and writers who still love cowboys (and Indians — I’ve admitted here already that what I’m working on has a NA hero, haven’t I?).

Right now I believe I’m about halfway through with the next romance. There’s no way to say for sure, of course, until it’s done. Things can kind of deviate from the plan as I go along, but there’s certainly enough it feels like a book at this point.

Happy Fourth everyone. I’m not much for parades and fireworks, but I always manage to read some more interesting and surprising things about the Founding Fathers. They weren’t romantic, but they were incredible.

~Ellen

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20 Responses to Rebirth?

  1. mesadallas says:

    A happy Fourth to you as well. I also don’t do the parades or community fireworks anymore. We are having a BBQ at my son’s house and them watch the grandkids with their sparklers and cone fountains.

    Our founding fathers were indeed amazing men. The more I learn of them the more I am amazed at how our country came to be.

  2. McD says:

    Happy 4th July to you Ellen and mesadallas.

    Kaki Warner won the Rita for best first book. Wonderful news. And her new series “Runaway Brides” starts tomorrow 5 July with the release of “Heartbreak Creek”. It garnered an A- at AAR.

    I also don’t want to see the historical western romance sub-genre deluged with titles like the Regencies. But it would be really great to have a few more writers like Kaki Warner, Jodi Thomas, Ellen O’Connell, et al so that there isn’t an enormous waiting period between new releases of westerns.

    Even though I read other sub-genres of romance (and yes, that includes paranormals Ellen) historical westerns are sitll one of my favorites. So more great writers would be welcome.

  3. I’ve decided you’re pulling my leg about the paranormals, McD – not that I’m having trouble accepting it or anything. 🙂

    The problem I see is when a certain kind of story becomes popular you only get a few more good ones, but you get a whole lot of just plain more.

    I won’t go near paranormals, although over on AAR I got told some of my favorite contemporary romances “are paranormal, with transmigration” (thread on stories with rescue dogs). That’s what I get for sticking my head up on a forum, I guess. If I’d read that description I never would have read the first book, but I just saw a book in the store with a cute Corgi on the cover and to this day it doesn’t seem paranormal to me. That probably tells you something about the way I feel about dogs.

    ~Ellen

  4. McD says:

    You are absolutely right Ellen. Historical romance (Regencies) is literally inundated with authors and titles. Almost every month there are debut author/s. And that’s only the publishing houses. I’m guessing there are more self-published every month as well.

    The problem is wading through the dross (and that can be titles from a publishing house or self-pubbed).

    I have a similar problem with historical westerns in that I become desperate and go looking for new authors. Just last week I got one from a respected review site and it was just awful. But sometimes you just have to take a chance on a new or unknown author. Sometimes it pays off. Sometimes it doesn’t.

    Oh, and Ellen I’ll think about some paranormal titles I’ve enjoyed recently and send you the names! I’m sure you’ll really enjoy them.

  5. Ha ha. Those werewolves better not have red fuzz on their butts.

    The problem is always finding what you like in the sea of what you don’t, isn’t it? Kindle samples help a lot IMO, but they only help with quality of writing. I’ve come across too many where the sample seems just the ticket, but the plot falls apart somewhere past the halfway mark.

    Even favorite authors fall apart all too often. Sometimes the books just get less and less until they’re all froth and sometimes it’s as if the author thinks each book has to be “more” than the last to where they lose what originally attracted you.

    Ah, the travails of dedicated readers.

    ~Ellen

  6. mesadallas says:

    Well, we can’t be sure that if publishers are now actively seeking westerns the result would be a tidal-wave. For sure there would be more, but I’m kind of with McD in that I’d be happy to have a broader field from which to glean.

    The well-written ones usually have a way of rising above the avarage or not -so- good.

  7. The blog post over at AAR today concerning the RWA conference included this: “We attended Spotlights for Avon, Carina, Harlequin Series, Pocket, Tor, and Berkley. There was only one (Pocket) that didn’t say they were looking for Westerns. Last year, I’m pretty sure no one was looking for Westerns, because I would have noticed.”

    I think that means we can count on, if not a tidal wave, a marked increase. What sticks in my mind, I suppose, are the days when every grocery store had an aisle of books and most of the romance covers were some kind of western.

    Generally I’m one of those who don’t worry about the supposed “tsunami of crap” ready to descend on us and I agree that the cream has a way of rising. Westerns, however, make me defensive because so many are written by people who obviously never got closer to a horse or cow than a photograph. Something can be very well written and be very wrong.

    Sometimes that results in just a laugh, like the author who had the hero riding a magnificent stallion 14.1 hands high. I read that years ago and thinking about it still makes me snicker. (For those who don’t know, a hand is a measurement for horses equaling 4 inches, and a horse is measured at the withers, the top of its shoulders. The expression 14.1 means 14 hands and 1 inch. So a hero riding a 14.1 animal wouldn’t be on a horse at all but on a pony, as anything under 14.2 is a pony. Since we all know our hero would be well over 6 feet, his sexy knees would have to be close to his sexy chin to keep his sexy feet from dragging on the ground.)

    Then there are lesser signs of ignorance like the one who wrote the horse’s height as 15.6. I digress.

    All that ignorance and misinformation is fine so long as readers accept that those books are fiction – fiction as in not real. However, I also see threads like the one in the Historical Romance forum at Amazon where readers admitted they learned their history from romance novels.

    Eek! I don’t think it matters as to history, but it can matter when people get it in their heads that horses can run all day, that a hatful of water is enough to keep them going for days across a desert, that they can be ridden all day and tied up all night. I suspect the theory is they’re like cars and you just fill the tank once a week or so when it’s empty. I’ve seen urban cowboys with all those misconceptions and seen the racks of equine bones that resulted.

    For some reason dog stories don’t seem to contain so much harmful misinformation, although I’ve seen traits of some breeds badly misrepresented, and movies like 101 Dalmatians and Beethoven have done those breeds untold harm. I suppose more people know enough about dogs to represent them intelligently in fiction.

    One way or the other my worries aren’t going to affect anything in the slightest, so as my mother used to say, “There’s no use borrowing trouble.”

    ~Ellen

  8. mesadallas says:

    No, actually, you have a good point. People DO learn history or horse savy from not only romance novels but what’s even worse, movies.

    I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have been watching a film with horses in it and my husband gets upset at how the horses are depicted as being able to go over any terrain at a full gallop. Down a steep and rocky mountain for example. Suffice it to say, The Man From Snowy River wasn’t well recieved.

    The Omack Stampede doesn’t gain any points either.

    The lack of basic riding skills seen so often by actors will also set him off, but he knows and loves horses and can’t stand to see them misused.

    Getting back to horses in romance novels- did you ever notice that the hero always rides a stallion?

    I once read a romance where the H and h have hot sex on a trotting horse. Laughed my head off at that one. I doubt even Roy Rogers and Dale Evens could have pulled that off.

  9. In truth movies and tv probably have done more damage than books ever did, just on the numbers, but it’s still hard not to wish mountains of misinformation weren’t about to wash over us all.

    Anyone who has ever actually ridden a horse probably giggles through sex scenes on horseback. Setting all other factors aside, what do they think the horse does while all that is going on? Stand there chewing a cud? I suppose it would add to the excitement to find yourself in various states of undress on a runaway or a horse trying out for rodeo, but my guess is you’d be seeing stars from hitting the ground, not the usual romance reason.

    You surely noticed neither Matt nor Cord needed to ride a stallion. Aside from that realism thing I have trouble with, I figured both of them had big enough balls they didn’t need reflected glory from the horse. 🙂

    ~Ellen

  10. I never heard of the Omack Stampede, so I Googled it. Eee gad. Suicide Race that kills as many as three horses a year? I can’t believe no one has gotten that shut down. ~Ellen

  11. mesadallas says:

    I can’t imagine anyone who professes to love horses wanting to participate in this event.I wouldn’t even think about subjecting a horse of mine to this insanity. (if I had a horse, that is) I’m sure it has been targeted by animal rights groups but so far it still goes on.

    Yep, I noticed your heros don’t need the metaphor of the equine stud which seems to go hand-in-hand for most romance heros.

  12. McD says:

    Okay, dumb question for you Ellen, from someone who knows zip about horses. Is there a difference in riding a stallion compared to a gelding? I understand writers might like to use stallions for their heroes as you so eloquently phrased it – “reflected glory from the horse”. But in real life??

  13. Hi McD – Oh, yes, there’s a difference

    Generally speaking, a stallion is 1,200 to 1,500 pounds of testosterone, and historically cowboys, etc., didn’t mess with them. I’m pretty sure I remember reading that even some of the Indian tribes knew how to geld a horse and did (Nez Perce). Tied near other horses, a stallion is going to make trouble. He’s aggressive towards anything male and wants to breed or harass anything female. He’s often a lot less amenable to human ideas also. So in the good old days when tying a horse near others, turning lose in a corral with others, etc., was necessary, a stallion was a major burden.

    That’s a generalization – there are certainly individuals who are quite nice to deal with, although I doubt any of them could simply be tied on a picket line in close contact with other horses without consequences. Maybe some could back in the days when they got their fannies worked off each and every day. However, generally, the sweeter individuals are also the ones who have less of the impressive secondary sex characteristics like the thick arching neck that make stallions look so much more impressive to start with.

    In the good old days when horses were necessary transportation instead of luxuries and pets, mares weren’t first choice either. A mare comes in heat every 3 weeks for 3-5 days, and they can be every bit as big a PITA as a stallion during that time.

    ~Ellen

  14. McD says:

    So basically most cowboys would not choose a stallion. Right? Or mare. Do geldings have any downside? Besides the lack of aesthetics? (Thinner neck and no cojones).

  15. The big downside is a gelding only has value if he’s sound enough and young enough to work. The poor gelding doesn’t get to retire to the broodmare band. Nowadays there are a lot of folks who let their older animals live out their lives in retirement because they’re fond of them and can afford to do it but I bet it was rare in the good old days. Even today working cowboys are probably pretty practical about the value of a horse. ~Ellen

  16. mesadallas says:

    A lot of horse boarding facilities (at least where I live) won’t take stallions because they are so much trouble.

    Bulls are also a lot of trouble. My grandfather had one and I can’t tell you how many times he tore down fences to get at the cows.

  17. I started riding when I was 5 years old and can remember when there was a stallion in the barn it was kept all the way at one end, and I wasn’t allowed at the end of the barn.

    Of course once I began to be around Arab and Morgan show people all that ended as stallions are common in the show rings of both breeds and I think others as well. My favorite of the horses I raised was a kept as a stallion (not be me I sold him as a yearling), and he was an ornery guy, but he was my favorite.

    I talked to a dairyman who was almost killed by a bull that had previously not been a problem, but you hear that kind of thing about dogs too. The big difference is a horse or cow weighs half a ton and is a whole lot harder to confine/control.

    ~Ellen

  18. mesadallas says:

    Especially when they’re horney.

  19. mesadallas says:

    …… which is just about almost always.

  20. mesadallas says:

    Hi, All,

    I’ve been posting over on the amazon “meet the authors” forum in the thread titled”western authors post here.”

    A couple of the authors thought it would be fun to have a month long blog series on western romance. They asked me if a would write a piece on why I love western romance. I was happy to do so and my article was published Monday. If you would like to read it go to http://texasdruids.blogspot.com/

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