Links: Julia Child, RWA Awards, & Happy Endings

Workspace with computer, journal, books, coffee, and glasses.It’s time for Wednesday Links! And I’m feeling a little under the weather today, so really, these links are just as much for me as they are for you!

RWA has announced their 2016 award recipients. Congrats to all the winners! Shout outs to Kelly Faircloth at Jezebel for her profile on Harlequin, earning the 2016 RWA Veritas Award, and to Robin Bradford for winning the 2016 Cathie Linz Librarian of the Year Award!

If you’re looking for more historical romance recommendations (and who isn’t), big thanks to Heather S. for sending us this list of rule breaking heroines in historical settings:

Though women in historical romances tend to abide by the social mores and rules that govern their societies, they can also be very anachronistic. Whether Victorian England, the wilds of the American Frontier, or the banks of the Nile River, there are always rule breakers—women who decree that they will do what they want to do, society be damned! In this list, we look at these women who buck tradition and take jobs outside their homes, jobs that are not 100 percent suited for genteel ladies. For some characters, pursuing work comes from necessity—they have to find a way to support themselves or their families—others want something to do other than live a life of changing diapers and doing needlework. In celebration of Women’s History Month we celebrate these women who found a way to have a career and romance, too. Cheers!

I’m a huge fan of Twitch.TV, where you can watch people playing video games and working on all sorts of art from body painting to sketching. When they launched their Creative channel, they broadcasted the entire Joy of Painting with Bob Ross series. Now, they’re about to launch their Food channel! That means a 4-day marathon of all 203 episodes The French Chef. The marathon started yesterday, so you still have three more days left! You can access the channel directly here!

After the latest discussion on my Twitter feed on happy vs. unhappy endings in romance, I’m over at Book Riot talking about whether or not HEAs should be definitive and necessary aspects of the genre:

Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that romance can be formulaic as a genre. But I don’t see that as a bad thing. As a reader of romance, it’s nice that you know what to expect. That even if your day/week/month has been shitty, you can pick up any number of romances and read about two people overcoming various odds to find love. It’s a constant—a constant that acts very much like a security blanket.

Unfortunately, I don’t really come to a solid conclusion, but it was still a fun exercise in collecting my thoughts together. Regardless of my opinions, what do you think?

Esther Wang, a Buzzfeed Emerging Writers Fellow, wrote something amazing. Like truly, amazing. I’ve passed it around to friends and read it numerous times. Wang describes her attraction to romance novels because of the lack of racial representation and how these romances seem to exist in a bubble:

Because here’s the secret, the most seductive, complicated pleasure of all: I’m drawn to them because I don’t see myself in any of these stories about love and lust and desire, not in spite of it — because most romance novels are filled with white people falling in love and having sex with other white people. It may seem counterintuitive, but their overwhelming whiteness is one of the aspects I love most about them.

I find relief in the fact that I never see myself in their pages (for the most part — Nora Roberts once wrote a novel where a peripheral character was Korean American and a doctor, natch, and I deeply resented this intrusion into my fantasy land).

I love that I never experience that shock of recognition, and thus I never have to think about how someone who looks like me, with my body, is represented on the page and lives in the world. In these fictional fantasy worlds, not only does racism not exist — race doesn’t exist, at least in the ways that we live and experience it on a daily basis.

It’s a heartbreaking, but I think necessary, read.

What have you read or listened to this week that you want to share?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    KatieF says:
    +3

    Amanda, that was an excellent piece at Book Riot. I started reading it without looking at the byline and was so surprised and impressed because it was obviously written by someone who both knew and cared about the genre. When I got to the part where you mentioned one of your Smart Bitches colleagues, I realized it was you and understood why it was so good.

    I think publishers need to market books without a happy ending as something other than a romance. Romance readers 1) have very definite expectations for a HEA/HFN and 2) have long memories when it comes to feeling as if they’ve been misled/betrayed. There may be some short-term gains by “tricking” romance readers into buying a non-HEA, but many of those readers will refuse to buy any books by that author in the future and may lose faith/trust in the publisher.

  2. 2
    Teresa C says:
    +3

    If you had a book labeled a Mystery, without any sort of dead body, or search for who done it, is it still a mystery?

    Romance has been defined as a courtship story with a HEA for decades, if you don’t like that ending, don’t call it a Romance. Trying to redefine that definition is just going to alienate your readers. Who wants to do that?

  3. 3
    Kelly S says:
    +3

    Thanks for letting me know about Robin aka Tuphlos. She’s delightful & a great choice for Librarian of the year!

    Also, I recently read a book that I saw as a romance/oozy mystery, and felt HUGELY BETRAYED by the author when I ended the book with a solved mystery and a couple who had broken up. It was such an unsatisfying ending. So, I’m pro HEA. I was ready to stop reading this author who has a our 3 in this series, plus 2 other series (8 more books so far) tied to it.

  4. 4
    Amanda says:
    +3

    @KatieF: Thank you for such kind words!

    As you could tell from the piece, I’m a little conflicted. If an author wants to try something new or unexpected, have at it. But I think they have to be careful because you’re right, it could put readers off from reading them again. With J.R. Ward’s The Shadows, many people swore they’d never read her again, but she does have a lot of fans who would be willing to keep reading her books, even if they disliked the ending.

    And personally, I don’t think I’d be comfortable reading a romance that didn’t eventually have an HEA. I like knowing what I’m getting into with romance in the sense that no matter what happens within the book, I know it’ll all be worth it with a happy ending. It’s a comfort.

  5. 5
    Gillian says:
    +4

    I don’t understand how romance is any more formulaic than mystery novels. Why do we get all the flack?

  6. 6
    Amanda says:
    +3

    @Gillian: Personally, I don’t see formulaic as a four-letter word. Yes, romances can be predictable in that they always have an HEA or mysteries where they always catch the bad guy. It’s all the in-between stuff that’s so much fun!

  7. 7
    Maz says:
    +3

    If a book is labeled as a romance novel, then the HEA has to be included. Speaking for myself, I sometime read romances to escape into a world in which no one bats an eye to a werewolf dude finding out his mate is a human guy OR where a younger dude and an older woman fall in love and are still together after the book ends.

    Erasing the HEA from the equation might be deemed “gutsy” or “innovative”, but that’s so incredibly unsatisfying (not to mention rage-inducing).

    Like others, I don’t mind the “formulaic” aspect to romance novels because that’s exactly why I read romances. There’s more than enough room to play within the genre without having to break the HEA apart.

  8. 8
    +2

    […] Book linkity from Smart Bitches. […]

  9. 9
    Susan says:
    +2

    Reading a romance without a HEA is like biting into a chocolate pastry and finding the filling is made of liver. That’s not what I bought it for!

  10. 10
    Susan/DC says:
    +2

    If it’s labelled Romance, I want the HEA. People say that makes the genre formulaic, but there are so many kinds of characters and so many paths to that HEA that I think the label unfair. Mysteries aren’t called formulaic and they have a requirement about the ending as well: the perpetrator may not be punished but the reader needs to know whodunnit and why.
    I read across several genres as well as literary fiction, but when Life is hard, I need to know that someone, somewhere has a happy ending. When my son needed open heart surgery, Romances were what I read in the waiting room. When another son spent a year with the Army in Iraq, I read Romance almost exclusively. And when my nephew was murdered, Romance provided some respite from grief. So authors should be able to write whatever stories call to them, but if there’s not an HEA, whether in the first book or the last in a series, please don’t call it Romance.

  11. 11
    Kate Bigel says:
    +1

    Romance is HEA. A spy thriller has to have a spy. Or a sci-fi space book having space ships. I would probably be pissed if someone said romance and they broke up. I think you might have a chick lit with romance themes where they break up. I call JoJo Moyes style books – romantic weepies and not romances but even those – well they fall in love – it just happens someone dies.
    I think the phrase HEA is the problem. Just because they end up in each others arms or even at the altar – all us married chicks know that hey that is just the start and not necessarily all roses and sunshine. Lot of romance writers have played with this (Grace Burrowes’ Duke and Duchess novellas or Eloisa James who often marries her couples early). Anyway – in a series it’s lovely when they refer back to an earlier couple and you see some of the struggles of married life. Omg i just fell in love with Penny Reid’s Happily ever Ninja – so good – married with kids and lots of problems but such a lovely romance despite all the of that.

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