The Year of Reading Romances

So! It was almost exactly a year ago that I finished my first foray into writing romance for NaNoWriMo -- and embarked on a year of romance reading. I'd always read romances but now I could call it "work" and "research" (ha!), which allowed me to justify consuming waaay more of them. I dove into New Adult stories and tried out genres I'd never read before like LGBTQ and menage. It was intense and intensive. Here are a few of the things I've figured out, a year later. [I'll write another post about what I learned from the year of writing them.]

  • Good writing is good writing. OBVIOUSLY. That seems self-evident but I've discovered through painful trial and error that it's always better to read something by an author I've admired before--regardless of genre, story line, setting, characters--than choose books according to the appeal of their jacket copy.
  • I'm capable of reading two whole books in one day. Huh. Never knew that. Sometimes I amaze myself. For the past year I've almost never *not* been in the middle of a romance so that translates into hundreds read. I've posted over a 130 reviews on Goodreads since February 2015 and I don't review everything I read (by far-- see below).
  • Some of the most thoughtful development of emotional issues occurs in sexually explicit romances of all shapes, sizes, and types. That means-- guess what?-- sex and emotion go together and not all erotica is badly written.
  • Writers get demonstrably better over time and practice. Early works by great writers are not as good as later works. That's okay. In fact, it's kind of cool, and instructive, to see how they improve.
  • Likewise, reading changes over time. I've read books that I thought were fine and written up middling reviews of them on Goodreads, then discovered that I keep returning to them in my head, rethinking them. Sometimes I reread them and get something new the second time. Sometimes I go back and even change my first reviews because my opinion changed enough.
  • Reviewing is very tricky-- even amateur reviewing on Amazon or Goodreads or feedback for NetGalley ARCs. I want to be positive and encouraging. I also want to be honest and detailed. I started the year being bluntly honest and giving some books one-star reviews (always with an explanation). Then I realized that was sort of a no-no and backed off. I decided not to review anything I couldn't rate at least three stars. But if I get a book from NetGalley I have to review it somehow.... I haven't solved this problem to my own satisfaction yet.

These thoughts too will evolve as I read and write more -- so stay tuned.