The Romance Genre on the Web

Researching online romance genre communities and their perspectives

Last days for survey!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bron at 8:29 am on Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Just a reminder that the online survey will finish around midnight, western US time, on 31st October. So, if you haven’t already done the survey, there’s only a little over 48 hours left.

Many thanks to the 740+ people who have so far completed it – this data will be very useful in starting to understand the ways in which romance genre readers and writers participate in and use online communities.

Once the survey is finished, I’ll begin the process of analysing the data. I’ll also be drafting some articles and thesis chapters soon, so I will be posting ideas on this blog for general discussion.

I’m back…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bron at 10:26 am on Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yep, it’s been very quiet round here – again. I can’t believe that a month has passed since I last posted, but that’s what the dates say. Gulp. I’ll blame it on going straight back to the madness of the day job the day after I got back from Dallas, and cramming beginning of semester work overloads, jet lag, bad flu-type thing, teaching a weekend workshop, more ‘flu, and a trip to Sydney for the Romance Writers of Australia conference into too few days.

I’m mulling a couple of longer posts about aspects of the genre, but simply haven’t had time to get them written down here yet.
I’m also at a stage in the PhD where I”m contemplating directions and reviewing where I’m at and what I have already.

In the meantime, there’s a great discussion over at Smart Bitches about alpha heroes, which reminded me of the romance hero archetypes I blogged about a little while ago. I’m still thinking that maybe we don’t have enough of a common language framework to adequately discuss the genre and it’s complexities, and would love to hear other’s thoughts.

Golden Heart

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bron at 8:12 pm on Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I’m finally home again from my trip to the RWA conference in Dallas – I still can’t quite believe that I won a Golden Heart Award! Thanks to everyone for their congratulations.

I’ll blog a little more about the Dallas and Golden Heart experience in the next day or so over at my writing blog, but in the meantime, there’s some photos over at my friend Theresa’s blog.

I’m taking my jet-lagged brain and body off to bed – I have to go to work tomorrow, so I definitely need sleep in order to function in the morning!

Radio interview online

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bron at 2:51 pm on Friday, July 6, 2007

My interview for ABC* Radio National’s Bush** Telegraph went quite well this morning.

If anyone would like to listen to it, the audio file of the Bush Telegraph (rural and regional news and issues) program is now available. It’s in the program for Friday 6th July. Click on the audio links to the right to either listen via streaming or download the file. I’m about 26 mins into the program. (The audio files are only online for about two weeks.)

*The ‘A’ in ABC being for Australian, not the American broadcaster.
**No connection to any US Presidents. ‘The Bush’ in Australia is anything outside the cities.

RWA Dallas

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bron at 12:03 pm on Thursday, July 5, 2007

It’s only two more sleeps before I leave home and head to Dallas for the RWA conference.

I’ll be setting up some online focus groups when I get back, to have some real-time discussion about the genre, but if there’s anyone who’s going to Dallas who’d like to meet up with me for a chat, and provide your opinions and thoughts, I’d love you to contact me – you can email me at bronwyn.clarke at gmail.com or leave a message for me at the Hyatt.

I’m looking forward to Dallas, and starting to get quite excited about it! I just have to finish getting myself organised and packed :-)

Media interest

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bron at 10:21 pm on Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It’s been an amazing couple of days. My university sent out a media release yesterday morning, about my being a finalist in the Romance Writer’s of America Golden Heart Award. I expected the local paper to pick it up, and perhaps the regional radio station, but the response has been fantastic – I’ve done two radio interviews today, for the local regional radio station and the station for the north coast, a television news segment, an interview for the major news agency that feeds across the country, and I’m lined up for another TV news interview tomorrow, and a spot on Radio National next week, just before I fly out to Dallas.

There’s been an increase in visitors to this research blog today as a result. For any folks looking for information about my writing, it’s on the web under my penname, Bronwyn Parry.

The various interviewers have asked some good questions, and its been a great opportunity to talk about the contemporary romance genre. I hope I’ve done it justice.

Writer’s resources and learning online

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bron at 10:02 am on Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I’d like to ask authors and aspiring authors a few questions about their learning about the craft and business of writing and publishing. I know, in my own case, that I floundered as a beginning writer, isolated in a small town, until I found online groups and links to and information about the Romance Writers of Australia.

So, I’m interested as part of my research in what role, if any, the myriad of online groups, sites and resources have played for you.

1. How have online resources, groups and sites contributed to your development as a writer? What has been most useful? What has been least useful, or counter-productive for you?

2. Have you ever attended a formal writing program/course (eg at a college or university). If so, how did your learning in that program compare with what you have learned as a result of online or other activity?

3. What’s your advice to aspiring writers about online resources and groups?

Outback (mis)adventures, and reading lists

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bron at 9:26 pm on Monday, May 28, 2007

After two weeks with only occasional, very brief (and expensive) internet access, I’m now back home and trying to catch up!

Our trip didn’t turn out quite as we’d planned it. On the third day, we arrived in Innamincka, in the north-east South Australian area of the Outback, just as it began to rain. Innamincka is a tiny town, with probably about 5 permanent residents, and all roads leading into it are dirt, hundreds of kilometres long, and with no such conveniences as bridges or even causeways across the many creek beds, which can fill rapidly after rain. The rain came down quite heavily for an hour, and we watched from the porch of our little cabin while the guy from the shop drove up to the large road status sign on the road out of town and changed all the ‘road open’ signs to ‘road closed’ – which meant that no-one could get in, or out, of town.

To cut a long story short, along with about 150 other tourists, including a bus with 18 seniors, we were stranded in Innamincka for a week. After the second night, we had to move from the 2-’bedroom’ cabin we were sharing with the couple we were travelling with into a motel-style unit – yes, it was somewhat crowded with four adults, but fortunately we’re good friends!! The hotel had plenty of food (and beer, not that we put much of a dent in that supply!) so the experience wasn’t too daunting, although by day 7 we were starting to suffer from cabin fever – there’s only so many walks that one can go on around ‘town’.

All in all, it was something of an experience, and we had the opportunity to get to know some of the people we were stranded with, which was great. My writer’s imagination received plenty of inspiration to play with, as well as ‘research’ data about the realities of such outback situations. A week after we arrived, we were finally permitted to leave on the one passable road out of town, the convoy of vehicles escorted by a police vehicle, to ensure that everyone drove carefully on the very boggy roads and the creek crossing which was still up. That road took us back along the route we’d come, but since the road south we’d planned to take was going to be closed for days longer, we had to give up the plans for the rest of our trip and improvise – so we saw a number of Queensland outback towns and areas instead of South Australian ones!

One of the upsides of a week of enforced idleness was a chance to do some reading – fortunately I’d taken four books with me from my TBR pile. I’ve now filled some more gaps in my romance-genre experience by reading (finally!) Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm and Nora Roberts’ Naked in Death, and have increased my sampling of more recent releases by reading Nora’s Angels Fall and Anna Campbell’s Claiming the Courtesan.

I love the fact that my reading now counts as ‘research’ :-)

Which brings me to a question – given that a researcher should be well-read in the genre, what books do you think a romance researcher should be familiar with? What books or authors would you suggest represent the various aspects of the genre – classics, ground-breakers, standard-bearers, or good examples of various sub-genres?

Time to read?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bron at 9:19 pm on Thursday, April 5, 2007

I haven’t had any time to read these past couple of weeks – or post to this blog! – so I’m hoping that sometime over our 4-day Easter break, I’ll be able to settle down with a good romance for an hour or two… in between editing a conference paper, finishing judging some writing contest entries, updating my writing website, and catching up with some housework. (That last item may take some time, given that housework has been at the bottom of my list for ages, but as my sister and her family are coming in a week or so’s time, I can’t put it off any longer!) I don’t do anywhere near as much reading as I’d like to these days; juggling a full-time job, with a part-time PhD, and writing as well, means that I’ve had to give up a lot of my recreation time. I miss the days when I’d read 3 or 4 books in a week – or more!

Anyway, pondering the delightful anticipation of a couple of hours of reading got me wondering about when and where other readers do their reading. I’m a curl up on the sofa kind of reader, and Sunday afternoon can be a good time for me, although the evenings sometimes see me with a book, too. However, since I find it very difficult to put a book down until it’s finished, I can’t start one too far into the evening!

I’ve never been able to read in a car or a bus, but I can on a plane, except when its taking off or landing. I always cart several books around with me when I go flying anywhere, especially now that knitting needles aren’t allowed on Australian planes.

So, where and when do you do most of your reading? Do you read in a few minutes here and there, or shut out the world until a book is finished? And is it a significant activity for you, or do you squeeze it in among many other things?

Too diverse for one label?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bron at 8:56 pm on Thursday, March 22, 2007

Recent discussions about the RITA Awards over at Romancing the Blog and the Smart Bitches (here and here) and the inherent challenges and difficulties of determining the ‘best’ romance books brought to the front of my mind a question I’ve been pondering for a while. I still haven’t come up with a definitive opinion, either way, so I’m going to throw it over to you all for your consideration and opinion:

Is romance too broad and diverse a genre to be effectively covered by one ‘label’?

Is there too much difference – stylistically, in content, approach and purpose – across the huge range of contemporary romance novels to call it a single genre? Or is the general definition of romance (a story with a main focuses on a romantic relationship and an emotionally satisfying ending) sufficient to unite that diversity?

I’m not just thinking here about all the subgenres. Obviously, there can be a great deal of difference between, for example, a Christian Inspirational romance and an erotic urban fantasy romance, to pick two ends of the sensuality scale. But is there more to the diversity than levels of sensuality and the key plot themes?

If I can illustrate the question with an example. If you take a look at the amazon reviews for Jo Beverley’s The Shattered Rose, it’s pretty clear that this is a ‘love it or hate it’ book, with not a lot of middle ground. I read this book last year, and I loved it. However, if you’re after a light, relaxing, easy read, a straight-forward ‘traditional’ romance, then this book is definitely not it, and I can perfectly understand people being disappointed if that’s what they were looking for. The Shattered Rose is challenging, and at times confronting, in terms of the main characters, their actions and their motivations. The historian in me (who has read a fair amount of medieval theology and Christian mysticism) loved the fact that the hero and heroine were people of their time, with a medieval perspective on religion, faith and Church, and they dealt with their conflicts – especially their internal guilt, doubts, and fears – within the framework of that medieval perspective. But that made their actions quite challenging to understand, from a 21st-century view of the world.

Now, I also love and enjoy lighter and less challenging romances, too (like the two I just read yesterday!). I’m not suggesting that there is less ‘value’ in books-as-entertainment than in books-that-challenge. They all have important places and roles in literature. I do wonder, though, about the advantages and disadvantages of calling it all ‘romance’, and whether the sub-genres we have – which seem to focus on sensuality, length and setting as delineating factors – are sufficient to describe the diversity.

So, the floor is open for your thoughts….

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