Natural History of the Romance Novel

I need to take a few notes form A Natural History of the Romance Novel by Pamela Regis before Teri takes it back (it’s overdue…oops).  I’ll skim the 224 page tome on my favorite genre and take notes.  I need to start preparing for the Oct. 20 event.  So far, I’ve mostly just been reading smutty paranormal romances.  Time to build bibliographies and such…

Talking points:

  • “Romances are the most popular books in the United States.” (Preface) – We have the Romance Writers of America statistics to prove it…
  • Even though people think ‘anyone can write a romance’ – it takes most romance writers just under a year to write a book (RWA website).
  • “Romance novels end happily.  Readers insist on it.  The happy ending is the one formal feature of the romance novel that virtually everyone can identify.” p. 9
  • Fiercest condemnation from critics is the Happily Ever After (HEA) ending – “The marriage, they claim, enslaves the heroine, and, by extension, the reader.”
    • Critics charge that the romance novel ‘extinguishes its own heroine’ – and ‘denies her independent goal-oriented action outside of love and marriage’ (p. 10)
    • Romance “binds readers in their marriages or encourages them to get married – it equates marriage with success and glorifies sexual difference.”
    • Pamela argues that all narratives end.  Ulysses isn’t extinguished at the end of the Odyssey.  The HEA of a romance is a victory!  Elizabeth Bennet is as feisty as Mrs. Darcy as she is single.  “We imagine that heroines go on, even if we do not see them do so.”  So, nothing is extinguished. Silly critics…
    • As for binding – we read romance not for the ending but for the process.  Novels are art – not a treatise on how to get married – they aren’t powerful enough to reprogram us!
  • “The romance novel is a work of prose fiction that tells the story of the courtship and betrothal of one or more heroines.  All romance novels contain eight narrative elements:
    • Definition of Society – always corrupt, that the romance novel will reform
    • a Meeting – between the heroine and hero
    • an account of their Attraction for each other
    • the Barrier between them (the conflict that keeps them apart)
    • the point of ritual death (that bit where the relationship seems doomed)
    • the recognition that fells the barrier (overcoming the barrier is the ‘good stuff’)
    • the declaration of heroine and hero that they love each other
    • their betrothal
  • “Love plots abound. Sometimes they can drive the reading of a book.  Nonetheless, only some of these love-driven books are romance novels.” (p.50)
  • The first Best Seller?  Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded (1740) by Samuel Richardson
  • Chapter 11 – “The Ideal Romance Novel” is awesome – it’s all about E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View.  Long live Lucy  Honeychurch.
  • Romance novels are a sub-genre of Comedy, just with a Heroine at the center.
  • The Heroines are powerful – they can tame the alpha-male, overcome the barrier, survive the ritual death
  • Ooh, Chapter 16 “Danger Men” about Jayne Ann Krentz
    • Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance (1992)
    • Got started writing for Harlequin, Silhouette and Candlelight
    • She writes heroines that are “every bit as strong as the heroes themselves” – also witty, intelligent and fast-paced.
  • “The story of the courtship and betrothal of one or more heroines, is, finally, about freedom and joy.”
  • Conclusion: Feature women who are individuals, in control, and have compassionate marriages, they make their own decisions, make their own money and get to choose their own husbands = “profoundly bourgeois” BUT these values “are the impossible dream of millions of women in many parts of the world today. To attack this very old genre, so stable in tis form, so joyful in its celebration of freedom, is to discount, and perhaps even to deny, the most personal hopes of millions of women around the world.” (p. 207)

Finally, I can read a library book on my Kindle

Kindle and OverDrive have decided to play nice together and I was able to find and download a book to my Kindle today.


Granted, it’s not a book I really want to read, so I’m going to return it.  Well look, that’s easy, too.

Apparently, there are 452 Kindle titles available from Audiobooks, Music and More – strike while the Iron is hot!

We will be leaving OverDrive on December 5 – a birthday present to me?  Here’s hoping that 3M and Kindle learn to play nice over Christmas, so we get this feature with our new (possible) statewide eBook vendor!

How do you Catalog a Subscription Database?

That is the question.  Background – Kelly Fann, the new Director of Tonganoxie Public Library, shared a Reference-is-so-much-fun story with me about how she found a Police Officers Selection test  using her mad Web-searching skills after the patron couldn’t find what he needed in the stacks.  Next, I’m weeding at a library and have to pull all of their GED, GRE, SAT, and ACT tests because they are 10+ years old and not worth the paper they’re printed on anymore.  This library is strapped for cash and can’t afford to buy new guides.  My solution?  Show your patrons how to access these tests and more at LearningExpress!  

The State Library of Kansas provides access to LearningExpress Library (a re-packaged version of  At LearningExpress Library, once you register, you can get access to HUNDREDS of full-text online tests, study guides and ebooks on everything from 4th grade math to Algebra to Adobe Photoshop to GED prep in English or Spanish to Plumber’s License Test Preparation to U.S. Citizenship Preparation to Social Networks and Online Communities.  So, nothing of interest to library patrons or the staff who may need to help them.

We raved about LearningExpress at NEST and wrote a few Posts about it and brainstormed ways to market this service (my favorite is to create a fake book full of how-to book marks and put it in the stacks).  I just wrote another one because I wanted to share our plan to catalog the online Tests in NExpress.

At first, I did things the hard way and tried to create my own brief record for the GED Preparation resources, but then I got smart and went to WorldCat.  Guess what I found there?  MARC Records!  Woot.  Too bad we don’t subscribe to WorldCat.  However, Heather was able to get sample records from the great folks at Northwest Missouri State Univ in Maryville, MO.  I’ve also contacted the marketing department at LearningExpress LLC to see if they can just send me some MARC records.  I’m hoping they’re free.  I can see in WorldCat that they exist….and I WANT THEM.

So, now the question is – can we count ‘use’ via these Koha records?  Maybe using Google Analytics?  Not sure about that.  It would be nice to know if our hard work is going to pay off.  A bit off topic, but I did have Heather add props to the State Library in the records, since it’s their budget that’s providing this great service.

The sample records are:

One complication with our pilot is that you have to register to access the site content and you are not re-directed or ‘further directed'(?) to the exact/correct page within LearningExpress from the Koha OPAC unless you are already logged in!  So, you find the perfect test in Koha, you click on the link, it takes you to the LE site, you register, and then it spits you out on the Home page…not to the exact page you want (and we so carefully embedded in the MARC record).  We’ve added a path finder into the record as a work-around.  The other is to log into LearningExpress first, then use Koha…but if you’re already in LE, why go back to Koha?  We want to use the ILS to advertise LE, not the other way around.

So, I’m waiting impatiently to hear back from LearningExpress about MARC records and until then, we’ve sent our sample records out to the NExpress list for feedback.  I hope they find it useful.

Ready for Romance?

Booklist Online Webinar | Sept. 13, 2011
“Can’t keep up with the deluge of romance titles? Join Booklist romance editor Donna Seaman for a lively overview of forthcoming romance titles from five leaders in the genre as representatives from Harlequin, Sourcebooks, Macmillan, Baker, and Harper showcase established and new writers and the latest trends from demon passion to Amish love stories in a free, hour-long webinar.”

I’m here strictly for professional reasons – I promised the NExpress Users Group that I would post information about the Romance genre to help them with Collection Development.  Seriously?  If you buy that, you must not know I’m a voracious smut reader.  I’m also here to learn more about what’s hot in Paranormal Romance for a KCMLIN Readers’ Advisory workshop presentation (Oct. 20).  In case you’re interested, my normal source for all-things-smut is Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and GoodReads and I’ve written in the past about Bonnets and Bodice Rippers.

Bring on the Authors…maybe I’ll find some new stuff to pre-order for my Kindle.


  • Tara Parsons, Senior Editor, Harlequin
  • Deb Werksmen, Editorial Manager, Sourcebooks
  • Talia Sherer, Director of Library Marketing, Macmillan
  • Nathan Henrion, National Sales Manager, Baker Publishing Group
  • Kayleigh George, Senior Marketing Associate, HarperCollins

HQN Books:

  • Small Town Contemporaries: Susan Mallery and Fool’s Gold, California homey stories | Victoria Dahl‘s Donovan Brothers series is very funny and sexy small-town contemporary | Kristan Higgins (a Susan Elizabeth Phillips read-alike) writes cozy, original, warm romances | RaeAnne Thayne (new HQN author) writes about Hope’s Crossing, Colorado (clean, innocent romance)
  • Gena Showalter supernatural romance – Paranormal ‘dark, seductive Alpha hero’
  • Anthologies to feature authors: Vampire for Christmas, Kiss me, I’m Irish, Tough Enough
  • Hot new Trends: Lori Foster‘s Men of Honor series (HOT, HOT, HOT) – Hot romantic suspense coming back ‘stronger than ever’ | Virna DePaul (Linda Howard read-alike) | Lindsay McKenna Alpha Cowboy with ‘earthy appear’ (Diana Palmer read-alike) | Introducing B.J. Daniels new stand-alone romantic suspense author
  • Luna Books – Imprint with focus on Fantasy – Dark Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy and Sci Fi (soft relaunch in 2013, so looking for Sci Fi writers) Rebirth, Knight’s Curse, Cast in Ruin
Sourcebooks Casablanca – largest women-owned publishing house
  • Sourcebooks romances editorial criteria: heroine the reader can relate to, a hero she can fall in love to, in a world you can escape into and has a hook that is easy to explain to readers.  Authors grow with this company.  All of these are “HOT” on the heat-o-meter.
  • Carolyn Brown – Cowboy smut  “Hot Texas Cowboys” series.
  • Catherine Mann – Unique Military Men features the parajumpers (elite unit trained in high-risk rescues and only military unit that performs civilian rescues)  Alpha heroes.  Heroines are partners.
  • Men in Kilts – Connie Mason (Big, complex, classic stories) | Amanda Forester (Entertaining, witty, feisty heroines and stubborn heroes) | and Anita Clenney (Time-travel highland romances – protect humanity from demons on the loose responsible for epidemics/war/whatever is going wrong)
  • Fairy Tale Romance from Kristine Grayson – beautiful and warm/loving romances. Feature Prince Charming’s – all divorced and on the market again.  Second time is the charm. (I think these sound good.)
  • Grace Burrowes (I LOVE HER) – The Heir, The Soldier and The Virtuoso coming out November 2011.  Beautiful Regency stories with complex characters and wonderful details.  Duke of Moreland pressuring his kids to marry (see, that’s another reason I like her).  Christmas book Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish (Daughters of the Duke of Moreland).
  • Shana Galen – ‘action packed regency romance’ – Mr. and Mrs. Smith for the 19th Century.  Boring marriage, neither know they’re agents.  Lord and Lady Spy.
  • Paranormal Romance – debut by Isabel Cooper – genre-bending, sexy, exciting (want to read her).
  • Contemporary Romantic Comedy – Robin Kaye (nurturing Alpha males) and Tawna Fenske – ‘funniest, cleverest writers of romantic comedy.’
  • All 52 of Georgette Heyer‘s books back in print.  Beautiful trade paperback editions (I have one at home ready to read).
  • Sarah Wendell (from Smart Bitches) – Everything I know about love I learned from romance novels non-fiction gift book.  Best tips and suggestions and thoughts – comes out October 2011.
Macmillan – Talia Sherer – LJ Mover and Shaker
  • Suzanne Enoch (I’ve ready everything by her) – Regency – The Scandalous Brides series.  Julia Quinn read-alike
  • Kieran Kramer – humorous historical romances
  • Alexandra Hawkins – sexy regency romance – smart, sizzling, hot
  • Scots – Donna Grant, Michelle Marcos (outcast scots), Julianne MacLean (3-time finalist to RITA award – gritty)
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon empire (paranormal romance) – more than 50 novels on NYTimes Best-seller list.
  • Jennifer CrusieMaybe This Time – Ghosts, unlikely heroes (Need to read this one)
  • Darynda Jones – part-time grim reaper – First Grave on the Right
  • Christine Warren | Caris Roane (romantic paranormals featuring winged vampires) | Mary Janice Davidson (multiple personalities)
  • Lisa Kleypas – top 5 romance writers today – new contemporary series with Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
  • Alexis Grant – ‘ripped from the headlines’ (died of cancer) – Delta Force series Locked and Loaded 
  • Contemporary culinary-based romances – Francis Ray, Louisa Edwards(?), Lorie O’Clare – thriller/bounty hunter series
Nathan Henrion Baker Publishing Group
  • Christian and Inspirational Fiction – Bethany House and Revell
  • 90 fiction releases, with 76 new issues and 10 new novelists
  • Beverly Lewis – Amish series – The Mercy – last of The Rose Trilogy – continued growth in Amish fiction market
  • Deeanne Gist – Texas Ranger – humor, well-reviewed Love on the Line
  • Lauraine Snelling – 1906 Black Hills Valley of Dreams set in South Dakota Wild West Wind #1
  • Tamera Alexander – 1860’s Nashville’s elite society – award winning – Belmont Mansion Novel
  • Tracie Peterson / Judith Miller – 1886 Georgia new series from this theme – setting and characters shared, but not a numbered series “Bridal Veil Island”
  • Kim Vogel Sawyer – Missionary to Alaska 1898
  • Lynn AustinWonderland Creek – Librarian 1830’s romance – strong writing and excellent reviews – 6 times Christie award winner
  • Anne MateerWings of a Dream Great War Prairie novel – ‘no cry, no buy’
  • Jody Hedlund The Doctor’s Lady – find love on journey west to serve as missionaries in 1830’s America.
  • Maggie BrendanDeeply Devoted – Mail order bride – gentle prairie romance. In tradition of Lori Wick. Blue Willow Brides series.
  • Julie LessmanA Heart Revealed – 1931 New England setting – Winds of Change Series #2.  More sizzle than average inspirational romance.
  • Laurie Alice EakesA Necessary Deception – Daughters of Bainbridge House – London/Regency.  “compelling page turner” – Jane Austin read-alike
  • Serena Miller The Measure of Kaitie Calloway – 1870’s Northwoods lumber camp
HarperCollins – Kayleigh George
  • – blogger for Avon Romance
  • ISBNS in a spreadsheet post-webinar
  • – Active imprint site working with – KISS and TEAL message
  • Stephanie Laurens Cynster Sisters Trilogy – “write the kinds of books she likes to read.”  Set in Scotland – women who were women in the background of the original Cynster novels
  • New Series from Tessa DareA Night to Surrender Spindal Cove with regency appeal | Karen RanneyA Scottish Love | Lorraine Heath and Sarah MacLean – new concept
  • Anna Randol – new author – regency-era set in Constantinople – A Secret in Her Kiss
  • Sophie Nash | Elizabeth Boyle | Katharine Ashe | Lori Wilde (new cowboys)
  • Sandra Hill (viking vampire angel) | Pamela Palmer (Washington VC vampire utopia) | Jeanienne Frost (Cat and Bones series off-shoot) – Paranormal romances
  • Mary Jane Clark | Shelley Shepard Gray | Lisa Marie Rice | Susan Elizabeth Philips – 7/10/2012 The Great Escape runaway bride – Contemporary romance
  • Historical Romance – Eloisa James The Duke is Mine – 12/27/2011 Princess and the Pea spin-off | Julie Anne Long | Lynsay Sands 
  • Gaelan Foley – Inferno club My Ruthless Prince | Tessa Dare on sale 3/27/2012 – Spindal Code series book 2 | Laura Lee Guhrke – Edwardian romance – 2nd in series | Liz Carlyle – London Gentleman’s club – Victorian
  • Paranormal Romance – Lynsay Sands writes both  | Karina Cooper | Sable Grace (Lycan-Vamp hybrid) | Terri Carey
  • Pamela Palmer – Feral Warriors Series | Kerrelyn Sparks “Vampire and a werewolf walk into a bar” | Marjorie M. Liu – pyrokenetic
  • Contemporary Romance – Emma Cane (small town Colorado/Cowboy) | Jennifer Bernard (Firemen) | Rachel Gibson – new series about soldiers returning home from war (5/29/2012)

Q&A –

  • Temperature – how hot is too hot?  “Can’t ever be hot enough”  Is hot the new normal?  It’s all about choice – “bonnet rippers” and the Inspirational romance fiction.  Temperature scale a bit different in Christian Fiction – going up and causing some ire.

Archive and Titles (.xls) and PDF of Today’s Slides posted when available…

Kansas Library Association Conference 2012

Featuring, Dr. R. David Lankes.  I have The Atlas of New Librarianships on my desk, waiting for a quiet afternoon I can devote to professional development reading time.  Heather has already read it, taken oodles of notes about it and created a promotional video about Dr. Lankes, the KEYNOTE SPEAKER at the 2012 KLA Conference.  I am very much looking forward to it, and not just because I like to hang out with my library buddies and missed that this year (I was at MPLA).  Mickey and Royce are working very hard to organize an awesome conference and gather sponsors to help ensure we have top-notch speakers and great exhibitors.

Later this month, I get to learn from Steve Andrews how to update the Conference site (all database driven and way beyond my abilities, but I’ll give it a go).

For your viewing enjoyment: