Category: Writing and Publishing

Captive Romance is Hot!

Captive Romance Boxed SetThey say that everything old is new again, and that’s certainly true in publishing, as trends come and go and then return to entertain a new generation. One of my all-time favorite romance tropes from the 1980s and 90s is gaining new popularity among today’s readers: captive-captor romance.

New books from major publishers and edgy tales from indie stars have been appearing on the bestseller lists this year, along with classic titles from some of the genre’s most beloved authors. Disney recently announced plans to film a new live-action version of one of the most popular captive romances of all time, Beauty and the Beast.

To celebrate, I’ve bundled two of my bestselling captive-captor romances in a new limited edition Captive Romance Boxed Set.

Captive romance is a classic theme beloved by romance readers around the world: a woman is stolen away from her safe, ordinary life by a potentially dangerous man. He’s handsome, powerful, maybe an enemy, often a stranger… but soon passion ignites and the captor becomes captive when he loses his heart to his stolen lady.

What’s the appeal of the captive-captor trope? Power reversal. The hero may be all-powerful in the beginning, but gradually beauty tames the beast. Using her wits and her courage, the heroine faces extraordinary odds, discovers strength she never knew she had–and civilizes this most uncivilized male. By the end of the story, she not only gains her freedom, she achieves a new sense of her own power. As a bonus, she also gets the lifelong love and devotion of the powerful man she has tamed.

In a captive-captor romance novel, the captive always wins.

A captive romance can be an intense journey, both emotionally and sexually. It’s not politically correct, and it’s not for everyone. The power imbalance at the beginning of the story makes some readers deeply uncomfortable. There will inevitably be complaints about “Stockholm Syndrome.”

But a captive-captor romance isn’t a work of non-fiction. It’s not intended to be a realistic depiction of actual events; it’s a fantasy. Like all fictional fantasies, it gives us the opportunity to vicariously experience an impossible situation–one we would never want to live out in real life–and share in the heroine’s triumph over it. We enjoy seeing the hero transformed by the love he comes to feel for the heroine, and we love watching both of them earn their happily-ever-after.

That’s what makes the captive theme one of the most enduring in our genre. Love. Sex. Emotion. Conflict. Power. This trope has it all.

Some readers don’t enjoy the captive fantasy and that’s okay. With so many books published today, every reader can easily seek and find the stories that most appeal to her, whether that’s a sweet mail-order bride romance, a billionaire stepbrother, a romantic comedy, or a werewolf ménage. There’s truly something for everyone these days.

For the thousands of readers who love the primal, emotionally-charged reading experience that is captive-captor romance, 2015 is a year to celebrate. If you’re one of them, I hope you’ll try my Captive Romance boxed set, available now at Amazon | iBooks B&NKoboGooglePlay. Enjoy!

Interview: Fabiola Chenet

WOMAN ON THE RUN by Lisa Marie RiceI’m excited to welcome award-winning romantic suspense author Lisa Marie Rice as my special guest today. Lisa is an American ex-pat living in Italy (sigh) and more than anyone else I know, she’s got her finger on the pulse on the European market. She just launched a series of interviews with European book bloggers on her Facebook page, and I invited her to share them here.

Today, Lisa chats with blogger Fabiola Chenet, co-founder of Les Romantiques, France’s premier website and webzine devoted to romance novels. Without further ado, here are Lisa and Fabiola:

LMR: Tell us about yourself and your love for books.

FC: It’s been a long time since I’ve had to introduce myself to someone. I now understand why our authors don’t like this question. My name is Fabiola Chenet and I live in France, in a city called Chartres, one hour from Paris, and I work in Paris. I have loved books ever since I learned to read, around the age of 6. Reading can bring evasion, general knowledge and an expansion of our vocabulary. That’s what I often say to my children, to make them understand how books, all books, are important. In a way, I have three jobs. I earn my living by working in a social service, I’m an author (my first romance novel will be published in the end of this year by Laska, an online indie publisher) and I work with Agnes Caubet on the website called Les Romantiques.

LMR: Tell us about Les Romantiques–its history, what you try to do in the magazine, what plans you have.

FC: The website Les Romantiques was created in 2001 by Agnes Caubet. She’s a romance reader and as a French one, she noticed that there weren’t any French-speaking websites dedicated to romance novels even though Harlequin France and J’ai Lu have been translating them since 1978 for HQN and 1991 for J’ai Lu. So when French-speaking readers wanted to have some information about romance authors and their books, they had to visit English websites. What about readers who couldn’t understand English? That’s why the website was created. Readers can find info on about 700 authors and about 2000 novels there. That includes all romance subgenres, womens’ fiction, historical novels, mysteries, romantic comedy and chick lit.

We have about 30,000 one-time visitors, about 1.9 million pages seen a month and about a thousand openings of the webzine.

In 2007, with a couple of “Romantiques” friends, we started the webzine to advance the website and to have a media material in which we could talk about our favorite literary genre, for our readers to know more about the writers, their background… We wanted a real magazine, of course, but this project would have required too much money. So we decided that a monthly free online magazine would be great. We brainstormed on what to put in it. There were three obligations: author’s interview, a file on the romance theme and an author of the month. As for the rest, readers can find the French and American publications and the reviews, a section dedicated to cinema, one dedicated to leading historical figures, one on what’s going on on our message board and news in flash.

Nikoo and James McGoldrick, aka May McGoldrick were our first interviewees. This same year, the romance genre lost a leading figure, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, so we decided to pay homage to her. As for our first file, well, we made the term ROMANCE official for the first time in France. In September, we will celebrate our 67th issue.What we would like to do in the future (except a paper publication of the webzine) is to organize a convention on romance and women’s fiction here in France with foreign and French-speaking writers. But we need the help of our French publishers and that’s not a priority for them. Meanwhile we enjoy our romance authors when they are on vacation in our country.

We are planning to go to Berlin next year for the Loveletter Convention. And we are dreaming about attending RT Book lovers or RWA convention one day.

In majority, our partners are French publishers: J’ai Lu, Harlequin, J.C. Lattès, Belfond, Presses de la cite, Editions Charleston, Milady Romance. This year, we concluded a partnership with Le Salon du Livre de Paris (Book Fair of Paris)

LMR: You obviously love romance novels. Why? What genres do you personally prefer?

FC: Yes, definitely, I love romance novels. Because I love happy endings. J I discovered romance novels when I was 11. I remember that I was in the library searching for something new to read. I found a book with a different edge. I saw the couple on the cover, found the summary very intriguing and borrowed it. I finished it the same day. It was a HQN novel (I don’t remember the title).What I love about romance books is the relationship between the hero and heroine, how it evolves despite their ordeals or lack of comprehensions and the HEA.

I don’t have a favorite genre. I may say that I have favorite authors. Because when I love an author’s style or her characters, I will read all her books even if it’s written in another genre. Well, except when she doesn’t write happy endings, of course.

LMR: Why do French readers love American romance novels?

FC: French readers love them for two reasons. First, it’s what we have read from the beginning. I grew up reading American romance novels and I love their writing style. American authors also love to please and meet their readers. They are very easy to reach. Second, it’s because of French publishers. Some years ago, they tried to publish French-speaking romance writers but it didn’t work. They wanted those novels to be different than what we wanted to read. They didn’t understand that it was not because they consider a book to be a romance novel that we readers, we were going to read it and love it. They didn’t try to understand what we love in those novels. So they gave up with the idea that French-speaking readers didn’t know write a romance novel. That’s not true, of course. I thank two authors: Simone Elkeles and EL James. Because they both talked about romance novels here in France even though they are not published by Harlequin nor J’ai Lu. Consequently, more and more publishers and readers are interested by the genre.

We still have some way to go but I keep faith.

LMR: Do you have any message for American romance writers?

FC: I thank you all very much! Because writing a romance novel means that you believe in people, in love and in happily ever after. That’s what you describe in your books and that’s what I love.

Special Thanks

Thank you, Lisa and Fabiola (pictured at right)!

You can follow Lisa Marie Rice at her Website, Facebook or Twitter and buy her latest steamy romantic suspense, WOMAN ON THE RUN, at Amazon or B&N.

Follow Fabiola Chenet on Facebook and at Les Romantiques.

6 New Year's Resolutions for Indie Authors


Happy 2013, my fellow indie authors! As we jump into a new year in this new world of digital publishing, here’s a round-up of resolutions to help you make 2013 your most successful year yet.

1. I will make changes. Indie publishing involves lots of trial and error. If your sales are stale, it’s time to refresh something. Update your covers, modify your prices, revise your book descriptions. Don’t just grumble and complain to your indie friends. Try a creative new approach.

2. I will be brave about pricing. This isn’t 2009. The .99 – $2.99 price range isn’t the sweet spot that it used to be. It’s great for a limited-time sale to boost your visibility, but not for every day. Readers have gotten burned by bad books at cheap prices, and they’re willing to pay a little extra for higher quality. Nudge your list price into the $4 – $5 range and you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. My sales improved in 2012 when I made that jump.

3. I will send out a newsletter. Your e-mail newsletter is your most important promotional tool. It feels much more engaging and personal than any Facebook post or Tweet. This year, make it your goal to get the email address of every person who visits your website, blog or Facebook page. (You can subscribe to my newsletter by using the handy box at the top of this page.) Set a regular schedule and send out a newsletter at least once a month. Use a newsletter service (I love MadMimi) to make your mailings inexpensive and headache-free.

4. I will not be afraid of reviews. The number of reviews on your book is more important than the number of stars in each review–so even one-star reviews serve a purpose. Having lots of reviews improves your algorithms, increases your visibility, and encourages readers to sample your work. When it comes to reviews, more really is better. Every time you receive a fan email or see a book rave on your Facebook wall, ask that reader if she would be willing to go post a review.

5. I will spend less time on social media. I’m using my smartphone to tame my Twitter addiction this year: I set the Alarm/Timer app every morning and limit my total social-networking time (email, Facebook, Twitter, all of it) to 30 minutes. When the alarm goes off, I shut down my browser and spend the rest of my day writing. Facebook and Twitter are (gasp!) not essential to your success. Barbara Freethy says she only had about 2,500 Facebook followers when one of her indie titles made the New York Times bestseller list. Indie superstar Bella Andre admits that she’s not a social-networking queen. So how have these authors sold millions of ebooks? Keep reading.

6. I will write and publish more. Nothing sells a good book like another good book. The more titles you release, the more hooks you’re dangling in the water and the more readers you’ll catch. Make it your priority to write and publish more this year–more books, more novellas, more short stories. Release something new at least every six months. Spend less time online and get back to doing what you do best: creating memorable stories that readers will love.

Do you have any writing & publishing resolutions for 2013? What do you plan to do differently this year?


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