Cheese in Romance

CHEESE! Oh glorious cheese, how we love you so; on our pizzas, over our pasta, just basically in our bellies any and every way. Don’t stop coming. Never quit melting. You are beautiful and wonderful and oh so very tasty.

 

On our plates you shall stay and from our brains you’ll keep away. Ok, so I’m terrible at rhyming. I’m a fiction writer not a poet and it’ll stay that way. Hey! Another one! Stopping now. I promise. Back to the fiction writing thing, one of the series I write is romance. Don’t laugh at me, or do as long as you buy my books. That was a joke – if anyone out there is a little humor challenged.

Romance gets a bad rep and sadly, a lot of what is said is true. Some people don’t like the steamy aspects that seem to be creeping in to more books than not. Mine tend to be on the cleaner side- I mean, come on, my DAD reads them so I only write what I’m comfortable with him seeing. Some people hate the predictability of romance books- well, sorry folks, most of the time the characters are going to end up together. If they didn’t, there’d be hell to pay from angry hordes of romance readers.

But, forget all of that for a moment. It doesn’t matter, at least to me. When I read a romance book, I stop at the nauseating, eye-roll worthy, puke inducing cheesiness. I firmly believe that every romance has its cheesy moments, but COME ON!

When you read a book, or write one for that matter, you’re imagining yourself in that story. Book boyfriends/girlfriends are real things in the genre because people fall in love with the things the character says or does. Just picture it, the leading man comes to you- all hooded eyes, wicked smile, and chiseled physique- he opens his mouth to pour his heart out and says“You’re the light to my darkness.” Or “I’ve loved you since the moment I met you, I just didn’t know it yet.” I don’t know about you, but I’d probably do one of two things- Laugh despite trying to hold it back or make tiny little gagging sounds.


I’m a realist, sometimes a cynic, and I tend to write like one. That isn’t to say that extreme cheesiness doesn’t occasionally creep in, but it’s usually caught before publication. I just sent my new book, Confessions, off to the editor after a couple rounds of beta readers. Wanna know some of the stuff one of them caught? I actually said “The truth will set him free”. I didn’t catch that while I was editing. See, even us anti-cheesers do it sometimes. Anti-cheeser – I like that word!

Words can be cheesy too. It doesn’t have to be full sentences or ideas. Some people have

 

visceral reactions to certain terms. I know at least five people who cringe when someone says “moist” but that’s different. I’m talking about the cutesy poo, lovey dovey words or phrases. Some books make my eyes hurt from all the rolling they do when they use the terms “snuggle” or“cuddle”. I picture my two-year-old niece looking up at me and saying “Wanna snuggle?”

I have the same reaction to certain words in steamier romances, but I’ll leave those to your imagination. I know, I know. You want to hear them, but this is a blog for people who read YA and clean romances. Jeeze guys, cool your jets!

Anyway, it’s simple. This is my no-cheese policy – or just the ramblings of an incoherent, brain jumbled writer. Your pick.

Finding Inspiration

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

-Saul Bellow

I know what you’re all picturing right about now. A stereotypical writer, lying in bed – maybe some crumpled papers surrounding them because they fell asleep trying to make sense of the book they were writing. It was frustrating. The writer’s block was fierce until they finally closed their eyes, glasses slightly askew, hair mussed. Their eyes suddenly pop open. A sly grin tugs at the corner of their lips. Their husband or wife grumbles something unintelligible as the newly energized writer rolls out of bed, pulls on a robe, and sits down in front of their type writer – because, why not? 

You don’t fool me, that’s exactly what you think of when someone says “writer’s inspiration” as if it’s a singular “AHA” moment where the story floods their mind. Well, I’m here to tell you that those moments aren’t enough. Your book can’t survive on rare golden nights. They would starve without the coffee filled mornings or the average, not-so-special days of writing.  

So, what does the writer do? Why, they create inspiration of course! Some would call it  

finding rather than creating, but I am not one of those people. In order to be inspired, you have to be open to it; you have to look for it. You must let the ordinary seem extraordinary. This is creation – taking the mundane and seeing it for what it is. Life. Life is inspiring.

There are two lines from an iconic Willy Wonka song that stick with me as a writer.

“Take a look and you’ll see into your imagination.”

“What we’ll see will defy explanation.”

 You can’t explain it, but you must look for it and it will be there. The best writers have learned to channel the energy of their daily lives into their works. Family, jobs, pets, friends, big life events. All fodder for books; all things that inspire creativity. For those of you that surround an author, keeping their life interesting, don’t stop.

This one might surprise, but sporting events can inspire. I’ve written an entire book based on a hockey team and I’ll tell you a little secret. It’s my best book.

Things in life that bring you joy, grieve you, anger you, or make you laugh. Take Willy Wonka’s words to heart and you’ll see. You’ll find what you need to be inspired and to inspire others. Don’t forget, you too are a piece in someone else’s story. They may not need that “AHA” moment either. They might just need you.