Thursday, March 6, 2014
Statistics from the national RWA....
6% of romance readers are between the ages of 14-17.
9% of romance readers are between the ages of 18-24.
40% of romance readers are between the ages of 35-54.
If you tack on the 55-64 age bracket, you get...
51% of romance readers are between the ages of 35-64.
So, only 9% of romance readers are 18-24, and yet the "New Adult" category is the hot new trend. What does this mean? Why is NA so hot, why are publishers pushing younger characters and teen angst (YA) when the majority of romance readers are more mature?
Do mature readers want to read about teens and young adults dealing with coming-of-age issues? I asked some friends why older women would want to read about this age group, and they replied "they're nostalgic" "they want to recapture their youth" "for entertainment."
Since I have teens, the last thing I want to read about is teen angst.
I'm living teen angst right now, thank you very much.
And...the very last thing I want to read about is teenagers having sex. *Penny faints*
But I wonder if this is really what mature readers want. Since I recently published my novella APPLES SHOULD BE RED, I've been receiving emails, Twitter messages, and Facebook posts from readers who are thrilled to see a romance with older characters--late 50s, early 60s. The overriding sentiment is "thank you so much for showing that more mature women are capable of love and lust and happy endings" and "I wish this would start a trend and more books with characters in this age group would become available." I've seen discussions on reader message boards expressing this same sentiment.
I, personally, would love to see more books with mature characters who have been around the bend a few times. It seems like a lot of readers feel the same way--readers who make up the majority of the romance-purchasing population.
Is anybody listening?
I sure hope so.
All my best,
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
INSPIRATION FROM AROUND THE GLOBE!
1. CHINA: Shen Yun, a fabulous show with Chinese music, dance, acrobatics, history....I highly recommend!
2. HOLLYWOOD: The 2014 Oscars, Bette Midler
Proof you're never too old to rock the red carpet!
She's 69, people! 69! Amazing!
3. GREECE: The Greek's Forced Bride by Michelle Reid
My obsession with Harlequin Presents continues. This book manages to pack in a crazy ex-wife, bitchy sister, horrible parents, asshole ex-fiancee, stolen funds, humiliating newspaper headlines, and even a drink getting flung into the hero's face. So exciting!
Greece: A land of love and alpha tycoons!
4. CANADA: Louise Penny's new Gamache book coming August 2014!
THE LONG WAY HOME....Here's the book blurb!
5. SCOTLAND: Super Top Seekret New Project
My new WIP...Bet you can't figure out what it's about!
Hint: It might involve haggis!
Haggis with potato mash
I hope you enjoyed this quick tour around the world and are now inspired for the day!
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
JUST BECAUSE Gift Idea: A Post by Nico Jaye
On days when I don't want to do much or when reading or writing just don't hold much appeal (yes, they exist – shocking, I know!), I plop in front of the TV with a movie and some yarn. Recently I discovered a new (and super easy) pattern, and a couple days later, I had a couple of new hats. Yay!
Here's the new hat that I made for Nico:
And here's the pattern I used to make it:
For my own hat, I used super chunky yarn (Hometown USA by Lion Brand, to be precise) in neon pink.
Homemade gifts are pretty nifty, and they're super budget friendly, too. You can give your homemade gift a professional touch by attaching custom name tags that say "Created by" or "Handmade by," which you can whip up on your computer or order online.
This eBay store has a bajillion stamp designs that you can customize. I've had my eye on this design for a while:
The cold days don't seem to be letting go, so maybe this little hat might help keep one of your loved ones (furry or otherwise) warm and toasty! =)
From Penny: That is the CUTEST THING EVER! I wonder if Lucy and I could wear matching sweaters? Hmmm....
Thanks, Nico, for this great post!
Sunday, February 23, 2014
You might be wondering where the hell I've been recently.
1. Husband had a week off from work.
2. Kids then had a week off from school.
Summary: Penny got nothing done.
On the tail end of all these vacation weeks, I took my daughter to "afternoon tea" at the Boston Public Library. It was lovely! They brought us scones and lemon curd and petit fours and cucumber sandwiches. It was so very civilized and refined!
Cucumber sandwiches! Yipppeeeeee!
Which reminded me of Patrick Star saying "When in doubt, pinky out!"
I had a white wedding tea, that combined Mutan White tea with lemon-vanilla and pink rosebuds and petals. It was ridiculously delicious!
I highly recommend this lovely afternoon ritual, at the Courtyard Restaurant at the Boston Public Library. Here is the link to the menu for anyone interested in checking it out.
So, what would be appropriate reading for a super-civilized vacation? HARLEQUIN PRESENTS!
I started reading some of these and I liked them. And then I made the enormous mistake of telling Lexxi Callahan, who encouraged my unhealthy obsession and kept adding more and more titles onto my TBR list. Damn her!
Here's a list of the books I've read recently...
The Greek's Pregnant Lover
The Billionaire's Pregnant Mistress
The Salvatore Marriage
The De Santis Marriage
The Spanish Husband
The Sheikh's Chose Wife
A Passionate Marriage
The Greek's Marriage Bargain
The Shy Bride
The Prince's Virgin Wife
Pregnant by the Greek Tycoon
The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain
The Italian's Convenient Wife
The Italian's Inexperienced Mistress
The Greek's Innocent Virgin
The Sheikh's Bartered Bride
Hired: The Sheikh's Secretary Mistress
His Royal Love-Child
Hey! I'm Greek! And I'm sexy!
Plot summary for Harlequin Presents:
1. Super alpha arrogant Greek/Italian/Sheikh dude toys with lovely innocent woman.
2. Lovely innocent woman gets knocked up.
3. Alpha guy accuses her of cheating/manipulation and says horrible, nasty things.
4. Lovely innocent woman cries and wishes she didn't love the dumb ass so much.
5. Dumb ass continues to be a dumb ass for 60% of the book.
6. At 61% of the book, dumb ass starts to get an inkling that perhaps, maybe, there might be the slightest chance he was totally wrong about lovely innocent woman, and that yes, indeed, he is a dumb ass.
7. Lovely innocent woman gets talked into marriage with dumb ass.
8. Dumb ass grovels grovels grovels and begs lovely innocent woman to forgive him.
9. Tears! Sob sob sob!
10. Alpha dude professes his undying love, so does innocent woman.
11. Epilogue: Precious baby is born.
If you, too, would like to develop an unhealthy obsession with Harlequin Presents, I recommend starting with The Shy Bride or The Billionaire's Pregnant Mistress.
Finally, my very own book APPLES SHOULD BE RED is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.
It will be available in print within the next month.
It's currently in the Amazon Top 100 Hot New Releases for both Romantic Comedy and Humorous Fiction.
Here are some review quotes...
"charming, beautiful and funny read"
"I laughed through this whole book"
"The humor was outrageous"
"sweet and sexy romance"
"funny, quirky [story] with vivid characters"
Lastly, if you're pining for spring, and the mounds of snow outside are making you want to cry (sort of like the lovely innocent woman in a Harlequin Presents novel), please check out my new Pinterest board aptly named SUMMER.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Word on the street is that you need to write a middle-of-the-road story to attract readers. Get a lot of sales. Totally makes sense.
You don't want to lean too far to the right, too far to the left.
You want to make your characters likable, redeemable.
You need to make them relatively attractive. So folks want to read about these characters doing the horizontal lambada and not totally freak out.
You need to color within the lines. The romance lines. Young people, attractive people, dealing with issues like coming-of-age, overcoming trauma, family stuff. This is all perfectly acceptable.
But what if...what if...
You chucked all convention?
What if you decided to do the OPPOSITE? Would you sell any books?
What if you made your characters old. Older than I've ever seen in a traditional romance novel.
In their 60s. Hmm.
What if a character was rude, politically incorrect to an extreme, chain-smoked, was borderline alcoholic, and swore like a drunken sailor?
Would consumers want to read about him?
What if a character was uptight, a busybody, sexually-repressed, a judgmental know-it-all, and had been crushed by a cheating, unappreciative husband for forty years?
I don't know.
That's the real answer.
I don't know what will happen.
I took a big risk and colored WAY outside the lines.
This book is NOT a traditional romance. It's a love story. About real, flawed people.
I don't know what's going to happen.
But I do know that I had a great time writing this book.
It isn't exactly a romance, according to the genre parameters. But it is still a love story. And it's still romantic.
Does that makes sense?
APPLES SHOULD BE RED is now available at Amazon (ebook) for $1.99. It will be available later in the week at B/N and Kobo. And within the month it will be released in print, too.
Here's the purchase link at Amazon: APPLES SHOULD BE RED
If you decide to take a chance and read about Tom and Bev, let me know. I want to hear your feedback, good and bad. Something tells me you'll be cheering for this couple by the end of the story.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Since I'm stuck at home with the hubby, kids, and dog during yet another snow storm, I thought I would take this time to post some hot older peeps. Just to show you that folks over the age of twenty can be sexy, gorgeous, and fascinating. The actors below are in their 50s/60s, just like the characters in my upcoming book APPLES SHOULD BE RED. Yee haw!
Here we go!
Not too shabby.
Happy Snow Day!
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Gorgeous apple soap by Be Greatful!
2014 Experimental Updates:
1. January No Book-Buying Moratorium: I almost made it to the very last day of the month without buying a book. Almost. I bought one, because it was a sequel and I just HAD to read it. But that's pretty darned good.
And I just got my credit card bill and it's FABULOUS (as in fabulously small)! Woo hoo!
2. Finishing a novella: I finished my geriatric love story WIP in about two weeks. After letting it languish for a year. How? I decided that my new 2014 goal was 2-3 hours a day of ONLY WRITING THE BOOK. No blogging. No reading. No surfing the internet and looking at dumb pics of the Kardashians.
No wasting time on Twitter, which is the biggest time-suck in the history of mankind. I toyed with the idea of deleting my Twitter account, but ultimately found that wasn't necessary. What was necessary was just some good old-fashioned discipline. Work first, play a bit later. Huh! THAT WORKS!
Coming Soon! APPLES SHOULD BE RED...check out the gorgeous cover by Penny Reid!
3. Because I have a wee little problem saying "NO" I am usually over-extended. I give talks, I beta read for folks, I help other authors with promo strategies, I read and review. And at the very bottom of the totem pole was MY WRITING.
I made a big decision for 2014.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BOOK.
AS IN...MY BOOK.
Something has to give.
And hopefully it's not my sanity. (Oops! Too late!)
4. The $1000 Cocktail Party: When I was a newb, "professional" conferences were super-duper helpful. I got to take workshops about POV and conflict, I got to meet other authors and soak up their knowledge, I got to query my books to editors/agents.
(I have the word "professional" in quotes because some of these conferences--which shall remain nameless--include male strippers and bingo games, and although fun and entertaining, those are probably outside the realm of what constitutes a professional conference).
Anyhoo, now that I'm old and haggard and co-hosting my own symposiums, the appeal for these events has come down to more or less one major benefit: the cocktails. I go to conferences with my buds and we drink, laugh, and have a merry old time. The problem? We have to pay for registration, travel, and hotel, and it becomes an expensive proposition with little professional pay-off. I don't query anymore, I self-pub. The majority of workshops I've attended in the last year have been less than stellar. At my last RWA conference, the keynote speakers were horrible, the workshop grid was incomplete, and the food sucked.
And I paid for that.
Since I am trying to focus on THE WRITING, I decided to just cut this stuff right out of my schedule this year. No more conferences, organizations, or workshops. Just...THE WRITING.
If I want to get together with my buds and drink and laugh and critique, we'll rent a house in Vermont--which we are doing....yipppppeeeeeee!
5. Stay tuned for release information about APPLES SHOULD BE RED. I'm expecting a March launch date. And the adorable Etsy shop Be Greatful is designing super cool promo items for me, including apple lip balms and gorgeous apple soaps (see photo at top of post).
Happy Week to all!
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
APPLES SHOULD BE RED
Recipe for Thanksgiving Dinner:
Start with sixty-two year old politically incorrect, chain-smoking, hard-cussing curmudgeon.
Add fifty-nine year old sexually-repressed busybody in pearls.
Throw in beer can-turkey, a battle for horticultural supremacy, and nudist next-door neighbor.
Serve on paper plates, garnished with garden gnome.
Tastes like happily ever after.
Penny Watson presents an over-fifty romantic comedy novella. 21,000 words. Story includes copious profanity, botanical references, and old people.
Have a nice day,
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
As most of you know, I'm a plant geek. I went to school for botany/plant taxonomy/horticultural science, followed by floral design school, followed by years of working as a florist and gardener.
I decided to try a new project for 2014...each month I'll do a botanical tutorial: design, holiday decor, gardening stuff, indoor plant collections, etc.
❧ CAMP CHLOROPHYLL! ❧
Not those kinds of plants!
For January 2014, I thought it would be great to start off with a really fun, simple, colorful and festive way to usher in the new year. It's a table centerpiece you can make at home with a plate, candle, hunks of oasis, and colorful flowers.
Pick up some bright flowers with sturdy stems. I got roses, stock, and hydrangeas at Trader Joe's. You don't need to spend a ton of money for this project. Just getting some basics at the grocery store will work. If the weather was better, I would putter around outside and collect some branches and flowers from my garden to use.
Soak the oasis (green foam blocks you can buy at a craft store, florist, or sometimes grocery shop).
Condition the flowers. Recut the bottoms of the stems and soak in lukewarm water. You can add the packet of preservative if you want to.
Get a nice big chunky candle and place it on a sturdy plate. NOT good china!
Take the oasis and cut it into pieces that will fit around the candle.
Cut flowers and foliage into pieces, make sure bottom of stem is stiff, not flimsy, or it won't pierce the oasis effectively.
Start making a "nest" with foliage pieces.
After inserting greens, start adding flowers. Make sure stems are in contact with oasis so they will absorb the moisture.
Pack on flowers until all the oasis is hidden.
Spritz flowers with water to keep them fresh.
Light candle and order take-out for dinner since you're now too exhausted to cook.
Gorgeous! You have now completed Task #1 at Camp Chlorophyll. Congrats!
Until next month,
Monday, January 20, 2014
Top 5 reasons you must read Painted Faces by LH Cosway
A Review by Penny Reid
This book, you must read it. And here is why:
1. The funny. Yes, funny. I know you’ve read the blurb and are wondering to yourself how can this book be funny? But it is. Here are some of my favorite lines:
"I might not have a boyfriend, but I have cupcakes, and those tasty bastards haven't let me down yet."
"It makes me feel more normal when I can see my life is full of stereotypes."
"...Hello. You'll be starring in my dirty dreams tonight, Mr. Blue Eyes"
2. Freda (the girl). Freda is a real person. She has flaws—of the physical and the mental variety—just like a *GASP* real person. She also doesn’t fall into bed with people. She’s also smart…. I know, right? Doesn’t sound like a book person, sounds more like a real person.
3. Nicolas/Viv (the boy). Nicolas is… *sigh* Sorry, what was I saying? He is maybe the most masculine, alpha, sexy male I’ve ever read. Just thinking about him makes my chest all achy.
4. You will be uncomfortable and you will love every minute of it! And, I’m not talking about dirty/weird/kinky sex uncomfortable. I’m talking about challenging your perceptions of gender by making you fall in love with someone who isn’t ‘normal’ or typical, but someone who is so beautiful and exquisitely drawn. You are compelled. You have no choice. Viv is love. Freda is adorable.
5. ALL OF THE FEELS! Every single one of them. I laughed, I sniffled, I was angry, I was frustrated (but not for long).
Also, of note, I’ve read this book twice. I never do that. The last book I read twice was The Lord of the Rings, so BAM!
Pick it up, read it, you will love it. And feel free to send me thank you notes and chocolates when you do.
Penny Jr. (Penny Reid)