My librarian never-married aunt read The Fear of Flying by Erica Jong nearly forty years ago when it was first published. She wrapped the cover in brown paper. No one else knew her secret, except me, the hippie niece.
I remember her showing me the title of the first chapter in her plainly wrapped paperback and giggling about the F-bomb being used in print. Through my 1970s’ haze, I laughed with her about the use of that particular word printed in a novel, let alone in the first chapter’s title. She made me promise to tell no one, particularly her sister, my mother.
Her embarrassment at reading a racy novel sums up my feelings about romance novels, until a year ago.
I read my share of romances as a form of pure escapism during my years of teaching high school English. Discussing the metaphors and symbolism in Moby Dick by day and reading Judith Krantz by night, I kept my spare time reading tastes to myself. Maybe I didn’t put a plain brown wrap around the covers, but I didn’t carry the book outside of the house or talk about it in the teacher’s lounge either.
I was a hypocritical snob.
However, it was that secret reading that finally pushed me to the computer to begin my own novel. I read one too many poorly written romances and other works of fiction. I kept saying to myself, “I could do better than this.” I’m not one to make those kinds of statements without backing it up, and so one summer, I sat down and wrote my first novel, contemporary fiction with illusions that might even be literary.
When I started writing fiction seriously nearly twenty years ago, my novels contained elements of romance: love conflicts, sympathetic heroines, hunky heroes, happy endings. But my novels also contained many threads with sometimes complicated plots intersecting and colliding. I kept charts with lines drawn between characters. I created visual spiders on my bulletin board and wrote novels as long as 130,000 words (Trails in the Sand 2013). I wanted my themes to contain “important” messages.
When I joined the Indie Author movement in 2012, I learned romances sold much more than my works of contemporary fiction. But I still continued to work on what I thought of as “serious” fiction.
However, many readers want quick, simple, and happy. They want pure escape from complicated and messy lives. Once I came down from my lofty precipice of literary snobbery, I realized not all romances need to be bodice ripping silliness, dripping in sappy declarations of undying love.
I discovered that some of my online colleagues were writing romances with depth in their themes, even though the plots were much less complicated than I’d been writing. I enjoyed reading those works and found myself unembarrassed to shout it out through reviews, my blog, and social media.
“Romance in a Month” announcements from fellow colleague Rachelle Ayala filled my Facebook groups. I admired Rachelle, so I decided I’d give her new online course a chance in May 2014. Over the course of a month, I wrote a draft for my first romance, Behind the Altar, which led me to write a sequel, Behind the Bar. I’m now working on Behind the Curtain, the third book in this series. I’ve also written two other romances for box sets with other romance writers, with plans to write several more for publication in 2016.
It may seem as if I’ve sold out, dumping contemporary fiction out of a moving vehicle. I haven’t. I still plan on writing more in my Florida fiction series, expressing themes about landscapes, wildlife, and the environment. I have notebooks filled with my ramblings for the plot of several different books.
But in each of my romances, I’ve woven threads of people living conscious lives. In my first romance, the main character runs a soup kitchen for homeless vets. In my newest release, Third Base, the heroine, a young millionaire, and the hero, an All-Star baseball player, both give back by being involved in organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Wounded Warriors.
I can write romance with one main plot line that leads to a happily ever ending, and still include important issues of the day about helping others, living consciously, forgiving trespasses, and healing hurts from childhood.
It’s all storytelling, no matter the genre.
As with readers who want simple and happy as a contrast to complicated lives, the same can be applied to the writer. My life became extremely complicated during the past year with moves, planned retirements, and a sick husband. Writing has always been my escape and an important passion, so why not make that escape the least complicated part of my life?
When I’m asked what advice I have for new writers, I always say the same thing. I tell them to write, and write again. If writing simpler and happier stories keeps me writing, then that’s what I’m going to do for now. And then when I’m ready for a new challenge, there are still other genres awaiting me. I’ve never written a cozy mystery, a paranormal novel, or historical fiction, just to name a few. There’s a wealth of writing still left in these old fingers, and I plan to create stories for as long as I can.
Now that’s my happy ending, without the brown paper wrapping.
Sept. 2- 7 Florida Fiction Series –box set only $0.99 for three full-length novels set in Florida. http://www.amazon.com/Florida-Fiction-P-C-Zick-ebook/dp/B00PEUO1AG
Sept. 3, 4 – Behind the Altar is FREE! http://www.amazon.com/Behind-Altar-Love-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00N2WPFD0
September celebrate baseball with P.C. Zick’s new release Third Base - http://www.amazon.com/Third-Base-P-C-Zick-ebook/dp/B0105DXNVY
BioP.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. Her first novel was published in 2000. She's won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She describes herself as a "storyteller" no matter the genre.
She in Florida for thirty years, and she finds the stories of Florida and its people and environment a rich base for her contemporary fiction. Florida's quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply her fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable. Her romance series, Behind the Love, is also set in Florida.
She writes two blogs, P.C. Zick and Living Lightly. She has published three nonfiction books and nine novels.
Her writing contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/P.C.-Zick/e/B0083DPN4E/
Video Trailers: http://youtu.be/GNsZUiyDKIo?list=UUxE92WgTCZOLI6wrbIgoYhw