I am a feminist at heart. In my soul, I believe the female form is sacred and is therefore equal to the male. Therefore, I have struggled with my love of the romance genre.
As an English teacher, I studied many, many classics and works of “literature” – no commercial fiction, and certainly not works that followed a “formula”. During that time, I learned so much about writing and the beautiful ways in which words strung together illuminate the soul.
How then, could I reconcile loving a genre that was supposed to be formulaic, that put men and women in rigid roles and the core of which was something as mundane as romance and love?
Because romance written by women, for women, is sacred. The stories of women learning who they are so they expect to be loved on their terms is exactly what we need.
Romance was tarnished for me by the typical fairy tales of my childhood where the damsel was saved by the dashing prince. As an adult woman, I didn’t wish to be saved. But, I believe we have all collectively felt the change of direction in modern day fairy tales for little girls which show empowered young women taking ownership of who they are in order to achieve the life they want. Which is great for the generation of girls who will be growing up with different stories as their foundation and mothers who give them the foundation to truly be themselves.
But, what about us? The women who were fed the bogus stories as little girls and now yearn for stories of women being themselves and knowing in their core they deserve a life that honours every one of their desires?
Enter Romance being told by these very women, for every woman.
Modern storytellers provide us with rich characters who know what they want (and, if they don’t, they discover it), and refuse to compromise on their worth and how they deserve to be loved. They provide us with characters who access both their divine masculine and their divine feminine. Strength and softness – physical and emotional.
I’ve read that the reason Romance was not given its due is precisely because it was for women, and therefore the holders of the keys to literary greatness (white men) scoffed and belittled it, thereby relegating it as a lesser genre of writing – as a fantasy of how men and women can never be.
Romance inspires more than feelings of lusty, love (although, those are fun too) – it really showcases how deep emotional intelligence can significantly improve the lives of individual people. The characters in romance novels experience loss, grief, fear and shame…and they overcome these through relationships. Through communication that is open and honest, they thrive and rise and are willing to be open to love. These characters are willing to face their fears and be vulnerable. They believe in the power of love so fully, they fearlessly jump in and feel all of its glories.
Historical Romance then becomes tricky because there are so many entrenched gender rules that characters must abide by in order to be historically accurate. However, any kind of knowledge about women in history shows that women in every time period struggled with and against the norms set out for them by society.
I love historical romance because even though the characters know the rules they must follow, their human spirit – the need for connection and vulnerability and love – is so strong, that most times the rules need to be broken in order to achieve that. Therein lies the fun of historical romance. Modern women can read about women in a different time period whom were not free to be themselves, and yet find a way to do so and be loved on their terms.
We seem to be very accepting of the tales and love stories of witches, wizards, shapeshifters, vampires, soul-finders, etc. each time we read a work of fantasy or dystopian literature. So, why is it so difficult to accept that true love, vulnerability and an elevated unbreakable connection can exist between two human characters?
What has your experience of reading romance been like?
This list is made doubly-difficult because it is my life-line to staying emotionally and mentally well during my journey to physical health. I wrote about this journey – which now seems like it will extend into the rest of this year – here. However, due to said health journey, time & energy to do all of the above is significantly lessened. My passion for writing is not my career – it’s something I do to stay afloat…however, it comes with a to-do list that the above barely covers.
The desire to do all the things is strong with me. As soon as I’ve accomplished a new goal or task, I don’t rest and take it in and simmer with the feel good of accomplishment. I’m off to the next goal. (Which could be why I’m in this health predicament in the first place – but that’s a musing for another day.)
So now that my first book has been released…what next? While most indie authors work diligently and focused on establishing their on-line presence because that is what drives book sales and gets their beloved work into the hands of readers – which is the aspiration of all writers, it’s a rabbit-hole that can be deep and distracting from why we originally started writing in the first place – to tell great stories!
I try to limit my time on Insta and FB and Twitter. It might not drive sales or expose me to as wide an audience as possible…I’m one person. One wife, one mama, one woman trying to heal her body. Writing is what I love to do. It’s not my life.
Social media and graphic design are super fun and a great distraction when I hit a snag on the writing. Reading steamy romances are fun and inspiring – interestingly enough, some of the medicine I’m on reduces my ability to focus, so that can be limited, too.
So, while the above To-Do list can be daunting…it does help to keep me focused on what I’ve always loved to do…make-up characters and their stories and see it all fall apart and come back together…
Book 2 of The Chronicles of the Heart Series is therefore underway, and it’s so juicy! Book 3 is starting to talk to me. Capturing a Countess’ Heart is out now. You’ll find me on social media once a day and occasionally trying my hand at graphic design (for which I love Canva, great for newbies like me!)
And, when I whittle it all down to the simple fact that I just love to write…it all seems to fall in place without the crazy of having to do more, or do it all.
Are you an indie author who feels the pressure to do all the things? Maybe, we can do things differently and still manage to get our stories into the hands of readers!
It has actually happened and I couldn’t be more happy or more proud. Funny, though. It isn’t the jump out of my seat, holler from the rooftops kind of happiness. It is a such body hugging warmth. I feel accomplishment. I have reached my goal. It is so calming and peaceful the sheer joy which is radiating through every single cell.
Two more sleeps and my work is out in the world ~ what a lovely thought.
Hope you love reading it as much as I loved writing it. Here’s a short “what’s it about?”
While I would want to spend more time marketing and on social media, Covid-19, in addition to my own health odyssey have inspired me to take action NOW.
I want my family and friends to feel happier during these unprecedented times. I want to give them some kind of sense of love and joy – and the best way I can think of doing that is by releasing my new book earlier.
So excited to share my work with everyone I love!
In November of 2019, my body gave me lots of signs that I needed to pay attention to my health.
I had two choices: succumb to fear and the very dark places your mind likes to go or realize…I have no information other than they’re running some tests and I need to go on with my life. I chose the latter. I lived in this weird state of “it’s probably nothing, it could be something” but my kids need a snack and help with homework right now so I need to be a mom and not freak out. Besides, there was a birthday and Christmas to plan.
My husband became unusually quiet and more helpful than he usually is – which was a bonus. Extra help? I’ll take it.
I will always remember that in between time as a loop of go to the doctor, get some more information and then wait for another test…go to the doctor for results, but they need more information so wait for another test…and so on. In the meantime, I focused on my mental health, my emotional health and my faith in order to truly complete each step of my physical health journey in a way which would ensure to bring my body back into balance and ease.
I am recovering from surgery and waiting for more results to see what happens from here. I have a general overview of things – but in this process I’ve learned specifics come when the time is right. Talk about a lesson in SURRENDERING!
So why am I sharing something so intimate about my health? Because I cannot believe what I have learned!!!
I have time to read and to meditate – to learn about my spirituality in ways I hadn’t been able to before. For once, I don’t feel like I’m stealing time in order to do the things that fill my cup. I am being cared for by all of the people I love and most of all I am learning compassion and self-love in a deeper way which I will take with me for the rest of my life and hopefully pass on to my children.
My physical yoga practice is so different. I have been on my mat every single day since my surgery. I have modified my practice and I have been in the asanas I struggled with the most – stillness in savasana? Camel that is merely looking up without the effort to reach my heels? And I have learned that ease, love, compassion, and breath will bring my body back into balance. (I am aware that I will probably keel over the first time I attempt a power yoga class when I am well…but that’s a problem for another day).
I have learned gratitude; to ask for help; to receive help; to receive the outpouring of love with a feeling of worthiness.
Each moment has become more sweet. Losing my father in my twenties taught me to always appreciate and enjoy life…perhaps, somewhere along the way of having kids, managing a career and a marriage some of that lesson was lost…Life has a way of making sure we stay true to the lessons learned…
This time at home has afforded me so much on my path to full health, and I can’t help but think, perhaps this forced journey to health was a blessing in disguise.
Yet, again, I find myself taking a lesson from my yoga mat and applying it to the real world.
In yoga, we refer to Sthira/Sukha. How strength and softness can exist simultaneously. You can feel both the hardness of a pose and you can melt into it’s difficulty with breath. With softness. With ease. And, voila. You’re not struggling any more. Difficult pose…muscles not happy…and you’re just fine.
Well, I’ve taken this concept and brought it to my writing life. As a soon-to-be indie author, there is so much I’m learning. And, so much, I know I don’t know, as I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past.
One of the things which I was doing a very good job avoiding was marketing. And, while I know nothing about marketing, I know enough to understand I need a platform through which I can communicate with lovers of historical romance. Enter Facebook and Instagram.
The trouble is…I really struggled with how to go about it. I normally use these two platforms as ways of keeping abreast with the lives of my family and friends. Not for building an audience or a business.
I’m not a business executive. I have no idea how to do this or where to go! I’m just a woman with a book who thinks other people will enjoy reading.
So, I whittled my immense fear of marketing down to this simple and basic concept: I just want to meet people who love to read, write and discuss historical romance, whom might hopefully enjoy reading my book too!
It is a good place to start. The other marketing stuff will come when it is time for it to come. So far, I’m happy to say, I’ve met some lovely people on-line whom I hope will one day enjoy my book. In the meantime, I’m enjoying communicating with them and trading stories about our reading and writing journeys.
Suddenly, it doesn’t feel so hard. After all, it’s just about people. People reading and writing great historical romances. And, now I am one of those people.
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Hope to connect with you there too!