Introverted characters?

My editor noticed this, that my characters tend to socialize one-on-one, focusing the most of their energy on the private nature of their relationships, rather than going to lots of parties, bars, or clubs.  They don’t tend to double date and talk much to others about their relationships.

My introverted young women are not ones to experience life through the lens of emotional drama.  They won’t get drunk and then do crazy things, because they don’t live their lives crazily.  They think logically and are practical.  They create strategies and plan, generally thinking and processing before they talk, whether about their thoughts or feelings.

My introverted young men are like the heroes of a few of Grace Burrowes’ novels, specially my favorite, Douglas:  quiet, observant, shrewd as can be, hard-working, competent, and tough when they need to be. All of their intensity is focused upon the women in their lives.  The types of women they value are the ones who are loyal and passionate about them and their relationship, yet reserved and private, because they know that those are qualities that will bode well for a successful long term relationship.

And how does that tie into writing sweet romances, those with no explicit sex scenes?  My characters like to get busy, without question, but they are private about it, so to put it tongue in cheek, I won’t violate their privacy!

Does that seem boring, shy, or socially maladjusted?  Do characters like these seem too mature for their age, like middle aged matrons and fuddy-duddy old men?

Susan Cain, author of the book, Quiet, argues that in a culture that is overwhelming extroverted, introverts tend to be seen as weird.

I suppose that is why I like writing introverted characters, because I am one:  INTJ proud!  Nothing motivates me more than sitting in my study with my thoughts, keyboard, and a window to look out of as I think.  Apparently, writing is an ideal career for INTJ types.

Even though I have written extroverted ones, the introverts are the ones that grab me, because I think they are far more interesting, with depths that many don’t realize or experience because they don’t feel the need to be “out there.”

But here is the thing, lots of introverts have developed a sufficiently extroverted persona that becomes useful in their day-to-day life, because their jobs and other activities might require it.  However, look to see what really motivates them, and you will see exactly where their hearts are.

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.

Sweet romances–a new definition?

A romance blogger was inspired by me to write a whole post on defining sweet romances.  I must say I was flattered:  link.

The irony is that she was critical of me in a way that made no sense, and it was quite apparent from the comments.  The phrase “sweet romance” is a simple marketing strategy that works well enough for now.

Sweet romances with no explicit sex scenes as implying that there is something wrong with sex?  Not at all, some writers and readers just have different preferences regarding what they write and read.

So my characters are young women who go to college in the hope of getting good grades and jobs upon graduation.  They also want to get their Mrs. Degree, marriage to a serious boyfriend before graduation or immediately afterwards.

She critiqued sweet romances as indicating a political perspective packaged as a matter of personal choices.  I scratched my head upon reading that one:  “It never questions why certain women should want such things, or what role public policies and institutions might have played in shaping private, ‘personal’ decisions.”

In what universe would this be seen as something worthy of political analysis?

Most women don’t live their lives based upon a scorecard whether their personal choices developed through specific public policies and institutions.  They just live their lives in the way they believe best fits them and their needs.

I posted in her comments:  “I’m so glad I inspired you!”

She was glad to hear from me, because I make her think.  It is good to have these types of conversations, where we can critique and encourage.

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.


Coming up for air….

So I chatted with the developmental editor on 6th, and it was slow going at first.  Editing and using track changes can be so tedious!

But I had to literally chain my butt to the desk so that I could finish:  tweaking and writing.

I sent it back to her, before I actually expected to.

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.

Modern Christian Romance?

I read this interesting blog essay, which reminded me of something.  On Goodreads, someone added a “Modern Christian Romance” category for the book.

Rather surprising, I didn’t think anyone would get it.  I wonder who put in the category?  A Goodreads librarian?

Here is what I posted to the blog:

Hi, thanks for posting a review of this book! It looks great. I’ll have to look for it.

Although I don’t think of myself as a writer of religious romances, religion matters for my characters.

The women are more religious than their partners, and that is part of their appeal. But these aren’t prudish young women, since they are members of Protestant sects that are more liberal regarding sex.

The men had been lapsed. Their relationships provide a means of getting back on track with a new faith tradition and a new sense of community.

But the sex is closed door, because I don’t think graphic sex scenes are necessary–these are sweet romances!

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.


A writing philosophy?

A blogger who reviews romance novels recently drafted an essay which I found interesting.

Feminist romance was the topic.  From what I perceive to be the perspective of mainstream feminism, doesn’t it seem oxymoronic?  Aren’t romance novels disempowering of women?  Aren’t they too traditionally feminine to be considered feminist?

Is this even an issue?  It isn’t an issue for me, because I just don’t tend to think about feminism on a day-to-day basis.

But I wanted to challenge myself by answering her question, “how would you define feminist romance?”

A central story in which the characters and/or the author demonstrates a commitment to empowering women and men in their romantic relationships.  The main plot centers around individuals falling in love under circumstances where women and men bring their best selves and become the best they can be.  Patriarchy enables men to recognize and act upon their best strengths while enabling them to support women’s strengths and protect women’s needs in relationships.

An emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.  Lovers who dedicate themselves to building their relationship upon a foundation of love, care, and respect are rewarded with happiness and stable relationships that persist for the rest of their lives.

Why no language of equality?  Women define their personal goals and visions for feminism and their relationships in different ways.  Some want equality, some want protection, and still even others are more dominant in their relationships.

I write sweet romances.  So my characters might be seen as anti-feminist.  They are in college, but they want to graduate with their Mrs. Degree, work, and have their first children by their mid twenties.  They would rather become stay at home moms, work from home, or work part time while their children are small.


Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.


My developmental editor got back to me, so it will be time to get back to work on the second novel.

I wrote about 12000 words for my Goodreads writing group.  I was supposed to write 20000, I believe, but I just don’t have the time now.

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.