CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Tamie Burdick of Bookish Temptations: Genre Trends

This week’s guest blogger holds a special distinction and place in my heart, and is not actually aware of this herself. Tamie Burdick at Bookish Temptations is the first book blogger I began following after I discovered the contemporary romance genre, and in particular, the incredible writings of one Mr. Sylvain Reynard, quite possibly…no, definitely…my favorite writer in the genre. It was her book blog that helped me get swept up in sharing the excitement with other fans of his work as well as the similarly awesome writing of such masterful authors as Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber and others.

Tamie started the site in October 2011 after working with another book blog, and soon realized she could add greater reach and value for readers by building her own team committed to passionate book discussion. Now this trusty posse of very diligent and busy cohorts invites readers on a daily basis to engage in a dialogue about their favorite books and authors, with each other, with the bloggers and often with the authors themselves.

I’ve since begun following a number of other excellent book bloggers, as well, who go out of their way to keep readers updated on the latest author news and offer access to cool contests and exclusive book information. If you’re a reader, you know the service that book bloggers provide, and if you’re an author, you recognize the influence and weight their opinion can potentially carry. With Bookish Temptations garnering nearly 10,000 blog followers, I thought Tamie was the perfect person to share a little insight on what she’s seeing as trends in the genre she (and I) and so many readers have fallen madly in love with…contemporary romance. Swoon. So take it away, Tamie…

And you can follow Tamie and Bookish Temptations on Twitter here.

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When Chris asked me to share my thoughts on trends in the contemporary romance genre, and the direction it may be headed in, I was honored. It’s the genre I read and review/spotlight the most on Bookish Temptations. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart.

As far as trends go here’s some of what I’m seeing…

The line between romance and erotica is getting blurrier by the day. They really were very distinct genres not that long ago. I’m a fan of the incorporation for the most part. I enjoy both genres as long as they’re well written.

That’s the tricky part tho. I’m afraid many authors feel the need to write more graphically than they are comfortable with. What can start as a great story becomes awkward and uncomfortable to me as a reader when this happens.

Throwing in sex for the sake of sex, or using sexual words does not a good story make. It takes a certain skill to balance the romance of a story and to include really great erotica.

My advice to authors is simple. If you aren’t comfortable writing it…then don’t. You can make and develop an extremely satisfying sensual scene without the explicitness. I have many favorite authors that do just that. As a reader and reviewer, I’m far happier with that than feeling like I want to flounce on a book because the author is chasing a certain audience.

Two trends that may or may not be related? The prevalence of series and the shortening of books. Series books aren’t new of course, but it sure seems like there are less and less stand alone novels and more stories that are being made into sequels, trilogies, and beyond. At the same time novels seem to be getting shorter, and I have wondered if authors are being encouraged to write with that in mind.

It’s no secret that I love lengthy stories and series as well, so I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I’m all for authors telling the most complete story they can, and it’s hard for me to leave some characters behind. I’ve read some novels that actually needed a 3rd book, but I’ve also read some recently that could’ve been told in 2 longer books.

Epilogues…no, they aren’t a new invention, but I see them more and more and more and…I FLOVE this trend. I’m actually starting to get disappointed when I don’t see one at the conclusion of a stand alone or at the end of a series. It’s the perfect way to end with a peek into what happened to our favorite and beloved characters in the future.

Finally, let me cheat just a little…this really can’t be considered a trend, but I have to give a standing ovation to all the fabulous books being written in the New Adult genre. Some of the very best books I’ve read so far this year have come out of this newer classification and I’m thrilled about it. I think this is going to be a huge market for publishers and self- published alike.

Thanks for inviting me to write this guest post , Chris!

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Sex, Sex, Sex. Uh-huh.

So I…Oh, let’s see. How shall I put this?

I, um… I, um…

<Swallow.>

Wrote my first sex scene this week.

Okay, this isn’t entirely true. I am writing a contemporary romance novel so I have written some rather intimate moments already. Hell, I had better by this point given how far into the book I am. However, actually tackling my first sex scene has been…interesting.

I’ve been telling stories in various ways for a while now. This was a reminder that I’m telling a completely different story, one that I never imagined that I of all people would be telling. It’s frightening, it’s exciting, and it requires some real care and thoughtfulness behind it.

Wow. I didn’t see that coming. <No pun intended. Okay, maybe a little.>

I usually write to music. So of course, I knew that music would be pretty important for this task at hand. So who won the job? Why, none other than Otis Redding. Otis has his own special connection to the story, and that’s all I’ll say for now and leave it at that, as I have no intention of spoiling anything for readers.

As I worked on what clearly felt like a really important scene, pivotal to the path of the characters involved, I was shocked at my reaction. I’m feeling pressure. So much pressure.

Why? Because I have grown to love and hate this genre at the same time. Some writers have such fondness and affection for their fans, and truly deliver a meaningful story and scenes capturing the beauty and honesty of sex and sensuality. Others give it no thought at all, or at least that is how it appears on the page, and seem to think that by throwing in a few vivid descriptions of genitalia and sound effects that this will draw in the reader emotionally.

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These writing sessions this week have felt very different, as if for the first time, I’m realizing that I actually have a responsibility. I hold a reader’s heart, emotions and imagination in my hands in that moment, and all could be lost or treasured in a single scene.

Damn. I had no idea what I got myself into when I started to tell this story. I would love to hear from other writers, especially those in the romance genre about your approach to these scenes.

I am so determined to not let down the person on the other side of that page. I’ve been there myself as an avid reader. Your emotions are at that writer’s mercy. And when a reader has so much invested in a character or a pair of characters, the writer must deliver.

Otis awaits…and so do Cate and Oliver. 

Happy reading!

ck