Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Welcome, BETH KERY!

Today we're joined by fabulous erotic romance author Beth Kery. Her latest release Release is out now in bookstores and in a few short weeks Velvet Cataclysm will hit the virtual shelves from Samhain. Another busy (and talented)author in our midst! Welcome, Beth! (Applause!)

The Best Romance of All Time?

I tend to think big. Maybe too big. Probably too big.

Undoubtedly too big.

But hey, it’s how I work.

This fact was made clearer to me during the Spring Fling RWA Chicago North conference over the weekend. I attended a workshop on goal setting given by Author’s Best Friend romance author assistant Kim Castillo. (I enjoyed myself, Kim, thanks!) On the worksheet Kim gave us, we needed to write down goals (one year, five year and lifetime) as well as obstacles to achieving our goals.

So here’s where the ‘thinking big’ part becomes relevant. Under the “lifetime goals” portion, I put “write one of the best romances of all time.”

Yeah. Okay. Dream no small dreams, right?

I have to admit, however, this thought has fixed itself in my brain and I can’t seem to dislodge it. I figure its best just to carry on with the exercise. It might surprise people, since I write erotic romance, to know that I’m holding this thought even as I write the raunchiest sex scene. Sex and romance have been entwined since the beginning of time, so I have no issue with that, actually. To me, it’s a given.

Back to the worksheet: obstacle to said goal. What exactly would comprise the ‘best romance of all time”? How would I recognize it, let alone write it?

Hmmmm, that’s a hard one. Must think of the enduring romances of the ages and the relevant components. Romeo and Juliet—the beauty and anguish of an impossible love. Tristan and Isolde—star-crossed lovers. Lancelot and Guinevere—ditto. The Thornbirds—ditto. Darcy and Elizabeth, kept apart by the strictures of society and family pressures, as well as the internalized prejudices that have come from those values.

Am I picking up a theme, here?

In this day and age, it’s hard to write a contemporary romance that involves the degree of star-crossed-lover-ship just mentioned. The mores of our society just aren’t rigid enough to create the friction of, say, Lancelot lusting after his soul mate Guinevere when the chivalric code that ruled his existence demands that he denies her. And yes, a good romance requires friction; something must be overcome. Otherwise, it’d just be a sweet little story of boy meets girl and happily-ever-afters.

It’s just a bit more challenging to find those heart-breaking potential conflicts in the modern age.
When I read the news story of the woman who drove the wrong way on the interstate while severely intoxicated, killing members of her own family and another family, I was so saddened. How can one make sense out of such a meaningless, awful event? How could anyone ever heal from that?

Pondering that topic gave me a loose idea for my first Silhouette Special Edition romance. It evolved into a story about three families in a small town, each of different backgrounds and cultures, who are irrevocably tied together one fateful night after the father of one family drives drunk, causing a three-way crash that impacts the three families forever. My hero and heroine were young lovers at the time, head over heals for each other. The crash causes deep wounds in all three families, and here’s where the star-crossed part comes in: his father was the man who killed her parents in the crash.

How does one go about healing from that? How can two people who are meant to be together ever work past the wounds and the pain, anguish and misunderstanding on all sides?

Thirteen years pass and the two meet again in the prime of their lives, older and wiser…and still madly in love with one another.

Here was my own Romeo and Juliet, kept apart once again by the old, familiar ties of family and faith, but by the demons of our modern world, as well, such as substance abuse and soul-scarring litigation.

So I came to the conclusion, after admitting to the grandiosity of my goal about writing the “best romance ever,” that I’d go ahead and keep the goal anyway. My Harbor Town series at Silhouette Special Edition won’t be the best romance of all time. I like the goal, though. It’s like a distant star, something to shoot for…a focus as I trudge along in the desert of the publishing world. :) And if that goal inspires me to write the best romance I am capable of every time I sit down at the computer, that’s good enough for me.

Dream no small dreams.

What are some of your favorite romances of all time? What components make them your favorite?

Thank you so much for joining us, Beth! Today one lucky commenter will win a print copy of Beth Kery's Release. Good luck, booklovers!


Sherry said...

It's really hard for me to pick out just one book but some of my all time favorite authors are Linda Howard,Jayne Ann Krentz and Lori Foster. These are authors I go to when I want a really good read and I've reread a lot of books by each author. One of the first books I read by Jayne Ann was Family Man. I fell in love with her writing this is a really emotional book at times I've reread it a lot. One of my favorite books by Linda is After the Night its a great book the couple have a lot of family history to overcome. I also love her Mackenzie books. I love almost all of Lori's books but one of my favorite rereads is Too Much Temptation it's a great read that's funny at times but very serious at other times. I also love her book Say No To Joe its awesome and I've reread it more than once. I hope I've answered your question.


Andrea Becraft said...

Picking one book to love the mostest is like picking a favorite child. Can't be done no matter how much you try lol.

thanks for blogging with us!

Mary G said...

I liked this post Beth. Funny though, to me you've reached your goals. You've written the best I've read already but no problem if you want to outdo those. I have many faves & I love all of your books but I'd say that Wicked Burn & Sweet Restraint have been reread more often than the others.
I don't think anyone can set out to write the best book of all time.
I think it's the timing, the times
and what hits people's hearts & minds at the time the book is released. Don't enter me, just wanted to drop in & say hi.

beth kery said...

I love a JAK and a Linda Howard as well! I agree, that's it the ability to evoke romance that is key.

Andrea--hard indeed! Thanks for having me!

You are so sweet. I think of it as an impossible dream, personally, but I did think it was pretty funny that I wrote it on my goal sheet. :)

Cathy M said...

Oh man, that's a tall order, Beth. Since I have all the original Elizabeth Lowell/Ann Maxwell and Jayne Ann Krentz titles, I would pick any of their early works as my top favorites.

Since then I have added so many to my favorites shelf, in all different genres. Most ended up as favorites because they are beautiful romance stories, have amazing characters, with added sexual chemistry that melts my socks off.

Natasha A. said...

Picking a reason to love romance is just as hard as picking my favourite! I love the start crossed, I love challenges. I don't want things to be easy. I want there to be deep love and passion.

Have I missed the publication of this Silhouette??? *off to check website*
Also, please don't include me in this contest, I already have Release and LOVE it.
I can't wait for Velvet Cataclysm!!!

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

To become a sheep and agree with the masses, I must say the the best romance for me does infact change over time.

Currently I am drawn to women who discover a submissive partner that brings out the powerful Dom in them.

I keep thinking I will get tired of it, but It keeps catching me by surprise.

It is ultimately the exchange of control that equals an amazing about of trust between the partners, not matter who is on top.

Miranda ~ Sweet Vernal Zephyr

Anonymous said...

My favorite love stories seem to always have someone who has to come out of his/her comfort zone and take some kind of chance in order to get what they want. Also, second chance at love stories are another favorite.

Nancy G said...

It is hard to pick any one romance book as the best, because I like them fo rso many different reasons. Some because of the against all odds relationships. Some for the soul mates forever stories. Some for the hot and heavy eroticism of the story. Mostly, it depends on what I need to get from a particular book and whether it fills that need.

Beth said...

Great post. The one consistent thing I need in my books is the HEA. And if there is some humor in the mix of emotions the couple(or more)go though on their way to the HEA, even better.
Other than that, picking just one book as the best ever, for me, would be impossible. I love them all, if not equally, then a lot. I have dozens that I would have to choose between just to create a top ten list and hundreds to pick from for a top fifty list, and so on. The one I'm currently reading(unless poorly written)is usually my fave for that period of time. Then the next book comes along and becomes the next fave.
That makes a lot of books seem like the 'best one'.

I think, as long as people are buying your books and enjoying them, and you're still enjoying writing them, then you've done real good at reaching your goal. And us readers have gotten another great story to enjoy.

Hope all of that made sense.

Chelsea B. said...

Ohh....so hard! I love Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Ravished by Amanda Quick, Spirited Away by Cindy Miles....
I love books that have a Beauty and the Beast feel, my favorite fairy tale :-)

Lea said...

Hi Beth:

Please don't enter me, I already have a treasured copy of "Release" on my keeper shelf.

Every year I find another "favorite all time romance" it is so difficult to narrow down. I love a tortured hero in an exceptional romance novel, or one with that reacquainted lovers theme.

"Wicked Burn" and "Sweet Restraint" are all time favorites for me. I also love Larissa Ione's "Pleasure Unbound", a tortured hero who find love with a female warrior who is equally 'tortured'.

"Release" is another favorite - Sean just spoke to me. *g*

Great post Beth..

Thank you for sharing. :-)

flchen1 said...

A few favorites are ones by Jennifer Crusie, SEP, and Shelly Laurenston--I think common threads are humor and being able to write an emotionally true story and characters.

Jennifer Mathis said...

I adore Johanna Lindsey. I love to cuddle up with a Lindsey whenever I'm stressed out and luck for me she's still going strong

beth kery said...

Earlier, I forgot to say thank you to Vivi for having me. (That's a gorgeous cover for Serengeti Storm, by the way. Modern and sensual).

Thanks for the comments everyone. It's true, what would make the 'best romance of all time' alters from person to person. Humor, emotion, characterization all count as hugely important. There are some, though, that endure throughout people and time.

Linda Henderson said...

It would be impossible to pick just one, so I'll say that anything Susan Mallery, Carly Phillips, Nora Roberts, Karen Kelley, Vicki Lewis Thompson write are great reads for me. There are really too many for me to list them all, I love my romance books.

seriousreader at live dot com

Vivant said...

My favorite romance depends a lot on my mood. When I want a book that engrosses me I pick something intense. But many of my favorites to read and reread are romantic comedies with sharp, witty protagonists who keep each other a little off balance as they spar their way to love.

I'm not usually a big fan of uber-angsty tales. Still, when I think of great romances my mind goes to stories where the hero and heroine must overcome tremendous obstacles...provided they get the HEA. Perhaps the greater the obstacles overcome, the stronger we believe the love must be. One of my favorites in that category is Son of the Morning by Linda Howard.

Thank you for an interesting and thought-provoking post, Beth.

Karin said...

Picking favorites is so hard when there are so many great romances out there. I will have to say that the romance between Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth in Jane Austen's Persuasion. The characters are great, but I love the idea of a second chance and the constancy of love, which is a big theme in that book.

booklover0226 said...

One of my favorite romances of all time is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Her characters seem so real to me that I experience each and every emotion they experience!

Tracey D

Zina said...

Oh yes, there has to be friction, but I think a story with laughter is important too. I love The Highland Bride by Hannah Howell and it is similar to your series concerning the drunk driving. Three clans nearly wiped out fighting, now argueing over a wee piece of land that is in the middle and borders all three. The land is owned by a wee bit named Gillyanne and the three lairds decide whoever weds and beds her gets the land. They draw lots and take turns at wooing whether she wants it or not and she very tidily kicks all thier butts. There is much to work through in the story, but I have to say I love all the romances I read and to me they are all great love stories.

Vivi Andrews said...

I don't think I could ever pick just one ultimate romance. How do you compare Jane Austen, Jennifer Crusie & Julia Quinn? I can't do it.

Thank you so much for the thought-provoking post, Beth!