If you write romance, this book is a must-have. Get thee to wherever you buy books from and get it!
Leigh Michaels has 148 books listed on her Goodreads page, most of them romances. She knows what she's talking about.
She covers what a romance novel is, how to research what else is out there to make sure your idea is unique enough to stand out, the essential elements of a romance, how to balance sexual tension, even some tips on sex scenes.
There's some basic stuff in the book on point of view and how to build your plot.
She wraps it up with some advice on how to edit, and how to submit.
I've read a lot of stuff on how to write romances, and this is without doubt THE book to read to learn what a romance is, and more importantly, what a romance isn't. If you want to hook romance readers you have to respect the genre, and this book shows you how to do it.
I posted this article on my own site some time ago (2012) and it garnered so much interest I thought it worth repeating for the SFR audience. Yes, there's maths, but it's easy maths because that's the only kind I can do. Don't believe anybody who tells you a computer programmer has to be able to add up.
I was reading an article from somebody, all enthusiastic about the
exo-planets the Kepler probe keeps finding. They’re all many times
larger than planet Earth even if they’re in the ‘Goldilocks’ zone. You
know the one – not too close, not too far, just right. That is, a planet
neither too close to its primary nor too far away, where liquid water
could exist. My immediate reaction was ‘sure, but we’d weigh too much’.
Then I wondered how much more. I’m not a mathematician – never
have been. In truth, I can’t add up to save my life. So I’m counting on
you (ha ha) to correct me if I get this wrong. Please note that this all assumes that the planet we're talking about is rocky, like Earth and Mars. I can't see us wanting to settle on a place like Jupiter or Neptune any time soon.
I discovered this site http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/weight/
and learned that gravitational pull weakens by the radius squared. So
let’s say you weighed 60kg on planet Earth. Planet Gliese 581g is
estimated at 2.6 Earth masses and 1.4 Earth radii. So yes, you’re going
to weigh more on Gliese 581g, but not 2.6 times as much. If I’ve got
this right, the increased diameter of the planet means you’ll weigh
about 1.3 times as much – so about 78kg. That’s certainly not a huge
imposition. And all of a sudden, I’m bouncing in my chair, going oooh
Here’s some estimated figures about Gliese 581g, taken from this fascinating website http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog
Mass = 2.6 Earth Radius = 1.4 Earth Temp = average surface
temperature, so this place, at 10, is rather cooler than our 15 degrees (NASA’s figure from 2008),
but the estimate of average temperature assumes an Earth-like
atmosphere, which is a pretty big assumption. On the face of it the
planet zips around its sun in a fraction of the time it takes ours,
taking only 32 days as compared to 365. But that might not be the case,
since the Gliesean day may be much longer than Earth’s. The figures
don’t mention period of rotation, which I find a tad surprising. As a
comparison, Venus’s ‘day” (the time it takes to rotate on its axis) is
actually longer than its year (the time it takes to orbit the Sun.) (http://www.universetoday.com/14282/how-long-is-a-day-on-venus/)
So there you have it. I found out today that a candidate for Torreno (capital of the Coalition of Worlds in Morgan’s Choice) may be only 20.2 light years away. And with the shift drive of the future, that’ll be a place to add to your holiday plans.
Ain’t science grand?
Greta van der Rol loves writing action-packed adventures with a
side salad of romance. Most of her work is space opera, but she has
written paranormal and historical fiction.
She lives not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and
enjoys photography and cooking when she isn't bent over the computer.
She has a degree in history and a background in building information
systems, both of which go a long way toward helping her in her
The Brenda Novak Auction opens May 1, and with the support of the Brigade to help get the word out, this is a HUGE opportunity to introduce hundreds--even thousands--of new readers to the Science Fiction Romance genre. We've put together a category of exciting sci-fi and space exploration items to draw in our target audience and showcase SFR books.
We're planning a strategic launch to promote our category about 10 days before the auction begins: April 20th.
This is where the SFR Brigade community can really shine in promoting SFR! Let's take this opportunity to get the word out! (You can use the pre-made snippets below or craft your own.)
Please feel free to add your own to the list.
Here's the shortened link to the "Out-of-this-World Offerings from the SFR Brigade" category:
Big news! The SFR Brigade is sponsoring a category in the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research. Check out these fabulous far-out offerings "For the Cure." http://bit.ly/1jgNHZl
Love the romance of space exploration and science fiction? The SFR Brigade offers a sneak peek at its category of cool offerings for the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research. Auction begins May 1, but get a sneak peek here! http://bit.ly/1jgNHZl
Space boots and collectibles and novels, oh my! Memorabilia, movies and more. Check out the SFR Brigade category in the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research! http://bit.ly/1jgNHZl
At Fantasy Book Cafe, I'm a participant in this year's Women in SF&F
month! I'd enjoyed the posts of that event in years past and was
delighted when hostess Kristen invited me to contribute an article.
The topic is my love of science fiction romance and how the "...genre has rewritten the hero narrative in order to give female
characters leading roles as well as explore love and sex in a science
I presented a number of titles I've enjoyed, and the selection also
serves to highlight the sheer variety available in this genre.
Author Ella Drake (DESERT BLADE) kindly provided me with some time at
the CONTACT - Infinite Futures podium to blog about gamebooks, a.k.a.
"choose your own adventure" type stories.
Given the release of my own interactive science fiction romance DANGEROUS RENDEZVOUS (SilkWords),
it was a fun chance to delve into the history of interactive stories as
well as contemplate how they might evolve in the future.
My Coffee Time Romance steampunk romance column this month focuses on a
charming story called SKY PIRATES: SAFE HARBOR by Finnegan H.H.
O'Riordan. The tale includes airships, automaton action, and steampunk
inventions, but also a rare level of diversity in steampunk romance. For
that contribution, it deserves a commendation.
The sinking of the unsinkable luxury liner Titanic has inspired many a book and
movie over the 102 years since ship-met-iceberg, including my own "Wreck of the Nebula Dream."
Aside from the nonfiction accounts and straightforward
romance novels set on Titanic, there
have been stories featuring everything from time travel to werewolves. Even Douglas Adams, he of “The Ultimate
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame wrote a comedic treatment with Terry
Jones of Monty Python in the last 1990’s, based on a cd-rom game, odd as that
may sound. Reading a synopsis of the book on Amazon, however, the work doesn’t
seem to have taken much from Titanic
but the name.
Certainly there was
nothing humorous about the sinking.
Right from the beginning though, what I wanted to write was
a serious novel, set in the far future, on a space-going luxury liner.
Originally I thought I’d be able to pretty much follow the pattern of what
happened to Titanic for my own plot,
somewhat changed to reflect the future and the “ocean of space”, versus the
My characters felt otherwise. I’m a very seat-of-the-pants
style novelist and almost as soon as I began figuring out who would be aboard
and what catastrophes might occur, I could see I was going to be loosely suggesting Titanic. Actually, that was a freeing realization, because in the
1912 sinking so many people lost their lives and there are relatives and
descendants worldwide who are still affected by the ripples from the tragedy. I
didn’t want to write anything that might reflect back on the real people who sailed
I kept the situation though – a middle of the night
disaster, not enough lifeboats, no lifeboat drill, too much speed, new engines,
inability to get help in a timely manner, communications issues…and men, women
and children in jeopardy. I gave some nods to well known facets of the Titanic, starting my novel with a scene
on board the shuttle, where a female passenger creates a fuss, having had a terrifying
premonition of the disaster. In 1912 many people had documented premonitions of
disaster and foreboding dreams about Titanic,
and about 50 actually cancelled their passage.
There’s an entire deck of the Nebula Dream that’s the swimming area, complete with a beach – Titanic had an actual swimming pool,
which was considered quite a novelty at the time. I have one rich passenger on
my ship searching for her jewels in the damaged hold area, picking up on the
theme of the women who tried to retrieve theirs from the Titanic’s purser after the ship struck the iceberg.
Of course, this being science fiction, I threw in some
twists and turns abut who or what comes looking for the ship in distress (but
no spoilers from me!)….
I’ve always thought it was especially poignant that so many
children perished when Titanic sank,
so I included Paolo age 8 and Gianna age 3 as two of my characters,
representing in my mind all the little ones who didn’t survive in 1912. I made
sure my hero Nick, and every other
person in the group, was devoted to getting
the children safely off the Nebula Dream.
Speaking of Nick, when I was thinking about who the hero
should be, I asked myself who I’d want there with me if I was in such a
perilous situation. A Special Forces soldier sounded about right! Once I
figured out why he’d be traveling on such a luxurious vessel, the plot fell
into place. Mara Lyrae,the heroine, is a
high powered business executive, who worked her way up from entry level to the
heights of intergalactic corporate power, but hasn’t forgotten anything she
learned along the way. She also does not buy into “women and children first”
when it comes to herself. She’s in the thick of trying to rescue others. There
was at least one business woman on the Titanic,
Lady Duff-Gordon for example, who was a well-known fashion designer of her
Even I couldn’t ensure that all the passengers survived in
the book, any more than everyone survived the Titanic sinking…but there’s a Happily Ever After ending for some
people. Because this is a romance after all.
Much as I like writing in seat-of-the-pants style, it soon
became apparent I’d better sit down and design my starship, so I’d know which
deck had what and could explain to the Readers where Nick and the others were
going at any given time. I still have that hand drawn schematic, not that it’s
exactly a thing of beauty! But this was
one time I really did have to do the details before the writing.
The story for WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM:
2013 SFR Galaxy Award and Laurel Wreath Winner
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream
on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick
Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last
disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino,
take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the
beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.
All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of
Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers
stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory.
Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several
other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s
malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.
But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him
he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces
team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?