Contemporary women’s fiction, huh?
“Is Chip being politically correct?” you ask. “Isn’t that a fancy-schmancy colloquialism for romance novels?”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I write novels that have romance as a focus. I write novels that are designed first for the women’s market. I write fiction that I want men to read also.
Back in 1986, I was an Army officer for a combat arms unit. During a major exercise, I stopped at the post exchange in Kaiserslautern, Germany. I came out with Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October and Danielle Steele’s Message from Nam. Bedecked in my full combat gear, I was armed with some reading material to last the coming month in the field. I had a few minutes before returning to the throes of our maneuvers. I pulled out the camouflage book first. My driver immediately said, “You read Danielle Steele, sir?” I didn’t know Steele at the time. I purchased the book simply because of the cover, thinking it a war story. I got to the battalion’s tactical operation center for a staff meeting with the battalion commander. I pulled out the book before the meeting started, and several officers came by and snickered that I was reading Steele. Needless to say, being a manly man in an all-male combat unit, I quickly ditched Danielle Steele’s novel in the trash.
I had been judged by the cover of the book that I was reading.
Fast forward to the 2000s. I was writing paranormal thrillers. I had gotten the audience of several NYC publishing houses, including the editor-in-chief of one of the very largest. My works dealt with Biblical demons in the modern day and a sexy, female warrior who was born with special talents for hunting them. That editor-in-chief asked me to sex up the woman warrior in a new tale in a series for her. One evening after an evening of writing this new book, I was demon attacked on the drive home. I sought sanctuary on sacred ground instead of going home that night. The next day, the chief exorcist for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC urged me to give up writing in that genre.
My late writing mentor, Leslie A. Banks (L.A. Banks) screamed at me to write romance novels. She told me that 80% of novels are purchased by women, and 80% of those books are romance. Her logic was that I should consider entering a field where there was great demand instead of trying to break into a small niche that is dominated by the names Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, and others.
Romance novels? Me?
I first had to get over the notion of bare chested men with long hair and women with heaving bosoms on the covers of romance novels. I was still afflicted with the reaction of men soldiers to Danielle Steele. Hence, I read all of Nicholas Sparks’ novels. I read Richard Paul Evans’ books. They are men who have sold millions of copies of contemporary women’s fiction. Their stories delved into all types of life situations, and they all had romance themes running through them. And, their covers didn’t embarrass me when I read them in public.
As a result, I now write stories that Embracing passions and relationships.™
Rings, due out in November 2014, centers around an NFL football player, his wife, and his teammates. Although football players and coaches are in the story, it is not a sports story. It’s all about passions and relationships.
Jesse & Alexandra, due out in early 2015, involves an Army paratrooper meeting his soul-mate on first sight at a wedding on the brink of the First Gulf War. Rather than attending the reception, they jump into her Porsche and drive across country. Then, his duty calls. Will their new relationship survive?
Am I a romance novelist?
Yes I am.
Do I write for women?
Yes I do.
Do I write for men, too?
Embracing passions and relationships.™