Speaking at Book’d in Burbank

On Thursday, July 18th 2013 I will be speaking at Book’d in Burbank, a fantastic literary event hosted by Liz D at Theatre Banshee in Burbank. Festivities include Young Adult (YA), Mystery, and Romance (that’s me!) author readings, a gift basket raffle and books giveaway, stand-up literary comedy, a dessert & mingling reception, and a charitable book drive to benefit the Los Angeles County affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Tickets are just $10, and gets you a free raffle ticket. I would love to see you there!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

8:00 P.M – 9:30 P.M

Theatre Banshee at 3435 W. Magnolia, Burbank

 

bookd

Five Minute Love Stories by LARA

The first day of spring is just around the corner, and with it will come fresh blooms of flowers and sunshine breezes.  All over the country, nature’s animals are pairing off and becoming twitterpated.

spring

In the spirit of the season, what better way to celebrate than with the new romance anthology “Five Minute Love Stories?” This series of super-short romance stories will sweeten anyone’s day.

Five Minute Love StoriesWritten by Los Angeles’s finest romance authors, there’s a story for everyone in this collection.  For those of you who enjoyed Dancing with Danger, check out my sweet time-travel romance story entitled “Five Years, Five Minutes.”

Other authors in the anthology include: Robin Bielman, Veronica Scott, Christine London, Leigh CourtChellesie B. DancerDebbie Decker, Beverly Diehl, Samanthe Beck, Debra KristiBrenna Johns, Scarlett Llewyllyn, Brenda Scott Royce, Lisa Weseman.Robert Hacker,  Kathleen Cadman,  Kristin Elizabeth, and Janie Emaus.

A Dancer’s Guide to Writing

I began dancing when I was ten years old, and have never stopped.  Ballet, jazz, tap, modern, musical theatre, I love it all. To me, my passion for dance plays perfectly into my passion for writing.

How, you ask?

Dance is communication.  Dancers have the ability to manipulate their body with musicality and form; good dancers can do this while also conveying emotion; and great dancers will make all of that seem inconsequential as they transport you to another world.  And writers do all of this with their words, rather than their bodies.

I firmly believe that everyone can dance.  All you need is the desire to do so, and the courage to get your butt onto the dance floor.  The same is true for writing: Everyone can write, all you need is the desire and courage to do so. But the difference between a dancer and a great dancer is the same difference between that of a writer and a great writer: passion and training.

So in that vein, here is my Dancer’s Guide to Writing:

  • Know your craft. You cannot become a prima ballerina without knowing how to plié. So don’t assume you can write the next bestseller until you understand the importance of grammar, character development, and story pacing.
  • Practice makes perfect.  Even Baryshnikov, one of the most celebrated ballet dancers in history, knows he must take class everyday. Writers are no different.  Your first draft will never be perfect.  Recognize that revisions are just a part of the writing process and be prepared to sweat through them regularly.
  • Merde. Just as actors tell each other to “break a leg” before a performance, ballerinas will wish each other “merde.”  In French (ballet’s mother tongue), merde means “shit.”  Legend says that this tradition began back in the days of the horse-and-carriage, where the success of a show could be measured by the size of the audience (and therefore the number of horse-led carriages).  In short: the more horseshit in front of the theatre, the better.  So what does this have to do with writing?  The more successful you are, the more shit you will have to put up with.  Erroneous reviews, ridiculous criticisms, unfair expectations… shit will happen.  Expect it.  Welcome it. It means you’re doing something right.
  • Dance like no one is watching.  Don’t hold back out of fear of what people might say or think.  As an artist, you must be willing to lay yourself bare.  Don’t cater to an audience, your passion must come from within. How can you inspire others if you do not inspire yourself?
  • Do it full-out.  In dancer terminology, there are two ways of dancing: marking it, and doing it full-out. Typically, dancers only “mark it” when they are learning a new piece of choreography, but once the steps have been committed to memory, dancers are expected to do it “full-out.”  In other (more vulgar) words, “marking it” means half-assing it, whereas “full-out” means balls-to-the-wall.  Marking it might be easier, but you’ll never learn what you’re capable of until you go full-out.
  • The show must go on. The lead has laryngitis, your costume ripped, the stage manager is drunk, someone spilled water on the stage, and there are only eight people in the audience?  Doesn’t matter.  Life is always going to throw roadblocks that may make you feel like there is no chance of success.  Ignore them.  Don’t let anything distract you from your goals.  The page is your stage, and no matter what, the show must go on.
  • Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers had it right: don’t let mistakes keep you down.  “Work like a soul inspired, ’til the battle of the day is won.”

Ruth St. Denis once said that dance is a form of communication that can “express what is too deep to find for words.”

As authors, let it be your goal to prove St. Denis wrong.

~ Laura Sheehan, author of DANCING WITH DANGER (Red Sage)

Dancing with Danger (cover art) - by Laura Sheehan

[This article was originally published in the December 2012 issue of LARA Confidential, the newsletter of the Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA) chapter of the Romance Writers of America and may be shared or reprinted with credit to author and chapter.]

“Dancing with Danger” Reviewed by Long and Short of It Reviews

Long and Short of It Reviews has given my novel, Dancing with Danger, 4.5 Stars!

Dancing with Danger Cover

I loved these characters so much and wanted more, the story was a very enjoyable read. I’ll definitely look for other titles by Ms. Sheehan and I’d even love to see more of Marc and Lily. If you love a good romance, mixed with the potential danger of an unknown stalker, this is a perfect title to pick up!

- Asher, Long and Short of It Reviews

Check out the full review here.

Long and Short of It Reviews

Romance Novels: Haters Gonna Hate

For those of you not in the know, “hater” is a term that entered American slang vocabulary in the early 2000’s.  According to the top-rated definition on Urban Dictionary, a “hater” is:

“A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy, they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.”

“Haters Gonna Hate,” is an equally awesome phrase.  Fairly self-explanatory, it’s a way of brushing off hostile criticism.  Think of it as the grittier big brother of the valley girl’s “Whatever!”
Haters Gonna Hate Africa

You can find "haters gonna hate" memes all over the internet, usually accompanied by a photo of someone strutting cockily.

So how does it relate to romance novels, you ask?

Well, I think it ought to be the new motto of romance authors.

It’s no secret that for many uninformed people, the term “romance novel,” is equivalent to “trashy.”  These haters assume inaccurately that romance novels are of lesser quality than other types of fiction, that the writing is poor, the characters shallow, the plot formulaic.

And yet books within the romance genre consistently nab the largest share of the consumer market year after year.  So why do they continue to carry the undeserved burden of being considered “lesser fiction?”

In my opinion, as both a voracious reader and author of many types of fiction, this misconception is due largely to the misunderstanding of what a romance novel actually is.

The most widely accepted definition of the genre is the one provided by the Romance Writers of America: Novels that have a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending.

It’s a simple definition that embraces a wide variety of fictional works.  Acclaimed literary novels such as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre and more recent novels like Outlander are all, by this definition, romance novels.

But haters don’t think of Fabio and bodice-ripping covers when they think of Jane Austen, do they?  So why would they assume all romances are  formulaic, shallow pieces of literary junk?  I’ll tell you why:

Haters gonna hate.

Yes, some romance novels are poorly written.  And, yes, some publishing companies cater to readers who want a very specific type of book (e.g. “series” romances, like those published by some of Harlequin’s imprints, which tend to be shorter novels that can be easily categorized by setting and/or style), making them appear formulaic.
But that is the nature of the beast when a genre becomes as popular as romance has.  Approximately 75 million people read at least one romance a year, and the romantic fiction market makes over $1 billion in sales each year (RWA statistics).  With over 8,000 titles being released annually, you’re going to get a huge variety in quality of writing, and you can’t blame publishers for employing marketing strategies aimed at making it easier for readers to find exactly the book they are looking for.
And it’s also worth mentioning that those who are turned off by the rigid categorical definitions of some “series” romance novels, there is also a much bigger market of “single title” romances that can be longer in length and don’t need to fit into such strict plot/style guidelines.

This is a romance. (A series Harlequin American Romance, "His Valentine Triplets," by Tina Leonard)

But so is this. (A single-title paranormal romantic suspense, "Darkfever" by Karen Marie Moning)

Remember, the only requirements for a novel to be considered a romance is that it have a central love story and a happy ending.  Every genre has restrictions that allow it to be categorized.  Just as a mystery is “a novel in which the reader is challenged to solve a puzzle before the detective explains it at the end,” and science fiction deals with “future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities.” It doesn’t make each story within that genre formulaic.

This is also a romance. (An Amish, inspirational romance, "The Harvest of Grace," by Cindy Woodsmall)

And this, too. (A contemporary romantic comedy, "London Falling," by Emma Carr)

And even this. (Futuristic romantic suspense, "Vengeance in Death" by J.D. Robb, aka Nora Roberts)

Lumping all romance novels into one, easily-criticizable category is useless and unfair.  And judging an entire genre based on your opinion of one book is equally ridiculous.  Sort of like calling 2001: A Space Odyssey, Aliens, Star Trek and E.T.: The Extraterrestrial “trashy” because you hated Battlefield Earth.

Sure, romance isn’t for everyone.

There are plenty of genres I have no interest in.  For example, I am not a fan of horror. But just because I think Saw III is torture-porn, doesn’t mean I think The Exorcist is too.

There is a portion of the population who (sadly) think that romance is cheesy and that happy endings are unrealistic.  These people have my sympathy, and to them I say: Don’t read romance novels.

And to the rest of us, my fellow romance authors and the majority of the general book-buying population, I say: