Westerns are dead – killed by the romance reader who doesn’t buy them. That’s the response I’ve received from agents and editors about my western, Loved by You.
The tale of Melissa and Calder came to me and became such an infatuation that I had to put fingertips to keyboard. For about three years, I’ve worked, tweaked, and polished my manuscript. When I mailed it out, either by snail mail or electronically, the replies were great story but the market for this genre isn’t there. Then this past week, numerous blogs- Misadventures of Super Librarian, Petticoats & Pistols, Ramblings on Romance and The Good, the Bad and the Unread, banded together and started the Great Western Drive.
I cheered when I read their posts. I was ready to hitch up my wagon and join the drive. (Forgive the “hitching up” remark, I just had to make it.) I love Westerns. The rugged often emotionally scarred hero with an unwavering code of ethics, the strong heroine who can work the land as good as any man, the raw settings and the conflict and danger that can ride in with the stagecoach. That combination is the reason why I love the sub-genre and why I lay down my dollars for it.
I must not be the only person (my friend and fellow western writer Patt Mihailoff pens them still) since The Bridegroom by Linda Lael Miller is #26 on New York Times best seller’s list. I sure didn’t buy all those copies. I wonder if my fellow readers are waiting for more westerns. Are you? Have you ever read a western? Do you consider yourself a fan of the sub-genre? If so, which one is your fav? And if not, would you try one out?
I love romance novels. I would rather buy a romance (more like dozens) than shoes. And I have the closet crammed with paperbacks to prove it. That’s why I laugh when I hear that some women hide their novels behind anything so long as the world doesn’t see the bare-chested hero and the heroine with her unraveling corset. Not I, I proudly display the covers. Some are mass-marketed works of art. Eloisa James’ covers are visual delights and Sourcebooks reissues of Georgette Heyer’s novels are works of art from a time long ago.
Yesterday, I was in a bookstore, searching for a romance to purchase (I decided on The Bridegroom by Linda Lael Miller), an employee came over to help a female customer. She curled her lips and said, “oh this is the section with the Fabio covers.” Not able to stop myself I told her that Fabio hadn’t graced the covers in years. She gave me an embarrassed smile and hurried away.
I doubt the woman ever read a romance novel. And she’s the one missing out on some great tales. In full disclosure, I have a 80s romance with Fabio and his long golden locks predominantly featured.
I’m never ashamed to hold my novel before all. One wouldn’t hide a James Patterson novel or a Philippa Gregory book even one of those juicy biographies about some silly scandal.
So my fellow romance lovers, proudly display your novels, whether they’re frothy hues of a Regency or the dark Gothic style of a paranormal.