Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day Special – 3 tips for writing romance fiction

historical lovers

“But Sir Geoffrey, I am not free to love you.”

 Many years ago, I prided myself on my disdain for romance writing.  I felt it was sensationalist escapism (not recognizing that all genre writing, if not all fiction, is escapism to some degree).  Romance was overly emotional, I reasoned, and therefore not good literature.  I was above that kind of writing, I told myself.  And the worst conclusion I came to?  It was very easy to write romance fiction.

THEN I attended a Romance Writers’ Weekend Workshop in Saskatoon sponsored by Harlequin Romance.  It was a much respected event, with participants like MaryBalogh (bestselling author and queen of Regency romances).  Reading some of the examples that were distributed at the workshop and discovering that there was a real skill in writing love stories, I quickly became disabused of my silly notions about romance writing!

At that workshop, and over the years, I picked up some ideas on what good romance writing requires.  Although I don’t write romance fiction, nearly every story and novel I write, excluding most of my flash fiction, contains romance.  And these tips have helped me write good romance in my stories.

1. Understand the conflict in romance writing.  The key to any piece of good fiction is the conflict, the suspense.  In a good portion of fiction, the suspense is linked to the uncertainty of the outcome.  However, in romance writing, the outcome is a given.  Boy meets girl – yada yada yada– boy gets girl.  Romance writing requires that the two lovebirds live happily ever after.  So the suspense must come from the conflict between the two.  It can come from misunderstanding, wrong thinking, physical impossibilities (they live a zillion miles apart and no money or means to get together; one is royalty and the other is a commoner—they will not be allowed to get together; and so on).  Create an interesting but seemingly insurmountable conflict between the two and the suspense will lie in the reader wondering how the two could possibly get together, certain that pigs will fly before such a thing could happen to this couple.

2. When your characters talk, make the dialogue scrupulously gender-specific.  While this is important in all fiction writing, it is exceptionally necessary in romance writing.  Capture the way a man approaches events and ideas, asks questions.  For instance, men favor the direct approach.  They broach questions that elicit brief answers, with facts, on a yes-or-no basis.  Women, on the other hand, are more detail oriented and often more sympathetic in their questions and responses.  They will also give examples from their own lives to try and explain what they are trying to say.  For practice, listen in on others’ conversations and take notes on how differently men and women speak.

3. Be aware of the different sub-genres of romance writing and decide, before you start, which type of story you are going to tell.  You probably think you don’t know the various kinds of romance stories, but you probably do:  Historical, Contemporary, Regency, Category, Futuristic/Fantasy/Paranormal, Time Travel, Gothic, Romantic Suspense .  Once you decide, make sure that you are very knowledgeable about whatever the driving force is behind the story:

Photo credit: jdurham from morguefile.com

Anne M.Marble has a very comprehensive list, describing each of the subgenres at Writing-World.com.  I suggest you read this list, get familiar with the subgenres, and then decide which one you want to work with.  And one last thing about romance novels…some are with sex and some are without (Regency novels often do not even have a passionate kiss in them).  It depends on what type of romance it is and the audience the writer is writing to.  But with or without,  all romance novels are about love.  If you remember that, you will not stray far from the true path of romance writing.

Have a fun time trying out your romance writing skills.  Who knows?  You might even fall in love with romance!

 ♥♥♥♥  Oh yeah, and HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!  ♥♥♥♥


Love Yourself First: Seven Ways to Have the Best Valentine’s Day Ever (Heart-Shaped Candy Boxes Not Required!)

Author: Bagande

Image via Wikipedia

 Feeling cynical or depressed about Valentine’s Day? Don’t, says intuitive psychologist Susan Apollon. Instead, use it as an opportunity to explore the meaning of pure love…and create a life of peace and joy.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and if you listen closely you’ll hear North America heave a collective sigh of resignation (from the couples who must run out and buy obligatory gifts) and gloom (from the singles who feel like hiding sulkily under the covers).  Many people dread this seemingly happy holiday more than a trip to the dentist. But intuitive psychologist Susan Apollon says not to look at Valentine’s Day as an occasion for enforced “romance” or mourning for your dormant love life. Instead, think of it as a day to celebrate the existence of love itself—pure, authentic, unconditional love—and all the rich rewards it brings.   

“Love really isn’t about hearts and flowers and grand romantic gestures,” says Apollon, author of Touched by the Extraordinary, Book Two: Healing Stories of Love, Loss & Hope (www.HealingStoriesOfLoveLossAndHope.com). “It isn’t about who got who the best gift, or who has a partner and who doesn’t. Love is a way of living. And Valentine’s Day can be more than a reminder that someone loves you; it can serve as an affirmation that you are totally lovable, loving, adored, and special all year-long.”

In other words, let Valentine’s Day be a day in which you focus wholeheartedly on your ability to give and receive love. You don’t need to have a spouse or romantic partner in order to do this. You can love your coworkers, your neighbors, your pets, the clerk at the grocery store—anyone and everyone—but especially yourself.

Here are some steps Appollon offers on how to rev up your love quotient this Valentine’s Day:

Commit to Unconditional Love: To You, From You. It may be a cliché but it is true: until you love yourself you can’t fully love another person. And too many of us beat ourselves up for not being thin enough or pretty enough or smart enough—and worse, we may even use the fact that we are romantically unattached (or in a bad relationship) to validate that low opinion. “This is tragic,” says Apollon. Whether single or involved, it is vital that you truly understand the value of loving yourself unconditionally. Self-love is the key to achieving all other love and finding happiness in its many forms. 

“There must be no conditions for loving yourself,” insists Apollon. “Being lovable and capable of loving is never about having a great body, a high-profile job, or tons of money. There are no strings attached to your adoring your whole self: body, mind, and spirit. There is only the need for you to view yourself as the exquisite miracle you really are. Allow Valentine’s Day to be a reminder of who you are. Love yourself first, because you are your most significant other.” 

If you’re wondering what love really is, Apollon says, it’s energy. Everything is energy, in fact, and love is one of the highest energies. So, when you choose to become your own priority and love yourself unconditionally, you will vibrate at an astoundingly higher energy level. The result is that you feel wonderful and life becomes a delicious adventure. Your love for yourself enables you to walk with your head held high and your heart full and healed. You’ll feel grounded, centered, and stable—and these good feelings will affect those around you.

Jumping for joy - © Wd2007 | Dreamstime.com

Get High This Valentine’s Day—High Energy, That is!

If you’re wondering how to reach that high level of energy, Apollon says the answer is simple: do things that feel good. You might buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of flowers, for instance, or a nice pair of silk pajamas, or a day at the spa. Or place notes all around you that remind you of how loving and special you are…that you are a Beautiful Soul…and that you are loved. It may seem silly, but it works.

Breathe in Love—Not Just on Valentine’s Day, But Every Day. Apollon suggests that each morning and evening you take a few moments to focus on your breathing in and out—long, deep, relaxing breaths—with the intention of helping you shift to a higher energy. Visualize yourself breathing in loving energy from the Universe. See this flowing into every cell and feel the warm, loving impact.

“Picture the Universe, your own Soul, Higher Wisdom, God, or your angels being present for you and feel their embrace—the embrace of love,” she says. “Sit with this and really feel the amazing warm, healing energy of this embrace. It is so powerful!”

Affirm and Visualize Love. Imagine that you are a half-inflated balloon. Most of us live our day-to-day lives in this love-less state of under-inflation. Now envision your soul filling up with love. Affirm your worth several times a day by stating silently or out loud: I am love, I am lovable, and I am loving. Your love for yourself enables you to feel the powerful energy of love even in your cells. As you make your affirmations, visualize these feelings of love permeating every cell of your being. You are love, and you deserve the joy of giving and receiving pure love.

Incorporate Your Own Strengths into Your Affirmations. You are a unique creation worthy of universal energy and love. Everyone is blessed with different attributes and a great way to fill yourself up with self-love is to remind yourself of all your fabulous qualities. Practice affirmations about your own uniqueness that makes you worth loving. A few examples are: I am passionate, I am a great mother, I am ready to be loved, I give fabulous advice, and I am full of creativity.

Face, Embrace, and Replace Grief…and Practice Forgiveness. The energy of love does not mesh comfortably with the energy of anger, pain, guilt, and unresolved conflicts or issues, says Apollon. Therefore, you must release any old grievances in order to vibrate on a higher energetic plane. Valentine’s Day should bring for you a reminder that we are all here for love and that love begins first with forgiveness of yourself and others who have in the past treated you poorly.  Face your negative energy and acknowledge it. When you are ready, replace old grief with love and just savor the vast difference this shift makes in your life!

If you need a mantra to help you release the pain that holds you down, Apollon suggests you say to yourself: I love myself enough to let you go now. I choose to detach from carrying you around with me, weighing me down and disabling me from moving on and having a good life. I forgive you and I forgive me. I am truly sorry but I must let you go. I surrender you to the Universe. I choose to be free of any attachments that keep me from experiencing the peace and joy to which I am entitled.

Release Your Attachment to Your Vision of Prince or Princess Charming. If you spend Valentine’s Day hoping for an engagement ring, seething with resentment that your partner forgot that you prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate, or daydreaming about that knight in shining armor who will sweep you away from your dreary life, you’re missing the whole point of love. Your attachments to an ideal only set you up for a fall when perfection fails to materialize. “Remember,” says Apollon, “that real love (for yourself or others) doesn’t come with conditions. When you love unconditionally, you don’t need anything in return.

“We feel happy, we are lighter and unburdened when we release our expectations,” asserts Apollon. “Don’t spend Valentine’s Day hoping for roses, romance, or a note from a secret admirer. And married folks and those with partners need to realize that the person you love is not responsible for meeting your checklist of expectations for happiness. Instead put your focus on sending loving energy to everyone you know this day and every day. It will clear the metaphorical haze around you, so to speak and for the first time you will see and feel all the love you need.”

“Too many people use the fairy tale illusion of living happily ever after to define their inner worth,” says Apollon. “Know that true happiness can’t come to you in its many forms until you are able to accept it. Love is all around you and will manifest when you finally learn to let it permeate your spirit, by loving yourself and exuding love to everyone you know. Remember that love is what connects and sustains us all and gives life meaning. Living lovingly feels so good, and when you make the choice to do this, each day can feel like the best Valentine’s Day ever.”

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About the Author:

As a psychologist and an author, Susan Apollon empowers and heals the body, mind, and soul; as an educator, she informs; as a speaker, she inspires and touches the heart.  

Susan Appollon

For more than twenty-five years, Susan has been in private practice in Yardley, PA, evaluating and counseling adults, families, and children who are dealing with difficult life situations similar to what she has personally experienced, researched, and written about, including cancer, other health issues, trauma, and grief.

She is an avid researcher of Mind, Consciousness, Intuition, Energy, Prayer, and Healing and brings this expertise to her three published books—Touched by the Extraordinary, Book Two: Healing Stories of Love, Loss & Hope; Touched by the Extraordinary: An Intuitive Psychologist Shares Insights, Lessons, and True Stories of Spirit and Love to Transform and Heal the Soul; and Intuition Is Easy and Fun: The Art and Practice of Developing Your Natural-Born Gift of Intuition (co-authored with Yanni Maniates)—as well as to her audio books, online course, CDs, and MP3s. Susan’s work is scientifically based and enhanced by her ability to trust her own intuitive wisdom.

Susan comes from a family of physicians, which includes her husband, father, brothers, aunt and uncles, daughter, and cousins. Healing and medicine are a part of her lineage.

She integrates the gifts and challenges of having lived more than sixty-five years with the joy and satisfaction of being married for more than forty-four years to her husband, Warren, a practicing orthodontist, along with the role of being mom to her two adult children, Rebecca, an Emergency Medicine physician, and her son, David, a Management Consultant.

About the Book:

Touched by the Extraordinary, Book Two: Healing Stories of Love, Loss & Hope (Matters of the Soul, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-9754036-9-3) is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.

If you would like more information, you can pop on over to  www.HealingStoriesOfLoveLossAndHope.com or www.TouchedByTheExtraordinary.com.