Susan Mallery Speaks to Librarians about the Appeal of Romance
New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery was asked to speak this summer at the American Library Association national conference in Anaheim, California, on a panel called “Isn’t It Romantic?” Mallery’s latest book, SUMMER NIGHTS (Fool’s Gold book 8) is dedicated to librarians who have done so much to introduce readers to her books. This is the speech she prepared.
The appeal in romance is that our books offer readers a celebration of community. Romances are all about connecting. Sure the boy-meets-girl part is fun and exciting, but often what really brings a reader back again and again are the connections made within the novel.
Most romances happen in a larger context of relationships. Families and friends play an important role. We want to experience falling in love with a hunky guy, but we also want a sense of belonging. The most popular books feature a cast of usually likeable, sometimes annoying, generally realistic characters who are amazingly like people we know. Or people we get on an emotional level.
These other characters, sometimes seemingly unimportant, can be the glue that holds our books together. Our hero and heroine are revealed through their relationships with secondary characters. The gruff solitary man who unexpectedly cares for a wounded puppy wins our heart forever. The exhausted single mother staying up until midnight to frost cupcakes for her son's first grade class reminds us of ourselves. While the romance is central to the story and the reason we think we read "those kind of books" I believe the real truth is we love the sense of community a romance brings to the table. The sexy guy on the cover draws us in, but the heroine's relationship with her sarcastic best friend turns out to be just as satisfying and meaningful.
The majority of romance readers are women. Women are usually the keepers of relationships in their lives and the lives of those around them. We are the ones who maintain the friendships, remember birthdays, make sure each of our children has a moment to feel special. We can spend a weekend with our girlfriends and when we get home, still think of something we could have told them. When I travel to a writers’ conference and hang out with my writer friends for days, then return home and get a call from one of them, my husband can't believe there's anything left to say. I've tried to explain there's always more to talk about but he just shakes his head.
In our lives we want friends and family. We want connection. Romances offer that in our fiction. We can meet women we want to have lunch with and men we want to fall in love with. Romance isn't man against nature or man against himself. It's man and woman falling in love in a much bigger context. One or both of them have a family, there are friends, coworkers, pets. It's a real world populated by the funny and the strange and if done well, it's a world we want to return to again and again.
For years now, romances have been written in groups. Trilogies, sisters, brothers, a band of warriors. Sherrilyn Kenyon gives us her immortal warriors. Debbie Macomber gives us Cedar Cove. In between lie stories only limited by the imaginations of the writers who create them. It is the combination of the familiar and the unknown that draws us back.
I started writing in category romance. I wrote about 80 books for Silhouette. I wrote about sisters and cousins and brothers and even neighboring sheik kingdoms. The longer a series went on, the more readers responded. When I moved into writing single title, I continued with families. One day a very successful writer friend sat me down and said, "Write about a town. It's limitless."
From that very intelligent advice, my Fool's Gold series was born. www.foolsgoldca.com It's a small town set in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. I started with the idea of a town suffering a man shortage, which gave me the chance to put women in non-traditional jobs. I decided to write the books in trilogies, with the idea each trilogy would stand on its own, allowing readers to join at any point. By the second Fool's Gold trilogy I'd realized the man shortage wasn't that interesting, but the non-traditional jobs were, so modifications were made.
Reader response has been terrific. They love the town. Mayor Marsha, California's longest serving mayor, is a fan favorite. I keep track of previous heroes and heroines using a database and often feature births in subsequent books. And I ask my fans on Facebook (www.facebook.com/susanmallery) to help me name the babies, which extends that feeling of community beyond the books. When I started writing a women's fiction book every year, I took the lessons I'd learned in romance and applied them to that work. I created a world populated by people with complicated, messy and realistic relationships.
A romance can take place nearly anywhere, in any time. We have smart ass heroines who rescue themselves, timid virgins and librarians who dance on bars in our books. Every romance writer has a specific vision for what she wants to write, but what we all have in common is connection. Sisters who are drawn together because of a dying parent. Vampires fighting enemies while protecting the women they love. Handsome dukes who marry the most unlikely of spinsters, drawn to her against all odds, in part because she takes care of her younger siblings.
In romances we find the relationships that matter most to us personally. Those who adore babies in books can be endless entertained by the antics of newborns. If you prefer sexy, sassy heroines, there are dozens of writers to give you exactly that. The appeal of romance is how the stories speak to us so personally. They show us women who are brave, who overcome odds, who always have a snappy comeback and in the end find not just love, but also a place to belong. Romances celebrate the very best of us, and that ideal state is often illustrated in the connections our characters make with each other.
Romances are a reading escape that also touches the heart. Romances affirm what is most important to each of us—the people we love, who love us back.
I had all 3 kids with me today since Shawn works on Thursdays!!
First stop was the dentist! Both Ashleigh & Noah had a dentist appointment. Routine Dental appointment. Both kids went back on their own. Ethan played in their little kids area. Guess what I did? Yes, I read Summer Nights!
The one lady brought Noah out first. No cavities. After she was done, I asked her if she read She does!! I showed her the bookmark. I had my ipad on my lap & I was reading Summer Nights. I told her that, too. She asked if she could get them from Amazon since she has a Kindle. I told her that I am reading my in the Kindle app so yes. I told her that I look at both Amazon & Barnes & Noble price wise, but I go with Amazon most of the time. She said she is going to get the 3 books from Amazon! Score!! Ashleigh came out next & no cavities, but she needs to see an Orthodontist. Again I spoke to her about Fool's Gold, the books, etc. She does not read, but her mom does. She is going to give her mom the bookmark! I also try to schedule their 6 month appointments, but their schedule books do not go that far. I hand out bookmarks to the office girls & tell them all about Fool's Gold & Summer Days. I tell them I am in the middle of reading Summer Nights & so far I am loving what I am reading. Just wish I had more time to read it.
Today we had to go back to KMart, too, because Summer Nights was not there on Tuesday. The book rep, Linda, was there. She is also the same one from Walmart. I saw her on Tuesday when I was at Walmart. She asked her boss & everything is ok to be put in & on the books at both Walmart & KMart.
I was at Target today & spoke with 1 of their managers. I was only allowed to put the bookmarks & recommend sticker into/onto the books.
I need a chart to keep this all straight.
I need to get back to Sam's Club because I forgot about them. They did not have their Summer Nights out on the shelves. I will try to get there tomorrow, but it is to be a HOT day. I am thinking tomorrow night.
Keep Reading Fool's Gold Books especially Summer Nights!
What is your favorite spot in Fool's Gold? What is your favorite store in Fool's Gold?
I think I would love going to Morgan's Book Store. I bet Morgan & his follower co-workers loves books as much as I do. They would recommend many books for me to read. What books would they recommend for me to read? I think they would recommend anything by Susan Mallery!
Joe's Bar would be a great spot to hang out with friends. A place to get some food & drinks! A bar that is catered around woman! I love that idea! Sorry men! You can deal with it or drink at home. lol.
The park! Who can forget about the park?? I would love to read on a blanket at the park near the lake. Somewhere quiet. Watching the water. Take some snacks especially some fruits, drinks. Laying on the blanket. Reading a book. The last time we went to the lake I was reading Barefoot Season because I was waiting for Summer Nights to come out. Now that Summer Nights is out I need to go to the lake to read it there! Sounds great! Until I can get there, I want to read it on my side deck overlooking the city!!
We left my sister's house early this morning to go to Fool's Gold, CA. We are in Evanston, WY. We are close, but not quite there. We are really close to the Utah border. Then, all we have to do is go through Utah, Nevada & some of California. We will be in Fool's Gold, CA.
It was 81 today. Pizza Hut was good before we went to our hotel, Best Western. The kids had a lot of fun swimming in the pool.
Keep on Reading Fool's Gold books!!
(Remember this is a Fictional town. We recently moved about 30 minutes from where we were living. Well, it was over my older 2 Christmas break. Long story why it was then. It was to be next week! I am glad it isn't because I could not be doing this.)
Today was the the book release for Summer Nights. I was so excited to get out there & "Cheer." Last time for Summer Days I had Ethan with me, but this time I had Noah with me! Our first stop was an appointment for Noah!
Noah had my cell phone because I wanted my ipad to read (come on, can you guess why I wanted my ipad? what did I want to read?)
Yes, you guessed right! Summer Nights! Noah normally has my ipad to play games, but since I was reading Summer Nights, he had my cell phone & he took this photo of me.
I took this photo of him! Noah is a ham at times!
At Book a Million, I spoke with the Manager & I could only put the bookmarks, tattoos, & business cards into the books. Not only did I put the bookmarks, etc into Summer Nights, but I also did Summer Days, Only His, Only Mine, & Only Yours.
Noah wanted to go to McDonald's. It was a way to keep him happy while we were out "Cheering" & so we went to McDonald's. I was so disappointed because I love Wild Berry Smoothies & they replaced it with Blueberry Pomegranate. I do not like blueberries. I do not like bananas in my Smoothies (either does Noah). Noah & I do not like Pineapple-Mango Smoothies. We found another location to get our Smoothies if we do not want to make them.
I love going to Walmart because of the book rep, Linda. She had 32 boxes to go through. She had so many books on the shelves to put away, but she always has the ones I need put where they go! Thank you Linda! We did not get to Walmart until 1:30p. I have learned not to go close to 10a because she is overwhelmed with all of her boxes & I would have to go back. I only noticed these Summer Nights.
I am glad I had Noah with me because he saw all of these books! Good eye, Noah!!
Across the aisle from Summer Nights, I saw Summer Days!!
Target did not have any of Summer Nights so I need to go back there. There was only 4 Summer Days left from when I did them at the end of May.
At Walgreens, I spoke with a Manager & Noah & I got to work. I only saw 2 books, but once again, Noah saw the other 2 books to the left! Good thing I had him with me!
Unfortunately Sam's Club did not have any Summer Nights in. There was no boxes laying around either. I do not think they got there shipment in. The guy I spoke to last time when Summer Days was release was not there. I went up to the Customer Service desk & spoke with a Manager. I was only allowed to put the bookmark in. I am not going to put the reason on my blog. I will go back to Sam's Club on Thursday to check to see if they received Summer Nights. I did speak with a nice sales clerk & told her who I was, told her about the series, & about the one being out today, & about Summer Days. She told me she loves to read. She wants to get Summer Days & Summer Nights, but is disappointed that Summer Nights was not in today. She will keep looking until she gets it! My husband met me at Sam's so we could swap kids! Noah for Ashleigh. Noah wanted to go home!
So, off I went with Ashleigh! I went to get my allergy shots. Then, Ashleigh had her 12 year check up. At the pediatrician's office, I, of course, "cheered"!! The nurse, who took us back to the room, weighed Ashleigh. I was guessing Ashleigh's weight. I was off by 10 lbs (I was thinking of Noah's weight). I said I lost 20 lbs. The nurse asked me how, & are you stress (she knows about Ashleigh's neurological disease).
Me- "No, that I am a Fool's Gold Cheerleader."
Nurse- "What does that mean?"
Me- (Showing her the bookmark)"Susan Mallery does a Contest on her Member's Only website. She picks ladies to go out to where her books are. It is a way to advertise & a way for her fans to talk about her fans. I applied for this contest & I won! Fool's Gold is my favorite series. Summer Days just came out at the end of May & I read it. I loved it. Summer Nights came out today & I am reading it now. All Summer Long comes out on July 31st.
Nurse- "I want to read them."
Me- "I have bookmarks for the rest of the office girls, too. Walmart has both Summer Days & Summer Nights."
Nurse- "Thanks. I will have to get them the next time I am there. The other ladies here are readers, too!!" (she also is getting the next one, too!!)
I do not remember the others I spoke to in the office as in names, but they are getting the books, too!! I am getting tired right now. I have what books they are getting & the numbers written down (it is downstairs in my bag & I am upstairs).
KMart did not have any Summer Nights so I need to go back to them. I put bookmarks, etc inside Chasing Perfect, Finding Perfect, & Almost Perfect, & Only His. I am really thinking of having a giveaway to win the first book (Chasing Perfect) of the Fool's Gold Series! I want to someone the opportunity to start reading this fabulous series & fall in love with it! Tell me what you think! I have to go back to KMart as it is!
With day 1 done, I feel pretty good. My legs have started to hurt & so is my back. I have taken my meds! I am going to do a quick recap just for me. I need to go back to Target & KMart on Thursday. I have to get to Barnes & Noble sometime soon. I am hoping Friday, but I need to check to see what Friday's schedule holds. I know that our Library movies are due back then, but I am not sure what else. I know on Thursday the kids (older 2) have their Dentist appointment. Ashleigh has camp tomorrow.
I hope you all went out & brought a copy of Summer Nights today! Let me know if you did! I can get points! I am enjoying this so much.
If you are looking for a Reading Challenge, check out the one on We Love Susan Mallery's Group Click HERE. I am doing it! It will be a lot of fun. I will be posting my soon! Come on, join us in it!
This Challenge is Awesome!! I am going to do it. Shell, one of the Fool's Gold Cheerleaders, made it up. I will post my another day. I want to show you this first. First of all, it is from the group on Goodreads called We Love Susan Mallery! I love this group!! I am getting more involved. I am trying to. It is hard to with 3 kids & 2 huskies!
I am going to keep this all up here. This help me. This is the first time I have done a Challenge like this. Please I want others to do this, too. Come on, Do this Challenge with me, too. We will have fun doing it together! This all came from this Page. You will need to go to that page & add yourself so you can be in this Challenge. You can not add yourself to my comments to be included. This is only on Goodreads. I will delete all comments that are for the Challenge. Please go to the Link that is highlighted in Yellow so you can be added to the Challenge. Thank You!
Keep on Reading Fool's Gold!
•Ride Into Fool’s Gold (Build-Your-Own) Challenge• Duration: 6.05.12 - 8.15.12
Info and Guidlines!
Getting Started ♦Create your own challenge from the below categories and topics! To do that follow these steps....
Choose the number of books you want to read for the month, starting as low as 1 book for the month up to however many you can fit in. Read through the below categories and topics and find the ones that you want to use to create your challenge. Based on the topics you chose, select your books that will fit with each choice. You can select some from each category or all of your selections can be from one category, it does not matter, it is your challenge! (These can be added later)
Some Basic Rules You may change or add to your list at anytime. You may also change the level of difficulty at anytime. Books may be re-reads but you can only read them during the duration of the challenge. Please post the cover of the book if your category choice has something to do with the cover. Only books read DURING the challenge can be counted for this challenge. You may use books you are reading for other challenges.
Please Remember To... When you finish a book please strike it out, or add a check mark, Post the date that you finished it, and rate it 1-5, 1♥ being you didn’t care for it, 5 ♥’s being you Loved IT! Update Original List, and add occasional updates in the challenge thread. In your original list and updates make sure to add books completed example: 4/10 Completed
The Cowboys are Coming to Fool’s Gold *Find and read books that are all about the newest trilogy in the Fool’s Gold Series
•Summer Days- Find a book that... •Read Summer Days! *Has the word Summer or Day(s) *Main Character Works on a farm or ranch *Has a strong Mother/Son OR Grandfather/Granddaughter relationship *BONUS if you can find a book with Goats!
•Summer Nights- Find a Book That... •Read Summer Nights! *Has the word Night(s) *Main character works with horses *Main character is a librarian or bookseller
•All Summer Long- •Read All Summer Long! *Main character works as an Underwear Model! OR a model of any type (yes all summer long has a cowboy that is also a former underwear model!) *Main character is a Firefighter OR character's caree is stereotyped to be done by the opposite sex (ie. firefighter that is a women...nurse as a man, ect) *Characters come back to their childhood home
The Heart of Fool’s Gold *Find and read books that are all about FG…the town, the people, the events…this is based on entire series
Find and Read a book about any of the Fools Gold categories below! (This can either be a theme, character or even to do with a cover...) •California •Small Town •A Bar Ran by a Female (think Jo's Bar!) •Multiplies (the town of fool's gold tend to have LOTS of babies at once! this can be twins, triplets or more!) •Adoption *Hospitals *Dogs (A Therapy Dog would be even better!) *Complicated Families *Man Shortage *Professional Athlete (Think Josh and Raoul) *Author *Construction/Architect (Ethan, Nevada, Tucker) *Only (in the Title) *Perfect (in the Title)
Find and Read a book that the Title/Author of the Book starts with any of the Letters from...
♥F ♥O ♥O ♥L ♥S ♥G ♥O ♥L ♥D
*BONUS! We ♥ Susan Mallery
Find and Read ... •Any of Susan Mallery's previous books •A book from one of Susan's Favorite Authors •A book you consider a "Summer Read" •A book from the Contemporary Romance genre
This post is all about us moving to Fool's Gold, CA. Us packing up & driving from PA to CA. Wow! That is far! First stop: Chicago!! That is 2500 miles or 42 hours! I think it may take us 3.5 days to get there, but we are in Chicago, IL for days. Why? Details below!
We are stopping in Chicago! Why Chicago? Why not? Has anyone ever been to Chicago? or want to go to Chicago? In the comments, tell me! If you have, tell me what you loved, hated! I want to know. I loved Chicago!
We have! A couple years ago! My sister lives there. I love Chicago! Lots to do there! Like Shedd Aquarium! It is 3 floors! When we go back, we are going back to the Shedd Aquarium with the kids & my sister.
Here are some photos from our visit: The Show they did
Noah watching the penguins
Sting ray (Love the letters on it)
Ethan so small!
Turtles- The last one saying "Hey, wait for me!"
Ashleigh & Noah with the Penguins from Happy Feet!
This is outside Shedd Aquarium!
The next time we go we want to see the Bean, Skydeck, & The Field Museum, & the Navy Pier.
The time is almost up where we can read Summer Nights! Who is excited? I am. I am looking forward to same "me time." lol. Sorry about getting off on the last blog post. Things have been stressful here. I need my time where I am reading. It helps relax me!
Keep on Reading Fool's Gold Books!
(Remember this is a Fictional town. We recently moved about 30 minutes from where we were living. Well, it was over my older 2 Christmas break. Long story why it was then. It was to be next week! I am glad it isn't because I could not be doing this. We were in Chicago a few years ago & haven't been back since. I so want to see my sister, but things have been so crazy, but we will go. Once we are all "moved" to Fool's Gold, I will be doing blog posts from there. I will be using my imagination!)