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CHRISTIE RIDGWAY | How to Draw Readers to the Straight Contemporary Romances

June 10, 2010


No Shot was Fired, no Blood was Spilled (or even Sipped) in the Making of this Book

That’s right, my dear friends. I write what we’re calling these days “straight contemporary romance.” There’s nothing supernatural, otherworldy, or paranormal going on here. No asses getting kicked. No highwaymen, no carriage accidents, no brotherhood of Regency spies.

It’s life sort of like we know it.

If we lived in California’s wine country. In the middle of a hundred-year-old vineyard. While struggling to keep the family winery afloat. And if we were nicknamed the “Nun of Napa” ever since a wedding-that-wasn’t five years ago. And finally, if we had to turn to the man-next-door, Penn Bennett, the star of Hollywood’s hottest home renovation show, to complete the work on the winery’s historic cottage in order to host a wedding there at the end of the month.

It’s a hard job, this straight contemporary romance writing. Okay, so the research wasn’t so bad (reading about winemaking, drinking wine, spending a long weekend in Napa with my husband), but what do you do to get a reader’s pulse racing if there are no knives, no fangs, no men running around in the jungle with their shirts off?

You put hearts on the line, that simple. Every romance does that, of course (and for the record, I love every type in our genre, from suspense to steampunk), but in straight contemporary romance the reader has to care, first, foremost, and only, about the emotional survival of the story people. So the story people have to be engaging from page one…they must immediately grab the reader’s sympathy. In CRUSH ON YOU, the heroine, Alessandra Baci, is struggling into the wedding gown she was never married in, her sisters are knocking on her door, interrupting this private moment, and then they deliver the bad news–the contractor currently working on the cottage is giving up on the job–which means she might have to give up on her plan to save the failing winery.

No Christie Ridgway heroine is going to take that sitting down! So Alessandra rushes from the house in half-buttoned wedding dress, the veil trailing behind her, and her sister’s rubber flip flops on her feet. What a way to run into the man destined to be the love of her life…

That got me thinking about what I was wearing the first time I met the love of my life. I was dressed as Princess Leia from Star Wars (Halloween dance, freshman year in college). When you met a significant other, what were you wearing? A lucky commenter will win a $25 e-gift card from Amazon–hope you’ll use it to purchase and enjoy CRUSH ON YOU!

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