How did I start reading Romance?

I already wrote a post about how I started writing Romance, and the story is more or less the same, but I wanted to explain a bit more about the books that have brought me here.

With this goal in mind, I have chosen twelve books (or rather series) I discovered during that first year of my life as a Romance reader. You may already know most (or all) of these, especially if you’re interested in diverse books with LGBTQ+ characters, but know that some of these series are still being published. Maybe you’ll find out they are now longer than the last time you read them. Speaking from experience here.

Basically, I fell in love with Romance novels because they have my favourite subgenres (Fantasy, Historical…) with a focus on characterization that I haven’t found in any other genre. I enjoy reading about people and the different relationships they have, and Romance gives me that in bunches. There are so many different works and authors out there, that you can find anything you need. Even if you didn’t know you needed it, which has often happened to me.

If you want to find interesting plots with great characters and a guaranteed happy ending that will make you feel better about life, look no further: Romance novels have you covered.

So maybe we have different tastes and you won’t find what you’re looking for in the books I discovered during my first year as a Romance reader, but go ahead and leave a comment if you want to share your opinion or request some other recs. I’ve read much more since then, so I may be able to help!

I won’t make you wait any longer! These are the books/series I devoured in that first year:

 

Covers of twelve series I discovered during my first year as a Romance reader.
Twelve series for twelve months.
  • Whyborne & Griffin: You might remember this series, because I’ve mentioned it’s the one that made me start reading Romance. It’s still one of my favourites and I re-read it pretty often. A Paranormal Romance series set in the city of Widdershins, where many are enthusiasts of secret societies and the occult. Imagine a shy philologist, a resourceful detective and a deadly archaeologist fighting ancient sects and Lovecraftian horrors. Can you guess how excited I was to find out this series existed?
  • A Charm of Magpies: Another amazing Paranormal Romance series, this time set in England, and with a couple of spin-offs that are as good as the original series. It all starts with a reluctant lord that has inherited an earldom after his father and brother die in suspicious circumstances. After the curse that killed his family tries to put an end to his life, he is forced to request the help of magician Stephen Day. What he doesn’t know is that Stephen Day had previously met his family. If he’d known, he’d have guessed he had a good reason to hate them all and no reason to help him.
  • The Cadeleonian Series: As traumatic as the ending of the first book was, I do love this fantasy series. Ginn Hale’s world-building and narrative are superb. Each description of a swordfight or a horse race is a masterpiece in its own, and I’m looking forward to the last two books of the series. Spanish people like me will notice some names and historical facts come from our own history.
  • Captive Prince: Not an easy series to read, this one. Fantasy, with a world-building so detailed that it feels like a historical novel sometimes (and, in this case, it is Australian people who will perceive the influence of their own history). The well-known trilogy tells the story of a prince who is forced to become a pleasure slave in a different country, and how he learns to survive a court full of enemies and intrigues, and discovers an ally in the last person he expected to.
  • Scarlet and the White Wolf: This Fantasy series started as a gay retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but at this point you’ll only see some traces of it in the first novel, because the world-building is huge and the plot twists abound. The main character of the story is a young peddlar who wears the red cloak of his guild. He travels a lot due to his profession, but he finds himself trapped inside his hometown when the only usable mountain road is blocked by a bandit known as the Wolf of Omara.
  • Society of Gentlemen: My first Historical Romance series, and one of my favourite series ever. Set in Regency England, the series covers various relationships that have to overcome class difference in certain ways. Anything I can say about it will fall short, so just know that I can’t recommend it enough.
  • Reawakening: I loved this Fantasy Romance series about a family of dragons, and it’s still my favourite dragon shifter series. In it, dragons have been asleep for centuries, but are now waking up to a new world they don’t recognize. Their oldest enemy seems to be alive, though hiding somewhere, and they’ve lost most of their power. But the thing about dragons is… only love can make them strong enough to fight back.
  • All for the Game: One of those series that helped create more Romance readers, especially since the first novel is free and it’s a sports series. What I found most interesting about this series is that the sport it talks about was created by the author. The series is full of angst and can be a bit hard to read, depending on your mood.
  • Fellfire Summer: Another series you can start for free (and the short stories can be found for free as well). Blayre is the first Romance author I’ve met in person, and the one who gave me an amazing rec list for beginners. Her first Fantasy Romance was very fun to read and her characters are so charming… The trilogy ends up having two m/m couples and one f/f couple, which I appreciated A LOT.
  • Tigers and Devils: Another sports series. Film festival organizer meets closeted Australian football player (and he actually plays Australian football, which has different rules I didn’t know about until I read this series) and they fall in love. Of course, every relationship has its ups and downs, but it’s even more difficult when one of you is a famous athlete, and the other has been openly gay for years.
  • Aisling: Another superb Fantasy Romance. The world-building is vast, the mysteries and plot twists are everywhere. Nothing is what it seems, but everything makes sense in the end. I loved the celtic influence, the development of the characters and the slow-building romance. I haven’t seen this series being recommended that often, but maybe that’s because it’s been re-released quite recently. Now that it’s available once more, you should all go read it. I know I’m going to re-read it soon.
  • Enlightenment: This was my second Historical Romance, and it’s also a Regency one, but it’s set in Scotland. A lawyer and a lord enjoy a quick sexual encounter thinking they will never meet again, but fate has other plans: mainly, making them cross their paths again and again until they fall in love. But will love be enough to make them sacrifice everything they’ve fought for just so they can be together? Anyway, if you’ve read the original trilogy, you might be surprised to know that there’s a new book now with a different couple.

 

So that is all for now! Have you read any of these? If you want to know about trigger warnings, just let me know, but I can already warn you about Captive Prince and All for the Game, since both series have LOTS of TWs.

Happy New Year 2019!

It’s been a while, so I wanted to post something quick while I work on a longer post for you people.

First of all, Happy New Year!!

I apologize for the lack of updates, but I’ve been very busy since November and haven’t had time to write that much. The little time I had, I spent with friends… or resting when my anxiety turned too depressive. But I’m feeling better after the holidays! The days are getting longer and I’m still going to therapy, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.

I know 2019 will be full of awesome books to read, and I hope I can write something (anything) before the year ends. So yeah, my goal this year is to finish writing something, but it’s not a resolution. Does it make sense? Actually, my New Year’s resolutions are: writing more (in general), updating regularly, and taking better care of myself. And in order to take care of myself, I can’t feel like I HAVE TO finish writing a short story. This way, I may trick myself into thinking that I have no deadlines or expectations to meet and I shouldn’t feel guilty if things go wrong. Will it start out as a pastime and become an obligation? Probably, but I’ll let you know how it goes! (Don’t mind me; I’m just judging myself for judging myself.)

You’ll be glad to know that I haven’t stopped doing my research, and I’ve spent some time during the holidays visiting places and museums that are relevant to my stories. I hope I can tell you more about them soon, but the next post is gonna be about how I started reading Romance. If you’re curious, you have Lee Welch to thank for, since she said that sounded interesting.

Image of a new dawn in the world that reads "2019 HAPPY NEW YEAR".
Shared by Dorothe on pxhere.com

About Romance

It’s about time I wrote a post about the genre I want to explore, isn’t it? You may remember that, when I talked about the books that changed my life, I mentioned that one of them made me rediscover a genre I thought was too homogeneous for me: Romance.

Twenty years ago, I was an avid reader of Science-Fiction. Ten years ago, I read nothing but Fantasy. Now I find it hard to read anything that’s not Romance. I have to confess that, before that book changed my life, I’d tried reading some books and comics with romance elements, my favourite being Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. However, after a while I started thinking that they were all similar; I didn’t feel represented by any of them (in my defense, I mostly read physical books in Spanish, and there was not an ounce of diversity to be found back then). I thought it would always be the same. Never have I been so glad to be proved wrong.

Once I stepped out of my comfort zone and started reading new books, I realized that Romance had actually become the most open and complete literary genre. There’s variety (fantasy, paranormal, historical, sci-fi, contemporary…), diversity (characters who are POC, LGBTQ+, disabled, depressed…) and hope (happy endings are the norm). Romance readers and authors have been leading a loud revolution that you may not have noticed (if you don’t know anyone who’s part of the community), but —I believe— it’s making the world a better place. Of course I’d want to do anything in my power to help! The problem is… that a little is never enough for me, so now I’ve turned to writing.

To be honest, I never thought I’d end up this way. As a person with anxiety, zero self-confidence and a different mother tongue, I know it’s gonna be hard. But hard is not impossible, so I had to try. And who knows, maybe my weaknesses can help me write something that will help people like me. Even if it’s just one person, that would make all hardships worth enduring.

 

Old book with pages bent inwards forming a heart.
Photo shared by congerdesign. Creative Commons.

 

October Update

I’ve been here for three months and in that time I’ve received many follows, likes, comments, and a lot of encouragement from all of you. Thank you so much!

In this time, I’ve transcribed some of my notebooks, updated an old fanfic, read a lot about writing, and decided to write a short story.

Of course, in these three months I’ve also created this blog and my new account on Twitter. I even got a new mobile phone with a better camera that will hopefully allow me to take better photos for this blog (you’ve seen some of the old ones, like the photo in this post). I’m now trying to find some books that will allow me to do some research before I write the short story.

For this short story, I had some ideas:

  • Summer crush that turns into love. Takes place in Northern Spain, one of them is a foreigner and there’s a dog involved.
  • Rich boy with an old building meets student that not-so-secretly wants to turn it into a museum. There might be ghosts in the building, though.
  • A young superhero from Spain has a crush on another European superhero and tries to get an Erasmus scholarship so he can meet his hero.
  • This super popular guy finds himself without home, family or friends just before the holidays, but there’s a serious guy in the office who never talks to anyone but offers his help.

So, which one do you prefer?

And since November is approaching, should I try to do something like NaNoWriMo? If it’s too stressful, I may have to pass this year.

Have you tried it before? Did it work for you?

Logo of NaNoWriMo
Logo of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

Fourth notebook

notebook004

After the last notebook of 2015, I had a bit of trouble choosing which notebook to transcribe next. I found myself with 4 notebooks I’d filled in 2016… but I didn’t know the order. I already said I’m rather chaotic, but I didn’t want to make things worse by starting with the wrong one. In the end, I realized I had two notebooks I must have used at the same time… more or less.

One was big, so I must have used it at home, and the other one was small, so I must have taken it everywhere. I probably finished the smaller one before, at least, so I decided to start with it.

You may have noticed this notebook and the previous one have the same format, but I already said they’re my favourite ones, so you should just know that I bought this one after reading “A Seditious Affair” by KJ Charles. I couldn’t not buy a notebook inspired by William Blake’s poems after reading that wonderful book.

This notebook had many snippets that never became a story and a lot of information for a fanfic I never wrote. Other than that, I continued working on rewriting my old fantasy story, now with new main characters. I also started to collect names for all the characters and places. And there’s even a story a cab driver told me, about one of his ancestors who’d been a bandit in Southern Spain.

Spoiler alert: I was surprised to find out that it was in January 2016 when I decided that two of the characters in the fantasy romance would know each other, but only one of them would remember having met before. I thought that had been much later and now I wonder where that came from. Anyway, that made a lot of sense and it became an important plot point.

Why do I write in English?

Someone recently asked me if I was going to write in English or Spanish. And the truth is… I don’t know.

Well, I know what I want, but my feelings are complicated. I want to write in English, but English is not my First Language, so I wonder if I should and if my writing would be any good.

Writing in Spanish is weird for me, though. I’ve read and studied Literature in English for decades, so Spanish sounds weird to me sometimes (Especially explicit language, which sounds too technical or too cheesy). Still, I would be able to tell if my writing is crap in Spanish, right? Maybe.

For me, the main reason to write in Spanish is that… I want to write Romance with  LGBTQ+ characters, and it’s something one can’t easily find in Spanish. I love helping and I want to help Spanish speakers find stories that will make them happy (which is why I became a translator, but that’s another story).

However, I love writing and reading in English, and if I was confident about both my English and my writing, I wouldn’t hesitate: I’d write in English first, and then see if I want to publish anything in Spanish as well.

Maybe that’s what I should do. Just follow the Fake-it-till-you-make-it philosophy. After all, there are proofreaders, editors and beta-readers out there. I wouldn’t be alone.

Spanish_Armada_fireships
Launch of English fireships against the Spanish Armada. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.

New avatar and domain

I finally decided what pic to use as an avatar! I will use something different in the future, but I hope this one is good enough for now.

Sol_Vera_Avatar
My new profile picture.

Do you like it? I’ve chosen this image (with assistance) because it’s a photo I took of the sky in Madrid. You can see the sun, which is “sol” in Spanish, together with the clouds and sky I like so much.

Dusks with beautiful colors are very common and popular in Madrid, all thanks to pollution (I wish I was joking), so I thought it would be good to have an image people could associate with my name and origins.

I have also updated my twitter account with the same profile picture and then embedded the twitter widget on the sidebar here.

Now I just need a new header, right?

 

By the way, it’s probably too early, but I just got a domain for this blog. It’s https://solverawriter.com/ and… we’ll see if it’s worth it!

Too old or too young?

I’m always surprised to find people on the Internet who think they’re “too old” to write a novel and… they’re… 30 years old. Or younger!

It makes me wonder how literature is seen in the rest of the world. In Spain, important and famous writers are over 40 years old. The older, the better, since you have more experience and you’re supposed to write serious novels that critics will approve.

So I always thought 30 was young for a writer to start publishing. Below that? That was gifted-kid level. But maybe things have changed since then. Maybe it’s just different in Spain…

…Or so I believed until a Spanish friend mentioned she felt it was too late for her, and she’s younger than I am! So, here is what I have to say about this: no, you don’t have to accomplish everything before you’re 20, but it’s fine if you want to start before that (even though you’re not even an adult in some countries). You can also be a genius and write amazing novels before you’re 40, but life experience will always make them better with time. So go ahead and start writing as soon as you can, but don’t stop there. Keep writing and getting better at it.

As I said in this post, I’m glad I didn’t try to publish what I used to write years ago (because it was terrible). However, I’m aware that I’m taking the slowest approach and it’s not the best way to do it. That’s why I decided to create this blog and check what I’ve accomplished and what I have left to do. So far, I think it’s working: for the first time in two years, the mountain of notebooks I have to transcribe is decreasing!

I still have much to do, but at least I don’t feel too old or too young anymore. I’m just proceeding at my own pace, and trying to make it the right one for me.

 

Laura_Ingalls_Wilder
Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first novel at the age of 65. Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Change of background and new Twitter

Hi, everyone!

Thank you for your support, as always.

Today I wanted to let you know that I’ve changed the color palette of the blog. I hope this one makes it easier to read! But let me know if you liked the previous one better, of course. For me it had an important issue: the default color for links was too similar to the rest of the text, and I couldn’t tell where they were. Did this palette fix that or do you have trouble seeing green text?

In other news (already spoiled by the title), I got a new Twitter account! This one is in English and will be related to this blog, so I hope I can use it almost daily. We’ll see, I guess. For now, feel free to check it out here!

 

Twitter_Logo_White_On_Blue
Twitter logo

And that is all for now. If you have any suggestions, complaints or pieces of advice, feel free to contact me here or on twitter!

 

Third Notebook

notebook003

 

Another notebook that’s now part of the digital world! This one I bought after my trip to Switzerland, where I’d visited an art exhibition and seen Monet’s Water Lilies. As you can see, the cover of the notebook mixes one of Monet’s manuscripts with a background based on the Water Lilies, while the magnetic clasp displays Monet’s signature.

The small notebooks by paperblanks are my favourite because they’re beautiful, solid, and the most durable I’ve found so far. They’re not heavy, either. I prefer the ones from the Embellished Manuscripts collection, like this one. Not only because I love seeing manuscripts of artists I like, but also because the magnetic clasp is very useful, saving the pages from (very) possible encounters with spilled liquids and sharp objects found inside a bag.

Anyway, there were lots of ideas for different stories in this one, including a few ones set in the city where I was born: Madrid. I think I have mentioned them in my previous post.

The fantasy story I was rewriting also appears in several pages, and it looks like I changed the names of the main characters along the way. I didn’t even remember they had placeholder names before!

I also wrote down some weird dreams I’d had and more tips for amateur writers I found around the internet. Maybe I could share some links in the future if anyone is interested.

By the way, this is the last notebook I filled in 2015. I wonder what I’ll find in my next notebook…