I got lucky enough to get an early copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms, The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels and let me tell you, what a hoot! I’ve found myself laughing at the most inappropriate places:
The doctor’s office. Well, considering it was my “annual,” perhaps that was appropriate.
My mammogram. Hmmm… Heaving Bosoms, Squishing Bosoms… yeah. Appropriate.
Waiting for one of my kids to fill out paperwork for that first job… Again, considering that heaving bosoms (TMI? Sorry) and romance did lead to that child’s conception… again, appropriate.
Okay, so pretty much any place is appropriate to read this book—who doesn’t like to laugh?
But more than laughter, and all kidding aside, I have to tell you that this book is written by women (smart women) who love romance. And who get it. Romance in all its former bodice-ripping, and current women-empowering glory.
Today I have Smart Bitch Sarah, co-author of Beyond Heaving Bosoms, here to chat and everyone who comments gets entered in the drawing to win your very own copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms. ( Be sure to leave your email address!)
Judi: Hi Sarah and welcome to my Journey to Publication and Beyond. I’d love to hear about yours. You say that this book is all Rose Hilliard’s fault. How exactly did that happen? Were you and Candy thinking about writing a book or did this happen over a glass of wine (or several) at a conference?
Sarah: Candy and I were absolutely gobsmacked one day to receive an email from Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s Press, who asked if we’d ever thought about writing a book about romance novels. After we picked ourselves off the floor, we spoke to her by phone, and she said she’d send us some sample proposals to show us how that whole tricky proposal thing works. We had a conversation with her where we talked about crazy ideas – especially things we couldn’t do on the website due to the constraints of webpage formatting, and then our ideas went crazypants, and through IM sessions and email and late night notes to each other, a book was crafted.Judi: I LURRRRVETM the Smart Bitches Dictionary, including the nod to JR Ward’s character names. But why isn’t it longer? I think you could write an entire book on the dictionary alone. Any plans in that direction-or for another book?
Sarah: Another book? No, I think we shot our wad with this one. The Bitches Dictionary was actually part of the proposal, if you can believe it. The Bitches’ Dictionary came together as Candy and I emailed back and forth definitions to one another, until we had a page and a half of them. We wrote that a loooong time ago, and it’ s still applicable – which shows how timeless romance tropes can be, and how fun it is to poke at them, ha ha. Judi: Going through the process of crafting a book myself, I’m in awe of people who do it together. How did it work for you and Candy?
Sarah: We did it as we do most things: we stumbled through. We had ideas and rough outlines of topics for each chapter, and we wrote in sections, similar to the length of a blog entry, that we added to and developed until they were more chapter length. We emailed things back and forth, editing and adding, and then compiled it into a manuscript. It’s a lot of joined pieces, linked by our senses of humor.Judi: The 10 Commandments of Heroine Conduct. Can I just say: O. M. G.! Obviously, though, you pulled these from actual stories. How could you possibly narrow it down to just ten? What didn’t make the list?
Sarah: What didn’t make the list? Anything having to do with heroine shoe fetishes, smoking, and perms!Judi: As I was laughing my way through this, seeing both the humor and the truth so snarkily put in some cases, I also felt as if I were reading someone’s thesis. You quote others’ papers/studies/etc., any plans to use this book in that direction?
Sarah: You know, if I could swing a graduate degree out of this one, I’d be so amused. Candy’s working on her JD, but I don’t know that law degrees can be based in part on Bitcherating. We’re both lit geeks and are educated in English literature and critical theory, so it absolutely influences how we look at romance novels, and their significance to and influence on the women and men who read them. Funny enough, one of the reasons I left grad school was because the program I was in didn’t seem to have enough room for me to explore romance novels as a viable subject for graduate study. That and the complete lack of jobs.
The best part about working with Candy is that at the beginning of the site itself, and even now, when we work together, we mostly just crack each other up. We’re both lit geeks, we both adore romance, and we both approach it from completely different perspectives and experiences. So writing a book and talking about all the things we loved about the genre was tremendously entertaining. I hope that comes through in the book.
Judi: When you started writing this, what was the reaction to this book among your family and friends? The Bitchery? The authors who gave you quotes?
Sarah: My family and friends: You’re writing a book on what?
The Bitchery: Woo!
The authors: Woo!Judi: The cover. I know it’s said authors get no input, but I was asked about mine-were you two? I love that it’s a tie-in to the 50s’ header on the blog. Conscious decision? Serendipity? Incredibly clever Art Department? And the title-who came up with it?
Sarah: Serendipity and a marvelous art department and cover illustrator. The cover was painted by Michael Koelsch, and it’s luscious. I love the old-skool look of it, and the hidden phalli!
Seriously – I had some of the most insightful conversations with different authors about the book and the novels they’ve written. Lisa Kleypas, Nora Roberts, Emma Holly, Barbara Ferrer, Laura Kinsale, Selah March, Kathleen O’Reilly, Jennifer Crusie, Jon Paul, John DeSalvo and Many Many Others gave me a LOT of their time and I’m so grateful.
One of the aspects of the book that I’m most proud of is the fact that it spans across publishing houses, genres, and time of publication to bring together many of the women and men who make romance what it is today. It’s not nearly just about us – that would be hellaboring. It’s about the genre as a whole – which is worth celebrating.
The title was decided by the website community. No, really. The original title was “Heaving Bosoms and Throbbing Members,” and we didn’t love it. So we asked the Bitchery in August 2008 to help us pick via internet poll, and that’s the title that won. Here are the results. Check it out:
Smart Bitches,Trashy Books: Behind the Heaving Bosoms of Romance Novels
Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels
Behind the Heaving Bosoms and Throbbing Members: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels
Parsing the Inter-Textuality of Ejaculative Emissions: an Examination of the Immanent Altern
Judi: I love the Big Mis game, and promise to play it when I’m out of deadline hell. How did that evolve? I’m sure there are tons of stories about it, care to share any?
Sarah: The Big Mis game was something we came up with when we first talked about Things To Do In the Book That We Can’t Do on the Website. I have the original drawing version of it – I drew it with my son’s crayons, a sharpie, and some stamps from my mother in law’s craft collection. I should probably frame it.Judi: I have to ask this because if you spend any time whatsoever on my Fun Stuff page of my website, you know I’m a Fabio fan. Did you contact him for the book? If so, he obviously declined? If not, why?
Sarah: I stalked him! I phoned anyone I could think of that might possibly have a way of reaching him. I called authors who were represented by people who may have at one time lived next door to someone who might possibly have seen Fabio at a gas station. I was shameless. He probably thought about a restraining order, but he definitely didn’t return my calls or email messages. Alas.
Judi: So now that there is the template for writing your own paranormal, regency, and vampire, romance novels at the back of the book, are you planning to give that a shot? And if so, what genre? (Or maybe a regency vampire full of wereweasels?)
Sarah: Me? Oh, boy. My fiction is an exercise to remind myself how hard it is to write fiction! My prose muscles are strong; my fiction muscles need a nap. But now that you’ve mentioned Regency wereweasels….
Judi: Favorite. Book. Evah. Yes, you must pick one.
Sarah: One!? Crap. OK. The book that rocked my world so much hat I still think about it: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore.
Judi: Least. Favorite. Book. Evah. (You know you can name at least one!)
Sarah: Honey Moon by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. My first wall banger.
Judi: Anything else you want to cover? (And, no, I’m not talking about John DeSalvo…)
Sarah: Poor John. I want to buy the man a beer for being a nice guy and answering all my nebby questions.
I will say this, though – when I reached out to John DeSalvo, he could not have been more gracious and happy to work with me.
Thank you for having me, Judi!!
Remember to leave your email address so we can notify you if you win – check back on Wednesday for the winner - and be sure to stop by my blog all next week, where I’ll be blogging from RT, like I did last year. (Sadly, I doubt Fabio will show… sigh. But I do believe John is going to be there. I’ll have to hunt him down, I mean, find him and get a picture. Jimmy Thomas has promised me one, so look for that.)
Oh, and feel free to register for my contest to win one of 3 romantic getaway beach packages to celebrate the release of my 3 merman/maid stories!
Filed under: My Books | Tagged: Beyond Heaving Bosoms, Fabio, Heaving Bosoms, John De Salvo, Judi Fennell, romance, smart bitches, SmartBitch Candy, SmartBitch Sarah, trashy books | 24 Comments »