It's Saturday and that means it's surprise time at The Pink Heart Society...
This time out it's in the form of our first challenge for you!
Sshhhhhh!!!!! Step a little closer while I tell you a story…
Are we all here? Nobody else is listening, right???
When my first book was published I was on the road, touring each of the 32 counties of Ireland. Some friends and I popped into a large bookstore in the middle of Cork, so I could see my book advertised in the back of that months titles… and lo and behold. It was ON THE SHELF. Understandably I was thrilled. We jumped up and down and giggled like kids…. We, erm… moved it onto the shelves all over the place ( I was a top-seller for at least ten minutes in one store) and then we went to buy a copy and the lady behind the counter gave me one of those *down the nose* looks. Alright, so our earlier behavior maybe hadn’t endeared us… But I then gushed – ‘That’s *my* book’ to which the nice lady answered, ‘Yes, it will be in a minute.’ – to which I blushed and said ‘No, you see it’s *my* book. I *wrote* it!’… and nice lady at the till said (from down her nose) ‘Of *course* it is madam….*. Well… I left with my book in my hands. But she took the glow off me for about thirty seconds.
And I couldn’t help but wonder if she was that rude to everyone else who might buy my book…Mmmm…
The beauty of reading these days is we can pick up our favorite reading material pretty much anywhere. We can get it from the traditional bookstore, the library, airports, service stations, newsagents, we can order from the comfort of our homes, download from online onto a little piece of kit we can take anywhere on the planet and we can even get it from the local Supermarket! There’s really no excuse not to read these days, is there? And that’s fantastic!
Thing is, when we buy those fabulous ‘little romance books’ we all love so much, there can still sometimes be a tendency to have a little bit of embarrassment presenting it at the check-out… (Even if you haven’t just caused a mini-riot in the store first)
Maybe it harks back to those heady teenage days, when we were discovering boys and learning all about love by hiding our Mother’s romances under our beds to steal away a few hours when nobody could see us. There was an element of illicit treat to it – gorgeous hero’s, strong, beautiful women who could stand up to them – the kind of women who could have a career, or be single parents or Lady’s of old being whisked away from an arranged marriage they didn’t want - and always getting the guy in the end no matter what the odds… There were glamorous locations and exciting plots and always, always a happily ever after – which made us believe they really were possible as we had our hearts broken for the first time in teenager land. And we could then share them with our best friends and sigh at what a great read they had been and dream of the day we could write one too… Oh no, hang on, that last part was maybe just me???
So when we first start to actually go out and buy them, does some of that sense of the illicit stay with us? Or is it the fact there’s a gorgeous man behind us at the check out or even in front of it? Or maybe, just maybe, is it that we’ve listened to all those out-dated conceptions that people have of Category Romance and we’re just too embarrassed to be seen buying them in public??? Especially if they have the gorgeous naked-chested man on the front???
After all, we’re all highly intelligent women, we have careers and ambitions, we juggle family life and running a home and paying bills and can still find the TV Remote control when no-one else who lives in the house can… We read much more mentally stimulating books now; Thrillers and Sci-Fi’s, Biography’s and Self-Help’s, Classics and the best Chick-Lit’s available, and as wide a range of books as you can dream of. But just because we now have a wider range of reading pleasure and have read dozens of truly fantastic books, does that mean we should forget our ‘little romance books’, submit to a sense of what we should or shouldn’t be reading, and only go back to them years later when we have reached that part of our lives where we don’t give a stuff what others think of any of our choices? And that little book we can read in a few hours and get a guaranteed Happily Ever After from is suddenly back on our shopping lists again…
Statistically we are told that many readers tend to leave Category Romance behind during the years they are building their career, out having fun, meeting the man of their dreams and starting a family. And maybe the fact that they are appearing in Supermarkets is a sign of the book distributors trying to tap into that Market while we are all out doing what we do most frequently – buy food… Though that *could* just be me again…
But is there still a little embarrassment attached? Does the steamy picture on the cover make you shy away from presenting it at the local supermarket to some young spotty teenage boy who might give you *that look*, or a woman like the one in the store I was in who just looked down her nose? Is it easier to download the books from online so that no-one can see you buying them?
Are we really more comfortable showing what brand of tampon we use or what our choice of contraceptive is (yes, we all know you can get nearly *anything* in a supermarket these days…) than we are showing that we love those little category books??? And yet at the same time we don’t shy away from showing we eat a ton of junk food while still carrying a few extra pounds, we buy Bridget Jones type pants to hide those extra pounds and we’re suckers for any new brand of anything that had a convincing ad campaign on the television? Okay, the last one could be me again…
So, where do you buy your Category Romances? Do you have a most embarrassing moment at the check out?
And the first challenge for you Pink Heart’ers out there is to face those *look down the noses* types at the check-out! Come tell us what you said or might say to show you don’t care what they thought of your reading choices!!!! Did you set the book on top of the pile with a sweet smile and a ready come-back on your lips? Did you tap the book , smile, wink and say – ‘Great read, you should try one of these’???
Come on gang! Say it loud, say it proud!!
H's & K's
Trish's latest book is her first Modern Extra: White-Hot!