Trying my hand at category romance

Main Street in Gorham, NH.

My publisher, Dreamspinner Press, recently came up with the idea of putting out category romance novels — light, quick reads between fifty and sixty thousand words without much angst or too much sex. Think some of the old (and probably current) Harlequin and Silhouette romance lines. I actually like this idea a lot. It may come as a surprise to many people, but I used to love category romances. Not all the time, certainly. But as a pleasant distraction now and then.

The new Dreamspun Desires line seems to be doing quite well with readers. And now a lot of writers I know are working on books for it.

I’m not normally one to jump on bandwagons, but this particular bandwagon appeals to me. So with that in mind, and knowing full well that my submission will be at the tail end of a lot of other author submissions, I’m going to try my hand at it. No rape, no child abuse, no murder. Just a nice, happy little romance.

I can do this!

My story is tentatively called Small Town Sonata, though I’m not utterly thrilled with that name. It was going to take place in a fictional community called Springhaven, NH. Unfortunately, I’ve just discovered there is a Spring Haven campground or something in NH, so I’ll have to come up with a different name. It’s based upon the town I grew up in, which was a pleasant little community of less than 2,000 people in northern New Hampshire, which goes by the rather unpleasant-sounding name Gorham. The picture at the top of the post is of main street in Gorham, and it looks pretty much like it did when I was a kid there in the 1970s. Parts of it have changed, of course. But that’s why I’m setting my story in a fictional, idealized version of the town, rather than the real one.

The story follows two characters: Dean Cooper and Aiden Clark. (Uh-oh. I just noticed both last names begin with “C.” I might change that….)

Dean is a local handyman. Everyone in town knows him, and most like him. He’s openly gay, but the prospects for a gay man in a town that size are somewhat small. In place of a love life, Dean has the dubious honor of being mothered by a host of elderly women in town. The ladies have taken it upon themselves to organize the annual town fair. Mr. Robinson, who used to conduct the band, passed away two years ago, so the ladies decide it’s up to Dean to continue the tradition this year. Aside from playing clarinet in the band, when it existed, Dean has no idea how he’s going to get everyone back together, especially when confronted by band members moving away and broken instruments that can’t be replaced.

In the meantime, Aiden Clark, who moved away from town when he was a teenager to pursue a career as a concert pianist, is back in town. He’s pleasantly surprised to discover his best friend from high school, Dean, has grown up to be sexy as hell. But the last thing Aiden wants is to get involved with someone. He hasn’t told anyone the reason for his return — that his career as a pianist was ended by an injury to his hands, and he just wants to withdraw from the world for a while. Possibly forever.

As a blurb, this is awfully wordy and somewhat awkward, but you get the idea. I’m having fun with it. It’s up close to 8,000 words now, and if I can keep up the past I’ve set, I should have it done in four to six weeks.

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12 Comments

Filed under Contemporary, Drama, gay, Jamie Fessenden, Romance, Writing

12 responses to “Trying my hand at category romance

  1. helenajust

    I like the sound of this!

  2. sounds good, Jamie! I’ve reviewed several of these ‘harlequin like’ stories and have thoroughly enjoyed them. Im sure I will enjoy yours as well. Without knowing too much about the story, it’s hard to suggest another title if you’re not ‘fond’ of this one, I’m sure you will make it right.

    • I’ve run into a number of problems with names. The name of the town (Springhaven), the name I came up with for the old women’s group (Lilac Ladies)…. It will be a challenge to come up with names I can use, and that I like.

  3. Oooooooo — this might make me want to write something for them! 😀

    I really do NOT like writing sex scenes, but some PG or PG-13 romance I think I can do. 🙂

  4. Yes! There needs to be more catergory romances for people who read M/M and F/F. Not to mention for those of us who write it.

    • I agree. It’s fun reading.

      • And writing! But I confess to desparately wanting to write a Cat Romance, either F/F or M/M, that deals with the same type of dynamic between Rory Gilmore and Paris Geller from Gilmore Girls who just seem perfect for this type of romance to me. Friends/Frenemies that can’t shake each other falling in love? One of them with a neurotic personality playing into a sort of Felix and Oscar dynamic? Yes please!

  5. This sounds quite interesting. And I’m curious how it turns out to read. 🙂 Additionally you’re having fun with it, this tells me it will be simply great!!

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