Guest post and giveaway: Jessica Scott on It's Just a Romance Novel

I’m delighted to welcome romance writer Jessica Scott, whose debut  Because of You was just released this month from Loveswept. Jessica is a career soldier with 16 years in the Army, who blogged for PBS Point of View from Afghanistan and Iraq. Jessica is now a company commander in charge of 130 soldiers, and a mom to two, whose husband continues to serve in Iraq. Jessica also hails from Maine!

 

Here’s the blurb:

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there’s more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he’ll never see again- until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.  Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there’s a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels – for the first time in a long time – like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty -it’s a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected – her deepest desire.

Because of You is getting great reviews. Here’s Mandy Schreiner at USA Today:

Because of You is full of angst and traumatic moments, suspenseful situations and a few steamy romance scenes. I’m really starting to get into military romances, and I think Jessica Scott has done a great job balancing everything in this book. It is heart-wrenching as you watch not only the hero and heroine struggle, but all of the supporting characters as well. But it also makes you smile as you see them triumph. I can’t wait for her next book!

***

And the Bookpushers:

Ms Scott surpassed my expectations regarding the inclusion of military culture and she provided me with a touching, entertaining read. I was fully invested in her characters and a certain sequence of events about broke my heart. When I reached the last page I kept trying to move to the next page because I wanted to see what happens next. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in her trilogy. I give Because of You an A.

***

And Dear Author

The two wounded souls seeking comfort and peace will be appealing to many readers and the fast paced non stop drama adds a different flavor to this military romance. The war scenes were highly charged and I appreciate the unflinching look at how awful it must be over in Iraq and Afghanistan.

***

I have always loved romance novels. Since I was a kid and my grandmother first got me hooked on them starting out with Danielle Steel. Something happened in my twenties and I stopped reading them. Nora Roberts’ Dance Upon Air brought me back to the romance fold and I’ve happily been back ever since. But it was only around 2007 that I started wanting to write a book and it turned into, well, a romance novel.

Just a romance novel.

Look I get it. Romance writers are never going to be the cool kids winning literary awards and getting lots of respect. In my home chapter of Austin RWA, we’re talking about needing a new location because our current location a) doesn’t sell our books and b) looks down on us like we’re somehow beneath them. And yet, the Austin RWA is the most amazing chapter that spend so much time and effort mentoring up and coming authors. No question is ever ignored, no matter how many times it’s been heard. Time is spent on critique sessions and work groups and retreats, all to build the next generation of writers.

A lot of folks have asked me if the guys I work with know I’ve written and sold a romance novel. Yeah, a few of them do. And you know what? They’re pretty cool about it. Of course, I liven it up with a few jokes about the dick jokes in there but am I really just bending to the tacit disapproval on their faces? For example, the other day at Barnes and Noble Café this happened:

 

Café Guy: Whoa that’s a lot of money for chocolate

Me: I’m celebrating. My book came out today (shows him picture of USA Today review)

Café Guy: Oh it’s one of those. What did it ship?

Me: (smiling politely) well don’t knock it, you know? Still took almost five years to write and sell.

Café Guy: Oh wait you wrote it? High five.

 

Now he was nice enough once he realized I had written it and he did make my latte extra yum. But still. When I was in Iraq, Karin Tabke posted over on MurderSheWrites about a woman who suffered from FGM (female genital mutilation) who said that reading one of Karin’s novels inspired her to believe she could heal and love again. That is amazing. To be able to give that kind of hope to someone? And yet, Café Guy and far too many others look down on it as unworthy. You know what he and every other person out there will never get to see? They never get to see this:

The author is career military herself, and the story is really touching

about a soldier who was injured in Iraq and a woman who nursed him when he

got back to the states. Both of them have scars, his from his wounds and

her’s from a recent mastectomy.

 

Probably because I’ve also had breast cancer and disfiguring surgery, I

can identify with her, but I was really impressed with the sensitivity the

author displayed in dealing with the situation.

 

I’m only half way thru – but I’d highly recommend it!

 

I’ve written a lot. I blogged from Iraq. But this was quite possibly one of the nicest things anyone could have said about my “trashy” romance novel.

That’s pretty powerful stuff folks. People who want to knock down romance as a genre may get to feel better because they don’t read those books. I have books on my shelf that I have had for over 20 YEARS. That’s powerful. When a book sticks with you, no matter what the genre, no matter who the author, that’s powerful.

Romance is powerful. It’s powerful enough to show women that hey, all guys aren’t immature pricks who can’t hold a full conversation. Places like Jack’s Bar on Robyn Carr’s website are a place where romance readers can get together virtually and connect. You have no idea what’s going on in someone’s life. That may be their only outlet into something positive. And it started with a book.

I don’t mean to go on a rant but as a brand new author, I’m seeing something completely unexpected. As a reader, I’ve known that author’s books impacted me.

I just never expected to have that same impact and it is an honor and a privilege to have just one person tell me that my book, my trashy novel with a half naked man on the cover that got banned by facebook ads, touched their lives.

That one email made the last four plus years journey worth while.

***

Thanks, Jessica! I’d like to offer a copy of Because of You to one commenter from your e-tailer of choice. US only (sorry!). Comment by Tuesday midnight EST for a chance to win.

12 responses

  1. I’m really looking forward to reading this book. It’s gotten such great reviews & military romances are really timely. I do feel that a lot of the reason romance is so looked down upon has to do with who’s writing them – women. Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes a romance & he’s enlightened; Isabel Allende writes them & she’s overly sentimental.

    Like

  2. Nora Roberts was talking about how romance is still trashed and yet, show me another author selling as well as she is. Just because something isn’t respected doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. And I *do* get it. We’re never going to get the NY Times Book Review. But that doesn’t mean what we write isn’t worthwhile. There are many many books that are on my keeper shelf that have stood the test of time. That’s powerful.

    Like

  3. I love the positivity of romance, and I totally agree with your statement that just because something isn’t respected doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. My son was born unexpectedly in March at 25 weeks gestation, and the pediatrician who came in while I was in labor gave us a 40% chance of survival for the baby. I was devastated (and still feel kind of traumatized by the whole experience). I usually read a wide variety of genres, but for the 95 days he was in the NICU at the children’s hospital (an hour to hour and a half from where I live), the only fiction I read was romance novels. I knew that no matter what hardships the characters were going through in the book, there would be a happy ending. It helped me focus on having a happy ending to his hospital stay. Reading romances really helped me have a positive focus. If I was alone and starting to feel depressed, I would pull out one of my favorite romances, and I felt a lot better. So romances are totally worthwhile to me!

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  4. my book, my trashy novel with a half naked man on the cover that got banned by facebook ads, touched their lives.

    I know I’m having other issues that make me emotional, but this. A naked male back gets an ad banned when it’s on a romance novel’s cover–but if it’s an add for a graphically violent video game or action movie, it’s all good.

    And yes, these books that so many loon down on empower their readers, in many often unexpected ways.

    Thank you, Ms Scott, for your service to your country and for your contribution to a genre I love so much.

    Like

  5. This book has been on my radar for quite some time, just for the cover photo alone, but now that I know that the author has served our country, it has definitely moved up the ranks on my to-read list. I remember the first romance novel I read and thinking, this is what it all comes down to. All of us that read romance novels really want to get lost in the emotion and the happiness that comes with reading. It’s funny, someone once asked me why I read romance novels when I know they’re going to end up together in the end. My response? It’s about the journey to happily ever after.

    Like

  6. I loved reading this. I have to put up with my husband making those cracks about romance novels. I just usually ignore him. I started reading romance novels when I was 14. It’s been almost ten years and I’m not stopping. I love the way writers bring something unique to their stories. I really want to read this book now. :) It sounds like a wonderful read. I love it when the characters are going through issues more deep than I’m not pretty like my supermodel looking best friend. I love getting to know the hero and heroine. I love the romance, the sweep you off your feet moments that in real life don’t really exist.

    Like

  7. Awesome post… :)

    My challenge to the next person who makes a ‘just romance’ sniff…. “write one. just write one. and if you can do that? Sell it. Not self pub…SELL. Then we can talk.”

    Like

  8. My friends used to make fun of me because of my romance novels and I used to let them get away with it, but not any more. Now I challenge them about why they are so negative about my reading habits, when reading romances clearly makes me happy. I think they are just jealous because they don’t have any hobbies that give them that kind of pleasure.

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  9. Aloha, Jessica! I thoroughly enjoyed BECAUSE OF YOU! I admire how you juggle it all … and still write a book! I didn’t realize you were from Maine! When we lived in the Netherlands, I met an teacher’s spouse who belongs to the Penobscot Nation (her husband is now retired and they moved back to the reservation). We used to laugh chat about Maine’s connection to MASH!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Like

  10. Thanks everyone, for your comments, and special thanks to Jessica Scott for writing such a terrific post. Random.org tells me Jenn C is the winner. congrats Jenn!

    Like

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