Thursday, February 11, 2010

Smart Woman: Carolyn Jewel, romance author and DBA

Welcome back! Today we continue with our "Why Smart Women (and Men) Read Romance" theme with the multi-published author of historical and paranormal romance and smarty-pants database administrator Carolyn Jewel. Carolyn, being a romance author, has generously donated three of her titles to the cause.

Yesterday's book, INDISCREET, was the first. Today's books, the historical romance SCANDAL and the paranormal romance MY FORBIDDEN DESIRE, are wonderful examples of smart & sassy romance.

To be the lucky person who wins both, be sure to leave a comment on this post. Please see my contest page for eligibility rules. If your name is chosen, you must claim your prize by e-mailing me at tjb @ tjbennett . com (no spaces) by February 14, 2010, or I will award it to someone else. Be sure to check back to see if you have won, and let your subject line be the name of the prize.

But first, more fun facts from our romantic fiction file (statistics provided by RWA's pressroom):

Your beleaguered naysayer: "I can't read one of those books. Everyone will see and know! I'm too embarrassed to carry one around in public."

Your savvy romance reader response: "Hey, I can understand that. Why not read a romance in an alternate format? According to RWA's 2009 reader survey, 6.5 percent of all romances 'read' were actually audiobooks (earplugs are great for privacy) and 5.4 percent were in e-book format. Many hardback and paperback romances are also released in e-book forms such as Sony e-reader, Kindle, and the like. Publishing houses that release books primarily in e-book format proliferate, which makes the choices wide and the books handy for traveling.

In fact, 29 percent of romance readers usually carry a romance novel with them, and alternate formats make that a breeze. Why, you can even download them to your PC or Mac and look like you're working when the boss wanders through your office, when what you're really doing is reading a romance!"

Now, let's give a big IMHO welcome to Carolyn Jewel!

Carolyn Jewel: Why Smart Women (and Men) Read Romance

I thought it would be interesting to explore the different ways one might inflect this discussion. Imagine, if you will, someone speaking this phrase out loud:

Why Smart Women (and Men) Read Romance

When read in this manner, with the word “why” emphasized, the words presume that smart men and women do indeed read romance. There’s an incredulity about the statement, as if the finding were terribly disappointing. My God. Is this true? Why? Is there not, in these words, a hint of something not quite right? It's as if there's a deep dark suspicion of romance underlying the statement. I wonder why?

Why Smart Women (and Men) Read Romance

I do think this one is my favorite since the implication is that if you want to be smart, you need to be reading romance.

This question also reminds me of the time I was at a Romance event and a gentleman author stood up before a room of women to speak passionately about his quest for publication. In the middle of this, he stopped after using a certain word, I forget what word it was and said, "Now, I know that's a big word, ladies." He went merrily on to define the word for us. And I, sitting in the audience of 20 or so women, looked around at my fellow ladies, four of whom I happened to know held PhDs -- I was myself in grad school at the time -- and thought, I will NEVER buy one of his books.

Why Smart Women (and Men) Read Romance

This version seems to privilege the female over the male. But if you say this out loud, the elision of “and men” that results after the emphasized “women” rather ironically does quite the opposite.

Why Smart Women (and Men) Read Romance

Do you agree the same irony comes into play here as in the previous example?

Why Smart Women (and Men) Read Romance

Ahem. Doh.

Why Smart Women (and Men) Read Romance

This version is the least gendered of a gendered phrase since it puts the emphasis on the genre. I also feel there’s a certain happiness in the emphasis. On an infomercial, two smiling co-hosts would say this in tandem and on the word “romance” beam as they held up a romance.

Language isn’t just words on a page. The words we chose, the order in which they appear and the way we speak provides additional meaning. Even here, in a written form, it’s possible to completely change the meaning of a phrase with the use of bold. Who would have thought romance would have so much power? Who, indeed?

Smart people maybe?

Bio: Carolyn Jewel lives in Northern California where she writes historical and paranormal romance. She’s also a Microsoft SQL Server database administrator. She holds an MA in English and is known to obsess over language and meaning.

16 comments:

Carol L. said...

I love reading Romance of any kind and love HEA's. I would say that compassionate and sensitive people are the ones who probably make up the readers who read Romance.A reader has to be sensitive to the emotions a writer carefully inserts in her books.
Thanks for sharing and I enjoyed the post today. Happy Valentine's Day TJ and Carolyn.
Carol L.
Lucky4750@aol.com

SiNn said...

I love historicals and HEA's I love sweet and real the lovestories that isnt just about hopping in to bed and being done I read romance because the romantic views is what makes this world a better place makes it worth reading and im proud to be smart like that and im proud to say im a romance reader


mortalsinn@yahoo.com

Jane L said...

I also love historicals! I just get myself so immersed into the world and bury myself in the book. I agree language is not just words on a page and often can be taken in a way the writer didn't always mean. Thanks for the great blog!

mary beth bass said...

Great post! When I joined my local RWA chapter I was the only member without a Masters and one of a few without a Ph.D. Reading romance provides the same pleasures that reading anything does. Subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, misogyny is at the core of every nasty comment directed at the romance writer or reader.

Virginia said...

Great post! I love reading historicals, they are my favorite romance but I do read other thing too! I will always fall back to the historicals though.

lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

limecello said...

Wooooooow the guy defining a word... Sadly, I can believe it. And I'm 100% behind this series. I have an entire 6' bookshelf of keeper romances. When my sister came to visit she walked into my room, and said "Dear God, you have more trashy romance novels than a New Jersey housewife." (Thank goodness she didn't see the rest of my books, which about triples the keeper shelf...) Anyway, it's annoying. I have multiple degrees, yet I find myself always defending my reading choices... or avoiding the subject so I don't have to.

joder said...

I love reading historical romances. I like seeing a happy ending, knowing it's possible. I also like the time period where family's seemed closer, where people had more face to face contact.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

limecello said...

Hm... anyway, obviously it's a touchy subject for me. (Adding more because I don't want my first comment to come off as ... well asshattery.) Recently I've stumbled across an author who writes erotic romance, yet is very derisive of the genre, and more. It drives me batty.
Perhaps a reason people look down on romance so much is the focus on emotions. Touchy feely girly non-intelligent. Because everyone knows emotional people aren't smart O_o.
I had a similar experience, with a friend, we were joking around about estate taxes (ok so we're dorks). And I said, "well, if you're rich, 2010 is a great year to die." (Ok and we're morbid.) And he was *shocked* - he said so, and said how "none of the girls" in his MBA class understood the concept... *headdesk* He actually told me he was impressed I understood. A backhanded compliment if ever there was one. [lol so this just might be one of my pet peeves...]

Carolyn said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone. There are some great points. I would agree that misogyny is behind a lot of this. Sometimes it's subtle, though. If challenged, such a person doesn't suddenly admit that he (or she) deep down hates women.

The attitude is pernicious and superficial -- in that such people believe Romance is vapid, porn or formulaic because . . . that's what everyone says. In our daily lives we see/hear constant reminders in the way women are portrayed -- and not portrayed.

The Romance community, which, after all, is made up of some very smart women and men, has been pushing back for a while and pointing out all the ways in which the stereotypes about Romance and women are false.

I expect to see that having a continuing slow but steady effect.

Razlover's Book Blog said...

Another great post and I love the covers!

I don't read many historical romances but the ones I have read I really enjoyed!

Anonymous said...

Don't enter me in the contest, since I just won, just wanted to say thanks for the thoughtful post! -- willaful

chey said...

I like to read good books, and some of the best books I've read are romances!

Sandra Lynne said...

I enjoyed reading this post. I love romance novels. They are my favorite type of books!

The books in this contest look great! Please enter me in this contest!

Sue A. said...

What a great post! I really enjoy reading historicals for both the journey into the past and for the emotional journey it takes me on.

peggy said...

I love historicals.I get so wrapped up in the book I lose a lot of sleep not wanting to lay the book down.

Jane said...

I definitely love the HEAs in romances and like the many types of books we can choose from like paranormals and suspense.