May is officially the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the US and this month, I’ve decided I’m going to read romance novels featuring heroines of Asian descent. Before today, I’ve only read a few, among them Nalini Singh’s Rock Courtship, Alisha Rai’s Pleasure series, The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev, Lora Leigh’s Wicked Pleasure, Jaci Burton’s Midnight Velvet, and Fobolous by my friend Rainne Mendoza.
My Goodreads search proved to be frustrating as there are very few books that answer to the criteria – 190 if you include South Asians. Amazon is not much help either – only 40 are listed and most of the heroines are half something else.
It’s no wonder that 63% of those who answered the Dangerous Books for Girls survey said (they) “…think there is not enough diversity in characters and settings…”. It’s true, there’s not.
In the same study, it was learned that there were over 9,500 Romance ISBNs in 2013. Very likely, that figure went up in 2016. If I would hazard a guess, the number of those books who have Asian/Pacific Islander heroines would be pitifully small, could only be just a handful. Why? Are people not buying them? The Romance genre is a Billion-dollar industry and there’s no market for novels with my kind of protagonists? That’s sad and I refuse to believe that.
According to the 2010 US Census Bureau Statistics, over 3.3 Million American husbands have Asian wives. If only a small fraction of those wives read romance novels, that’s still a substantial number who may want to see their stories told in books. Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” So, that’s what I’m doing, I’m writing their story.
I’m writing MY story.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
I have no problem with reading a lot. Last year, I recorded 465 books on Goodreads. It’s the writing a lot that is hard for me. On January 1, I set my Reading Challenge to 120 in order to give myself more time to write. This was based on my experience in November when I wrote most of my first book, One Week in Boracay. I managed to put together 51K words, but only read a dozen books. So far this year, I’ve already read 80 so I had to increase my goal to 180. However, apart from the title Christmas in New York, I haven’t written a word of my second book yet.
Then I saw Katy Regnery’s blog post and my jaw dropped. From September 2013 until April 2017, she published 31 books. She completes one book every five to six weeks. Talk about prolific! I’m awed and envious.
Can I do that? Possibly. I did put the finishing touches on Boracay five weeks after I started it. Will I do it? Maybe someday. When I don’t take three months to edit, or when I have a team to help me with editing, cover design, formatting, etc. But not yet, not for a long while yet. For now, I’ll read a lot first, then maybe I’ll write a lot of the second book, and the third, and the fourth…
Not maybe. I will. Starting now.
The quote was attributed to Edmund Wilson, a noted American writer, editor, and critic. I agree with him.
This year, I have decided to write a short review of every book I read or reread and post it on Amazon/Goodreads. Before 2017, I used to only rate the books without giving my reasons for the number of stars. After posting my rating, then and only then will I check out other people’s reviews. I always look for the ones that are most diametrically opposed to mine and just shake my head and smile at the reasoning behind their grades.
Here are a couple of examples:
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
M: “Five flamethrowing stars. This book is fresh and young, utterly delightful. Josh and Lucy are fantastic characters, their chemistry is electric. I adore their conversations. I didn’t want the book to end. One of my new favorites.”
S: “DNF. Lucinda and Joshua are extremely annoying. I don’t care about how much she hates Josh 4Ever.”
The Duke and the Lady in Red by Lorraine Heath
M: “Five heartrending stars. This novel broke my heart and put it back together again. Avendale – he’s so flawed and yet so amazingly heroic. Rose — a swindling angel. Harry — the best part, the heart of the book.”
E: Two stars. DNF. Barf. Cannot stand the prose.
We’re all different and what appeals to one may not be attractive to others. This brings to mind another (cliché) quote, “One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure.” This is one of the reasons why I appreciate my favorite Facebook Group–Old School Romance Book Club (OSRBC)–so much. We all just agree to disagree. The members’ thoughts and opinions are respected and supported. They might have been the cause of my out-of-control TBR pile, but I won’t ever regret joining them. #OSRBCRocks