Hello friends! Today I am bringing you all a guest post from my friend and fellow Musa Publishing author, SS Hampton, Sr. SS is a writer of horror, science fiction, erotica, and military fiction. Can we bring him to the “dark side” of love, kisses, and happy ever after? We’ll see! xo, V
Writing a Romance Novella—Maybe
I am meandering today and I suspect that is because I am appearing on the blog of Vanessa North, Romance Novelist. You see, I am so old that I don’t remember what romance (and love) is like. I was married once and that ended in a bitter divorce and custody battle. More than 10 years passed before I was engaged to be married—and that ended disastrously. In between those two events I started falling in love (I think) with a young lady. Such emotions were frightening to me so I turned away and never spoke to her again.
And so I—a writer of horror, science fiction, fantasy, erotica, and military fiction, most with characters without an emotional connection with a loved one—find myself here. Why? Maybe it is because I am thinking of trying my quill pen at writing a romance story. (Several of my stories have come close but I do not think they could truly be called “romances.”) Certainly there seems to be a huge market “out there,” especially when the market is sub-divided into Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance, Time-travel Romance, Erotic Romance, etc.
According to the “Readership Statistics” of the Romance Writers of America (2008), “In 2008, romantic fiction generated $1.37 billion in sales, with 7,311 romance novels published and making up 13.5% of the consumer book market” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_novel). That is a lot of novels and a lot of sales. And a lot of readers. Further, “Over 74 million people claimed to have read at least one romance novel in 2008…and…romance readers were more likely to be married or living with a partner” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_novel).
I have never read a romance novel and I have never scoffed at such a market. Hell, my own step-father reads romance novels (I think he likes the Harlequin novels the best). But I have to wonder, why do people read them, especially if they are married? Is there something lacking in their lives, in their marriage, or their partnership? Or is it merely “entertaining escapism” similar to the way many of us like to escape into the literary or film worlds of science fiction, fantasy, horror, erotica, and military fiction, albeit devoid of romantic elements?
Just as I wonder why people want to read romance novels, I sometimes wonder why I want to try writing one. Okay, novella. Novellas of 15,000-25,000 words are okay. Novels can have such a huge word count of 50,000+ words that they are a little frightening. Almost as frightening as falling in love.
Maybe the urge is because deep down inside I would like to experience romance and love one more time before I cross over to the other side. That would be out of character for me because I tend to be a loner; when attending work holiday functions (when I was employed) or military unit functions I have never brought anyone as a guest. Hell, I do not even date—being unemployed, not having my own vehicle (I share the family vehicle with my son), and having to count pennies, kind of puts a damper on the idea of dating. Oh yes—I am not good looking and I am also brown (full blood Native American). Then again, perhaps some of us are not meant to experience romance and love.
So, writing a romance novel—I have a feeling that will be a difficult proposition. It is far easier for me to write of a dwindling number of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder against an overwhelming enemy force, of frightened soldiers encountering the supernatural, of hungry ghouls in the American West, or even star ships passing through prehistoric nebulas thousands of light years distant. But to write of caring, love, and romance between a man and a woman? Maybe even writing of the two of them finding Happily Ever After, or at least Happy For Now?
That can be frightening too.
Yet, I have such a strong urge to light a candle in the scriptorium, sharpen the writing edge of a feathered quill pen, set out the inkwell, spread sheets of polished parchment on the table, and scribble a story of love, adventure, challenges, romance, and Happily Ever After. Or at least Happy For Now.
Wish me luck!
Good Luck, SS! Can’t wait to hear where the muse takes you next! -V
BLURB: While on much-needed R& leave from Iraq, Corporal Ronnie Edson enjoyed a night with a beautiful woman. He thought that would be the end of it, but on the flight back to Iraq he sees an impossible sight: the woman dancing on the wing of the plane. She’s come for him, and she won’t leave without him.
A yellowish glow flared in the living darkness like a newborn sun; the hiss and sputtering of the flickering glow sounded like the background static of the prehistoric universe.
The soft footsteps of an enraptured, puzzled voyeur emerged from a darkness that pulsed with hidden life, desires, needs, and temptations.
A nude woman sat on a silk-cushioned bench in front of a large, dark vanity table and ignored the silent voyeur. Her long blonde hair with purplish highlights fell to the small of her back. She looked into the central mirror and a pair of movable side mirrors that were shaped like Gothic cathedral windows. By each side mirror, a candelabra with a trio of tall scented candles bathed her pale flesh in their soft glow.
She felt his eyes studying her as she applied, with slow measured strokes, black and red eye shadow to her upper eyelids, and under her eyes; at the outer corner of her eyes the eye shadow narrowed to a point, like Minoan or Egyptian eye decoration on wall paintings. Her blue, almond shaped eyes were brighter than a cloudless sky at high noon. Black eyeliner highlighted the brightness of her eyes while mascara deepened the blackness of her eyelashes.
Her deep blue eyes blinked once as she looked into the Gothic mirrors and caught a glimpse of the silent man. She listened to the murmuring shadows in the mirrors, while an even deeper, sensual darkness, like a black satin ribbon, twisted around the unsuspecting man and flowed through him.
A hint of a smile came to her face as she shifted on the silk cushion and lazily ran a red fingernail along a length of her dark thigh high stockings. She sensed his growing lust for her. Her hand trailed up her hip to a garter belt decorated with ruffled silk, then across a topless black and red velvet and lace corset. Her seductive smile deepened as she peered into the Gothic mirror at the man, now shrouded within the ghostly, satiny ribbon.
She applied dark lip liner to her full lips, followed by blood red lipstick. The young woman paused and chose a brush that sparkled in the candlelight. She carefully applied gold glitter to her eyebrows…
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He is a serving member of the Army National Guard with the rank of staff sergeant, with prior service in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.
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