Could This Be Love?


Outtakes 335

Could This Be Love?

By Cait Collins

 

Ah, romance. The book shelves are full of romance novels. Poets extol the virtues of love and commitment. Cynics decry the emotion, calling it a crutch and an opiate for fools. I like to view love as something very special. But despite varying opinions of what love is and the part it plays in our lives, love stories are popular. And there are so many variations in the genre. Straight romance…boy meets girl, boy woos girl, boy gets girl. Then there’s romantic suspense…girl is in trouble, boy rescues girl, boy marries girl. Add paranormal romance, magic, war stories, western romance, “adult” romance, and you have almost unlimited story lines.

Poetry, song lyrics all extol the virtues of love. And then you have the broken romances, stories of love gone bad, and broken hearts that are mended by a new love. Face it, love sells. So write that romance. You just might find a whole new outlet for your talent.

Happy Valentines Day.

 

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Love is in the air!


Love is in the air!

The Romance Genre 

It’s Valentines Day and the genre topic for the day, you guessed it—Romance.

Nibble on smooth and creamy chocolate kisses from your lover, because you’re oh, so sweet. Inhale the scent of the flaming red roses delivered to your door letting you know how intoxicating you are. Now that’s romance.

According to the Romance Writers of America, all romances have two major elements, the first, a central love story, and secondly, an emotionally satisfying ending. Within those parameters, the stories are like products in the world’s largest candy store ranging from sugary sweet, to red hot SIZZLE!

The settings can vary from ancient history to futuristic, or anywhere in between.

Romance Subgenres

Romance fictions usually are classified into subgenres based on the story’s setting and plot.

  • Contemporary Series Romance: A series usually focused on the romantic relationship set after 1945.
  • Contemporary-Single Title Romance: An individual title, not as part of a series and set after 1945.
  • Historical Romance: 
Romance novels set in any time period prior to 1945, and taking place in any location.
  • Inspirational Romance: Romance novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs are a major part of the romantic relationship.
  • Novels with Strong Romantic Elements: A work of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries.
  • Paranormal Romance: Romance novels in which the future, a fantasy world, or paranormal happenings are a major part of the plot.
  • Regency Romance: Romance novels in which the majority of the story is set against the Regency period of the British Empire.
  • Romantic Suspense: Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute a major part of the plot.
  • Young Adult Romance: Novels with a strong romantic theme geared toward young adult readers.

Rory C. Keel

SPIRIT


SPIRIT

By Sharon Stevens

 

February is such a short month. So many anniversaries, so many birthdays, so many celebrations, how do you choose just one to write about. Mardi Gras, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, St. Valentine, George Ferris of the Ferris wheel, and now Pope Benedict. Amazing what you can find if you just stop, look and listen.

They all have one thing in common, one specific agenda they refer to, and not just an inward strength, but an outward resolve. They all have spirit…and strength…and passion…and dedication in some fiber of their being. Their faith may be different, their homeland, their families, but, one by one, they simply have one common path that leads them to their next destination.

Today Mary Badham visited the campus of WTAMU to talk about her role as Scout in the Harper Lee story of “To Kill A Mockingbird”. What an impact this movie has had for over fifty years! We had just seen, “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Lincoln” at the Varsity Theater here in Canyon, two powerful stories from two different centuries, and two separate wars. The message will always be the same. The resolve to tell the story will remain strong no matter how far apart the witnesses are.

And the spirit then leads me to the Steven Spielburg and Debbie Allen movie, “Amistad”. John Quincy Adams advises that “in court, the side with the best story usually wins.” This leads the abolitionists and the lawyers to try to find the story, the true story of their plea, and this eventually leads to the Mende’s freedom.

As writers we can pick and choose thousands of stories on millions of topics or maybe it’s the other way around. How lucky we are to go through life with an eternal link to every tale we want to tell. Ecstatic or crestfallen any of us can weave the ultimate experience and use myriads of words to do it with. Turning right or left the case can be stated, the arguments debated, tabled, stricken, laid to rest.

But the spirit still remains.

In “Amistad” Cinque, along with his fellow countrymen on trial for their life and their freedom. He told John Quincy Adams that…“If one can summon the spirit of his ancestors then they have never left. The wisdom they fathered and inspired will come to my aid. Then I will reach back and draw them into me. Then they must come, as I am the whole reason they have existed at all.”

Today is Valentine’s Day!  You can choose chocolates, flowers, stuffed animals, cards, or countless other tangible expressions to express your sentiments. It is your spirit alone that helps you to choose what best conveys the spirit of love to your loved ones.

But I would like to leave you with a simple thought that brings up the spirit of love to me. Paul Stookey wrote, “The Wedding Song (There is Love) in 1969 for the wedding of his friend Peter Yarrow, of Peter Paul and Mary. This beautiful song was sung at our wedding when we married in 1972 and sung at both our daughter’s wedding as well. Happy Valentine’s Day to my sweet husband for not only this day, but for all the days to follow!

“…The union of your spirit here has caused you to remain, for whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name, there is love!”

VISIONS


VISIONS

by Sharon Stevens

My husband and I were readying our college bookstore for the onslaught of students we hoped would come and buy their textbooks for the fall semester. We had vacuumed and dusted the best we could, and made the store as presentable as possible in the outdated building that housed our business. We try our best to make it homey to welcome the generations of families who stream to Canyon to attend our university, WTAMU. There is always tables covered with bright tablecloths ladened with a bounty of homemade cookies and simple snacks and even popcorn donated by the Varsity Theater just down the block.

This year we had an added bonus to catch the student’s eyes.

A dear friend of ours had recently given us a four-foot tall wooden chalkboard in the shape of Santa Claus complete with cutouts of redbirds and green Christmas trees. With the attached piece of chalk you could write holiday menus, shopping list for ingredients, or count down the remaining days of Christmas.

This jolly old Saint Nick had belonged to her parents and been brought out for decoration when they hosted Christmas parties at their home. As her mother had been ill our friend knew they would never again have the opportunity to display him for holiday festivities so she gave him to us knowing that at our business he would have a good home.

As usual my husband was mortified. Why display an object that represents the END of the school term instead of the beginning. I admit I did have some misgivings with bringing him out in August during the hottest year in recorded history, in the middle of a drought where farmers and their families were loosing their crops and their livelihood.

It wasn’t Christmas for heavens sake.

And that’s where Scrooges missed the point. As the kids would come in to our sweltering store to purchase textbooks I pictured some of the them laughing and rolling their eyes, as if we were so ancient and outdated we didn’t know what day or even what season it was. I could also imagine parents writing out checks draining their life savings to pay for the books. This would give them an excuse to cry tears of fun while hiding the tears of pain not only with depleting their bank account, but also at leaving their child behind for the four or five or six years or more that they attended college.

I also put the chalkboard front and center because sometimes the students needed a reminder that even though they were leaving behind family and friends, embarking on a new adventure, they could still find the holiday spirit to swirl around them. And though the experienced students had no doubt that the semester would come to an end, this silly Santa would confirm a break was just around the corner.

To us our Santa fit right in with the environment of mismatched carpet and silly knick-knacks scattered throughout our store. But more importantly I think we provided proof for all the kids that when Christmas Eve came, our community, our town, our university would celebrate.

Not to worry that St. Nicholas would either find his way to their new home in the dorm room, or follow them back to where “visions of sugar plums would dance through their heads”.

More importantly, as we were miserable in the heat that fed wildfires and destroyed homes and life, and even though this year might remain bleak, Father Christmas would be a nudge that there would return a time where we bundled up in layers upon layers of coats and mittens, sweaters and scarves with no doubt that family is all that matters.

But I had more ulterior motives under the tree. Kris Kringle’s rosy red cheeks and cheery smile hidden within his beard was a gentle reminder to me that it was time to write Christmas memories to send to publishers to include in memoirs and stories. With a six-month lead time designating summer “the most wonderful time of the year” that magazines and publishing houses welcomed well-written articles for the upcoming holiday issues.

This fall semester our wooden Santa held court beside the table ladened with homemade cookies and goodies. His smile never wavered, not like the scowl my husband showered me with after each customer left the store. Bah humbug! I wonder what Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick has to say about that on his naughty and nice list.

Nevertheless…

After textbook rush is over I plan to place St. Nicholas in our front window for passerby’s to enjoy. I will put him on display again when we decorate our store for Christmas as the kids begin to pack up to return home for the holiday break. But I plan to dust him off and set him back up for the rush of the spring semester in January.

I believe he represents the future. A simple reminder that without commercialization the holidays will come again and again and ever again, no matter where we travel or the steps that take us farther away from home.

On second thought I just might even display him amid chocolate sweets for Valentines Day. His never ending smile will be just the thing to warm our hearts as we face the prospect of February blizzards with taxes following close behind.

And I just might bring Him out again for Easter weekend…because I know HIS spirit still lives.

Sharon Stevens