OTW 10th Anniversary Chat

Transcript for 10th Anniversary Chat with Christina Lauren and Catherine Roach

If you missed any of our posts or events celebrating our 10th anniversary, or want to attend future events, check out our announcement post . Below is the transcript for the chat held on September 16th.

The transcript has been edited for arrivals and departures in the room as well as greetings and side discussions in the audience.


Claudia R.
Hello and welcome! As advertised, the Organization for Transformative Works is running a series of chats during the month of September in celebration of our 10th anniversary. Today’s chat focuses on the Romance genre. A transcript will be made public later today. (If you haven’t seen it yet, check out last week’s chat with Lev Grossman!)

I’m your moderator, Claudia Rebaza, and I’m a staffer with the OTW’s Communications committee. We have some prepared questions for guests and then later we’ll be opening the floor to audience questions.

Today our guests are authors Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, who write as Christina Lauren, and author and professor Catherine Roach. You can check out their bios by following the links on our announcement post.

*Catherine R.
Hi–my pleasure to be here! I’m in my office on campus at the University of Alabama, in Tuscallosa. It’s a “Game Day”–the football team plays later this afternoon. Out my window, the Quad is covered with crazed Crimson Tide Football fans. It’s fun to be looking at them and chatting about romance fandom!

*Christina L.
Catherine, I always wanted an alternative path where I went to a big football school and got to enjoy that energy.

Claudia R.
As Christina and Lauren share writing tasks and a name generally, they asked to just be identified in the singular here today to avoid duplicate answers. But we had a little trouble with them sharing the account so Lauren appears here as Christina L. and Christina appears as *christina.

Everyone ready?

*Christina L.
Hi everyone! Thanks for coming to play!

*Catherine R.
There is certainly “energy” to a big Southern football school Gameday, but I prefer the energy of Awards Night at Romance Writers of America!

Claudia R.
Great! As this event is part of the OTW’s 10th anniversary celebration, we thought we’d get things started by asking you some questions about your last 10 years! First off, what do you like to look back on as your major achievement(s) since 2007?

New k.
Does reading tons of fan-fiction count?

*Christina L.
First, we want to thank OTW for having us today! We are such huge fans of fandom (ha)! Just a heads up for those who don’t know – there are two of us, Lauren and Christina.

*Catherine R.
Hello, all. This is Catherine Roach. Major achievements? I became a fiction author, writing as Catherine LaRoche. I published two historical romance novels: MASTER OF LOVE in 2012 and KNIGHT OF LOVE in 2014, both as e-books with Simon & Schuster. Writing a novel was a lifelong dream, a secret passion that I was so happy to finally make happen. It’s been the most fun that I’ve ever had at a computer!

*Christina L.
So, to answer the question about our accomplishments, in 2007, we were still only readers and fans—Lo had written fanfic for Buffy and Alias a number of years before, but hadn’t started writing fic online. Christina was reading a ton, but at this point it hadn’t even occurred to her that she would have a story to tell herself. The idea of being published authors wasn’t even in our minds.

In 2008-2009 we both started writing in the Twilight world, and dabbling in HP and Hunger Games fic. Since it was just a passion and a hobby, we never expected anything to happen with it. Fic was just a way for Lo to be creative, and for Christina to find a creativity she didn’t know she had. But when we started writing together, it was so fun we knew we wanted to try to write a novel together. We wrote a YA novel with which we signed our agent Holly Root. Although we’re still holding that one until there’s a better market for YA-mythology themes, we’ve published 18 books since 2013, and have written 21 together. We’ve traveled all over the world, and sold millions of books. It’s honestly unreal.

But I think we’d both agree that our favorite accomplishment is the feeling that each of our books is better than the one before—our writing gets better over time, and we are proud of how hard we’ve worked together to make that a reality. We owe so much to fandom, and will never EVER forget our roots because fic is one of the best places to learn how to write.

Alexis M.
The fact that my art isn’t a bunch of stick figure doodles is a great start haha

Jemmy M.
I recently got a fanfic account and the amount of support and encouragement I’ve received has been incredible!

Bene
Same here.
Also, really? There isn’t a big market for YA with mythology themes?

*Christina L.
Fanfic is the best way to start, Jemmy!

Claudia R.
Catherine, was working in academia also something you wanted to do all along or something you happened into?

Alexis M.
Congratulations Jemmy 🙂

*Christina L.
If you’re Rick Riordan, Bene, there is a huge market for it. But it’s still considered Paranormal YA and that’s on the down end of sales right now. Everything cycles — it will be back

E.D.Tesla
I raised my skills in almost everything, esspecially in languages

Claudia R.
(Not that anyone happens into a PhD program, but sometimes we end up going down paths we didn’t expect)

Jemmy M.
Thank you! I really hope to be a writer some day

Bene
Oh okay. I’ll keep that info for later. Good to know

Chelsea M.
What made you want to write stories?

AltheaB
What’s the biggest thing you learned from fanfic writing that you applied to your own novels?

*Christina L.
By no means does it mean don’t write that — every author is different, and yours may be the breakout book that makes it a trend again. Always remember that.

M L.
Hey, I have a tiny question: why are so many people pulled towards dystopian novels nowaday?

*Catherine R.
I’ve read romance novels all my life for pleasure, for relaxation, for fun. But being a professor of gender and culture studies is my “day job,” an equal passion, and something that I worked hard for years of graduate schooling to make happen. I’m happy to finally be joining those two selves.

*Christina L.
Chelsea: I’ve always been writing as a hobby. Christina really started with fanfic. She didn’t know she had stories to tell until she had this crazy story bursting out of her and she wrote The Office

E.D.Tesla
Sorta trivial, but what inspirates you?

Claudia R.
Do you ever feel like you have a secret identity, Catherine? 😉

*Christina L.
Catherine, that’s amazing. How cool! My background is science, and so romance was almost a “break” from that, but now it gets to be my job too.

AltheaB
I think I really enjoy writing fanfic because of the instant (or almost-instant) gratification, you know… getting feedback and positive reviews in just a few days
But I’m so scared to work long-term on my own stuff without that…
Is this something you faced?

*Christina L.
AltheaB: We’ve learned a lot from writing fic. Not only technical things like how to use dialogue tags and when to show not tell, etc – but also more career-oriented things like how to take criticism, and how to give feedback.

AltheaB
Oh wow, that makes a lot of sense

Alexis M.
That’s interesting

Claudia R.
So secondly, what do you remember about fandom from back in 2007 — either the fans for your own work or regarding fandom in general?

Bene
I want to be a writer as well so I use fanfic as a training ground.

*Christina L.
AltheaB, another great question. For sure there are fic authors who struggle with this once they transition from writing fic and posting it regularly, to writing alone. One way to combat that is to have beta readers you can send your chapters to who give that feedback. But yes, no matter how you transition, it is a different process. That said, if you love to write, you’ll find satisfaction in it regardless, and there will be wonderful things about writing solo that you didn’t experience when writing fic, too.

Andrea C.
Does the background in science help with believable world-building? I started as a physics major and am thinking about writing some romance into a sci-fi for instance

*Catherine R.
I write fiction under a pen name, but I don’t hide it. “LaRoche” is meant to be the sexier, more romantic version of my birth surname, “Roach.” I like playing with these two sides of me. I think we all have lots of personas within that we get to express or play with in different settings. I think that “Catherine LaRoche,” my fiction-writer side, has more fun!

*Christina L.
Our fandom days started what feels like so long ago, but man – what fun. It may be because it was so new to US at the time, but the Twilight fandom—which was ENORMOUS—really did feel like its own tiny, vibrating corner of the world. No one else cared what we were doing, but we were all INTENSELY infatuated with these stories, with the characters, with how each of us was playing with canon, or tropes, or characterizations. We weren’t only infatuated with Twilight (for various reasons), we were infatuated with each other and what we were doing with this world.

We both remember being at work, and seeing that tarasueme’s THE SUBMISSIVE updated and we’d bolt to the bathroom under the guise of duress so that we could read in the stall uninterrupted. Twitter would shut down when big stories updated. It was an obsession, but it was FUN, and sometimes we miss the way that our brains were totally hijacked by this. I mean, in order to write anything, you need to be obsessed with the idea, and although I won’t come on here and say our fics were well written (lol) there was a passion there that I think readers responded to, and which really drove the momentum within the fandom.

AltheaB
Thanks so much, Christina!!!
It’s so great to hear this from a successful writer <3

Claudia R.
(Tara was also a chat guest of ours a few years ago!)

A
How did you get the word out there about your stories? Did you to do a lot of your own book marketing at the start? What did you do to promote?

Jemmy M.
What fandoms made you guys realize your love for writing?

AltheaB
“In order to write anything, you need to be obsessed with the idea”
Ahahaha I love this!

*Christina L.
Andrea C. I think it helps somewhat – I imagine Physics would be a wonderful background for world building. Much of our romance is contemporary so there’s less world building than in, say, sci fi/romance. But what it has really helped me with is the general idea of being imperfect in a draft. In science, there is failure, and failure is part of the process. I think because of that, it’s never intimidated me when we have a messy draft or when we get editorial notes that are extensive. Looking for faults and problems is sort of how my brain relaxes.

AltheaB
Yeah I also have A’s question – how did you market your stuff?

Bene
Oh god I look at my old fic now and I cringe. I’ve actually taken to rewriting them even if I don’t publish them to see how I’ve changed as a writer.

*Christina L.
A: It helped that we had a fandom following, but really it is true that a lot of marketing is up to authors these days. If you are an indie published author (self published), it’s all on you. But even if you’re traditionally published like we are, we are expected to do a lot of promo. Social media, signings, all of that. It can be a really big part of the job.

M L.
I basically abandoned my fanfiction account and am considering finishing all of my discontinued ones……should I?

*Catherine R.
I love Christina’s emphasis on the infatuation of fiction. Imaginative immersion–that total immersive flow–is so powerful and addictive a pleasure.

*Christina L.
Jemmy – Christina and I met writing Twilight fanfic, and I think that and Harry Potter is where we fell deep down the fandom rabbit hole.

Andrea C.
That makes sense, and I never thought of it that way. Thank you! I’ll try to look at my drafts as a hypothesis state to improve upon in editing tests haha

*Catherine R.
Regarding fandom in general, it was certainly less online than today, less visible, with less of a “footprint.” I went to my first cosplay con not long after that date of 2007, as chaperone to my kids who were really into manga and anime at the time. They got me to dress up as a pirate from the Japanese manga ONE PIECE. I had no idea what a con or cosplay was at that point, but I loved the whole experience! I found the community very welcoming and friendly and the imaginative fantasy play of the place incredible.

AltheaB
How big of a fandom following did you have, if you don’t mind my asking? And any idea on what percentage were happy/open to reading your original work, not to mention paying for it?

*Christina L.
Bene, I think we all look at our old fics and cringe.

Andrea C.
hahaha

*Christina L.
Some of the words I used just make me want to dig a hole and bury myself in it

Alexis M.
That’s relatable haha

*Catherine R.
In terms of fandom from back in 2007, my own work then consisted entirely of scholarly articles and books! We academics rarely have fans, and I certainly didn’t have any—unless you can count some of my students who seemed to enjoy my university classes.

*Christina L.
But that’s part of the process, you know? Getting better? It’s just that we’re doing it so publicly

Jacqueline
Have you ever lost inspiration?

Claudia R.
It’s always a rewarding thing when they do enjoy the class though!

Alexis M.
I’m more of a reader than a writer, but I have a wild imagination.

M L.
So…cringing at all old works is a thing? I’m not alone???

Jemmy M.
I’m considering self publishing I Story I’m really proud of- what would you suggest doing?

Claudia R.
And was that your first ever bit of cosplay?

*Christina L.
You know Catherine, the academic study of fandom makes me SO HAPPY. It’s not even that it gives us a sense of legitimacy (even though it does) it’s also that fandom is fascinating, and that there is academic discourse about it is just wonderful. It pushes the evolution of it.

*Catherine R.
So, my first and–I think–only cosplay to date. I’d do more, if I had time. I have an English colleague who did Jane Austen cosplay. Got to wear corsets and such!

*Christina L.
If you want to publish something, Jemmy, for sure have some folks read it. Get fresh eyes on it, and find people who will be very honest in their feedback.

AltheaB
Yeah, I agree
Fandom is such a fascinating sociological phenomenon, telling you so much about what people find inspirational and interesting at a particular moment, and the culture that shapes their reactions to it

Claudia R.
It’s always good to take the plunge into something new though!

*Christina L.
^^ totally althea

Claudia R.
To our guests: What things have you been excited to see in recent years, either regarding fandom or work in your genre(s)?

*Christina L.
And Jemmy, there are so many good resources out there for authors. We always send folks to Nathan Bransford’s site. He is a publishing guru.

*Catherine R.
I really like fanfiction and its explosion on the internet. I think fanfic is a great way for people to learn the craft skills of writing. Many of my college students fall in love with writing that way: by reading fanfic and then starting to write it themselves. I always encourage them to go for it! I love the supportive structure it creates for imagination and fantasy to run wild. I think that realm is so important. Imagination lets us explore quandaries of desire and justice and truth and conflict: all the central problems of what it means to be human.

*Christina L.
Claudia, It’s been incredibly exciting to see so many writers from our fandom specifically or fandom in general out there publishing books. Of course we all know the big ones—EL James, Cassie Clare—but there are others from the Twi world that had fantastic voices and ideas and who are now also bestsellers. Sally Thorne, Alice Clayton, Nina Bocci, Leisa Rayven, Mariana Zapata, Amanda Weaver—all of these women wrote fantastic fic.

And, looking to fandom more broadly, there are names such as Lev Grossman, Anna Todd, Neil Gaiman, Rainbow Rowell, and Meg Cabot who all played in fandom. We’ve never felt the need to argue over the legitimacy of fanfic and fandom efforts in part because the creative talent and commercial potential within these communities speaks for itself.

So well said, Catherine <3

AltheaB
Why do you think there's stigma around fanfiction?
I mean, I would have thought everyone had fandoms they loved and wanted to explore, and canon is so rarely enough…
Seriously, I had no idea that people hated it, until I randomly came across articles online
It's confusing!!!
What do you think?

Alexis M.
That's a good question

AltheaB
The whole "it's not real writing" argument is weird, because it's free…

M L.
Did you get any of your friends into fanfiction?

*Christina L.
I think there’s a stigma around fic in part because it’s derivative. It’s almost like, well if you were a real writer, you’d just write your own stuff. But that perception comes in large part from people who don’t understand what fic is

*Catherine R.
I think the sense of stigma may be over-rated. Among my college students, there is huge and positive passion for fanfic.

Claudia R.
Definitely a lot of people do feel encouraged to try writing because they can see other people just like them doing it. And I think the same is true of getting published commercially, people can see a path.

*Christina L.
Fic isn’t just people learning to write. It’s also fans paying tribute, people having a laugh, ‘fixing’ an ending you didn’t like. It’s a million things, and it’s something wholly different from original work

AltheaB
Oh really! Wow I never thought of that… that the stigma may be over-rated
That’s interesting.

Querion
I seem to be the only fanfiction lover wherever i go. Makes me feel weird, lol! Not sure where the stigma comes from…

*Christina L.
I agree Catherine, that it’s less of a stigma than we think but I think that’s a recent change, too.

M L.
Querion same

Andrea C.
Sort of branching off of AltheaB’s question – there are people that are getting paid through sites like patreon to put out fanart content. Why do you think it hasn’t taken off the same way for Fanfic? Artists get recognition while Authors seem to get people just yelling “update now!!!”

*Christina L.
In part I think it’s because fic has been in the news so much since 2011 or so.

Jacqueline
I’m lucky enough to have both my siblings into fanfiction too and equally obsessed with it

spiderlillium
People just take a lot of authors for granted.

New k.
My sibling thinks I’m weird for it. :/

Chelsea M.
have you ever been shocked by someones reaction to fanfiction?

Jacqueline
Mine try to get me into their fandoms( I do the same)

*Christina L.
I think because the art medium is different? Not sure, certainly I’m not an expert on this Andrea, but I do think that the original content is words, and the art is a completely different thing, so it is more a tribute and a skill than a derivative thing. Thoughts?

*Catherine R.
I’d like to add that, in the romance genre, one thing that really excites me recently is the growing diversification of romance stories: m/m or gay romance, lesbian, trans, asexual storytelling and a much wider array of multicultural and multiracial heroes and heroines.

Claudia R.
To our guests: What were some of your early experiences like when your work gained its own fans?

*Christina L.
Catherine – ABSOLUTELY
we actually say often that romance is on the leading edge of sociological change
We push boundaries of acceptance

M L.
Does it make you upset when a fanfiction is discontinued?

Jemmy M.
I wish people didn’t criticize fanfic so much. I recently became a fanfic writer, and it’s made me and more confident person, as well as a better writer, and I’ve met so many amazing people through it

*Christina L.
Early experiences . . . In all honesty, being part of the Twilight fandom was a strange experience. To some extent, many of us were surprised to find ourselves there. Here we were, adult women with careers and ambitions, writing fanfic about teenage vampires. So, at the outset, the ego had to be left at the door. We were all equally ridiculous. A fandom friend of ours, d0tpark3r, used to call a BNA (or Big Name Author) in the Twi fandom “a whale in a toilet bowl” because to be a BNA there felt equally impressive and silly.

AltheaB
OMG YES that is so true
Love has no boundaries, and people NEED romance writing to really realize this and see its different forms

Chelsea M.
To our guests: What were some of your early experiences like when your work gained its own fans?

I was freaked out and did’t update for a week

*Christina L.
But even with that caveat, some of the fics in this community were totally mindblowing. They took the original content and made it something completely new, something elevated. A favorite example: The Blessing and the Curse by theblackarrow? A mashup of Twilight and Wuthering Heights? It was BEAUTIFUL. And for us, there was something about seeing our words resonate with readers, and feel that energy coming through in comments, in emails, in tweets. It was really amazing. Stories would get 1,000 reviews per chapter—sometimes far more than that—and when we looked at the number of unique hits we were getting (fanfic.net measured this differently than Wattpad does now, which measures by page view and those can enter the billions with long stories & rereads), it sort of blew our minds. When authors we admired would fangirl our stories—it totally blew our minds. I think that’s what we love most about fandom—everyone is a fan.

New k.
I try to avoid fan fiction that isn’t finished.

*Christina L.
Once we started writing in earnest, we both realized that we had to hone the craft a little. We had beta readers for our fics, but even still, there were things we were doing wrong, and being a decent storyteller isn’t the same as being a good writer, so it was really important to both of us to make sure that, when we began writing original works, our writing was stronger.

*Catherine R.
I don’t really have much in the way of fiction fans yet, I’m afraid! My two romance novels sold WAY more than my three academic books combined, but those sales were still nowhere near enough to gain me a fan base in the romance community. I did get some nice reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, although the bad ones were actually more fun to read!

Claudia R.
Did you miss the community aspect of it Christina and Lauren? Or were there benefits to not being the whale in the toilet bowl?

*Christina L.
new k. that’s interesting that you only read finished fic. For me, part of the experience is reading it along with other fans as it’s updating!

Claudia R.
Haha, how so Catherine?

AltheaB
Bad reviews were fun to read??? How so

*Christina L.
Claudia, it’s funny because so many authors from fandom began writing original content that it almost felt like we all just shifted over to new things together. But yeah, sometimes we both do miss that feeling of being sort of anonymous, writing something really out there, falling in love with a story along with other fans and flailing about it together.

AltheaB
Well, it was super nice talking to you Christina!!! Thanks for the lovely answers <3
Good luck with your future writing!

New k.
I hate romance stories where they change character's personalities to be compatible with the other character.

*Christina L.
Publishing is wonderful but there is a different sort of buzzy joy from being in fandom

Jacqueline
sorry I didn’t say before Christina Lauren but I love your books and am excited for the new ones to come out

*Christina L.
Thank you Jacqueline!

*Catherine R.
I find I learn more from the bad reviews. And I have a thick writing skin, so I like to hear about what doesn’t work for a reader: heroine seemed to stupid to live or too intelligent/feminist to be in the 19th century. I’ve gotten both!

Kayla S.
My sisters tease me for writing fanfiction, but they don’t understand how amazing it is. People join from all over the world and it’s just so awesome to see people have the same preferences as you. I could never find someone in my school who likes PJO or discussing about 5SOS.

Jemmy M.
Don’t you guys love it when someone leaves a really long comment on your story, telling you exactly what they liked?

New k.
I love reading those for other authors.

Sapphire R.
oh my gosh @Jemmy M. same

New k.
I feel good for the author sometimes.

Jacqueline
that’s the best Jemmy

Emma
I don’t really read romance stories unless they’re realistic because I hate when when everything is just sugarcoated

Claudia R.
It can also be pretty interesting to see all the interpretations that happen with one’s work too — the things you didn’t think were in there (and maybe really weren’t!)

Jemmy M.
Also when they leave a comment in every single chapter

*Christina L.
Agree about growing a thick skin, Catherine – that’s definitely something we got from fandom. People don’t pull punches online.

Josie M.
What do you do when you’re itching to write something but you’re scared and din’t necessarily know what to write?

Jess
I always try to leave really long comments. I want the author to know their time spent writing their work is always appreciated – even if it’s constructive.

*Christina L.
Jemmy – yes long reviews are the bessssst

PrezKoko
Long commetns are awesome

Andrea C.
What do you guys think about Asexual romance in Fanfiction and Novels? I see a lot of hate for stories that go for the softer side of romance, and there always seems to be a push for more erotic content.

*Christina L.
and honestly that doesn’t go away. For published authors, nothing is better than when someone leaves a review

Claudia R
To our guests: So the theme for today’s chat is the Romance Genre given the work you’ve done in that area. I’d like to ask each of you in what ways you think that Romance is unique as a genre and what it is that appeals to you about it.

*Christina L.
Josie – that’s a good question. Usually something is itching at my brain. Some bit of dialogue or even a line from a song. Sometimes I’ll just sit at the computer and close my eyes and type. And whenever I get stuck, I just write a kissing scene.

Andrea – I think there is a big market for ACE, actually.

New k.
Do you ever read friendships and then get disappointed when the romance starts and the whole thing shifts?

Jess
I suck at romance – I really struggle with it. It always feels so forced – any tips?

M L.
Any good and well done romance is good romance

Emma
I don’t think people should be judged on gender or sexuality

Gabby
I have lots of ideas for romance stories but when I actually start writing then they don’t sound very good

Josie M.
thanks for the answer, i love your work <3

Jemmy M.
Romance is hard for me to write because I've never had a relationship- any tips?

*Christina L.
The book we have out last Tuesday, Autoboyography, deals with a bisexual teen named Tanner who falls in love with the son of the local mormon bishop

It’s getting really wonderful reviews and as a bi woman (Lo) I’d love for my bi babies here to read it

PrezKoko
I love bromance! And I get disappointed when it shifts to romance

Alexis M.
I love seeing how different types of couples and their relationship evolves

Jacqueline
I can’t wait to read it

New k.
Yes!
Thank you.

Josie M.
omg it sounds amazing

Jacqueline
I just want to find a book with a really good friendship that just stays that wayl

*Catherine R.
I have been hearing more and more about asexual stories coming out, just like we see asexuality in the media and pop culture more. As Christina said, romance writing is on the cutting edge.

Jacqueline
with no dying

*Christina L.
And Andrea – there are a few 1D ace fics that are quite good

New k.
Does anyone have recommendations for lesbian love stories?

*Christina L.
NewK: Have you read Georgia Peaches and other forbidden fruit?

red
Any recommendations for ace stories? My ace heard is deprived!

*Christina L.
it’s a published book – LOVELY

Josie M.
ahich character in autoboyography did you two each love the most?

New k.
Oh, thanks!

*Catherine R.
One thing that appeals to me about romance is the woman-centered community. There are certainly some great guys who read and write romance, but for the most part the genre is written and read by women. The romance fandom thus ends up being an engaged and largely very supportive community of fun, smart, and feisty women. And it’s the only genre of literature where women characters always win in the end: never dead, abandoned, their lives destroyed, but always happy, secure, in love, and having great sex! Those can be very empowering messages.

Jemmy M.
I love this conversation! Ace pride!

*Christina L.
red: dailyjulianne on twitter has an ACE rec thread and it’s kick ass

Gabby
I came out as bi to my friends and sister last month but I’m waiting till I have a bit more money before I tell my parents in cause I get disowned

*Christina L.
Josie, I think we both loved Tanner so hard b/c we wrote in his POV, but I have to admit I love Tanner’s dad so much

Claudia R.
We definitely need stories (and communities) like that Catherine

*Christina L.
Hugs Gabby

And agree Catherine. Romance is amazing. Romance readers should be hella proud. Romance keeps the publishing industry afloat—we outsell the next highest fiction genre (mystery/crime) nearly 2:1. It’s a BILLION dollar industry, and it’s largely women. That’s amazing. I shout that stat whenever anyone gives me the slightest chance.

Sapphire R.
I think that Romance is unique because A. It’s pretty hard to do well, and I love challenges, and B. It’s a broad topic, and it’s one that a lot of young people go through a time of figuring out everything about themselves pertaining to that topic. So Romance stories are interesting for people in that phase to read and write, to figure out their own feelings on these matters, and that’s the kind of thing I want to do for people as a writer.

Claudia R.
The numbers are always a good reminder!

Christina and Lauren, your trajectory into pro writing followed the same path that quite a few fans have taken for decades, in terms of building a practice of and audience for your writing and then taking that to wider audiences through commercial publishing. How do you think that particular model is both an advantage and disadvantage for you? And do you think that may be different in 2017 than it was in 2007 or in 1967?

*Catherine R.
As an academic who studies the function of the larger romance narrative in the culture—“find your one true love and live happily ever after”—I see the romance genre as a safe, imaginative realm to try to work out quandaries of female heterosexual desire in a man’s world where rape culture still prevails. The romance teaches what a good man looks like, how a strong woman can live a great life. I see it as partly fantasy, partly instruction manual.

*Christina L.
Claudia, this is an awesome question. There are a few ways to answer this. One is a direct answer about having a fandom following, then publishing books, and having the readers follow us over into our published works. For us, that has been nothing short of wonderful: at nearly every signing all across the world, we still see readers from the fandom who’ve followed our work since 2009. Of course the internet plays a huge role in this, and so that is an important difference from fandom-to-published author in, say, 1967.

Josie M.
romance and fanfic are my favorite because how female and queer the communities formed around them are. reading romance and fic can be so cathartic, fun, and just really special.

*Christina L.
Another way to answer this is to acknowledge that we came from a fandom (Twilight) that had a blockbuster book published in 2011-2012 (Fifty Shades) and that much of our success was due to the wave of romance mania that followed. It’s absolutely true—and most romance authors will discuss this openly: whether you love Fifty Shades or hate it, it created a lot of opportunity in the romance world.

Claudia R.
That is sadly true about our culture, and a good point, Catherine

*Christina L.
The third way to answer this question is a more direct discussion of how we went from fic writers, to published writers—where our breakout debut novel, Beautiful Bastard, was a former fanfic.

When we were writing fanfic, the idea of reworking a fic and publishing it wasn’t anything we’d ever consider. We all felt that there was an unspoken promise we make as fic authors that these stories are free, are derivative, and are made for the community of fans.

Jess
I like playing with romance and what it means to be in a healthy relationship. The fic I’m writing at the moment – not yet seen the light of day on AO3 is based on challenging people’s perceptions of healthy relationships. Sometimes I read some fics, and there is such a close line between possessive behaviour that’s emotionally abusive and possessive behaviour that’s endearing.

*Christina L.
That model has been flipped on its head a few times in history—with Cassie Clare, with the publication of various Twi fics in 2009, and most notably with the publication of Fifty Shades—and initially we were on the other side of that. We were on the We Wouldn’t Do That side.

Jacqueline
Sin You Home, lesbian romance

*Christina L.
But publishing changed in 2009-2011. Indie publishing became HUGE—and we think in part that WAS connected to the rising popularity of fanfic because savvy authors were looking at hit counts and online reviews and translating that in their heads to potential sales. When we did the Fandom Gives Back charity with Nina Bocci, and raised over $750,000—that really did give a monetary value to some of these fics. If authors could sell a one-shot for $10,000, why weren’t they publishing these books and making a living?

It’s a twisty proposition, because on the one hand, we are 100% about Ladies Getting Paid. But our fandom roots told us that was bad form. Things exploded in 2010-2012—Fifty Shades was published, and sold like wildfire. Christina had taken the Office offline and had never put it back, but that meant that some folks were sending it to publishers and claiming it was their story they wanted to publish. Honestly, it was a mess. We already had an agent. We already had a YA novel (Sublime) out with editors. Our intent with Beautiful Bastard was to clean it up, rework it, and put it back online to prevent people from claiming it as theirs, but in the end we rewrote it so completely that, after discussions with our agent, we decided to send it to a few editors. It sold in 12 hours.

A lot of that was the publishing climate. Publishers had been asking Christina for The Office for months. Fifty Shades was making Random House BANK. Of course they wanted it. But the only way that felt okay to us was if we rewrote it majorly, and even doing that we got flamed—and THAT IS OKAY. We were never defensive about some of the reaction we got. But it has been a really wonderful thing for us—and some fic fans love this, and some hate it—but it really gave a jumpstart to what has been a prolific book career for us. We are eternally grateful for the start we got. We never forget how we got here.

Carolyn
What tips would you give an aspiring fanfiction writer?

*Christina L.
I feel like the Hamilton fam is strong here lol

Tips for aspiring fanfic writer – Carolyn do you mean starting fic, or moving into publishing from fic?

Jess
Carolyn: Get writing anything! Even if it’s horrid and you scrap it. You’ll always be ‘aspiring’ and never a fanfic writer that way 😉

Claudia R.
That’s really fascinating to know how wide that door opened post 50 Shades

Catherine, in your book Happily Ever After, you write the following about slash: “[T]he love these men discover for each other is strong enough to defeat patriarchy’s chief rule that a man must be straight. In a society that preaches the religion of erotic faith – where love provides meaning and fulfillment as the path to the promised land – the ultimate test of erotic faith is for a heterosexual alpha male to willingly and openly love in a romantic way another such male. To do so is much riskier than the expected path of loving a woman, for it is to breach the great taboo against same-sex male love that defines patriarchal masculinity.”

Would it be fair to say your perspective is as someone who is primarily a romance scholar (and writer) rather than a fan studies scholar, and if so, do you think that leads to a different emphasis in your analysis than what fans and fan studies scholars tend to write about?

Josie M.
im curious to hear christina laurens favorite things to do to get in the writing mood

*Catherine R.
Claudia, I suppose so, as I’m not a fan studies scholar. I’m fascinated by fan studies scholars, such as Henry Jenkins, but that’s not my primary area. I emphasize, in that passage you quote and in my overall work, more of a focus on how gender and sexuality work out in culture. I’m interested in the question of what it means to “be a man” in our culture: tough, powerful, in control, emotionally self-contained, heterosexual. These scripts of masculinity are obviously changing—I see us in a moment of new sexual revolution in America—but the scripts are also not changing, or changing slowly and inconsistently in various pockets of the culture. I see slash and m/m romance as one of these pockets of imaginative exploration of changing scripts.

*Christina L.
Josie – well, whether we are in the mood or not, we have deadlines -ha. Lauren tends to listen to music, walk around the neighborhood, and READ OTHER BOOKS. Christina also reads, watches tv, etc – sometimes it’s ok to not be in the mood though, and you have to give your brain some space.

My daughter just broke her lego set and there is a meltdown at Defcon 1 here….

Jemmy M.
Awww rip lego set

Jacqueline
she broke lego
i didn’t think that was possible

Jemmy M.
Ohhhhhh

M L.
Poor lego

Claudia R.
The issue of masculinity is definitely an interesting one when it comes to the romance genre. What do you think are some of the key things explore by het stories as opposed to slash?

ali
How do you break a Lego?

*Christina L.
like it fell off her table and broke apart and she has to rebuild. Husband is on it.

Jacqueline
oh, i thought you meant the acual pieces broke apart

*Christina L.
lol that would be SKILLFUL

Jacqueline
I love fics where the male romance isn’t the typical apha male and instead this sweet goofy nerd

M L.
Achievement unlocked!: lego ninja powers!

Jacqueline
like some of Sarah Dessens books

*Christina L.
I like those too Jacqueline

Josie M.
something i love about your ladies writing is how well done the romantic tension and dialog is, the prose too — your writing has a wonderful flow to it and you always have really amazing ideas

*Christina L.
We tend to write more beta heroes

Sweet Filthy Boy, Dark Wild Night

<3 <3 <3

PrezKoko
Beta heroes are getting more popular to be fair

*Christina L.
To be fair?

Jacqueline
loved those christina l

*Christina L.
I agree, yeah

M L.
Has anyone heard of Rainbow Rowell?

PrezKoko
They even seem to try it in films now. Though those are a case of Beta hero become Alpha Male…

*Catherine R.
Key to het stories with a woman heroine is how to be a strong woman in a man’s world and make it work for you. How to win at love in a rape culture.

*Christina L.
lol has anyone not heard of rainbow! she’s amazing

New k.
Anyway, I just think it’d be problematic. Also I love rainbow Rowell.

Jacqueline
I really love that you guys give your female characters just as much responcibility when it comes to things not working out and not always the guys fault

ali
I have only read Carry On from Rainbow Rowell, but I loved it

Claudia R.
To our guests: romance readers are probably the most enthusiastic and active readers of any genre both in terms of individual book purchases as well as volume of stories read per year. That sort of activity has also led to a lot of specialized forums, either in-person gatherings such as conventions, or blog and review sites for romance content. How helpful have you found that to be for romance writers?

Jacqueline
Rainbow Rowell is my hero

*Christina L.
thank you Jacqueline! most of our books really are love letters to women badasses masked as romances ha

New k.
I love smart women. Specifically snarky smart women.

Kara-24
I love strong female characters)

Josie M.
if you two and rainbow did and q and a together id die just to hear what yall would talk about

*Christina L.
Claudia, re forums: Special forums are perfect for this community in large part because we are all INTENSE fans, and intense fans like to discuss the things we love with other INTENSE fans. It’s a safe space, and also a place you can go where you know you’ll find someone who is just as obsessed as you are.

M L.
Rainbow Rowell is my inspiration

*Christina L.
And again, romance is a huge genre that keeps the industry going. It’s amazing what we as a community can do.

Rainbow’s graphic novel came out on Wednesday
Runaways

PrezKoko
Oh wow, I didn’t know that about the Romance genre…

Jacqueline
What? really?

M L.
WAIT SHE HAS A GRAPHIC NOVEL??

*Christina L.
yep

Claudia R.
Are there any particular ones you used before or after you began publishing professionally?

*Catherine R.
The online romance reader community is huge, with lots of popular review sites such as Dear Author or Smart Bitches Trashy Books—my favorite for its sassy intelligence. The annual RT Convention is also a huge romance fan site, with fun events like author signings and romance hero cover model shows. The Romance Writers of America host a huge signing and fundraiser for literacy at their annual professional conference. Such fandom activity is great for writers, by increasing the visibility of the genre and helping to generate enthusiasm among readers. Books don’t exist without fans!

M L.
God I’m behind on her work

Emma
So am i

Kayla S.
Eleanor & Park, the first book I read by Rainbow Rowell

New k.
I love clarisse la rue.

*Christina L.
We were on the twilighted forums, for sure. now most of the romance forums we are members of are on Facebook – fb groups.

Jacqueline
mine was Fangirl

Josie M.
i love the romance community so much.

New k.
Why are male protagonists so popular in books?

Sapphire R.
I like variety in het relationships. Like, you can do the gentle woman + strong man trope if you do it well, I personally like having the man being a really nice gentleman, holding the door open for her and everything, and the woman would be strong in a motherly way, having a lot of willpower instead of the stereotype of strong women having to be exactly like men.

Claudia R.
Books don’t exist without fans! is a great motto 🙂

*Christina L.
but for review sites we love Smart Bitches, Natahsha Book Junkie, Aestas, Dear Author, etc

Emma
Mine was Fangirl

Claudia R.
Do you either of you have a favorite convention story you could share?

*Christina L.
we are swapping hang on – C will be here on this accoutn in a sec

*Catherine R.
Fav convention story: getting to dress up! At the romance writers’ award night, people dress in fancy evening wear. Tuxes and long sparkly gowns! So fun–goes along with the fantasy pleasure of the genre. Academic conferences are never than much fun, in comparison.

*Christina L.
Hi everyone! For those of you that don’t know, there are two of us: Christina and Lauren. Lo has left so I’m here now. Howdy

Jacqueline
welcome back

Claudia R.
Hah, no, and definitely not as well dressed. That sounds like fun, especially since dress everywhere has become much more casual.

New k.
I hate people who always scream how annoying female characters are but when a male is similar they call them “energetically charming.”

*Christina L.
New k: Agree. Readers are often harder on women characters than men.

antivigilante
Hello Christina! Is there a necessary understanding of psychology that is needed for writing good romance? Some romance seems ill paved or even forced in fiction

Claudia R.
We’re going to start accepting questions from everyone, now. Folks, please be respectful and try to take turns asking questions. This chat platform doesn’t allow you to see when other people are typing, so we know it can be tricky. We’ve got about 60 minutes, though, so there’s time to get them in.

*Christina L.
antivigilante: To some extent maybe? I think it’s important to understand how relationships work, whether that be romantic or platonic

Lou
I don’t like when it’s a forth-and back love in books. When they always back out and then want back in, it’s quite annoying.

New k.
I kind of like unrequited romances. I relate to them.

Jacqueline
Christina Lauren: have you guys ever lost inspiration and just powered through it?

*Catherine R.
I like antivigilante’s comment: “I think the most interesting thing about the romance genre I’ve seen develop its the exploration of unhealthy or dark relationships.” In real life, these sorts of relationships do happen. All the time. Part of the power of fiction–fanfic or not–is the safe space it grants readers and writers to work through dark material and strong emotion. Literature helps us heal and grow.

Sapphire R.
Well said catherine!

*Christina L.
Jaqueline: oh definitely. I (christina) went through a rough patch last year and had to really work on refilling the well. Our brains aren’t just machines that can crank out good words, you have to continually be putting good stuff back in

ali
Do you have any tips for writing a convincing romance and avoiding cliches?

Kayla S.
Developing characters, or keeping the plot moving is maybe the hardest thing about writing.

Claudia R.
Catherine, building on that question about writing — do you find yourself having to do anything different when you’re setting aside time to write a new novel than writing academically?

Paris C.
Christina Lauren, Have you ever like in the middle of the day have a random idea and want to write a story about it?

Kayla S.
* if you write everyday, it helps exercise

*Christina L.
Kayla S: oh absolutely. We have a rule that no matter how much we love a scene, if it doesn’t move the plot forward or offer some sort of shift in the dynamic we cut it. I think the best advice is to know when to kill your darlings. Thank you, Stephen King

Katie F.
When you are writing something, whether it be a story or fanfiction, when it gets too long don’t you have trouble keeping it going and make it short? Rather than writing what you were planning to write about?

Rue A.
What do you think is the biggest issue with the romance genre nowadays?

Lou
Isn’t planning the most important for the book? Then you theoretically wouldn’t have any plot holes.

Jacqueline
I loved reading the shining

antivigilante
Thank you! A follow-up question if you have the time: the trope of the tragic villain had only grown in popularity. Do you feel that the placement of such characters in romance as a doomed party in the shadow of a Lawful couple is the only route? Can tragic villains find their way to the light?

*Catherine R.
When writing a novel, I find it very important to WRITE EVERY DAY. Even if only a little, like a paragraph. It helps to keep the story alive in one’s imagination, to keep it present.

Andreil13
Most stories are the same nowadays

*Christina L.
Paris C: Oh all the time. Lo is a huge phone writer and she’ll type up whatever she’s thinking and save it for later. Those bits of inspiration can be magic

New k.
The romance genre is a bit overbearing when it comes to romance. They push everyone out of the way for two main characters to get with each other. Some characters feelings are pushed aside and it pisses me off.

M L.
Sometimes my own fandoms scare me….is that bad?

Claudia R.
Catherine, what do you find particularly challenging about academic writing?

*Christina L.
Lou: it depends. Some writers are total pantsers and write from pure inspiration. Some plan everything out in advance. The most important thing is to write the way that works for you. IMO that’s the only real rule you need to worry about

*Catherine R.
“Can tragic villians find their way to the light?” YES, I think they can. I believe in redemption, certainly in fiction if not always in life. That story arc makes for strong conflict.

Sophia
Hello! I was wondering how you would typically develop a relationship slowly? I have a lot of trouble with pacing.

Sapphire R.
Question: What are your thoughts on how to write good canon gay and/or queer characters? I’ve seen some good ones and some bad ones. A particular example is a character in the new Fire Emblem game. He is canonically gay, and hangs around this one man around that he has a pretty obvious crush on. While said man does not reciprocate his feelings, they’re still close friends, and respectful of each other. While I was initially upset that he didn’t get the guy, I still really like him as a character and think he shows progress in the gaming industry, especially on Nintendo’s part.

*Catherine R.
ML: I don’t think it’s bad if your fandoms scare you. Kafka said the novel is an ax to break open the frozen sea within us. That’s going to be scary and hard. But good as well.

Katie F.
In a romanance novel, how do you develop each character’s personality, write them differently and how they slowly get attracted to each other based on their personality? Or do they get attracted in totally different ways?

Razz
@Christina @Catherine Do you ever have trouble tying together vignettes/day in the life – bits of a story into an overarching plot? Especially in romance I find it hard to structure those into something that flows.

*Christina L.
Sophia: We have some books where they get together right away (Beautiful Bastard), and some where it’s a slow burn. There aren’t really any rules. Just make sure every scene counts and pushes the story forward. That the pacing feels natural, and never rushed or convenient

New k.
I love slow burns, but it needs to be timed right when they attempt romance.

*Catherine R.
Claudia, what do I find challenging about academic writing? Keeping it real, relevant, and accessible to a broad public readership. I test stuff out on my students first. They tell me when I’m sounding too jargony and give me lots of pop culture examples

Claudia R.
Your very own beta readers — that’s something not everyone has to hand!

Claudia R.
Catherine: Do you find it’s also helpful to be teaching as a way of keeping tabs on topics people would find interesting for your novels?

antivigilante
Thanks again. Final question (hopefully) in romances where there’s a Love Triangle, protagonists often reconcile or stay with their first choice but sometimes they choose their second love, like Pocahontas. Oftentimes this choice is ill received. Do you think this is due to a reader’s sense of loyalty to the first romantic choice or because of the romance’s portrayal?

*Christina L.
Razz: Sometimes we tell ourselves to just write the scenes or moments as we see them and worry about the connective tissue later. That way we get the important moments down. The thing to remember is your first draft is just that, a draft. Once you get the bones down you can go in and perfect it. Our finished product often looks dramatically different than the original draft

Emma
I have wrien so many fanfics at way to early o clock in the morning and regretted immediately after

Sapphire R.
Also, I love friends that also write. I have one friend that I send story ideas and concepts to, we talk about those things and develop them. It’s nice having a second opinion!

*Christina L.
Sapphire R: Yes! Nothing beats having a community around you. One of the absolute best parts of fandom

*Catherine R.
Claudia: yes, I do think teaching and being around young students on a big college campus is good for fiction-writing. So much material! I’m working on an academic satire now, with romantic elements.

*Christina L.
Emma: that’s what’s so great about fic tho. It’s for pure enjoyment

PrezKoko
QUESTION: What advice do you have for people who want to write romance but feels restricted by the expectations of the genre?

Jacqueline
Question: was turning Beautiful Bastard into a series a spur of the moment decision?

Mae
Do you have any recommendations for how to make a romance between two characters, especially in the beginning steps, seem natural? I feel that in my writing its always clunky and unnatural.

*Christina L.
PresKoko: I think the best books are ones that are different. Write the story you want to write and don’t worry about the rest

Jacqueline
Question: was turning Beautiful Bastard into a series a spur of the moment decision?

antivigilante
Professor I hope I can view some og your lectures in the future be it in person or online. Maybe you’ll do a TedTalk one day!

Claudia R.
Catherine, I’m reminded of the movie Young Adult where Charlize Theron’s character is writing in restaurants and also picks up on a conversation in a store that she includes in her work. Christina do you find you and Lauren do that as well?

Razz
@catherine thanks. Do you find the tying together during 2nd draft gets rid of a lot of your favorite scenes? It’s hard to let them go when they don’t really move the story along

*Christina L.
Jacqueline: Nope. Gallery bought two books but we didn’t want to write a Beautiful Bastard part 2. We decided to keep the world but introduce new characters.

Lou
Question: Is making a character who’s already in a relationship, breaking up with that person and getting together with another, useful material for a book? If it’s center of the story.

*Catherine R.
General advice, in response to various questions: WRITE, WRITE, and KEEP WRITING. Don’t doubt your voice, but realize we all can polish our craft skills. So after writing, EDIT, EDIT, and KEEP EDITING.

Jacqueline
Question: after writing do you take a break before going back in to edit?

Lou
I’ll try and thanks @Catherine R.

Sophia
Does anyone else hate teen “romance” novels about the bad boy and good girl?

Razz
Sorry my last question was for christina, I think. I’m a little off with the tagging

*Christina L.
Claudia: We find inspiration all over the place. I think our biggest moment of RL inspiration was on our first trip to France. We had stopped in a store to buy e/o a present. The woman working there was from Southern California. When we asked her how in the world she ended up in Paris she said she’d married a Frenchman and when he left she decided to go with him. She looked at us and said, “there’s a book in there, I think.” That night we sat in a coffee shop and plotted what would become Sweet Filthy Boy.

Taxidermy_Cactus
Y’know I really want to start writing but I can’t bring myself to do it, I don’t even know where to start. Anyone here who writes fics got advice???

Claudia R.
Hah, nice when that comes along Christina!

*Christina L.
Taxidermy_Cactus: Chris Rice wrote an article talking about how the key to writing is to write the idea you’re obsessed about. Find an idea you can’t get out of your head and start there

New k.
QUESTION: Do you ever hate how someone portrays a character so you write your own fan fiction?

PrezKoko
Btw, Thanks Christna for answering my question!

*Christina L.
New K: I think that’s how a lot of fic gets written

Sapphire R.
Taxidermy_Cactus: Try looking at your favorite stories, and try to get a feel for that “voice” in writing. While you may start out by imitating another, it’s better than starting with nothing at all. Another idea is, try to describe the room around you. A simple image is good for practice before you start threading things together.

Lou
Question: Does it sometimes happen that you don’t know how to make your characters fall in love with each other?

Paris C.
Christina Lauren, where you ever about to go to sleep and you start to think about like book ideas?

Abyss
What would you say is a good method to build a romance between characters without it coming off as forced or “love at first sight”?

CherryNekow
Question : To you, is an surprise pregnancy a good way to add tension and drama to a scenario, or is it too cliché?

Taxidermy_Cactus
Sapphire I don’t know how to even start typing though. I’ve been doing comics for a while because it’s writing but not completely.

Sapphire R.
You know what needs to be more of a thing? Good mentally ill or disabled characters. Arcs for characters getting through depression. Less dehumanizing/demonizing of the disadvantaged. As a proud autistic person, I’m very passionate about this.

*Christina L.
CherryNekow: I think it depends entirely on the writer and circumstances. You could give all of us here the same premise and all our stories would be different because we and the experiences we bring are different

Razz
@christina @Catherine do you have tips for editing for plot? I’ve been looking and it seems the hero’s journey is a popular structure, but does that apply to your editing or do you follow anything else?

New k.
I hate how depression is normalized. Also, thats for Ao3 which is why I love this site.

Claudia R.
That’s true Sapphire, we could use more of those.

CherryNekow
Christina Thank you for your answer!

*Catherine R.
Abyss: I don’t really believe in love at first sight. It seems too unrealistic to me. I like to start with conflict and have the characters find common ground, often despite themselves.

Nina P.
Sapphire R.: I live confident autistic people, I relate

*Christina L.
Paris C: Totally! We’ve learned to set our phones on DND because we’ll text random ideas in the night. Always keep a notebook or something by your bed because you WILL NOT remember in the morning

Kayla S.
In romance stories, I’m tired of reading Epilogues that show the couple having a kid or kids. It’s sweet, but getting too cliché in fanficton.

New k.
Personally, I want to see a romance story not in the height of the romance.

A
Christina & Catherine: What are the ways you get new readers to discover your work? What kinds of social media stuff do you do to increase visibility with people who aren’t looking for you but might like your stuff?

Abyss
Thank you all for answering ^^

Lou
“love at first sight” isn’t a proven, but when it is, it is just looks, not the person the one you have a “crush” on is. So you’re in love with his/ her face.

M L.
Sometimes epilogues are imperfect which is great

*Christina L.
Razz: One of the most important things you can do is have a beta reader, whether writing fic or books. Sometimes we’re too close and need someone we trust to tell us where we’ve nailed it or dropped the ball

*Catherine R.
Lou: if you can’t figure out how to make your characters fall in love with each other, try creating a situation where they are forced together to work on a common goal, but a difficult one.

New k.
Romance is always written when they are madly in love, sometimes I wanna see a perspective of a love during its “This is getting old” or it’s just normal.

Emma
Kayla S. It gets really obvious and disappointing. Sometimes I just wonder why they can’t maybe like go on a trip to Hawaii or something instead

Paris C.
Catherine LaRoche, when you are writing a story do you ever feel like it’s just too much for other people but you really like the idea?

PrezKoko
Question: Do ‘ships’ count as part of the romance genre or do they not count? Do you encourage people to ship your characters (especially couples that’s not canon) or do you feel that’s taking it away from how you would have liked the book to be perceived? (Question inspired by this chat actually, and the differing opinions on whether discussion of ships is on topic or not XD)

*Catherine R.
Sapphire, I really like your point about positive portrayals of disabled or differently abled characters, and neurodivergent characters. I think that is happening more in fiction and that there’s a growth area for more stories there.

*Christina L.
A: Having a strong writing circle is a good one. Pimp other writers and other stories. Share things with your readership. We’ve also just started a private fb group and it’s been a great way to really connect with readers.

New k.
Question: How do you feel about romances/fanfictions who are downgraded due to being “not inclusive of Lgbt”?

antivigilante
This is a really informative discussiom thanks everyone

New k.
Why are lesbian ships weird and not gay ships? That seems biased and homophobic!

Ilike B.
Why can’t people just accept love in anyway?

Sapphire R.
I think there’s definitely prominent misogyny in fandom, but isn’t there prominent misogyny in everything?

M L.
True LGBT+ is being pushed in our faces

Rosemary B.
Yeah love comes in many forms

New k.
Yes but fandoms brag about “Bisexuality erasure” and “Inclusion” yet I see Gay ships getting pushed in my face.

Razz
@christina Do you find your writibg circle members online or through mutual writer friends? I’d like to join one but I’m concerned if I’ll be on a lower or higher level of writing if it’ll have the same benefit?

New k.
I wish for more lesbian ships, specifically when I go to this site. 🙁

Paris C.
Like whenever someone does a gay ship there so funny and like they just talk about there sexual relationship without any problem

Scarly
What do you mean by ‘bisexuality erasure’? I’m just curious since I’m bisexual and haven’t heard of this?

*Catherine R.
Paris C: yes, sometimes I think what I’m writing may be too much for people. I keep writing because I like the idea. Ultimately, I think that is the only reason any of us should write: because we love the story.

*Christina L.
ML: I think that’s possibly because you’re used to everything being het. Having a more diverse fandom is never a bad thing

jay
How do you make a romance story flow without making it feel forced or predicable?

New k.
Try to surprise your readers with something uncommon.

Ryan M.
Ooh i want to know th answer to tht as well

Jacqueline
me too

stina1701
me too.

Ryan M.
Like what? I feel like everything is already been done

New k.
Try to make their conversations rememberable, or unusual.

Rute L.
me too

PrezKoko
FlipitiFlop: I’m not writing more than one question in case I bog down the authors. XD There’s still a few in the queue I think? I’m waiting for mine anyway

Emma
I think the best way to write is to have personal experience or have others who know a great deal about what you want to write about. It helps the story look realistic

plotbunnyhunter
figure out the characters first. if they don’t work each on their own, they won’t work as a couple

Sapphire R.
Also, not all LGBT+ stories should be romanticized or sexualized so heavily. There are lots of other things to write about that community, like trans experiences and all that. Which, since this is a romance-based chat, isn’t that relevant, but I felt I should say it.

Paris C.
Has anyone wrote something and you get one negative comment so you like delete the whole story

A
Seconding this question: @christina Do you find your writibg circle members online or through mutual writer friends? I’d like to join one but I’m concerned if I’ll be on a lower or higher level of writing if it’ll have the same benefit?

M L.
Paris I’ve seen that

Rosemary B.
Teach me how to write a healthy BDSM

Taxidermy_Cactus
I’ve done that with my drawings Paris C.

New k.
I feel asexuality is a “disappointment” to some of the m/m readers. You can feel their disappointment of them not getting the sexual gratification of the romance. It makes me furious.

Paris C.
I feel like alot of LGBT+ stories are really sexual

*Christina L.
Jay: Make sure every scene is there for a reason, that it pushes the plot, character development or relationship forward. Know your characters and what their journey is–where they are at the beginning and where you want them to be at the end. Sometimes we write out an outline and include where the characters feelings are at the beginning of the chapter and where they are at the end. Did something change? If not, keep looking

Scarly
I find the problem is when I want to write a character that is part of a minority I get nervous, because I don’t want to write something wrong and upset someone. But the problem is no matter what you do, someone is going to get offended

jay
Thank you

PrezKoko
Ryan Marshall: Haha, well I think everything HAS already been done. But that’s not stopping authors from writing. XD I find it admirable.

New k.
Write a healthy bdsm, I suggest to involve safe words and the necessities such as lube. Make sure it is consensual.

*Christina L.
Paris C: Even with a thick skin one bad review can be hard. We tend to ignore the good and internalize the bad

Jacqueline
question: were your loved ones supportive of your decision to write professionally?

jay
What are some tips for creative writing?

Scarly
If you want a good idea on why people characters are hard to write New K. There is something called Trope talk on youtube, and she did a really good video on female characters.

*Catherine R.
On the point that “everything’s been done before”: I think that’s true. I think it was true in Shakespeare’s time. The job of writers isn’t to make it new. It’s to make it real. True to emotion.

Claudia R.
That’s a great perspective, Catherine

*Christina L.
Jacqueline: Our husbands/families are our biggest cheerleaders

ali
I love Trope talk! Is very helpful

Kayla S.
Tips for creative writing is let the words flow, don’t go back to correct because you’ll be distracted… you can always edit later.

*Christina L.
Kayla S: YES

Paris C.
i feel really unprofessional when an author is like i have to edit rewrite revise and i just write it one time and use Grammarly to check the spelling

*Christina L.
Paris C: if you’re lucky enough to get it right in the first shot I SALUTE YOU. You do you

*Catherine R.
Jay: best tips for creative writing? There’s no magic to it. First: read a lot in your genre of interest. Second: write a lot, every day if you can. And remember that good writing doesn’t come from the writing but from the re-writing. In other words, edit.

New k.
Documents of a person’s perspective are the best for writing delicate topics.

Claudia R.
On the topic of research, Catherine and Christina — are there any memorable things you found yourself researching for a novel?

Rosemary B.
Thanks for all the answers

*Catherine R.
Sorry, PrezKoko, did we miss your question? can you repeat?

*Christina L.
Claudia: Finn in Dirty Rowdy Thing is a Canadian Fisherman so we did sooo much research on that industry. Autoboyography is set in Utah so Lo flew down and we went on a field trip to Provo and Temple Square. We brought a friend who came out as gay after his LDS mission and he let us read his diaries. I’ve lived here my whole life and I learned so much.

PrezKoko
Question: How do you feels about ‘ships’ within the romance genre? And what do you think of fans who ship characters in your story that are different to the canon?

Claudia R.
Field trips sound like a fun part of research 🙂

*Christina L.
PresKoko: our readers are free to ship whoever they want. That’s the magic of fic

PrezKoko
Catherine Roach/Catherine LaRoche – Obviously regarding your own books and the canons in your story

PrezKoko
Christina Lauren: So there’s no, upset at people intepretting it differently?

*Christina L.
plotbunnyhunter: When we wrote Beautiful Bastard/Stranger and Player I’d never been to NYC. Google, yelp and google maps are a writer’s best friend

*Catherine R.
Prezkoko: on fans shipping characters different to the canon. Go for it! Whatever spurs your creative muse is good, in my opinion.

*Christina L.
PresKoko: If someone wanted to write fic of Bennett with Will instead of Chloe we’d have zero problem with it

Claudia R.
Our chat is with Christina Lauren and Catherine Roach is now ending. On behalf of the OTW I’d like to thank them very much for coming and helping us celebrate our 10th anniversary! I’m going to be turning off the guest link access in a few minutes, which will automatically clear the room.

*Christina L.
Thank you for having us!

*Catherine R.
Plotbunnyhunter: I wrote a novel set in 19th century London before I’d ever visited the city. I used old maps and guidebooks I found online. I printed out the maps, posted them on my wall, and traced out my heroine’s walks through town. The internet and Google Maps makes it possible nowadays.

Razz
Thank you!

Mae
Bye! It was fun!

Paris C.
!!!!

PrezKoko
THANKS CHRISTINA AND CATHERINE FOR ANSWERING QUESTIONS!!!!

CherryNekow
Thank you so mpuch for this opportunity !!!

New k.
It was fun!

Jacqueline
THANKS FOR COME CHRISTINA LAUREN LOVE YOUR BOOKS

Emma
Bye everyone

Kayla S.
au revoir

PrezKoko
THANKS EVERYONE FOR BEING AWESOME!!!!

Taxidermy_Cactus
Bye Everyone!

Scarly
Thanks for this opportunity

Rute L.
Bye!

Scarly
bye everyone

Jacqueline
BEST PART OF THE DAY

New k.
I really want more lesbians. AAAAaaaa’

Jen
I LOVE YOU CHRISTINA

Emma
I’m so happy I found people I can relate

Chelsea M.
Bye everyone this was awesome

CherryNekow
Bye everyone it was a blast!!

*Christina L.
I LOVE YOU TOO JEN. BYE GUYS!

Kayla S.
Wow, it’s amazing to talk to you guy so 🙂