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Spelunking Spec-Fic: Writing YA Spec Romance Without the Heavy . . . er, Romance

Have you seen this stunning cover? I can't even.

LOOK at that. It released YESTERDAY, loves. 

If you stay until the end, underneath Mary's bio is an easy way to win a signed copy to carry around with you. 

(What? People do that.)

Mary Weber is with us today to talk about writing (and not writing) romance.

Mary, do it.

I have a confession.

(Okay, you should just picture me ducking my head while I admit to this.)

I...hate chick flicks. (You know - the sweet, happy ending, romantic movies that girls are supposed to drag their husbands to and hold his hand through, or, at the very least, tear up at the end of?)

Should I just turn in my honorary female membership card to y'all right now? Because seriously, I totally feel shame over this. I mean, don't get me wrong - I LOVE romance (Here's looking at you, my romancy husband).

But when it comes to watching (or reading) it play out as the main component in a story? I don’t know what to do with it. And I definitely have no idea how to write it (here’s me tipping my hat to those who can!)

Which has never been a problem until I began to write Storm Siren (and then Siren’s Fury) – seeing as romance is often a heavy part of most YA fiction (and also considering the story’s about a girl who encounters a boy who helps better her world).

I mean, swooning bits? Yes. Totally ogling the boy? I get. (I work with teen girls, so I feel mildly qualified to say these are all realistic phenomena.) :0) But a book centered around a romancy story - I was at a loss. Maybe this comes from being raised around four brothers, or perhaps from reading Joan of Arc instead of Grace Livingston Hill while growing up, or wishing so very hard that I was J.R.R. Tolkien's character Lady Eowyn (because good grief who DOESN'T wish for that?).

Or…maybe it’s because of the teen girls I work with.

The thing is...I want them to experience romance (within and without the pages of books). Dear heavens I totally want them to swoon and ogle and know what it’s like to be in love with a boy. But if spending time with them has taught me anything, it’s that I want them, like Eowyn, to fall in love with themselves and their own story first.

I want them to explore the depths of their own character drama without it hinging on a romantic relationship. I want them to be their own hero rather than looking for a boy to become one. I want them to fight for more than a relationship – I want them to fight for who they were created to be.

And when I look back on all the movies and books (fantasy or not) I’ve enjoyed through the years, this is something they have in common. This is what the main characters have reflected back to us – that real romance with a boy isn’t the main arc our stories flow around. (Nor does it always lead to happily ever after.)

Real romance is a component that walks beside us on our journey, sharing the beauty as well as the pain (and is frequently the cause of both) in our adventure of becoming a whole person.

THIS is what I want the teens I work with to know. Heck, this is the romance I heavily swoon for on any given day. Romance that adds to our stories but isn’t the main crux of them. Romance that empowers our hearts to love stronger and fight harder.

Romance that accompanies but doesn’t define.

THAT’S the romance I ended up attempting to write into my YA romancy spec books.

Although, for the record, I’m not saying chick flicks don’t do that as well. Because many definitely do. But if you’re reading Storm Siren or Siren’s Fury and you’re turning the books upside down trying to figure out why Eogan and Nym kinda have a thing but good grief she just keeps ogling the boy while fighting a ridiculous amount of inner demons and clearly this author doesn’t know how to write romance at all... well...
Now you know why. It’s because I’m TERRIBLE AT IT!!! ;0)

Also, because of Eowyn.


Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean. Her debut YA fantasy novel, STORM SIREN, is available now in bookstores and online, and SIREN'S FURY (book 2 in the trilogy) will be out June, 2015 from TN HarperCollins.

One fantabulously lucky fan will receive a signed copy of that gorgeous new release. Just share this post and say hi in the comments.

Of course, if you can't wait to read (totally understandable), grab a copy now (Kindle or Nook):

Amazon:                         Storm Siren        Siren's Fury
Barnes & Noble:            Storm Siren        Siren's Fury

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