Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Guest Blogger Abby Gaines, Welcome to Seekerville!

Abby Gaines

Ruthy note: I can't even remember how I first discovered Abby, but she's a great gal, and a wonderful author, one of those Meg Cabot types who cross-genres (yes, thereby breaking tons of man-made rules, good for her!!!) with flair and alacrity. Some Supers contain adult content

When Ruth asked me to post about how to write for Superromance, I was a tad daunted. Quite a large tad, if such a thing is possible. Because although nine of the 19 books I’ve published with Harlequin have been Superromances, I still feel like I’m learning the ropes!

Superromance is hard to define, as the series encompasses a range of story types. But you’ll see more single parent stories here than you do in other lines (with the possible exception of Love Inspired). You’ll also find some suspense, lots of small towns, a few big city stories, and tones that run from light and humorous to intense.

If you know my books, you’ll know I sit at the light and humorous end of the scale, and I like to give traditional romance hooks a Superromance book. My November release, The Wedding Plan, is – you guessed it – a marriage of convenience story (my favorite hook!). 

For other kinds of Superromances you could try authors like Karina Bliss (humorous and intensely emotion – a wonderful writer), Ellen Hartman (intriguing heroes and unpredictable storylines), or Sarah Mayberry (strongly written stories that feel like real life).

Superromance recently increased its word count to 85,000, which can be quite a challenge if you’re used to writing shorter. The good news is, Supers are strong on subplots, so this is your chance to bring out those wonderful secondary characters...so long as the subplot either complicates or reflects or contrasts with the main plot, of course. I write a secondary romance in most of my books, often featuring an older couple. Other subplots can include suspense, family complications, small-town characters, and, of course, those kids that regularly pop up in Supers.

So, how do you know if your book is a Superromance? This sounds odd, but if you think you’re writing a series romance, and you can’t think where it fits, consider targeting Supers. That’s basically how I ended up there. I’d been trying my hand at shorter, sweet romances for a while. Then I wrote a book that came out longer, and featured a secondary romance subplot. I had no idea where it might fit...then a contest judge suggested Superromance. Next minute...I was a Super author! (well, like everything else in publishing, it wasn’t quite that fast...)

If you have any questions about Superromance, I’d be delighted to answer them. I also have a Love Inspired Historical out this month, The Governess and Mr Granville – think The Sound of Music meets the Regency! So I can talk about writing Regency inspirational historicals, too...

One commenter will win a copy The Governess and Mr Granville.

Thanks for having me here today!

Guys, Abby lives across the GREAT POND so here time frame is a tad different from yours and mine! Come on inside, grab coffee and try some of this new apple Danish that Mandy made over the weekend. Her hubby was at the Bills game in Buffalo, so I got my girl back for a Sunday afternoon of BAKING!!!!  :)

SUH-WEEEET!  And you guys get to try it!  :)


  1. Hi Abby. Gotta love those contest judges. They saved me, too, by directing me into the right category! Congrats on 19 books. I bounced over to Amazon to check out the list. Amazing. Glad to see you here.

    And Ruthy - alacrity? Broke out the dictionary. Thanks for the new daily word! ;)

  2. Just wanted to say, I enjoyed your last LIH and bought the new one off the walmart shelf a few days ago---when I go shopping with no children, the amount of books purchases goes up. It's one of those math correlations: Shopping with kids=items forgotten from the list, shopping without kids=more items purchased than on the list. Hmm, that would have been better as a graph, but can't put one of those in a blogger comment.

    Don't put me in the drawing--the book jumped in my cart--I must chosen Carol's cart.

  3. Hi Lyndee and Melissa, thanks for commenting.
    Lyndee, I still enter contests when I'm trying my hand at a new genre... helps me see if I'm on the right track.
    Melissa, I like your math! I like any math that involves buying more books...

  4. Lyndee, hahahahahaha!!!!

    I love that word! Good girl, catching it... It was the "word of the day" at Country Max (of all places, right????) a few weeks ago. The loading guy (gorgeous young man who works loading hay, straw, feed, etc) and the cashier were bantering it about.

    :) They'll probably be married next year. 'Cause everything's a romance, right?

    Melissa, wasn't that book wonderful? Loved it!!!! And I can't wait to get my hands on this one, too. Good job, Abby!

  5. Good morning Abby Gaines, I think I have seen that name around a bit. welcome to Seekerville today. I love to read books about marriages of convenience so will have to watch for this one -governess are usually good reads too,would like to win and read. thanks for telling us a little about superromances-hey they are all super to me-Love to read...
    Paula O

  6. Abby,

    Thanks for stopping by and introducing us to Super romance.

    Marriage of convenience is always fun. Please enter me in the contest.

    Thanks for sharing today!

    Jackie L.


    Any friend of Ruthy's is a friend of mine ... and a very brave one at that ... ;) (Just teasing, Ruthy -- love you to pieces and you know it!!)

    I have to admit, you had me at "subplot," girl, because that is an obsession of mine, so "Supers" sound super to me!! I'll have to give them a try -- especially yours!!

    LOVE the title of your LI -- VERY pretty cover as well -- I "LIKED" it on Amazon.


  8. Good Morning Abby, 19 books. That's wonderful.
    Have they asked you to turn any of those into a Heartwarming? What is your take on Heartwarming?
    I love Supers.
    Thanks for joining us today. When Ruthy says you're across the pond I'm guessing England? I really have no idea what she meant. LOL so is that what she meant?

    PS MElissa, I laughed so when I read your comment. I have the same problem only I never have the kids so I always end up with more books.

  9. Hi Abby,

    I'm curious because you write for two lines -- one Love Inspired and the other Super Romance so hope you don't mind my question. I'm wondering how Super Romance compares to Love Inspired regarding what I'd call 'questionable content'. For example, swearing, explicit love scenes -- that kind of thing. Obviously the Super Romance wouldn't have the inspirational component. I get that -- just wondering about the other.

  10. Hi Abby!

    Wow! 19 books? What fun!

    I saw your book at the store last week...but all my book money is waiting for the ACFW conference this week :) - hoping it will be in the bookstore there!

    I love marriage of convenience stories - and my son has caught on, too. I was trying out my pitch on him last night, and his comment was "Didn't they write that already? Like in the Sound of Music?" I told him a good story never goes out of style...

    Ruthy, your guy at Country Max could have been that same son. He works at Runnings (same kind of store) as a "load out". He's constantly bantering words and such with cashiers, customers...you name it. When he got that job, I told him he was going to end up buff - and he is. The girls are swooning.

    Has anyone brought chocolate yet? I'm sharing 60% Ghiradelli baking chips this morning - just help yourself to a handful. This is a no-frills kind of chocolate day!

  11. I loved that title and cover the moment I saw it! (the Governess...)
    did you use that phrase 'think Sound of Music meets Regency' when you proposed it. Works for me!

    Thanks for sharing your 'insider' view, Abby.

    Is it raining EVERYWHERE today? looked like it on radar.
    I'm loving this nice rainy day ( and glad it wasn't yesterday) but I hope those of you flying are not slowed down by storms.

    wait, I was wrong. I'm sure it's sunny in Dallas. Isn't the "rainy" season over?

  12. Deb - send some of that rain west, please! Our skies are beautiful - blue - not a cloud to be seen - but we sure need the rain!

  13. You know, I've enjoyed all the genres Abby's worked in, but her first LIH was my fave. I felt like she found her niche... the flow was perfect, warm, funny, delightful. And I don't say that lightly, ever.

    Marriage of Convenience... How would you guys suggest doing one modern-day???? What would be believable?

  14. Deb, isn't it a fun rain here??? Like drenching English weather. Hellllloooo, London!

    Sandra, Abby's in New Zealand. She can almost wave to AusJenny...


    But not quite!

  15. Ruthy, re your everything's a romance comment -

    When I was out with my daughter, I commented about an older couple carefully tending to each other and I wove a yarn right there, saying those hopeful words, "That would make a good story." I rambled on, filling in the blanks, to which my daughter deadpanned, "Does every little thing have to turn into a story?"

    To which I deadpan-stared and she knew the answer without my words. She belongs in a book.

  16. I once heard Supers defined as the last step before single title.

    The word count has gone back up again too I understand.

    Oh, and welcome BACK to Seekerville!!!! Congratulations on your success in both lines.

  17. Kav,

    As a fan of Supers I have discovered that you should follow authors and their style, content varies from behind closed doors implied love scenes to no love scenes to very very hot on stage.

    There is quite a bit a variance in the line..HUGE in fact. From sweet to hot.

  18. Hi, Abby

    Do you find it hard "changing hats" by switching from Love Inspired Historicals to Super Romances? Is it easy to write for both lines?

  19. How very fun! I've alwayss wondered about Supers. I write long, so the LI length is really tough for me. And subplots.... oh, mama. I'm all about subplots, which doesn't work in 60K.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  20. Jackie and pol,thanks for commenting

    Julie, yeah, gotta love those subplots!

    Sandra, I am in New Zealand! So it's a pretty big pond... I love the Heartwarming concept, and the covers are lovely. In terms of level of sensuality and family focus, I imagine some of my older Supers would convert well to Heartwarming :) but that hasn't happened yet.

  21. Kav, the level of sensuality and language varies considerably across Superromances, so you might need to read a few to find out which authors meet your comfort level. I have never been asked to up the sensuality in my books. My characters don't get to sleep together, or come anywhere close to that, unless they're married, and even then, there wouldn't be graphic description.

    Jan, sometimes you can't go past a classic hook! Enjoy ACFW!

    Debra, yes I did use the Sound of Music line in pitching my book. It's not raining here, btw :)

  22. Tina, thanks for your comments!

    Cecilia, I don't actually find it hard to switch hats - I find the variety quite stimulating. Write now I'm finding LIHs easier to write...but that can change with the very next paragraph... :)

    Thanks for commenting, Virginia

  23. Have loved the Super Romances for a long time because they are longer and have more depth than the shorter ones. But the shorter ones are great for inbetween reads. Thanks for the chance to win!

  24. Thanks Abby and Tina! I'll start with Abby's super romances and maybe branch out from there if I'm feeling brave. :-)

  25. Oh, my word!!! I miss you guys so much! Life has been absolutely crazy! I will try to come check back in after lunch and a little school work. Looks like Abby needs a whole lot more Seekerville love today!

    I'll try to return, Abby. I want to see what your book is about. :D

  26. Lyndee, I get that reaction from my kids/friends all the time. And so often it DOES end up in a book now!!!


    Ongoing research I call it.

    Kav, Tina's right. Supers runs the gamut. I love the lighter sweeter ones... That's how I found Holly Jacobs (who I love to pieces).

    And Abby, initially. And it's nice that they're going back up to 85k. It allows a little more exploration into the story line.

    Having said that, I've learned to love writing shorter books. First, the audience/readership loves them. Second, they're finished faster. Third, longer isn't always better.

    So I'm learning as I go to examine the author, not the line. But that's tricky, right? I check things out through the library systems and then when I find an author I love, I buy.

    I want to support them but I don't want to spend money foolishly.

  27. Hi Abby! I've enjoyed your Supers. One thing I like about the Superromance line-and that makes it difficult to pin down-is that they have such wide variety in plots, sensuality level, settings, etc. Also that they encourage subplots so they actually read more like single titles. Anyone who is interested in another Harlequin line might want to stay away from Supers until they've nailed their targeted line. It can be confusing.

  28. Marianne, I've always loved Supers, too....

    And Virginia, I used to think the exact same thing as you're facing, the 'how do I write a strong story without the branches of sub-plots???'

    So I studied Irene Hannon... Linda Goodnight... Margaret Daley.... Oh my stars, a host of others, and some that didn't work for me. So I glommed onto the ones that DID...

    And then went back and changed sentence structure, wordage, etc. to chop words. Melissa was a huge help in how to concentrate on the romance and still keep secondary characters strong without subplots.

    And I think that's the trick right there.

    But I'm still learning, so I'll share as I learn!

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. thanks for commenting, Marianne and Linnette.

    Patricia, yes there's lots of variety in Super!

    Ruth, with The Governess and Mr Granville, my editor asked me not to use any point of view other than the hero's and heroine's. I wanted to include a secondary romance, but I somehow had to get that from inception to marriage proposal without ever showing the characters in a situation where they weren't observed by either the hero or heroine. It was pretty tough. In the end I gave the secondary heroine a medical condition - excessive, constant blushing - that kept her very shy and retiring. I had great fun pairing her with a rogue of a guy who was after her money and willing to overlook her "disfiguring" blushes - someone she'd never be allowed to be alone with!

  31. Hi Abby,

    Just finished The Governess and Mr. Granville this weekend and I loved it! I knew you had "Sound of Music" in mind when writing it - it was so similar. The grumpy widower who is too distant with his children and the wonderful nanny who makes him see the light!

    Now that I know you write Supers I'll have to try one of those!

    Will you be doing more in the LIH series with the other sisters? Hope so. I loved the first one as well!


  32. Abby, that urge to send those secondary characters into a mini-story of their own is HUGE, isn't it????

    But I bet you did it beautifully. Can't wait to read it... in fact, if it's in Walmart now, I should have Beth grab it. She said she was stopping by there sometime today.

    Calling Beth, asap!!!!

  33. Mmm.... LOVED the apple Danish, Ruthy! Thanks! :D

    Abby. Awesome!!! Actually, the way you described superromance makes me think of how I write. Intense. Subplots. Some humor. About 85k words. ... Do they do christian contemporary superromance? I've had a really hard time pinning mine to a single genre.

    Please put my name in the hat. I'd LOVE a chance to win your book.

    Thanks for coming to Seekerville. I can't imagine where everybody is today.

    *Goes off to Tweet this post...

  34. I've never read a Super before, so you've definitely piqued my interest. I've seen them around plenty and always wondered what made a Super a Super. So, it's not just word count? More an 'out of the box' thing?

    Congrats on 19 books! That's incredible! Best wishes on the success of this one, and toss my name in the hat for a chance to win, please!

    Thanks for a great post today!

  35. Linnette, lots of folks are leaving for Dallas tomorrow... so we'll have a light week of us STAY-AT-HOMES!!!

    Of which I am one, but... I will be happily entrenched writing hot cop stories, so while I'll miss everyone, I've got a quiet weekend of writing...writing....and (grin)...writing.

    Yes, you've guessed it, this is my FAVORITE KIND OF WEEKEND, LOL!

    Supers doesn't have a Christian line, but Silhouette Special Edition sometimes has a light inspirational thread. The best thing to do is read, read, read. And then target what sounds like you.

    Are you staying home this week? If so, join us for coffee, tea and chit chat about how we're so much better off staying home and working!!! :)

    Possibly winking here!

  36. Abby, 19 books!!! You've been a busy writer.


    So good seeing you in Anaheim this year.

    Thanks for the info about Super. What's the sensuality requirement? Will they look at sweet romances?

    I had the pleasure of meeting Abby in Reno in 2005. She and I were both attending the Kiss of Death Chapter's one-day suspense workshop on Tuesday prior to the RWA Conference. As I recall, we were sitting outside on a bench during a break and started chatting.

    Since then, I always look forward to seeing her at RWA each year.

    So glad you could be with us in Seekerville today, Abby! Hope to see you next year in Atlanta!

  37. Abby, I should have read the comments before I wrote mine. You already answered the question about sensuality. Thank you!


  38. Awe! I forgot about the conference, Ruthy. Well. Not the conference, but the timing. Glad to know I'm not the only one staying home. :D I can only hope I get to write, write, write. Life has been so full of crazy twists and turns until I think I'm getting bruised from running into myself.

    Thanks for the info of Supers and such. I have a small publisher looking at my MS of Finding Beth as we speak. We'll see what they have to say. :)

    I was struck with a story idea today. One of those where you have to get it out of your head and you learn about your characters and the story as you go. It's that or drive me crazy pingponging inside my head. I can always go back and fix what's broken later, right? Who knows where it will go? It might become a second book series. Or it might become nothing but a file taking space in my hard drive. LOL But I'll never know if I don't try, right?

    Okay. Off to make supper now before my boys starve and accuse me of child abuse. :D

  39. oh...the sound of music meets romance....love it.

    thanks for the chance to read your novel :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  40. Hi, Abby! Thanks for all the information about Supers. I have quite a few friends who are interested in writing for the line because it's so diverse.

  41. Given that Abby lives across the big pond, I don't know if I'm late or really late. (It depends on which pond we're talking about.)

    When you expand to 85,000 words, you said allows for more subplots. Does it also allow for more character POVs?


  42. Thanks for the background info on Superromances --I'm a new LI reader, so I haven't even began delving into Harlequins other series. I'll have to check out some of your books!


  43. I do enjoy a Superromance read.

    I would love to read "The Governess and Mr Granville' thank you.


  44. Popping back in after a long day!
    Sue, yes I hope to write the stories of the remaining three sisters. I'm about to start the next one, but can't decide whether to do Amanda or Isabel. Amanda's going to be tough write (for those of you don't know her, she's a very bad gal in the first book). Isabel's will be another marriage of convenenience, yay!

  45. Linnette, they don't do Christian books as such in Super. The one I'm writing now, the hero's brother is a pastor and his dad is an elder in the church, and both those things impact the story. But I don't know what my editor thinks about that yet!

    Emily, maybe 'out of the box' is indeed the best way to describe a Super. Also, mostly quite realistic stories (though mine can get a bit quirky / fairytale at times!).

    Debby, it's always fun to see you at RWA, too!

    Thanks for commenting, Karenk and Cara

  46. Walt, my Supers usually have three or four POVs in them. But I know other Super authors have been asked to stick to just the hero and heroine. So I think it comes down to the nature of the subplot and whether that additional POV is really necessary...

    Lady Dragonkeeper (my mind is boggling!) and Marybelle, thanks for commenting

  47. I should say! My Superromance Married by Mistake is currently free on Kindle - it's been the number one free book on Kindle on and off for the past few weeks - it's at #6 now. This is the book I've had the most emails from readers about, by far. Here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008NBWMPY/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

  48. Well it looked like half the country was going to have rain so I hope so. Wish more of it went out west!

    Thanks Abby and Ruthy - great discussion today.

    Abby I grabbed your Kindle download. I think it will make a great summery read in the middle of winter.

  49. Abby,
    Thanks for explaining Super romance. I had no idea what it was before.
    Please enter me in the contest! I love reading about th Regency era!

    ~Camille M.

  50. Would love to win your book

  51. I used to read a LOT of Superromance. When I quit reading secular, I quit buying Supers, but Abby's sound good.

    I just downloaded the free one, and I'd love to win the new LIH, too.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com