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Elise Sax Headshot

Romance Writers and the 50 Shades of Happy Endings

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Just about every romance writer, romance writer hopeful, and romance industry professional is on Twitter right now, tweeting about one thing: Heels.

High heels. Sexy heels. Platform heels. Spiky heels. Heels that hurt but who cares, heels. It's pretty much what's uppermost in everyone's minds.

This week is the annual Romance Writers of America conference, this year in Anaheim, Calif., a huge conference that gathers together over 2000 of the movers and shakers of the publishing world's heaviest hitter: the romance genre.

There's a lot to talk about, from the demise of Borders and Barnes & Noble's struggle to the rise of e-publishing and self-publishing. All that will be talked about at the RWA conference, but for now the main topic on every conference attendee's mind is: Heels. That is, which ones to wear to the luncheons, awards night, and the Harlequin party.

You see, the life of a romance writer contains a lot of flip-flops and sneakers, but precious few heels. While I write in my romantic mystery series about the two hunka-hunka-burnin-loves torturing the heroine with their yummy, sexy bodies, I am most certainly dressed in yoga pants and a t-shirt, alone in my office, bedroom, or Starbucks, my hair stuck in a frizz and not a drop of makeup on my face.

This is standard wardrobe for romance writers, although, I picture Nora Roberts writing in full-on Donna Karan and Jodi Picoult in Calvin Klein.

With the crappy wardrobe is a lot of solitude. When I'm writing, I see precious few people, except for the people in my head, which in my line of work is okay and only rarely requires Thorazine.

But this week is different. This week, the purveyors of happy endings get to kick off their Crocs, push back a cocktail, dress in their finest, and talk to others in their line of work who understand.

It isn't easy to make a reader fall in love with a hero, to make a reader cheer for a heroine. Only another writer knows how hard it is to tackle a blank screen with words that will make people want to read on, to create a page turner, a beach read, an airplane book.

It ain't easy to make easy reading.

Romance writers are supportive of each other. They are the Sisterhood of the Traveling Laptops, quick to lend a hand or writing tip to an up-and-coming author. They jump at the chance to encourage their colleagues. They are also fans.

So, this week there will be a lot of talk about plotting, character development, theme, and the romance market. That's all really important. But sometimes it's just about the heels.