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Romance Writers Turn Love Into Money

May 1, 2010 — Say the words "romance novel" in a room filled with writers and you will likely evoke groans, sighs, and snickers. The term conjures up memories of dime store novels from Grandma's day and formula-driven stories set in haunted castles or other exotic places where the heroine undergoes a series of life- changing ordeals, falls in love, and lives happily ever after.

Writers who thumb their noses at this genre probably don't realize that romance fiction is a major slice of the publishing business today, and despite a global economic downturn, this market is booming. Consider these facts reported by marketing firm Simba Information in its "Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2009" report.

  • Romance novels generated $1.4 billion in sales and accounted for 14% of all fiction sold in 2009, beating out Religious/Inspirational books at 10% and mainstream fiction with a mere 4% of sales.
  • 75 million people read at least one romance novel, and 7,311 new romance titles were published last year.
  • Romance is the top performing category on the best-seller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly

In a quiet corner of Durham, North Carolina, romance writer Leigh Barbour is spinning her latest tale, Shimmying Across Araby. In the story, Adriana is wanted for immodesty and corrupting the morals of others in the Kingdom of Faoud. Will Lyle Crenshaw be able to rescue her? Of course he will, because romance novels always have a happy ending. That's why they are so popular with millions of readers looking for an escape from the humdrum reality of joblessness and infidelity into a fantasy realm where the heroine always finds love, no matter how much a cad her male counterpart was in Chapter One.

Romance fiction is divided into various sub-categories, each having its own distinct plot line and characteristics. Popular sub-categories include Historical, Regency, Contemporary, Romantic Suspense, Paranormal, Multicultural, and Inspirational or Christian.

Barbour says her specialty is paranormal romance. "If you read my books, you'll read about ghosts. I just love them!" Her latest romance novel, Jade Seas, is about a swashbuckling Spanish privateer named Alejandro Valdivia de la Torre Jones who meets the woman of his dreams in a graveyard and insists that he isn't dead even though his tombstone says he is.

With five published novels and a how-to book on writing romance fiction under her belt, Barbour has decided to share her talent. This summer, she will teach an online course on romance writing at KSURF, an e-Learning community that combines a state-of-the-art virtual university learning platform with popular social networking features.

Barbour’s course will cover the creative side as well as the business of romance writing, exploring fundamentals of plot, theme, setting,character development, narrative, dialogue, pacing, voice, polishing a manuscript, and submitting it to a prospective publisher.

Enrollment is open to all aspiring writers who want to sharpen their skills and successfully write for this lucrative market. Details are available on the course home page at

"Completing a novel and seeing it published is one of the great joys in life," Barbour says. "I love teaching people skills they can use to better their lives."

Barbour earned a Masters in English Linguistics at George Mason University and a Bachelors in Geography from Radford University. Being fluent in Spanish, she won the prestigious Fulbright Fellows Award as an English Teaching Fellow. In 1994, she spent one year instructing teachers in Arequipa, Peru.

After traveling extensively in Latin America, Barbour settled with her husband in Durham, North Carolina, where she spends her days reading, writing, teaching, and tending her Japanese garden and Bassett hounds.

About KSURF - Where Knowledge Surfers Learn™

KSURF is a unique online community that combines a modern virtual university learning platform with popular social networking features such as user blogs and profiles. KSURF offers more than 100 low-cost courses for continuing education, corporate training, and self-improvement. Instructor-led and self-directed classes are available on many in-demand subjects including writing, HTML & Web design, Internet technology, software products, self-help/inspirational themes, and academic subjects. KSURF's Virtual University can be reached at

KSURF also publishes a collection of streaming news and educational widgets. A widget is a small chunk of code that can be conveniently placed in any web page or blog to give readers a continuously updated source of real-time news or other content. KSURF’s widgets are available free to bloggers and website owners. Popular widgets include myPlanet News, which displays streaming news from a dozen top news sites, and Knowledge Surfer, which allows visitors to participate in online classes at KSURF's virtual university. Further information can be found at

Contact KSURF at

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