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Christie Ridgway | How to Draw Readers to the Straight Contemporary Romances


No Shot was Fired, no Blood was Spilled (or even Sipped) in the Making of this Book

That's right, my dear friends. I write what we're calling these days "straight contemporary romance." There's nothing supernatural, otherworldy, or paranormal going on here. No asses getting kicked. No highwaymen, no carriage accidents, no brotherhood of Regency spies.

It's life sort of like we know it.

If we lived in California's wine country. In the middle of a hundred-year-old vineyard. While struggling to keep the family winery afloat. And if we were nicknamed the "Nun of Napa" ever since a wedding-that-wasn't five years ago. And finally, if we had to turn to the man-next-door, Penn Bennett, the star of Hollywood's hottest home renovation show, to complete the work on the winery's historic cottage in order to host a wedding there at the end of the month.

It's a hard job, this straight contemporary romance writing. Okay, so the research wasn't so bad (reading about winemaking, drinking wine, spending a long weekend in Napa with my husband), but what do you do to get a reader's pulse racing if there are no knives, no fangs, no men running around in the jungle with their shirts off?

You put hearts on the line, that simple. Every romance does that, of course (and for the record, I love every type in our genre, from suspense to steampunk), but in straight contemporary romance the reader has to care, first, foremost, and only, about the emotional survival of the story people. So the story people have to be engaging from page one...they must immediately grab the reader's sympathy. In CRUSH ON YOU, the heroine, Alessandra Baci, is struggling into the wedding gown she was never married in, her sisters are knocking on her door, interrupting this private moment, and then they deliver the bad news--the contractor currently working on the cottage is giving up on the job--which means she might have to give up on her plan to save the failing winery.

No Christie Ridgway heroine is going to take that sitting down! So Alessandra rushes from the house in half-buttoned wedding dress, the veil trailing behind her, and her sister's rubber flip flops on her feet. What a way to run into the man destined to be the love of her life...

That got me thinking about what I was wearing the first time I met the love of my life. I was dressed as Princess Leia from Star Wars (Halloween dance, freshman year in college). When you met a significant other, what were you wearing? A lucky commenter will win a $25 e-gift card from Amazon--hope you'll use it to purchase and enjoy CRUSH ON YOU!




64 comments posted.

Re: Christie Ridgway | How to Draw Readers to the Straight Contemporary Romances

Well, I can't remember what I was
wearing, but I can remember what he was
wearing. He was wearing a red golf shirt
and jeans. He smelled like Polo and the
rest is history.
(Stacy Stewart 12:18pm June 10, 2010)

We were working in the tobacco fields on a very hot summer day, so I probably had shorts and a halter top on.
(Joanne Reynolds 6:24am June 10, 2010)

This episode is much debated in our household.

My side of the story:I was changing clothes to go on a bike ride so I put on a long peach colored robe to answer the door.

His side of the story: I was wearing a slinky nightgown!

He was coming to pick up one of my roommates for a date.
Their romance failed and we started dating 6 months later when I started my senior year of college. It sounds like that song... See you in September.
(Laurie Gommermann 7:51am June 10, 2010)

I firsted saw my husband at the school disco, so I was all dressed up - short skirt, the works. I was 11 and he was going out with my friend. We finally got together at age 15. We've been together 27 years ( he's a leg man luckily for me).
(Barbara Hanson 8:23am June 10, 2010)

Saw my husband at a dance. His friend started talking to my friend so we ended up talk because we were being ignored. The remaining is history...two kids, two cats later.
(Sherry Russell 10:53am June 10, 2010)

Love all these "when we met" stories! Keep 'em coming!
(Christie Ridgway 11:15am June 10, 2010)

Oh yes, what was I wearing? Haha...now you've made me laugh.

I met my husband in Turkey. He is German by the way, I'm a Brit.

Anyways, I had arrived in Turkey and my suitcase went one way while I went the other. So, while I was waiting for my suitcase, I borrowed a dress. Now, the girl was a bit...ok quite a bit smaller than me and the only thing she had that fit me was a large, bright red kaftan. So, that's what I was wearing when I met my husband. To this day he says red is my colour...hehe!!!
(Valerie Bongards 11:49am June 10, 2010)

I was in favorite business casual clothes when I met my SO who was talking to my girlfriend when I came back from another room.
(Alyson Widen 11:59am June 10, 2010)

Oh my, I met my husband 34 years ago, so I don't remember what I was wearing! I am sure that it was my most flattering outfit, though, because it was a fraternity/sorority social in college.
(Cheryl Castings 12:09pm June 10, 2010)

I tired to look my best as I went on a blind date that turned out very well indeed!!!
(Marjorie Carmony 12:13pm June 10, 2010)

I don't know what either of us was wearing. We were at work and we didn't start seeing each other for a while. I enjoyed your column. Thanks for visiting.
(G S Moch 12:49pm June 10, 2010)

Wow, "Crush on You" sounds really interesting! I'll be sure to look for that book at my local bookstore the next time i go shopping!
(Simi Weiss 12:59pm June 10, 2010)

I was wearing a black skirt, and pink tank top, with 3 inch heel sandals.
(Simi Weiss 1:10pm June 10, 2010)

Can't remember exactly what I was wearing, just that I had gotten a really bad sun-burn that day and lathered on Noxema or something. I only agreed to go on this blind date because my best friend got a call from the love of her life and invited us to go to a drive-inn (guess you know I'm no spring chicken by now...) Anyway, I remember we backed in instead of going thru the front, but let me tell you, that was a really fun time and my next date with Mr. Wonderful was just that -- wonderful. And, still is!
(Betty Cox 1:28pm June 10, 2010)

Congrats on the new release. We met in school, so I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
(Jane Cheung 1:28pm June 10, 2010)

Have not been lucky enough to find my significant other yet... your book sounds wonderful!
(Colleen Conklin 1:43pm June 10, 2010)

I was dressed in jeans and t-shirt because we met at work! Congrats on your new release! I enjoy reading a good contempary sometimes, I read historical most, but switch off to the contemparies.
(Gail Hurt 1:54pm June 10, 2010)

i was wearing jeans and a sweater
(Sagrario Vigil 1:56pm June 10, 2010)

I met my hubby when he applied for a job in the restaurant I was working in. Luckily he saw behind the apron splashed with spaghetti sauce that I was currently wearing.
(Cathy MacDonald 2:25pm June 10, 2010)

I don't recall exactly what dress I was wearing when I met my husband, but I am sure it was a dress for I met him in church and that is what I always wore to church. I do recall how I innocently once made a date angry over what I wore. He was taking me to a football game where his college was one of the teams playing. I wore a beautiful new green blouse, but, oh my, green was one of the school colors of the opposing team. He waited until the next date to give it to me about my mistake. Why he didn't give me a chance to change blouses when he first picked me up for game, I will never know. But he did teach me to find out the school colors before dressing for a football game. I remember that until today.
(Gladys Paradowski 2:29pm June 10, 2010)

Hi Christie. I met my boyfriend through a mutual friend at the time. We've been together ever since, It's going on 15 years now.
(Terri Quick 2:32pm June 10, 2010)

i was wearing work clothes... not nice
work clothes, but ones that you'd be
wearing if you had to get dirty outside.
he was also wearing work clothes and
a hard hat... i think the hard hat was
the turn on LOL!
(Tina Werner 2:36pm June 10, 2010)

i was wearing a white tommy hilfiger t-shirt with blue short sleeves and jean shorts and white flip flops. my i noticed first was the red head, which was #1 on my "My Perfect Guy" list! i knew i would marry a redhead ever since i was in 5th grade!! it is so cool it worked out and now my 2 son has red hair!1 I Love IT!!
(Christy Mitchiner 3:21pm June 10, 2010)

These memories are great! On the day we met (at that Halloween dance where I was Princess Leia) my now-husband was in a jeans and T-shirt. He said he was "The Wind." To this day I don't know what he was talking about.
(Christie Ridgway 3:38pm June 10, 2010)

Athletic shorts, tank top, a French braid, and sweat! We met playing softball. :)
(Kelli Jo Calvert 3:56pm June 10, 2010)

I was wearing my fav faded blue jeans with a hole in the knee, and a red long sleeved shirt.... I was out with his brother and his brother dumped me with him and a friend of theirs to go off with another girl.... 21 year, 5 kids later, we are still together going strong!
(Angela Rogers 4:12pm June 10, 2010)

I can't remember! We worked together so we saw each other every day before he asked me out. I can guarantee he was wearing jeans, but I don't know what I wore.
(Susan Morrison 4:32pm June 10, 2010)

Haven't heard of this author before. I'd love to win the gift card!
(Michelle Fidler 4:32pm June 10, 2010)

We were best of friends in high school and kept up through out the years. I invited him over for dinner and had a cute off shorts and T-shirt. I was young, thin and looked perfect. Two boys and two state later I am not thin, far from perfect but still see how he looks at me as if I am.
(Cynthia Plaza-Harney 5:37pm June 10, 2010)

I was wearing an outfit that my Mom had sewn for me; slacks and a vest that matched with a blouse underneath the vest. Even his Mom commented on my nice outfit. The color was primarily green with others thrown in.
(Robyn Lee 6:11pm June 10, 2010)

Met in the early 70s in an office. It was a dress or skirt that was the short short styles popular then.
(Roseann Moss 6:16pm June 10, 2010)

I was wearing jeans and some forgettable shirt. Anyway it was destiny and we have been married 28 years!
(Lisa Garrett 6:25pm June 10, 2010)

I can't remember. It was a very long time ago. Jeans most likely.
(Mary Preston 7:13pm June 10, 2010)

A long dress (typical 70's A-line with a v-neck) that I had sewn for myself.
(Cheryl Greenleaf 7:38pm June 10, 2010)

I met my then future husband in a country western bar not far from my parents summer home; I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, was with my brother and his fiancee and my two uncles and was having a blast. And 31 years later I'm still with him, though the bar has burned down.
(Diane Sadler 7:53pm June 10, 2010)

We met while I was an 18 year old college sophomore, at an old fashioned movie theater. I wore a new angora sweater in shades of pink with (dating me here!) pink stretch pants and white tennies. He was in the Air Force and came in with a buddy who knew my girlfriend. We paired up to see the movie, the Pink Panther, (sense a pink theme?) and we are still married 43 years and 6 kids later!
(Sherry Weddle 8:03pm June 10, 2010)

It was a rainy day when I met my husband of 52+ years. I was wearing a maroon skirt and white peasant blouse. I asked him to pass the salt and pepper.
(Patricia Hoffmeister 8:09pm June 10, 2010)

At the time, I was dressed in pants and a nice top. I was on my way to work, and stopped for a beverage to take with me. He happened to wait on me, and our eyes met. He also asked me if I would be interested in working for him. Of course I said yes, because I knew that we would be married someday. That day happened 20 years later, after our paths crossed. We've now been married 27 years!!
(Peggy Roberson 8:50pm June 10, 2010)

I haven't met Mr. Right yet, but I'll let you know what I'm wearing when I do. It could be a while, but you'll be the first to know.
(Joelle Beebe 9:11pm June 10, 2010)

We first met a Kiwanis Circle K Christmas party. It was a casual Florida event, jeans and a cute top for me, he had a black Polo shirt and jeans as well. It wasn't until I began dating his best friend the following year that I even paid any attention to him.... 28 years ago.
(Sherri Covey 9:17pm June 10, 2010)

I was wearing a white dress with outrageous red heels. I was on my way somewhere, dropping his daughter off and he wanted to meet me. I had to get out of the car, was a little irritated until we shook hands. Then it was WHOA. LOL
(Kirsten Kimball 9:18pm June 10, 2010)

I don't know yet, since I'm not married--yet. Maybe I can get some tips here.
(Sigrun Schulz 9:28pm June 10, 2010)

does it count if he's my ex!!!! anyway, I was wearing my nurse's uniform at my capping; his sister was in my class. so those of you that are "looking", don't pay attention to me!!!
(Barbara Studer 9:55pm June 10, 2010)

Oh, I had just lost some weight and had on my skinny jeans-yes!
(Diane Pollock 10:14pm June 10, 2010)

It's been 12 years and even though I can't fit into it, I remember wearing a black and white geometric design jacket with medium black beads here and there on it, a short black skirt, black marilyn monroe piece of lingerie top as a top instead of lingerie with a tank top underneath it, I looked hot, which I can't say so for myself so much these days at age 51. It's been 13 years since we met and I still remember opening the door to my match.com husband and first date! It's still heavenly here even if I've had a few back surgery's and gained a bit of weight. He's aged as well and still loooks HOT!
(Brenda Rupp 10:18pm June 10, 2010)

I was in college and had an all nighter study for the first mid-term of the semester. I got dressed in the dark and didn't know I was wearing my blouse inside out until my boyfriend (he was my classmate at the time)got close to me and whispered "Nice blouse". That was when I realized I was wearing it inside out.
(Kai Wong 10:45pm June 10, 2010)

My last significant other I
met a few times before really
getting to know him, so I
don't remember the first few
outfits much beyond vague
impressions. I do remember the
one I wore when we first hung
out and had a real
conversation. It was very form
fitting - cropped pants,
sandals and a favorite t-
(Jacqueline Cook 11:18pm June 10, 2010)

I can't wait to read Crush on You,it sounds like a good read.
(Linda Hall 12:35pm June 11, 2010)

This sounds good. Thanks for the blurb!
(JoAnn White 1:01am June 11, 2010)

Jeans, budweiser sweater & jean jacket...at a party back in 1987!
(Darci Paice 2:20am June 11, 2010)

Old jeans and a unmemorable top ...
(Sue Ahn 2:52am June 11, 2010)

I was doing chores in cut-offs and a t-shirt - he was hauling hay on my dad's farm.
(Marguerite Guinn 11:56am June 11, 2010)

Tomorrow is my 30th wedding anniversary. I was wearing a white halter dress with full skirt. My mother had made it for me! He was wearing jeans, cowboy boots and a cowbow hat! He was a deputy sheriff in the town we lived..We went out Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (saw the movie Urban Cowboy, he proposed). We flew to Las Vegas and was married on Thursday. lol
(Kimberley Coover 12:31pm June 11, 2010)

I don't remember. Probably jeans and a t-shirt (in college).
(Shannon Scott 12:39pm June 11, 2010)

We meet at a friends and I was wearing the cutest little swimsuite and i walked through to go lay in the sun and was told that I had a great ass by the cute guy sitting in the corner, We started dateing later in the summer and now we have been married for 23 years.
(Vickie Hightower 2:42pm June 11, 2010)

I don't remember either.
(Matt Romocki 2:52pm June 11, 2010)

We met in January-1969 and needless to say we were bundled up as we went to a basket ball game--the following march we were engaged and married on 7/19/1969--and have been together ever sinc
(Pam Thurston 5:17pm June 11, 2010)

Well, hopefully I will be wearing something really cute when I meet Mr. Right... but I'm still patiently (sort of :) ) waiting! LOL :) Christie, your book sounds great! Can't wait to read it this summer!
(Kathleen Evans 9:34pm June 11, 2010)

Hello Christie, Please enter me in your fantastic contest and please let me know when I am a winner too! God bless you with success, Cecilia
(Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez 9:55pm June 11, 2010)

I haven't met my Mr. Special yet
but I hope I will be wearing
something flattering!
(Jennifer Ma 5:24pm June 13, 2010)

Hi. Thank goodness there's no mention of vampires or special powers in your books! I plan to check out "Crush On You" when it hits the stores. Congrats on your latest title.
(Annette Mardis 5:42pm June 14, 2010)

I was wearing a white nurse's uniform because I was at work when we first met. That was almost 27 yrs ago
(Julie Swaney 8:46pm June 14, 2010)

I was wearing shorts and a top and a very RED face.
(Rita Sheppard 7:43pm June 19, 2010)

jean shorts and a pink shirt
that said LOVE on it
(Kristi Davis 12:39pm June 20, 2010)

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