Apologies, folks, for those of you who clicked on this post hoping for Part Four of Misty’s Realistic Kink for the Girl Next Door. The title of this post is actually something a neighbor of mine said to me once. Can you guess the situation? (A gold star to anyone who gets this right.)
Conversation at a neighborhood dinner party went down a little like this:
Neighbor 1: “So, Rachael, are you published yet?”
Me (furiously blushing and looking for a way to change topics): “Um, no. It takes a long time.”
Neighbor 1: “What’s your book about?”
Me (blushing more profusely): “Ah, it’s a romance.”
Neighbor 2: “Wow, that must make your husband really uncomfortable.”
Whoa, right? It happened a year ago, and at the time, I had absolutely no answer for that. In fact, I wasn’t disclosing to anyone my “hobby”. It was my husband who blabbed to a neighbor, who started firing questions to me at our monthly neighborhood party. (Cue envy, yes, I live in a fab neighborhood where we all get together, eat, and let our kids run around crazy, once a month.)
Back to the statement. Being new at writing, and being a shy person, I had no desire to discuss the fact that I write (hot steamy sex scenes) with my peers. Thanks, hubby. Now that I’ve latched on to an amazing support group of fabulous writers and signed with an agent who loves my work, I’m much better armed to give romance novels the defense they deserve.
Seriously, WTF people? Why the bad reputation for romance novels? And why in the heck would it make my husband uncomfortable? He LOVES it. Me opening up and embracing what I write has led to a beautiful blossoming of our relationship. He couldn’t be more proud, or more… *ahem* I’ll leave that to you to figure out. *wink*
Hubby knows he has nothing to fear from the scenes I write, or the characters. I mean, hello, they’re FICTIONAL.
According to the RWA (stats here), romance fiction accounted for the largest share of the U.S. consumer market in 2011 at 14.3 percent. We must be doing something right. Right?
But in all honestly, why should I be ashamed of a career where I write about LOVE? What could possibly be wrong with that? In a world often darkened with violence and hatred, I like to think romance novels shed a light of hope. I love picking one up, knowing the bad guy will always get it in the end, and the hero and heroine will have their happily-ever-after.
So here are some myths I’m going to tackle:
Myth 1: Romance novels are slutty. Romance novels embrace monogamy. Once hero and heroine meet, there’s an expectation of faithfulness. Like, FOREVER.
Modern day heroines don’t always have to be virgins, but the general consensus is—the best sex she’ll have is with her soul mate *sigh* So true.
Romance novels teach girls to have HIGH standards. Will I let my daughter read them when she’s old enough? Hell, yes! The world already shoves sex in our faces, and I want her to know that there are better options out there. That true love is worth waiting for. Romance novels taught me that, and I hope she’ll embrace that lesson too.
Myth 2: Romance novels are porn. Romance novels don’t have to have sex in them to be good. If bedroom scenes make you cringe, there are plenty of (even non-inspirational) novels that don’t include them. Right now I’m reading a manuscript from one of my CP partners that’s closed doors, and it’s absolutely awesome.
Myth 3: What’s the point when you already know the ending? It’s the JOURNEY that makes it worthwhile. Despite the fact that we know the hero and heroine end up together, it’s the nail-biting in-between What-if-they-don’t? that pulls us in and makes us hang on to every word. Now, that’s great writing.
And yeah, try doing THAT with any other genre!
There’s a romance novel out there for anyone. To put this to the test, I harassed questioned the Chicks. I asked them each to give me a person, a location, and an adjective.
Misty gave me: Burlesque dancer. Fargo, North Dakota. Buxom.
So Misty, I recommend: Gentlemen Prefer Burlesque series by Trixie J. Belle. Brash by Nicola Marsh.
Josie’s picks: Homeless 68-year-old bag lady. Hooters in Nashville, Tennessee. Indignant.
My suggestions: Anne Browning Walker’s The Booby Trap. Carolyn Brown’s Darn Good Cowboy Christmas.
From Vonnie: Coffin assembler. Yazoo City, Mississippi. Colorful.
Try: The Glass Coffin by Megan Derr. The Preacher’s Son#3: Unbroken by Jasinda Wilder.
Renee chose: Lawyer. Montreal. Slim.
I found: Gwethalyn Graham’s Earth and High Heaven. Julie James’ Practice Makes Perfect.
Naughty, Angela: Circus clown. In your pants. Sticky.
Back atcha with: Gena Showalter’s Last Kiss Goodnight. Mary Ellen Dennis’ The Greatest Love on Earth.
Okay, okay, so I failed with some of my picks. But man, that was harder than I thought! I’m still sticking to my point, and to prove it, I’ve written my own story opening. So here it is, in the style of Mad Libs, using the Chick’s own words. Please play along and fill in the missing words, then feel free to post your stories!
Noun 1, name of a race horse: _______________________________________________
Verb 1 past tense, method of cleaning: ________________________________________
Phrase 1, something a pirate would say: _______________________________________
Phrase 2, a Chinese fortune cookie saying: ____________________________________
Verb 2 past tense, sound a car engine makes: __________________________________
Noun 2, something you would buy at a gas station store: ________________________
Noun 3, catastrophic event: _________________________________________________
Noun 4, exotic fruit: ________________________________________________________
A Balmy Night in Yazoo City, Mississippi
It was a balmy night in Yazoo City, Mississippi. A circus clown sank down into a booth in the Hooters in Nashville, Tennessee. A buxom waitress strutted toward him, one large ______ (noun 1) on her tray.
“This is on the house.” She ______ (verb 1) her tongue over her indignant lower lip, and he knew she meant ______(phrase 1).
“Thank you, Fargo, North Dakota,” he replied. “You ______ (phrase 2) in your pants.”
“Mmm. Sticky.” She quirked an eyebrow at him, then bent lower, so he got a good view of her lawyer’s bra. His groin jerked in arousal, and not from the homeless 68-year-old bag lady sitting across the booth from him.
“Where are you from?” The circus clown ____ (verb 2) to the buxom waitress. Something about her ____ (noun 2) made his groin feel like _______ (noun 3). Maybe she was a coffin assembler by day?
“Montreal.” She straddled his lap. “Wow, that’s quite the colorful slim _______ (noun 4) you’ve got there.
“Thanks. I’m a burlesque dancer.”
Am I the only one here giggling like a 14-year-old? Probably. But hey, guess I’m quirky I’m going to finish with a quote I found on Wikipedia’s Romance Novels page (here):
“Romances are, in fact, subversive literature: They encourage women to be dissatisfied with inequality, and to set higher expectations for themselves, and they show them ways to achieve those expectations, largely by taming men and, in a way, usurping their power. Romances are arguably the only art form of any kind that portrays women as equal partners with men.”—David Pollard
What do you think? Does your romance novel reading habit make your partner uncomfortable? Has anyone ever declared something like this to you? Got any clever responses I can use next time?