Wow, That Must Make Your Husband Really Uncomfortable

sexy-woman-reading-bookApologies, 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*Single.-Taken.-In-Love-With-A-Fictional-Character.

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.

There’s a time and place for porn, but romance novels, even erotica, are as much about the development of the internal romance as the external expression of it.readbutton_med

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?

Comments

  1. This is hysterical!! And I admit I have yet to tell anyone in my “regular” life that I have taken up Romance writing, except one person who is my big cheerleader. My husband has no clue about what I’ve written!

  2. My husband is like yours. He was telling everyone about my romance novelist ambitions before I was ready. He’s read everything I’ve written and tells everyone how proud he is of me. So I bought him a t-shirt that reads, “My wife writes romance novels. I’m her research department. Life is very good.”

    I can’t help with you the embarrassed question. I haven’t had that. What I get (or a regular basis) is strangers or acquaintances hearing about my book coming out and asking for free autographed copies.

  3. When anyone asks what I write or how I’m spending my retirement years, I smile and say, “I’m a romance writer and I love my job.” And you better believe I add a purr to the last phrase in that sentence. When the person’s eyes widen, I respond with “Oh yeah, hot and steamy, baby.” Some prudes gasp and project their tight-assed opinions on me. I laugh. I mean, seriously…Get a grip!

    A guy in the writers’ group my author husband and I once attended sneered at me and said, “Romances all have the same plot. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl in the end.” The first time he spewed his philosophy, I was so surprised at his ballsy behavior, I remained silent. The next time I shared a chapter, he repeated himself. This time I was ready. “You’re quite right. Mysteries, too, have their formula. A crime must be commited and in the end it is always solved.” I faked a yawn. “No surprises there. And formulas abound in any genre of literature. Must we not have a powerful opening hook, a strong middle that doesn’t sag and a compelling, rememorable ending? To only assign the formula concept to romance is rather narrow-minded, don’t you think?”

    I repeat, I’m a romance writer and I love my job. Great post. And kudoes to you for what you did with our random word choices. Love…LOVE your imagination. Woot!

    • Aw, Vonnie. You’re an inspiration to us all! I LOVE that you OWN yourself, your writing career, your love life. That kind of confidence is so magnetic. And what a great comeback. I’ll totally ponder that one and have it at the ready if I ever need it :) Thanks!

      • I wasn’t always that way, Rachael. Like anything, it’s been a journey. At first I clung to your thinking. I hid what I was writing or even that I was writing at all. I feared no agent would want me. No publisher would publish my feeble attempts. But I’ve tackled all those hurtles. Well, not all, I’m trying to move into bigger pubs now and am biting my nails. But along the way, I realized I’d already done more than so many people. I’d written a book. I’d gotten an agent. I’d published a book that garnered some awards. Now I’m writing book eight. So I’ve eased into owning what I do. You will, too, in your own time and in your own way. We’re all unique, after all, and do things in our own style–which is how it should be.

  4. Mary Roya says:

    I don’t have time to read all of this blog.  But I will when I got home.  As if the neighbor ever says “it must be uncomfortable for you husband”  My reply, is no way.  He loves it.  I try out everything on him. And then I walk away.  Maybe send husband to deal with it.  Or not!  Can’t wait till I get home so I can really read and enjoy this blog.  Mary

    ________________________________

  5. Hahahaha… !!!

  6. Boy you folks are super creative. But, Duh! You’re romance writers. Great post. Rachel I haven’t had anyone ask if my writing makes my husband uncomfortable, but I heard all the time at our neighborhood monthly coffees (we’re mostly older few kids), “Well, when is your book coming out?” I’ve been writing for several years, and it was with great joy and relief when I announced at the coffee 3 months ago I’d sold and the book VERMONT ESCAPE would be out this summer!
    My husband is just thrilled. He was beginning to have his doubts. Now, if when it comes out, he doesn’t find ANY errors, I’ll be happy. He’s got a really sharp eye!
    Like the idea of a T-shirt for him! My own favorite is. “Romance writers do it, and write about it! LOL

  7. Rachael, I love this post! I have yet to run into someone who dogs on romances, but I can’t wait. I have all kinds of yummy comebacks – especially now. ;)

    My husband is my biggest cheerleader as well. When I asked him if he was going to be a little embarrassed about all his friends/associates reading the sex in my book when it comes out, he said, “Why would I? Besides, I thought it was going to be way more [explicit].” LOL. Guess I can push the envelope even more…And he’s always primed for more research! ;)

  8. Wow! Great post and responses. Maybe it comes with age, *smile*, but it would be a mistake to call me out on writing romances. I’d probably have smiled, leaned over and whispered, “Not at all. In fact, he’s enjoyed most of the ‘uncomfortable positions’ I’ve tried on him.”

    I write love stories and that’s what I tell people. Okay, I toss in a murder or two but the main focus in my books is the relationship between two people. And sex plays a big part of any relationship.

  9. Josie Matthews says:

    Oh Rachael! Just love the mad lib!!! I giggled too! (teehee)
    I work with a plethora of big-time readers…Only a handful are romance junkies like me. The rest? Big on all other kinds of stuff that for some reason just doesn’t interest me!! Ive tried to read their suggestions but I find I CRAVE a love story in any book I read. Sometimes I can get into a good thriller but I really need love! If the ending isn’t satisfying to me…I feel like ripping my eyelashes out…Not a good place to be. Hence…romance is it for me…any and ALL kinds of romance, none are the same!
    People constantly ask me how my book is coming and sadly, I have to admit I choke and say…’Its coming.’ Its been coming for three years now!!! I think most people have given up on me…hubby included, but Ill surprise them all someday when I get that contract! Until then…its my little secret…
    Great post!

    • Oh, you’ll get there, Jos!!

    • Yeah, Josie! Let’s go read Mad Libs in the corner and snicker together…

      I’m with you on the romance thing. I used to be okay, but now, I find myself analyzing everything I watch for the romance. Seriously, why do I keep expecting the contestants on Top Chef to fall in love? *shakes head at self* ;)

  10. I knew I was going to have a good laugh before I even clicked on the post. Thanks!

  11. Great post, Rachael! It’s wonderful that your hubby is proud of your writing, and we know he’s getting some perks from your creative mind.

  12. Samantha says:

    Interesting and timely post. I’m almost done with my revisions to the last section of my book, wherein there is a sex scene, and my husband is going to read it for the first time. I’m a little bit concerned, not *nervous* per se, but I don’t know how he’ll react. I think I’m expecting a “Huh, well, isn’t that interesting.” Which, of course, is not what a girl wants.

  13. ana morgan says:

    Don’t give up, Josie. My WIP is also a slow bloomer, but each go-through is adding icing on the cake. And the leftovers look really good on me.
    Great post Rachael! My husband offers to test love scenes all the time, and I’m much bolder about describing what I write. Last week, a high school acquaintance (whom I remembered being stuffy) emailed that she’d read my romance as soon as it comes out.

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