Friday, May 3, 2013

What Sweet Young Things Know About Love wouldn't fill my Crow's Feet (why older authors are hitting home runs).

Before we get started, first NEWSFLASH! Did you know that here at Writers Gone Wild, wild women get it free? Yes, we're doing a $25 Amazon gift card giveway this month. For more information on how to enter and play (lots of ways to win), click here!

If you read or write romance and follow the social networks, you'd have to be dead to have missed all tbe media buzz erotic romance author, Desiree Holt, is stirring up. Yes, I'm fan girling Desiree hard. At the age of 76, she has over a hundred and thirty books to her credit. And they're amazing. The real kicker, though, is that this spirited Texas grandmother didn't start publishing until 2006. That means when she published her first erotic romance, she was hitting the threshold of seventy, a time when most women are expected to invest in orthopedic shoes and burial plots. From what I gather from those who have met her, Desiree is every bit as fun and spirited as the heroines she writes.

Ms. Holt isn't alone. In fact, she's nowhere near the oldest woman writing romance today. Recently a friend sent me a link to an article about UK author, Ida Pollock, who is still pouring on the steam for her readers at the age of 105. Ida has sold millions of books and now dictates them to her 69 year old daughter. Good bye myth that romance authors must be young and glamorous if they expect to sell books. Ida's got it going on, big time.

Perhaps due to some severe stress in my marriage, I've been thinking a lot about age and new beginnings lately. My age(creeping up), the age of successful romance authors, and yes, even the age of their heroines I read about. As far as I'm concerned, no man is strong enough to park Liane in the corner because he's deemed her "too old." As a reader, I have always loathed books about twenty something heroines. So when I read that authors like Ms. Holt are focusing on mature heroines, the news gave me the push I needed to get my writing groove back. You see, I've always preferred writing older heroines, even when I clearly wasn't.

I had an OW/YM piece final in a national contest and make the rounds of agents and a few publishers. It received great reception with promises of further consideration If I dialed the heroine's age back, say a decade or two, or, at the very least, make the hero older because, well an older woman with a much younger man just seemed pathetic. Their words, not mine. Um....the entire plot hinged around the OW/YM romance. But I tried. In doing so, I destroyed a fabulous book. Then I lost my love for a genre that had no place for authors like me, and heroines like mine. So again...fuck that. It's my story and I'm going back in and telling it my way. It's due for publication this summer. :)

Another finalist in the same contest, Gail Hart, blogs with us here at Writers Gone Wild. Like myself, Gail is a late baby boomer and writes brilliant romance from that perspective. Her book, Confessions of the World's Oldest Shotgun Bride also made the rounds. Unlike me, Gail stuck to her guns and kept her heroine older and career driven. Given she recently learned she was a finalist with the same book in RWA's Golden Heart Contest, I'm thrilled she stuck to her guns. Apparently, so were the judges. No wonder. Gail's blurb is brilliant in its description of a strong capable heroine who doesn't need a man to complete her happiness:

Business executive Katie St. John has given up on love, which she stinks at, to focus on her red-hot career. All she wants from Steve Tyler, an amazingly sexy, surprisingly sweet, and much younger Air Force pilot, is help making her vacation one to remember -- and maybe a little help crossing off some items on her secret to-do list of sexual fantasies. Sure, the chemistry between them is hotter than the Cayman sun, but once this vacation’s over, she’ll say good-bye and go back to plotting corporate coups.

But Steve won’t settle for being her temporary boy toy. He's lusted after Katie, the glamorous older woman who lived next door when he was a kid, since he was old enough to know what lust was. Now that she’s finally moved from his fantasies to his bed, he’s not about to let her go without a fight – especially once he learns she's returned home with the mother of all souvenirs.

Gail's recent success got me to thinking that perhaps the genre is catching up to the mature reader. So I asked her why she chose to embark on a romance writing career later in life and do so writing older heroines. I loved her response. "Writing older is better because there are a lot vibrant, successful, and yes, slightly older women out there who want to read about heroines their own age scoring a hottie and finding true love." Um, yeah. What she said. Where do I sign up? :)

On the flip side, is OW/YM by it's nature truly limited in sales potential because of it's narrow demographic appeal? One agent I spoke to a couple of years back felt the answer was yes. To do my own informal research, I turned to the baby girl of Writer's Gone Wild, the well published Jenna McCormick. "I've always been drawn to older heroines, just because when I was in my twenties I couldn't find my ass with both hands. These 22 year olds that get a happily ever after piss me off, because I always wonder if they could really appreciate it." Yeah, Jenna. What you said.

The purpose of this post isn't to knock younger women finding true love or younger authors chasing their writing dreams.It's simply to encourage mature authors to quit using their age as an excuse to stop dreaming. If the heroine's age is what's stopping you from loving your story, let her grow up. If your age is stopping you from writing it, I'm going to whisper,"cop out." Let your imagination fly. Let your heroines experience all the fears, uncertainties that are holding you back. Let all the risks and triumphs you worry may have passed you buy drive you forward. I can't think of anything sweeter than a heroine finding new, or even first, love during a time she believes her life is already set--for better or for worse.

By the way, my older woman, younger man romance, Muse Struck will be released this summer from Sanibel Moon. I can hardly wait to begin again.

No more excuses. Just write.

My amazing cover is courtesy of photographer and cover designer, Julie Baldani.


Jenna McCormick said...


Kimberly said...

I absolutely loved this! It was honest and fresh and fun. When I was a teen, I wasn't happy reading about teens. I wanted to read about adults and love and heartbreak. And, of course, happily ever afters. When I was older, I still liked reading those stories, but when I became older than the heroines in the books, I became slightly annoyed.
But I did the reverse. I ended up writing YA! I figured since teens didn't have that many choices for reading age-appropriate books when I was that age, that I would write one. Then I started reading Young Adult books myself, and I felt jealous that teens today have so many reading choices that I didn't. LOL.
But, I do think the older woman/younger man thing works for so many reasons. I began to hate all the romances with older men and younger women. It was all the little ladies that should be happy some man came along and rescued them from themselves. Why shouldn't romance take a backseat until women feel like they've accomplished the things they've always wanted to do with their lives? Men do the same thing! :-)
Plus, with the maturity level thing, in these stories, they're practically the same age. LOL.
A special shout out to my Lucky 13 sister, Gail Hart. Good luck in the Golden Heart! May your older woman get ALL the desires of her heart. :-)

Gail Hart said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kim! And you're right, there's so much more choice than there used to be in fiction for teen readers. I hope you find a place for your manuscript very soon!

Lark Howard said...

GREAT post!! Loved reading fellow GH finalist Gail Hart's blurb! And I'm totally cool with OW/YM stories since that's also my life. I've been married to my younger man for 15 years now so when several contest judges sneered that the couple in an early OW/YM story was unrealistic, I wanted to scream "WTF do you know?!!!!" Oh, and by the way, Gail, my husband's name is Steve. :-)

Nan Dixon said...

Congratulations Gail! And what a great blurb.
I like reading about any age - but I'm looking for a compelling story and a hero and heroine that I can relate to.
Sounds like you have winner!

Gail Hart said...

How cool that you found your HEA with a younger man, Lark!

Gail Hart said...

Thanks for dropping by, Nan. I love how the Lucky 13s support each other!

(Lucky 13s is the name this year's GH finalists have given ourselves.)

Gail Hart said...

Oh, and Liane, that cover is looking GORGEOUS!

Piper Huguley said...

A great blog post! As more of us GHers reveal what our stories are about, it seems that the judges like variation from the romance norms, with the older male younger female being one. Good for you Gail!


Gail Hart said...

I've noticed the same thing, Piper. Your story is "outside the box" too - a historical set in 1913, right? The judges this year seem more adventurous than the publishing industry.

Gail Hart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liane Gentry Skye said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by. And to all you lovely GH finalists, good luck! It's so refreshing to see that the tastes of judges are expanding as fast as that of readers.

Gail...I love that cover so hard, and the one for Love Struck might even be better! Very high hopes for these two books....

Loralynne S. said...

You know, I *LIKE* the OW/YM stories, and I'm in my mid-thirties. Books with these young 22-year-olds who don't know what the hell they're doing or where they're going, and then get swept off their feet? puh-lease. It's a script for disaster, if you ask me. She had no clue, so will settle for anything and think it's the best she'll ever get. With an older woman, the guy really has to work for it. I've only been reading the romance genre for a few years, and have recently tried my hand at writing it. My crit partner thinks I've got a shot. But my heroine? She's older. She's got a career and is full of self-esteem. Something younger women don't know the first thing about. I certainly didn't until I hit my thirties. That's probably why I'm drawn to an older heroine - the stories seem more realistic to me, because they remind me of my life, and the fact that I didn't find my HEA until my thirties.

Kaylea Cross said...

Awesome post! Actually, one of my fave tropes aside from reunion and best friend's little sister romances are ones with older protagonists. Older woman, younger man = awesome!

I can't wait for Gail to publish that story. And you go, Liane! xo


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