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).
Posted by Liane Gentry Skye
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.