Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Does No Sex Still = A Good Romance Novel?

It was mentioned several times at the RWA National Conference and in several articles written in the weeks that followed - Romance novels aren't just about sex. The perception is changing and the old term “smut” books isn’t used like it once was.

But the majority of romance novels contain several scenes where the heroine and hero have sex or make love.

I just finished the first draft of my third book, “Emotional Warfare.” It wasn’t until the twelfth chapter, out of an anticipated fifteen, that I realized not only had my hero and heroine not had sex, they weren’t going to by the end of the book. There wasn’t going to be an opportunity, and it didn’t suit their personalities to force an opportunity. Oh, there’s plenty of sexual tension, but they don't lose complete control or give in to their desire for each other. At the end you know they will, but it will all be in your imagination.

Technically, I know the answer is yes, it can still be a good romance novel without the love scene. But what do you think? Does it matter to you if the hero and heroine don’t make love? Does the story lose something for you if they don’t consummate their relationship?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is 40 the new 20?

Oh yeah, I’m liking the sound of that having just turned 41, but I have to admit that turning 40 last year hit me differently than I expected. More on that later. I’ve been hearing this term more and more, and even Andy Rooney had something to say about women in their forty’s, which I’ll post below.

Then I saw a commercial for “Cougar Town”, a weekly sitcom premiering this fall on ABC starring Courtney Cox. She’s a recently divorced, forty-year-old woman wondering what the hell has happened to her body. Noticing how her forty something hot, male neighbor is running hot, younger women through his door like a Kings Island turnstile, she decides to take a gander at the younger male. Anyway, Jules, played by Courtney Cox, struggles with turning forty, her body image, and dating younger men. Give me a break, at least pick an actress who we could believe would struggle with her body image.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to be twenty. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have the really tight butt again, and I wish there wasn’t loose jiggle under my arms when I held them out, but does it bother me enough to change it – which I could with exercise – no. I still eat my nutty bars, Dairy Queen Blizzards on occasion and sit my pretty nice, but not so tight, butt on the couch most nights and write or read or watch television.

I like being forty, okay for forty-one. But last year, the night before my fortieth birthday, I was sitting on my couch next to my husband and burst into tears. I’d felt it building for a couple days, but didn’t quite understand why. I’m not a crier, nor has age ever bothered me, so it came as a shock to me, and my husband, that I was getting so emotional. I still can’t explain it. I guess I thought the wrinkle ferry was going to strike at midnight of my birthday or something. But I woke up the next day with no changes to my appearance and the thought of being forty never bothered me again, neither did turning forty-one.

I like the confidence I have now, which I lacked in my twenty’s. Recently, I’ve even gotten good at confrontation, something I avoided short of jumping off a cliff before. I don't have a problem telling people what I think or feel, and I’m okay if they don’t agree as long as they treat me with respect. I understand that happiness, strength, peace and beauty come from within and nothing outside of our being can give that to us. Everything outside of ourselves that adds to what is within is just icing on the cake. I think these realizations take years of building and isn’t the result of turning forty, but of all the years leading up to forty. It’s just a good place to be.

AC Associated Content put out the top 10 things women resolve to do when they turn forty.

1. Schedule a mammogram and Pap smear – no thanks, I seriously doubt they’d be able to grab enough to reach the machine and then I’m afraid the skin would never go back to its original shape.
2. Get your financial house in order – I recommend you do this before forty.
3. Lose weight – happy to say I did this one and have lost 22 pounds since March.
4. Stop smoking – better advice, don’t ever start.
5. Get clutter under control – done.
6. Eat dinner together – I assume they mean the family, but I’d like to add eating dinner with my female friends goes a long way in my forty something happiness.
7. Learn something new – Blogging is pretty new to me.
8. Learn to say no – I learned that when I was two and still do it pretty well.
9. Give back – this one I could use to work on.
10. Become a “glass-full” person – yeah, got that one taken care of.

And now for Andy Rooney’s take on women in their forty’s:

As I grow in age, I value women over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

A woman over 40 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, 'What are you thinking?' She doesn't care what you think.

If a woman over 40 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it's usually more interesting. Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.

Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated. Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off if you are a jerk, if you are acting like one. You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress. Ladies, I apologize.

For all those men who say, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!

Tell me what you think, is forty the new twenty?