74,751

This is my new favorite number, and no, I didn’t win a jackpot. It’s not my salary or the balance in my savings account. It’s the word count for the historical romance novel I finally finished writing! It’s still rough in spots, but I was determined to keep at it, without stopping to nitpick, right until THE END.

Word Count

Hi Cortana, how many words in my recently completed romance novel? 74,751 did you say?!

If necessity is the mother of invention, then burning desire is the father of creation. My burning desire to fulfill my dream of completing and publishing a novel drove me to type like a fiend during a recent vacation. That, and the sudden clarity that if I truly want to achieve this long-held dream , I have to make it happen. It is entirely my responsibility to make this a priority, and to believe in myself, my story, and my ability 100 percent – no apologies, no excuses, no downplaying anything.

If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.  ~Unknown

My novel, my story, my baby, has taken on various forms over the years. I started it about 10 years ago, with nothing but a handful of characters, a loose premise, a seaside setting, and a cache of random scenes that I had to somehow connect. At one point, I learned that Harlequin Romance had an e-line which accepted un-agented novellas. This seemed like a manageable place to start as a novice fiction writer. I fleshed out the story to about 15,000 words and submitted it via email. Two years later, almost to the day, I received an email reply from a Harlequin editor saying how sorry she was, but they’d closed that line two years before and thought the email address closed with it. Only recently did they realize folks were still submitting to it. She encouraged me to submit another story to a different line.

I was inspired by the email. They hadn’t flat out rejected me. I decided to expand the story to 55,000-75,000 words, since the other lines required this range. Now I have to smooth out the rough edges, write a new query letter and synopsis, and attempt to navigate the mysterious world of publishing (I’ve decided not to re-submit to Harlequin). That’s where the real work begins.

So that’s where my beloved novel stands. I am beyond excited that it’s come this far. Whatever the outcome, I know that nothing which hails from the creative spirit is ever a wasted effort.

What’s your burning desire? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to set it in motion?

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Over-40 Romance Novels: They Do Exist!

I confess that I’m a romance novel junkie. Despite having an advanced degree in English, I can’t get enough of those steamy, predictable, falling in love stories. They provide the mindless entertainment I seek at the end of a long day.

My favorites are historical romances set in Regency England. As I get older, though, I’m finding that I relate less and less to the young heroines, who usually are under the age of 25.

This got me thinking: Are there any romance novels that feature  heroes and heroines  over the age of 40? A quick Google search gave me an answer, which is a resounding yes!

Here is a list of titles from Goodreads.  Note that the first few are by author Kristen Ashley. I have yet to read one of her books, but already I’m wondering how the love scenes will look in comparison to those with younger lead characters.

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Photo via Goodreads

Here’s an excerpt from a traditional  romance novel, Put Up Your Duke, by Megan Frampton, told from the perspective of the young heroine, who is referring to her under-30 husband: “…that gorgeous, muscular, delicious body.” (342)

Now imagine a similar line from the perspective of a heroine over the age of 40, referring to her equally old lover: “…that sexy, somewhat muscular, slightly beer-bellied body.”

Hmm…which love scene would you rather read?

As if aging bodies weren’t enough to deal with, usually by the time a person reaches their 40s they bring some kind of baggage into a new relationship. This could be emotional baggage, such as a broken heart or career burnout, or physical baggage, like an ex-spouse or a house with an upside down mortgage.

Hardly the stuff of romance.

Nevertheless, I’m going to give one of the books a try. I trust that somehow the author found a way to bypass the baggage and saggage to create a compelling, happily-ever-life-after-40 story.