Writing—Beyond the Scope of Your Generation
By Claire Gem
Choices have become a necessity instead of a luxury. We must make choices, or we risk spending every waking minute of every day engulfed in the relentless onslaught of the media.
I have my own, very individual preferences when it comes to media intake. I’m very limited. Very persnickety. I have been accused (and rightly so) of being an Internet junkie, which is true. But I do not watch television, and rarely sit through a movie. For reading, I haven’t read a newspaper in decades. I prefer audiobooks to paperbacks, paperbacks to eBooks. I hadn’t bought a magazine in years—until a few days ago.
I was standing in line at the grocery store and caught sight of the August issue of Cosmopolitan. When I spotted the cover model, Ashley Graham, I was intrigued and thrilled. It’s about time! I can’t ever remember seeing a plus-size model (she prefers the term “curvy sexylicious”) on the cover of Cosmo. Turns out, Ms. Graham also graced the cover of the 2016 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Who knew?
Apparently, the entire world—except me.
My daughter, who is thirty-six, LOVES Cosmo. Not surprising, since the magazine is perfectly suited for her age group. I was a Cosmo subscriber in my twenties and thirties, even a ways into my forties. But I let the subscription slide when I hit the big five-O, when it seemed all the articles, ads, and fashion advice suited a younger, thinner, more “cosmopolitan” woman. Only occasionally do I pick up an issue of “More” Magazine, geared specifically toward the more “mature” woman.
But truthfully, other than my monthly issue of the Romance Writer’s Report, I hardly ever read a periodical.
What a mistake. I hadn’t realized how BIG a mistake that decision was until I began perusing the articles in my new issue of Cosmo—most of them, still, geared for women in a younger age bracket than me. Why? Because of two very critical factors:
a. I’m a romance author—a contemporary romance author, and
b. my heroines are Cosmo age.
As I flipped through the pages, a startling realization struck me: how on earth can I continue to create authentic, believable, modern heroines if I’m not in touch with who they are? I can’t.
It got me to wondering, which inevitably led me to researching.
RWA has done an outstanding job of surveying and studying the market, dissecting our readership to help us understand our audience. You can see these statistics here. These numbers show that the U.S. romance book audience is mostly 84% female, and aged between 30 and 54 years. But how old, I wondered, is the average romance writer of today?
My (somewhat limited) research revealed only one outdated blogger survey (2010) that concluded the average age of debut romance authors was forty. A first novel at forty means there are a large percentage of romance writers who are older than that. If anyone knows of a more recent survey on this subject, please speak up in comments! Because I do know one thing: a large percentage of the heroines in contemporary romance novels (other than YA and New Adult) are between twenty-five and thirty-five years of age.
I was a late bloomer in the romance writing industry—fifty-five when I held that first precious publishing contract in hand. My heroine in that book, Phantom Traces, is twenty-eight. During the editing process, I learned I had, in many instances, mistakenly portrayed Abigail Stryker as a twenty-eight year old living in the 1980s. When I did.
What’s the point of all this drabble? As authors, we all know the mantra of read, read, read. If you want to write romance, you need to read it. I do, swallowing anywhere from 5-10 books a month in various formats, including eBooks, paperbacks, and audio. But I realized, while holding that Cosmopolitan magazine in my hands, that reading books alone isn’t enough. I needed a more current, steady diet of what’s going on today. A lifeline to the mindset of the modern woman. Women who are in their twenties and thirties and living in the NOW, not the world I knew when I was their age.
In my current work-in-progress, my heroine is twenty-six years old. She probably buys Cosmopolitan. In fact, I’m now going to add a scene showing her reading the magazine. And in order for me to get it right, get her right, I need to read what she’s reading.
Guess I’d better renew that subscription.
Claire’s latest release, A TAMING SEASON, is the first Love at Lake George Novel.
Manhattan domestic violence counselor Zoe Anderson is going on the most important vacation of her life.
Before she can move on, help other women, Zoe needs to heal herself. She sets out for picturesque Lake George to claim the treasured family cottage she recently inherited. The place where she found happiness—before.
What she finds is a rundown shack.
The neighboring resort mogul, Jason Rolland, whisks in to her rescue, insisting Zoe stay at his upscale Lakeview Lodge. The wealthy, handsome playboy figures he’ll seduce her, then convince the her to give up the crumbling eye-sore next door. He’s been trying to buy the cabin—and demolish it—for years: the last reminder of his own tragic childhood.
What Jason doesn’t figure on is Zoe melting his emotional armor. But with his reputation, can he ever win her heart? Or will their pasts come back to bite them both?
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2a2CSda
Claire writes emotional romance. Her heroes are hot, her heroines strong and brave: a combination lighting the spark to fan the flames of your most intense romantic fantasies. Claire's characters are human—they make mistakes, get clumsy sometimes, and they're not too proud to laugh at themselves and each other.
She writes in two genres: romance w/a ghostly twist, and sexy contemporary. Claire's books are like a thrill ride at a theme park. Whether it's spooky-scary, angst-ridden relationships filled with gut-wrenching turmoil, silly chuckle moments, or face-fanning sex, Claire guarantees to take you on an emotionally intense romantic journey.
A Taming Season: A Love at Lake George Novel
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2a2CSda
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2ag8oHG