Romance Writing: Older vs Younger

by Joan Deneve

I’m a true romantic at heart. Maybe it’s because I’m also a high school teacher where romance, not academics, permeates the halls and classrooms. I’m also a writer, and I get great pleasure as a casual observer of human nature to see young people in the first throes of romance. Throe, by the way, is defined by Mr. Webster as a hard or painful struggle (think labor and childbirth). I think it’s the perfect word because, believe me, the struggle is real.

Don’t get me wrong. Young love is a beautiful thing, and there’s nothing quite like it, is there? I’m serious. It’s beautiful and sweet, full of wonder, excitement, and passion. And I confess, I am often a silent cheerleader hoping most of the fledgling couples at our school will make it. Sadly, few do, and at those times, I’m quick to offer my shoulder to the young ladies and a sympathetic ear to the young men, if they want to talk. Most do because, like I said, the struggle is real, and break-ups mean broken hearts.

There is no shortage of romance stories and books aimed at Generation X, Millennials, and even Generation Z, the ones that span from young adult to the thirty-something crowd. Unfortunately, not many books are written with Baby Boomers (like me) in mind.

I get it. As a child, I viewed the relationship between my grandfather and grandmother as mutually supportive, steady, and definitely platonic. Anything else would’ve been just gross! (Actually, I had no idea what platonic meant when I was a child, but you get the idea).

I will turn sixty-five this year, the same age my grandparents would have been when I visited their house in my formative years. Now, my mirror tells me I’m old. I see wrinkles and the gray roots that signal yet another visit to the salon. But in my soul, I still feel like a teenager, and thoughts of love, romance, and passion are not gross at all. In fact…

Well, I digress! I’m here to give you five reasons why writing romance for older couples is a good idea and then offer some practical tips to help you get started.

WHY A ROMANCE WITH AN OLDER COUPLE IS A GOOD IDEA

  1. There is a shortage of books geared specifically for older couples. Yes, there are good ones out there (thank you, Nicholas Sparks) but, in my opinion, not nearly enough.
  2. There is a huge market. Older women like to read, and many of them finally have the time to do it.
  3. Sixty is the new forty. A natural by-product of society’s emphasis on health, fitness, and appearance is that men and women live longer and have more energetic lifestyles.
  4. People are lonely. More single “seniors” are re-entering the world of romance, thanks to dating websites designed for older couples.
  5. Love is ageless!

Convinced? If so, read on for some things to consider if you want to write a romance geared for an older audience.

WHAT OLDER COUPLES ARE LOOKING FOR IN A RELATIONSHIP

  1. People get lonely and want someone with whom they can talk, share the events of the day, go to a movie or out to a restaurant.
  2. Often, older people have baggage from prior relationships. People are looking for someone they can trust, and since there’s no big hurry, they often take a long time getting to know a potential mate.
  3. A great advantage to getting older is the ability to laugh at oneself and take things in stride. Shared jokes could be about something as simple as figuring out how to use a new cell phone or remembering where they left their glasses. Laughter lowers blood pressure and alleviates stress. A good laugh releases endorphins in much the same way as a good work-out but is much more fun and requires no self-discipline. 😉
  4. People who have lived long enough to know who they are and what they want enjoy being with other people whom they can relax around and not have to impress. Life is too short for drama and manipulation, and older adults know that.
  5. Yes, physical attractiveness is a plus, but true beauty is something that glows from the inside. People are drawn to beautiful souls.

Writing a romance for an older couple can be challenging but very rewarding. The goal is the same as with any romance: Make the characters believable, relatable, and likable. Create an intriguing plot and incorporate engaging dialogue, peppered with doses of humor. Provide some kind of obstacle the relationship has to overcome and tie it all together with a satisfying ending.

Interested? Try it for yourself. Write a short story about a widowed woman and a man who has never been married. (Think Matthew Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables). They are both in their mid-sixties and live across the road from each other out in the country. A feral dog shows up that both the man and woman try to tame.

Click to tweet: Writing a romance for an older couple can be challenging but very rewarding. @joandeneve #InspiredPrompt #romance #writing


Joan Deneve

Joan Deneve teaches English in a Christian school and has a passion to help young people fall in love with Christ and equip them to become all God wants them to be. Joan shares her life with Rene’, her husband of forty-four years. Together they reside in Prattville, Alabama, a quaint city with southern charm and hospitality. Joan loves to laugh and spend quality time with family and friends.

Joan’s latest novel, Loving Brock, will be available in April from Write Integrity Press.

www.joandeneve.com


Loving Brock

For almost thirty years, Brock Whitfield served God with joy and contentment at the mission hospital he founded in Angola. When Joy Stockman joined their team as a surgical assistant, he found a woman whose zeal for God and heart for people equaled and in many ways surpassed his own. Before he knew it, his admiration and respect for her blossomed into love. After years of serving alone, Brock began to hope that God was giving him another chance to love and be loved in return.

3 Questions Wednesday with Marji Laine

Happy Wednesday! It’s my pleasure to welcome author and publisher, Marji Laine, to Inspired Prompt.

Good morning, Marji. Can you describe yourself in 3 words?

 Marji: Young-at-heart – an elementary spirit in a nearing senior body. Computerific – I can usually make it do what I want, if it’s working at all. Laughing – if I can’t laugh at myself, I’m missing out on some fun!

Sounds like you’d be a fun person to hang out with. 🙂 Next question…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Marji: I feel like I got that last summer when my kids sent hubby and me on an Alaskan cruise. But for research, I would want to visit castles in Europe. I’d be torn between the beauty of Germany or my personal ancestry in Scotland, but I think I’d lean toward the Scottish highlands. And I’d be ready to dabble a bit in some historical romances!

Castle visiting would be so cool. Last question: 

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Marji: Canon in D. Starts out so simple and gets more and more complicated (and full and beautiful) as the song goes on. Yeah, that’s pretty much been my life!

So pretty. Marji, thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us here at Inspired Prompt.

Readers, Marji is offering an e-copy  of her book, Ain’t Misbehaving to one commenter.

Click to tweet: Author and publisher Marji Laine is our guest today on 3 Questions Wednesday @InspiredPrompt #interview #giveaway


Ain’t Misbehaving

Annalee Chambers: Poised, wealthy, socially elite.
Convict.

Annalee Chambers floated through life in a pampered, crystal bubble until she smashed it with a single word. Dealing with the repercussions of that word might break her, ruin her family, and land her in jail.

True, Annalee’s crime amounted to very little, but not in terms of community service hours. Her probation officer encouraged her with a promise of an easy job in an air-conditioned downtown environment. She didn’t expect her role to be little better than a janitor at an after-school daycare in the worst area of town. Through laughter and a few tears, Annalee finds out that some lessons are learned the hard way, and some seep into the soul unnoticed.

Carlton Whelen hides behind the nickname of CJ so people won’t treat him like the wealthy son of the Whelen Foundation director. Working at the foundation’s after-school program delights him and annoys his business-oriented father. When a gorgeous prima donna is assigned to his team, he not only cringes at her mistakes but also has to avoid the attraction that builds from the first time he sees her.

AIN’T MISBEHAVING encourages acceptance:
•Of things that can’t be changed.
•Of people who are different.
•Of lessons learned.
•Of oneself.

What can a bunch of downtown kids teach a Texas princess?


Marji Laine is a“graduated” homeschooling mom of four who is grateful to her twins for not forcing her into the empty nest season just yet. She now spends more time in her role as executive editor for Write Integrity Press than she does crafting her own stories, but she loves both jobs.

When she’s not wearing the publishing hat, she directs a children’s choir, teaches 10th grade girls Sunday school, and sings in the adult choir at her church. She also leads a high school and college weekly Bible study and has a monthly radio talk show.

She and her husband of 30 years live in a suburb on the north side of Dallas with their twins and their own version of Hank the cow dog, a rescue mutt that rides herd on the entire household. Marji prefers mountains to beaches, dogs to cats, Alaska to the Caribbean, entrees to dessert, and white roses to most any other flower. Her favorites include “Live PD,” the Hallmark channel, Hand and Foot Canasta, NASCAR, and worship music.

You can learn more about Marji and her books at her author pages on Amazon.com and WriteIntegrity.com and her website, MarjiLaine.com

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

By Tammy Trail

Valentine’s Day is just days away. Have you gotten your sweetheart a gift yet? I have done a bit of research on the history of Valentine’s Day. It is rooted in a pagan holiday that ensured fertility.

Roman Emperor, Claudius II ruled that young men in the Army were to remain unmarried. He felt that this would make single men more aggressive in the field of battle. The Emperor put a young cleric by the name of Valentine to death for secretly marrying young couples.  Valentine was later made a Saint by Pope Gelasius and given the date of February 14th to celebrate Saint Valentine.

In the 13th Century, it was synonymous with love and romance because it was believed that this was the beginning of mating season for birds.

In the 15th Century, written valentines were given to sweethearts.

In the 17th Century, valentines were exchanged between those who were smitten with one another.

In 1840, the first mass-produced valentines appeared in the United States. Valentine’s Day is the second most popular card giving occasion. It is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark, Italy, and Japan.

As a child, I remember my mother scouring the house for shoe boxes to be made into valentine mail boxes to decorate for my desk at school. There would be a party, of course, with lots of good treats. After school, you would open your box and read the paper gifts of admiration your classmates gave to you.

I have tried in years past to make my own valentines to give to family members and friends. Last year I made these for my grandsons.

I filled the little sack with treats. They really enjoyed getting a valentine from their Mimi!

I am already diligently looking for options for this year. You may find it just as rewarding to make your own as well. I find a great source of inspiration with Pinterest. What a treasure trove of ideas!

Whether you make your own, or buy a card for that special someone, I believe it’s a good holiday to celebrate. Who doesn’t like candy? And you will make mate, child, or friend feel important with a valentine that you especially picked out for them. You can never go wrong by making people feel loved and important.

For the writer, especially the romance writer, Valentine’s Day is a reminder of why we put words to paper. That boy meets girl stuff is what makes the story, especially when they lived happily ever after.

So, in keeping with that thought! Here is my valentine for all of you.

  1. Writing Prompt: Jessica expected a great big box of heart-shaped candy.  What she found was……..?

Click to tweet: Romance is #alive https://ctt.ec/53mP6

The Inspired Prompt Crew and Romance Novels

Romance novels. Some are good reads but easily forgettable. Some are too formula-bound, others too, shall we say, revealing? There is nothing like a romance novel that holds you spell-bound to the end, loving the settings, characters, and story line. If the story is good enough and timeless, you’ll often find a movie to go along with it.

When it comes to the Inspired Prompt Crew, you might wonder about our favorite romance novel. We’re so glad you asked. Some of our Crew members share their thoughts…

Click to tweet: The Inspired Prompt Crew shares their favorite #romance novels. You might be surprised. #amreading

Harriet Michael

When asked my favorite romance book, my answer comes swiftly, without reluctance—”Lorna Doone”!

I first read “Lorna Doone” as a missionary kid growing up in Africa. We were homeschooled using the Calvert Course curriculum. Back then, and perhaps still, they have elementary students read a child’s abridged version of this classic novel. It made my heart skip and set my mind dancing. For weeks after reading it, my friends and I pretended to be the beautiful Lorna.

A few years ago, I decided to read the original version. It’s a bit challenging since it was written in 1869 and uses very old English terms. In fact, there is one brief section written in the servant’s voice which I had serious trouble reading, so I learned to skim over them. Those parts were only a small section of the book and the rest was much easier to read, especially once I got used to it. (I recommended it to my daughter who also loved it and seemed to have less trouble with those parts. I’ve always known my daughter was smarter than I.)

Author R.D. Blackmore weaves a wonderful story about John Ridd whose father was slain by the Doones, a lawless clan living in wild Exmoor in the seventeenth century. Ridd manages to meet and then fall in love with the beautiful Lorna Doone. They become secret playmates as children and true loves as they mature. The plot is masterful! I highly recommend it to all romance readers, especially if they are also writers. Read this book and learn plot and character development from one of the Masters!

Gail Johnson

When asked for the names of my all-time favorite romance stories,  the first two that leap to mind is Redeeming Love and Pearl in the Sand. In Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers transports her reader to a California gold rush town where she shares the story of Michael (Hosea) and Angel (Gomer).

Tessa Afshar’s, Pearl in the Sand is a fictional tale of the harlot, Rahab. Afshar skillfully depicts Rahab’s struggles, her deliverance,  and her marriage to Salmone, a Hebrew leader. Both are filled with truth and symbolism of God’s forgiveness and love for his people.

Cammi Woodall 

I read a lot of romance books. A lot. My mother started me out on Grace Livingston Hill and Barbara Cartland. As I grew, I devoured series by Jane Austen, Nora Roberts, Jude Deveraux, and Kathleen Woodiwiss. That’s why my choice of my favorite romance book is… odd.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz is not a typical romance book by any means. The book focuses on the character of Odd Thomas, a fry cook in the small desert town of Pico Mundo, California, who spends his days flipping pancakes and grilling hamburgers. It is a simple life but one he revels in, because Odd has an unusual ability.

He can see dead people. Any time a spirit cannot pass over, they are drawn to this young man. Much of the novel focuses on Odd’s attempts to solve murders and help these spirits so they can go forward to the next great adventure.

The one thing ‘normal’ about his life is his relationship with Stormy Llewellyn. Stormy comes from an abusive childhood but finds the strength to call the authorities and save herself. The two young people share a chaste love and a deep bond. At a local carnival, they see a gypsy fortune teller machine. Each couple in front of them receives bad messages, but they decide to try their luck anyway. They receive a small white card with a decorative border  embossed with the words “You are destined to be together forever.” They both smile, because they already know this.

The novel culminates in a gruesome mall shootout. After disarming the gunmen and disabling a bomb, Odd is badly wounded. During his hospital stay and recovery, Stormy never leaves his side. The two laugh, talk, watch TV, and recuperate, healing both wounds and spirits together. After a few days, Odd’s friends come to tell him the truth, something he has known the whole time but refused to acknowledge. This truth sets the stage for the rest of the books.

This is where the ‘romance’ angle of the book veers away from the normal formula. Stormy and Odd are not together at the end of this book. I won’t go into the details but I do recommend you read the story. I warn you though – you will fall in love with Odd and his eclectic assortment of friends.

The ‘end’ of Odd’s relationship with Stormy is defining, as it sends Odd on a long, spiritual voyage. Koontz summarized it as follows: “You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it’s over and you’re alone, you begin to see that it wasn’t just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything; it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.”

In the end, Odd leaves Pico Mundo. He has no intentions of disrespecting Stormy’s gift of life, but he does not think he yet deserves to spend eternity with his girl. So he heads out into the world to confront his grief and help in whatever way he can. By confronting evil and the woes of humanity, he will struggle through this boot camp of life so he can be with Stormy. After all, they are destined to be together forever.

There are seven books in the Odd Thomas series, with two smaller novellas. The last book, Saint Odd, was published in 2015. I will make a confession. I have only read 5 ½ of the books. I cannot make myself finish the series because I am afraid it won’t end the way I want.

I adore the characters of Odd Thomas and Stormy Llewellyn. The stories are all first person, so it feels like Odd and I are on the front porch watching the sunset while we sip sweet tea. He regales the reader with his humorous, insightful, self-deprecating views on life and the follies/evil we all encounter. He has become a dear friend and I want his story to end gloriously.

He and Stormy are destined to be together forever. I won’t settle for anything less.

And when you read romance or write romance, you shouldn’t settle for anything less either. If writing, use vibrant characters, a good plot line, and a love that goes above and beyond the story itself. If reading, let the story carry you. Root for love and “boo” at the evil. Enjoy the book in your hand.

Maybe one day you can see the movie…

 

3 Questions Wednesday with Kelly Irvin

KellyIrvin_NewPhoto_0820172Happy Wednesday! It’s my pleasure to welcome author Kelly Irvin to Inspired Prompt.

Good morning, Kelly. Can you describe yourself in 3 words?

Creative. Faithful. Introverted.

Perfect words to describe a writer. Next question…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

This is a timely topic! I’m getting ready to write a proposal for a new Amish romance series for my publisher. The location is the oldest and most remote Amish community in Montana. It’s a difficult trip for me because of physical disabilities. I’d love to be able to spend a week in that region, seeing the mountains, visiting the nearby state park and lake, and interviewing some of the personnel involved in fighting the wildfires. It’s difficult to write a series if you’re not familiar with the setting. You get a lot from the Internet, but it’s not the same as seeing it with your own eyes. You absorb so many more details.  It’s a remote location in far northwest Montana so I’m sure the travel will be expensive. Those are challenges writers have to consider when selecting locations for their series. It would be fun and beautiful, though!

Your description makes me want to pack my bags. 🙂 But first…

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Eeks. This is hard!  “Standing Outside the Fire,” performed by Garth Brooks.

Ah… a choice to play it safe or give it all you got. Kelly, thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us here at Inspired Prompt.

Readers, Kelly is offering a hard copy of her book (United States only) to one commenter.

Click to tweet: Kelly Irvin is our guest today on 3 Questions Wednesday @InspiredPrompt #interview #giveaway

 


BeneathTheSummerSun_CVR (002)Jennie Troyer knows it’s time to remarry. Can she overcome a painful secret and open her heart to love?

It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward.

Mennonite book salesman Nathan Walker stops by Jennie’s farm whenever he’s in the area. Despite years of conversation and dinners together, she never seems to relax around him. He knows he should move on, but something about her keeps drawing him back.

Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return?

In this second book in the Every Amish Season series, three hearts try to discern God’s plan for the future—and find peace beneath the summer sun.


KellyIrvin_NewPhoto_0820172Two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist Kelly Irvin is the author of the critically acclaimed Amish of Bee County, Bliss Creek Amish, and New Hope Amish series. Her newest release is Beneath the Summer Sun, the second novel in the four-book series Every Amish Season from Zondervan Publishing. Her work has also appeared in four Amish anthologies, An Amish Market, An Amish Summer, An Amish Christmas Love, and An Amish Christmas. Kelly is a retired newspaper reporter and public relations professional who lives with her husband in Texas. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two ornery cats.