#BreakingtheRules: In Real Life and My Writing

breaking the rules badgeHello my peeps! Today I’d like to talk a bit about breaking the rules.  This topic was inspired by another author and friend Melinda Dozier. She wrote a book called…you guessed it…Breaking the Rules. She’s now into the second week of a blog tour talking about the book, and getting her fellow author friends to dish on how they’ve broken the rules as a writer and how their characters have broken the rules in their story lines.  I found this sort of thing fascinating. You see, as a romance writer, there are a TON of rules that we are all supposed to follow. For example, there always has to be a happily ever after or at least a happy for now ending to your novel, even if it’s a part of a series. There at least has to be a point where the heroine is at least content at the moment.  Now that doesn’t mean you can’t give them a better happy ending later.  There rules for specific publishing houses, specific genres and subgenres, and the rules that govern how and where you’re allowed to promote in social media groups. At times there is just way to much to deal with and you end up with more than a few rebels…like me.

Sure I prefer to have guidelines to follow, but I don’t want to be one of those writer’s who crank out the books that are all the same except for switching out the names of the hero, heroine and villain if there is one. If your back list is made up of all of these, then eventually your fan base will dwindle. Why should they keep reading the same story over and over again when there’s an over abundance of books and authors out there to choose from nowadays? I’m not talking about series books where you have to share a world and characters. I’m talking about the ones who have the exact same love scenes, conversations and inner dialogue from book to book.  You all know what I’m talking about and could probably make a list of these type of books right off the top of your head.

I’m not the traditional kind of author many think of when they hear I write romance. The image of the good old bodice rippers from the 80’s always pops into their heads, along with the sweet, flowery prose used to describe the love scenes.  That is so not me, chicas.  For my contemporary erotic romances, I write REAL characters with all their faults and yes, potty mouths. I don’t sugar coat it because my characters don’t. They fight with their friends and lovers, they make stupid life choices and have to work hard to get what they want out of life. They’re flawed, not perfect and readers can relate to them.  Hell, they may even see bits and pieces of themselves in my characters.  Some romances, even those labeled as erotic, aren’t like that. They have alpha males who prefer those twenty-something females who give them just enough resistance to their charms before succumbing to them completely. Many times these heroines are virgins. Not in my books.

My heroines are well over thirty, most in their early forties, have body image issues at times, are self sufficient professionals who kick ass and take names. They usually are unlucky in the love department for one reason or another, but keep trying. They are passionate and willing to try new things, even thought to be taboo. They’re not wall flowers and don’t need a man to complete them, but they do yearn for a partner who can complete them and make both of their lives even better. My women may have to marry a few Mr. Wrongs before they finally end up with Mr. Always and Forever, but for them the heartache is worth it.

My heroes aren’t perfect either. They have pasts that have scarred them, made them shy of diving right into monogamous relationships, but not enough to keep them away forever. They search for the one who can match them in and out of the bedroom and love a challenge. They don’t want someone who walks all over them, but sometimes love is blind and they miss the red flags.  But watch out when they do see the light!  My guys will also go to hell and back to give the one they love their happily ever after even if it means it’s with another. All they want is for them to be happy.  This can be a problem with some publishers and readers who want a hero who fights for the one he loves and never gives up. Well, real life doesn’t work out that way and you can’t force someone to fall in love with you. I won’t do it with my characters either.

In my real life, I wasn’t much of a rule breaker growing up, but I sure did fantasize about it. I  turned those fantasies into my poems and my novels.  I’ve had my heart broken so many times because I love with my whole heart and trust they feel the same. I left a career and my family to come across country for the love of a man who promised me the moon and stars and took away my self esteem instead.  I clawed my way back from that to mistake a deep caring friendship for love and married so I didn’t have to be alone 2500 miles away from my friends and family, once again changing jobs to make him happy.  I lived in misery for years thinking I wasn’t good enough for anything or anyone else and settled for merely existing.  I finally woke up and said enough is enough and once again gave up everything, losing our condo to short sale, taking on a huge debt from the marriage because I knew my ex wouldn’t take responsibility, and living pay check to pay check.

I didn’t give up on me or finding my Knight in Shining Armor. He was just waiting in the wings until I cleared out the clutter and could finally see him.  He helped mend my broken heart and soul so I could love again. He let me find myself and my path, there to catch me if I needed it.  I’m retiring from a career as a veterinarian after 20 years because I don’t want to follow the rule that says I have to keep at it until the day I die.  I’m living the dream of a published author and soon will enter another phase as CEO of my own publishing house.

How’s that for someone who used to follow all the rules?  LOL

 

~Tammy

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