The F*ckable Silver Fox Romance Heroine And Me

If you have a psyche of a sensitive nature, one that detests off-colour language, you may want to look away now because I’m about to drop some f-bombs.

By now you’ve probably seen it, Amy Schumer’s Last Fuckable Day. If you haven’t here’s a link to it.  Go watch it now.

If you don’t want to watch it, in a nutshell, the skit addresses the ageist and oh-so-sexist double standard in Hollywood. You know the ageist double standard I mean, don’t you? It’s that thing when an actress reaches an age grannyand is suddenly put out to pasture, or only offered stereotyped roles like mother, cougar, knitting grandma, and crazy hag cat lady, because they’ve crossed The Line of 40 and are no longer considered ‘fuckable’— or bankable. It’s that thing that doesn’t happen to men in Hollywood.

It also that thing that doesn’t happen to heroes in Romance Fiction.

In Schumer’s Last Fuckable Day, Amy and her pals, Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patricia Arquette point out a woman’s ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date in Hollywood, the enduring stereotyped roles available to an actress of a certain age, and how their male counterparts fail to suffer the same fate when they cross The Line of 40. You see, Silver Foxes, like George Clooney, are welcome in Hollywood as much as they are in romance novels. And in romance novels silver fox heroes are a hot and sought after hero.

Like in Hollywood the silver fox romance hero is usually paired with a younger woman. Like in Hollywood the silver fox moniker applies only to men. There are those of us who are tired of this ageist and sexist double standard. There are those of us tired of being told, ‘Sorry, you’re over 40 and no one wants to fuck you onscreen or in the pages of a romance novel.‘ To that I say, bullshit, there ARE people who want to see thosCGAHe movies and read those books. There are those of us who have money we would spend to see those movies and read those books because there are those of us who think that, who know that, being over 40 doesn’t mean you’re done with love or sex or romance.  There are those of us (in spite of how much we love Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade) who’d like to see the silver foxy hero paired with a woman his own age. There are those of us who want to change things, who want silver fox to apply to women who have crossed The Line of 40.

Yes, I’m one of those who wants to change this because, goddamn it, I’m over 40 and I’m a silver fox, not a dumpy middle-aged hausfrau who’s dead from the waist down, and I’m tired of seeing women like me left out of movies and books. I’m so over seeing Daniel Craig’s late 40s SPECTRE James Bond get paired up with the then 20-something Lea Seydoux instead of 50-something Monica Bellucci.

Pardon my momentary rant. I still haven’t recovered from the missed opportunity of Bond getting the RIGHT GIRL.

I write romance fiction with silver foxy men AND silver foxy women. Yeah, no, I’m not going to call her a silver vixen because cougar is already pejorative enough and there isn’t a male equivalent besides ‘dirty old man,’ which is something more perverted than a screen hero paired with a woman half his age—which keeps getting rammed down society’s throat Antonelli coveras normal.

Sorry…sorry, ranting again. Bond should have been with Bellucci.

There are those of us who believe we need a new normal, those of us who believe that if we saw silver foxy women on a regular basis, in advertising, on the big screen, on TV, in print that the double standard that keeps women over 40 trapped by stereotypes of age might change. That’s what I am doing, changing what I see by presenting real women in romance fiction who are not trapped by a stereotype of age, who are not cougars, grannies, or crazy cat ladies. In fact, I’m going against the Hollywood image completely.NextToYou_V1_FINAL Round3-Harlequin1920_1920x3022

My books, all of them, feature pairs of silver foxes in romance fiction, something we are lead to believe is a younger woman’s tale, which we know in real life is bullshit.

My latest release, Next to You, features a pair of silver foxes. It’s about a Bubblegum pop loving albino man named William Murphy and his new neighbor, Caroline, a woman who’s trying to grab life by the balls.  Next to You  comes on on Monday.

A Reading Challenge Where YOU Get to SHOUT!

Few Kidbingogames conjure up images of childhood and being elderly as BINGO.

You know what I mean.  You spent your kid days singing that earwormy song that I bet is earworming through you because you simply saw the word.

A second or two later, as you realised you were humming the tune, or outright singing There was a farmer who had a dog… you automatically went to your inner kid place — or thought about retirement communities where some stereotyped imaged of the aged popped into your mind’s eye and you pictured rows and rows of old folk with their big-assed magic markers/Sharpies/Nikko pens/marker pens (choose the pen that best fits your dialect of English). You saw the tumbler and the game show host who calls out the number he pulls whilst making smarmy game-show host quips about the numbers and/or Bingo participants… OH DEAR GOD! I’ve been brainwashed into having instant images of how retired elderly folk are ‘supposed to’ spend their days!

BingoI should slink away in shame.

But I won’t because I know, despite my momentary (and shocking realisation that I’ve been indoctrinated by the media) lapse in reason, Bingo is a game for all ages, played by all ages.

Some Bingo games are more fun than other Bingo games. Grocery Shopping Bingo, for instance, or Number Plate Bingo (find all 50 US states/ European Countries/ All 8 Australian States and territories).

Some Bingo brings big bucks (love that alliteration, don’t you?).

Some Bingo, like The Shallowreader’s Bingo, brings you nothing but hours of reading pleasure, which YOU KNOW IS A HUGE PRIZE!

Some Bingo, Like The Shallowreader’s is simply a challenge, and who doesn’t like a challenge?

This is a reading Bingo Game.  A liberal reading Bingo game. You read and play Bingo with the books you are reading. Here’s what The Shallowreader is doing:

The rules are simple: cross the box as you read and when you get 5 in a row give out a Shallowreader Bingo call on either your blog, twitter or your favourite social media platform with a list of the items you have read. On the 29th of every month, I will put out a Bingo reminder and people can check their lists but I am happy for people to call #shallowreaderBingo whenever they like.

shallowreaderbingo-01I’m so playing along. Won’t you too? While a lot of you may be romance readers you are not limited to reading romance. Anything goes here. Just read, kids. READ! Follow the link to Shallowreader to join.

Come on. You know you wanna shout out BINGO!

 

Photos: garlandcannon viaFoter.com / CC BY-NC-SA, David Gallagher viaFoter.com / CC BY-NC-SA, Leo Reynolds viaFoter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

 

Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 18: Roz Groves’ 5 Star Review of Halloween

SandrabooksRoz Groves of My Written Romance, loves a good silver fox hero like Driving in Neutral’s Emerson Maxwell, Skippy peanut butter, is a foot shorter than her husband (who isn’t?) and  reviews (plug) books, like Driving in Neutral. Today, rather that give you a new review of a fantastic romance novel, Roz gives us her take on Halloween…in Canada.

Like most Aussie kids of the 80s, Halloween was only something you saw on American TV shows Roz-@-MWRor in books. To a sweet­toothed youngster like myself, the concept of rocking up to someone’s door and leaving with a bounty of sugared confection was like manna from heaven.

My first direct experience with Halloween was when I was living in Vancouver, Canada in 2003. The tall man and I took to the ghoulish festival with glee. We’d been invited to a Halloween do, so off we went shopping for our costumes. After much inappropriate laughter in the dollar store, our gear was set.

I loved that we could catch public transport dressed as aliens ­ masks in place ­ and no one batted an eyelid. If we’d tried that at home…..out would come the men with the white jackets!

Everywhere was into it, which was fabulous. Even our condo manager set up in the lobby to dole out the sweeties.

hpbcNow, 11 years later, Halloween has well and truly hit our shores on this side of the Pacific. However, nothing will ever really top that first one for me.

Would someone please pass Roz the Pumpkin-shaped Peanut butter cups?

Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 6: Amanda Ashby, Zombie Jokes, and Chocolate

SandrabooksWhile today’s post does not contain claustrophobia, the FBI, home renovation, peanut butter or cookies, it does contain author Amanda Ashby, who may or may not be full of chocolate when she’s not writing about zombies, which you know are full o’ awesomesaucy Halloweenie goodness.

Normally when I write a Halloween post it simply involves a few zombie jokes and a recount of how ridiculous it is to take your kids trick-or-treating at six at night in the Southern Hemisphere when the sun is still high in the sky (well, in those places that have daylight saving). However, Amanda-Ashby-photo-2-204x300Sandra seemed to think it would be a good idea to relate this back to our books, which if you ask me just smacks of hard work. However, since I don’t want her to know just what a slacker I truly am (though I’m sure she’ll find out in time) I realized that this blog post would require a bit of deep thought. Oh, and anyone who knows me and finds this concept amusing, please keep your laughing to a dull roar!

So, down to business.

Growing up in Queensland in the seventies and eighties meant that Halloween wasn’t a big deal to me. There were a few boys who would go around dressed in white sheets armed with eggs and flour but that’s about the extent of my Halloween memories. However, as a writer, the 31st of October has always played an important part in my life—and not just because I write paranormal novels that involve such things as zombies, killer fairies and dead girls who get stuck in someone else’s body.

creepyclownsIt’s because to me Halloween doesn’t just represent creepy costumes and free chocolate (though don’t get me wrong. Free chocolate is everything) but rather that it offers up the possibility of other worlds. According to Samhain mythology, this is when the veil between worlds is at its lowest, which is why fae and spirits from the otherworld can cross over into ours.

And seriously, there is nothing about this idea that I don’t love!

For a start it suggests that something is normally hidden from sight, which is what paranormals are all about. A strange element that is happening in the normal world. Plus, it suggests a threshold that must be crossed over, which is at the heart of all story telling. And finally, when I think of Halloween, it doesn’t just represent a duality in the world but within a person as well. Think about it—people shedding their normal skins to dress up as someone else—that is definitely a way of letting the world see aDemonosity.small_-203x300 second face.

These three elements are things that I’ve really tried to explore in my latest YA book. Demonosity is a story about a teenage girl who reluctantly has to protect an alchemist artifact from two time travelling Demon Knight brothers who both want it for very different reasons.

When I started the book I had a very clear idea of which was the good demon brother and which was the bad one but as the story went on, I became more conflicted because I could see that that there was darkness and light in both of them. I even managed to have a Halloween party scene where the heroine is attacked by one of the sword wielding demons, but of course everyone just thinks that someone has a really stellar costume. I also explored the morality of crossing between worlds and what the consequences of those decisions could be. Of course, I’m hpbcstill the same lazy author who loves free chocolate so don’t worry, the book is still wrapped up with lots of ridiculous characters and silly scenes but there is definitely a strong Halloween influence in there.

And now that’s all done and dusted, what does a zombie get when he’s late for dinner? The cold shoulder. (You didn’t think I was going to waste a good zombie joke did you?)

Amanda was born in Australia and after spending the last twenty years dividing her time between England, Australia and New Zealand, she’s finally settled in the gorgeous Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand. When she’s not moving country, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to eat chocolate, watch television and sit around doing not much, but let’s just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we?). She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Find out more about her and her books at amandaashby.com.Fairy-Bad-Day-cover-final12ZombieQueenFRONT-199x3001

 

Driving Along With The Romance Bandits

banditasHey Kids!

The awesome band of authors known as The Romance Bandits, have very graciously invited me for a stay in their Lair.

During my visit I chat with the amazing Historical romance author Anna Campbell about Driving in Neutral, my PhD research, romantic comedies, the inspiration for my  books For Your Eyes Only and A Basic Renovation, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, and my tiny little mom. On top of all this, there’s a giveaway of not one but TWO of my books.

Stop by the Romance Bandits Blog for your chance to win Driving in Neutral and For Your Eyes Only!Sandrabooks

 

 

When Good Characters Behave Badly

baddog3I’ve been waiting to do this post. I mean REALLY waiting. I wasn’t sure how long it would be before someone made mention of a lead character’s less-than-stellar behavior in Driving in Neutral once it was published.

It only took a week (Thank you, Dear Author!).

I’ve been waiting because this book has a history, and not just a 75 days long blog series on fear history. Yes, kids, I spent 75 days focused on phobias. As a lead-in to the release of Driving in Neutral, the romcom I call my ‘love story about claustrophobia,’ guests dropped by to talk about their fears. For 75 days.

Bear with me. I’ll get to the history bit soon.

The 75 Days Series should have highlighted that I like writing about fear. I like using fear as the key to hindering or unraveling a relationship, but I also like that a character eventually triumphs over fear, after all, I write romance where love triumphs over all. Love is a scary thing. Love can make a person feel vulnerable. Love can make a person act impulsively, and do dumb things. Love is primitive, emotional. People may be unable to filter their actions because love has jacked up their hormonal system. Everything is overloaded. So, let’s backtrack to the bit about vulnerability because like love, fear has a similar effect on a person. Fear is primitive, emotional. A person may be unable to filter their actions because fear has jacked up their hormonal system. In both cases, the amygdala, the centre of emotional behaviour, is doing all the work, while the Baddog2pre-fontal cortex, the part of the brain that regulates behavior, that is, the part of the brain that tells you what is right and what is wrong, is sort of on hold.

Fear can make people act in ways that seem out of character, can make a good person do something bad. When it comes to a character pushing the boundaries of behavior, what crosses the line between an acceptable response and a reprehensible response to fear? Is retribution ever justifiable, or understandable within a character’s behaviour? Or is revenge always just plain wrong? This is what I wanted to explore.

Lead characters in romance fiction are often held to a higher standard of behavior; they are perceived by many readers to be a ‘better’ form of a human being, one who frequently rises above petty or malicious behavior. As a result of this, when a romance hero or heroine acts in a primitive way, when impulsivity gets the better of them and these good people do bad things, some readers will protest and deem that character to be unlikable, un-heroic, and unworthy of baddog1being a romantic lead. Other readers don’t care.

I wasn’t sure which lead character would push the boundary for some readers, since both the hero and heroine in Driving in Neutral behave quite badly. Getting trapped in an elevator brings out the worst in claustrophobic Maxwell. He raves and verbally abuses Olivia, the woman trapped with him. His reaction is completely childish and base. He is overwhelmed by his fear, is unable to filter, and works from a primitive space. He’s all amygdala function.

When Olivia’s fear surfaces she, too, is in amygdala overdrive. So jacked up is her response to her fear she misbehaves. Terribly. There are 4 reasons for misbehaving: attention, power, inadequacy, revenge.

Olivia feels aggrieved, exposed, and acts impulsively, which, at that moment when it all spins out of control, is her best way of coping with being vulnerable. Her reaction is completely childish, and base. What she does to Emerson is cruel, and, just as he feels remorse for abusing her, she feels remorse for her behaviour…eventually, once her hormonal system is back at a normal operating level.baddog5

Now the history bit. A while back, I entered Driving in Neutral in a writing contest. A judge took issue with Emerson Maxwell’s verbal abuse of Olivia, particularly with name-calling. I was scolded with, “A hero would never call a heroine names.”  In case you’re wondering, those names were ‘wet rodent’ and ‘waterlogged hamster.’ Not exactly ear-scorching or profane, but I knew, based on that reaction, that Maxwell and my writing had crossed the line for that reader-judge.

What I want to know is this: Does the context for a character’s bad behaviour matter to you, or is bad behaviour always a no-go zone for romance leads, because romance heroes and heroines must maintain that ‘better’ form?

Fear can make a person act in ways that seem out of character, can make a good person do something bad. When it comes to a romance hero or heroine pushing the boundaries of behavior, what, to you, crosses the line between an acceptable response and a reprehensible behaviour? Is retribution ever justifiable, or understandable within the circumstances of a character’s behaviour? Or is name-calling and revenge always just plain wrong?

baddog6So what do I think, where do I stand on all this behaving badly stuff? My friend Swell, a longtime romance reader, sums up how I feel about lead characters behaving badly in a romance novel. Swell says that if the “reaction is realistic and a part of the character, and the reaction is used to complete the relationship between the hero and heroine, then I will feel that the response was appropriate for the character.” Amen sister.

 

Driving in Neutral, A Basic Renovation and For Your Eyes Only on sale now!

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