By Nancy Fraser
Let me start off by saying, I’m no spring chicken. As a matter of fact, I’ve retired...twice.
I was not “born” on the Internet. My first book was written on an IBM electric typewriter. I went through a lot of correction fluid before they invented those wonderful little orange spools with the tape built in.
I did not “grow up” on Facebook. As a matter of fact, I had a Facebook profile for nearly a year before I realized what those little icons at the top were for. I had no idea you could click on them to see who’d commented on a post. Or, who’d asked to be your friend. Or, even who’d sent you a message. My old-fashioned self was fixated on the worded tabs to the left because I understood what they were asking/telling me.
I did not “mature” on Twitter, or Pintrest, or Google+. Heck, I don’t even know what LinkedIn is or why people keep asking me to follow them. When I first signed up for Twitter I was hoping for 100 followers. Thankfully, I’ve far surpassed that goal. And, I’ve also learned how to use Hootsuite to my advantage. Yeah me!
It’s been a very wide learning curve. The “old hen” has learned some new tricks. I have to be honest though, I still appreciate the value of face-to-face networking. Of exchanging business cards and email addresses. We then follow our new friends on Facebook and Twitter but, still, the initial contact was made in person. You can put a warm body to the profile, rather than a cutesy icon, or family photo.
Thank goodness for conferences where you can not only make those one-on-one connections but also attend workshops on how to navigate the ever-growing, always-changing social media.
I see social media advances, especially for someone who began writing in the 1990s, as ongoing education. And, as challenging as those changes are, there’s also a bigger challenge ... what I like to refer to as the “reinvention” of the romance genre.
When I started writing, you’d have never found a romance novel that including spanking, or a ménage. Erotic novels, yes. But not romance. The traditional publishers had very firm rules on what was taboo!
Five to ten years ago, swearing was still avoided in romance novels. Now, it’s almost impossible to find a romance without one ... with the exception of Christian romance, category romance, and those labelled “sweet” by both the author and publisher.
As difficult as I found learning social media to be, the change in popular romance posed an even bigger hurdle for me.
There are certain words that I find very unromantic. Most of them have to do with female body parts. Because I wanted to continue to write, and sell, I’ve embraced a number of the terms that were once considered too risqué for romance. Still, there are some I will never use.
So, how did I get past the changes to embrace my naughtier side?
I read a lot. Not just the most popular authors, but also some of the up and coming authors and publishers. I made myself a list of words that were now acceptable and then red-stroked the ones I would not use.
I watched some “R” rated movies (not that I hadn’t already seen most of them). I made another list of possible plot devices. Yes ... I’m a list maker.
Finally, I took a tried and true romantic trope and filtered in both the plot twists and, heaven help me, the bolder words. There were actually a few words I enjoyed using ... they helped with the frustration when a scene wasn’t going exactly as I wanted it.
One of the things I discovered when writing my first erotic romance, The Muse, was that my creativity got a definite jump start. The freedom of writing without as many boundaries let loose an entire new side of me as an author.
By the time I got to the next book, The Mysterious Mrs. Pennybaker, due out this spring, I had a good handle on both my risqué side and pushing the language barrier. Mind you, both books are set in the 1920s, so there was a bit of timeframe language to deal with, but ... naughty words are still naughty words.
By the time my next project comes out I should be old hand at this ... I hope. And, if I long for a traditional story, or want to push less boundaries, I’m confident I can backpedal and find the perfect home for even the softest of romance novels.
In the meantime, it’s back to the next idea and that dratted social media schedule. It’ll be fun to see what trouble I can get into next.