Subourbon Mom

How About Romance Novels for Grown-Ups?
July 30, 2022, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Middle Age, Misc. Humor, Posts | Tags: , , , , ,

The other day I was super grumpy and stressed for absolutely no reason. So, I did one of the two things I always do when I’m like that.  Since I didn’t have what I needed to make and eat an entire tray of Rice Krispy treats, I went to the bookstore (yes, I actually bought NEW books at a Barnes and Noble, not used on Amazon) with the sole intention of purchasing a genre I haven’t read in a long time – Romance.

When I say Romance, I don’t mean the plasticky covers with raised lettering and a Scottish pirate or a huge-breasted heroine with Victoria Secret hair stranded in a castle somewhere.  I just wanted something happy and a bit less sugary than Hallmark or Virgin River. Maybe Maeve Binchy with a little sex? Or Outlander, which has just the right amount of sex and plot (but I’ve read and watched all of those).

What did I find?   

About 100 Romance novels for current day 18-40-year-olds, with cartoon looking covers and full of young people who don’t know how to communicate with each other. They’re all going on trips or to weddings or changing tech jobs, which is age appropriate. I’m just not there anymore – at least, not for first weddings.  

I found another large batch of Romances between quirky women who are attracted to supernatural creatures that may or may not kill them in between sexual encounters. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the Twilight Series, True Blood and A Discovery of Witches. I just wasn’t feeling it that day. I wanted to take the edge off, not be edgy.

I also found some Romances with a “Red Room of Pain” theme that can be interesting when you’re in the mood, but again, not feeling edgy that day.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I saw a bunch of Christian Romances. I suppose they exist in case I was feeling guilty after reading something from the Red Room of Pain section, and needed my inner church to whisper, “Make room for Jesus!” as I was reading. Ummmm…hard no. I was already grumpy – I didn’t need God hanging out on the periphery of my escape making me feel bad.

What I didn’t find was a Romance section geared toward the 45+ crowd that wasn’t Christian, wasn’t syrupy sweet and didn’t come in large print. In fact, anything that appealed wasn’t even in the Romance section – it was in the just plain Fiction section. That should tell you something – publishers clearly don’t believe 45+ people want to read about romance between their peers. After thumbing through a bunch of possibilities (think Kristin Hannah, Erin Hildebrand), I realized that Romance for the 45+ crowd all has the same elements:

  1. 40+-year-old woman is deserted by her husband through cheating, financial ruin, or death
  2. Deserted woman must abandon her old life and return to a place of her childhood and confront some trauma before she can heal
  3. In this process, deserted woman meets the new love of her life but she hates him at first, before he helps her see her real value and accomplish her goals (on her own of course – then they get together after)
  4. Somewhere in between her hating him and accomplishing her goal, they sleep together and can’t communicate afterward so it’s awkward or downright antagonistic. I always want to scream at them, “Just fucking talk already and stop being 13 again.”
  5. The setting is always somewhere we wish we could be – a cute cottage on a coast or in the mountains, a ranch, or a crumbling house that must be rehabbed. Anywhere but Suburbia, USA.  
  6. There is always at least one quiet person who befriends her and tell her when she’s being a twat.  
  7. And if you’re reading Norah Roberts, there’s a murder or assault or stalker that must be dealt with, too.

Full disclosure, one of the novels I’ve written has elements 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6 in it. I get it – it’s a formula that works.

*But I think we need to find a way to work Romance novels for the older(?) set back onto the Romance section bookshelves. How about we talk about trying to look sexy while having a hot flash?  Or the heroine falling in love with a guy whose testosterone might be a little low, and he can’t always get it up? 45+ romance isn’t fiction – it’s real life, albeit just not as glamorous as jet-set 30-year-olds or as prescriptive as the Christian or supernatural romances. Real life romance may not be quite the escape you’re looking for, but it can be romantic and comedic and downright spiritual in its own way, depending on your view.

So, after an hour I bought three fiction novels – none of which have those plot points but look promising.  I’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, please don’t be offended when I don’t answer your emails, texts or calls. I’ll be eating Rice Krispy treats and reading about the circus, a cult and an affair.

*Okay, when I Googled best elderly romance book covers, turns out there is already a section for that, at least on the internet. Here is my favorite cover (I can’t even…):

Quaran-Tuck It – Part 1
July 15, 2020, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Exercise, Misc. Humor, Posts | Tags: , , , , ,

We’ve all seen the memes about gaining weight while under quarantine, and how we should all be trying to better ourselves during this time.  So, after 4 months of working from home, I have come to the conclusion that the Quarantine-15 is a real thing, and that I’m pretty much as lazy as I thought I was. I was secretly assuming it was me just being too hard on myself.

I don’t have any excuses.

I have extra time because I’m not commuting, and I can drop in a load of laundry when I need to get away from my computer and stretch my legs.  I live out in the country, so not going to the gym should have been replaced by lots of activity outside, like running (which is solitary and free) or the 50 million online exercise apps available. I even am lucky enough to have a pool, which I’ve been in only to just stand in the shallow end, like a hippopotamus.

Instead of bettering myself, I have coped by consuming copious amounts of wine, opening the fridge and staring at its contents for minutes at a time before eating yet another vat of pimiento cheese, watching too much tv after dinner and reading smut novels with heaving breasts and raised lettering on the covers (some are so bad even a book addict like me has to put them down).


I have not learned a new language, edited my novels, blogged nearly enough, or even tried more than one or two new recipes.

So here’s what I’ve decided to do.  I’m going to create a short Quaran- Tuck It List (like a bucket list) of things to do during the pandemic that might get me moving forward again.  Feel free to make your own, or if you need some accountability, share your list in the comments!

  1. Lock the refrigerator on a timer.
  2. Attempt to not drink any alcohol for one week.  (Don’t judge – there’s only so much I can inflict on the Fam all at once.)
  3. Sell stuff on my local FaceBook market page – yep, Hubby is probably going to have a heart attack when he reads this. Dude, RELAX….I’m not touching your t-shirt drawers.
  4. Let the cats live. I CANNOT clean up anymore animal body fluids. If one of them shits on my outdoor cushions one more time, I’m going to lose it.
  5. Actually do the stretches every doctor I’ve seen has said I should be doing.  The problem with thinking of yourself as 30 in your head is that your body likes to laugh and go, “let me remind you…”
  6. Edit and finish the fantasy novel I started 20 years ago. Not 50 Shades of Gray fantasy…magic and swords and stuff. If I had to write the 50 Shades of Gray novel it would have ended after her interview with him and all the red flags she could only miss if she’d been locked in a box for the first 20 years of her life.
  7. Write an alternative novel to 50 Shades.
  8.  Create an author website page.
  9. Publish a bunch of these blogs in a book so future generations can just hand it over to their therapists and say, “See? It’s genetic…”
  10. Start a workout program to do in my pool (see next week’s blog).

What’s your Quaran-Tuck It list?


Blog Tour: Because Y’all Keep Asking, Here’s “Why I Write”

People often ask me how and what I write, and I usually mumble something about Southern Fiction and crazy people. I think my friends have this picture of me squirreled away in a brown robe in a cave somewhere, scribbling away with a feather quill on an ancient, dust-covered tome; or maybe more like Hemingway, looking grumpy and sitting at a desk with a half-empty bottle of bourbon by a typewriter.

Not so much. I usually sit at the kitchen table with my laptop because my desk is too full of papers I’ve never filed. Sometimes it’s with a glass of wine or bourbon, but more often it’s a cup a coffee and a bag of Twizzlers or a pan of Rice Krispie Treats.

But since people ask, and because my friend Josh Cane invited me to answer these types of questions on a blog tour, here goes: (Josh Cane is in my writing group. He writes vampire fiction and short stories, as well as running his own on-line publishing/website development business.  His blog is

  1. What am I working on? 

As a working mom, my time (and attention span) is available in short spurts, so the blog tends to get the most regular action. I am also doing some free-lance non-fiction writing and editing, and am ghost writing a memoir.

When I have any spare time, I LOVE working on my Southern Fiction novels. The first, Virginia Gentleman (originally titled Six-Possum-Thursday, but I changed because it was too obscure) tells the story of Dallas Chirp, a 30-year-old returning to his small, rural hometown in Virginia ten years after accidentally killing his girlfriend’s father.  The book is less about the murder than trying to find where you fit in, when both you and your home have changed.

My second novel follows the newly-indigent and socially embarrassed Margaret Payne back to her southern, slow-to-change hometown after her husband is thrown in jail, leaving her penniless. There, she is forced to depend on her estranged sister Lettie, a fiercely independent housekeeper, and her bi-racial niece.  As Margaret struggles to find a job and get back on her feet, she must come to terms with what it means to be part of a family again, and how to navigate the murky river of race relations in a “modern,” small southern town.

  1. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

For those of you who read my blog, you know I am pretty snarky, but I like to think the blog is funny, and a little bit intelligent.  You might even learn something from it, although my main goal is to make you grin by letting you view life for a moment through my quirky, middle-aged, bourbon-sticky lenses.

My novels, while Southern Fiction, have nothing to do with slavery or the ever-present Civil War (excuse me, um, I meant the “War of Northern Aggression”). They take place in the present-day and deal with the issues of what it means to be in a family, and to call a place home. So many things about both of those topics have changed over the last few decades, but the overall ideas remain the same: families, no matter what size, race or relation love you and are there for you; and where you grew up is part of what made you, but you are also part of that place as well—the two are symbiotic. I like to think my characters are real people, that I would meet them on the street, and that I would be friends with them—even the characters that are flawed–they are usually the people I hang out with in real life and in my head.

  1. Why do I write what I do?

The simple answer is, I have to. I would explode if I didn’t.

These characters and ideas infest my brain constantly, like a new breed of cranium-lice, biting and wriggling until I wake up in the middle of the night and have to scratch them (maybe that’s why I have this 3:00am wake-up thing going—I thought it was just hormones). If I ignored them, I would probably become one of those festering cubicle-people that everyone in the office knows will bring a bazooka to work one day.

  1. How does my writing process work?

I wish I could say I’m one of those people who gets up at 5:00am and writes for eight hours straight, or even for a single hour every day.  Typically, I get one of those ideas gnawing its away around my head in the middle of the night or while I’m driving, and it’s a complete scene or conversation in my head, ready to go. If I’m lucky I’ve got pen and paper nearby, or I can convince one of my daughters to text it to me.  From there, I usually create an entire character, or an idea for a novel. I have a notebook full of ideas for books, short stories, and poems.

On a good day, when no pre-schooler has worn me down to a twitching, quivering nub, I can sit down for an hour or so without interruption and review some work or slog through a chapter.  On an average day, I usually try and whip out a blog, or re-read a chapter I’m working on to let those pesky writing bugs do their magic while I sleep—or chuck it all and end up driving The Daughters to whatever sports practice they have that day.

So, that’s how and why I do it. Oh, and one more thing:

If you write, I would like to shamelessly plug the importance of belonging to a writing group that takes itself seriously, that is not there just for moral support but also gives honest, constructive critiques. Over the past four years I have been able to watch myself grow as a writer, and I give full credit to Josh Cane, Mary Miley and Tom Fuhrman for that.

Bloggers for Next Week: (These bloggers will post something similar on their own sites next week, so check out their blogs–if for no other reason than we like the instant gratification of seeing that someone has looked at it!)

Jody Worsham began writing humor at age 61 when she and husband of 50 years adopted their one-day-old grandson and three year old granddaughter.  Retiring from thirty-nine years of teaching theatre arts, Jody needed a creative outlet.  Re-learning the basics of potty training after  thirty-five years  and being the “oldest mom” in the pre-k pick-up line provided topics for her blog “The Medicare Mom”.  She is a member of the Christian Writers Fellowship, and attended the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop in 2210 and 2012.  The Jambalaya Writing Contest was her first attempt at writing a novel and she placed second.

Shawna Christos is a writer with several books in various stages of dressed, currently working on a mainstream commercial fiction book, as well as a young adult novel about a girl named Kelpie trying to survive Celtic legend’s clash with strong southern women.   Guess which one she’s working on now? She also had a short story published in an interwoven collaborative anthology last year called River Town which can be found at:

A long time volunteer and supporter of James River Writers, you will find her at a lot of the JRW and local book events and [unfortunately] a lot in their pictures.  [She doesn’t like her picture taken, and doesn’t like that people won’t accept her stick figure drawing instead.] Debating about advice she’s been given about having a blog at Word Press, she currently has two blogs she has struggled to post regularly to.

And a Twitter account – @ywrite – she alternately flings words at.

Grace Robinson is a writer of fantasy. She’s a fan of arctic places, world music, mythology, and linguistics. She is soon-to-be a published author and a world traveler. Born and raised in Virginia, she studied English and creative writing at Hollins University. She currently lives in Virginia with a rabbit and a lot of books.

Her blog:






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