I heard the news this week that RWA (Romance Writers of America) is tightening its membership qualifications and has deleted the category of "novels with strong romantic elements" in its contests. I wonder if they are no longer accepting members who write novels with strong romantic elements as opposed to the conventional romance genres (historical, paranormal, etc.) In which case, do I have to turn in my "Pro" pin and membership card?
My books deal with what happens after the "happily ever after" requirements of a romantic novel: After the champagne has been drunk, the bridal gown packed away and the real stuff of living commences. And, they take place twenty-thirty years after the "happy ever after" (HEA) ending requirement that leaves readers free to imagine decades of wedded bliss.
There is romance, of course. I can't picture a story without some element of romance because it is so much a part of life. In "Angels Unaware," Kat's happy ever after didn't work out as she'd dreamed, but when a new love comes along, she is stronger and more sure of herself--and able to embrace it.
In "The Lunch Club," each of the four women is touched by romance. Jane Anne is as in love with Larry as she was the day she married him. Beth and Dan have their problems, but love prevails. Harriet and Melody, both widows, find new loves when they thought romance was in their past, not their future. But the romance is secondary to the main plot.
I'm aiming for more romance in my WIP. Marcie and Adam are attracted to each other, but each has a reason not to believe it will work out. Of course, we know it will. And they will achieve the HEA that RWA requires of its authors.
I don't know if it will be strong enough to pass muster. But I have to write the books that are in my head. So, no Alpha Males and Saucy, Sexy Heroines will take shape on my computer. Just characters who have been there, done that, and are wiser for the experience.