For years, I've kept a naughty little secret: I write Romance.
Not sweet and innocent watered-down, dewey-eyed girl meets boy love stories. No, those books make me fall asleep.
I write romance that I love to read. My stories feature intelligent, sassy, flawed heroines and sexy brooding equally-flawed heroes, whose stories are woven together with liberal amounts of explicit erotic sex scenes.
And I am a mother, a dedicated school volunteer, a card-carrying PTA member.
In July, I attended my second RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference in Anaheim, California, and I was struck anew both with the supportive nature of all the attendees and the fact that so many of us are mothers.
While I've been writing in dark corners and shadowy alcoves terrified of being discovered and embarrassing my children, scores of proud mommy romance writer warriors are fulfilling their dreams and balancing motherhood and a career.
So, why have I been hiding?
When the topic of my writing comes up in conversation, why do I mutter "romance" and immediately pelt the speaker with personal questions until I have changed the topic?
Because I am afraid.
I am afraid to embarrass my children.
I am afraid it will change the way others think about me, think about my writing.
I am afraid because I erroneously thought so many people in my life would dismiss the entire Romance genre and label it "Mommy porn" and categorize it as fluff and smut.
I have been reading romance since I was in 5th grade and stole my first romance novel from my mother. I can honestly say that Lavyrle Spencer's "Years" changed my life. Until I read her book, I hated reading.
Sure on occasion, I would curl up with a good Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary book, but nothing else captured my attention like that Lavyrle Spencer book and the subsequent romance novels I would sneak from my mother's collection. Romance novels provided the perfect escape for an awkward, lonely girl discovering her sexuality.
Romance continues to be my escape, a little mental vacation I can take when life becomes too overwhelming or too boring.
Yet, I have been ashamed of this fact for years. I have been an idiot, but I will not be ashamed or secretive any longer.
I came home from my conference and discovered that my entire family was proud of me for attending, for taking the risk and that next step in my career. My children had told their friends. My husband had told his co-workers. Even my parents had told other family members.
My family supports me and is proud of me. They aren't embarrassed. They proudly exclaim that I am a romance writer. Their acceptance is exactly what I need. Their support and love peel my self-doubt and concern away.
I am proud of my completed manuscript and am working on two additional manuscripts while eagerly waiting for that fairy tale moment when I finally get published.
My name is Crystal Intini-Alperin, and I write romance!