Posted On September 3, 2012 by Print This Post

Men – Can they truly be accepted as Writers of Romance? with Handsome Hansel

Let’s welcome back regular contributor Handsome Hansel from Dance of Romance. His question today – can men write romance? And more importantly can women accept a male romance writer?

I know I’m new here at RU and I can accept that.

When I attended my first Romance Writers of America Conference a couple of weeks ago I accepted the hesitant looks of the overwhelming congregation of women.

What I have had trouble accepting is, from both sides of the male/female aisle is that a man can’t really, truly, sincerely be serious about putting romance on paper.

It’s been done before, I know. There are a few men off the top of my head I would put in the category of romantic writers of fiction yet, I’ve noticed that even they aren’t taken seriously in their intentions. Somehow our real persona gets fictionalized. We are simply storytellers. A novelty. We don’t really mean it.

I think one of the greatest compliments we receive as writers is when someone reads through our work, thoroughly enjoys it and doesn’t give who we are a second thought. Let our art stand on its own. However, I’m finding a bit of bias among female readers and writers when I tell them I am a man’s man who has a passion for writing romantic fiction.

Sometimes it even gets weird.

At the conference, I was lucky to hear Candace Havens give a cliff-notes version of her Fast Draft class. Throughout this class she peppered in references to her latest book: “Take It Like A Vamp” and it was during one of these references that things got uncomfortable.

The topic of the moment was the importance of beginning and ending each chapter you write with an attention-getter. She proceeded to give us an example from the first chapter of “Take It Like A Vamp”. After reciting the first line, which was certainly impressive, she flipped to the end of the chapter. After silently recalling what she had wrote, she professed to the crowd she wasn’t sure it was okay to read it in “mixed company.”  Which immediately snapped EVERY ladies attention towards me. Not knowing what else to do I scanned the faces of those closest to me and innocently exclaimed, “Why is everyone looking at me!?” After the roomful of uncomfortable chuckles subsided, Candace finished her point by reading the last line of the chapter which involved the main character of her book giving her purple vibrator a name.  You can only imagine the looks I received after that was read.  In a matter of 15 minutes, I went from a cupcake on a fat kid’s plate to the fly in a proverbial soup. Either way I felt an outsider. Welcomed but not really belonging.

Now before we get all huggy here, I knew this would be an issue when I decided Romance was the genre I wanted to write. A large part of why I wanted to write Romance was because I wanted to prove two things: That romance is wanted from a man’s perspective and not just to get sex. Also, that men like the lusted after male characters written in this genre, do actually exist. Albeit in a watered down form. (Sorry ladies but washboard abs, raven hair and a sexy scar from childhood are things that even us men can’t hold onto for very long.)

I struggle with whether or not I will be fictionalized by my readers simply because I am a man. I mean, after-all, how can a man REALLY be sincere in writing romantic fiction?

After the purple vibrator fiasco, a very dear-hearted woman from Florida gently tapped me on the shoulder and asked, with the straightest face I’d seen since me telling my dad I was stone cold sober at the end of prom night, “So? Do you come here for the women?” After quipping, “No, for the cold cuts”, we had an interesting discussion how two guys at the Florida conference confessed they DID attend to meet women. While not surprised, I was even more frustrated. I’ve learned readers and writers of romantic fiction are protective of their inner circle. As they should be. Like some of the first female reporters on an NFL sideline, men aren’t expected, or in smaller cases, welcome here.

I feel lucky, nay blessed, to have a following which concedes it’s time to carry the believability of a fantasy a bit further by having a man write some of the stories they read. It’s a small faction. But it’s a start.

As authors, we want our stories to be believed. While the biggest complement is that the author is ignored while the story is devoured, that’s not always what happens. As a man in a romantic fiction world where women rule and defend to the death (and I’m ok with that! Just sayin’.) it’s an overwhelming undertaking to try and break through but I am more than willing to carry the weight of that world on my shoulders and see where it takes us all.

I’d really like to hear our reader’s take on this.

Until next time…

All my best,



RU Readers – what’s your take on male romance writers? Yay or Nay?

Join us on Wednesday for Jill Elizabeth Nelson and how to write Deep POV – you won’t want to miss it!


Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.

I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at


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92 Responses to “Men – Can they truly be accepted as Writers of Romance? with Handsome Hansel”

  1. I don’t mind men writing romantic fiction at all. I would even prefer to read from the men’s pov to see how their minds work.

    But I don’t write romantic fiction. I don’t attend conferences for romance writers. I would feel uncomfortable. All those covers. That isn’t why I read books. Though I like romantic elements, but I don’t read just romance. For me the story needs to have more than romance. I read for the story first of all. But I’m the one who prefers literary fiction to commercial writing.

    What am I doing in this group? I learn about the craft of writing.

    All the best to you. Don’t have care in the world what others think. Do what you love and your passion will be felt through your work. Where your heart belongs, there is a great story to tell.

    Posted by Anna Labno | September 3, 2012, 6:45 am
    • Thanks Anna for taking the time to respond. I think a smaller part of the reason I wanted to write romance IS to give a man’s POV. Perhaps to offer hope to a woman who doesn’t have a romantic partner in her life. And, to call for romantically challenged men to up their game. As well as champion those fellow Romancers who give romance on a regular basis.

      Thanks again!


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 8:19 am
      • A lot of female writers change to the man’s POV when writing a more close up scene between the hero and heroine. The reason for it is that women want to be desired. They want to feel the man’s power, strength, and know his thoughs.

        So women writers try to think like men when writing from the hero’s POV to create that intimacy.

        I believe it’s easier to write a scene when you’re a man, more authentic that way.

        Just two cents.

        Posted by Anna Labno | September 3, 2012, 12:22 pm
    • I don’t mind male romance writers. As long as they keep me interested in reading what they wrote, I’ll read it to the end. HH, keep writing. 🙂

      Posted by Z. Lyons | October 10, 2012, 11:45 am
  2. Saying men can’t write romance is the same as saying women can’t write science fiction or westerns or spy novels. Saying men can’t write romance is the same as saying women can’t be doctors, firefighters, or police officers. Its all poppycock!

    Of course men can write romance. Although the romance genre is primarily made up of women writers and readers, it doesn’t mean men shouldn’t be there.

    It boils down to this: is it a good story? Is it well written? Is it a good read? If the answer to those questions are all yes, then who gives a darn who or what the sex is of the person who wrote it?

    That’s my two cents. ;o)

    Suzan Tisdale
    Author of Laiden’s Daughter

    Posted by Suzan Tisdale | September 3, 2012, 6:51 am
    • Hey Suzan!

      I wish I would have said what you said! Great way to cut through the crap and get to the point.

      For as far as women have came to be accepted in what was once considered man-only professions, it was still only recently that Augusta National Golf Club finally allowed women. While the majority of the female romance community shares your (and my) sentiment, I’ve found a few remaining “Augusta dark corners” out there when it comes to a man writing romance.

      And your bottom line of “it’s the story that matters” IS all we should care about.

      Have a great week!


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 8:16 am
  3. I hear where you’re coming from, Harry. I write GLBT romance. I’m a married woman and do worry how my stories will be accepted. But it comes down to what Suzan pointed out, of being well written, a good story, and a good read.

    I’ve read romances by non-aboriginal authors who delve into Native American/First Nations characters and do a great job. As a First Nations woman, I’m glad to see someone writing about my people, whether pink, white, or orange, and male or female.

    I think we all get a bit nervous when we tread where we wonder if we’ll be accepted.

    Posted by Mercy | September 3, 2012, 7:05 am
  4. I think there is something really sensuous about a man writing romance. There has been a notion that only women want romance and men want sex but that is not what I’ve found at all. I like reading romance from a man’s perspective. But it has to be something they want to write – not something the publisher insisted upon. Thanks for a thought-provoking post! Looking forward to reading your work.

    Posted by p.m.terrell | September 3, 2012, 7:07 am
  5. We had a man join our writers’ group to meet women. He was disappointed to find most of us were married or his age. As for you, glad you write what you love. Can’t ask for more.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | September 3, 2012, 8:31 am
    • Mary Jo I find that act to be comically disrespectful to the women who are in attendance. Certainly the ladies are exchanging quick glances at each other going, “Really?!”

      Thanks for the connect!


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 10:48 am
  6. Morning HH!

    One of the first romance books I ever read was Love’s Tender Fury by Jennifer Wilde. It was hot, romantic, wild…and it wasn’t until a good 20 years later I found out Jennifer Wilde was a man….=) Who knew? I was even more impressed then, honestly. I’d laughed and cried and held my breath throughout that book – definitely an emotional roller coaster ride.

    I also remember being the only girl in the entire history of our high school to take electronics class. My teacher STILL remarks upon it as my being “the only rose in a class of thorns”…lol…the school counselor had taken me in the office and said now Carrie, you don’t want to REALLY do this do you? And while it was tough at first, I did prove myself AND make some good friends in the process.

    Stick with it HH, you’re a great writer!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | September 3, 2012, 8:32 am
  7. I have a similar dilemma though mine is why can’t sex be funny ..I write funny erotica in poetry form ..I believe if as you do, you have a gift then you can and should be allowed and accepted to write what rocks your boat …those who find it uncomfortable have there own issues to deal with ..keep on writing !!!

    Posted by kez | September 3, 2012, 8:54 am
  8. My favorite romance of all time was written by a husband and wife duo. Upon his death, the books continued to be written by the female half but lost a lot of what I had loved most about them. There is no doubt in my mind that men make excellent romance writers and deserve to be a big part of the field.

    I think there is a natural tendency to not accept diversity but all but the most incalcitrate must accept excellence.

    Case in point, Eminem. Whether you’re into Rap or not, imagine how tough it must have been for the lone white boy to be accepted in what was then a predominantly black field. He got a lot of flack and a lot of naysayers who felt he just couldn’t be relevant. Well, today he is one of the most dominant voices in the genre and NO ONE can question his right to be there.

    We humans are a slow and dull bunch, but eventually we get it.

    Posted by Pucci Laveau | September 3, 2012, 9:03 am
    • What a great way for a couple to share they’re time!

      Let me pose a delicate question to our readers though…
      Is it still possible for them to be romantic with each other at the end of the work day? Or how about in the bedroom when the awkward moment when they realize they were unintentionally acting out the love scene from pages 81 & 82 or their last romance book?

      Great respect for Eminem too!


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 1:08 pm
  9. Wow, that is a great question. The logical side of me says, sure men can write romance. But my instinct is to say no. I think men can write from the man’s perspective better than woman, and that women will always be able to write a women’s attitude and feelings better than a man. First hand knowledge.

    That wouldn’t stop me from writing from the man’s perspective if that’s what I wanted to write. And if you really feel a connection to romance, you shouldn’t let other peoples perception of what a romance writer should be (a woman) stop you from writing romance.

    If it is a huge hurdle to representation and/or publication, than consider a pen name. But always follow your heart.

    Posted by MaryAnn/JAustenwannabe | September 3, 2012, 9:28 am
    • Hey J!

      As writers we always have to write from the POV of a gender or even a character of which we don’t fully understand the intricacies. I believe we can get real close by being constant people watchers. I love watching not the actions of someone but others reactions to them. Thoughts?

      Great to see you again!


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 1:18 pm
  10. We’ve had several male authors join my local RWA chapter, although they tend to come and go. They’ve all been welcomed with open arms. While it’s not common to see men writing romance, I don’t think it’s a problem for readers. I read a lot of mystery and romance, and I LOT of thrillers and mystery best sellers feature strong romance sub-plots. No one seems to care that those books are written by men.

    It seems kind of old school to assume only women can write romance. Hopefully readers aren’t that narrow-minded!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | September 3, 2012, 9:59 am
    • Hey Becke,

      That’s a great point. I hadn’t thought of it. I just received a tweet from someone who said some of the best love/romantic scenes in movies are written, directed and produced by men. No one seems to care or notice. So why is it a stretch for us men in front line romance?


      Thanks for the comment!


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 1:21 pm
  11. As a writer of historical romance, it would be a yay for me. I would not mind reading romantic fiction written by a male. Enjoyed the post!

    Posted by Amber Dane | September 3, 2012, 10:10 am
  12. Hey there, HH!

    I’m laughing here because I was also at the RWA conference and yes, it was 99.9% women.

    I’m going to answer your question honestly, I don’t usually read romance written by men, especially erotic romance. There, I said it. I don’t believe it’s because I’m narrow minded because I am anything but that. I simply feel men authors usually focus on the physical nature of romance. The story must capture my head and heart before I buy into anything physical.

    There are exceptions to every rule and as I think you know, I’m a fan of your writing, HH. So write away, sir. You have my attention. 😉


    Posted by Sandra Bunino | September 3, 2012, 10:32 am
    • Sandra! Glad to hear from you!

      I am actually writing along two paths. True romance and then stemming off with an HH After Dark series.

      Yes, I am a man so there is the need to hit the relief valve and get the sex on paper. However, my two top stories are about my grandparents and their 60+ year love affair and the other is about an elderly lady I met once and the story of her husband, with an ending even I didn’t expect.

      I have VERY much appreciated your following and support. I look forward to not letting you down going forward. 🙂


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 1:28 pm
  13. Hi HH 😀 Full disclosure time: i am not a regular reader of Romance Novels—the last time i read a book that would be of that category was in the 1970s—Judith Krantz’ Scruples and Princess Daisy and Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds, and in the ’80’s Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives and Shirley Conran’s Lace. More recently [if 5 yrs ago can be considered recent] The Unsuitable Suitor by Laura E Reagan.

    That said, i think it sexist and unacceptable that a woman would think a man incapable of writing Romance Novels for no other reason than he happens to be a man.

    i am ashamed of and embarrassed for those of my sex who would not only be of such a thought but are proud of themselves for having that belief, and encouraging others to be of the same narrow-minded thinking. Whatever the genre—romance, science fiction, horror, crime, mystery, etc., the writer’s work should stand on its own and be critiqued as such and not based upon the sex of the author. What a ridiculous idea to think otherwise.

    Posted by sookietex | September 3, 2012, 11:42 am
    • Thanks S. I couldn’t have said it better. Let the work stand on its own.

      I think maybe a kind of “blind taste test” should be done with my work? Send it out under a female pen-name and see what their response is when told it was actually a man.

      I met a lady at the conference and she had four or five pen names. All female. I couldnt help but wonder why?



      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 1:31 pm
      • One might say some have multiple pen names because one pen name is linked to a certain genre. Or one pen name is linked to a certain series of books. Or lastly, once again, validation. Kinda like ‘Which pen name works best.’

        And there are indeed a few writers who are male, but have a female pen name and vice versa. On the top of my head I can’t name them, but they do exist.

        Posted by Soraya E. | September 3, 2012, 1:43 pm
  14. HH –

    Welcome back! I’m sorry to hear you had a few “weird moments” at RWA.

    Honestly, I’ve been frustrated with authors like N. Sparks, not because he writes “romance,” but because he’s actually revered for writing romance as a man. My frustration stems from the fact that he’s celebrated while there are (to my mind) so many more talented female romance authors that get the “Oh, you write THAT smut” response when they reveal what they write.

    I have no problems with men writing romance. I just want great writers to get the recognition and readers they deserve because they’re great storytellers, not because they’re gender anomalies.

    Happy Labor Day!

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | September 3, 2012, 11:46 am
    • Thanks Kels! It’s good to be back.

      I really kept myself from bringing up Nicholas Sparks as part of this post because I have some reservations of his true intentions and feel he may even be part of the problem. Glad I had you to throw it out for me! 🙂

      It is ALL and JUST about the work. We are supposed to take the reader to another place and be able to keep them there for the duration of our story. That is what I intend to keep doing in this genre.

      All my best,

      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 1:35 pm
  15. Anyone can be accepted as a writer of romance or any other genre by a reader/fan. HOWEVER, for most SERIOUS writers the importance lies in being accepted by their fellow writers.

    That’s where the problem is.

    Anyone, you included HH, should just write whatever you feel like writing whenever you feel like writing it.

    In life there will always be uncomfortable moments, what matters is how you deal with it while having said moment.

    With that said, personally, I don’t care who writes what, I look at a book, look at the title, read the back, look at the genre, if it floats my boat, I’ll take it, if not, than I don’t. It could be written by a relative or friend of mine, doesn’t mean I should read it if it doesn’t float my boat.

    Posted by Soraya E. | September 3, 2012, 11:58 am
  16. Actually, I’m glad you shared your story and posed your question.

    First, I’ve found there is a bias surrounding the romance genre as a whole. When people ask what I write, their smiles slip a noticeable fraction when I respond “romance.” They’re thinking mushy category romances or historical romances with sex couched in careful euphemisms. Nothing wrong with that, if that’s what a reader looking for, but it’s not what I write and I’ve never been comfortable with the assumption that I do.

    As soon as I notice this slip in their smiles, I clarify: I write relationships. Romance is a fleeting moment in time, the champagne bubbles experienced as a couple gets to know one another and wonders if this is THE ONE. Relationships, on the other hand, are the whole deal: the cap left off the toothpaste, the money spent on fishing lures or Coach purses instead of on the electricity bill, the insecurities as each grows older and physical beauty morphs into the grace of life’s experiences.

    I want to see more men writing this – more men writing of romance from a male perspective, too. For far too long, women have dominated this genre, and I think there’s not only a skewed perception of what is being written, but there’s a skewed perception of the male viewpoint on romance. Sometimes I read a romance and think, “No guy I know would EVER do/say/think that!” There’s not just room in the genre for male romance writers, there is – in my humble opinion – a desperate need for them.

    Posted by Sharon Gerlach | September 3, 2012, 12:02 pm
    • Thanks Sharon. I actually wasn’t sure if I should bring the topic up or not but realizing if I’m going to be a self appointed advocate for the cause, maybe I need to come out swinging. 🙂

      You are spot on with the reactions to “I write romance stories”. Imagine doing it as a guy! And not some guy with a shy personality but a guy who would look them straight in the face, say, ” I write love stories. Giggle even a little bit and I’ll poke you in the eye.” (Insert stern look here)

      For me, I hear the behind the scenes conversations between men that women aren’t privy to. (I may have to open THAT Pandora’s Box in my next post here. Carrie?) Instead of one beer bellied friend asking the other, “Earl, do you have any romantic recommendations for me? I need some help.”. I hear, “So how’s the Viagra workin’ out for ya? Gettin’ lucky more, Earl?!” (High fives all around)

      While I’m paraphrasing 🙂 the jist of the problem is there. I feel at the heart of the matter men do want to be romantic but they want it to be their idea first and on their terms second. If their wife says, “You never bring me flowers. I wish you were more romantic.” there’s a resistance on the man’s part. He’s giving in to something. We’re men, we don’t like to give in. And ladies, who really wants to receive an obligation-in-a-vase? Is he really being romantic or just doing what he was told? Thoughts?

      (No Earls were harmed in the writing of this response.)



      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 9:24 pm
      • I love it that you addressed the different ideas of romance. My husband’s best friend is expected to bring flowers and expensive jewelry to his wife on special occasions (while, I must add, he gets no gifts). My husband and I go to a favorite pub, try a delightful new dark lager or five, buy a plant we both like for the garden or a gadget for the house, and split a box of habanero caramels. I DEFINITELY don’t want an obligation-in-a-vase and he doesn’t want an obligation-in-a-toolbox.

        On a writing note, he reads everything I write, and if I’m way off mark on the male dialogue, actions, or perspective, he lets me know straight away. Because no matter how we try or how close we come, women simply do not think, react, or respond like men.

        Posted by Sharon Gerlach | September 4, 2012, 3:19 pm
    • Sharon,

      I replied to your comment and it’s lost! Will respond again tomorrow. Sorry.


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 9:33 pm
  17. I actually know some great male romance writers. Their writing is impressive to say the least. Whether male or female it’s all in the writer whether a story turns out to be a page-turner or not.

    Posted by Mary Corrales | September 3, 2012, 12:18 pm
  18. I truly think men can write romance aslong as it is coming from a place of the romantic things we actually do desire. After reading a few of your pieces, yes you can write for us women. You do know what it means to us and what causes the temperatures to rise! You, yourself, recognise the ignition key!I love checking in to see what you have said recently! Keep up the fun, loving work!

    Posted by Lisa Sorensen | September 3, 2012, 12:36 pm
  19. Women write male characters all the time, and we do it well. Why would we expect anything less from male writers? I believe every person, no matter what sex they are, brings something to the table when writing–a new viewpoint, a different emotional take on scenes, a side of life that the reader may not have realized even existed. In my humble opinion, write what you feel, and don’t worry about what others think. Writing what you feel (even if that’s romance for a male writer) will always come across more real than anything you write to dodge a stereotypical bullet.

    Posted by Melissa Foster | September 3, 2012, 1:17 pm
    • Melissa!
      Thanks for being here!

      I’m certainly not going to back down. It is a matter of good writing first, principle second and proving the naysayers wrong last.

      When I wondered if I would be taken seriously in the romance genre, I thought for sure I would because writing entails all of us writers to become ALL the characters in our story so we can get them on paper. Who knew? 🙂

      Thanks again!


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 9:32 pm
  20. Some great comments here. Don’t need to reiterate what has already been said. I did like the comment that maybe women can learn what is really going on in that man’s head!

    I wonder, though, if part of the reason why women romance writers take offense is because, in the past, they have been relegated to this particular genre. Men can write mysteries, thrillers, suspense, adventures, blah, blah, blah, but you WOMEN can have romance. So when they find a man encroaching on their turf, they get defensive.

    I say, have at it, Handsome.

    Posted by marsha cornelius | September 3, 2012, 1:25 pm
  21. I do understand. After a lady with a name like Kitty and I write horror and urban fantasy. I have gotten those looks too.
    Why not you have feels too. I think you can relate to your audience. I have not read your work but why not. As writers we need to support each other no matter what the story is about. Good luck really!

    Posted by Kitty | September 3, 2012, 1:55 pm
  22. To echo Sandra, you have my attention too. At least, you do now. I had no idea there were men writing romance. No, I haven’t been living under a rock, but I write about psych research, so for some time my nose has been buried deep into one or another thick academic tome. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved a good romance novel, it was just too hard to work them into my reading schedule. Or it was until I gave in to the pressure last week and ordered Fifty Shades of Grey.(Ahem). Can’t say there’s much passing for academic there, but it’s certainly riveting. Of course, the trilogy was written by a woman–and her husband publicly confesses to being the most “unromantic” man on earth. As I recall he described himself using slightly different terminology (what is a “fecker” exactly?) but I think that captures the essence.

    Back to the point, though, it was actually a man who brought up Fifty Shades to me, so I figure if men can enjoy reading erotic romance, why shouldn’t they be able to write it as well?

    More power to you. I think society has forced men to view themselves as unromantic long enough. It’s time to give them permission to access the emotional processes in the brain, especially since decision-making research is revealing that the analytical processes of the brain are considerably hampered without the aid of emotional processes.

    Maybe the upshot is that a man who can write romance is smarter than the average guy? If I were you, that would be my story and I’d be sticking to it.

    Off to find a place to buy one of your books. Best of luck to you~

    Posted by Gina | September 3, 2012, 1:56 pm
    • Gina,

      There is SO much more to your comment that I want to respond to regarding the 50 Shades thing. And I intend to in a future post. (Carrie? … Crickets. Am I the only one who doesn’t sleep? 🙂

      Before I get to that future post, let me throw out that if a guy (who is NOT a date, boyfriend, fiancé or husband) suggests Fifty Shades it’s a guy’s way of dropping a hint. Not ALL guys, but most.

      I’m not tooting a horn here but regarding your comment that a guy who can write romance is smarter than the average man, I’ve been tested. 🙂

      Thanks so much, G!


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 10:59 pm
  23. OH I do love my auto correct. After all! Someday the computer and I will have very bad words!

    Posted by Kitty | September 3, 2012, 1:57 pm
  24. Hansel,

    You already know I’m a fan, so perhaps my opinion is biased, but I say go for it. You write as well, or better than, many female writers. Also, off the top of my head I can think of three friends who are male romance writers writing under female pen names and I think it happens far more often than people think. The publicists even buy the rights to a person’s picture so that face will always be associated with the pen name. The sad thing is not one of those men would show the courage you have shown and go to a RWA conference because then their secret would be out and their publicists would kill them. Who knows, maybe even some of those men who claimed to be there only for the women really were writers who were too afraid to own up to what they do.

    As for the perception that only women can write romance, it’s ridiculous. No one told Sally Ride she couldn’t be the first woman in space so I say take to the stars in your own unique way. You won’t be the first by any means, but you’ll be the bravest because you’ll go there as your wonderful self.

    Posted by Tracy Riva | September 3, 2012, 2:49 pm
    • Tracy,

      You’ve been along for the ride with me for a while and I appreciate you and your support more than (even) I can say.

      Maybe my problem is that I genuinely own who and what I am, and btw I’m a man. Like Condaleeza Rice getting okayed by Augusta National to be one of the first females allowed to play on their course, I intend to show men deserve to be allowed onto the romance course as well.

      Good to hear from you, T!


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 11:15 pm
  25. Great article as always Hansel.
    I have been migrating in the same webverse as Hansel for some time now. I have had the pleasure of reading his work as well as chatting with him and he has danced and romanced the socks off this cynical broad as well as hundreds of others. I will make a confession, I was wary of Hansel… For about 30 seconds.
    I agree with the point that there is overwhelming prejudice in the Romance community concerning male authors, however, I have seen growth in acceptance through my work with indie/self pubbed novels. Already fighting a prejudice of its own.
    Hansel is at the forefront of conquering these stereotypes and with the help of social media and earnest blogging, he has made progress.
    So, in answer to the title of this article, YES.
    Thanks Hansel

    Posted by Tammy- NovelOpinion | September 3, 2012, 3:11 pm
  26. I absolutely think men can be accepted as romance writers. I love romance and in fact, I’m typically a Nicholas Sparks girl. I did just finish a great book though that a friend recommended called “Tell Me When It Hurts” by Christine M. Whitehead. You can get check her out and get the book right off of her website, I personally love to read romance by men and women just to compare their perceptions of word “romance”! Thanks for the post!

    Posted by Jackie Crawford | September 3, 2012, 3:11 pm
  27. Welcome back, HH!

    Your post makes me think of women writers during the 19th century who wrote under male pseudonyms so their work would be taken seriously.

    I wish there were more men writing romance. When I’m writing in a male POV, I always ask myself if I’m getting it right. Reading guy-centric blogs and magazines helps me with the male “thought process”.

    Life is too short to live by other people’s standards. To all male romance writers out there…give it all you’ve got and enjoy the camaraderie of the romance community.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | September 3, 2012, 3:12 pm
    • Jennifer,

      Wasn’t aware of the women back then writing under the circumstances they did. Very disappointing and sad.

      I want to throw out a general question to all women romance writers when they have to write from a male’s POV: How many of you show your writings, chapter, dialogue to a male friend, partner, confidant and ask if you got it right? (Write?)


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 11:42 pm
  28. HH, I’m thrilled that you’re pursuing your passion (if you’ll excuse the terrible pun). As others have mentioned, the author’s gender shouldn’t be a factor when judging the quality of a book, regardless of the genre. I’ve read many “non-romance” books written by men that contained better relationship development and romantic scenes than a lot of straight-up romances. As long as the story is well-written, it doesn’t matter who wrote it. Hopefully you’ll receive a better reception at your next conference!

    Posted by Raine Thomas | September 3, 2012, 3:55 pm
    • Raine!

      “pursuing your passion”, no ugh here. 🙂

      I received a nice, albeit somewhat, hesitent response at my conference. I will continue to go back…and back…and back.

      You make a great point that in a (technically) non romanctic story that when there is swooned over romance it tends to be written by men and not thought about. There’s still a bit of a glass ceiling in traditional Romance though.

      You rock as always! 🙂


      Posted by HH | September 3, 2012, 11:37 pm
  29. I really don’t care who writes a romance asking as it’s a good one. I don’t write romance (at least not at the moment), but I’ve attended seminars of the Denver based RWA, Heart of Denver Romamce Writers, and they have plenty of men in their midst. Accepted, published, male romance writers. No titters or derision from that group.

    I also belong to a local critique group. We have our token male romance writer. He’s accepted as well, even by the men who write action adventure. Sci-fi, western, warfare and fantasy works.

    I’m glad that there are men who write romance.

    Posted by Robin Calkins | September 3, 2012, 5:39 pm
  30. I can only speak for myself, but unless I am looking to read a specific book, I rarely, if ever, notice who the authour is until after I’ve read the story. Gender of the author plays no part in my decision making process.

    Posted by Marcie | September 3, 2012, 7:29 pm
  31. I think it should not be based on male or female, it should be based on content. Is it a good romantic and sensual read. There is good and bad in everything,,,if you are good go for it:))

    You R GOOD!!

    Posted by Linda Willis | September 3, 2012, 7:56 pm
  32. First let me say this. Men, I think, if one really looks, are more romantic than women. When they fall, they fall hard, with the scent of lavender, and roses in their nostrils, and the harp music in the background. So they certainly have the wherewithal to write about romance, if they wish, all the hearts, flowers, and bodice ripping words they have in their arsenal. But, I also understand that in so doing, some women will feel they are kind of butting into a private girly talk about sex and love…that only girls can do. Nonsense! If the guys have the talent..I it, and who cares what gender you are, so long as the knowledge, skill, and desire are there. Excelsior, men! Write romance. Cheers!

    Posted by Jacquie Dick | September 3, 2012, 9:30 pm
    • Thanks Jacquie!

      I had a recent discussion with a lady about what gestures a man would find romantic. It occurred to me that what a woman might find romantic a man would simply be thankful and surprised by.

      Example: a man swings by the local jeweler and buys a pair of earrings for his wife, wraps them then presents them to her over a nice homemade meal.

      Romantic gesture on his part and seen that way by her. Let me know if I’m off.

      A couple days later, his wife goes online and orders the latest electronic gadget he’s been wanting, when it arrives she places the box in his favorite chair and prepares a steak dinner for him when he gets home.

      Even though these are essentially the same gestures a man will genuinely be surprised, be greatful, even humbled. But if you were to ask him, “Do you find what your wife did ‘romantic’ “, he’ll concede with an “I guess so.” but ultimately that’s 3, 4, 5 down the list of his perspective on it.

      Thoughts everyone?


      Posted by HH | September 5, 2012, 9:44 am
      • To me a romantic gesture is personal. Everyone has their own definition.

        Personally, what I would find a romantic gesture are just sweet little things like leaving notes to each other, dim litted dinners and so on…

        Gift giving is not a romantic gesture, it’s the presentation that makes it romantic. In my opinion.

        Posted by Soraya E. | September 5, 2012, 11:40 am
  33. Having just finished I Own the Dawn by M.L. Buchman – and loved it – I can say with absolute certainty that men can write romance!

    In fact, I really enjoy reading from a male perspective, and if there were more men around writing in this genre, I would definitely be happy about it.

    Posted by Sonya Heaney | September 4, 2012, 5:26 am
  34. Personally, I don’t care who write the romance books I read, all I care about is How good is the plot, how good are the characters, how good is the sex and how real does it feel. The end! Personally, why should it matter? Do women think that men don’t know we name our vibrators? Well.. not all of us, but some of us? They name their penises… totally normal! Why should it be any different, if you can convey a story that is about everlasting love, or hot sex, who cares? And just because it is written by a man does not mean that it is written in the male perspective. Women write male characters in male perspectives, why is it that a man should write in a males perspective? I say rock (and write) on HH!

    Posted by Mara Gillott | September 4, 2012, 7:01 am
    • I couldn’t agree more, Mara!

      I will refute that ALL men name their penises. I have never named anything other than my children, a few pets and motorists who don’t know how to drive. 🙂


      Posted by HH | September 5, 2012, 9:51 am
  35. I say, YAY! I have always found your writing to be very sensuous, very moving, very stirring. That’s what I want a romance to do. And your writing is still filled with a sincerity and feeling that is touching. Those who present the perfect washboard abs etc are fantasy writers much more so than romance writers!

    You be you. You are AMAZING! xo

    Posted by Shelley Lundquist | September 4, 2012, 7:03 am
    • Great perception, Shelley! I am intending to keep the romance real. I want someone to get to the end of my book and think, That can actually happen for me.

      Thanks Shelley. As always, you rule!


      Posted by HH | September 5, 2012, 11:29 am
  36. Men can absolutely be sensational romance writers. It just may take a bit of time for others to catch on, but that’s not your concern really. As long as you follow your heart and do what makes you happy, eventually, people get it and adapt. Keep trailblazing!

    Posted by Jodi | September 4, 2012, 7:08 am
  37. Loved this post! I really enjoy when I see men at romance writing conferences. Why not? Men fall in love also. They’re perspective is just a little different and I think that’s what is so fabulous about it.

    Rock on, HH!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | September 4, 2012, 7:15 am
  38. Not a writer here, but a long-time romance reader. Professionally, I am a woman in a male dominated field, and it’s very common for me to be the only woman in the room, even now.

    Even so, I’ll confess to a knee-jerk dubiousness about male romance authors. Sometimes I wonder if we romance readers really want the male POV or only what women *hope* the male POV is.

    Thing about romance is, there are conventions and certain expectations. Some writers can break them with stellar success. Others who try merely fail to meet expectations.

    So yes, of course I think men can write a good romance. But honestly, I would say the bar for me to try a new male romance author might be higher than for a new female romance author.

    Posted by Nicola O. | September 4, 2012, 10:13 am
  39. I personally would love to read a romance written by men.

    As one of the other posters said, I had to try and think like a man when writing my love scenes because as an avid romance reader myself, I prefer to know what the man is thinking when they are having sex.

    I talk to my male friends to get their perspective but to actually read another man’s work would be great only they are so hard to come by.

    Posted by Yelle Hughes | September 4, 2012, 10:53 am
    • Yelle,

      I will say that when a man is asked by a woman what (even) another man is thinking, the whole truth never surfaces. The brotherhood of men emerges and everyone has each other’s backs.

      That’s why I’m ok that guys don’t like what I do. They really don’t. And I don’t care. I’m interested in bridging the gap that exists in romance and proving a man and a woman can truly understand one another – in some cases – without even trying.

      Thanks again,

      Posted by HH | September 5, 2012, 11:48 am
  40. HH
    Wow .. Nice comments here really! You know how I feel
    About romance and how I write . I would actually
    Prefer more men to write romance. It is exciting to
    Read real romannce from a mans perspective. Keep writing
    What you believe in and people will believe in you

    Posted by Lookingatutoo | September 4, 2012, 12:41 pm
  41. One word answer which can settle this.. Shakespeare.

    I enjoy your writings and feel you must have a heart to write romance. If you don’t have one or have never felt the good in using it then you can’t write romance.

    Simply put Sir, because of the way you write, you have a huge heart.

    Posted by Autumn | September 4, 2012, 6:57 pm
  42. Re: “Men – Can they truly be
    accepted as Writers of

    ABSOULTELY! How could you know, that I’ve been waiting forever for men to stand up and defend their posture?! …And what better gentleman to do it than “Handsome Hansel?!”

    I simply adore and am thrilled by your ease and expertise with writing for @DanceOfRomance and as a contributor. I wholeheartedly agree with you: “That romance is wanted from a man’s perspective and not just to get sex.” Most women yearn for men brave enough to express it! WE ENCOURAGE YOU to share it via fiction and please also consider non-fiction as well, for everyone on the planet to ENJOY!

    Let YOUR art stand on its own! I’ll be the first in line to purchase it!


    P.S. Jacquie Dick among others
    are so ON POINT!

    Posted by Sonja | September 4, 2012, 7:36 pm
  43. I’ve been reading exclusively romance novels since I was 30. I’m now 61 and I’ve picked up the pen and am writing for two reasons, I’m Military Disabled and can’t really do anything else and two I have a Heart, Feelings and Desires as strong as any woman. Women have worked hard to get all the equality they fully deserve. they still have a ways to go but I think its pitiful that in get that equality they picked up some of that pig headed prejudice they fought against and are using it against those men brave enough to write and put their hearts on the line and instead of saying good for you and maybe giving a helping hand to help those men become better writers, they are laughing and snickering behind their hands at those who are trying I would love to have a team of women who would be willing to stand along side of me and help me become a better writer. for years while being laughed at by fellow soldiers and even having my sexuality questioned, I stood tall and said I wanted to write like those women because I thought they were the superior writers. now with my health failing to find I probably won’t live to see anything of mine published it doesn’t matter just as long as a few of those women would just same thanks for trying to see the world from our side and have the nerve to try walking in their shoes. besides I thing my stuff is good and one day when the world evens out maybe someone will pick up that manuscript that the wouldn’t even read because it authored by a man. My work makes me smile, laugh, cry, and love, and isn’t that what romance is about. I’m proud of my work and for me that’s all that counts. Sorry if this rambles, but I’ve taken my pain medicine and it plays with my mind. Its nice to here a man is making it in a woman dominated world.

    Posted by Richard R. Reister | May 18, 2013, 2:57 am
  44. It’s simple. Men should populate the romance genre!!! They got it made when it comes to writing romance and I wish there were more men doing so! It’s refreshing when a man writes romance. They are obviously writing those books for us women so we props for doing so!!

    Posted by Monica Armenta | November 1, 2013, 5:58 pm
  45. I have found that writing romance as a male can be a trade off. When professionals in the business see a male name (like James) on your manuscript or query letter, you go to the front of the line. They are curious about the author more than the manuscript. You become a novelty. The down side is that they view anything you submit with skepticism. Your writing has to be perfect. Anything which could be perceived as a flaw by almost anyone is enough to get the anti-male publishing police on your MS.

    “Men can’t write romance! This just proves it! This character spoke for five lines uninterrupted. That makes all of his characters in everything he’s ever written a big windbag.”

    I gained a lot of support when I told family and friends I started writing. I lost most of them when I told them I wanted to start with romance. “There must be something wrong with him.” or “He must be gay.” (That’s a big one with the fellas. If you can successfully write an attractive male protagonist, you must be gay.)
    You’ll find when you’re a male writer who announces romance, it immediately becomes you against the world. You find out who your true friends are. Cherish your allies because most of them are about to leave.

    Finding a critique group is hell. Everyone wants to see what the man’s writing is like. It goes back to that curiosity/novelty thing. However, no one wants to share their MS with me because they don’t want me to “man up” their MS and doom it to rejection. You feel like you snuck into the slumber party dressed in drag. That is why I have beta readers, but no critique group.

    On the up side, all my beta readers give me rave reviews on every male POV scene. Those are the ones I have spent the least amount of time on.

    I’m going to conduct an experiment once I get published. I’m going to see if a multi-published female author will co-author with me. I’ll write the male POV, she’ll write the female. We can do the 3rd together.

    I’ve went on for way too long. Good luck on your writing career, HH.

    Posted by Jamie | February 24, 2014, 2:08 pm


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