Ask a male author about your male character traits or thoughts.

Amazon links to my stories: Autumn Breeze, A More Perfect Union, Double Happiness, The Wolves of Sherwood Forest, Neanderthals and the Garden of Eden can be found down the right side of the blog.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Tooting your own horn

Tooting your own horn

Whenever we correspond with our teammates at RWA San Diego it is considered and ruled that we not hawk our books. However, good news, is an exception.
      
The 2017 San Diego Book Awards finalists were just announced.
My dear friend, Regan Walker, finaled for Historical (novel length) Fiction with To Tame The Wind. A story I was privileged enough to get an advance read of and fortunate enough to have read. Reading each others’ work at the chapter is another way of growing. Believe it or not there’s always something to critique. The only work of fiction I could not critique was titled and written as: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Ernest Hemingway, the minimalist, is attributed with this gem.
Robert W Richard, that’s me, is a finalist with my entry in general romance, Autumn Breeze, for the SDBA. I have the many suggestions and critiques of my fellow authors to thank for the polishing of this story.
Regan and I have something very much in common about our works. We sweated every word. We loved our stories with abandon from the moment of creation to it’s birth (which was more than nine months in my case). Herin lies the tiny lesson for today’s blog. Don’t write for the sake of writing. Write the story that burns your soul.
Whoever wrote this review is a better writer than moi:
A complex, emotionally gripping and compelling book
This is the best kind of novel. The kind that weaves honest, factual contemporary history (9/11 and its aftermath), into the fabric of a compelling love story. Plus a lot of intrigue and adventure. So you end up learning a lot, and getting an appreciation of actual history, while enjoying a heartfelt love story at the same time.
The Autumn of the title is a teenage girl. She's forced by circumstances to find new parents. In doing so, she gets involved with some pretty fascinating characters (well developed by the author), and some dangerous situations. But not just danger: love and romance too. The author doesn't pull any punches about the dark side of life: a terrorist is after her, and the suspense at times is intense.
One thing I like a lot about Autumn Breeze is that it doesn't take the low road that so many other novels take these days in knocking intellectuality. There is an appreciation of intellect here. Also of heroism, spirituality, and true love. Which makes it awfully hard to categorize the novel. You can't pigeonhole it because it tackles (and succeeds on) so many levels: suspense, personal interaction and loyalty, appreciation of family, romantic love, gritty adventure. And if that isn't enough (!), it's also a love story to New York.
But a word of warning: if you're looking for a lightweight, frivolous book, this isn't for you. It is complex, and intricately plotted in a way that makes you wonder how the author ever managed to weave all the threads so seamlessly into such an enjoyable book. But he does.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

The female gaze

What She Sees (The female gaze)
This post is inspired by an article in the LA Times, May 7, 2017 written by Meredith Blake. The character was seeing a blur where the man’s groin was. Blake. She’s finishes her opening story with, “I wanted the audience to see what she would be seeing.”
Generalizing women see differently than men. There are plenty of women who love the visual side of life. Be they photographers, artists, directors... There are men who are introspective.
Most men assess a female stranger in terms of their looks. Most women see that, for sure, but tend to see meaning to a possible relationship. Hence the blur as their minds go inward into the world of creation. It’s a woman’s job to decide the future of the human race. It’s the man’s job to insure it happens.
The lA Times writer, Meredith Blake, goes on to say, “...a growing number of shows are turning women into the subject of the action rather than the object of desire.” Of course, the Times writer is also stating the preferences of women in the audience as to what they prefer to see on the screen. I believe, whether male or female we want to feel—not merely see.
Here’s where I part from the article, not in spirit, but in intent.
Writing a scene through the “eyes” of a woman must be different than through the eyes of a man. But, how to do it? It’s easy to say he notices her perfect curves, lovely face and wants her. It’s harder to say she notices his body, face etc. and wonders about what kind of man he is. That’s code for will I be heartbroken and/or miserable after night one of their dual fantasy of making love. [I had never felt that way. With me, what was most important was the possible union and let the rest take care of itself.]
Do you need to write that her vision of him blurs while she considers the consequneces? Your choice. The richness in writing comes from varying as long as it fits the arc and the true nature of the character.
It is alright to write male domination into a scene because it will only make your readers invest in and root for the heroine as she sheds her shackles and teaches a lesson.
The Times article concludes with, “—use narration, direct address and subjective fantasy sequences to convey the heroine’s unfiltered point of view directly to the (TV or movie) audience.”
I’ll let Dusty Springfield chastise women for doin’ what they do around men that get them nowhere near his heart. Of course that’s just griss for our mill.
Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Dusty Springfield 1964. I strongly recommend the artwork in this video, in that it pictorially evokes what might become words while writing the heroine’s pov.
https://youtu.be/ycbgHM1mI0k

Sunday, May 7, 2017

First dates

Is your dialogue stale?
Do you worry that you are so far removed from today’s dating scene that you’ll get it wrong. Do you lurk in bars hoping your ears are good enough and that you don’t give yourself away?
Forget it.
It is so critical that you get the beginning of your hero and heroine’s arc right. Right?
Tune into NBC’s new show First Dates (Friday nights).
The show advertises “Everything they say and do is entirely up to them.”
For the sceptic of “reality shows” maybe knowing that Ellen Degeneres is the exec producer might ease your concerns.
Of course people do strange things when on camera or do they? Do they simply get comfortable or into the idea of meeting someone? You decide.
Is this show Earthshaking? No. But far the student of the written word, it can be useful if you give it a chance.
Ellen Degeneres talks about her show:
https://youtu.be/eAgerJXjy5U

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Let's Dance

Let’s Dance
Last week I wrote about heroines or heroes who sing. This week is much easier. Let’s dance. For some reason authors write much more romance prose about dancing as incidental and as part of their characters’ lives than about songbirds. Oddly, the prose flows more easily when it is about movement than about words. Words, the only tool we have. Enough of that.
I won’t bare you with quotes from my dance references. Anybody who has read Autumn Breeze knows the joy with which I had written about dancing.
Dancing Queen, Abba, 1976
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFrGuyw1V8s

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Girl Who Sang too much

I have never read a romance novel nor any other novel in which the hero or heroine were singing their way through the day. Probably because it is damn well difficult to get any thing other than the poetry and perhaps the mood of the song across to the reader. Also because most of us have not experienced the zany singer in our families, nor are we reinforced on TV or at the movies that it is doable or shown how to do it.
Only in musicals and they rarely sing their way through the entire day. Besides, musicals are separated from the other genres because human beings find breaking into song as unusual. All the better reason to attempt it.
Imagine the spirit of a person who loves to sing. She’s typically not a professional but her voice is sweet. Does he or she sing to escape reality? Does she become the lyrics? What kind of heart has she?
All this is grist for a novel. Will the reader identify? You bet. Human nature in all its beautiful manifestations is easily understood.
I suppose a story about a professional singer would need the author to dig in, but I haven’t read these either nor have we grown up in this environment. For those who have been blessed to be part of a musical family, think about it. Even a short story or novella would be greatly appreciated.

If anybody knows of such a novel, please inform me, I'd like to read it.

Singin’ In The Rain, Gene Kelly, 1952
http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=singin%27+in+the+rain&&view=detail&mid=D17ADA1888C4197AC48DD17ADA1888C4197AC48D&FORM=VRDGAR
BTW, anybody ever dance with their vacuum cleaner or broom?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Kiss

Prostitutes will say to their johns, “No kisses.” If they explain, it goes something like it is too intimate. Apparently kisses are more intimate than making love, and not just for prostitutes.
I have read too many romances that go something like this:
They met in Macy’s. Between intimate apparel and men’s socks, he jammed his tongue down her throat. Later when they went on their first date. They exchanged tongues. Now that’s progress. Later when they are an item, their tongues wrestled and the all important spit was exchanged.
Give me a break.
Kisses can have arcs too and different meanings.
There’s the polite, how-are-you kiss on the cheek. No not that cheek, although that would be funny.
There’s the short peck on the lips, saying later or love ya, but I have to go to Macy’s and meet someone else who likes French kissing.
There’s what the kids do, suck face. What the hell is that?
There’s the tender, loving, lingering kiss, lips slightly parted as if to invite more French kissing. Ain’t necessarily so. Sweetness is such a tremendous and total reward and coincidentally, a turn on. The couple need nothing more. They say “I’m crazy about you” with their lips.
Do vary your lip reading.
The Kiss, 1896 was one of the first films ever shown commercially to the public. The film is around 18 seconds long, and depicts a re-enactment of the kiss between May Irwin and John Rice from the final scene of the stage musical, The Widow Jones.
http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=the+kiss&&view=detail&mid=16C42E1B7EE88DAE1C4A16C42E1B7EE88DAE1C4A&FORM=VRDGAR

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Ninety Percent Solution

Beauty said to Beast on their twentieth anniversary, “When I first met you, you were a beast. Now, you’re a monster.”
There are many studies on this issue. I’ll use the most inflammatory. 90% of couples don’t like each other, because I want to make a point about writing romance.
In a romance novel, both hero and heroine must be precocious enough to figure out why this won’t happen to them. Why? Because your audience wants that happily ever after to really be happily ever after and even after that. The characters both need moments in their arc to say, act or think why they want to marry each other.
We know physical attraction or chemistry isn’t enough, because time changes the body.
We know similar interests isn’t enough, because people grow or change.
IMO, your hero and heroine most also be so decvoted to the idea of service. “I want to make Susie happy and it will be my life’s goal to make her feel special every day of her life.” What can I do for her next? What can I say to her next? It’s my belief that you have to dig deeply to find out what makes them feel that way. Qwhat in their background and nature makes them commit to their mate as if a zealot. Thoughts? La Vie en Rose.
The hero and heroine just get that they are as perfect for each other as could possibly be. They thank God or the universe for they’re great fortune.
La Vie en Rose, Edith Pief, 1946.


https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play;_ylt=A2KIo9jh6M5YZCkAU9P7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTBzYmZpbnA0BHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDBGdwb3MDMjU-?p=la+vie+en+rose+edith+piaf&vid=56a4a1946e2a77757394b38c84768336&turl=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOVP.EcWWmuP0crz3V9gPXTTV2gDyDw%26pid%3D15.1%26h%3D240%26w%3D242%26c%3D7%26rs%3D1&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D0feNVUwQA8U&tit=Edith+Piaf+-La+vie+en+rose+with+lyrics&c=24&h=240&w=242&l=186&sigr=11b24ci1o&sigt=1160398f2&sigi=12rnqevi1&age=1245371350&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Av&fr=vmn&tt=b


English lyrics by Mack David

Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
When you kiss me, Heaven sighs
And though I close my eyes
I see la vie en rose
When you press me to your heart
I'm in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
And when you speak
Angels sing from above
Every day words
Seem to turn into love songs
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La vie en rose
I thought that love was just a word
They sang about in songs I heard
It took your kisses to reveal
That I was wrong, and love is real
Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
When you kiss me, Heaven sighs
And though I close my eyes
I see la vie en rose
When you press me to your heart
I'm in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
And when you speak
Angels sing from above
Every day words
Seem to turn into love songs
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La vie en rose