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, November 19, 2017

How Not To Get Published

I have temporarily run out of things to say about the male point of view but I don't want to go dark. Therefore I'm going to write about something closely related that I'm passionate about, good writing. Besides, many of my readers have written to me and when they do the questions are often about the mechanics of writing.

Some people think that if you write with the talent of Ernest Hemingway or J. K. Rowling the world will beat a path to your door. You have the talent. You know it, but why all the rejections?
That’s because the gate-keepers all work out of the same kitchen. Imagine the number of manuscripts agents and editors receive every day. These people can’t even read 1/10th of what they receive. What do they all do? They hire college kids, or interns if you prefer, and give them rules to follow. Don’t we as employers do the same thing? The newbie is, by definition, someone to be trained. One of the rules is to stop reading immediately if anyone of the following shows up. Shows up quickly, I might add, because the writer’s style betrays, especially in the first five pages. Most agents and editors never get past page five.
Here are the top 10 rules agents and editors use to cut down the perceived crap they receive. There are no exceptions, unless you know somebody. But, remember this, good writing is good writing. Break the rules at your own risk. Remember the buck doesn’t stop with that someone you know.
In no particular order, because any one of these leads to an immediate stop-reading-and-send-the-polite-rejection letter.

1.                        !
Use the exclam at great risk of bodily harm! The editor will send out a 90 pound girl with pimples to beat you up! If your words cannot convey the meaning of the sentence you have automatically failed! Next! Exclamation points are closely matched by shouting! That is USING ALL CAPS!
The exclam looks like a baton with which you lead an imaginary band! The rule at the office is that the ! is a crutch! If you see one of these onerous beings in the first five pages put the pages into hazardous waste and move on, you have 205 more submissions to read before coffee break!
If you’re getting a little irritated by my ending every sentence with an !, then consider their feelings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What is an exclamation, anyway? Webster’s College Dictionary writes: 1. The act of exclaiming; outcry; loud complaint or protest, 2. An interjection. The definition of exlaim adds: to cry out or speak suddenly and vehemently, as in surprise, strong emotion, or protest. The problem with the symbol ! is that it is not a word, so the reader won’t know what you mean unless you describe whether it’s a cry out, showing surprise, speaking suddenly, showing protest, loud complaint or just loud. There’s only one way to impart the reader what variation of ! you are using. I.e. use precise words. If you use precise words than why use the symbol? You see how a reader might get confused? It is hard to show what the character means but it is necessary to become a great writer. Therefore, editors and agents have condemned the exclam.
The exclam is a substitute for good writing! If ever you feel compelled to put one on a page, ask yourself why! Could you strengthen that verb! Could you rewrite that sentence to impart meaning! Is it obvious what you are saying! Do you trust the reader to get it! Throw all your crutches away and eliminate fear! Write really good stuff!
Reference material: Renni Browne & Dave King in Self-editing for Fiction Writers say “…stylistic devices that make a writer look insecure… Exclamation points are visually distracting… trying desperately to infuse your dialogue or narration with an excitement it lacks.” They suggest using them only to show moments when the character is physically shouting or doing the mental equivalent! Don’t go there, especially in the first five pages! Since the reader will not have read a book on writing they still won’t know for sure what you are writing!

On separate point, last week I sat with my Filipina wife, her sister and her Puerto Rican husband. We watched Enchanted Christmas on Hallmark. Bravo to Hallmark. This is the first time I have seen other than whites as leads. (except for a gorgeous half-Japanese girl  heroine I saw once). The hero was Hispanic and heroine was half Hispanic. The story was great. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Trait Assimilation

It’s well known that characters change during a story. They’re going somewhere, conquering worlds, falling in love. Often a novelist forgets that people rub off on each other. It’s human nature. Sometimes, people pick up speech patterns, sometimes they try new things. The hero and heroine educate each other. They introduce each other to their worlds. They become one. Like an old married couple or identical twins, they finish each other’s sentences. The possibilities are endless. In that, lies some of what is fun in writing.

This might seem trivial or difficult to show in words, but that’s what the reader expects. They want to see characters as real as you can write them.

The last scene in Some Like It Hot, 1959 (Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Kiss Me Crazy

Kissing lowers blood pressure 3.5%.
Is this true? I read it in a mystery novel, of all places. I searched on Bing and stopped when I read Dr. Fahad Basheer’s article published 1/7/2016. Basically, although the 3.5% wasn’t mentioned, this was all I needed. He writes: The kiss is a measure of a person’s feelings, of his or her love or attraction to another. A truly meaningful kiss can also act as a powerful mood booster, instilling a sense of confidence and heightened self-esteem in both parties. The strength of a kiss lies in the power it has to cause the release of serotonin and oxytocin peptides in our bodies.
Here’s a summary of his 10 points:
1. Relieves physical pain.
2. Lowers blood pressure.
3. Improves the health of our heart.
4. Boost immunity & help with allergies.
5. Improves oral hygiene.
6. Improves mood & decreases stress.
7. Relieves menstrual cramps. [This reminds me of the old chestnut: Not now, I have a headache.]
8. Relieves headaches & migraine. [My same thought as above here.]
9. Improves the tone of facial muscles.
10. Burns calories.
For those who want to read the entire artcile or the reasons behind the ten points go to:
As for writing, consider having fun with this in dialogue. Understand that a make-out session is beneficial for more than teenagers. Kissing can be an end to itself.
What the doctor did not write but implied: Kissing leads to sex. But kissing is so intimate, it is sex.

If you want a kiss, suggest the benefits, LOL. ...And get close.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

First love is a forever love

In last night’s Hallmark movie premier of Love Struck CafĂ©, one of the characters claimed that a first love is a forever love. This thought is to be considered while writing YA (young Adult) or Middle Grade. It may also show up in an adult romance as backstory, as in the movie. And well done, indeed.

Points for the statement:
1. Hormones are at their highest in life, making everything about love and bonding so intense, the hero and heroine can’t get enough of each other. Every moment is treasured and looked forward to with abandon.
2. Experiencing anything for the first time becomes an indelible marker for life.
3. The process of engaging in new ways of living and doing things, breaking old habits (things of a child), makes for unforgettable memories.
Points against:
1. The kids don’t know what they’re feeling (puppy love).
2. The kids confuse passion or sexual excitement for love.
3. The kids are naturally more egotistical and may not have empathy enough to really know each other.
Personally, although the points against have their lure, the first three for love being forever fit better with scientific studies on the subject.
No matter the portrayal, the writer needs to seriously consider these ideas in developing a romance for any age. At least, the story will have depth.
In the Hallmark movie, in backstory we see the youngerr versions wrestling with going off the college. The hero breaks up, without explanation, in order to not hold back his heroine. Many of us have been there and done that or have heard of such break-ups. BTW, her heart was broken, she blamed him, but oddly he never questioned his decision or at least it wasn't shown.

Perfect by Ed Sheeran, 2017

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Job versus romance

Job versus romance
Some traditional writers see a HEA (happily ever after) as a chance for the heroine to leave her job behind and become a mother and housewife. Although this is a legitimate choice, and every one has the right to choose, it minimizes conflict. Consider also, that God gave us talents and wants us to maximize them, if the mother has time, LOL. This applies to stay at home dads, as well.
In most modern romances, the hero and heroine struggle with career and each other. They want the best for their partner. They want to support the other without reservation, no matter the choice. Through the difficulties of the story and character arcs they show this capacity. The conflict enriches the story.
All I’m saying is consider these dynamics. Would you consider it a good choice if a M.D. heroine gives up helping the sick and dying to solely raise a family?? Probably not. A traditional writer would likely not choose this background for the heroine.
Giving back to others, aside from family, is love, just like romance. Ain’t we writing about love?

Sade, Feel No Pain, 1992

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Kiss Me in the Snow

Kiss Me in the Snow
I read this romantic comedy by Rich Amooi (funny name) on my vacation. I loved it. Rich and his lovely wife, who is also an author, recently joined RWASD.
It reads like a Hallmark movie. His subtle turns of plot and fresh dialogue was a distinct treat. The funny here is not in whether Rich is a comedic genius or not, he underplays the humor in any given situation. No, he tells a story in which both hero and heroine (plus a secondary romance) are at odds in all ways, always, right through the black moment.
Some of my readers have expressed concern about writing comedy and I thought of them, often as I read through the story. If you can put your protagonists through challenging situations in which people are not getting knocked off you write with natural humor. The heroine starts by making a list of “A list” dramatic actresses she wants to bump off, but she’s just expressing her frustration about only being an action (top-grossing) heroine. Her loving sister makes a suggestion of a get away over the Christmas holidays. Each swear off men and the plot roles on from there.
Note: I remember fondly our Mary Leo’s wonderful Harlequin Flipsides, like Stick Shift. By the way, both titles are naturally funny and it is hard to say why, because perhaps it’s just me and my search for double entendre in everything. Dear Mary and Rich, tell me it ain’t so.
If you just stick to the basics of getting your hero and heroine into embarrassing or challenging situations and up the stakes, as in every other novel, you’re there.
For another thing, get a cover artist who works in this genre.

Just follow the road map laid out by Aristotle and people will laugh their asses off.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Alpha hero goes on a date

Here’s a man able to meet life and death challenges with the cool and quickness of a James Bond, but frets and obsesses over a date. Note: there is a natural humor to this, but it so human. Many men and women go into a fit of histrionics when preparing for a date. They’ll try on different outfits. Brush their hair and then brush it again, sure that one loose strand will lead to rejection. He’ll cut himself shaving. Ruined! They’ll practice things to say, etc.
You might think I’m talking about a metro-sexual guy. Nope. Here’s a chance to inject a touch of flaw, excitement, show him as human, as interested. It is, after all, a life and death situation. Humans need love to survive, to be fully human. No less so, the alpha hero. Just don’t expect him to be in command of himself at home preparing, or maybe on the date. He’ll put his life on the line, but when it comes to making life happen (well, not usually on a first date) he’s a klutz (or somewhere in between James Bond and Barney Fife). He could appear normal, but inside he’s a tangle of insecurities. Or perhaps his stage fright disappears as he gains confidence and takes in the beauty that sits across from him. He’s a lucky man.
Al Jolson sings, About a Quarter to Nine, written by Al Dubin and Harry Warren, published in 1935. In this video he dances with his wife, Ruby Keeler, in the 1935 musical, Go Into Your Dance.