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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Henry VIII's love letter to Anne Boleyn

Disclaimer: Henry VIII's choice of murder to susposedly solve his problems was both misguided and immoral. I publish his words out of a love of words as they were written or spoken. As in all historical romances, a properly researched story both in tone and times goes a long way.

12/31/2012
IF EVER THERE WAS AN ALPHA MALE WITH A FATAL FLAW

A love letter from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn (2nd wife).

Mine own sweetheart, these shall be to advertise you of the great loneliness that I find here since your departing, for I ensure you methinketh the time longer since your departing now last than I was wont to do a whole fortnight: I think your kindness and my fervents of love causeth it, for otherwise I would not have thought it possible that for so little a while it should have grieved me, but now that I am coming toward you methinketh my pains been half released…. Wishing myself (specially an evening) in my sweetheart’s arms, whose pretty dukkys I trust shortly to kiss. Written with the hand of him that was, is, and shall be yours by his will.*
H.R.*
 
*I interpret this as a sign of the divine right of Kings in which Henry, in love, also suggests that their relationship is by his will. He signs Henry Rex to hammer the point (IMO). To say Henry was passionate is understatement, to say he became a homicidal maniac drunk on power is accurate.

Another unusual fact I discovered when researching for my young Robin and Marian story:  In 1510, Henry and 11 nobles sneaked into Catherine of Aragon’s chamber disguised as Robin Hood and his men. He also put on Robin Hood plays in the open air at Greenwich.
 
 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

THE TWELVE DELAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2012

This one is truly a male's point of view.

THE TWELVE DELAYS OF CHRISTMAS was read by it's author, Orin Parker, before our weekly critique group.

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Orin Parker, 2012

On the first day of Christmas my true love said to me
My darling, go buy us a nice Christmas tree

On the second day of Christmas my true love said to me
Please pick up two sets of bulbs
And dear, don't forget the tree

On the third day of Christmas, my true love said to me
I’ll need three strings of lights
The two sets of bulbs
 . . . And, love, the tree

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love instructed me
Bring me four plastic angels
And the three strings of light
The two sets of bulbs
And, Husband, remember—buy the tree

On the fifth day of Christmas, she raised her voice at me
I’ll need five golden bows
Four plastic angels
Three strings of light
Two sets of bulbs
And . . . go get the tree

On the sixth day of Christmas, my wife glared at me
I need six sprigs of holly
Five golden bows
Four plastic angels
Three strings of lights
Two sets of bulbs
Maybe you don’t know where to find a tree?

On the seventh day of Christmas, wifey punched me
I’ll require seven garland wreaths
Six sprigs of holly
Five golden bows
Four plastic angels
Three strings of lights
Two sets of bulbs
And get off your butt and find a tree

On the eighth day of confusion, my true love turned off the tv
I want eight tinkling bells
Seven garland wreaths
You-who six sprigs of holly
Five golden bows
Four plastic angels
Three strings of light
Two sets of bulbs
Go buy, cut down or steal a tree

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love went berserk on me
Listen to me: get nine books of stamps
Eight tinkling bells
Seven garland wreaths
Six sprigs of holly
Five golden bows
Four plastic seals
Three strings of light
Two sets of bulbs
You can sleep in a thorn tree

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true-pain put me out and took my key
At the door she shouted: in ten minutes I want every thing on that list. See?
Oh ah maybe she wanted ah ten minutes??
Nine pounds of holly?
Eight plastic pumpkins
Six no seven laser pointers
Six golden mistletoes
Five tulip bulbs
Four Judy Garland ablums
Three airmail stamps
Two tinker bells
And get the cat out of the tree??

On the eleventh day of Christmas, trully mad she screamed: this is not our cat, ho---ney
But I also brought home eleven crates containing
Ten Judy Garlands, yey!?
Nine outdoor lights
Eight silver bowls
Seven sidewinder missiles
Six fresh baked bagels
Five large light bulbs
Four jack-o-lanterns
Three frosted donuts
Two pumpkin pies
And an artificial palm tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas, she let me watch tv
But cursed me with twelve strange words
Then she took back the eleven crates
Traveling ten extra miles
Scouring nine crowded stores
To find eight decorations
With only seven hours left
Before our six relatives arrived
In their five Chevrolets
Bringing four lousy fruitcakes
Three noisy kids
Arguing over two candy canes
But we ate partridge by the palm and tv

I’m glad she returned the sidewinders. Merry Christmas.

Slight abridging and edits by RW Richard
 
IT'S A WONDEFUL LIFE, 1946 . . . An Angel gets his wings . . .
 
 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Top ten qualities of a hero, Dec. 9, 2012

When in doubt, while writing a scene, showcase the kind of hero’s assets which attract the heroine. Be mindful of the story, characters’, and scene arcs.

1.       Moral integrity

2.       Faithfulness

3.       Dependability

4.       Kindness

5.       Sense of humor

6.       Intelligence (taking charge//always improving)

7.       Passion(ate) about things

8.       Listener

9.       Romancer (displaying desire)

10.   Sense of style

Besides a handsome face and good physique, this top ten list is useful in constructing a hero’s character. It’s hard to show in the course of a novel all of these traits, especially if you have a bad boy on your hands. But, this list represents what women look for most. When they read they want their fantasy man to have these qualities.

It’s the same for guys. I enjoy a heroine more if she has similar qualities.

The airport scene, Casablanca:
 
 
Now, strickly speaking, this isn't a romance or is it? Can love trump war? Michael Walsh wrote the sequel for Warner Brothers. As Time Goes By, published Aug. 1, 1999. I found this 'happy ending' and enjoyable read while in a cruise ship's library.
 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Heroes with flaws and flairs, Dec. 2, 2012


Negative/Positive

Your hero should have flaw(s), but shouldn’t he also have flair?

Suppose your hero is embarrassed to be seen naked*, even though he’s God’s gift to womankind. *Change to any quirk you like (fear of spiders, heights, claustrophobic, etc.).

These idiosyncrasies are memorable, as in; it will stay with your reader.

Besides your hero being great at what he does, take Linus in the movie Sabrina, shouldn’t he have another talent? Give him a passion for something and let him do it or experience it really well. Or let the heroine introduce him to it.

This harkens back to the Renaissance man I have talked about, but he could also have been a star football player or particularly sly at Baccarat. I recall James Bond and his affectations for and in depth understanding of the finer things. He dresses to the nines in the midst of battle and perhaps is a little in love with his suit and cuffs.
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Doo wop is like a contemporary romance, Nov. 28, 2012

Do0 wop romance songs are like contemporary romance novels.

Both have tightly constructed harmonies that the reader is used to.  Ask any editor.

Doo wop is often mostly acapella. Today's novel still relies on our imagination presented in black and white.

Both have a consistant simplicity built around the ageless emotion: love.

I get romantic, nostalgic, and a smile I can't wipe off when I listen to Doo-Wop. Sure, every generation, every year, have their love songs. They're all good, no great. They recall first loves for many. They offer escape into a fantasy. You're in high school or college. That boy you always wanted to meet thrills you with some goofy remark. He likes you.

There are romantic arcs in many of the songs and some just capture the moment.

As a writer, capturing something that is both the same and different in romance is the trick to being remembered and "bought."

TEARS ON MY PILLOW by Little Anthony and the Imperials


EQUAL TIME  FOR THE GIRLS: MAYBE by The Chantels
 
 
 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

SHOW THEM WHAT YOU LOVE, Nov. 18, 2012

Show them what you love, a quote by David McCullough

I was struggling on how to start a scene. So much had happened in the previous scene, I needed to let the reader know how things transitioned and progressed. I started three times and erased three times. Then, I remembered David McCullough's call to excellence.

As I wrote what I loved it not only took me into the scene late (a very good thing), throughout the scene all that I had wanted to tell was shown in dribs and drabs and flowed naturally.

I took the scene to my critique group and they loved it. So I came late and left early. My group always has something to suggest. This time the revisions were minor. I felt publishable.

The male's POV here lies in what I love. But only if you ask, will I show you the scene or how I it started.

Bob

Show. Don't tell.

Show Me from My fair Lady (don't speak of love—show me)
version 1 from the movie with Audrey Hepburn (song by Hepburn—in the movie her voice was dubbed for this song).
version 2 from the Broadway play with Julie Andrews


 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

WHY READING GREAT AUTHORS' BAD REVIEWS HELPS YOU November 11, 2012

I've been MIA for two weeks because of the super storm and election. I miss you.

When you are simpatico with an author, you love her. She can do no wrong. You're insulted if somebody dares give them a 1 star review. The reviewer is crazy. Or is he or she?

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips was released in 2008. today, it's Kindle version ranks ~10,000th and sells for $6.99. The novel has legs. (the paperback is less in price (from .01 to 2.49 to $7.99, i.e. less) but ranked ~150,000). Check out the current RWR magazine about ebook sales of all books as a percentage of the whole market.

First of all, I loved this story and naively thought everybody would. The sales speak for its popularity, but if you look at the reviews: 82-five star,37-four star,16-three star, 6-two star, 6-one star, you might be shocked. As soon as I noticed the 1 stars, I had to read them. I'll paraphrase to protect the guilty.

REVIEW: The girl's (quirky IMO) cute but no match for world famous, rich, and extremely handsome hero, yet in the last two chpaters he falls for her. Go figure.

Is there anything to be learned from this 'astute' observation?
1. SEP is doing just fine thank you. She doesn't need to change a thing.
2. We the unwashed could tweek our similar heroine to be either an unreliable narrator regarding what she her self image is and/or play up in the hero's mind the whys of his attraction to her.

Is this fantasy? Plenty of women want to be carressed by a romance, made to feel good about themselves. Loved. Pssst, guys do too.

It's not fantasy. It's atypical.

THE MALE POV: I used to be that 'extremely handsome' guy. Just ask any of the girls I paid highly to say that. I was not attracted (beyond primal noticing) to the prettiest girl in the room. I was most attracted to a good looking girl with a special personality which suited me. My blog readers know who/what I like.

I think reading favorite authors 1 star reviews insures your own writing's scotoma(s) will disappear' You'll increase the integrity of your own voice, and perhaps discover a nuance to punch up your writing. Like they said in Gypsy, "You gotta have a gimmick" (to be noticed).

So here's my barely applicable video (but entertaining (to me) and if you have the time. Time 5:27). For me, just gazing at Natalie Wood, well, that's all I need.


p.s. speaking about plot ideas and enriching your writing, a little culture can't hurt ya. PBS is putting on every Friday night from 9 to 11, episodes of Broadway, The American Musical. This is not only a fantastic history of Broadway, including its roots and rare footage, but for me it will be a special Christmas gift to the my best friend and best man at my wedding.



 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

GIRL ON FIRE, October 21, 2012


“This girl is on fire.”

On Saturday, at the RWASD meeting, I pitched to Emily O. of HQN. Since I'm a guy, Emily was unsure whether I should send 3 chapters and a synopsis to HQN or Mira. Mira had a higher percentage of guy authors. I felt, by being careful, she loved her HQN readers.

I made the hilarious mistake of asking Chris Green whether I write like a guy* or a gal. She stumbled (not literally) and said I wrote like a guy, but the emotional content was well done (she had read my 1st chapter). My faulty question is called the alternate of choice in sales. There is always at least a third option, like “I write like a successful author.” *I have the good fortune of being ambidextrous and artistic, which means I use both sides of my brain when solving problems.

Emily asked for 3 chapters and a synopsis when the manuscript was ready. She’d decide on Mira or HQN (or a pass – alternate of choice again). I pictured a mother duck taking her ducklings across a street.

Later Chris and I talked about emotional content. I said I’d never compare to Linda Thomas-Sundstrom for depth and length of thought. This is okay, because the degree of internal monologue is a style thing and depends on the genre.

Linda writes of a recurring character named Wanda who causes quite an in depth interior monologue because of her amorphous personality. I felt she stole the show in Linda's first book, Café Heaven. Wanda is physically impossible to resist. She’s a bad demon with a good streak. She’s a

GIRL ON FIRE (by Alicia Keys)

BTW, Linda, I pictured Wanda as Alicia in this video (even though her hair color and lipstick is wrong, for me the effect is the same, no stunning).
 
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Women of RWASD, October 17, 2012


I’m overwhelmed by the women of RWASD.

Guys writing romance have a lot to learn from their female counterparts. Our local chapter of Romance Writers of America (San Diego) has approximately 120 members. Well over 1/3 of them are traditionally published authors. All of these published authors are women.

I learn from interacting and being inspired. Our authors are brilliant at writing, building their fan base via social media, and as human beings. As a guy and former engineer, I should be able to build my social imprint, but I seem not to have enough energy to rev it up properly and make it take off. Of course, I could back into it by getting an agent or editor. But there’s another problem.

I write with an individualistic style and worry the normal reader won’t ‘get me.’ I think I do a great job of developing all my characters, but I worry if my voice is too unique. I shouldn’t have to second guess, but then again, I have no agent. I continue to learn and hope to contribute to the romance genre.

This week’s video may have nothing to do with anything, but it brought tears to my eyes when I sat through it. SO, I’ll try to justify it. Elementary school teachers are generally women, who as a whole ‘get’ (nurture) kids. They’re more empathetic on average. Therefore, they can more easily inspire. They will get the best out of their students, just like the fantastic women of our chapter inspire so many to step up and get published. It is also voting season. This video, of a grade school class, promotes voting (but not who to vote for) (3 minutes).

 
 
BTW, that's what our chapter is like, metaphorically.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Are there any non-paranormal physically flawed heroes in our romance novels? October 8, 2012

Am I alone in my thinking? Oct. 8, 2012

Why is it some of the best love stories and/or romances other than romance novels involve a great beauty and a male who is physically handicapped in some way? We are taught to make sure the hero is flawed in other ways.

Consider:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Esmeralda.
The Beauty and the Beast.
The Phantom of the Opera.
The mystery writer, Jeffery Deaver, writes of a quadriplegic NYPD consultant, Lincoln Rhyme and the woman who loves him, detective  Amelia Sachs.

I asked my wife who is an avid reader of romances if she could remember any hero who had a physical handicap. She not only said no, she said women who read romance want escape. The guy’s rich, handsome etc.

My gut tells me, if it is well written; a physical flaw would elevate the drama and make the romance sweeter (to say nothing of making it harder to write).

Help me here. Are there heroes with physical flaws in romance novels? Does RWA have an opinion?

On the flip side, my heart went out to the blind heroine in THE IVORY CANE by Janet Dailey. It inspired me to write a not yet published novel about a blind heroine. I enjoyed the challenge of describing her world and developing her character and the man who loved her. Let’s not forget many fine movies, i.e. An Affair to Remember, A Patch of Blue. . . .

Is it just me and my male POV or do you yearn for a breakout novel with a hero who is physically flawed? Would you dare write one?

A funny thought, I suppose all these vampires, werewolves etc. are very much physically flawed. My wife doesn’t read them. Are there any, non-paranormal physically flawed heroes in our romance novels? If not, why not?
 
A patch of Blue, 1965, Sydney Portier with Elizabeth Hartman playing a blind white teenager.
 
 
Please girls, tell me why we can't write with a physically handicapped hero. In so many romance novels, the secondary characters are handicapped. My wife is wrong, but I'm not going to tell her.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

WHEN THE WHOLE SCENE IS CLICHÉ, September 30, 2012

Twist and shout, September 30, 2012

If nearly every variation of human relationships has been written, then what is not a cliché? When writing a scene, the story, scene, and character arcs follow a path that pays homage to Goals, Motivations, & Conflict. Readers typically know the basic ending in genre fiction. Therefore, much of the joy is in the path they take. If there are big or little surprises or twists in the scenes the reader will buy the author’s next book, because they want to be taken somewhere they haven’t been and feel something fresh. Even ending with a hook can be broadened to include ending with charm.
 
In NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, she ends chapter thirteen with a joke. “I married a damn cereal killer.” (She spent four hours removing all the charms from his many boxes of Lucky Charms.)

In Swing Time (1936), Fred Astaire claims he needs dance lessons from Ginger Rogers. He keeps falling down. [Song] Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. Eventually exasperated, she claims she can’t teach him. Her boss fires her, but Astaire comes to her rescue. Guess what, it seems Fred can dance. A cute twist.

Prelude: Pick Yourself up and Ginger being fired 

 
The twist (and their dance).

 

Monday, September 24, 2012

MALE CONQUESTS - PART II September 24, 2012


This is a follow-up to the previous post about how to tell if a male is earnest in his pursuit of you or just keeping score of his conquests.

John Steinbeck responded to his eldest son Thom's 1958 letter, in which the teenage boy confesses to have fallen desperately in love with a girl named Susan while at boarding school. Steinbeck speaks to love and it is far more than a man’s point of view.

New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First -- if you are in love -- that's a good thing -- that's about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don't let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second -- There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you -- of kindness and consideration and respect -- not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn't know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply -- of course it isn't puppy love.

But I don't think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it -- and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone -- there is no possible harm in saying so -- only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another -- but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I'm glad you have it.
 
EAST OF EDEN Ferris Wheel (love) scene:
 
 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Men and conquests September 23, 2012

Somebody loves me,

At a recent RWA meeting, I was asked if guys just try to chalk up conquests. I said I could only speak for myself. When I was on the market, I was looking for a mate. Although I dated someone that turned out to be drastically incompatible once, we both decided to keep the dating going for the sake of the one thing we did well together!

I also told my inquisitive friend that there was a basic instinct built into both men and women. Often at a subconscious level, we access someone we meet for compatibility and mate-ability. “I’d do her[him].” Beyond that, the reason for that assessment has a lot to do with child bearing.

Sure, in a society where it is easy to have fun (with birth control) some are gaming. Probably more men than women do this because of the differences in the sexes. At an elemental level, men might want to conquer and women might want the ‘right’ mate disproportionately.

So how does a gal tell if the guy is serious or not? I think, getting to know somebody by his or her beliefs and actions in life helps. If a man practices the golden rule, he’s not likely to hurt the woman.

Do onto others, as you would have them do onto you.

The problem is how can you learn this without investing a lot of time? There are no short cuts, but a conversation about life’s philosophy without being obvious is a good way to spend part of a date. Try asking a question about charity, or bring up something in the news that shows people choosing to help or not help somebody. Sometimes it is a good start to ask them if their business is cutthroats and see how they react.

Sure, you’re being manipulative, but the outcome is very important, certainly much more important than that coffee or meal you are having on your first date.

When I fall in Love, song by Natalie and Nat King Cole
 
 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

HELL WEEK FOR NAVY SEALS September 16, 2012

September 16, 2012
AS TIME GOES BY

HELL WEEK FOR NAVY SEALS

At our last RWASD meeting, a former Navy Seal spoke to us about the service.

He made a stunning point. During hell week, many washed out. I think 150 started training and 30 to 40 completed. Most associated with the program felt that not wanting it bad enough was the major factor in dropping out. He went on to compare it to writing, not that we put our lives on the line. Nothing can compare to the bravery of the service personnel who protect our freedoms, but the analogy is valid for those who have the will to succeed.

Persisting in writing for years in a quest for publication is more like mellow hell years. They must continue to write without anybody telling them, “your story is good enough to be published, I’d like to take a chance on you."

People react to this long abiding rejection in various ways. Maybe they slow down. Maybe their heart is no longer in it. Maybe they write out of habit, going through the motions as time goes by.

So, I don’t want to hear any excuses. You are more than good enough to be published. Write every word, every paragraph, every scene, every chapter, every manuscript with full respect for the talents God entrusted to you.
 
Maybe we don't go through hell but for many of us it is at least years in purgatory.
  
Maybe this will inspire you.

Here's looking at you, kid.
 
AS TIME GOES BY
 
 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

CAN A GUY WRITE A LOVE SCENE? SEPTEMBER 2, 2012


How a guy writes a love scene.

If he’s talented, he’ll write it just like everybody else. If he’s super talented (or working on it), he’ll build a cogent theory that fits his style and purpose and . . .

At the Romance Writers of America national convention, held this year (2012) in Anaheim, an agent asked me how a guy (me) writes romance. I swept my hand around the room and said, “everybody here has to wear different hats, they just have to make sure they fit properly.”

Writing romance is a little different from writing a love scene. Right? Conventional wisdom would say yes. I sometimes find it funny when I read love scenes where the prose seems to be written by a stunt substitute writer while doing a backflip and is entirely different than the prose in the rest of the novel. I still enjoy it, especially the gymnastics. I get what the author is doing. I mean sometimes the mind thinks differently during lovemaking. Sometimes poetic writing fits the character. A love scene is almost a timeout to write an ode to love at its finest moment. But couldn’t  the finest moment be an uncommon act of kindness? That moment you realize you’ve fallen for her or she loves you.

My theory on writing love scenes is a work in progress, but I currently believe the story, scene, and character arcs should be addressed in a love scene. Time doesn’t really stop (although it may feel like it). Even if very little changed, it’s still part of the story. The purpose of a romance is the happily ever after. Lovemaking is just one of many acts of love between a man and a woman.
 
Here's two famous scenes (total four minutes) from SOME LIKE IT HOT that doesn't forget the story, scene, or charcater arcs and it's just plain fun.
 

 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A COUPLA SHADES OF TAUPE August 26, 2012

Tauped out, August 26, 2012

Okay folks, I started this blog to talk about the male point of view in romance novels. I try to find the exceptions with all due respect for the rules. I can't keep finding exceptions or even discuss something fresh, but I don't want to stop blogging. So this week, I'm going to plug a fellow author's book which I feel is so important to the direction romance novel writing as to be required reading by anybody anywhere anytime who wants to write. Really—don't write, just feep reading this over and over again.

A COUPLA SHADES OF TAUPE: A PARODY by Court Burback

Summary/Blurb in his/her/ or shemale's words:

Pagan Taupe is the wealthiest man in all of Arkansas. He’s got a home with a working refrigerator, a private rickshaw driver, and a respected empire of taxidermy/fro-yo chain stores. The only thing that’s missing is a whiny young codependent named Alexandra Aluminum. From the moment he sees her tripping over an angry raccoon, it’s clear that Alexandra dills his pickle. Pagan becomes obsessed with Alexandra at a level normally portrayed by Rob Lowe in Lifetime movies. But unlike Rob Lowe, Pagan doesn’t want to beat her with a tire iron and bury her beneath the town bridge—he wants to make her his live-in sex slave.

But if eager young Alexandra wants to feel the caress of Pagan’s ear hair against her cheek, she’s going to have to play by his rules. When Pagan reveals the special room he’s built to live out his sexual proclivities, Alexandra’s natural reaction is to cold cock him and call the police. But the clown chained to the wall assures Alexandra that Pagan is a stand-up guy, and if she gives him a chance he can introduce her to a world of unimaginable pleasure. Alexandra takes the leap and agrees to be Pagan’s unquestioning “submissive,” and the two embark on a sexual journey that would make Gloria Steinem put a loaded gun to her temple.

A COUPLA SHADES OF TAUPE is a romantic, tender tale of blossoming emotions and hardcore schtupping. A Pulitzer is inevitable.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

SPAN OF CONTROL August 19, 2012

Story elements, August 19, 2012

I’m not feeling inspired this week to present something about the male point of view in romance. I’d like to talk about writing in general. I’m going to steal an idea I learned from my MBA program and apply it to writing. It’s called span of control. The theory goes, in management, you should have no more than six people working for you directly if you want optimum results. I’ve seen this number in various texts as little as three and as high as ten. This doesn’t mean 100s or 1000s can’t work for you, but that you must establish layers of control. Each of your managers can also have six people directly reporting to them.

In writing, perhaps we should not have more than six main or memorable characters during a normal book, or six main ideas in the book. Perhaps this can apply to chapters and scenes where six elements (including twists) are introduced. Doing this should optimize the number of readers or optimize the chance they ‘get’ your story or won’t put the book down. This probably applies to back cover ideas as well. A cover would be too busy with more than six things going on.

The human mind is most efficient when handling six issues, the mind tends to break down (or spin wheels) when stretched with more than six problems, and isn’t used to its potential when under six.

For reference: This whole idea started in a seat of the pants sort of way during World War 1 when General Sir Ian Hamilton asserted, “the average human brain finds its effective scope in handling three to six other brains.” Since then much research has gone into proving the theory. Many modern books on management and psychology assert a range of six to ten rather than three to six.

So who is your average reader? Isn’t clarity the clarion call of editors everywhere? Perhaps because they know that a mass market is achieved by applying principles an average reader would enjoy and understand.

If you’re in a pitch session with an agent or editor and they worry if you have too many elements, you could spring “span of control” on them OR not mention more than six ideas supporting your manuscript.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What women think of a guy and his dog, 8/12/12

What women think of a guy and his dog. August 12, 2012.

I stumbled across this little bit of lunacy by Mansome on Yahoo. I couldn't embed the video, so if you are interested click on the link and a go to link will appear slightly above it, then click on that. The 'reporter' interviews three ladies while the same guy prances out with different types of dogs to get their impressions of his suitability for romance based on the kind of dog he's with.

First of all, my dog Frankie is famous and on the cover of my first novel. So what kind of a guy am I? Hint, he's half wolf:

Here's Mansome's take on dogs and men, and the women who love them.

http://screen.yahoo.com/episode-11-what-your-dog-says-about-you-30178432.html?pb_list=c743be6d-1be1-40f2-9df5-9842156b1015

Sunday, August 5, 2012

So call me, maybe? August 5, 2012

CALL ME MAYBE, August 5, 21012

For those who write YA Romance, there is much to inspire from pop music.

CALL ME MAYBE: The song and the title captures the indelicate imbalance of ego, tease, want, confusion, mixed signals, fantasy, lust, love, and dislike. It has always been a big part of young pop songs. Just to name some, Wake Up Little Susie, Like A Virgin, Put Your Records On, [what's your favorites?], to Rolling In The Deep.

So call me, maybe? Well, her emotions are on display in the lyrics, but the video has a surprise for romance writers and a twist at the end. The girl pictures herself on the cover of a romance novel with her shirtless next door neighbor and the ending, we'll, see for yourself.

Guy's POV: When I was a teenager mixed signals usually turned me off. I was logical (me and Spock). I didn't 'get' mixed signals. I didn't always give up, but it slowed me down. By the time I got through college, I recognized this as charm, passion, and love of life.

CALL ME MAYBE by Carly Rae Jepsen

I've often thought vidoes could be embedded into ebooks to add another sense (after buying the right to use), but don't know how expensive this would be.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Men do not think about sex every seven seconds. July 29, 2012

Men and sex, July 29, 2012

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Friday, July 6, 2012

HEADS DOWN, July 6, 2012


Heads Down, July 6, 2012

I can’t always be pithy. But I can get down and dirty. I hear a lot of talk about six-pack abs with my RWA friends and see it in a huge number of romance novels. I never gave it much thought until I watched the U.S. Olympic trials in swimming this summer through the eyes of a male romance writer trying to make it in a predominantly female business. I used to be a champion butterflyer, so I had focused on stroke, dive, and turn mechanics rather than the way muscles looked unless they were the sleek bodies of the women competitors.

But the guys, Lochte, Phelps, etc. have smooth or nearly smooth, flat abdomens. Most swimmers do as well. Lumpy doesn’t work well with the total body stretching to produce speed (it’s not just arms, hands, feet, and legs that make a champion (swimmer)).

My main point here is that far too many heroes are described as having the ‘ideal’ six-pack abs which borders or stereotyping and cliché (although not one female reader will mind). This, in a roundabout way, does get me back to guys’ POV. We swimmers want to be recognized with our shirts off. The Arnold Swartzeneggers of the world could be anchors on our teams, because they’d sink to the bottom. Some guys, do read romances, and sometimes a fresh perspective is appreciated by female readers.

“No muscle bound man, Could take my hand, From my guy.” Mary Wells.

Some women like less muscle, some more, some lumpy, some not. Mary Wells sings about qualities a lot of women want.

Maybe some women prefer swimmers, besides we can hold our breath.

1964: Mary Wells Original recording of My Guy,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guys writing romance June 19, 2012

GUYS WRITING ROMANCE JUNE 19, 2012

A friend of mine told me I’d have to be gay to be any good at writing romance.

“You’d have to be gay to watch guys in tight clothing tackling each other for three or four hours straight, very straight [you’d be],” I said.

So there we were arguing during a moving moment of Project Runway. You know, I would have liked to hear what Austin Scarlet had to say about Mondo Guerra.

In previous posts, I talked about renaissance men, artists, and men who have harnessed both sides of their brain, imagine that.

Hemmingway wrote ‘write what you know’ and if female writers took his dictum too literally they’d never write male POV.

We ‘know’ through our common experiences and a good dose of empathy. We become nearly telepathic in understanding the opposite sex and we make up fantastic creatures that people can identify with.

Yes, we all make mistakes with the opposite sex, but that too finds its way into our writing.
 
I thought I had a story to tell when I wrote my first novel about people who lived 100,000 years ago and their wolf friends. I wasn’t there, but I nailed it with a ton of the latest scientific research and common sense. So we write what we know or are about to know.

When I started with RWA San Diego I entered the Spring Into Romance contest and placed in the middle of a bunch of women (I assume). This year I tied for fifth. So I write what I know by association with my loving chapter mates, all the great writers at the chapter, the courses, and talks offered. I think finishing fifth demonstrates that I can write romance.

Okay, I wasn’t really watching Project Runway with a male friend. Most guys have a hard time understanding art as it is applied and showcased in it’s many forms (I love that show). The most beautiful form for me being the human female followed by my dogs of course.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Men say less and think less? June 12, 2012

June 12, 2012
Men say less and think less. What?

In the June 2012 addition of RWR (which also stands for Robert W. Richard) Nancy Gideon wrote an excellent article on POV. At one point she writes, “Men’s dialogue and thoughts are sparse, women’s descriptive and complex.”

Well I don’t know what to say or think.

I get where she’s coming from. Editors expect delivered to them this tradition. I decided to ask Einstein if he didn’t speak much or think. He wasn’t available. In a previous blog of mine I postulated (this is a rebellious blog site FYI) that when a man isn’t talking (much) he’s thinking. To be fair we all think while we talk. So I’ll grant you that women speak more. It’s a well-studied and statistical fact. In my experience, men do a whole lot of thinking. I’d hazard to guess men think as much as women (dare they). Ask me, I might not say much, but I am surely thinking about something, perhaps that Hockey final.

Don’t go changing your manuscripts. Romance is read primarily by women and your editor is the boss. On the other hand, wouldn’t your readers like to get (on) in the head of some hunk? Someday however stand up for your lettered Renaissance man.

If you’d like to see men translating their interior monologue into speech you should catch last night’s episode of The Bachelorette. It’s a classic for this purpose and if you know Emily Maynard and her six-year-old daughter, well, carry a hanky. For those romance authors who don’t like The Bachelorette or Bachelor I humbly recommend it as a treasure trove of dialogue, and interior monologue.

Finishing with a funny: Jennifer Aniston loves the Bachelor/ette but starred in a spoof of it called Burning Love.



Jennifer Aniston Makes Hilarious Appearance In ‘The Bachelor’ Spoof
Created 06/05/2012 - 6:30pm

By Radar Staff
We never thought that we would catch Jennifer Aniston on a dating show!
The former Friend, who has never been bashful about her fascination with The Bachelor, made a surprise guest appearance on the Ben Stiller produced web series Burning Love – a spoof of the popular reality show – dressing up in a bear costume and competing for the ‘final hose’ against The Hangover star Ken Jeong, Kristen Bell and Malin Akerman - and RadarOnline.com has the hilarious video.
PHOTOS: Jennifer Aniston Through The Years

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Men nurtured by their moms 5/27/2012

Men nurtured by their moms. May 27, 2012


I wonder what constitutes a fatal flaw. We’re writing. We’re told to introduce a fatal flaw. Well, don’t take that too literally unless you’re writing tragedy. Or some fatalistic or nihilistic fare. No room for a romance with a happily ever after.

A man not loved and nurtured by his mother is nearly ruined IMO. If you have a situation like that, you’ll walk a mind field with at least two deep arcs. One arc over his mom and the other over being able to love someone in a mature way.

It’s a great excuse to read case histories and studies on this subject. When done, try a man without a father figure or a father who didn’t love or nurture. The same goes for women.

It’s a rare child who can see he or she isn’t loved and decides he or she is of value and will grow up normally and be able to love. Because without examples, how will they be able to figure it out? Maybe Sponge Bob has something to say. No really, kids could learn from some TV character or later from some book or some great teacher how love works. Somewhere along the line, they’ll need to experience it.

I created a thirteen-year-old girl in one of my stories who has lost a father who had loved her. Then she lost her mother to drink (over the loss of a husband). Then her mother dies. Will she be able to cope? Yes, she remembers better times. Although she starts the story swearing off love, she’ll come around.

Men, nurtured and loved by their moms, make better heroes or at least ones who are a little easier to write. There are plenty of other demons lurking to give your hero ‘fatal flaws.’ Try to save mom.

No more wire hangers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Man who had no mother May 16, 2012


May 16, 2012

I read a recent post by Jannine Petska about a guy (engineer) in a grocery store line who thought all fiction was a waste of time and all romance fiction doubly so. He promoted non-fiction as the only material worth reading or writing.

This comes under the title: things I'd like to say but usually just hold my tongue.

Romance writer says to emotionally challenged male:

"Without romance there'd be no human race." Or.

"I take it you hate women?!"

I once was an engineeer, but a good one. I knew that without a systems approach your little contribution would be doomed to fail or be worse than useless.

As far as systems go, the human being is the most complicated (I like to say infinitely more complicated than (fill in the blank)) and fascinating living organism in the known universe. That we can see eternity or perfection from our back window is an unending source of Wow.

The wow in my life has always been the human female. I can't think of anything more fasciniting than the internal monologue and external dialogue of a great heroine and to be fair and balanced, hero. If done right, the story has a transcendent timeless quality difficult to find in any other fiction and certainly in some dry text. For instance, if I mention Robin and Marian your heart and core being is involved, your understanding of a love so great, it will always represent the best between a man and a woman. If I mention F=MA your curiosity may or may not be engaged. You might want to solve some problem like how fast would a woman have to throw a punch and with what force to knock out a pest who hates romances.

BTW: "Who needs to buy non-fiction these days. You can find it all on the internet. What, you only paid $109.95?"