Men

First, I want to apologize for being out of the loop for the better part of this week. Life has decided to throw a few surprises at the Nina household and it has sent our lives into a total tailspin. Add to that some minor surgery on this aging body and, well, things are just a tad off-kilter. Bear with me while I try to act coherent as pain medication is streaming through my blood, bathing my brain cells in happy delirium.

Last week’s chat about heroes in this post didn’t clarify anything for me. It just churned up more questions. The discussion centered around professions held by romance heroes and more specifically alpha hereos. I feel that all my guys are alpha hereos. Not that they steamroll over the heroine or completely wall off their emotions, but they do step up to the plate when the time comes. But as some people were discussing hereos they described their hereos as betas. Not the top dog.

Okay, I know technically (especially in stories with shifters) there is only one alpha leader. Therefore if you write a story about the other guys, like I do, they would be considered beta. But I just can’t go there. In my opinion, the beta hero is a pushover. He wouldn’t come to the heroine’s rescue. He’d send in his best friend, the alpha, who would save her. He’d be the one to comfort her when the hero’s been a jerk, but then turn her over to him when he showed up at the front door. But no one writes characters like that. I’m always looking to write the next story so even my “best friend” characters offer more than a supporting role.

So maybe I have the definition all wrong.

I went back to my original post and checked out the men other authors were talking about and sure enough, the men they described fell into my definition of an alpha male. So in my confusion I checked out a post by Suzanne Brockman who writes all things alpha. But I still didn’t get a good feel for this alpha hero. But I found this other article at The Road to Romance. But this post describers not alpha, not beta, but a gamma hero? Whaaaat?

Yeah, the GAMMA hero pulls the best from both the alpha and the beta heroes. He’s a man with all the chutzpah, of an alpha but the emotions of a beta. In other words … the strong male who doesn’t steamroll over the heroine in his quest to bring down the bad guy, but works with her to find the key and discover the lost treasure or slay the dragon or free her world or … well, you get my drift. This is the guy of romance stories in my opinion. The hero who could don the pages of any GQ magazine, but knows how to BBQ a mean steak for his lady and draw her a bubble bath. *sigh* Yeah, that’s the ticket.

So I guess I’m aiming to write gamma heroes. Who knew?

The reality is. It doesn’t matter what we call them. It’s their heart and soul that brings the reader back to the story over and over again. Readers need to connect to the hero. Believe he’s real. Believe he’s the only one for the heroine. Believe in their love story.

Welcome all Independence Day blog hoppers. I hope you’re having a wonderful time touring around to author’s blogs and getting an eye FULL of sexy men.

If you happened to stumble over here and are interested in participating to win a whole bunch of wonderful prizes START HERE and check out all the authors participating and a list of some of the prizes you could win.

I know summer officially started a couple of weeks ago, but this weekend really is one of those party/beach/parade/family weekends that everyone in the United States seems to celebrate. And on that note, I do have to take a moment and thank all the men and women serving overseas. Your sacrifices and those of your families is immensely appreciated by so many.

I live a long way from my family so this weekend I’m hanging at the lake with some very dear friends. We’ll be barbequeing and drinking beer and doing a little kayaking. And since I absolutely LOVE fireworks, Mr. Nina and I will be planting our butts on a blanket on the edge of a potato field and enjoying the show. I have a feeling this guy won’t be there…

I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit. I’m always glad to have new visitors. Leave me a comment and let me know what your plans are for this holiday. If you’re not from the states I’d love to hear how you enjoy your down time. I pick one commenter at random to win an ebook copy of my firefighter vampire story “Shadows of Fire” found in the Hearts Afire-May anthology.

It’s everywhere these days. The celebs do it on the red carpet. Your friendly bank teller isn’t immune and yes, right into the board room it’s becoming the new “thing”. I’m talking about SKIN. From cleavage to bellies, shoulders to butts … it’s hanging out everywhere.
Now, don’t think me a prude. I don’t want to go back to the time when even ladies showing ankles was improper, but I’m not sure how I feel about this new freedom. Young women especially don’t think anything of having the better part of their breasts exposed when they’re wearing tank tops. They lean over and whisper your ear … I mean where is your gaze supposed to go? It’s not like I don’t have the same equipment, but curiousity just draws my eye straight to the exposed cleavage … and I’M A WOMAN!

I feel for men these days. Breasts and bellies are sexual. Trust me. I know this. I write about it every day. Poor Mr. Nina came home from the office one day talking about a woman who sat across from him at a business meeting with a lot of cleavage hanging around. He had a hard time trying to figure out where to look. Another day a young lady turned and bent over to retrieve something from the file cabinet and her pants rode down low exposing her thong. He felt like a pervert and he hadn’t done anything wrong.

Which brings me to the whole UNDERwear issue. The key word being under. I’m not sure when bras became a fashion accessory, but that’s one thing that drives me insane. I hate it when my bra strap peeks out! When a young lady’s shirt is so tiny that her bra shows over the top or around the sides then it’s not really a top is it? But now it’s almost a fashion statement. I am happy that the whole “whale tail” trend of showing your thong over the top of your lowcut jeans waistband seems to be a forgotten fad. That one just squicked me out. We sat behind two young ladies at an honors gathering not so many years ago at the high school. Their pants came down so low they nearly had butt cleavage. And of course their cute little thongs (that matched their tops) curved up and around their hips. I was sitting with two DADS … and I was heartsick for them. I couldn’t help staring all night, I can’t imagine how they felt.

When I wear a top that shows a little cleavage and I see a man’s eyes wander south, I don’t react. What do I expect? I mean, let’s face it, aren’t we hoping for a little extra attention when we put on that sexy bra and low-cut shirt? Otherwise we wouldn’t wear them would we? Or am I way off base there?

I know some woman get offended when people drop their gaze to their cleavage. Why? Let’s face it, when a guy wears his jeans slung low on his hips … you look. Out of curousity. The eye naturally travels down his stomach to his … ah hem … fly. We can’t help it. But we’re lucky, we’re woman. Men consider this kind of attention an invitation or at the very least … a compliment.

I know this new trend is only going to continue. I’m just not really sure how I feel about it. So I’m throwing it out there. How do you feel when someone checks out your cleavage? Does it matter if it’s a man or a woman? And how does this whole new flesh-fest affect you?

I know, it’s not unusual for me to have some eye candy around to entertain my visitors. So what makes this Monday so special? I actually know this guy!

Roscoe James is a friend of mine who is also published with Liquid Silver Books. We tripped into the place together and have been helping each other stumble through the publishing maze.

Roscoe was born along the dusky red banks of the Ohio River. He grew up in a sleepy little town in southern Indiana where the sounds of cicadas and whippoorwills marked the arrival of summer and cruising the town square on a Friday night was a rite of passage. From law enforcement to the hallowed corporate halls of two Fortune 500s he draws from a deep well of life experience. With Spanish as his second language and the day-to-day of living in one of the largest cities of culture in the world, RJ infuses his stories with a raw reality that makes the characters memorable forever.

I love Roscoe’s writing. I pulled him over here to introduce him and his writing to you. And like all my guests, I’ve got him tied up with my trusty whip handy if he gets out of line. But from the smile on his face … I’m thinking he’s not seeing it as a punishment. 😀

So Roscoe, we’ve been hanging around together at Liquid Silver Books for what, a year? nine months? something like that. How’d you find your way there?
Right, well, you know, I’d been driving around for about four years trying to find the place.  You know us guys – keen sense of direction and all that.  Then I had to buy gas and, well, before you get the wrong idea, I didn’t ask.  I don’t want any misunderstandings.  I think some guy walking by just happened to….(Don’t worry, dude, I didn’t actually think you asked for directions.)

Yeah, I can see you’re not buyin’ it. Okay, a year and 9 months ago I decided I was going to get serious about something I’d been doing off and on since 2000. Writing. So I did what most people do that are cursed with great resolve and very little natural ability. I wrote. A lot. I managed to put together two full length novels (which will remain unnamed) and I shopped ’em around to agents and brick and mortar publishers. Yeah, that was a heady experience. Let me tell you.  I don’t think I’ve banged my head against a brick wall so many times in so little time before in my life. Then I got smart. I put the books on a floppy and threw ’em in my desk.

Then in January of 2007 I came across Flash Fiction Sunday at the Liquid Silver blog. Hey, I’m a guy, flashing comes natural to us. (For those uninitiated, flashing is actually 100 word vignettes … yeah, Roscoe was just a little confused.) Anyway, once I got my coat back on I realized what a great opportunity it was to actually write. And I did. I met several authors, had a lot of fun, someplace in there I lost a kilt. Still haven’t found that. (I sooo did not take his kilt … well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) And the rest, as they say, is history.  

Well, there was this really great rejection letter I received from Tina…

Okay, so I’m glad you brought that up. (Ahhh, a little erotic humor!) Anyway … most romance writers have the whole indoor plumbing thing going on and you … well, you’ve got all these dangly bits. What made a man decide to write romance?
As long as you’re bringing it up let me, ah, get it straight (punzzz intended)… indoor plumbing, outdoor plumbing.  Well, as a matter of fact, even here in Mexico we stopped using outhouses and porta… oh, right, got’cha.  Listen, before we get to that… I just wondered.  You haven’t seen a kilt around anywhere?  Just asking. (*whispers* Don’t tell him it’s in the closet with all the rest of the ones I stole.)

Pretty simple. I like it.  I don’t know of a writer that isn’t writing what they like. I’m no exception. A well written romance is probably the most difficult genre to write. Learning about a city you haven’t visited because you want to include it in a book is pretty simple. Search it on the internet, take notes, look at a few pictures, and you’re done.

But writing the intricacies, nuances, and emotional depth of a relationship and making your reader feel that relationship – live it – that’s the ultimate challenge in writing. And, when you get right down to it, romance is the oldest genre in creative writing.

Okay, you’re smirking. Alright, I admit it. Tucked between Hunt for Red October and Matrix (all of em) you’ll find Notting Hill, You’ve Got Mail, and What Women Want on our video shelf. (I’m telling you ladies … this guy’s a romantic.) And beside my collection of Cussler, Grisham, and King you’ll find Roberts, Coulter, and D.H. Lawrence.

So, really, why not?

I love writing my hero’s POV. But then I’m a woman trying to get in a man’s head and other women are reading it and probably have the same perspective of the male species. So it’s hard for me to screw that up. You on the other hand, are a guy getting in a woman’s head. We’re convinced men have no clue about us. How do you manage to write from your heroine’s perspective … or do you?
Good question. Ya got another one in there? No, just kidding. The answer is simple. I’m sure I’m not. Not yet. I don’t believe there are many authors out there that get it all right the first time out. There’s nothing more sobering than picking up one of your first writes eight years later. Well, we won’t go there. Actually, I avoided that problem with my first two books (Deer Run Falls and The White Swan). I was sure I couldn’t even come close. In those two books I focused on something I thought the female reader might find just as interesting… if not more so. Both books are written from the hero’s point of view. And in both I tried to give the reader two things. His thoughts, reactions, and feeling. And something just as important – his perception of the actions and reactions of his heroine.  Okay, I may not have done a perfect job but I think the hero’s voice is unique in both books.

In Forever’s Not Enough, future fantasy SciFi, I made my first attempt at the heroine’s voice. That book explores both the heroine and hero’s POV.

Do I have an idea what my heroine’s (and women in general are thinking)?  You’d have to ask my readers (and my wife). Will my idea of both POV’s change with my writing? Sure. Because I’m here to write for my readers and last time I checked, most of them are women.

I loved writing my first novel, but it is true, a good writer is always improving. I thoroughly enjoyed Deer Run Falls, but absolutely fell in love with the second book in your Mississippi River Tales series, The White Swan. Tell us a little bit about those books.
Deer Run Falls was my first foray into the romance genre.  It’s a hero’s point of view (POV), blackmail to murder, greed and money, with a twist and a surprise. All set in the lush lap of southern comfort. Doesn’t sound like much of a romance does it?  Well, I needed to put the hero in a bind so he could be saved. Can’t really say much more without giving the whole thing away. 

The single POV came from this great rejection letter I received from Tina Burns, then acquisitions director of Liquid Silver Books. Aside from the total lack of romance in the rejected book (well, it was written 8 years ago as a thriller, give me a break) she commented on my head hopping. Yep, it was a problem. So I set out to see if I could even write a single POV book. Gotta tell ya, it is a challenge. There are moments in any situation where changing characters makes things so much easier to explain. Less words. Clear and to the point. The real skill is bringing all that to light without the POV character being directly involved in the action.  So, anyway, that’s how Deer Run Falls came about.

The White Swan was a completely different story. I grew up along the red banks of the Ohio. Speed boat races in Madison Indiana. River boat rides and races from Louisville to Cincinnati. Summer water skiing up and down the Ohio. Bike (as in motorcycle) trips through the Mark Twain National forest. Well, and one other little thing. Just a detail.  Family lore has it that on my mother’s side of the family I’m related to a real, honest to goodness, pirate. We won’t go there right now but The White Swan was my attempt at bringing all those things together. If you haven’t been on a midnight dance cruise on a riverboat and you get the chance I highly recommend it.

And I did one other thing with The White Swan. I dabbled in a period subplot. The hero’s line is traced back to Jean Lafitte, the gentleman pirate, late of New Orleans. The research was a blast and while quite real, so little is known about him that you’re left with this really great framework to hang dramatization on. The hero, Nash Fross, is heir to a shipping fortune and all that implies. I needed a match and a motive in the heroine so I created Teresa Holloway – Pulitzer winner and investigative reporter. Her cover to get close to the hero is to do a feature piece on the revival (or demise) of luxury riverboat travel on the Mississippi. Of course, her true motive is a little different. Let’s just say that the reader should pay close attention to the Lafitte subplot.

They were both great writes, but The White Swan was fun as well.

I’ve also read Forever’s Not Enough, the first story in your Galactic League of Planets series. It was a wonderful read about a feline-type heroine. Could you tell us a little bit about how this came about and what we can expect next? 
After two contemporary romance novels I wanted to try something different. One Sunday hanging out in flash (I don’t recall who was running it) I flashed on a topic I normally wouldn’t touch. Fur. I think it was actually fur and feathers. So, not wanting to have a non-flash Sunday I started the story of Princess Peenzan of the planet Meline. I know, corny – Meline – feline. And yes, humanoid with a few cat characteristics.

All this takes place within the framework of the Galactic League of Planets. GLOP. SciFi and future fantasy. I’ve finished the second in the GLOP series – Bastina’s Necklace. Both explore our galaxy in the 24th century when the earth has melted down into one country, one state, all run by the Corporation. Nine other planets have been discovered with humanoid like beings that are intelligent. Every book has a sub plot about the Corporation trying to dominate the galaxy through dastardly deeds but the real story is always love. Love in all the wrong places at the most inopportune moments between the least likely pair.

And Forever was really a fun write. Gotta say, I love world building.  

Okay, so a little bit about Roscoe James the writer. Give us some juicy details about you. Your writing schedule, your habits … and come on, dish on some of those dirty secrets.
Me? As in moi? Yo? No me digas… well, I’m a voracious reader. Some of my favorite works include – Twist Off, Channel Up, Channel Down, Mute, Hot Wings Included, Two For One, Cherry Flavor (we won’t go into that one), and my all time favorite… Oh, wait, you mean big things, important things, life forming experiences.  (Anyone ever tell you that you think like a guy sometimes, Roscoe? Damn, will you share that remote? *grabs remote and handcuffs him to the chair* And really … a little more info on that “cherry flavor” thing would be nice … no? Fine, continue…)

Let me think. It takes me a minute to get the creative… ah, sorry. To dig all that stuff up. Okay, a few things. I was diagnosed mildly dyslexic at the age of 6. By the fifth grade I had not read a book. Not one. Then my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Norsworthy (I think she must have been 80 – I’ve always had this thing for older women) got me interested in a book. And I read it. Bet you can’t guess which one. Anyway, after that first book, I’ve always been reading something. I joined a book club for kids and never looked back.

Most of my childhood was spent in a small town of 3,400. I took French in high school (the language… c’mon Nina… sheesh … hey, Roscoe, you’re the one leading “me” astray … can I help it if my mind goes to the gutter when you’re around? Okay, so you’re talking about French, sorry my dirty mind interrupted.

Well, anyway, I pretty much flunked out of that one. It was decided a second language was not in my future. I only mention that because I had no idea at the time that I’d end up living in one of the biggest cities in the world speaking a language not my own.

I play the guitar – jazz, blues, and flamenco. I play at a few other instruments. Scuba dive (well, used to, haven’t for a few years), snow ski, oh, and I write.

The routine. Well, the writing routine is, well, pretty routine. I write fulltime. Monday through Friday you’ll find me sitting at my desk tapping away. I write anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 words a day once past the first chapter. (The man puts me to shame with that daily word count. It appears I only “play” at writing full time. *g*)

I go start to finish.  Kinda get it all on paper, put it away for a week, then get it out and read.

Married with a great son.  You know, chip off the ol’ block.  All that stuff. (And his wife is already marked for sainthood putting up with this man! *vbg*)

What?  The book?  Why, Treasure Island, of course.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So there you have it. Nearly everything about the man. When I release him from bondage, you can find him at his website, blog, and he spends a lot of time on MySpace.

All his books are available through Liquid Silver Books.

Oh, here comes Roscoe’s usual bevy of beauties to help with cocktail hour and a few man-studs to round out the group. Of course the kilt ‘n dales will be here shortly. So why don’t you stay a few minutes and party with us? And by all means … ask the man a few questions! 😉

I’m not very shy about voicing my displeasure with Maine winters. They’re cold, messy, and loooong. But I gotta tell you. There are some days, like last Saturday that even a cynic can enjoy.

The sun was out, casting blue shadows on the pristine snow. It was practically balmy at a very comfortable 25 degrees farenheit. So daughter, hubby, and I donned our very warm winter gear and climbed on the snowmobiles (called sleds here in northern Maine) and headed out into the woods.

Now, let me explain. Where I live, winter begins somewhere around the end of September and ends about a week before Memorial Day. Winter sports are a religion here (that and basketball… but that’s a blog for another day). Snowmobile trails are highways often times maintained better than some roads. They come complete with stop signs, curve ahead markers, route numbers, and signs pointing the way to local eateries. People can go most anywhere on a sled in northern Maine. One is just as likely to pull up behind a sled at the gas pump as a vehicle.

Needless to say, the ride was fabulous. Green firs weighed down with snow and deciduous trees with the last remnants of copper leaves hanging on their branches surrounded us. I was enjoying the solitude and the beauty… until of course we got lost. Lost men on sleds aren’t any better at asking for directions than men in cars. Now, in fairness to DH, the number of gas stations with bathroom facilities and friendly service attendants (both of which I could have used) are few and far between, but still… when you know you’re lost… stop, turn around, and go back to where you lost your way. Don’t keep driving into the depths of the northern woods hoping you’ll recognize some landmark. (That’s the stuff of news headlines!) Thankfully, we happened upon a lovely woman on snowshoes walking her dog, who smiled kindly and directed us off her property and back onto the trails.

So the answer is no, I didn’t pack up Santa and my Christmas tree, but I did manage to plot Meghan’s story. You see, it’s not exactly quiet on a sled, but there’s really nothing to clutter your mind, no television, no music, no voices calling my name (not real ones anyway), just me and my characters working to tell a story. So, like the nice lady on the snowshoes, Meghan showed me where I’d taken a wrong turn, pointed out some plot holes and now I’m working to find my way back and finish up her story.

Sometimes I actually enjoy winter!

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