So I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Not exactly sure why, but I’ve given up trying to figure out why my brain goes where it goes.
Anyway, the question is … Can an author write any genre without upsetting readers?
To clarify, what I’m wondering is … Can a man write romance women will love? Can a woman pen an action story that will have men talking? Do readers buy books based on the author’s gender? What about ethnicity?
I don’t know the answer. I’m just wondering.
Part of this came about because of some statements Nicholas Sparks made about his books and romance. Now don’t hang me up by my thumbs, but I enjoy his books. (Though I was quite unhappy about his comments regarding his “unique” storylines and how different they are from romance. That prompted this post, which he totally deserved.) Anyway … I like the way he writes and from the success of his stories, so do millions of people world wide.
But he’s a man. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard women (mostly writers) comment that a man can’t write romance. I beg to differ. My dear friend, Roscoe James writes the most amazing erotic romance I’ve read. His characters come alive. Their love stories resonate with emotion. His sex scenes are poignant and beautifully written. I laugh. I cry. I fall in love all over again even as his characters find their “happy-ever-afters”. There are many men writing romance and doing it well. Many, fearing the skepticism, skirt around the raised eyebrows by using pen names. I can’t say I blame them.
I know many women who write wonderful m/m erotic romance. One even … who’s gay! Yet their romances are best sellers and have won awards. Now granted, this may fall into a slightly different category as these women are writing romance for other women and not gay men. Still, I understand several female writers have a gay male audience. They’re not being told they can’t write m/m love stories.
And what about the caucasian author who wants to write the story of an African American heroine or vice versa? Will readers immediately turn from these books because the author can’t write that type of story?
Here’s my take on it. At the heart of writing is an author who’s a true actor. We “put on” the hats of our characters and play the role. Essentially, we crawl into their skin and listen to their thoughts. If we don’t, the reader won’t identify with that character and the story will fall flat. When I write from the hero’s perspective I have to think like a man, move like a man, talk like a man. Readers would be very unhappy if my male characters acted like women. Or my villians were boyscouts. Listen, I’ve never murdered anyone, but one of my favorite stories (still unpublished) involves a serial killer who does some really nasty crap. And as much as Mr. Nina would like to act out every scene in my erotic novels, let me just share with you … it hasn’t happened yet.
No one stopped Dustin Hoffman from playing “Tootsie” or Robin Williams from not only “Mrs. Doubtfire” but what about the robot he played that lived hundreds of years? Amazing stuff. I believe writers do the same thing. So why can’t authors cross all lines? Religious? Ethnic? Gender?
But that’s just the way I see things. I’m curious as to how you feel about it. Have you ever refused to pick up a book because you felt something about the author would prevent them from writing a story in that genre? If you found out your favorite romance author was the opposite sex or different skin color or … whatever … would you stop buying their books?
Read a good book lately? You know – you find them on bookshelves in libraries and bookstores, on the nightstand beside your bed, in the back of the closet taking up space, stacked in a corner of the garage (read those, now what do I do with them?), in your carryon while traveling, in the beach bag, beside your favorite chair, on the kitchen counter, on the coffee table, and just about anyplace else you can put something down.
Books. We love them. One of the defining characteristics of an advanced civilization. The Egyptians and Mayans had them. As a society we buy them by the truckload. Literally. Millions and millions of them every year. We read em and… well, then we’re through with them. From tree to paper to print to read to… (fill in the blank)
Did you know there are other types of books? Books with pages that never yellow, covers that never get torn off, corners that never get dog eared? As a matter of fact I have 382 books right here on my desk. How much do 382 books weigh? How big is my desk? How do I keep track of them all? Here’s a better one for you. Every time I travel I take them with me. Yep. All 382 make whatever pilgrimage I happen to embark on.
And what authors are in my library? A lot. From Shakespeare to Clancy, James (as in Roscoe) to Coots. A little Twain, a lot of Dickens, a touch of Verne, and even Emily Bronte just to name a few.
Nope, I don’t have a small army of Sherpas following me around. No big steamer trunks that cost all that extra freight. My brother doesn’t have to rent a U-Haul every time I stop in to say hi.
They’re a book of a different stripe. A book that can’t be weighed, a book that is just as new and complete twenty years from now as it was the day I bought it. I would guess that considering my son, your daughter, maybe even you carry around a thousand plus songs at any given time none of this should come as a surprise. That’s right – the book has gone the way of the iPod. Well, not exactly the iPod but you can read them on any manner of handheld electronic equipment. Even your PDA.
E-books. Electronic books. A book that you don’t have to go to a bookstore to buy. A collection of books that are measured and weighed in terms of bits and bites of space on storage media. A book that weighs as much as whatever you happen to be reading it on. If I wanted I could buy a hundred books today and never leave my office. And guess what… free delivery is included and immediate.
This is the book of the future. I’ve included a few pictures here of what’s available in the market as dedicated e-book readers. As an author I sell books not e-book readers so I’m not giving brand names or blurbs. I just wanted you to get a look at the latest in reading. Some really neat stuff. Of course we’re all waiting for the price to come down. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an e-book today – no special reader needed. Just download to your PC and you’re all set.
So, why would you want an ebook? As you discover this still young, but growing industry while surfing the Internet, you will discover ePublishers and eBookstores gradually growing in numbers.
Excellent, talented authors take their books to the Net, market/promote and sell those books. As you journey through the ePublishing world you will find outstanding, spell-binding reads all at the tip of your finger.
What are you waiting for? Just search e-books and get started today. Of course, you could always stop over at Liquid Silver Books and pick up one of my favorite authors – me – well and Nina of course! Okay, a shameless plug for both of us, but I do hope you check out the exciting world of electronic books. Have fun and tell ‘em Roscoe and Nina sent ya.
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.
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! 😉
This week I’ve enlisted more of my author friends who have agreed to let me post their pictures. I hope some of these are your favorite authors. (Please note: If you click on their name it will take you to their website.) It’s always fun to see if their image matches your imagination. So without further adieu, here they are …
1. Cindy Kirk is a member of Maine Romance Writers even though she lives in Nebraska. (She can’t resist the lure of the Atlantic ocean and lighthouses.) She is a multi-published author with Harlequin and Avon. Her most recent release, One Night Stand was released in May 2008.
2. AJ Matthews is one of two guys who boldly went where most men won’t venture … my blog! And happy me! AJ came in a kilt! He’s such a good sport. AJ lives on the other side of the pond and he is multi-published with Loose-Id and Liquid Silver Books. He writes paranormal erotic romance. Hot stuff!
3. Celine Chatillon designed a cartoon image of herself. She’s really into making wonderful comics. Celine is a multi-published erotic author with Mojocastle Press, eXtasy, and Liquid Silver Books. Her newest release, Beautiful Dreamer is a summer 2008 release from Liquid Silver.
4. Jennifer Leeland is my latest release buddy! (Sorry, Jen at the last minute, I saved both our dignity and didn’t post the other picture! LOL!) I love her. She makes me laugh all the time. She is multi-published with Whiskey Creek, Cobblestone Press, The Wild Rose Press, and of course, Liquid Silver Books. Her latest release, Resisting Command, is the second in her science fiction/erotica/BDSM “Command” series and has earned several wonderful reviews.
5. Nina Mamone is a member of the Maine Romance Writers and a really good friend! (She did some major brainstorming with me on my first shifter story … mwah!) Her debut novella, Hard to Guard is available through Samhain Publishing. It just came out in print this spring and is available in the I Dream of Dragons Anthology – Volume Two.
7. Roscoe James’ hawt debut novel Deer Run Falls was released this week from Liquid Silver Books. He’s got several more releases coming down the pike, including White Swan, a July release from Liquid Silver. The man looks all lawyer-like in this picture … but don’t let that fool you. Give him some Master’s (bourbon) and a kilt and the man is hanging from the chandelier. Trust me … I’ve witnessed the transformation myself! Congrats again Roscoe! *Note: Roscoe was going to show up here in his kilt … but Jen wore it home from his release party.
8. Teagan Oliver is a member of Maine Romance Writers. Two words sum up Teagan … “Road Trip!” The woman will pile into the car and drive hours with no particular destination. Yes, she is slightly touched. She is multi-published with Five Star and Wings E-Press. Obsidian, her romantic suspense novel will be re-released in large print in October.
9. Xandra Gregory writes erotic science fiction for Liquid Silver Books. If you ask her about being a writer and about writing in general … she’ll tell you … and tell you … and tell you … oh, sorry, I nodded off. No, just kidding. That’s from Xandra’s own words … she’ll talk about writing to just about anyone!
Obviously, that’s not her real picture. She just mentioned her hair got out of control and she felt like that. Here’s Xandra …
10. Roxy Harte lives in Ohio with her wonderful husband and daughter (and another daughter, son-in-law, and grandchild down the road). Roxy is a multi-published erotic romance author with Loose-Id and Liquid Silver Books. Her very hawt stories about the BDSM lifestyle have garnered some wonderful reviews. She is my go-to author when I need help or reference material. Her newest release Unholy Promises – Chronicles of Surrender is a summer 2008 release with Liquid Silver Books.
11 Darragha Foster (who looks a whole lot like her wild great-grandmother) is another multi-published author with Liquid Silver Books. She writes fantastic stories a little (okay waaay) out of the box. Her latest release Teaching Old Gods New Tricks was recently released in print! Darragha is wonderful with tarot cards and will happily do a reading for you. (Click on the above link for all the details.)
12. KA Mitchell never really grew up and that’s why she sent this picture! She’s another one of those authors who found Maine Romance Writers and joined our crazy ranks … even though she lives in another state 4 hours away! (Hey I live in Maine and I’m 4 hours from the meetings!) Ms. Mitchell is multi-published in M/M erotica with Samhain publishing. Her latest release Diving in Deep was a red-hot release in March of 2008.
13. Jeanne Barrack couldn’t find a picture of herself so she sent this avatar. I was dying to know what she looks like … but I can’t have everything … even if it is my blog *stomps foot*. Oh, sorry, hissy fit over. Back to Jeanne. She’s multi-published with Loose-Id and Liquid Silver Books. She’s currently working on a sequel in the Terran Realm series. Jeanne loves Irish folk lore and her knowledge comes through in her stories. (I also understand she’s a wonderful singer … but she has brought her guitar over here yet!)
So there, you have it …
Seems I ran out of room on this Thursday Thirteen…
I wouldn’t do that to you twice …
Actually, the pictures are misnumbered…
the thirteenth picture is …