A Growth of a Series

PrintFirst, I love reading books with bad boy heroes. Hell, I married one. If you’ve ever read my Circle series, you’ll know how much I love writing about dangerous, ill-tempered (HA!) men.

When I began writing the Brothers of Mayhem series, I had already read a couple MC (romance/fiction) books and watched all of the Sons of Anarchy. Click here to read my post about researching the series.

So I thought readers of MC books would be interested to know that the first book (HIDDEN HEAT) of the Brothers of Mayhem is not the typical MC story. The majority of the bikers in that story are not good guys. But you will see a shift in book two (FULL HEAT – Storm’s story). It has a mixture of good and bad. New blood.

By book three (NAKED HEAT – Wolf’s story) you’ll see more of the brotherhood that you come to expect in a MC romance. And in the fourth book (RAW HEAT – Cutter’s story), the club heals and the brotherhood tightens.

It’s like this, throughout the series, each book can be read separately as stand-alones, but like the romance in each story, the club has a path to take with all of the ups and downs. The growth of the club as an unit will ensure its survival. In the end, it will have the right guy in place and everyone will be happy. *sniff* I do love for my people to have a happy ending.

And you could say each story has something for everyone, from the unique MC story to the hard core.

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What Model Of Alpha Do You Want?

tumblr_myfffeXLM61srko8to1_r1_500Reviews are a double edge sword. Authors want and need them to get the word out about their books, but reviews with low ratings and pure hate for a book are not helpful in my opinion. The reason I say it that way is that I had a well-known blogger tell me even horrible reviews can help sell a book. You know, everyone wanting to see if a book is really as terrible as everyone is saying. Heaven forbid, if that ever happens to me. I’m all for the positive hook.

Anyway, reviews per se is not what this post is about.

Occasionally, I read reviews from some of my favorite authors. Why you ask? Whenever I’m feeling down about my writing (what the fuck am I doing?) and need to see even my favorite NYT bestselling authors have a handful of disparagers among their hundreds of five star reviews. Yesterday, I was looking at an author whose publisher had released her backlist in ebook. So thrilling because now I can get copies for my iPad and the paperbacks can stay on my shelves in good condition.

On one hand, I was surprised by the many one stars (and anger) for books I love of hers. As I read the reviews, the main theme appeared to be the way the heroes treated the heroines.

See, from 1970s to 1990s, it had been popular for the heroes to be what I call supreme alphas. It started with the bodice rippers (literally, and by the way, I freaking hate that term for current day romance in general). Yes. Historical romances were queen in the beginning and the heroes thought nothing of ripping the bodice off the heroines. It was so different from what women had been reading before then. I can get into the dynamics of the sexual revolution and birth control and woman finding out they loved sex when there was little fear of pregnancy (only 2% to 9% fear as pills are 91% to 98% effective), but that is still not what this post is about.

In my dear favorite author’s earlier books, the heroes bossed and took over the heroines’ lives as if the women had no sense at all. At the time, and to a point nowadays, I love reading books with those types of heroes. But from what I’ve read in other articles, reviews and in general conversations with twenty- to thirty-something readers, they do not want a hero to act that way. In real life, I wouldn’t either, but, folks, this is fantasy. Anyway, onward and upward…

I thought that was interesting considering how many readers love kinky doms (BDSM), demanding billionaires, and dangerous bikers (MCs). So I compared the differences and realized in most cases, the older romances with dominating males, the heroes came across as cold and unfeeling at least until the end. While the new wave alphas show tenderness and often sweet talk their heroines, they are the same type of heroes, but they have smoother edges.

Both have pluses and minuses. I have found that sometimes when I’m reading a new author’s male point of view, the guys sound a little girlish. More of how the author wished a male would be. From what I know of most men, they are straightforward in speech and action and rarely think about how so-and-so feels about something. They believe they do what must be done and not worry overmuch about it. They have gut feelings and realizations. Not all of that touchy, feely, (I’m not talking about sex) I-have-to-talk-it-out stuff. Of course, there are the exceptions, but they are usually the villains.  HA!

Oh, if you’re reading an old romance, be sure to keep all of this mind. Hopefully the publisher (or author, if self-published) will show the original published date. It would be best in the end. Fewer rants by readers. Geez!

Envisioning the Hero

Thought I would share what I envision the hero would look like in my current book scheduled to be released February 2016.

The first two (or is that technically four) are Adam Levine. The first one (or two) look like a romance book cover, doesn’t it? For my hero, think Adam but with a little more meat on the bone. HA!

Lucky girl in the second batch of poses.

While searching around for pictures of Adam, I came across the second one. He’s a Brazilian model. Not bad at all, heh? Interesting pose on a motorcycle.

What We Imagine

Dwayne JohnsonThe other day, my oldest daughter was saying how she loved seeing what people imagine certain book heroes look like. So I thought I would share what I think Jack in CIRCLE OF DEFIANCE looks like. A combination of the two fellows in the top two pictures. Jack keeps his head shaved (his story will reveal why he does it), has piercings, tattoos, and isn’t classically vinsidehandsome though women would call him good-looking in that manly way. He’s a lady’s man. So he loves women. Not for just sex. He actually has a female best friend. Though his younger brother, Rex, hates him, he will do anything to keep him happy. Jack even tricked Rex into marrying the woman his brother had loved for years. Because of the decisions Jack has made, he’s a lonely, lonely man. Thankfully, Katerina comes along and cheers him up.  LOL! If you could call fearing for his life as cheering up. Don’t forget CIRCLE OF DEFIANCE is on sale now at Amazon!  Plus Amazon has CIRCLE OF DESIRE and CIRCLE OF DANGER on sale for $1.99.  Not sure how long that will last. For those who have been following my blog, I’ve mentioned a couple times I’m working on a new series. This hero let’s his hair grow, unlike Jack, and wears it in a hairstyle that has become popular again.  It was the thing to wear in the 1930s to 1940s. I wasn’t alive then, but I’ve seen the movies (reruns 100 times over) from back in the day. I so hope fedoras come back in style too. Here are a couple pictures of the hairstyle I’m talking about. So sexy if done right. Plus the new hero leaves some scruff on his face. haircut brad haircut hero By the way, CONGRATULATIONS to Melissa Ruiz!  She won the 2nd set of books, bag, Hello Kitty, $10 Amazon Gift Card and tee shirt!  Melissa, be sure to answer my email.  Thank you!

[Update:  Melissa is excited to have won.  Her package is being mailed out Saturday.  Congrats again!]

Three Types of Alphas

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Release date 2/24/2015 Amazon.

Over the years, I’ve heard debates on the plus and minuses of Alpha and beta heroes. Personally, I prefer Alpha heroes, and strangely, as unchanging Alphas appear to be, they have been changing with the times. Maybe it has to do with women liberation and the younger generation.

Geez, that last part makes me sound so old.

I guess it’s because I don’t have a problem with a man being a man. For a man to beat his chest and open my doors never bothered me. But at the same time, why are women still referred to as Mrs. in the business world or if I’m purchasing something? Hell, I’m proud of being married to my hubby (love him dearly), but what does my marital status have to do with my work? Men are Mr., no matter if they’re married or not. Never understood it. Equal rights and all.

Sorry, got off track. Back to the three type of Alphas.

1.  The Tarzan Alpha.  Loved watching Tarzan movies on TV when I was a kid (they were re-runs of re-runs), but as an adult in the present PC environment, the movies from the 1930s for sure show a hero Tarzan11who’s not really very nice to Jane. Even in one film, he tears her clothes off. Of course, he’s just curious about the clothing. Yeah. Right. It was the same movie (Tarzan and His Mate) along with a few others that helped bring about censoring movies in Hollywood during that period. The Johnny Weissmuller ones were my favorites. By the way, Tarzan’s English name was John Clayton. Thought I would throw that in.

Now on to this Alpha. At times, he can come across as being not the smartest cookie in the pack. Maybe because he’s raised by apes/wolves/lions/etc., from a different planet or time. Isn’t that a great excuse to do whatever he wants? But when he’s in his environment, watch out! You’ll look a fool if you underestimate him.

The other side of the same coin, this Alpha can also be super-smart, and you’ll know it from the start. Often he’s that way because he’s lived a horrible life. Cruel biological or foster parents/guardians, bad choices or friends, etc. So he grows up thinking women are nothing but sex toys for him to play with. That is, when he’s not busy taking care of business. He often plays a brutish hero, steam rolling over the heroine, forcing her to do what he says. “For her own good.” Hey, I enjoy reading this type, but no way do I want to be around one in real life.

What authors write this type? Lori Leigh, Anne Stuart (she has some scary, delicious ones), Beth Kery, and Nalini Singh (some I’m told).

2. The James Bond Alpha. This is the category where most Alphas fall. They’re self-James Bondsufficient and don’t believe they need a woman until they meet The One. Sometimes they have a hard time recognizing her. That’s the part we find so much fun: watching him come to terms, that he can’t live without her. Oh, yeah. The mighty falls hard.

And don’t be hating my favorite James Bond. Even today, wrinkles and all, Pierce Brosnan is so sexy.

The authors for his type? Linda Howard, Maisey Yates, Debra Webb, Anne Stuart (her Ice series has this, mixed with the Tarzan) and Carla Swafford (of course, I had to add mine).

3. The Jamie Alpha.  Yes. Simply stated. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you haven’t read, watched or listened (audio) to any of the OUTLANDER books. The author has created a new alpha. He’s strong, gentle, and reasonable. Expects his woman to be as honest as he is and to stand by her man. But he’s willing to sacrifice his life or even give her up to protect her. Jamie

The authors with this type of Alpha? Diana Gabaldon (duh!), Betty Bolte, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Victoria Dahl (some), and my next book will have a lot of this Alpha in the hero. The book is due out February 2016 and should be titled BURNOUT [update: title has been changed. More about that later.] More info to come in the next few months.

As you noticed, the authors I mentioned have a mixture of Alpha heroes (including mine), but they appear to gravitate to the types I mentioned.

Something I noticed when I finished writing this post, all three Alphas are named after characters from the U.K., and all have “J” names.  Funny. HA!

Anyway, comment and let me know what authors you believe match up to the Alphas above. Chances are I’ll love to read them.

Love Hearing Another Woman’s Opinion

Maybe I’m still a teenager at heart, but I love coming across an article talking about sexSurprised Woman positions and it not being porn. This simple article talks about having the woman on top. Good advice in my opinion.

The best part about the article is that the guy’s hot. How often in pictures with articles or commercials on TV, the woman is cute and the dude looks like Woody Allen? No matter how many women he’s slept with, no one can call him sexy or handsome without lying or/and being related to him.

So check this out.

The Ties That Bind

I don’t know if you figured it out yet, but I’m at times a little off beat.  A couple weeks ago, I came across this picture. No face or body, but it goes to prove how sexy a man’s hands and forearms can be. So freaking masculine. There is something sexy about seeing a lean, well-muscled man in cuffs. All that strength under controlpicture

A man’s fingers can tell you a lot. Calluses say the man works with his hands, digging ditches or carving wood. Long fingers are usually associated with surgeons and pianists; thick fingers with brawn and the more masculine pursuits.

I’ve never been wild about rings on men, except maybe a wedding band, but whoa! The rings in the picture say to me he’s a bit of a rebel. A biker. Maybe even a musician.

Yep. Not all men need to be military alpha males. Tied up, they become pure sexual beings. Yum.

Yes. You’re right. I have a vivid imagination.

Finding Romance In Strange Places

tumblr_myfffeXLM61srko8to1_r1_500I get so tickled when I’m watching a TV show or movie and realize parts of it have many of the same elements of the books I read (romance). Especially if the show is written by a male.

Yes. I’m a bit of a female chauvinist. Sure males can write romance, but you have to remember for centuries when they did they almost always killed off one or more of the protagonists in the end, e.g., Romeo & Juliet.

Anyway, I was watching a movie that I had never expected to see romance in it. Plus it had a wonderful lesson to share. The movie? Don Jon. Yes. You read that right. The movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt — oh, my he has grown up. He plays a young fellow who learns there’s more to fucking than the physical act.

See, Jon likes to hang with his boys, takes good care of his car, home and body, and is a player. But he loves porn more than anything. To him, porn sex is more real and satisfying than the genuine thing.

Now for the spoilers. But first, if you’re thinking of watching the movie and you should, you might want to come back and read this later or you can read on and see if you agree with what I say here.

It’s not the great movie of the decade, but it’s entertaining, and did I mention Joseph Gordon-Levitt has grown up?  Yum!download

At first I thought, oh, no, it’s going to be about sex and not good sex, and it won’t make any sense, and I will be pissed when the credits roll in. But as the movie went along, you can see there is so much going on. He’s open to change. Maybe inside he realizes he’s not happy with his life.

About halfway through the movie, he loses his girlfriend because he lies to her about watching porn. But it is an older woman who teaches him the best lessons.

One, that porn is not real. They’re actors. All this time, he’d been looking for a woman who would act like them. He wanted all the pleasure but wasn’t willing to do the same for his partner. The older woman asked him, had he ever jerked off without watching porn? He hadn’t. That gets him to thinking. So he stops watching it. Suddenly, he has more time to do other things. He calms down and starts to enjoy life more.

And then the woman tells him one really big truth. For him to enjoy sex, he needs to make love to his partner, he needs to lose himself in her.

Though the movie doesn’t end with him confessing everlasting love to the older woman, he understands by making sure his partner is enjoying sex, his pleasure will be so much more satisfying. In turn, his partner will lose herself in him. That good sex is a shared experience. Just as much as a mental thing as it is physical.

I was totally surprised by the message of the movie. A total unlikely premise saying what so many romance novels tell us.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote the screenplay. The fellow does have layers. Talented.

If you decide to watch it, don’t go in expecting anything. Just sit back and be entertained. It’s funny in some parts. Tony Danza (Who’s The Boss) plays his dad and is a hoot. His mom is played by Glenne Headly (I remember her from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but others may from Monk). But as you can imagine, you certainly shouldn’t have children in the room while you watch it. And there’s a lot more to it than what I mentioned here.

Strangers In The Night

If you had the chance to be in the car alone for about twenty or thirty minutes with one of your all-time favorite authors, who would it be?

I had that opportunity in 2009. My writers group has a romance readers luncheon every first Saturday in November. That year it was Anne Stuart. Oh, my GOD! I was so excited. She and Linda Howard are two authors that I want to be compared to whenever someone reads my romantic suspense.

Anne was flying into the Birmingham airport and I volunteered (yeah, like I would let anyone else do that) to pick her up. I was so tickled, I even took off a half day from work. Who can concentrate when they’re picking up a rock star?

So there I was waiting for the time, unable to eat or read. If I can’t do two of my four favorite things, I’m really wound up. (By the way, if you’re curious, the other two are writing and sex, not necessarily in that order.)

The time finally arrives and I’m standing near the concourse exit. I’m holding a sign with her pen name on it, so she’ll know who’s picking her up. A large crowd comes through, warning me that the flight had deplaned. No Anne. Huh? Did I miss her in the crowd? Had she changed so much from Washington DC when I met her for the first time that I overlooked her? OMG! THE HORROR!

Then I crane my neck to look down the long hallway, and I see a man pushing a woman in a wheelchair. ANNE! (I read somewhere she has a bad knee.) Then I flip my sign, and she bursts out laughing (love her laugh). What did it say?

FAN

 

I had a feeling she would appreciate the humor, so I said, “And I don’t own a sledgehammer.” She roared with laughter and said, “I sure hope not.”

On the way to the hotel, I had around twenty minutes to gush all over her about how much I loved her books, telling her my favorites, and then I asked about what she was writing. And somewhere along the way, she asked about my writing. Before I knew it, we were at the hotel. Talk about loving every minute with her, it was fabulous. A time I’ll never forget.

Be sure to put her books on your list to read. In fact, the last couple weeks she has been celebrating forty years (amazing!) in the business and been giving away downloads at Amazon and sometimes B&N. Click here for her blog. Click here for her Facebook page. But be aware, most of Anne’s heroes are tough and almost scary alpha. Her Ice series are some of the best and most unique romantic suspense I’ve ever read. What makes them unique?

The hero doesn’t have issues with being a badass. They make hard decisions and don’t sit around mourning the results. They are at times rough and maybe even a little cruel to the heroines. The heroes are tough men and expect the women they are fascinated by (and they are always drawn to the heroines despite what is best for him) to understand where they’re coming from. Since this is fiction, I love these heroes. In real life, hell no. They would scare the shit out of me.

And her women are strong. Some can kick butt as well as the guys, but those who can’t (kick butt), know how to stand up them. Oh, yeah, with great results.

If any of that sounds familiar, it’s because I’m such a fan that my heroes and heroines are a little like hers. I’m not saying I’m the caliber of writer that she is. But I will tell you that one of my reviews did compare my first book to Anne’s Ice series. I was thrilled.

Maybe soon I’ll tell you how I met Sherrilyn Kenyon and Linda Howard.

Heroes With Mommy Issues

psychoOne of my old favorite romances is a medieval that the hero was a bastard (figuratively and literally). His distrust of women stemmed from his mother’s abandonment when he was a child. That theme ran through many romances back in the seventies and eighties, probably for centuries before that too. Nowadays we see less of that (the bastard resenting the mother who had them out of wedlock), but we still see it in other forms.

The hero whose wife or mother cheated on him or his father or the wife that didn’t want children or did want children when he didn’t. Or the hero with a step-father he hates and the mother he resents because she married the man. You get the idea. The list does go on.

It’s really a shame that moms get such a bum wrap. Being a mom, I can tell you that most of us try not to make mistakes but we all do.

But moms (and dads) are so important to our lives and using them as the deeply rooted reason for the hero’s (or heroine’s) actions could be considered an easy out for some, but really that’s right on track. Our parents have a tremendous impact on how we react to stress and challenges, and how we deal with and love others.

One thing about writing, the author almost has to be a psychologist.