Monday, April 25, 2011

Heroines of Romance: Finding a Balance

Note: I say "most" or "some" throughout this post in order to avoid making blanket statements about gender roles and/or desires. I'm speaking in general terms, not in exclusive terms.

Perhaps, of all the tasks a romance author has when writing a viable romantic fiction story, creating the heroine proves the most challenging.

While alpha-males remain popular, gone are the days of boy-rescues-girl. Wilting-flower females are not only frowned upon, but they are outright rejected amongst readers and publishers.

For me, I embrace the challenge of creating today’s heroine. My delight is deeply rooted in real life, where I love and am married to a classic alpha-male, yet have found a balance in which I’m not only protected and provided for, but also respected and equal.

In old romance, the hero is often depicted as the powerful savior who the heroine longs to serve in a multitude of ways: in the kitchen, in the bedroom…

But servitude or total submission is no longer relatable in today’s society. The heroine must take as much as she gives; she must be as powerful (in one form or another) as the man she loves. And that power isn’t solely between her legs.

Today’s heroine should have the ability to rescue herself, not simply be milling around life aimlessly until the man of her dreams swoops in and saves her from terrible misfortune. Sure, the hero can be the catalyst to the heroine’s self-rescue, but it’s almost essential that the actual saving comes from the female’s personal growth or actions.

So, if the hero isn’t actually a “hero,” what’s his role? And why must he be alpha?

Role: The hero’s role is not clearly defined beyond the friendship, sex and partnership he offers the female. It’s the writer’s goal to create an attractive male with equally attractive characteristics. Sometimes he’s rich, sometimes he’s funny. He’s always good-looking and his charm—whether he’s a badass biker or a highline executive—is his main appeal. Likability is the hero’s main job. Beyond that, it’s not necessary for him to be anything more than a good match for the heroine.

In most situations, the heroine would’ve been capable of saving herself even if the hero hadn’t come into the picture. Although she wouldn’t have had nearly the fun had he not.

Why Alpha?: I’m pretty certain women like alpha-males for the same reason men like women who challenge them. Women are getting stronger with every generation, and the roles of power have mutated into something completely unrecognizable when compared to the gender roles of fifty years ago. Women of yesterday liked alpha-males because they’d been taught to need them. Women of today like alpha-males (and demand them in their romantic fiction 99% of the time) because there’s something sexy about knowing the man you’re with is strong enough to “take care” of you if needed.

I also believe some, if not most, women have—at least subconsciously--certain fantasies of being overpowered in the bedroom. There’s something very erotic about a women’s sexual fate resting, quite literally, in the hands of a powerful man. Why? Because there’s intimacy in vulnerability.

Lastly, alpha-males demand respect, and a strong woman simply does not feel respect toward a man who is seemingly weaker than herself. And even in cases of exception,—where the female does respect the weaker male—she doesn’t necessarily want to sleep with him.

In summary: Females are the heroic ones in romantic fiction; men provide fun and entertainment—think a court jester with rippling abs and a certain useful appendage—and, of course, a loving partnership. The hero is whatever the heroine desires and needs. It’s her story, after all.

Monday, April 11, 2011


adjective /ˈbändid/

My first romance novel was—after much painful deliberation over several title options—originally named MAID FOR HIM, which was a cute play on words and appropriate for the story. However, my editor wanted something stronger, more exotic… she suggested BONDED IN BRAZIL.

It isn’t uncommon for editors (or even agents) to suggest/require a title change. Matter of fact, the renaming of one’s book is so prevalent most writers come to expect it. I did, which was I settled on MAID FOR HIM (without being in love with it) and moved on.

When Editor Lady suggested the new title, I liked it right away, especially after I’d learned that debt bondage is a modern form of slavery that exists all over the globe, including in Brazil.

I was also a little peeved that I hadn’t thought of it myself. After all, I like titles that have multiple meanings, whether it’s a play on words (like Maid For Him) or a word/phrase that can be defined in numerous ways…

…like bonded.

--Emotionally or psychologically linked

--Bound by a legal agreement, in particular

--Obliged to work for a particular employer, often in a condition close to slavery (read:luxury and sexual bliss). What? It’s my damn story.

Each of the above meanings can be directly applied to my story. Bonded In Brazil is practically a synopsis for the book!

I wish I could take credit for it, haha, but I love the title, even if it wasn’t my idea. Many writers experience at least a mild form of trepidation at the idea that their precious title baby will be changed. Don’t. It’s no big. It might be better, anyway.

And now for a little something fun...and slightly relevant...but not really.

For your listening enjoyment, Pitbull performs a remix of “75, Brazil Street.” I’d post the original, but I have a thing for sexy bald guys…so Pitbull’s remix it is!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What's New?

I’m taking a few minutes to share what’s new in my busy world.—My first post was published on this week, and I’ve already submitted something new to the editor. My goal is to contribute weekly, and I’ve quickly discovered this to be somewhat like book publishing on a smaller scale. I write. I edit. I submit. I worry that it sucks. I get an email from editor. I’m scared to click it. I click it. I get a YES! I relax…for about 5 minutes before plotting the next story. Repeat.

It’s stress. It’s validation. It’s every week. I guess I’m a bit of a masochist because I like it.

Amazon Blogs—I’ve submitted Whispers for publication on Amazon blogs. I have no idea what this means, but I know I can un-publish if I don’t like it. I know it’s a service whereby readers can subscribe to blogs and have new posts delivered directly to their Kindles…for a small fee. I have no control over the fee, nor do I care about making a dime off my blog, (I really, REALLY don’t) but I always pursue opportunities for exposure and to meet more people.

Blog Tour—I’ve monopolized space on several blogs for almost two weeks now. Daily. My hostesses have been gracious and amazingly supportive. It’s a fun experience, but I’m happy to be finishing the tour tomorrow with one final stop. Blog tours are a lot of work. Not that I mind a lot of work (I really, REALLY don’t) but I have other stuff to do, too. You know?

Speaking of other stuff to do…

New book—It’s that time again! I completed and signed a new contract with Agent Lady in February for Bonded In Brazil’s sequel. Since that time, I’ve taken a break from book writing, mostly to take part in promo opportunities and let my mind breathe. But my persistent muse is back…better than ever, I must say. I’m super excited about this project (one that I started and fell short at years ago) and feel that I’ve come far enough in my craft to pull it off…finally. It’s a tad ambitious, but I’m going for gold with this one.

I’m also going back to my writing roots--women’s fiction, southern setting, and with strong romantic elements.

I’m only about 2500 words into the manuscript, so don’t look for any news concerning it anytime soon. But I’m working again, so that’s pretty awesome.

Other than all that, hubby’s birthday is this weekend, and my daughter wants to make a cupcake family. My son got Cars (the movie) tighty-whities and they’re the funniest things I’ve ever seen. And I accidently discovered that my beautiful stepdaughter looks an awful lot like Britney Spears in her Baby One More Time video…which scares me a little bit. Okay, a lot. It’s also frightening because my 5-yr-old looks just like her big sis did at that age.

Excuse me while I have a preemptive heart attack.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sexy Librarian

A recent visit to author Cole Alpaugh’s blog (where this pretty picture is posted) reminded me of a suggestion I received from a writer friend. This particular friend suggested I play the part of a sexy librarian and read steamy clips from my books (in two-minute increments) to post on YouTube.

I have to admit, the idea sounded really cute and appealed to me…for about three minutes.

Then I had visions of myself wearing prop thick-rimmed glasses and a white button-down shirt that exposed a hint of cleavage.

Problem 1: I don’t have any cleavage.

Problem 2: Surely my kids would disrupt my sexy setting by stripping down and dancing like crazed leprechauns in the background.

Problem 3: I’m not overtly sexy, and I can’t contrive sexiness. I reserve that side of me for private times. Even then, if I try to do something over-the-top, I ended up looking like a moron.

Take the above picture, for example. I can imagine me attempting to recreate the pose, and it’s not pretty. My husband would walk into the room and think I’d fallen over in my chair while having a Grand Mal seizure.

The pictured lady’s hair stays neatly in place as she tilts her head seductively over the edge of the table. MY hair would fly in all directions and accumulate a layer of dust as it clumped into a messy mass over the tabletop. My neck would be bent awkwardly and produce a head-on-a-platter look which, unless my husband is the reincarnate of Henry VIII, isn’t exactly a turn-on.

The lovely gal in the above picture is doing something sexy with her mouth. Whatever this is, I can’t do it…ever. I’ve tried the sexy pucker, and it usually looks like I’m sucking spinach out of my teeth. The mouth-seductively-ajar thing leaves me looking dumbfounded, and don’t even get me started on lip-licking.

I’m not a sexy librarian. I’m a mom…with the occasional booger in her hair.

If you want sexy, steamy, sensual, and seductive out of me, you’ll have to do one of two things:

1. Marry me ;)

2. Read my books.