Is anyone up for more discussion on the evergreen topic of Alpha Male heroes in romance fiction?
Mr. Alpha has been on my mind recently, thanks to a combination of circumstances. I lost a chunk of writing time earlier this year following the death of my mum. Dealing with her estate has been a time suck, so the books I had hoped to self-publish this year are now rescheduled for 2019. Which means that I will still be unpublished at the end of 2018. That’s frustrating, but the upside is that the RWA has decided to run the Golden Heart contest for one more year, and now I will be eligible to enter. I would love, love, love to final in the Golden Heart, to join the supportive and welcoming sisterhood that Jeanne described in her recent post, The True Heart of the Golden Heart.
In planning my final assault on the contest, I decided that in addition to entering my Alexis paranormal stories, I’d dust off the English/Scottish contemporary romance I worked on at McDaniel and which I haven’t read in the last three years or so.
I got fairly close to snagging an agent with that manuscript, and it finaled in a number of local RWA contests, so I thought it should be relatively easy to tweak.
O.M.G. I am sooo glad I never sold that book. It didn’t need a quick edit so much as a comprehensive rewrite. I think the general premise, the characters, the community and most of the plot points are solid, but among other things, the hero (who is, obvs, a very good guy) made me cringe. He was guilty of arrogant asshattishness rather than the kind of consent offences Jeanne discussed in her excellent post The Thin Line Between Alpha and Predatory, but still. Even if his BDE showboating was a persona rather than his true self, the patronizing way he interacted with the heroine was simply not okay. I had to give him a thorough makeover.
The thing I found curious is Continue reading
Where do you stand on public marriage proposals?
I’m a sports fan, and I had the England v India cricket match playing in the background as I sat down to write today’s post. Normally I find cricket commentary provides the perfect background for writing, but today there was a break in the action, the cameras focused on a tense-looking young man in the crowd, and the TV presenter said “That’ll be Martin*. He’s here today with Suzanne*, and I believe he has something to say to her…” Martin went down on one knee and fished out a ring box. The giant TV screens said DECISION PENDING. Suzanne cried and kissed him. The screens switched to SHE SAID YES! The crowd went bonkers.
The whole episode made me cringe so much I turned the coverage off. Then I started wondering if I’m a grouchy curmudgeon who’s incapable of appreciating a heartfelt romantic gesture.
What do you think?
I’m not talking about a spontaneous proposal that occurs in front of other people because Circumstances. I love those, in life and literature. My problem is with a carefully orchestrated piece of showmanship set up with the intent to share a serious, potentially life-changing decision with as many strangers as possible, without the decision-maker’s knowledge or consent.
Why might you do that? The best answers I could come up with were:
- The young man, his beloved, or both, are narcissistic exhibitionists;
- The young man sees the public proposal as a grand gesture, a demonstration of the strength of his love;
- The young man is afraid the object of his affections might refuse him, and he is relying on public pressure to tip the scales in his favour;
- The young man is so thrilled and giddy at the prospect of marrying his beloved that he wants to share the moment with the whole world.
Which brings me to my next question. Generalizing here, but do you think a public proposal of marriage is something the twenty-first century bride dreams of? Continue reading
We all know what sort of man an alpha male is…strong, usually buff, definitely tough, and the one who gives orders, not takes them. He typically gets what he wants when he wants it, and if he’s threatened, he’ll go up against that threat, even if it means getting physical.
The trope of the alpha male is alive and well in many romances these days. But is that what nature intended when she created alpha males? Continue reading
For someone who doesn’t even have a Twitter account, I’ve encountered a lot of interesting tweets lately. Last week it was the By Age 35 thread and this week it was the tweet to the left from Comedy Central writer Jake Weisman about Jane Austen’s writing.
The tweet, as he may or may not have expected, stirred up a bit of a storm. Not by people who disagreed with the fact that Austen combined satire with spot-on social commentary, but that Weisman had felt the need to disparage the fact that her stories also included . . .gasp! . . . love and romance. The consensus seemed to be that he had read her work, enjoyed it, and was appalled that he might be thought to be a fan of romance.
Heaven forbid! Continue reading
#MeToo is an awesome thing, the zeitgeist of our times. It’s put everyone on notice: the old ways/jokes/behaviors/assumptions are over! Including how you approach fiction, especially (maybe) romantic comedy, which is more or less what I usually write.
Two days ago the Washington Post published an article that revisited some old rom-coms, analyzing how male rom-com behaviors that 10 or 20 years ago seemed cute and fun now look stalker-ish in light of #MeToo. And yesterday Jenny Crusie wrote a blog about that article and how her books appear in the glare of 20/20 #MeToo hindsight. (Spoiler alert: She thinks mostly her books hold up okay, in part because her heroes aren’t alpha males out to conquer. There’s a lot more to the discussion, so check it out.) Continue reading
Are you a Happy Holidayer? I suspect I’m the token Grinch among the Ladies. While my fellow bloggesses are decorating their homes with emotionally significant ornaments, baking seasonal treats, and recommending feelgood stories, I’m counting the days till it’s all over.
This week we’ve been chatting among ourselves about the Hallmark Channel’s holiday programming, aided and abetted by this article from slate.com, and this review of A Princess for Christmas (Sam Heughan!) on smartbitchestrashybooks.com. I have to confess that even reading these intelligent and amusing pieces sent me screaming in search of Dorothy Parker, or Saki, or EF Benson.
Our discussion did, however, make me examine why Christmas stories make me froth at the mouth. It’s not intellectual snobbery or political correctness. I love genre romance. I adore fantasy and fairy tales. I seek out happy endings, and I’m a sucker for community. I prefer tales told with intelligence and wit, but while that might rule out some of the more saccharine offerings, it should still leave me open to classics like Michaeline’s suggestion, Christmas in Conneticut. Nope, not even that.
I always thought I read romance for the kindness, the community and the hit of happy. This week I realized there’s another huge reason: many romances (and all the ones I love best) involve defying expectations and resisting peer pressure. Continue reading
Anybody up for a playlist recommendation or two? I’d truly appreciate it. 😉
It’s only two weeks since I posted my plan for the rest of the year, and I’ve already made a significant change. I sent off Alexis Book 1 to be edited, (yay!), but when I sat down to start work on the prequel, I realized that wasn’t the story I wanted to tell…not yet, anyway.
The prequel is the story of Alexis’s parents, Daire and Annis. It explains how Annis ends up running for her life, carrying little more than her unborn child and the most powerful jewel in the history of Caldermor. But, but, but… that story stems directly from Daire’s failure to secure the hand in marriage of a very different woman. All the characters from the debacle are major players in Alexis’s story, and I’ll need a novella to give away next year when I finally hit ‘publish,’ so I decided to write Kiran and Christal’s story now, and (hopefully) let the momentum carry Daire and me into the prequel.
I know where the novella is set (Darrochar, the kingdom adjoining Caldermor). I know how it ends, and I know the main characters. I’ve made a few pages of notes, but I need a playlist to really get my imagination working.
The story so far:
- One arranged political marriage;
- One clever, rich, handsome, spoiled princeling who’s too busy having a good time to stand up to his ambitious, power-mad mother;
- One elegant, clever princess, determined not to waste her life and talents on a golden loser.
- One scheming, murderous Princess Dowager (the mother-in-law from hell);
- One plainspoken, upstanding career soldier turned princely bodyguard-slash-advisor who’s wondering what the hell he’s let himself in for.
- Fighting (physical and metaphorical), in-fighting, hard truths told, harder lessons learned, risking all, expecting to lose all and (spoiler alert!) somehow the good guys emerge triumphant.
I’ll add to the list as I build up the story, but here’s my first stab at a few tunes: Continue reading