VIRTUALLY HERS came out Oct. 2009. Get it at SAMHAIN Publishing. VIRTUALLY ONE coming soon.

I've also made available at Amazon BIG BAD WOLF a COS Commando book, an earlier manuscript about Killian Nicholas Langley. You can sample the first five chapters right here. EBOOK now available for KINDLE, NOOK, and at SMASHWORDS for $4.99.

I appreciate all your emails. If you'd like to buy Virtually His NEW, please contact me. Thank you.


Big Bad Wolf Author's Note/CH. 1

Big Bad Wolf CH. 2

Big Bad Wolf Ch. 3

(more chapters on left side bar below)

To read excerpts of VIRTUALLY HERS, scroll down & click on the links on the right.



VIRTUALLY HERS OUT IN PRINT AUG 2010! Discounted at Amazon!

To read & comment on the poll (left column), click HERE. Thank you for all the wonderful posts there!



GLow Twitter

Follow The Glow

Some readers having browser problems with the Google Followers Widget still. For now, you can still follow me through your Blogger Dashboard.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Feed Me

I have two re-roofs to do before the end of the month when I fly off to the RT Convention in Columbus, OH. That's cutting it close, between weather, luck, and waiting for permits and inspectors. It's been back to working to 7 or 8pm at night this past week--not complaining but my body is! And tax time is coming up too! Why, why, why do pile-ups like this happen to me? :P

Anyway, here's a dateline assignment that you might be able to help me with. One of the Romantic Suspense panels I'm moderating is called Bond, James Bond, and I've invited three male and two female authors.

I have an idea about questions I'd be fielding, but would love to hear your suggestions too. From the topic, the general idea is to focus on the authors' main characters--how they work and why they work within their stories and how they appeal to the fans of those books. Just like James Bond, ya know? You hear the name, you immediately know who and what he is, and certain things about him appeal to different fans--his debonair suaveness for the players; his high-tech toys for the geeks; and his tall, dark, ruthless self for those of us that like eye candy with a dangerous flair.

So, if you could just throw me a couple of bones to gnaw on. Here are some general questions for you to get specific on, and the more specific, the better, since then I can steal your wonderful ideas to make my panel more interesting! It doesn't need to focus on the romance because a few of the writers aren't writing full-out romantic suspense. I'll expand more on the following questions afterwards so you don't just say "ditto" to my thoughts because that isn't going to help me at all, you know :).

1) What attracts you to the hero/heroine/main character?

2) Something characteristic

3) Bond kills. Killing factor in novels

4) Balance of romance and suspense. In Bond? Relationship? Growth?

5) Power balance

6) Point of View

7) Why you can't put the book down

It'd be so helpful if you could pick a couple of points and run with it here. I want the panel to be the Most Awesomest Evah. Ha. Actually, I want to engage my guests and the attendees in an interesting conversation that would give a clear idea why certain characters attract many readers/fans, thus giving those who are writing some insight into tightening their own novels as well as those who are just fans a good time discussing their favorite authors' characters.

Okay, then. I roof, you write.

Bear with me while I learn. The first button likes the POST. The second button likes the BLOG site. Please help me by "liking" me. Thanks!


Mo said...

I'll open with Power Balance because this is something I actually notice a lot when I read. In classic Bond, the power balance is of course, heavily skewed in Bond's favor. He has the brains, toys, and looks to pull off anything and even the villains, for all their posturing, seem to know it. The hapless women who get caught up in it all never come out of it intact, and generally end up dead.

In romancelandia, the power balance can be skewed different ways depending on the type of book. A Presents book, for example, will always have the Alpha Male" with the majority of the power. Erotica tends toward a more egalitarian power balance. Urban fantasy tends toward more power for the woman.

But power balance is also dependent on how you define power. Take for example Nalini Singh's books - either her Psy/Changeling series or her new one. Each man in the Psy/Changeling series is Alpha, but her books tend to have a more equal power balance. In short, the power of the "hero" is different from the power of the "heroine" and they balance each other. A great example of this is Nate and Tammy. Both powerful in their own right but with different kinds of power. On the other hand, you have Raphael and Elena start out with a huge power imbalance and as the story progresses, that balance shifts.

Have too much of an imbalance, or fail to shift it when you start with a strong imbalance and a story becomes difficult to maintain if you want plausible tension, especially in this day and age. Often the power balance or imbalance is the direct cause of the tension in a plot. How it is handled can be critical to how plausible it will read.

OK - moving on. Attraction to hero/heroine is very simple for me as a reader. I have to feel connected to one or the other or both. That means that somewhere, there has to be a core of pain. The pain doesn't have to be horrible, but I have to identify with it. Notable books where I have identified with characters without pain: Jo in Little Women and Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice. In both cases they had distinct personality characteristics that I shared with them. Struggle, especially internal struggle is also something that often attracts. It appeals to the voyeur in all of us to see it open and on display.

Possibly more to come.

Leslie said...

Wish I could attend! Love to hear your (and the other authors') take on female empowerment. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I know that's a favorite topic of yours lately. How about the male writer's Mighty Wang vs the female writer's Magic HooHa? Thematic-wise, I mean.

Mo said...

Mmmm I missed a very important point about power balance. If the imbalance is too large and does not change at all during the course of the narrative, the story becomes boring and without tension because the one with the power will win and the ending is a foregone conclusion. No tension in the story = no story.

alund said...

1) What attracts you to the hero/heroine/main character?

First and foremost, intelligence and humor. Nothing worse than a dumb protagonist. There has to be a measure of sexiness and virility. Not necessarily a Brad Pitt type prettiness, more like a Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Yum. There also has to be some hint of vulnerability to make it relatable. Our feminine side always wants to nurture.

2) Something characteristic

3) Bond kills. Killing factor in novels

Don't mind it. If you're a spy, sometimes it's necessary. Makes more sense than having a super spy suddenly behave like an 18th century damsel in distress.

4) Balance of romance and suspense. In Bond? Relationship? Growth?

A romance-suspense novel needs a good dose of sex and romance. However, those novels that have 90% sex and just a bit of action in between are just a waste of money and boring.

5) Power balance

Most of the romance- suspense novels are usually the damsel in distress saved by the big macho spy. Depending on the author, it can be great or utterly boring. Most of the time it's utterly boring. Therefore, I much prefer a book where both protagonists bring something to the mix.

6) Point of View

Don't care. Sometimes it's interesting having both.

7) Why you can't put the book down

A good mix of all of the above.

kim said...

Definitely intelligence, self-confidence and humor attract me in fiction and life. They have to be believable and consistent, as in I can’t stand when a self confident, intelligent female turns into a doofas whenever the male character is around. I know it happens to the best of us but it doesn’t appeal to me in fiction.

Totally fine with killing, it is fiction after all. I would rather have an assassin character that kills than one that is squeamish and gets her team killed. Though on that note, despite it being fiction I wouldn’t really try to read a cheating novel.

If it is a stand alone romance then it definitely needs balance. In a series where it follows the same couple book after book I am ok with the romance taking the back seat for the most part since I will get to see them develop over time.

Oh don’t get me started. Yes, there needs to be balance in power. I hate when the guy takes over and the female just lets him. Boring and irritating. Those are the books I don’t finish.

POV is tricky. I have found three people that have pulled off first person POV successfully and all three had hilarious, characters that were well developed, very distinct, and had a great voice and included funny sometimes snarky comments when describing the other characters. These were characters I could picture in the flesh. I felt like I could tell how the character would say something, kind of like how you know how a good friend would phrase a sentence. Rachel Caine’s Joanne Baldwin and Cassiel, Linda Howard’s Blaire Mallory, and Gena Showalter’s Belle Jamison (btw you should check out Rachel Caine’s weather warden series, urban fantasy with a romance in the background, I just found her and am plowing through her books). If you cannot write a character that well that can carry telling the whole story then stick with third person, otherwise I don’t necessarily care if it switches from the male to the female and back.

When I can’t put a book down it is because I fall in love with the characters, I want to be in their life or even be them, and the plot is so interesting I need to know what happens next and usually it is a funny book that may also make me tear up.

good luck! :)

Anonymous said...

I love hardened heros. I love to read their POVs when they're well-done. I love James Bond because he can be both ruthless and yet, there's a vulnerable part of him that's kept hidden. At least, that's my interpretation of him! What would be interesting for me is to hear how you and the other authors visualize these main characters in your head. Like Jed! Yes, like Jed. Right, everyone? We want to know how you created him and made him memorable.


Gennita said...

Wow, these are excellent! Thanks, you guys. Tonight is IRS night but when that's done, I'll certainly take time to work out a good workshop/debate for the panel!

I esp. love the power balance thing. I think that's an interesting point because there's a lot of imbalance of power in an RS, esp. damsel-in-distress theme. I love writing heroines with a bit more power. something for the hero to figure out. But I guess y'all noticed that already *grin.

Gennita said...

Here is another question:

Is there such a thing as an Alpha Female? We call them kick-ass heroines, why not Alpha Females?

alund said...

Heck, you've written some of the best Alpha Females around, starting with Marlena, T and Hell. Also, LInda Howard's Lilliane in Kiss Me While I Sleep.

Mo said...

@Jenn re: Alpha Females. Here's my problem with the term. An Alpha Male is a guy who takes maleness to an extreme, yes? So he is more sexy, more virile, more powerful, more male in the traditional characteristics of maleness. So, an Alpha Female then would be more a woman, more nurturing, more earth goddess, more mother, more sweet and sensitive and so on. And that is not what you mean. Now, you could go the wolf route and define an Alpha Female in human terms like one does an Alpha Female in wolf terms, but that also makes me think of motherhood as the Alpha Pair of a pack is the only pair that breeds. Sooooo I'm not sure how one would really define Alpha Female except that to me, that isn't necessarily defined by kick ass-ness.

Mo said...

OK - moving on to killing. Several ways to look at killing in a book. Is a protagonist doing the killing? Is the killing happening around them, as in they are trying to stop it or escape it? And of course, how graphic do you get? Make it too "off the page" and it lacks any emotional pull, put it all out there and we are grossed out. In description, to appeal to the broadest audience I'd go middle of the road and gloss over the nasty parts but make sure it happens on page.

As for characters killing, if it makes sense for the character in the context of the plot, then do it. I don't care if it's a woman or a man doing the killing. Just keep in plausible. A spy, soldier, cop, assassin who doesn't kill may as well be a homemaker.

Buuut, having said that, killing for no reason is never acceptable for a protagonist. You've lost me right there because that is not acceptable behavior period.

I don't think we should ever shy away from what and who a character is. Bond is a spy, a spy who kills, for example. Trying to make him into a nice guy is pointless. His job is not to be a nice guy. He uses people. In Jed, we see the emotional impact that can have on someone. Each character brings something different to the table; they have the same job. That's good characterization and highlights the differences in writing. I've read a lot of the James Bond books, not just seen the movies and the books are every bit as plot driven as the movies are. Jed is character driven. Huge difference in how you see the characters. For the record, I used to be a *huge* James Bond fan. The reboot sucks. I don't need a tortured James Bond, that's not who he is. Nothing wrong with him being exactly who he was.

Mo said...

Point of View: Like someone else said, you better have a darn good voice to pull off a 1st person POV. Otherwise, don't do it.

However, two other things about POV. I tend to identify with the guy's POV, even in romance and I like having both his and hers. It helps because I really like dramatic irony.

Gennita said...

Mo, your analysis of what Alpha Female means is thorough. I didn't think it through like you did. You're right, if Alpha Male means Extreme Male, then Alpha Female would be Mother Earth-type. I guess I was more literal, Alpha meaning Aggressive in this context. But I like your explanation better, so it has to stay Kick Ass Heroine, I guess.

Killing in a romantic suspense, especially done by any of the main characters, can't be gratuitous. If he/she is an assassin, there has to be a balance, something to make that character somewhat sympathetic. In a straight suspense, or one with romantic elements, I suspect the author still needs to give his readers something to like about his assassin, right?

For myself, writing a "kill" from a male POV is a challenge. On one hand, I want to be more callous/cold; OTOH, I don't want to turn off my readers who want to love this guy. :) It's even more difficult if the assassin is female because many readers can't take that in their romance. For myself, I'm fascinated with this dynamic, of having been trained to kill and yet still be human. That kind of moral tension is fascinating for me to write/explore.

Gennita said...


Yes, POV is tough. I don't mind it but it's also something many romance readers don't enjoy. Funny how mystery readers don't mind it. And Urban Fantasy fans definitely expect it. I don't know whether Bond would be that appealing if it's in first POV. Would he sound too cold with his seduction of women and disposal of them afterwards? Would he sound too remote with all those hightech toys? Don't know.

Gennita said...

Thanks for the compliment :). I like my heroines capable in their skills and of course, I want them to be just as good, if not better, spies against their male counterparts!

In romantic suspense, have you noticed the heroine is always in a protective role, less likely to kill? The female lawyer vs the male cop, for instance. The female info-analyst vs the male assassin spy. The female prisoner vs the male rescuer/military dude. I think it'd be interesting to throw in a female soldier vs a male civilian, but it's also going to be a tough proposal to sell :).

Mo said...

The male civilian better be an expert in some field, even if it's biology. hehehe

And Jenn, why would a guy spy killing necessarily be more callous and cold? I don't think that necessarily has to be the case. He may disagree with the fact that he has to kill his target, he may end up doing it messy because he can't bring himself to do it easy and it's too cold blooded. He may find himself in a moral and ethical dilemma that makes him want to keep the target alive to get more info, stop something larger.

In fact, I actually think the woman might kill more coldly because she may have to compartmentalize more. Her instinct is to nurture maybe so she kills more coldly to block out that instinct.

Just food for thought.

alund said...

I don't agree with Mo with regards to the Alpha females. When I think of Alphas, I immediately think of Alphas in the animal world. You'll find that in most pack animals there's always a male and female alpha. They are the leaders, providers and protectors of their pack. They are first in line to protect against predators and will fight to the death to protect their pack. Thus, for me, an Alpha Female spy is one who leads her group, protects and provides for them and the people she works for.


Send My Publisher A Nudge