Friday, January 6, 2012

Seekerville Welcomes Back Vince Mooney

A Guy Writing Romance...

What's so funny about that?

xxx
Photo Caption: ‘cognitive dissidence’:
Writing a Blaze in a Blizzard.


Seriously...

I write romantic comedy and meta-romances (romances about romances) because I don’t believe a man can actually write a genuine genre romance! (I consider imprints like Love Inspired and Harlequin Romance to be ideal examples of genuine genre romances. )

I won’t even read male romance authors.

“What’s the point”?

Since I read romances to gain insights into the machinations of the female mind, reading a male author would not make any sense. Of course, I’ve read one or two romances by male authors (with ambiguous pen names) but I believe I have always caught them out. It seems that with these authors I always have a, “No women would ever say this!”, experience.

A few males do write ‘romance-like’ novels, I’m thinking of Nicolas Sparks, but these attempts are a long way from being genuine genre romances.

Three Things Men Need to Know to Write Genuine Genre Romances
Men need to know:

1. what women want and find sexy in a hero.

2. what type of ‘romantic behavior’ women want and why this is so important.

3. how a female feels as she gradually becomes romantically interested in a male.
While the first point above may be difficult to ascertain, the knowledge is possible assuming that women want what women should want in a hero from the point of view of ‘natural selection’.

The second point is almost impossible for a man to discover without a through understanding of how women think and look at life. Since many men believe that the romantic behavior women prize so highly is mostly just ‘female silliness’, they are not in a position to learn what they need to know. The very idea of a ‘feminine mystique’ would seem to relieve men of the responsibility of even trying to understand women.

The third point is totally impossible. Men always know their exact state of interest in a female: there is no need for heat, curling toes, jelly knees or flip-flopping stomachs. In one sense, all these female sensations are foreign to a male.

Given these three levels of difficulty which a man faces in writing a genuine genre romance, I don’t think men can actually do it.

The Difference Between Men and Women and the Difference it Makes

While ‘Political Correctness’ would have us believe that there is very little difference between men and women (and what is different is a result of culture and not biology), men and women a polar opposites in some important ways.

Males are capable of fathering hundreds of children in a lifetime. Females are restricted to only a dozen or so children. In a biological sense, males have two approaches to successfully passing their genes to the next generation.

(1) Have as many sex partners as possible and hope enough of the offspring survive until they are old enough to reproduce.

(2) Stay with one (or just a few females) and help raise a far fewer number of offspring with the hope that a greater number will survive to reproduce themselves given this extra attention.

I believe that males have all the biological urges to follow choice (1) but social evolution has proven that option (2) seems to work best in insuring a male’s genes are passed to the next generation.

What Men Universally Want in a Female

It is easy to discern what men want in a female. A recent survey found that, in all societies on earth (with no exceptions) men prefer younger females with promenade secondary sexual characteristics. Such females look healthy and seem more able to have viable offspring which they will also have the stamina to care for after birth. (Males did not sit down one day and figure this out. Nature selected for males who just naturally favored maternal looking females.)

What Women Want in a Male is More Complicated.

I should point out that I’m not talking here about ‘wants’ as in the sense of, “I want a new purse.” I’m talking about ‘wants’ that are hardwired into the female mind. These are wants so basic that no thought and no language is required for them to be expressed.. It’s like being thirsty and wanting water. No language is necessary to feel thirsty. Indeed these ‘wants’ were in place long before man developed language.

What Women Should Want in a Mate from a Biological POV.

When I first started my study of the romance genre, I set out to discover what women wanted in a hero. To this end I conducted a ‘thought experiment’ similar to the philosophical analyses I was trained to conduct in college. Here is what I concluded women should instinctively seek in a mate.

1. A big, strong, healthy, alpha-male, who is older and more experienced and who is therefore more capable of acquiring resources. (Probably by being a good hunter). An older male has proven he has survived a few winters. A bigger older male would also be expected to be better able to defend his mate and any offspring. To do this well the male should also be very protective of his mate and offspring. (This should make protective behavior seem sexy to the female).

2. An intelligent male. Next to physical strength, health and courage, intelligence has a paramount survival value. All things being equal, the smarter individual has a better chance of survival. A female should find intelligence sexy in a man.

3. A male who is nice to and protective of children. If a female is going to pass her genes to the next generation, she needs her children to survive until they are old enough to reproduce. A female cannot depend on having hundreds of offspring. She must insure that her children are provided for. As such, females should find being ‘kind to children’ sexy in a man.

4. A man with a sense of humor. A sense of humor is very high on the survival list. Males are often very much stronger than females. If a male goes into a rage, he could easily kill his mate and offspring within minutes. A male with a sense of humor has a safety valve to let off steam and is less likely to go into a rage in the first place. Women should find having a good sense of humor to be sexy in a man.

Surveys Have Confirmed My Findings

Over the years there have been several surveys about what women find sexy in a man. In all the surveys, which I have read, all four of the attributes I have listed above have appeared in these studies. Since I came up with my list before I read any surveys on the topic, I believe my list is both logical and defendable from a biological POV.

The only item above not often found in romance heroes is the sense of humor. I do feel this is a major gap in romances which authors could exploit. This is why I have created a list of 108 ways to show your hero has a sense of humor. (Richard Castle in “Castle” has a very good sense of humor.)


Julie Lessman is doing a great job showing how to add humor to romances in her two part series on the subject. Part I has been posted with Part II still to come.

The Female Advantage

Female writers have a big advantage over male romance writers. A woman writer will always get the female part down correctly at even the deepest levels. Furthermore, the female writer does not have to get the male exactly ‘right’. All she has to do is get the male ‘right’ in the eyes of her female readers.

The Male Disadvantage

The male writer has to get the heroine ‘right’ and that is almost impossible to do at all three levels. His advantage in having insider knowledge of the male mind actually is not much help in writing romances. A lot of genuine male behavior is not particularly attractive to women.

What Difference these Differences Make

Men understand love better than women and women understand romance better than men.

I know many women will think this is statement is wrong but consider this:

Love is not a feeling. Pain is a feeling. If you experience a sharp pain, which only lasts a few seconds, you still know that you felt pain. There is no doubt.

However, if you have a sharp feeling of love, which only lasts a few seconds (and then goes away), you would not say that you experienced love or that you were in love for those few seconds. Love is very different from a feeling.

Men know that love is actually a ‘set of expectations’. Love is not a feeling that a man needs to get ‘in touch with’.

For example, if a man tells a woman, “I love you,” this action creates dozens, if not hundreds, of obligations.

Saying “I love you to a woman” means:

I will help you move when you change apartments.
I will take your side in disputes.
I will pick you up at the airport.
I will visit your parents.
I will go places with you that I don’t want to visit.
I will fix your car if I am capable of doing that.
I will not date other women.
I am open to the idea of marrying you.

The above list can run into hundreds of obligations. Each obligation is a reason why a man is very reluctant to say, “I love you”. Saying these three little words opens the door for the woman to say: “If you loved me, you’d…”.

The Test of Love

If you want to know if you are in love you don’t have to check with your emotions. Simply ask yourself if you are ready to do all the things a person in love is expected to do. (‘Runaway Brides’ may have felt they were in love but when they took the time to ask the right questions, they decided they were not in love.)

Women Know the Importance of Romance










Photo Caption: “Serious Romantic Behavior”


While level 1 reveals what women find sexy in a hero, level 2 is also crucial in selecting a mate.

A female knows that an alphamale is of little value if he deserts her and her offspring when a younger female attracts his attention. Romantic behavior is not ‘silly women’s stuff’’ – it’s a matter of survival. Romantic behavior has a strong biological basis. However, in most cases, romantic behavior is not important to a male.

“The Big Things You Have to Do – It’s the Small Things that Determine Your Sincerity”.

From the POV of ‘mother nature the male’s job is to provide the big things: food, shelter, clothing and protection. A male thinks providing these basics is enough in most cases. He sees little value in romantic behavior. Men often like this joke: the husband tells his new bring, “I love you and if I change my mind, I let you know.”

What Women Want From A Hero

It is almost a cliché to say that mothers have warned their daughters that ‘men are dogs’ and ‘all men are after just one thing’. Women are told not to believe men when it is probable that they are just trying to have their way with them. How can a woman be sure a man is really interested in her as a person and not as a sex object? This is a very important question from a biological POV. Survival requires that mates stay around.

The Accoutrements of Romance

Women want to be loved, cherished, respected, desired, appreciated, envied and even lusted after. A woman also wants her man to be loyal and supportive. She wants to be taken seriously. It is also important that her man’s passion be such that it can only be satisfied by her and not any available woman. This passionate fixation on just one woman, the heroine, is very romantic and it also carries a strong survival value.

Romantic Behavior as Evidence of Real Love:

Paying attention to a woman shows a genuine interest in her as a person. An authentic lover should be interested in all aspects of his woman’s life. (For example: her hair, her perfume, her wants and desires). It is romantic to notice that a woman has changed her hair style or perfume or mode of dress. Not noticing these changes may be a sign of lack of interest or caring. (It is also very unromantic.)

A man is not ordinarily worried that his wife is going to run off and leave him with the kids. He doesn’t need or ask for romantic reassurances.

Romances Provide What Women Want

Romances are not primarily read to find out how the story ends. Romance readers know how the story is going to end. Romances are more like comfort food. Romance novels vicariously provide the female reader with the ‘romantic feelings’ she needs and may not be getting. Romances are like emotional vitamins. I believe romance novels are very healthy for women.

By vicariously becoming the heroine in a romance, the reader can experience the feelings of being loved, desired, cherished, respected, successful, envied and sexy. Unfortunately, as in eating chocolate, these comfort feelings wear off in a rather short time. The reader soon develops a craving for another romance. Indeed: romances can become addictive. The best romances writers know this and make concretive efforts to provide the reader with an abundance of these vicarious experiences.
(Consider all the scenes where other women look at the hero with envious eyes much to the joy of the heroine.)

The Importance of Respect

Respectful behavior is romantic. In modern romances it has become important to show that the hero is willing to stop at any point in the love making process. His respect for the heroine is stronger than any lust he is feeling at the time. Even more romantic is the hero who puts the heroine’s pleasure first. This is treating the female as being even more important than himself.

Sincerity Is More Important than the Behavior

Men don’t think much about romantic behavior. They don’t need it themselves. What little romantic actions they perform, they often do out of a sense of duty.

What men don’t understand is that if a woman has to ask for romance, (calling in the middle of the day just to say ‘I love you’) the romantic behavior by itself has no value as a genuine indication of affection.

Conclusion:

Women are so good at writing romances that men have very little chance of competing with them at the level of being published.

Examples of Romantic Behavior:

The Price of Victory” by Sandra Leesmith is one of the most ‘romantic’ books I’ve ever read. The hero does dozens of romantic things for the heroine because he is deeply in love with her. He is older and he knows what he wants.

From “The Price of Victory”

The heroine, Debra, thinks she cannot love Sterling, the hero, and still have a racing career. She is young and dedicated to her career.

The hero speaks:

“Being with me is right. Continuing your training is right. You’re trying to put logic into what your heart feels. That’s why you feel disoriented. What you need is to bring your heart into your mind.”

He brushed away her tear with a corner of her towel.

She looked deeply into his eyes, searching for the truth he always seemed to have at his fingertips. “I don’t understand.”

His smile warmed the chill inside. He guided her off the trainer and began walking with her around the room. “Tell me what you don’t understand.”

“How do you know all these things? How can you be so patient?”

“I’ve lived my dream. I’ve accomplished what I wanted to in racing. So I’m ready for other things.” He paused and pulled her around to face him. “You are just beginning. You must follow your own dreams. I understand that.”

“I know. Basically, that’s what I have been doing.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“What is it you truly desire? That is what you need to focus on.”

Sterling is a solid gold hero.


From “Yuletide Hearts” by Ruth Logan Herne.

“Callie snorted. Very unfeminine, but then that was the story of her life. Unloved. Unfeminine. Uncherished.”

In these few words we find the foundation of so much of the hero’s romantic actions. The hero, Matt, a former Marine, does all the things that Callie needs: he makes her feel feminine, loved, and cherished at many points in the story. He treats her son like is own but the piece de resistance is when Callie discovers he bought a $500 quilt that the family lost in their financial collapse.

Callie’s father Hank explains:

“Then things went bad and I couldn’t pay for the blanket, Maude hung on to it, and I went into town the other day to buy it.
“What’s this got to do with…”
“It was gone,” Hank continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “Matt bought it for you. Maude said she wrapped it up real pretty. Said she knew he was smitten weeks ago and told him about the quilt, and he told her he was going to be sure Callie had the best Christmas ever.”

Tears pricked her eyes, but they were different tears. Tears of anticipation and hope, not anger. “He bought it for me?”

Matt is a true hero



The Sweetest Gift” by Mary Connealy.

In this story, the hero is Graham a farmer and the heroine is Addie.

In the story the hero gives up what is very most important to him in order to give his new bride what is most valuable to her. This is about as romantic as it gets.







From “Oklahoma Reunion” by Tina Radcliffe

Kait is the heroine and Ryan is the hero. They are at a wedding reception for the hero and heroine of the last book,“ The Rancher’s Reunion.”

All eyes turned to him, but his gaze was on Kait.
She shivered again and wrapped her shawl closer around her arms.
Was it the breeze from the open tent flap, or was it Ryan’s eyes upon
her, his heart there for everyone to see?
“Today we are gathered to honor Annie and Will."
“Life is a short journey. If you can’t spend all your time riding your horse, you may as well spend it loving well. It’s not a surprise that guys have plenty discussions about life and love. But as you probably already guessed, we don’t know a darn thing about any of those topics, except the horse part.”

I don’t think I could have said it better, ‘we don’t know a darn thing about any of those topics.” And that’s why men don’t write romances. QED

What examples do you have or that you thought really stood out as ideal romantic behavior? Please share.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In honor of Vince's visit to Seekerville, we're giving away a Seeker book prize package to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

145 comments:

Walt Mussell said...

Vince, I feel like you've laid down the gauntlet. :-)

Tina Radcliffe said...

I'm a girl and even I feel like he laid down the gauntlet.

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

*SMACK*

I got smacked with the gauntlet! HA!

Actually Vince, good food for thought...
And I agree with many of your conclusions right off the bat... er... gauntlet.

Ephesians 5 comes to mind.

Walt Mussell said...

OK, if the woman feel it, then I know I'm not having just a typical male competitive reaction.

Ausjenny said...

You know my favourite author is Gilbert Morris, I guess he doesn't write purely romance books but there is romance in the books. I actually like his style cos it has more depth in it. but he does the story well. I believe he has writer either a LI or a heartsong presents book.
Walt I feel the gauntlet was laid down too.
Interesting post with good points.

Janet Kerr said...

Wow Vince,
This one is a keeper! You have given so much information here.
Humor & Romance....what could be better.
Thanks so much for the effort you put into this post!

Jan K.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I suspect we are going to have to ask Captain Jack his opinion...

OH, JACK!!!

Vince said...

WOW!

I’m not sure throwing down a Gauntlet is a good thing. What if someone takes up the glove?

I going to be very nice. No one has to agree with me. Just let me know where you differ and things could be very interesting. I hope this is a lot of fun.

BTW: I didn’t say anything controversial, did I?

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

I’d love to hear what Captain Jack has to say. I hope he comes by today.

Also, I’d like to hear from all the male authors at Love Inspired, Presents, and Harlequin Romance.

Vince

Melissa Jagears said...

Oh my, Vince, you've helped me!! Strangely, neither my hubby or I follow the stereotype very well. I'm more likely to say "I told you I loved you when we were married, I'll tell you if it changes," and he wishes I were romantic, etc. Though I can be girly in some aspects, we think it's hilarious that I write romance.

But your emotional vitamin analogy is very similar to why I believe I write it. I know that I'm not a typical girl emotionally/romantically and I used reading romances as what I called therapy. I upped my "therapy" and now am writing them.

So this all out logicalness of what is romance makes so much sense. I can use it!

And hubby is soooooo reading:

"What men don’t understand is that if a woman has to ask for romance, (calling in the middle of the day just to say ‘I love you’) the romantic behavior by itself has no value as a genuine indication of affection."

Coming from a guy, maybe he'll believe me!! :)

However, you'd have to take "romance" out of that paragraph and put "obligations". I prefer that list of obligations you wrote than that romance nonsense.

My poor hubby, he has this wealth of what girls want and he got stuck with me.

And I just followed your blog, love your lists, they should help this poor unromantic female try to compete with the females writing in my genre. Hmmm, maybe I should stear clear of "genuine genre romance."

Anyway, loved your post if you couldn't tell. :)

Virginia said...

OOO, there should be some really good debates on here. But before I read the other posts I have to say...

"A woman writer will always get the female part down correctly at even the deepest levels."

Um, no. I JUST read a book (author will remain anonymous) who had a great lot, great writing, great characters. The heroine cried so much (into the shirt front of the hero) that the author could have done away with the villain because I wanted to stab her MYSELF. :) She was whiney, whimpy, and wishy-washy. The hero was all right, but apparently needed some drama in his life.

Virginia said...

Oh, loving these comments! Too funny.

But I also have to say it was a great post because the cold and clinical way that Vince looked at romance books. I'm sure there's a psych class out there somewhere that is already giving credits for this kind of work! Good job on aanalyzing all that data.

Virginia said...

P.S. I'm not being mean, it just made me laugh...

Typo: Promenade secondary sex charactistics

That should be 'prominent'... but 'promenade' gave me a great mental image of a buxom blonde sashaying down the street. :)

Kara said...

Wow, this article was hilarious! The only male author I could think of for romance novels was Nicholas Sparks. Don't know how he does it, but he gets how to write about women and emotions and even though they're usually sad he writes SO WELL.

My notion of romance has changed over the years, especially for books. I used to think buying a woman flowers or jewelry was the most romantic thing ever; now I appreciate long term romance and that has more to do with the guy being in tune to what his woman wants and being mature enough to appreciate her.

Loved the article and I'm learning a lot from all of these perspectives :) Have a great weekend, Seekerville, and thanks for so many chances to win books!
Blessings!

Cindy W. said...

Oh wow Vince, your post is definitely a keeper. I was introduced to Kevin Alan Milne's writing this past year & he does some good romance & humor.

Thanks for sharing Vince!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

karenk said...

wow, vince....
i'm speechless!

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Tina Radcliffe said...

Kevin Alan Milne, will have to look him up, Cindy~!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I've read some Walt Mussel and he does a good job as well.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yes! Melissa is right, your blog is a PLETHORA of wonderful lists.

Check out Philosophy of Romance when you get a chance, folks.


Okay I brought whole wheat bagels and cream cheese and fruit. Trying to be calories conscious.

Annie Rains said...

Thank you for the post, Vince. I'm going to have to re-read to absorb it all.

You asked for examples of romance. I'm going to mention one of my favorite movies instead of a book (although there is a book and I've never read it). The movie Sense and Sensibility just rocks my world everytime I watch it. Also, While You Were Sleeping and When Harry Met Sally. These movies just spark my need to create romantic fiction everytime I watch them.

Again, thanks, Vince for your wonderful post. Now time to re-read.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Wow Vince, Love the post and thanks for the kudos for my hero in Price of Victory. Thanks for sharing with us. You're a very courageous male. A real hero. smile

I think you bring up many important points but they are only the surface. Our hard-wiring, both male and female is deep and makes you truly believe in God because who else could do this?

I actually enjoy many male authors and I guess its the romantic female in me loving the protective alpha males they create. LOL So see- you do make a valid point.

My question is: Can females write good male characters? You mentioned it doesn't matter in romances, but what if you're writing other genres?

An example of romance. My hubby used to bicycle to work and he bicycled through the Japanese flower gardens. One day he stopped at one of the selling stalls and asked the lady for water. She talked him into buying flowers for me. Well, it was such an out-of-character gesture when hubby brought them home and I'd had a rough day. Well let's just say that the reward he got was so high on his list of wants that he started bringing me home flowers every week. LOL I have to say, it is very romantic.

I love how you analyze reading romance to a vitamin. That sure is true for me. A romance will pick me up quicker than a nap. Now I know why. chuckle

Speaking of pick-me ups. To go with Tina's bagel's and cream cheese, I brought a tray of smoked salmon and also a selection of flavored cream cheeses. Our oranges are ripening up now so I have a huge bowl of sliced oranges sprinkled with walnuts and coconut. yum.

Oh and don't tell Tina and Ruthy who for some reason are trying to stay healthy, but I have brought a tray of chocolates. shhhhhhh

Pepper said...

WOW, what an amazing post! Thanks for all the deep insight, Vince.

Love is an action, Vince so true.
It's the core.
But women dress up the action with romance.

Great examples too :-)

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Wow, I should have read this post first thing this morning and I wouldn't have needed my coffee!

I feel the same way about Nicholas Sparks as I do when I watch George Clooney in movies. I see him and think, as I did with The Descendants, "George is doing a great job with this character" rather than "this is a great story.
I read Sparks and think "ahhh, a guy writing romance, how wonderful." That is part of his appeal. Whether he is mimicking what women writers know or truly knows it himself, I can't get away from the fact he is,well, a guy writing.

I am currently wondering if the gauntlet is made of armor-plate or lace.

Thanks for a thought provoking post!

Peace, Julie

Pam Hillman said...

Vince, what a wonderful post! I'm only half-way through and just had to stop and comment on this:

"A lot of genuine male behavior is not particularly attractive to women."

Ya think? lol

I know you didn't mean your post to be funny, but I'm grinning from ear to ear. This just tickled my funny-bone to no end.

Off to read the rest of your post.

Linnette R Mullin said...

Here's one of my favorite Beth scenes:

Beth shook her head and walked down the hall. She stepped into the den and stopped dead in her tracks. Her mouth dropped open and her eyes went wide – her heart pounding.

“Are you going to stand there gawking at me or are you going to come say hello?”

Her face broke into a huge smile. She flew herself across the room and straight into Adam’s arms. He picked her up and whirled her around. Sheer delight ballooned in her chest and laughter spilled out of her. What a gift!

When he set her down, she drank in the sight of him. “When did you get here? And why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”

He grinned. “I just walked in the door a few minutes ago. It was your mom’s idea to surprise you. Mike had a delivery to make and I couldn’t stand not seeing you when I had the opportunity to. Mike had plans to see Tiffany and asked if I’d like him to drop me off. He literally called me thirty minutes before we hit the air. He was already running the checks when I got there and climbed in. When I called the house, your mom answered and said I should surprise you.”

She still couldn’t believe her eyes. “Well, it’s the nicest surprise I’ve ever received.” She laughed.

He cradled her face and grew earnest. “I’ve missed you.”

She gave him a coy look. “You have? You’ve only talked to me every day for the past two months.”

Adam grinned at her. “I know what you’re doing.”

“You do?” She arched her eyebrows.

He grew serious. “Yes. I do.”

Ut-oh. Her smile faded. Maybe teasing him wasn’t such a good idea.

He drew her closer. His voice grew husky. “Beth Gallagher. I do believe you’re flirting with me.”

Her heart pounded. “Me? Flirt with you? Why would I do that?” She mustered her most innocent look.

He draped an arm around her waist and then tucked her hair behind her ear before cradling the back of her head. “Maybe because you want a kiss.”

Her heart tripped. Her breathing became shallow. Did he realize the kind of effect he had on her?

“Maybe I do.” Her voice came out whispery.

His smile turned tender. His gaze locked on her. He lowered his head agonizingly slow and captured her lips with his. For one long blissful moment, she forgot the world around her. Nothing existed except Adam and his heart-stopping, bone-melting kiss.

When he pulled away, she wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head against his chest. The steady beat of his heart soothed her, comforted her, leant her a sense of security she’d forgotten existed.

“I missed you, too.”

He held her a moment longer and then gave her a gentle squeeze.
“Now. How about those cookies and milk?”

She looked up at him and gave him a cheeky grin. “You and your stomach.”

They laughed as they settled onto her mom’s rose printed couch.

Linnette R Mullin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam Hillman said...

Melissa J, I'm the same way, more analytical than emotional/demonstrative.

DH hasn't said so, but he probably wonders why I write romance too!

Too funny.

Bridgett Henson said...

Hi Vince. Deep stuff this morning. While writing, I try to crawl inside the head of my male characters. Mostly I see emptiness. Not because men are brainless but I have a problem understanding their thought process. Your post helps. Thanks.

While Nicholas Sparks writes a good story, I've never known him to dive deep into a woman's consciousness.

Sandra, pass the chocolate. I've had enough grapefruit to last a lifetime.

Joanne Sher said...

Absolutely FASCINATING post - with so much to ponder. Just WOW. Feel like I need to read it over and over.

wfnren said...

Great interview, you don't think about this aspect too often. Thank you!

wfnren(at)aol(dot)com
wrensthoughts.blogspot.com

Jeanne T said...

Wow, Vince, you packed a lot into this post. I'm going to have to go back and re-read. And re-read. :) Thanks for putting time and research into this. I chuckled through parts of it. I appreciate your dry humor.

Loved how you showed the innate differences between men and women, how we perceive love and think. Thanks for sharing the examples from books here. Also, thanks for the list of 108 ways to show your hero has a sense of humor. I need this. :)

Liked your captions beneath your pictures.

PS--Don't tell Ruthy, but I'm bringing chocolate chocolate chip brownies, fresh out of the oven.

Linnette R Mullin said...

So, I just noticed that I'm the only one who left an example. Anybody else going to share?

Loving all the comments. There's so much in this post. I think I need to read it again and glean as much from it as I can. Vince, you are so right on about many of the male/female differences.

As to the man's love/womans' romance needs - Men work hard to provide and that is how they say "I love you." While women would feel neglected if the man didn't provide, if all he ever does is work and doesn't have time for her to meet her emotional and spiritual needs, the relationship shrivels. A woman's needs are so much more than just the physical.

I find it interesting that when a man courts a woman, he knows all the stuff to do. But once married a lot of that stuff goes by the way-side. I don't understand why a man sees the need to do thoughtful things and treat his lady like she's a princess before the vows, but afterward they are no longer necessary. If anything, they are more necessary. A man should never stop courting his woman. I think that's why so many women are starting to cheat on their husbands. They need that emotional/spiritual connection to continue. Like you said, its a want/need that is hard-wired into women just like physical thirst.

Another difference in how we say "I love you" - while men do act on lust, they really do say "I love you" with sex. But for a woman, if the only time she is touched by her spouse is during sex, she feels cheap and used - the total opposite of loved.

Very good stuff! Thanks for sharing, Vince! :D

Jan Drexler said...

Great post, Vince!

The only point I would want to add is that not all women can write for all women, just as not all male writers will please all men (will my husband read Nicholas Sparks? No way.)

Just like Virginia said, some women write wimpy heroines (they turn me off as well, Virginia!). Some women also write very domineering heroines - another thing that turns me off. But there are women readers who love both those extremes.

Give me an alpha male who is in touch with what his woman likes, and a heroine who isn't afraid to ask for it, and you've got me every time. Both hero and heroine should have some part of them that isn't finished until they are completed by the other one. The two of them together are better as a couple than they ever would be apart.

And give that hero a dash of humor, a whole lot of tender, wrap it up in honor, and you have a winner as far as I'm concerned :)

Sandra, thanks for bringing the chocolate. I don't care what time of year it is, my day just isn't complete without it!

pol said...

Oh My I am a reader and not a writer but this post is wonderful so full of great stuff, never judge a book by its cover.
Thanks Vince, I just bet you have had a great life with the ladies.
I am going to re-read this because just skimming is not good enough.
Paula O
(Kyflo130@yahoo.com)

Julie Lessman said...

OH, WOW, VINCE ... where to begin?!!! This is hands-down one of the meatiest posts I have ever read and should be offered as a course. In fact, if I were you, I'd submit a proposal to ACFW to teach a workshop next year as it is too late for this year. But, Mr. Mooney -- you definitely have a teaching gift for detail and deep analysis.

Regarding your point 1. what women want and find sexy in a hero.

OH MY, this is SOOO very important to analyze, which is one of the reasons Ruth Axtell Morren and I pitched a workshop on this very subject to ACFW this year entitled, "From Sweet to Swoon -- Ramping Up
the Sigh Factor in our Heroes!" in which we talk about how we can take our heroes from ho-hum to hot! :) I don't know if it will be accepted by ACFW or not, but it's always worth a shot and if we don't get accepted, I will definitely use it as a Seeker blog in the future.

Your point 2. what type of ‘romantic behavior’ women want and why this is so important.

OH MAN, is this crucial!! In my romantic scenes I put EVERYTHING in that I personally as a woman would want in a romantic interlude, and it tickled me when I received an e-mail, not from one of my reader friends, but from her boyfriend!! He told me that he's been friends with this girl he likes for years and wanted to go beyond friendship. Apparently she handed A Passion Most Pure to him and told him to read it before she would even consider a deeper relationship with him because she wanted the same kind of relationships she saw in my book, with God in the middle, etc. This poor guy actually read it and said it wasn't as bad as he feared and actually liked it, but I doubt that romance will become his genre anytime soon!! How I wish men would use romance novels as a learning manual for what women want!!

Already too long here, but I blame it on you, Vince, because you have given us SOOOO much incredible info today, so THANK YOU!!

Hugs,
Julie

Vince said...

Hi Virginia:

I knew that my saying the below would cause problems:

"A woman writer will always get the female part down correctly at even the deepest levels."

I didn’t intend to mean that all women would write romances well but that they would not write things that a woman would never say as a man will at times. That’s all. After all, it is women writers who wrote all those TSTL heroines. You don’t see too many TSTL heroines today, do you?

Women will always get what they want in romances. They vote with their dollars and they eventually get what they want. That’s why romances are so important and worthy of serious study.

Thanks for your comment.

Vince

Susan Anne Mason said...

Wow, Vince. Awesome post!

Now I know why I'm addicted to romance in any genre - books, movies, music. It's the VITAMIN thing!! Because trust me - I got ZERO romance at home. My husband didn't even celebrate our 25th anniversary - not even one rose! I don't think I spoke to him for a month. (Don't think he noticed much though.)

And Linette, your comments are so true! You said:
"I find it interesting that when a man courts a woman, he knows all the stuff to do. But once married a lot of that stuff goes by the way-side. I don't understand why a man sees the need to do thoughtful things and treat his lady like she's a princess before the vows, but afterward they are no longer necessary. If anything, they are more necessary. A man should never stop courting his woman."

Why don't guys get this? My girlfriend and I were just discussing this topic the other day and fantasizing about the 'perfect mate'. Again, that's why we read and write romance novels.

You are a man of vision, Vince. You have a lucky wife!

Cheers,
Sue
sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Susan Anne Mason said...

Oh, have to share my daughter's romantic moment from last Valentine's day. Her boyfriend didn't have enough money to buy her something for Valentines, so he SOLD THE SPEAKERS out of his BELOVED CAR to get the money for flowers!

SIGH! I was a teensy bit jealous - must admit. She felt horribly guilty but I thought it was one of the most romantic things I'd heard of. Might have to put it in a book one day!

Sue

Vince said...

Hi Virginia:

This was too funny!

You wrote:

'Promenade secondary sex characteristics’

"That should be 'prominent'... but 'promenade' gave me a great mental image of a buxom blonde sashaying down the street. :)

Great minds! I think I was seeing that same buxom blonde when my spelling checker changed my misspelled ‘prominent’ to ‘promenade’".

Vince

Julie Lessman said...

Vince honey, this isn't a "gauntlet," this is an anchor -- a 900-lb. one that sinks anybody else's chance at being as thorough!! And I'll tell you right now that your humor list of 108 points makes me look like a hack, you little brat!! :) Don't be surprised if I use one or two in my next blog ... with your permission, of course!!

LOVE the analogy for "wants" being "hardwired" into the female mind: "It’s like being thirsty and wanting water. No language is necessary to feel thirsty." LOL!! Soooo true.

And your concept that what a woman wants in a hero is "an older male has proven he has survived a few winters" is too cute and pretty much fits the Bad-Boy idea of a guy who is very experienced.

LOL over your statement that "A lot of genuine male behavior is not particularly attractive to women." I am actually one of the few women I know who finds obnoxious male attributes or habits endearing (i. e. not answering a question because he'staring at a football game in a trance like a zombie or the little grunts he makes when he's snoring (as long as I have ear plugs)), which tells me I truly do love the male species in just about any form -- a very good thing for a romance writer!! :)

WOW ... your statement that "It is also important that her man’s passion be such that it can only be satisfied by her and not any available woman" is dead-on and one of the reasons that Gone With the Wind reeled me in at such an early age. To see a man like Rhett who was not the "marrying kind" marry Scarlett because he had to have her and never waited for a woman longer than her just spoke VOLUMES to me, even at the age of 12. To be so cherished and treasured and desired by a man that no other woman could tie him down is SOOOOO romantic!!

Love, love, LOVE the statements that "Romances are more like comfort food. Romance novels vicariously provide the female reader with the ‘romantic feelings’ she needs and may not be getting. Romances are like emotional vitamins. I believe romance novels are very healthy for women."

AMEN AND AMEN, BROTHER -- PREACH IT!!

FABULOUS POST, VINCE -- YOU ROCK!!

Hugs,
julie

Valri said...

Vince, great comments! My husband is one of those who tells me he loves me all the time but he also shows me in a hundred ways and I can see that by reading your post too! For men and women, there are verbal ways and non-verbal ways of "romance"! Both are important! In books, I like both! Thanks for visiting Seekerville and sharing today!

westernaz@msn.com

Diana Dart said...

Man (uh, no pun intended), this post was chock full of aha moments. In my writing, in my marriage, in my role as a momma to 2 boys...

My biggest struggle with romance (reading AND writing it) is the realism. If the characters can't be "real," then I'm not buying it. If I'm not buying it, then I'm not feeling it either. Having men write romance brings a new level of realism to the table. Does that make sense?

Hubs and I have A LOT to talk about tonite!!! Thanks, Vince.

Vince said...

Hi Melissa & Pam:

I don’t believe you have to be especially romantic to write excellent romances.

Indeed: the outsider often sees best what is going on within the insider group. Most good comedians were outsiders. (The fish outside the fishbowl can see things far better than the fish on the inside.)

I even think that for some writers, not all, it might be an advantage not to be too romantic in your personal life. A true, everyday, romantic woman might take things for granted that really should have been shown to the reader.

In short: I don’t think it is important for a romance writer to be particularly romantic in her person life but it is important to be a female. : )


Vince

Myra Johnson said...

Wow, Vince! You covered it all! Fascinating post--and fascinating follow-up discussion!

Linnette, you really nailed this one: "I find it interesting that when a man courts a woman, he knows all the stuff to do. But once married a lot of that stuff goes by the way-side."

My hubby and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage later this year, and we're still at loggerheads on the whole "woman needs romance like a vitamin" issue. He tries, bless his heart, but ... what can I say?

Nancy Kimball said...

What a fabulous post.

I so agree on the sense of humor part and have realized you are dead on there. One of my favorite moments in Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is when Angel asks Michael "Have you lusted after many women in your lifetime?"
Michael looks her up and down (she's his wife, btw, though she didn't know it for a few days) and says with a rueful grin "It does plague me on occasion." I also think it's why I love Ruthy's books so much.

One of my husband's finest moments in our marriage wasn't the surprise getaway weekends, flowers and gifts, though those were awesome. It was making a thirty minute drive in ten minutes and finding me when I got lost on the bus line in a bad part of town... with no cell phone. So I'm inclined to fully embrace the natural selection aspect. ;-)

And I'm with Melissa. I write the heroes I want now because the ones out there were great when you'd find them but not my "soul mate" literary heroes. And oh it's just as much fun to write them as to read them, and the experience is so different.

Linette, I'm probably going to open a Pandora box here, but I agree that while romantic behavior falls off on the part of the men, I'd argue it's in correlation to the way the woman's concern for her appearance and how well she takes care of and presents herself diminishes. If women are going to use the "he should love me no matter what now that we're married" argument, we have to be willing to have it turned on us too. I absolutely believe in unconditional love, particularly in marriage, but we have to be willing to give as good as we expect. In my humble opinion. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Oh, one more thing. I SO loved this:
"A lot of genuine male behavior is not particularly attractive to women."

It's funny because it's true and yet I'm a reader who does like that, because with a brother, guy friends, and a very open husband, I already know what's not being said on the page so it's refreshing to see it when it is and I feel I'm looking at a more rounded character. It's why I write my heroes that way. And please enter me in the drawing for the Seeker books. I'll pay better attention if I win, Tina ;-)

nancykimball@ hotmail dot com

LyndeeH said...

Hi Vince,
So much information! Thanks especially for the tips on giving the hero a sense of humor. For me, that's probably one of the hardest aspects to add, but it really expands the character and storyline. Fun post!

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

I read Walt’s book and it is very good. I enjoyed reading it. Men can write about a romance but I believe that they can’t write the emotional type of genre romances that you find in Love Inspired novels.

I believe that Walt’s book is clearly written by a man. He’s not trying to write like a female. A male writer, by the way, is much more likely to use external events, like car crashes, to move the romance along rather than create the step-by-step, difficult and messy, emotional process that shows a woman falling in love. (This process is what I really like in a romance.)


I am often jarred when reading Nicolas Sparks because he will do some things that he thinks women will think are romantic but he get’s it wrong. I wish I had the examples. Some are really funny. It’s like he took some ideas out of genre romances and put them in his book, like adding spices to soup, simply to be romantic.

(I once put cinnamon by mistake in a pot roast and everyone noted it with their first bite. “What is cinnamon doing in this?” I get that ‘cinnamon’ feeling every so often with Sparks.)

Vince

Janet Dean said...

Wow, Vince, your post is full of excellent points on writing romance! You understand the difference between men and women.
I'd think that insight into what women want in a romance would enable a man to write a topnotch romance. I just finished Dan Walsh's Remembering Christmas. I loved how Dan took a jerky hero and transformed him into a man the heroine could respect and love.

Thanks for the wonderful Seeker excerpts with heroes who know what their women want.

Thanks for the chocolate, Sandra!

Janet

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Again. Glad you all are liking the chocolate. smile

Nancy, you have a point.

I took a Bible study class one time about being a godly wife. And it turned our marriage around. I used to complain about the socks on the floor, the chores not done, etc. to no avail.

Then I started making the sacrifices and submitting--not as a doormat mind you, but by putting his needs before mine. What a difference. All of a sudden without me saying a word, his socks were put away, his chores getting done.

In other words, if you work at pleasing their needs it inspires them to work at pleasing yours.

Something I don't always do well, but trying is fun. And it does help to have a sense of humor as Vince says.

Anonymous said...

Vince, you are so right on Nicholas Sparks, I enjoy reading him, but clearly he is writing male POV even when he is female.

Anonymous said...

Okay that last comment was from me.

Tina Radcliffe

Vince said...

Vicarious Feelings Are Real

Humans don’t have two different emotional systems. A vicarious feeling of being loved is the same as the real feeling of being loved – at least while it is being felt.

A story:

When I was in the Air Force I kicked a field goal that won a football game. That was one of the emotional high points of my life. Just thinking about it makes me feel good.

A few years after I left the Air Force, I was watching my football team on TV while alone in my apartment. In the last seconds of the game my team tried a field goal to win the game. As the kicker got ready to kick the ball, I did the same in my apartment. When the kicker ran up to kick the ball, so did I. He made the goal! We won the game! And I felt the same exact feelings I felt when I actually did kick a game winning field goal. I was elated and joyful. I was jumping up and down looking for teammates to hug!

Do you think this is why men are so into sports? Do you think men like feeling like heroes? Those vicarious feelings of victory are real and they are addictive.

Being a hero in Louis L’Amour books gives the male reader lots of good manly feelings. In a way, westerns are male romances.

All humans should experience feelings of love and of being cherished. I think romances that do this well are very healthy. There is always the alternate of alcohol and drugs and dangerous behavior.

In a way, it is sad that women, who have been underappreciated throughout history, still do not have their much loved romance genre given proper respect – the respect it deserves.

Women may have come a long way but I don’t think they will have arrived until the romance genre is taken as seriously as every other genre.

Vince

Anonymous said...

Susan, I agree, write that down on an index card and use that for a book. Wonderfully romantic.

Tina Radcliffe

Vince said...

Hi Diana:

I like what you said here:

“Having men write romance brings a new level of realism to the table. Does that make sense?”

It makes sense if women like that kind of realism. I don’t think hearing some men talk about women in the locker room would be any more romantic than men hearing women talk about their dates in very graphic terms.

It’s the genre and reader expectations that helps form what counts as ‘realism’.

But a true male genre romance, which shows the workings of the male mind as he falls in love and contemplates if he is ready to say ‘I love you’, would be very interesting. I'm pretty sure men would not read this type of story and I’m not sure women would like it as well as their own romances. A good test would be a first person, hero point of view, romance. Unfortunately a male will probably have a lot of unromantic thoughts as he considers the merits of the heroine as a wife.

I would like to see someone try this. It is a very thoughtful observation.

Thanks for your insights.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Nancy:

This is so true:

”It's funny because it's true and yet I'm a reader who does like that, because with a brother, guy friends, and a very open husband, I already know what's not being said on the page so it's refreshing to see it when it is and I feel I'm looking at a more rounded character. It's why I write my heroes that way.”

It is this type of perspective that gives an author a unique voice. Write the book so that only you could have written it. Oh, yes!

Thanks for your comments.

Vince

Nancy Kimball said...

Sandra,
I agree. Once I gave up trying to change him and started doing what the bible said I was supposed to do, it made a big difference in me. For the better. In all my relationships. =)

Thank you, Vince.
One of my favorite moments in my first MS is when the hero awakens to his master's mistress whose cared for him while he suffered opium withdrawal and right there in his narrative is She was still the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. A face even Valentina would envy.
The thing is, he's very much in love and engaged to another woman at this time. But his true love isn't the most physically attractive character by far. That moment raised some hackles in critique but it's honest and just how I write.

Vince said...

Hi Nancy:

I’ve been thinking about your comment below:

”Linette, I'm probably going to open a Pandora box here, but I agree that while romantic behavior falls off on the part of the men, I'd argue it's in correlation to the way the woman's concern for her appearance and how well she takes care of and presents herself diminishes.”

While I think the woman plays a part in the fall off of romantic behavior after marriage, I also think it is only a small part.

I believe mothers have some blame here. My mother had three boys. She was always telling us, “How do you expect to get a wife if you do a, b, or c”. We were always being taught to be gentlemen: to hold doors open, to pull the chairs out for the lady, and so on. We had to study hard in school and be successful. A wife was a prize to be won! You had to be worthy to get a wife.

Men are hunters. They study their game, they plan their hunt, they expend the energy, they cooperate when necessary…but once they capture the game, they are not too interested in it as a hunt any longer. The hunt is over.

I think this ‘hunt’ approach is hard for even the best of women to overcome. Romantic behavior does not come naturally to many men. Once it is over, and the tuxedo is brought back, there is a sigh of relief. It becomes time for a man to get back to the business of fighting the world.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Annie:

You mentioned two of my favorite movies: “Sense and Sensibility” and “When Harry Meet Sally”.

I also love the part of ‘Annie Hall’ where at the end a high school group is putting on the play about ‘Annie’ that Woody wrote and he changes the ending to make it romantic. (Of course, life isn’t like that Woody would say but in romances it is like that and that is romantic.)

Good movie choices. Thanks for your comments.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi KC:

I liked your quote from Ephesians 5. Especially this part:

“…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything…”

This reminds me that even secular romances are very positive. And that’s good.

Thanks for your comments. I hope all is well with May and the horses and of course your hero.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

I think I cannot not do humor. This post may be more humorous than I intended.

As a graduate student I was once in a very formal logic class and I said this:

“When Shakesphere wrote: 'There is something rotten in the state of Denmark.' he did not literally mean

that:

1. there was something x
2. such that x was in Denmark
3. and that x was rotten.

This was an example about idioms and everyone laughed so hard that we disturbed the very serious metaphysics seminar going on in the next room.

Funny is as funny does.

Thanks for your comments.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Jenny:

I have not read Gilbert Morris but I have him on my “To Be Heard” list of books on tape. I know he is very good but I’ve always thought of him as an inspirational writer rather than a romance author. I will have to check him out and see what he’s done.

Thanks for you comments.

Vince

P.S. I thought Nevil Shute wrote a great romance in “Requieme for a WREN” but it was ‘romantic’ with a sad ending and not a romance. That is one of my favorite romances ever.

PatriciaW said...

Hi Vince! Have to agree with Julie. Definitely an anchor.

There's so much here. I've already read it once, skimmed it once, and still feel as though I missed 3/4 of what you have to say. But this is a definite keeper.

I love this line: "Men understand love better than women and women understand romance better than men." So good I had to tweet it with a link.

Vince said...

Hi Kara:

I too believe that what counts as ‘romantic behavior’ will change over time. At the start you don’t know the other person as well and men at least stick to the conventional symbols of romance.

In one sense, conventional romantic behavior is a residue of the old fashion courting procedure. (I enjoy reading about the formal courting procedure in Amish romances.)

When you know a person well, there are many more ways to demonstrate your feelings. I find it very romantic to do things for my wife that she didn’t ask me to do and that she has no expectation that I would do. I remember to do them because I really care about her. (Like noticing that she is almost out of some personal item and buying it for her before she runs out.)

Great comment. Thanks.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi CindyW:

I never heard of, Kevin Alan Milne, but his books seem very interesting. “The Final Note: The Novel” and “Sweet Misfortune: The Novel” are titles I might use. (Metanovels). I might really like him.

Which book do you think me and Tina should read first?

Thanks for your comments.


Vince

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'm a girl too, and I felt the gauntlet being thrown.

Vince.

How the heck do you DO that, bud?

Love the pics. And love that Yuletide Hearts got a shout out on this post! Thank you so much for that, my friend.

I love how you laid it out.

And I'd argue that some men would pride themselves on NOT being able to write romance, but they're the silly ones.

Writing romance rocks.

It pays the bills.

It soothes.

It blesses.

It makes people laugh.

It makes them cry.

It broadens our outlook.

It touches our hearts.

It makes the downsides of life more tolerable.

And that only skims the barest of surfaces.

Vince.

This rocks. You rock. You NEED TO TEACH A COURSE, DUDE.

Women would flock to it because you're Vince. And you know a lot of good stuff. And you're a gifted teacher.

Dude.

Really????

Do it!

Hey, fresh cookies which are not listed on the Ruthy-Low-Carb diet, but it IS Friday...

I'm just sayin'...

Vince said...

Hi karenk:

"wow, vince....
i'm speechless!"


I hope that’s good. : )

Vince

Ruth Logan Herne said...

And I have to agree with Virginia, Vince.

I remember a contest (not my entry, but a contest I was running) where the judge wrote: "If your goal was to write a whiny, pathetic, self-absorbed heroine you have succeeded mightily."

Like Virginia, there are heroines I could cheerfully throttle. Just for fun, mind you. ;)

Oh, oh, did Bridgett just diss the grapefruit???

GOOD GIRL! IT'S FRIDAY! LET'S PARTY!!!!!

Linnette R Mullin said...

MYRA, thank you! I know what you mean. Vince said it pretty well. The woman wants the guy to be romantic, but not because she said to because then its not from his heart. Yet when they don't, we get frustrated because we feel like if they liked us as much as when we were dating, they'd still be doing those things. Too, though, if a guy does something special on a "special" day, but doesn't give her the time of day any other part of the year, it feels fraudulent and actually hurts her rather than makes her feel special.

I think what women need is the little daily things: caring about her day, giving her a squeeze just because, noticing that she needs help with something like bringing in the groceries or changing a light bulb, seeing if she wants to sneak out away from the kids for coffee or a drive, thanking her for dinner, etc.

While men go to work and then come home and relax in many cases, women (stay-at-home or work-at-home) just keep going. They give of themselves 24 hours a day and unless the man helps to fill her back up she will eventually spend herself until there's nothing left to give. The woman needs somebody to care for her, too, and she looks to the man to be that care-giver... to make her feel cared for, appreciated, cherished, protected...


NANCY: I'm sure what you're saying is true in many cases, but not all. This has not been my personal experience, so its a different way of thinking for me. I'm the type who would bend over backwards if I knew it would truly please my husband. Also, I've never worn a lot of make-up and he likes me that way. So, you can see how that concept is a bit foreign to me. Maybe we're in the minority. :-)


VINCE: That's something I hadn't thought about before. Boys should be taught that its not just "getting a wife" but keeping and cherishing said wife that should be taught. My boys are very caring young men. They don't do a lot of the romantic stuff, but when they do something sweet you know its from their hearts. I try to emphasize the importance of a life-mate, not just getting a wife. I have four boys. I hope I'm teaching them right.

Vince said...

Hi Sandra:

I think your hero, Sterling, is such a romantic man because he is older and has achieved the same goals that the heroine is seeking for herself. It would have been far easier to add conflict by having both the hero and heroine competing for the same goals – especially if those goals were mutually exclusive. Like caffeine that would produce eye opening attention. But you didn’t take the easy way. You kept the book always interesting because the characters were so worthy and loving. It is what an inspirational book should be. I think the hero is ideal.

”My question is: Can females write good male characters? You mentioned it doesn't matter in romances, but what if you're writing other genres?”

Yes, I think that in many genres women authors can write very convincing male characters. M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth is so male I’d swear that Beaton is a male writer. Beaton even includes a lot of bad male behavior (even towards women) that I find endearing. She is a big hit in Brittan but I don’t know if most of her fans are men or women.

Donna Leon has done a masterful job with her male lead character. No weaknesses that I can see. I think this is because women study men. Women are also mothers of boys. Just read the articles in Cosmopolitan -- do you think men are that concerned with looking good to women? I think women understand men far better than men understand women.

Thanks for your comments.

I’m looking forward to your next book.

Vince

Linnette R Mullin said...

SUSAN ANNE, glad I'm not the only one! :D

VALRI said: Vince, great comments! My husband is one of those who tells me he loves me all the time but he also shows me in a hundred ways and I can see that by reading your post too! For men and women, there are verbal ways and non-verbal ways of "romance"! Both are important! In books, I like both! Thanks for visiting Seekerville and sharing today!

That is so awesome! And you're so right. Both are important. One without the other leaves a very unbalanced and unhealthy relationship.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Oh, Vince! You said the nicest thing! "Romances are like emotional vitamins. I believe romance novels are very healthy for women."

Thank you for saying this!!! I am sending you a cyber hug for those words! I am so sick of men disparaging romance novels. (Warning: Rant Ahead) I've even seen them called pornography for women, and the man was talking about CHRISTIAN romances! So yes, thank you, Vince. And you brought out a lot of great points here. Your four things that women find sexy in a man are completely dead-on. And just the idea that you WANT to understand women is amazing and wonderful. LOL!!! Because as you also pointed out, men do not, as a general rule, make the effort. Which is exactly why we need romance novels.

LOL!

Great post, Vince.

Vince said...

Hi Pepper:

“Love is an action, Vince so true.
It's the core.
But women dress up the action with romance.”


I can agree with this. I think ‘romance’ is also the long shadow that loving actions cast upon the heart. Women are the best readers of the truth hidden in those shadows.

Thanks for you comment.

Vince

P.S. I hope you got to read my spice analogy. : )

Donna said...

Vince said: Love is not a feeling. Pain is a feeling.

I keep thinking about this part of your post. I can't decide if I agree with it or not. lol I think love is several things.

1)If it's true and right, it's of God's plan.
2) I think it's a simple word used to capture several feelings one feels for someone else. Longing, tenderness, a desire to spend time and your future with that one person.
3) And unfortunately pain is often part of 'love' whether it's during a relationship or after, if it fails.

I can also see how a man could see it as 'Once I've said it, this this and this will be expected of me'.

But I know I agree 100% that humor is very important for a relationship IMHO.
Thanks for the great post!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Bridgett, you made m laugh so hard, girl! "While writing, I try to crawl inside the head of my male characters. Mostly I see emptiness."

I know what you meant, but it was still funny.

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

Your comments about a guy writing romance reminds me of what I wrote on my own blog the other day:

"When I think of a guy writing romances it reminds me of the story of Dr. Johnson’s dog who could walk on his hind legs. As Dr. Johnson said: 'It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.'"

I feel the same way when I read Nicolas Sparks. I have a sneaky feeling that a lot of Sparks's fans do not read genre romances.

Thanks for your comments.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Linnette:

What’s the deal on the “Beth” story? Is that something you wrote?

It’s very good and a very good example of romantic behavior. I could feel the love.

Tell us more.

Thanks for your comment.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Myra:

Forty years and going strong. There has to be some romance somewhere!

Like writing, when it comes to a man, you have to ‘show’ and not ‘tell’.

Thanks for your comments.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi LyndeeH:

I’m happy you like my suggestions on giving the hero a sense of humor. I think it is helpful to note that having a sense of humor usually does not mean telling jokes. Sometimes saying nothing at all can be funny in the right situation. I find it helpful to see the humor in situations rather than punch lines.

Thanks for your comment.

Vince

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Like "Melvin" says in "As Good as it Gets:

"How do you write women so well?"

Melvin: "I think of a man. And I take away reason and accountability."

Hysterical.

Except that real women would 'see' that and dismiss him as a writer.

But how funny.

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

I’m reading “Remembering Christmas” right now and I am finding the start a little rough going with sad events and flashbacks all before I’ve had a chance to relate to the hero. Also a genre romance would have introduced the heroine by now. It may turn out to be a great book, and I’m hoping it will, but right now it does not seem to be anything like a genre romance which I’m sure Dan would tell you he is not writing anyway.

I would never claim that men cannot write a romance. My claim is that they are not well prepared to write genre romances to a level that can be published. (Otherwise, men are great) : )

Thanks for your comments.

Vince

Linnette R Mullin said...

VINCE! You SO just made my day!!! Thank you, thank you!!!

Yes! This is a snippet of my completed MS - "Finding Beth." By genre standards, it's probably considered women's fiction. But it's romantic to the core and so I'm calling it "Romantic Women's Fiction" until somebody tells me otherwise. I just read a Denise Hunter book that was written in much the same way genre-wise and she considers hers romance. Soo.... *shrugs*

Finding Beth:

Fearful she's about to make the biggest mistake of her life, Beth Gallagher runs to the Smoky Mountains. Through the aid of a new friend, she finds the answers she's looking for, but will she have the courage to follow through with her decisions? And, if she does, what might it cost her?

Adam Blythe gave up hope of ever finding a woman who would love him for himself. Healing from a broken relationship and committed to caring for his ailing mother, he now finds his heart irrevocably entangled with Beth - a woman already spoken for... a woman needing protection... a woman living hundreds miles away.

Kyle Heirich is used to getting his way. When his docile fiancee`, Beth, leaves town without a word only to return a changed woman with another man at her heels, he determines to make her his again - one way or another...

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I think I write good 'guys'. I like my heroes, they are good from a woman's point of view, and when a guy reads them, they don't complain, but I wonder what men really would say...

"Ruthy, he'd never help with the dishes! That's why it's fiction!"

"Give up his recliner to rock someone else's inconvenient kid? What? Are you crazy????"

So is our heroic image of the guy we want, the strong, rugged, get 'er done but also gentle with children and a leader...

Since most of us admit our husbands do little of the above, are we unrealistic? Or just filling a need?

Because I LOVE ROMANCE HEROES.

A lot.

Linnette R Mullin said...

Ruthy, I totally agree with you!!! LOVE romance heroes!

Walt Mussell said...

Vince, thank you for the kind words about my story as well as the wonderful review you wrote on Amazon.

I will admit that my story was written by a man. However, and I concede this point, there are no male authors in certain genres as none have succeeded at it yet.

Now, i do beleive somebody mentioned chocolate. :-)

Vince said...

Hi Donna:

I can agree with what you are saying. The word ‘love’ can have many meanings. People say they love chocolate. Some might even say they are in love with chocolate.

A philosopher would look at the word ‘love’ and see how it is used in all its various ways in the language.

Is ‘love’ like the word ‘pain’? In one sense you can say you are ‘in pain’ and that you are ‘in love’. In this way the words operate the same way. However, if you experienced a sharp pain (that made you yelp) and then that pain went away, no one should doubt your claim that you were in pain.

But if you had a sharp feeling of love that went away in a few seconds, people would not say that was an indication of being in love or that you actually were in love for those few seconds. In this respect the word ‘love’ does not operate like the word ‘pain’.

Here’s an added problem: if you are demonstrably in love, because you have determined that you are willing to do x, y, and x for another person, then that situation of being in love will shape your feelings for that person. So once you are in love that very fact can make you feel like you are in love.

The philosophical problem occurs when you take the feeling of love (that is the symptom of being in love) as being love itself.

Don’t think too much about it. Only philosophers worry about these things. Yet sometimes such views do have what philosophers call ‘cash value’ in that they have some use in understanding something in the real world that can be used by real people.

I thought that in this case seeing how ‘love’ is a set of expectations is useful in understanding male behavior.

In the Bible where it says “God is love” I believe they are talking about a lot more than just a feeling.


Thanks for your comments.

Vince

Carol Moncado said...

Ugh.

That's because of my head.

Not the blog.

Or the comments.

I scrolled through both and couldn't comprehend all of them because my head is ugh.

[Just wait until I try to reread what I've written today. I'm guessing 'ugh' will apply there too...]

That said... what I did comprehend was good. And I definitely need to come back to it because I have a male protag writing Julie-Lessman-esque romance novels under a pseudonym. Because no one would buy them from a guy [who was a fairly young guy when the first one came out].

So I'll need to reread this and make sure I've got my guy justified in being able to write that way.

Now, I'm off to take some meds.

Cuz that'll help me be less fuzzy... :p

Vince said...

Hi Linnette:

I just love this theme from your work:

“Healing from a broken relationship and committed to caring for his ailing mother, he now finds his heart irrevocably entangled with Beth - a woman already spoken for... a woman needing protection... a woman living hundreds miles away.”

In fact, my favorite hero right now is Sean from “A Heart Revealed” who is in love with a married woman, Emma. Emma’s face was scared when her abusive husband threw hot oil on it. Emma is one of the most loveable and worthy heroines in all of romance. I love her myself. She is actually becoming more beautiful as Sean falls more and more in love with her. There is so much emotion in these pages, I am reading them very slowly. It’s too rich and I don’t want it to end.

Your story seems to capture the same strong emotions. The theme is very powerful and you are doing it so well in what you have written. I hope I get to read it.

Vince

Linnette R Mullin said...

Just heard back from Denise Hunter. She explained that there is romance and there is category romance which follows all the rules. Whew! Am I relieved! Because "Finding Beth" is definitely romance! So is Tiffany's story! :D So nice to finally have that settled.

Linnette R Mullin said...

*Grinning*

Thanks, Vince! I'd love for you to read Finding Beth! Your comments have made my day!

Adam is a hero of heroes! I am so in love with him!

Beth is vulnerable, needy, scared and yet so strong! Resilient. She's sweet, but definitely a damsel in distress!

I hope I did them both justice. :D

Vince said...

Hi Carol:

I was hoping you were going to bring some more cookies! : )

You wrote:

“I have a male protag writing Julie-Lessman-esque romance novels under a pseudonym. Because no one would buy them from a guy [who was a fairly young guy when the first one came out].”

You actually have a hero who writes edgy-Christian fiction under a pen name. I think the telltale writing comes out when a male tries to pass himself off as a female writer.

I think what would be great is if you can have your hero write something that a woman would never write but that the hero thinks a woman would write and then have your heroine point it out to him. This would show the reader the difference between the male and female POV.

Do you remember the scene in "Tom Sawyer" where Tom is dressed as a girl and someone throws a ball to him and he closes his legs to catch it while a girl would have spread her knees. That kind of thing would be cute and to the point.

One thing that I find really works well for realism is having a husband and wife romance team. I have no problem reading them. The husband can keep the male male enough while the wife can provide ‘sexy’ hero behavior which might not be that likely from a male.

BTW: I can understand why I do not want to read male genre romance authors but how many women have a bias against men? And why?

Vince

DebH said...

someone wrote:
"I find it interesting that when a man courts a woman, he knows all the stuff to do. But once married a lot of that stuff goes by the way-side. I don't understand why a man sees the need to do thoughtful things and treat his lady like she's a princess before the vows, but afterward they are no longer necessary. If anything, they are more necessary. A man should never stop courting his woman."

my husband tell me that women do the same thing. they do everything to nab their man and after the "I do", they STOP. what's up with that? (my husband's words). i tell him that i try not to do that and ask him to let me know when i stop doing the things that wooed him in the first place. (thank goodness he actually tells me so i can remedy it fast - sometimes i don't realize i've stopped doing that special something).

i guess what i'm saying is - men don't have the corner on the market of ceasing to be the charming, wonderful person they were during the courtship. women do the same thing.

i've seen too many broken hearted guys of late to let this pass.

IMHO continuous courtship is the responsibility of BOTH parties.

absolutely love this post Vince! a true treasure and wealth of insight. Yay.

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

When it comes to the question about whether a hero would act in a given way, such as holding the heroine’s two kids on his lap while he sits in a recliner, there is a very important consideration.

Would this particular hero do this? Heroes are above average. They are special. I think most of the really great romantic hero behavior stems from the foundation the author put into place when she created the hero’s character.

In Missy’s “A House Full of Hope” the hero does hold two of the heroine’s four kids on his lap while sitting in a recliner and this behavior, while not very likely from a male not related to the kids, is well founded in the hero’s character. The hero has been deprived of love and family since he ran away from home. This is what that hero would do.

Indeed, heroic behavior does not have to be typical male behavior as long as it flows naturally from who the hero is. (As a fish that spends a lot of time outside the bowl, I tend to see these things. :))

Thanks for your comments.

And thanks for loving me. I do love to read your posts.

Vince

Carol Moncado said...

Uh, I doubt you'd want my cookies today, Vince. They probably have germs :(.

Unless virtual cookies can't have germs. In which case, here's a truck load.

Please forgive me if this seems like a terribly obvious question...

What you're saying is you don't believe a male can write a true ROMANCE [or edgy Julie-type stuff] under a pseudonym without getting 'caught'? That SOMETHING in there would tip off readers that something was at least 'off' about the writing, even if they didn't pin it as a gender thing?

I think that's what I'm getting from you. That a guy can't 'fake' writing as a gal when it comes to romance.

Sorry if that seems terribly obvious, but remember that fuzzy head? ;)

Vince said...

Hi DebH:

Your comment made me think that what women do in courtship probably is not seen as romantic by men. I had not thought of this.

Barbara Walters wrote once in a book that the way to make a man think you are really smart and interesting is to ask him a question he knows a lot about and then let him talk about it all night. He will think you are very smart, a great conversationalist -- plus a very interesting person.

At first I felt a little resentful of this comment but actually I have to agree Barbara is right.

Listening to a guy talk about what interests him will make him happy but I don’t think he will think about it as being romantic (as giving a girl flowers would be). Watching a football game with him will not seem like romantic behavior to a man but taking a woman to a chic-flick, he does not want to see, will be considered very romantic behavior by him.

When all of a sudden the woman in his life doesn’t listen to him anymore, doesn’t want to watch football games and all the rest, then the man feels something is very wrong. In this respect women might be dropping the romantic ball.

Also, I don’t think most men know just what to do in the romantic behavior department. I know they get advice from many matching making women and old married friends.

My secretary warned me every day, and she had a very unhappy marriage, that you can’t stop all this romantic behavior you're doing after you are married. I told her I wouldn’t and I didn’t.

Thanks for your comments.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Carol:

I will say this about males writing what I consider genuine genre romances: I think I can always spot them. I’m not saying every male will spot them or that every woman will spot them. I have had women tell me that they can always tell when a man is writing a romance. Since I can do it, I think a woman would be much better at it than me.

However, the male writer does not get everything wrong. If he has a female coauthor or very sharp CP, then I think a male could do it.

Even if the male is caught out, will most women care? Say he has a name like Pat Jones or uses the initials P. C. Jones: would women feel cheated if they found out he was a male writer? I don’t know.

It would be interesting to find out.

Thanks,

Vince

Vince said...

WOW!

I finally worked my way to the bottom of the page. I hope I did not miss anyone. Now I need to do today’s work! : )

Vince

Janet Dean said...

Vince, you're smokin'! 99 comments! Oops, sorry, Dan's story is not genre romance. But I felt his hero grew into a man who knew how to romance the woman he loved.

Janet

Jackie said...

Vince, Wow!
You made me thing of some of my customers. I have a few men who come into my pharmacy who I admire tremendously.
One man stood by his wife's battle with Alzheimer's disease. He completely altered his life to take care of her. She died right before Christmas, and he said it's hard not having her around. I've admired his dedication to her over the last few years. His granddaughter graduated from high school with my son, and he came long enough to watch her walk across the stage and rushed home to be with his wife. (Her sister stayed with her for him to come to graduation.)
So I think men can show great depth in loving us.
have a great weekend!
Jackie

Vince said...

Hi Jackie:

I think you have it perfect: love is what you do not what you feel.

That man loved his wife.

Thanks for your post.

Vince

Virginia said...

This is on topic, I swear.

My 8 year old came to read his sister a snippet of 'Warriors' by Erin Hunter.

Th hero cat has just offered to banish the fleas from the heroine cat's nest. My son said, 'See? I KNEW Firepaw was going to have kits with her."

HAHAHA! So, male offers to clean the house as romantic overture? Sounds like someone doing dishes. We all know men are soooo much sexier when they're doing dishes.

Virginia said...

Also, Linnette, I loved your excerpt!

I noticed Vince's point about men 'stopping the sexual advance' as a sign of romantic tenderness.

So, they're sharing a bone-melting kiss and he redirects to milk and cookies?? Totally a sweet moment, from a woman's POV. The men were probably angling for the rest of that kiss.

Linnette R Mullin said...

Virginia! Thank you! I think you hit it right on the head. :D

Linda said...

Men and women are different--mentally, physically and emotionally. Gonna give to the hb.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Soccerkidsmom said...

Wow, great post, Vince. I read somewhere once if you are a woman trying to teach your daughters how to be treated romantically by a guy, you need to teach your sons HOW to be romantic to women. Maybe we should all make our hubbies AND sons read this post. :)

Whitney said...

Interesting post, Vince, and even more interesting insights. When I first read the “What Men Want” part of this post, I thought, “Whatever. That’s just a copout for men so they can justify craning their necks when a pair of legs walk by.” But after I read the next section on “What Women Want”, I related to your “findings.” So who am I to say what is plausible for men? At the same time, there is a whole Biblical aspect here that men should have only one wife and women only one husband. I know this was not always the case in the Old Testament. I think, in this life, we will always be hard pressed pinpointing exactly what makes us tick as people; what makes us attracted to the opposite sex and why. There are general findings, but this is also a very subjective area, which you can see when you look at various couples. I often wonder why the Lord made men and women so different, knowing how hard it would be for relationships. My mom always says, “Women want love, men want respect.”

On a side note, I have to say Julie Lessman does do a remarkably good job at writing romances and believable heroes. Even as a woman, (and I know many of the romance readers at Seekerville will concur), I can tell when the hero is over the top. If he’s too on the ball, noticing too much, giving too many compliments, being too “romantic” in general, it’s too unrealistic and pulls me out of a story.

Debra E. Marvin said...

Vince says:
the female writer does not have to get the male exactly ‘right’. All she has to do is get the male ‘right’ in the eyes of her female readers.

I don't think any of us who write or read romance think that men really say those mushy things we find in books, but it's nice if they are somewhere vaguely (if you really stretch your imagination) close to saying those mushy things.

It's such a big deal that it's 'gets the girl' everytime... don't you think?
Then a wise woman will know that actions have to speak louder. "Be a man about it" usually means step up and do what needs to be done and it always comes down to 'think of others before yourself'.

great stuff. Of course. It's Vince.

Whitney said...

I'm more likely to say "I told you I loved you when we were married, I'll tell you if it changes," and he wishes I were romantic, etc. Though I can be girly in some aspects, we think it's hilarious that I write romance.

LOL, Melissa! I hear my uncle say this to my aunt all the time. But it just goes to show you that no findings are above the people’s right to preserve the human aspect (emotions) scientists so want to strip away.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Had to stop back, Vince, I'm loving this!!!!

Vince, Neville Shute's "A Town Like Alice" is one of my favorite stories.

I just love it, start to finish. Amazing piece of work. And I like epic things like Herman Wouk, but I also love sweet, short, quick read romances like Abby Gaines' "The Earl's Mistaken Bride" that I just finished.

Charming, charming, charming. I think reading outside the spectrum and reading within the genre helps us be better crafters.

Mary Connealy said...

VINCE! I'm so sorry not to have been able to hang around with you today.
I just want to say I still think about the book we talked about in Tulsa and laugh. It's a great concept. I hope you're getting it WRITTEN!!!!!!!!!!!

I haven't even read the blog yet but I will. But thanks for being on.

I'm cut off from the internet all day until now and now I have to LEAVE.

Janet Kerr said...

Thank you for all the information Vince. I am still making my way through it!

Jan

Vince said...

Hi Mary:

Glad to see you!

I feel sorry that I did not use an actual quote from “The Sweetest Gift” – but all the quotes tended to act as spoilers. It is a very tight book and the best thing to say about it is to be sure and read it.

The book I mentioned is written. I now need to layer in a lot of details. That’s a lot of work. I need to determine the towns, distances, landscape, temperatures, backstories for my main characters, type of vegetation, and so much more. This is not as much fun as writing the comedy because writing the funny stuff is entertaining.

What I need to do is get three chapters ready for a contest. That should help me whip it into shape and also get me some very useful feedback.

I’m moving my office and I have four major real estate course revisions to make because of new laws – all this month.

I’m going to be one very busy guy.

Thanks for your comments and encouragement.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Janet Kerr:

I know what you mean about working your way through my post. I cut over 800 words from the original and I really thought Tina would cut 800 more. But Tina didn’t cut anything! In fact she lightened my face in the photos! Up to now, I have not been able to see my face because of the shadows.

I told Tina my post was 'Lessman- long' and I really hoped it could be 'Lessman-good'. Juile’s posts are long but they still always end too soon.

Seekerville is a great place to be a guest blogger.

Thanks for your comment.

Vince

Julie Lessman said...

WHITNEY SAID: "On a side note, I have to say Julie Lessman does do a remarkably good job at writing romances and believable heroes ... If he’s too on the ball, noticing too much, giving too many compliments, being too “romantic” in general, it’s too unrealistic and pulls me out of a story."

First of all, WHITNEY, THANK YOU for your very kind words -- I soooo appreciate them!! Secondly, I TOTALLY concur!! When I see a man who's too attentive, too observant and talks to much about his feelings, I am immediately turned off because I know that's the author talking, not the hero and like you, Whitney, it pulls me out of the story.

Also, I remember back in the 70s when Phil Donohue and Alan Alda were the new "sensitive" males. BRRRR ... COLD CHILL!!!! Nothing turns me off faster than a prissy, overly sensitive and politically correct guy. I'm sure some women like those types, but when it comes to heroes, give me the lumberjack, gladiator or the grunt-and-yup types from the Wild West and heck, make them bad boys on top of that, and I am sooooo there!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

If you want to read something different and you like Abby Gains, read “NO ORDINARY MAN”. Abby can do NASCAR!

Vince

Carol Moncado said...

Why is DC Talk running through my head?

Remember...

Luv is a...
Luv is a...
Luv is a veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerb!

Remember that one? I can, uh, still sing/rap/whatever the whole thing...

So Vince, you're saying you bet you can spot a guy, but that not everyone can and they may not care?

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

You wrote:

“I TOTALLY concur!! When I see a man who's too attentive, too observant and talks too much about his feelings, I am immediately turned off because I know that's the author talking, not the hero…”

That’s why the hero’s behavior has to have a firm foundation developed before he spouts off!

Here’s a real story that I did:

I wrote a love song for my wife and I learned to play it on my guitar. One night she came out to my house in the country, got out of her car, and I appeared from behind a bush and sang her the song written just for her. She thinks that’s the most romantic thing I did while we were dating. However, I did it because I could do it. If you put me in a romance, people probably would not believe it unless there was a lot a foundation about me working in advertising and writing songs.

Vince

Cara Lynn James said...

Love your insight, Vince! You're a wise man. Notice, I didn't say a wise guy. Thanks for all this info.

Cindy W. said...

Hi Vince. Regarding Kevin Alan Milne's books, I have read both Sweet Misfortune and The Final Note and loved them both. I read The Final Note first but my favorite was Sweet Misfortune. I loved his humor in that one. I had selected The Final Note to review and enjoyed his writing so much I had to go get Sweet Misfortune next. He has been compared with Nicholas Sparks but since I haven't read any of Mr. Sparks books I can't make that comparison.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Whitney said...

Nothing turns me off faster than a prissy, overly sensitive and politically correct guy. I'm sure some women like those types, but when it comes to heroes, give me the lumberjack, gladiator or the grunt-and-yup types from the Wild West and heck, make them bad boys on top of that, and I am sooooo there!! :)

Word. :p

I completely agree, and I meant what I said about your heroes and writing in general!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Vince, you have been an awesome and attentive, guest. Thank you from the bottom of my girly heart.

Jessica Nelson said...

Boy...I'm late to the party but I just wanted to say WOOOHOOO, great post Vince! It was extremely interesting. Loved it. ;-)

Valerie Comer said...

Awesome post, Vince. Thanks for so much to think about.

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

Thanks for all you did to make this post look so good. It is always fun and an honor to be a guest here. The comments are very thoughtful and I try hard to give my best effort in answering them.

I’m staying around until the changing of the guard and I’ll check in early tomorrow morning to see if there are any more comments to answer.

So the party is not over, yet.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Cindy:

I just ordered Milne’s two book in the hardbound large print editions from the Tulsa Library. Both are in and will be sent to my branch in a day or two. This is wonderful. It’s the way to try out a new author. Thanks for your ideas. I think I’ll read the first book first.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Carol:

That video, “Love is a verb,” is very interesting. Even these rappers get what love is!

In the 1970’s Buckminister Fuller wrote a book, “I Seem to be a Verb”.

I think the song is worth looking at.

Thanks for the heads-up.

Love is a Verb.

Vince

Janet Kerr said...

Hey Vince,
This is a fun post. Thank you!

Jan

Edwina said...

WOW - fantastic blog sharing great insight and info!

Melissa Jagears said...

Vince, you made my day even better when you said:

"A true, everyday, romantic woman might take things for granted that really should have been shown to the reader."

I have a crit partner (the normal romantic woman/romance writer) who told me once after critting my books something to the effect of: "You make even the little things SUCH a big deal. I want lots and lots of kissing but you make me happy when they finally hold hands."

So now, I have hope that I'll not be dismissed as an outsider, but that the outsider status can work for me.

I agree with Whitney down here at the end of the page, If the hero is too over the top romantic then it pulls me out of the story because it's not a real man, it's author intrusion. Have him be real, but just slightly more uh, attentive than real.

I'm so happy that I have a male CP and a willing mountain man hubby that can check me on my male POV/IM, but since I'm rather unromantic and overly logical in real life, they don't nail me on too many things. :)

marybelle said...

I read this post twice. WOW!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Marybelle, welcome to Seekerville!

Vince, I love Abby's work but I've never read the Nascar books. I'll have to grab that and check it out.

Your words of wisdom are spot on as always, and I can't wait to get my hands on the first Vince Mooney meta-romance. I will be your cheerleader, waiting for the clock to strike twelve on pre-orders!

Vince, your your READER REWARDS POST (scroll down past today's to Vince's April 11 post) really made me rethink my work, page by page.

This is just as informative and delightful. Thank you!

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, I'm so sorry I didn't get by yesterday for your post!! This weekend is my son's last weekend at home before going back to school, and I won't see him until gradation in May.

Interesting discussion!! I look forward to catching up on all the comments!

Vince said...

Hi Missy:

Where does your son go to school? May is a very long time. Enjoy the time you have.

Be sure to read the entry about your wonderful hero who allows two of the heroine’s four children to sit on his lap while he sits in a recliner. This actually came up in discussion and your guy has the backstory to make this credible male behavior – for him.

Thanks for your comment.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

You are so lucky to have not read the NASCAR series yet! You still have a great ‘first time’ experience awaiting you. You can hear the roar, smell the gas fumes, and drink beer with the drivers! The editors were great on this series. (Of course a man might like these stories more than a woman but I don’t think so.)

Thanks again for the nice comments and for the plug on my Rewards for Reading post. That book is close to getting done, too.

I’m off to a ACWF chapter meeting in about an hour. There is so much talent in that room that I always feel like I walked into the wrong place.

I really do need to get the “Stranded” book finished and ready to send out.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi marybelle:

I loved your comment:

"I read this post twice. WOW!!"

This post is very close to being a chapter in my romance genre book. It is a great sign that someone would read it twice!

I think you made my week!

Thanks so much!

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Melissa:

Being here has been a wonderful experience. Everyone is helping me make my day. I'm glad if I can help you make yours.

What you quoted below makes a very important point:


“I agree with Whitney down here at the end of the page, If the hero is too over the top romantic then it pulls me out of the story because it's not a real man, it's author intrusion. Have him be real, but just slightly more uh, attentive than real.”

I find that ‘author intrusion’ happens most often when the author ‘tells’ and does not ‘show’ why the hero is above average in attentiveness. And this 'showing' should go back one step in the process. Show the hero looking at an old family picture and getting emotional over the twin brother who was killed and how that broke the family apart. Here the hero longs for the family love he missed out on as a child. He values it. Now when the author shows the attentive behavior it will seem natural for him even if it is not normal for a typical man.

The more I study writing, the more importance I give to motivation and foundation.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Edwina:

Thanks for you kind comment. And thanks for reading my post.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Valerie:

Thanks for your kind encouragement. I’m even more motivated to finish my book than ever before.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Cara:

Thanks for saying I was a ‘wise man’. There is no greater compliment you can give to a philosopher.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Debra:

I don’t know how I missed you yesterday!

I think you are on to something here.

You can make your hero do exceptional things a male will not normally do (but that heroines swoon over) – if you also do two other things:

Give the hero adequate motivation for why he is doing the exceptional romantic behavior.

Show the hero doing very strong male type things to prove he’s all man.


In Julie Lessman’s new book, the hero, Sean, is very nice towards the heroine (who he really adores) but he also almost beats a man to death who he is upset with. This is one way to balance the too romantic behavior. (It also adds to the H/h conflict since the heroine is an abused wife!)

You know: you can see a lot of things if you are looking for them in advance. I keep seeing things in novels that I never saw before. It’s like the writers are getting smarter all the time. : )

Thanks for your comments.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Whitney:

I’m sorry I missed you yesterday but I’d really like to comment on this important point now:

“I think, in this life, we will always be hard pressed pinpointing exactly what makes us tick as people; what makes us attracted to the opposite sex and why.”

This is so important to a writer. People are different in many respects. Some women are bigger and stronger than some men. Writers need to write to the specifics of the characters they are creating and not use stereotypes – or what are called ‘cardboard cutout’ characters.

It is so easy to fall into the cliché trap. I think it is wise to go over your writing with the idea that you want it to read like only you could have written it. A unique voice does a lot in and of itself to make the story seem more realistic.

Great comment and an important one.

I think a lot of other people quoted you so I may have already answered this. : )

Thanks for your comments.

Vince

Lyn Cote said...

Hilarious, Vince and at times, on the nose.
Question: It's my thought that a man only values a child of his IF he values the mother of said child.

What do you think about that?

Vince said...

Hi Lyn:

You said:

”It's my thought that a man only values a child of his IF he values the mother of said child.

What do you think about that?”


I think this is a complicated question that depends on the age of the child at the time. I think it is most likely to be true while the woman is pregnant. Once the child is born I think the man’s feelings can develop independently of his feelings for the mother.

Natural selection will select for men who protect their children. Also the things that the mother might do to the male that lowers his opinion of her will not automatically carry over to the children. In fact, the male may want to take the children away from a woman he does not value.

I would say that the statement is generally not true but has the best chance of being true while the child is unborn and part of the mother.

This is a very interesting question.

Thanks for your comments.

Vince

P.S. Congrats on winning uour Carol!

Virginia said...

I know it's the next day, but reading the rest of these comments, and Ruthy's link to your 'reader rewards' post.... I ahd to comment.

I read that link a few months ago and it changed the way I write AND read books. I started to SEE how authors use that system.

Brilliance.

Peggy Rychwa said...

Absolutely loved reading about the emotional from a thoroughly logical point of view. I will definately read this again. I mean, even I learned something about the female psyche! And not only did I learn what we want, I learned why we want it.

It's all now perfectly logical.

Vince, you're a riot. Great article.