Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Can a Man Write Historical Romance? with James Scott Bell


Can a Man Write Historical Romance?


Can a man write historical romance? I sure hope so, because I've written seven of them and I'd hate to find out now that it can't be done!

It happened this way. Around 2000 or so I got an idea for a legal thriller series. It seemed like every ex-lawyer was writing legal thrillers at the time, including me. I wanted to try something different. So I thought about setting a legal thriller in a historical context. Then it became a matter of choosing which one.

Being an LA boy, third-generation, loving the history of my city, I thought back to the turn-of-the-century. Los Angeles was just coming of age back then. And there were all sorts of interesting crosscurrents in the culture. It was very much like today, with strange religious cults mixing with mainline churches, drifters and dreamers and con men and cops, and wild goings-on in the courtrooms.

I own a number of biographies of famous trial lawyers, and one of the best was a man named Earl Rogers. He practiced in Los Angeles at that time and some of his trials were amazing. He never lost a case. Oh, maybe toward the end, when the bottle got to him. But until then he was widely considered America's greatest criminal lawyer. What a great character to start with.

But that was just the setting. Now I needed a main character. And here is where the real inspiration hit. It could be a woman, a young woman who dreams of practicing law, because at that time this was virtually unheard of.

So what if this woman had a particular reason to practice? She would have to show grit and guts and determination. And what if she was a Christian? Think of all the conflict she would face––the prejudice, the challenges.

I gave her an Irish background, named her Kit Shannon, and brought her to Los Angeles with this wild dream. What if she became an assistant to Earl Rogers?

I also wanted to give Kit a love interest. What if it was a young man who is from a privileged family, but doesn't want to go into the family business? What if he wants to fly? He could get in on the ground floor of the aviation industry, which would place him around 1903. That's when I decided to set the first book.

I fleshed out this idea and pitched it to an editor at Bethany House, Mr. Steve Laube. He liked it, and so did Bethany. But they had concerns about a man writing about a woman in a historical context. They thought, What if we paired him with one of our popular authors, Tracie Peterson?

They proposed the idea to me and I was at first skeptical. But they offered to fly the two of us to Minneapolis, Bethany headquarters, so we could meet and talk. Tracie and I hit it off immediately. And we did something that many writers find they can't do—we wrote happily in collaboration.



Our system was simple. We would brainstorm a plot together, then I would write the first draft. Tracie would take over and put in her perspective on the scenes, much of which dealt with how a woman might react in certain situations, and also being aware of what women readers in the genre like to see. I would then take the manuscript through a final pass, and that was it.

Readers loved it. Our books became bestsellers and Kit Shannon is one of my all-time favorites. I enjoyed getting emails from women readers, many of them young, who said that Kit inspired them to go to law school, or to follow another dream.

Tracie and I did three Kit Shannon books together, after which I discovered something cool: I could write in the voice we had developed together. With Tracie's encouragement, I entered into a contract with Bethany to do three more Kit Shannon novels on my own. Reaction from the loyal readers was that these books were welcome additions to the series. However . . .

 . . .some readers, new ones especially, seemed a bit skeptical of book covers with a woman's face on them but a male author's name underneath it. I guess that's just the reality of marketing in certain genres.



But that was then. All six of the original Kit Shannon books are available again, as e-books. You can go here for more information (I also did a stand alone historical for Bethany called Glimpses of Paradise, which will be re-issued soon). I'd love to hear from you about the series. I might even consider doing more Kit Shannon books. My original intent was to write her up into her 80s. She would practice law throughout the first half of the twentieth century, and I would explore the changing times with her. I wanted her to be a Perry Mason type of character, going on and on.

Maybe she still can if the series catches on again . . .and if readers can accept a man writing historical romance!


JAMES SCOTT BELL is the author of the #1 bestseller for writers, Plot & Structure, and numerous thrillers, including Deceived, Don't Leave Me, Presumed Guilty, Breach of Promise, Try Dying and Watch Your Back. His novella One More Lie was the first self-published work to be nominated for an International Thriller Writers Award. He served as the fiction columnist for Writer's Digest magazine and has written highly popular craft books for Writer’s Digest Books. He lives and writes in Los Angeles.

98 comments:

Helen Gray said...

Ve-r-r-r-y interesting.

Thanks for sharing your story.

There'll be coffee a-plenty for everyone come morning. The pot is set to brew.

Helen

Melissa Jagears said...

I do believe Vince will have an opinion on this. :)

Very interesting turn about from way back when women chose male pen names or wrote as anonymous because no one would take them seriously as writers.

Are Kit Shannon books romance or more historical with romantic elements? I would easily believe a man could write the romantic element type book easier than the other kind. Just because a woman author of romance books would have a better chance at understanding the elements that satisfy a reader of that genre.

But I really shouldn't talk, I'm the least romantic woman in the world and I'm writing it. So yeah, it can be learned!

Tina Radcliffe said...

WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!!!

Yes, Melissa, I will be interested in hearing both Vince and Walt's take on this.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I am delighted you are reintroducing this series. It sounds wonderful and I am only sorry I missed it first go around.

What a terrific time period too!

Erica Vetsch said...

I remember being shocked when I found out former RWA president Leigh Greenwood was a man. He wrote lots of historical romances.

Did you ever consider using a pen name for your historical romances?

And will you bring Ty Buchannan back?

Anna R. Weaver said...

Thank you for visiting and sharing with us! :)

Edwina said...

James - thanks for the interesting article and for proving that men can write historical romance!

Helen, so grateful you are up early with coffee brewing! I have lemon poppyseed muffins to go with the coffee!

Jenny Blake said...

I have the first 3 of this series but on my tbr pile. I love how you wrote with Tracie. I love seeing how these books are written.
Oh I know men can write historical romance. Gilbert Morris has some wonderful books out.

Thanks for the info. will look for the final 3 in the series.

(excuse my rambling had a long day)

Walt Mussell said...

Can a man write historical romance? I know that as I write my answer, I will receive a text from the the Don Quixote Society, saying that my annual membership fee is late.

I've been working on my medieval Japan-based WIPs for several years now and have, for the most part, referred to them as historical romances. Most of the declines I've received recently have been for market reasons. However, one of the publishers who declined it commented that my story was not a romance, but a novel with strong romantic elements. I thought about the response for a long time, eventually agreeing with it. I love to plot and write stories and am fascinated with putting twists in everything, almost like historical suspense. The romantic portion of my story gets lost. Part of that is writing style and the need to improve my craft. However, I wonder what part of it has to do with me being a male.

Do I think I can write historical romance? The answer is yes. One of my publisher declines did include a request to submit something "Americana" as the editor who declined it said she really enjoyed my writing. My Americana WIP is in process and I will get a first draft completed this year. I know I will make it work.

Connie Queen said...

Whew! I need to catch my breath. Sounds like a whirlwind of writing activity.

I love the way you and Tracie made co-authoring work. I've always wanted to try it, but been afraid to try. And to find my other half.

Erica--Leigh Greenwood threw me too. I was half-way through his book when I looked at the author page and realized he was a man. I'll admit I looked at the story different then.

Jeanne T said...

What a fun post. I've heard about this series. Reading some of the "behind-the-scenes" details makes me want to read it. :) I think it's great that you and Tracie Peterson co-authored the first three together.

I don' know why a man couldn't write historical romance--it's just a paradigm shift for some readers. I imagine the voice might be a little different, but not in a negative way.

I'm so glad you shared your story today.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi SCOTTt, Welcome to Seekerville. We met at Mt Hermon several years ago and I enjoyed learning craft from your workshops.

I'm so glad you went ahead with your series. I'm guessing men have the same issues writing female perspective as females do writing male pov. It helps to do like you did with Tracie and get that other pov looked at. Once you learn it, then its easier to apply.

When I wrote Love's MIracles, it was about a VietNam vet, a marine. I'm so glad I had a marine male read it over before submitting because not only did he show me how to enhance the male pov, but he informed me that some of the dialogue, while male wasn't marine lingo.

Never hurts to get that help and then go from there. smile.

Thanks again for joining us. Have fun today.

And EDWINA thanks for the muffins. They hit the spot.

Missy Tippens said...

Good morning, everyone! I've been running trying to get kids out the door this morning. Will be in and out all day.

Jim, welcome! We're so glad you joined us today.

I'm sure he'll be along later since he's on the West coast. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Yay! Walt dropped by! I knew you would be interested in this topic. :)

Walt, I thought from your synopsis (at least on your first book) that you have enough romance in there. But maybe you've moved away from that as you've worked through the series.

Okay, now where is Vince...?

Missy Tippens said...

Melissa, I had to laugh at your post. I'm not romantic at all either. My husband is way more romantic than I am!

For example, his birthday is this week, and I just remembered yesterday! Whereas he would have had my b-day celebration planned weeks ahead. I'm such a slouch.

So how do I write romance?? I guess I write the ideal. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Erica, I remember being shocked by that as well when I first saw Leigh in person at a conference.

Walt Mussell said...

Missy, only one publisher made the comment that it had romantic elements as opposed to being a romance. I upped the romantic quotient and they liked it. However, they still didn't consider it a romance.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Nicholas Sparks does it, why not James Scott Bell? And Gilbert Morris, of course. Still, one can't help but wonder if the male writer can pull it off. Romance, that is. Men aren't necessarily famed for their romantic natures. But since you proved yourself with the Kit Shannon series, I would think you would have some really loyal readers. Just like Gilbert Morris and Nicholas Sparks. And the Kit Shannon series does sound great!

Debby Giusti said...

Jim, you could write anything and I'd want to read it. Plus, I'd enjoy the story and learn something along the way.

I had to include more romantic elements in my early Love Inspired Suspense stories. At first, I was suspense heavy, and my editor had to encourage me to up the love vibe. But then, my favorite suspense reads were usually written by male authors.

So glad your series is being reissued, Jim! Yes, write more Kit Shannon books. She sounds like an intriguing heroine.

Debby Giusti said...

Erica, Leigh Greenwood surprised me as well.

Piper Huguley said...

Hello Seekerville,

Jim, thank you for listing your fiction works. Your craft book stays on my consulting bookshelf, but I like the sound of this historical romance series. I look forward to reading more about Kit Shannon.

I also look forward to reading Walt's work some day as well! *waving wildly at Walt--See you at chapter meeting on Saturday?* We are on the same team in routing for the unusual historical. I don't really care who is writing; I would just like to see more variety in the market.

Piper

Tina Radcliffe said...

Don Quixote Society, indeed, lol.

Love that, Walt.

Mary Connealy said...

The Kit Shannon books are terrific. Really inspirational. At the end of every book (I may not remember every book!) There would be this moment, this scene, where Kit would just embrace justice, argue for the greatness of America and it's laws and justice and decency. Really powerful scenes that just made the whole book even more than just really a fun read.
I think anyone would love those books. I'm glad they're still out there, available.

Mary Connealy said...

ERICA I met Leigh Greenwood once. I sort of teased him about being a man. and he said he kept is secret a long time but now he's 'out of the closet'. Very funny and nice man.

And has anyone heard of Alex Kava? She writes the Maggie O'Dell series, secular murder mysteries.

Alex changed her name to conceal her gender because she wasn't selling because 'women didn't write murder mysteries'. She changed to Alex and sold. Good books. She's a Nebraska author which is why I started reading her.

One of her books contains one of my favorite opening lines of all time.

"There's just no good way to pick up a human head."

I dare anyone to NOT read on after that opening line.

Vince said...

Hi James:

I believe a man could write a category romance but it would be like a man writing a book on what it feels like being a woman. The odds don’t favor publication.

I do have two questions on your historical romance series:

1) did you use the real person of Earl Rogers or did you change the name?

2) if you keep the same two main characters in each book then how can a romance be the central focus of the story? Who is having the romance?

BTW: I think your LOCK is a 25% advancement over GMC. I think anyone who loves GMC, as I do, will truly enjoy your “Plot and Structure”. The difference is like a seminar on selling your next book. Wonderful. I start my plots with the ‘K’ then I use creative visualization to find my way to that ending.

I must say that you gave the best class on writing that I’ve ever attended a few years ago at Crested Butte. You were totally captivating without the use of any props. It was just the power of what you were saying. I just wish other speakers would follow your model. (That is speak from the heart and not from a PowerPoint presentation.)

I hope I can get to see you again at a writing conference.

Vince

Missy Tippens said...

Oh my gosh, Mary! That's a great opening line! lol

Jan Drexler said...

If a woman can write a great western, why can't a man write historical romance?

I haven't read the Kit Shannon books, but City of Angels is going on my TBR list ASAP!

Thanks for dropping by, James!

Walt Mussell said...

Tina, I used to have a tie that I purchased in Kyoto. It was made of the finest Kyoto textiles (Nishijin) and had a picture of a windmill on it. I called it my Quixote tie and wore it often.

Now, if I could only find where my wife hid it...

Walt Mussell said...

Piper, I won't be there on Saturday unfotunately.

DebH said...

oh boy, another new author for me. i certainly think a man can write historical romance. women don't have a lock on the romantic department - prime case in point: me.

there are times i joke that my husband and i have role reversal problems. he remembers every significant romantic day/anniversary, i made sure we got married on 08-08-08 so i only had one number to remember. *sigh* my hubby is definitely the romantic in our relationship.

i love the behind the scenes info of this post. i really must check out the series (hooray for ebooks!) will have to put them on my wish list so i don't forget and purchase as budget allows (and that list keeps getting longer...)

thanks for sharing!

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Jim! Nice to see you here in Seekerville!

I haven't read your Kit Shannon books yet, but I've read other male authors who do a fine job of writing their female protagonists. Robert Whitlow is one who comes to mind--another attorney-turned-author.

Okay, no one laugh, but I just have to plead ignorance and ask. What, exactly, is the Don Quixote Society???

Kav said...

You know what? I'm one of those reluctant females who just might shy away at a male authored romance. And it's silly because I've read some wonderful ones. Dan Walsh comes to mind right away. So I know it can be done -- and well. I guess I need to work on my stereotyping, eh? Thanks for pointing that out! :-)

Missy Tippens said...

Hey. Vince! Glad you made it by.

Vince said...

Men Invented Romance!

I think if you check the historical record, men invented romance. Dante had his Beatrice, the Provencal poets set the stage for what we know as romance today and Goethe launched the Romantic movement with “The Sorrows of Young Werther”. Even the early dime novels were first written by men – the same men who were writing detective stories and westerns. Of course, these men did not like writing romances and when women started to write them, men were blown right out of the ball park. Women knew what women wanted and they knew how to provide it and some became very rich by writing romances in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Men are just not going to be better women than women are women.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Kav:

You wrote:

“I'm one of those reluctant females who just might shy away at a male authored romance.”

I’m the same way but more so. My whole idea in reading romances is to get into the female mind and understand women from the inside out. Women show what they really want in romances better than anywhere else.

I remember reading my first two romances by men. The first was by K. N. Casper and the second was Leigh Greenwood. In both books I remember reading something early on and saying to myself: “No woman would ever write this this way.” Sure enough, when I checked the author page or the internet*, it was written by a man.

I believe I can spot a male writer of romances every time unless it was written by a husband and wife team.

BTW: I believe that K. N. now goes by Ken Casper. He has been very supportive of me writing romances whenever we come in contact. I wish him well.

Vince

*Some author bios are written in a way you can’t tell if they are male or female. For these you have to search the internet.

P.S. I write metaromances which do not compete with women writers doing category romances. That would be crazy!

Vince said...

Speaking of Don Quixote, we have a saying at NAPP that is apropos to plotting.

“A plot is to a pantser as a mirror is to Don Quixote.”

Vince

CatMom said...

Very interesting article today! Thanks for having JSB share his story with us (I receive his newsletters and always enjoy them). ~ Blessings, Patti Jo :)

Mary Connealy said...

VINCE, the romance in those books develops over the first few books. I think they almost get together, then not, then get together in book two, then marry and have some trouble, like a murder on their honeymoon or some such (It's been a while since I've read them) in book three or four....I can't remember. So it's got a romance thread but it's your typical romance either....exactly.

Tina Radcliffe said...


“A plot is to a pantser as a mirror is to Don Quixote.”

Touche. Vince old buddy old pal.

Debby Giusti said...

Mary, I have Alex Kava's debut. She published with MIRA. Is that still the case?

I didn't know she was a friend of yours. Must get one of her recent releases.

Debby Giusti said...

I remember some of Tom Clancy's early attempts at romance.

Hmmmm...

Vince, you read Tom, don't you? Has he improved on the love vibe?

Debby Giusti said...

Vince, you should have been at ACFW a few years ago when JSB was the main/keynote speaker!

He was fantastic. As always.

Myra Johnson said...

I beg your pardon, but pantsers DO have plots. It just takes us longer to find them.

Walt Mussell said...

Vince, love the mirror/Don Quixote comment.

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, I agree! That workshop was excellent.

LoL, Myra!

Julie Lessman said...

WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, JAMES SCOTT BELL!!!

And this is TOTALLY awesome, the story of your foray into Historical Romance -- VERY COOL!!

I think at one time, seeing a man's name on a romance novel did put some readers off, but not anymore!! Nicholas Sparks, Dan Walsh and you are certainly proof of that!!

But I guess at one time "image" was important to the genre, meaning you wouldn't buy a weight-loss book from somebody overweight, etc., but I do think we are dealing with a far more sophisticated readership today that doesn't let things like that deter them from good books as much anymore. Although to be honest, I'm still inclined to badger my 25-year-old fashionista daughter to help me pick out my wardrobe since my audience tends to be a much younger, more with-it crowd!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Vince said...

Hi Myra:

I agree that pantsers have plots but their plots are like the wings on an Ostrich: they are there but they didn’t help the Ostrich get where it was going. ☺

Myra Johnson said...

Vince, are you implying pansters have their heads in the sand???

I wonder . . . if you had two published books in the same genre, one by a plotter and one by a pantser, could you tell which is which?

Jackie said...

Welcome to Seekerville,

I missed the Kit Shannon series, but I'll be looking for the e-books.

Thanks so much for sharing your story.

I don't see a problem with you writing a series on Kit. I've got a brother, husband, and two sons. I don't always know how a man will react, but after so many years of living with guys, I've got a pretty good clue.

So great to have you join us, James Scott Bell!

Jackie L.

Cara Lynn James said...

Welcome Jim! Your story is fascinating.

I think a man can write romance but he probably should consult a woman about the heroine's feelings. A woman romance writer should consult with a man.

Melissa Jagears said...

Ooooh, that's a good test for Vince, Myra.

Wonder if we could figure out a way to get him a book from a panster and a plotter that he doesn't know which is which and see if he can spot it.

Fun exercise....

Tina Radcliffe said...

Brilliant. I bet Mary Curry could do this for us. The Pepsi/Coke test for Vince.

Mary Connealy said...

Wow, had a very confused Time Travel-y moment there when I thought Leigh Greenwood sang "I'm Proud to be an American"
There are two Lee/Leigh Greenwoods. That is truly strange that I've never noticed that before!!!

Missy Tippens said...

I actually think if women can write male characters, then men can write female ones. I know I've been told on critique that one of my heroes was too talkative and sounded too much like a woman at that point. It's something I've had to work on.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Mary, you are hilarious.

I think we should have some sort of Pantser/Plotter contest in Seekerville.

Maybe Mr. Bell and Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Mussell and Mr. Mooney would volunteer to judge the final round.

Vince said...

Hi Myra:

You wrote:

“Vince, are you implying pansters have their heads in the sand???”

No, that would be the wrong analogy. Pansters do not hide from reality. Actually, pansters are like the kids who walk out on the lake ice to see if it is safe to walk on. I think they are braver than plotters. The correct inference would be this: pantsers use road maps to see how they got where they were going after they get there.

You also wrote:

“I wonder . . . if you had two published books in the same genre, one by a plotter and one by a pantser, could you tell which is which?”

That would depend on the quality of the two books. In some cases I could tell the difference (and be right most of the time). If the book is very tight, has no loose ends, and ends with a ‘stand up and cheer’ ending, then it was probably plotted. If the book has obvious loose ends, if it wanders with scenes that do only one thing rather than several things, and if the ending is the best one that could be expected from what preceded it, (that is, predictable and not very special), then it would look like a pantser’s work. A pantser has to take the best ending the story up to then allows. A plotter on the other hand can create a great ending first and then build a pathway to get there. Of course, pantsers have a great advantage in spontaneity.

Yet there are books that I would call plotted that were not and vice versa. I would say that “Autumn Rains” had too tight a plot and strong ending to have been pantsered while “Romance by the Book” seems very much to be pantsered. It seemed to me at the time that you changed your mind as to what type of book you were writing halfway through the book. I think only a pantser would do this.

Julie’s later books seem very much plotted because the details are so complex. I find it hard to conceive of a way to write Julie’s books without plotting them and yet Julie says she’s a pantser.

Actually, I think that when a pantser writes a great book it is better than the plotter’s great book. I try to pantser as much as I can within my plot framework. There is nothing wrong with being a pantser but it is like being a highwire act not using a safety net. It thrills the crowd but at what price?

Vince

Missy Tippens said...

My last comment was talking about when writing romance. I'm guess I'm saying I think men can do it as well as women as long as they're inclined to write romance. :)

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

You wrote;

“I think we should have some sort of Pantser/Plotter contest in Seekerville.”

This would be fun but both books should have been written as second or third books under a publisher deadline. It is not fair to use a book that has been revised over eight years and that has experienced a dozen writing contests. That book is defacto plotted (with many sharp minds contributing to the plotting).

One would also have to read the entire book so it could be judged as a coherent whole. And if one pantsers a 300 page book and has to do dozens of revisions to straighten it out, that too is a defacto plotted book. In a way, I’d like to know how many published pantsered books were actuall defacto plotted. That would be an eye opener.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Missy:

You wrote:

“I actually think if women can write male characters, then men can write female ones.”

I would say this is true about writing male and female characters but this question is really about meeting the expectations of women readers of romance genre novels. A man is only going to find out what makes a female reader tingle with delight by reading other female writers. A man will always be a secondary source. Women are always primary sources. It is very hard to compete with someone who has access to primary sources when you don’t.

Vince

Myra Johnson said...

Well, Vince, Autumn Rains was definitely not plotted. I knew the general direction the story would go, but not what would happen along the way.

As for Romance by the Book, if it seemed to change in midstream, that might be partly because I had to adjust my original story idea to fit the Heartsong parameters.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Defacto plotting. Guilty. But so far it is not punishable in a court of law.

Dana McNeely said...

How fun to hear of your writing partnership and how you brainstormed the original idea. I think I would love to write with a partner. And of course, now I want to read your Kit Shannon novels!

Lyndee H said...

Hi James,
Really enjoyed reading about your path into romance writing. Thanks for sharing with us.

Myra Johnson said...

So what exactly is "de facto plotting"? Is that, like, real plotting, or fake plotting after the fact?

Tina Radcliffe said...

It means I am a plotless wonder but I have great characters, so I turn in a book and an editor makes me plot.

Thank you God for editors.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Congratulations James!

I've not had time to view comments but other men have had success at this, and of course women over the years in the other direction. :)

If someone can wrap his (or her) mind around a character, I don't see where it would be an issue.

Encouraging that Tracie P was helpful in you going it on your own after previous success. That shows a wonderful humility, just the way it should be.

Thanks for a good perspective here!

Debra E. Marvin said...

It's late in the afternoon. I'm reading Vince's comments and suddenly I feel slow-witted. Very slow-witted indeed.
There's a science to it all. I agree. But all this thinking makes me want to go and color.

so many good questions popped up out of this post. Thanks Jim and Missy!
I'm glad to now know of the Kit Shannon novels. Love the premise!

pol said...

I sure am glad I stopped by today, even if it is late. I have not read this author and his books sound great so he has to go on my list. I keep finding all these good authors.
Oh Melissa you know vince will have an opinion -he has one on everything. I like to hear what he says too.
good to meet you James Scott Bell.
Paula O

Sandra Leesmith said...

VINCE you are tooooooo funny. I love your humor.

Vince said...

Hi:

Things are very slow at work today so I’ve been perhaps too technical. I’ll just answer this question I was asked about defacto plotting.


Real plotting is straight plotting. Defacto plotting is plotting by a different method than straight plotting but which nevertheless has the net effect of plotting.

For example, after a first draft is pantsered, a plot is superimposed over the work which is then implemented by requiring revisions. This work was 'plotted' after the fact. This is not fake plotting. Just as defacto discrimination is not fake discrimination (but very real indeed) defacto plotting is also very real.

However, if it helps make things clearer, ‘constructive’ plotting might be a better term than defacto plotting. Mr. Bell is a lawyer. Perhaps he can render a verdict. He might even say I’m all wet! (It wouldn't be the first time.) ☻

Vince

P.S. I still get hits every week on my review of “Romance by the Book”. I think people who read it love it.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my stars, I'm late to the party but so happy to be here with youse!!!

And I brought chocolate... So I'm clearly a favorite.

Did James bring food?

Ahem.

No.

Men.

Sheesh.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Walt, I think the editor might have been right with her/his take on your Japanese book, but the romantic element is lovely.

Which kind of just makes it a Single Title, right?

And Mary, yes!!! That opening line is so beyond perfect as to be amazing!

:)

Because it stays with you.

But I still love a whole book that stays with me better than the opening line, just that kind of book that makes me not want to finish... That makes me want to dwell in the author's world.

SIGH....

But my fave men writing women line was the one from "As Good As It Gets" when Jack Nicholson was asked how he wrote such wonderful women!!!!

"I think of a man... and then take away logic and reason..."

:)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'm dying laughing that Walt's tie is HIDDEN!!!

Pass the chocolate, peeps!!!

(snickering in upstate...)

Myra Johnson said...

You know what's funny, Vince? I'm a pantser who usually does VERY LITTLE in the way of revision. At least not plot-wise. I think it's because I write each scene according to what seems like the logical next thing that should happen. My characters' actions and reactions dictate the sequence of events, which naturally avoids the episodic writing that can sometimes happen with pre-plotting, and somehow the characters take me straight toward a logical, if often surprising (to me, anyway) climax and conclusion.

I love writing this way. It's crazy-scary sometimes, but every day is a journey of discovery.

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, I'm finally home and can type on my computer instead of my phone. :) I realized after I sent my message that it didn't say what I meant. So in answer to your comment...

I guess what I was trying to say is, if women can put themselves in a man's place to write his pov, then I think a man can put himself in a woman's place to write fiction that a woman would like to read (ie. romance).

Did that make any more sense? LOL I'm worn out! We've been out in the hot sun from 10 am to 5 pm for a high school regional tennis tournament! I'm sunburned and parched.

James Scott Bell said...

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. Sorry I'm late. I'll try to answer a few of the questions....

I never though of using a female pen name. Belle Scott-James maybe? I don't think so...

Ty Buchanan may make a novella return. I've been asked that many times.

Yes, I use the real Earl Rogers....and Teddy Roosevelt, and John Barrymore, and William Randolph Hearst, and Carrie Nation and all sorts of real historical figures. Why not?

The romance is really across the series.

I consult with my wife about anything I write, especially if a woman is the protagonist.

Speaking of romance, I love both plotters and pantsers equally!

Terri said...

I'm going to have to read one of these books, thanks for visiting Seekerville and educating me about them.

Mary Curry said...

Uh oh, I see Tina is volunteering me for something. Not quite sure what. I blame my poor frazzled brain on Common Core State testing. A sad thing to inflict on 9 year olds.

But we were talking historical romance. Thanks for stopping by today, James. Your path to writing historical intrigues me and I love getting to view your "What if?' process. That's my favorite game.

Missy Tippens said...

I love the husband/wife consult. My husband reads all my manuscripts. The problem is he always wants me to add more high action scenes. :)

Mary Curry said...

Missy said -


I actually think if women can write male characters, then men can write female ones


For the sake of discussion, I'll posit that the audience matters. Women writing male characters for a female audience might equate to men writing female characters for a male audience.

I wonder if male readers think women do an adequate job of portraying them (realizing of course that I'm making massive generalizations).



Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary Curry, I like your question... and your generalization.

I think you're right, audience matters and I mostly don't think men can write romance... in general.

But funny guys can write FUNNY romance because they're not afraid to laugh at themselves. So maybe serious guys can write a more serious story and touch hearts?

Interesting to mull... I love female writers that have fun with their male characters and I think women are more inherently aware of feelings, emotions, habits, Mars vs. Venus issues.... and a lot of guys are oblivious to any of that, and that's a huge difference in origin.

I'm looking forward to Vince's funny romance because I can totally see Vince writing romance that makes me laugh. And that's not an easy skill to master.

Vince said...

Hi Missy:

“I guess what I was trying to say is, if women can put themselves in a man's place to write his pov, then I think a man can put himself in a woman's place to write fiction that a woman would like to read (ie. romance).”

Now think about this. (Mary was spot on with her comment just above this one). When women write from the male’s pov in a romance they are trying to please other women…not men. Women don’t have to get men right from the male POV. Women authors have to get men right in the sense that women will think of them as desirable heroes. This is something women know first hand. Aren’t men in romances somewhat idealized from the way men really are in real life? I think so. Yet, since men don’t read romances to any important extent, women authors do not have to please them…only other women. This is a big advantage for women writers.

BTW the same applies when women want to write in a male genre like ‘shoot ‘em up’ westerns. Here the male hero enjoys beating up bad guys in bloody fist fights and shooting crooks in deadly gun battles. A lot of women may not get the vicarious thrill in all this mayhem but male fans of the genre do get it and love it. Men don’t want the violence to be off stage as many women prefer. Men want to vicariously take part in all the action. They want to hear the bones cracking. They want to fight and win and be a hero and get the woman -- not by romancing her but by the right of conquest.

It really is a Mars/Venus type of thing.

Vince

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

I posted my last post while you were posting yours. I never saw it but we sure are thinking alike. And almost at the same time. You’re amazing. ☺

Vince

Missy Tippens said...
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Missy Tippens said...
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Missy Tippens said...

Okay, deleted my last two comments to try to say better. :)

I see what y'all are saying. But I still think if someone loves a genre enough then they can write it so that it'll appeal to readers who also love the genre.

Mary Preston said...

I have no problem with a man writing Historical Romance. A great read is a great read!!

Gail Kittleson said...

Thanks, Jim. I ACCEPT your historical romance w.out a fuss!!

Gail Kittleson

karenk said...

I've read several of 'kit's novels'...and enjoyed them very much.

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, Missy, you're right! I think Nicholas... Dan Walsh.... James... I think they're good examples of the exception to the rule.

So while I think they can (and do) master the genre, I don't think it's a man-friendly thing most often.

Does that explain it better? And I love that Vince and I (I wonder if Vince BOMBED THE HSP test, too????) were thinking along the same lines!!!

Clearly, Vince is amazing as well!!!

♥♥♥♥

Naomi Rawlings said...

I'm late to this party too, but I'm leaving a comment anyway. Um, by the look of things (and after reading Mary's comments) I would say that this Kit series isn't historical romance but historical with romantic elements. In a romance novel, the H/H are together almost constantly and they get married at the end. No exceptions. Anything else is going to be historical with romantic elements or contemporary with romantic elements or whatever.

I'm not saying historical and contemporary novels can't have romance in them. They certainly can. But romance novels fulfill certain expectations, and if the H/H aren't together a lot and married at the end, then it's not a true romance. If you can flip through pages upon pages, or chapters upon chapters, of a novel and not have a single scene where the H/H are together in an uncomfortable and utterly romantic way, then it's not a romance. Sorry.

So do I think men can write romance novels? Nick Sparks is probably the only one I can think of (though I haven't read Dan Walsh yet). With Gilbert Morris, I remember his Chenney Duval series. It goes through 8 books before the H/H get married. And none of those books are true romances to my mind except for maybe the one in which they actually get married in the end.

Dare I say it aloud? I'm feeling brave so I think I will. It seems to me that the ABA has a good idea of what makes a romance novel. The CBA looks at a book with one scene where the heroine makes mushy eyes at a man and somehow thinks it's a romance. It drives me crazy, because when pick up a CBA book that's called a "Romance," I expect it to be a romance. All to often it's not.

Missy Tippens said...

Naomi, you can never be too late to our parties. :) Thanks for your thoughts!

Ruthy, I definitely agree that it's not typically a man friendly area. Like I said, my hubby is always asking for more action scenes when he reads my stuff. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Mary, Gail and KarenK, thanks for stopping by!

Missy Tippens said...

JSB, we really appreciate you sharing your experience with us!

James Scott Bell said...

Thanks for the invite, Missy, and the great discussion. I like what Mary said, A great read is a great read. That's the rule that keeps me going, and maybe it will mean more Kit...

Rose Milligan said...

I may be the odd duck, but I don't care if an historical romance is written by a guy or a girl. I haven't read the Kit Shannon books, but I've wanted to since reading Glimpses of Paradise. Glimpses of Paradise is one of my favorite books.

Marianne Barkman said...

I admittedly did wonder if Bethany just put your name on with well known authors or vice versa just to sell the novels, because they didn't change all that much when your name went solo, yes I have some of your novels on my shelf, and have read more! Thanks for the post!

James Scott Bell said...

Thanks, Rose, for the kind word about Glimpses. It may be the book I'm proudest of. It will come out soon as an e-book, too.

Marianne, I'm sure selling the books was a top priority, getting my name out there to a new audience and so forth. But it was a real, working relationship that was fruitful for both authors. Thanks.