Thursday, February 11, 2016

When a Hero's Hot... He's Hot! Welcome to Differentiation Station!

Holy Hot Heroes, Batman!

Huge thanks to Kelly Howard of Penguin/Randomhouse for leading the team that produced this amazing and eye-catching cover!

I think we can all agree on the importance of a hot hero, a man that draws the readers sympathy and inspires their empathy. When you're writing romance, one way or another, there needs to be cross-appeal of your hero with the heroine... but more importantly, with the reader.

All heroes are not created equal.

All heroes are not over 6 feet tall.

All heroes should be larger than life in some way that grabs the heart, and soothes the spirit... or riles it up beyond belief!

All heroes don't have a rakish grin. Some have a stern countenance, some have a slight smile, some look grim, some are teasing, laden, happy, burdened, stoic, somber, carefree...

Heroes come in all sizes! (The Mighty Finn)
We run the full gamut of possibilities, and lucky for us, God created all types, so our job, nay, our duty as authors is to present each hero in his own unique way.

But when your series is a group of brothers.... and they all live on the same ranch, drive SUVs and ride horse, and the books are set in the same town, well... Welcome to Differentiation Station!

A writer doesn't have the ease of TV's Bonanza (Adam, Hoss and Little Joe) to instantly show the differences in size, stature, coloring, etc. An author creates those differences, but we do a lot more at Differentiation Station!

Hair color? Eyes? Nose? Does anyone really know what the heck an aquilene nose is? And does Roman nose translate to "big" to anyone else? Those nose descriptions always bothered the heck out of me because as necessary as a nose is, let me say this:


But if you do, go right ahead over to this issue of the U.K.'s Daily Mail and check out noses!

Snub or hooked, we here at Differentiation Station look beyond the obvious. We look to the heart and soul of the matter... ergo: The sublime.

(I might not be 100% sure what that means, but it sounds really good, right?)

I'm a numbers person with an analytical brain often at war with my creative nature and eager-to-please personality. This is a dilemma, but it's helpful in planning heroes!

Problem: three men, diverse personalities, all heroes, narrow time frame, same home setting, same town setting.

Possible solutions:

1. Birth order
2. Personality traits
3. Different mothers
4. Lifetime experiences
5. Different heroines

Looks only work to separate heroes initially... after that you need actions/reactions/personality/concerns/faults/flaws... for the reader to see/hear/feel the hero's personality come through

Colt Stafford:                          
First born                                                    
Mother deceased/childhood trauma remembered                    
Age 35                                                              
Take no prisoners attitude
Graduate of Wharton
Hedge fund manager Lower Manhattan
Investments tied up
Anger and resentment directed at father                
Kicked out after grad school
Always successful, never satisfied
Yawning hole where soul should be
Granite hard, almost heartless: key word: almost (reflective story like father, like son)
Ivory cowboy hat
Heroine primarily in ranch setting
Influenced by boss/NYC career/options (Natalie Monk, thank you!)

Nick Stafford:
Second born
Abandoned by mother
Age 33
Wants to best his father
Stayed on ranch
Anxious to please personality
Longs for normal life, wife, kids, church, All-American dream... Oops
Two daughters not allowed to be cowgirls
Lives off-site, suburban setting
Abandoned by wife (reflective story, repeating father's mistakes)
Scientifically adept at embryonic cattle breeding
Dark cowboy hat
Heroine has hobbit-style home in woods
Influenced by working w/father and former ranch manager/conflicting ideas (Natalie!!)

Trey Walker Stafford
Drug addict parents deceased/country music singers
Mother was Sam Stafford's sister, Sam rescued Trey and adopted him at age 3
Age 31
Poet's heart, writes country music
Country music superstar, widowed when wife succumbed to overdose (reflective story)
Grateful for being saved
Kicked out for wanting to pursue music in Nashville
Tan cowboy hat/baseball cap
Cinderella type heroine in run-down farm next door'
Must deal with strong music agent who isn't a fan of Trey's choices (Natalie!)

So basically we've got the chiseled winner suffering a great public loss, the one-upper who has crashed and burned and the fixer who's crawling out of the broken pieces surrounding him.


These men needed very diverse heroines, and they got them, and that helps me to magnify the differentiation more concretely in the reader's head. Not only are they different by physical stature, their living conditions, family conditions and conflicts are distinct. That helps us to set the heroes apart by association (remember the associative properties of mathematics? In the end, it's all mathematical!)

What other key or subtle ways could we use to set the men apart? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Hey, the good folks at Waterbrook/Multnomah are offering FIVE COPIES of "Back in the Saddle" today, they've opened their prize vault and want to welcome the villagers into the Double S Ranch in Central Washington with open arms!

Coffee's hot, and we've got Angelina's homemade bread, fresh butter and homemade sour cherry jam on the sideboard. Come on in and tell me what you like... and don't like, or would like to see... in your heroes and I'll toss your name into the freshly washed cat dish!

Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream and kind of giddy about it, frankly! She loves God, romance and likes to write the kind of stories she likes to read! You can find her on facebook where she loves to chat with folks daily, tweet her @ruthloganherne or stop by her website!


  1. Yee haw! I get to be the first commenter. I knew it would benefit me to sit up late to catch up on some much needed writing time. So of course, I'm procrastinating by hanging out in Seekerville.
    Ruthy, those Stafford cowboys sound amazing! I look forward to meeting them all.

    What do I like in a hero? I like the alpha heros. The ones that don't get all mushy and spill into song about how they feel, because face it, you should know from how they treat you. I don't like heros who push the alpha thing to the point of being controlling. Above all, the sexiest heros are the ones who aren't afraid to let God be in control. :)

    I'm a sucker for homemade bread, so I'm pulling up a chair and staying for a while.

  2. And what a cover that is!!! Gorgeous. On my wish list for sure. What gave you the idea for this series??

  3. First of all, I do agree that not every stinking hero has to be 6'2", muscular, sky blue eyes, dark hair, and a lopsided smile to make every woman swoon! They DO come in every shape, size, and personality :-)
    Secondly, I go for the heart of the hero. Sure they can have the look of a male model, but how do they treat others around them? What is their character like? I've read my share of romances over the years and have fallen in love with a lot of literary men without even catching one glimpse of them. I love what I call a "bad boy" redeemed & trying to make up for past mistakes. Someone who knows he's not perfect but will do what it takes to prove he's not the same person he was in the past. And who's faith & reliance on God plays a huge part in that! Maybe even what I call a quiet hero, one who lives out what he believes in every aspect of his life. He doesn't need to shout it to the world because if you ever met him, you'd know :-) Those are some of my favorite storylines! And I love a heroine who helps him along the way, someone who fits him so perfectly :-)

    That homemade bread, butter and sour cherry jam sounds wonderful!! I haven't made bread in a long time, but I sure can concur up the yeasty smell of it in my mind. Maybe a cup of coffee would be great as I eat it, virtually of course :-) Love your post Ruthy, and love some examples of how a writer distinguishes their heros. I've known my share of differing men in the literary world, nice to see some of the background work that plays out to make them that way. Thanks for all you do! And please do add my name to the clean cat dish for a copy of "Back in the Saddle"....thank you Waterbrook/Multnomah for opening the prize vault!

  4. *swoon* Love that cover! Colt may be tough and gruff, but he sure looks sweet and gentle next to that horse. :) Can't wait to read this series!

    These men could also be differentiated by the level of power/influence they have in their daily life/setting and who, if anyone, they take advice from.

  5. You had me at Ruth Logan Herne.

    Love the cover and I'm sure I will love the book!

    I should write more here. I'm just jumping in when I can. Finishing up projects before I go Down Under in a couple a...

    Thanks for a great post, Ruthy.

  6. Ruthy, I love getting inside your head! What a cool place to see, and then to get to read the books to know what you did with these ideas.

    Now I'm ready to go work a little more on my hero.

    Trixi, your comment gave me some ideas!

  7. Hi Ruth:

    My number one wish is for heroes and heroines and other major characters to have names that start with different first letters and that do not sound alike. That would do more than anything. Right now I'm reading two romances and in one the major male characters are Matt and Mark and in the other they are Drew, Daryl, and Dave (he's dead).

    It is hard enough to keep these names straight when you are reading only one book, say a chapter a night, but even harder when you are reading both books at the same time.

    As for making the heroes different:

    1. Give one a great sense of humor. Very sexy.
    2. Make one left handed and show how this can affect his actions and what others think of him.
    3. Give one a scar or birthmark he tries to hide at times but not all times. His worry about showing the mark can act as a leitmotif.
    4. Give one a favorite color which keeps showing up in small ways at different times.
    5. One could have an interest in asking others to come to his church. The others might scoff at this idea. "Cut the preaching and get to work".
    6. Have one drive an unusual vehicle: like a classic car or motorcycle.
    7. One could be a notorious flirt to all women at any age he meets but he is really shy. Another really is shy and shows it.
    8. One plays the harmonica. Is he good or annoying?

    It also helps to give characters names that also mean something else which is appropriate to their personality. This will make it easy to pick up on who they are if the reader switches between books or has longer waits between reading times. For example: Colt. Nick. Trey (meaning the third). Really good names. Ideal.


    Please put me in the receptacle for a cowboy book drawing.

  8. I always find the interaction that heroes have with animals to be telling and beautifully individual.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I's just like to say that I want this book based solely on the cover.

  11. I've read the blurb now and want it even more...

  12. I really, really want this book cause I really, really love Cowboys and romance.

  13. LeAnne! Isn't the cover amazing? I love that he's pictured with Yesterday's News (yes, there's a HORSE in the picture!!!!) :) and his positioning is perfectly reflective of Colt's struggle. Coming back to what he new first... and what he still loves despite long years of estrangement.

    Bread is here!!!! :)

  14. Tina! I've always wanted to branch into cowboys and when Natasha approached me about doing an interview with the amazing Shannon Marchese at Waterbrook, first I fainted... then pulled myself up off the floor and gave her two different ideas to look at.

    But my favorite and hers was doing the estranged brothers, the Bonanza meets Dynasty scenario.

    And I'm having so much fun in cowboyland!!!!

  15. Trixi, good morning! You made such great points! Some of my favorite all-time heroes are battle-scarred. Nick "Jacob" Jacobik from "Sweet Hush"... Oh, be still my heart!!!

    And I understand needing to make the hero a little "larger than life" because it's fiction, but also I love that realism tucked in alongside.

    And I have huge thank yous to my tallest, youngest son who works hedge funds for a big NYC firm because he helped me paint a strong picture of Colt's NYC financial side... and our long discussions about the state of the world and Wall Street helped, too!

  16. Natalie Monk! That's a great point, I'm going to add it!!!!

  17. Lyndee!!! Are you Aussie bound? SWEET!!!!!! And thank you for your kind words, I love you right back!!!!!

  18. Missy, I am revelling in your kindness, most people run as fast as they can when faced with what I'm thinking!!! :) My children would assure you that this is true!

    And yeah, Trixi's thoughts can be woven right in, right????

    And I've had a sneak peek at Nick's cover and if I say it's even better.... Oh mylanta, would you believe me?


  19. I'm laughing at the Drew, Daryl and Dave because that's my book... "An Unexpected Groom" Just so you all know!

    And in that series I've named every male character for a 2014 fallen officer, with the exception of Andrew (Drew) who was a member of our church family, killed in the line of duty ten years ago. I have never seen a more amazing thing than the police brothers and sisters outpouring of love for this fallen trooper. I wanted the Grace Haven series to be a quiet testament to those fallen officers.

    So, given the number of books and the sad fact that I had over 120 names to pick from, you'd think "easy"... but it's not because for that book I had to leave out any ethnic names (I get to use some of them in later books, "Cruz" Maldonado, and his Hispanic and Italian background, you will love him, ladies!) and I had to name Uncle Percy, Pete (fighting cancer in Texas) and I had to match names with what names would have been likely 35 years ago when these men were born.

    When I'm looking at a whole series, and honoring fallen officers, there's so much more than alliteration that I take into account, and having the name fit the person's age/family/ethnicity is really important.

    But I'm sorry you're confused!!!!

  20. Mary Preston, I agree... And I got to use horses, cattle, breeding dogs (Australian Shepherds) a cat with newborn kittens, and the occasional frog!!! :)

    I love working with kids and animals, and it was fun to show Colt's softer side through those interactions. And with older folks, too, some people have a real good way of dealing with aging friends.


    I love that you're that person. Me, too!!!!

  22. Dena, I'm throwing your name into the cat dish for certain! Grinning! Thank you, sweet thing!

  23. I love your post, and I love your book. EVERYBODY needs to get their name in the cat dish, because Ruthy's story is amazing! It's not just an amazing book cover, but the story is fun and entertaining. You don't want to miss reading this story!

  24. Morning Ruthy and I'm with the others in saying I love that cover. And your heroes. I've always loved your heroes. You really know how to develop their characters.

    Have a fun day.

  25. Oh yeah, I get what you're saying about not all heroes being over six feet tall. But I'm 5'10" and I tried dating short men way back when. Either I never got comfortable, or I was just waiting for my husband to come along. And yes he's 6'2" with amazing blue eyes. Sigh. I'm still crazy about him, but I think I've gotten way off the subject. Sorry, Ruthy!

  26. LOVE the cover, Ruthy! When writing heroes (and particularly heroes from the same family), it takes a lot of thought and effort to make them distinctive at many levels. You do a great job of that!

  27. Of course they don't have to be tall, look at Tom Cruise and Omar Sharif. And brothers can (and should) be different. Look at "The Big Valley" (I'm dating self). Who could be more different than Jarrod, Nick and Heath? And they had the same father and two of them had the same mother. Same with "Bonanza," which is probably where they got the idea.
    It is cold here in NH but at least we're done with the primary, what a circus, every four years the country discovers us. Kind of like "Brigadoon," only the music isn't as good.
    Please enter me in the drawing.
    Kathy Bailey
    Cranking up the heat in NH

  28. Jackie, thank you! I'm so glad you loved "Back in the Saddle", that means so much to me... and I'm all over that hearty recommendation! Sending cowboy-sized hugs your way!

  29. Sandra, good morning!

    What, no hero advice????




  30. Jackie, I love that! It's hard to feel petite at 5'10"!!!!

    I'm glad you got your 6'2" hero!

    And I guess we do kind of go a little crazy when designing our fictional stars!

  31. Good morning, Glynna!

    Well, thank you, I had fun doing it in Kirkwood Lake, those Campbell men... but they at least were all in different houses and I could vary that tone some... They gave me great insight to how to work with the smokin' hot Staffords, and then my Gallagher sisters in Grace Haven!

  32. The two heroes in the first books in my two series couldn't be more different.
    Karl Lenski is 5'10" but muscular, he was a boxer to put himself through college until he accidentally killed a man. He brought himself up on the docks of NYC, was wounded in a relationship, and is wary and careful in his speech. He is an introvert who acts businesslike, except with the clients he loves and serves in Hell's Kitchen.
    Michael Moriarty is 6'4", Irish and talks all the time. He's a notorious flirt who uses his blarney to get along in life and to cover the hole "green and hurting Ireland" left in his heart. He chatters all the time to cover the emptiness.
    Michael came from a large and loving family, whom he misses desperately, but he had to flee because of landlord troubles.
    It's interesting, as I started to write this the differences between the two men came out, and the main ones AREN'T REALLY PHYSICAL, although they're both attractive in different ways. The difference is how they got their wounds and how they deal with them. Wow, I learned something today, thank you RUTHY.
    Kathy Bailey

  33. KayBee, I loved watching the huge enthusiasm for the primary! It was really exciting, I love seeing the governmental process at work.

    And think of the sales at the Airport Diner!!!!

    You're right, they don't all have to be tall... I think the best character definition comes from how we authors handle them in their "day to day" responses and conflicts. With six kids at home, I guarantee you that the all handled things quite differently, and learning how to handle me as their mother prepped them for REAL LIFE!!! :)

  34. Holy cow! Just reading your list you've got me swooning over Trey, Ruthy. I can't wait to read this series.
    Please enter me in the drawing. If I lose, I'm buying it because I LOVE THE COVER!

  35. HOWDY! As a reader, I am drawn those heroes that are strong yet compassionate. The occasional bad boy is exciting too.... I love a redemption story!

    The cover is swoon worthy!

  36. Ha ha ha ha Ruthy And you think I am going to attempt to give YOU advice? Its more like the other way around. Although I have to admit I have more problems with the heroines than the heroes. You usually get after me about them. chuckle.

    But hey, like I said, your heroes are dynamite. I do like the alpha strong type personally. Never could stand a man I could boss around. And I can be bossy. But like LeAnne, I don't want them to be controlling either. I like them strong, take charge, protect and allow their tender and loving side to show (for the heroine of course) That's my favorite hero.

  37. I like my heroes to be strong and rugged with a softer side for his woman, but she has to be HIS before she ever gets to see it. Thus, she has to look past the rugged, hard-as-nails exterior to find the gentle man. Yeah, HIM! Swoon-worthy.

    <3 you, Ruthy, and would love to win one of these books. :)

  38. I love how you outlined the likes and dislikes of your male characters. How neat. It really made me think. The horse is gorgeous on this cover. I have a hard time deciding between him and the hero. Smile. Thanks Ruthy. Coffee is tea good today.

  39. Whoops. Please put me in the cat dish for the drawing. Thank you very much.

  40. Ruthy, Love this cover and love the descriptions. Please enter me for a copy of this book.

  41. KayBee, I see exactly what you're saying. And those experiences + our inherent personalities dictate behavior which is then softened, hardened, altered by what they face in the story.

    Glad to help! ;)

  42. Jill, I'm tossing your name in but glad you'll buy it in any case because gosh, sales make EVERYBODY HAPPY! :) Big Ruthy grin here, and I think this delightful series is just amazingly swoon-worthy, but I love, love, love the heroines too.

    And Angelina is one tough cookie, with a gracious heart, but you don't get to be a Seattle detective by sitting back and watching the world go by... I loved creating her persona.

  43. I'm in lake effect snow bands right now. White out conditions, blizzardy, straight off Lake Ontario. It will look fine, then you're suddenly thrust into a blinding squall.

    And I caught my grandson's cold, which means I'm staying put, with tissues and Halls cough drops and working in the room with the woodburning stove...

    That's how today is going in upstate, at least along the lake!

  44. Caryl, I love that strong but compassionate type, too, and if they've been wounded... SWOON!!!! But not if they're a jerk, and while Colt knows how to be a jerk... He's also got a heart just waiting for the love he lost as a four-year-old boy when his mother died in a tragic accident...

    He's been mad at God for a Very Long Time!

  45. Sandra! Laughing, I'm glad you came back!

    Well, writing heroines who are strong but not witchy and dictatorial is tricky, isn't it?

    And of course we want them to be compassionate, but not wimpy, needy women.

    ALTHOUGH, I know there's a place and a readership for women of more genteel natures than my heroines.

    I kind of tease those folks with sensitive natures, though. Remember that "test" a couple of years back, that we all took? And Mary and I were labeled "INSENSITIVE"....

    I'm still kind of proud of that! :)

    Do you suppose it's because we're Northern girls????

  46. GINGER!!!!! I'm so glad to see you, sweet thing, and I'm tucking your name right into that freshly cleaned cat dish... Wait. We should use a cowboy hat for today's names, don't you think?

    Oh my stars, the cats will be So Happy!!!!!

  47. Suzanne, good to see you! And I'm tucking your name in, and I know, the horse (Yesterday's News) is gorgeous... And the gentle hold and the lowered jaw of the hero make me think he's whispering to keep Yesterday's News calm while they get ready to herd up some young mama cows! Heifers are not to be trusted at birthing time!

  48. I always like knowing birth order and family background, very basic elements that help form our personalities. The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leeman really helped me understand my sisters a little better. People always ask how siblings can turn out so different when they are raised in the same family but actually each child's experience/role within the family is unique.
    That cover is fantastic! Love the rugged stubble and beautiful horse.

  49. Love a hero with contrasts. Like maybe he's a tough cowboy with a penchant for bread baking. Or a big city executive with a hobby farm on the weekends. Something that doesn't quite fit and takes a reader by surprise.

    I've been on a cozy mystery kick and have been reading Isabella Alan's (Amanda Flower) An Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series. So much fun. Love her sense of humour. The hero is a pretty serious, stern sheriff, married to his work. Part way through the first book the heroine runs into him walking his Boston Terrier, Tuxedo, Tux for short. So not the kind of dog I would have picked for him and -- and in fact, didn't think he was the type to have a pet. So to discover that he was a dog lover and one who gave his dog a 'cute' name, well, it melted my heart right on the spot.

  50. Ruthy, I love the cover and that cowboy is sizzling and from this post, I know his journey towards his happy ending with the heroine will be a great ride!!

    You've given us some great ideas to use when we're creating our heroes. Thanks!


  51. The last couple of years, my family has really gotten into the old western show, The Virginian. Each episode was an hour and half long, so it's like watching a mini-movie. And it gave them more time to dig deep into the characters.

    The cowboys are just as you describe. I can tell you how each cowboy would react in a certain situation. I try not to dissect the plot and characters while I'm watching it, but can't help myself.

    I'm an alpha hero fan!

    Love your cover and your cowboys.

  52. Ruthy, now I HAVE to read this series! I love how you broke each hero down; I can already imagine how each of their characters act and respond to events.

    Please add my name to the drawing!

  53. Nobody does heroes better than Ruthy. Just for the record, I am in love with all three Staffords. If I could take my pick I'd probably go for Trey. Who can resist a crooner? Still must admit that the Mighty Finn tops them all. The adorability factor is off the charts with that one! Ruthy, you did a marvelous job differentiating the three Staffords and I can't wait to read the next story about the Stafford family!

  54. These guys sound fabulous! I'm wondering what unities them? Sports? Did they all play for the same high school team & stay loyal fans? Do they all love the NY Jets? the Steelers? Or do they stick together in their battles against their father?

    And that is some mean Daddy! He needs a novella all his own! He's got to be redeemable because he did raise 3 boys mostly on his own (I'm assuming). And he's got granddaughters, so that had to have totally made his heart mush!

    Congrats, RUTHY!!!! You did it again!!!!

  55. Good morning Ruthy (I wrote my original post at 9pm my time)! I hope there's bread & sour cherry spread left :-)

    Anyway, I've had some time to think on this a bit more. How about older heros? Those who maybe have loved one woman for a long time & now are widowed. Not necessarily looking for love again, after all they've loved well already, but it comes anyway. Maybe he has strong hero sons or heroine daughters or even a mix of the two that he's raised and looking forward to his golden years (think family series?). I've not read many books with older men, I think it would be a great storyline :-)

    Or how about someone with disabilities, a war hero or the like who's lost a limb or ended up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life or have been that way since birth? How did he handle it? Or is he still struggling with it, and maybe a heroine comes along who sees past all that to his heart?

    And lastly, how about a hero with an unusual career choice? Not your typical macho construction worker or the like, but maybe he owns a bakery, runs a daycare, or is second in command to a woman CEO or something like that? Is he comfortable in a more feminine role & how do others around him treat him because of it? And his reaction to that?

    You see, going out of the norm, there are so many possibilities to shape a hero! At least that's this readers take on it. I don't always want the macho tough guy as my hero, men can be sensitive too. That certainly doesn't mean he's a wimp either, he can be strong where it counts, on the inside :-)

    Thanks for letting me chew on this a bit more and come back with a few ideas. Just like women, there are a vast variety of men out there of differing personalities, abilities, strengths and weaknesses! It's called being!

    And if I'm way off base, please pardon me :-)

  56. WOW, Ruthy, I am TOTALLY impressed at how you break down your heroes!!! I'm ashamed to say that I simply write my heroes, like a person in the dark, feeling my way since I pretty much do everything by feelings. :|

    I am really anxious to read your Waterbrook series, my friend, because I just KNOW the heroes are going to blow me away!!!


  57. Beth, welcome to Seekerville!!!! I agree, that birth order makes a difference in so many ways. I don't think it's always the way they categorize it, but you can see that the varying events, times and the person's inborn personality take their toll on all of us!

    I know a couple of families who lost their first-born. That thrust the second-born into a role they didn't want or aspire too, and it felt weird they said later. As if they were pretenders to the throne.

    And I love that stubble, too! :) Not too much... Just enough.

  58. Ruthy, loved this post. Also loved that you included a picture of Mighty Finn. I love reading his adventures everyday on FB!

    Another way to differentiate the characters could be their level of faith or lack of faith. How does God fit into their lives if at all?

    I liked your comment to Vince about using names that were appropriate to the era. It bugs me when writers use names that don't fit that age group. I just read a book that was only written about 13 years ago, but the names of the high school kids in the books were all names that were common when I was in high school years ago. Then I read another book in which a woman of about 30 had a name that has only been in use for about the last 10 years. But I have to admit I caught myself doing that when I started the book I've been writing. I was giving some characters names too old for their age. Hopefully I have fixed that!

    Please enter me for the drawing. I would love to read this book.

  59. Kav, that's a wonderful thing to note, the little dog and the fun name! It makes the stern sheriff seem approachable... and look at you, steppin' out into mysteries! That sounds like fun!

  60. I haven't seen The Virginian ever!!!!

    Connie, is it good? #bingewatching weekend!!!!!!

  61. Cindy Regnier, thank you!!!! I love that folks get a glimpse of all three heroes in book one, Waterbrook and Shannon were wonderful in how we shaped the stories to bleed into each other...

    And with all the romance going on, I loved being able to create glimpses of growing harmony amid chaos.

    Families are the most convoluted things!!!!

  62. Dear Ruthie...I'm Sooo excited about your new book...Can't wait to read...I always love getting lost in your stories and I get sad that they end way to soon...I enjoy passing them on and sharing the excitement with others no matter where I am ...Thank-you Sweet Lady for sharing once again from your heart❤

  63. Jana!!! I'm so glad you made it over!

    Well, they're united even though they're still BOYS... :) And the reckoning with Sam hits them all differently, but it is a tie that binds. And Sam's experiencing a very stubborn change of heart, and change doesn't come easily... or without some pain... for men who aspire to total world domination!

  64. Yes, Ruthy, it's good.

    Binge watching for sure.

  65. Trixi, those are some great ideas!

    You have given me food for thought, my friend.

    Now there is a reason why so many romance heroes tend to have strong, assertive jobs, because it sells books.

    But you're right, there are other ways to construct heroes! I'm going to practice!!!

  66. Well, Julie...

    You think I did this AHEAD of time?

    Come on, you know I'm a pantser.

    The books are all written.

    The heroes are all scripted.

    :) So that's how I could make the lists, LOL!

  67. I love Ruthy heroes. Colt is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO swoonworthy. I cannot wait until the Nick's book is ready.

    I'm also just waiting for the time to come when I can post my rave review of Back in the Saddle. I think I need to read it again just for the shivers of happiness reading a Ruthy book produces.

    Technically I am a first born, except I was adopted and grew up as a middle child (when, in fact, I'm the eldest of 8 biological siblings). The "first-born" on my biological father's side is VERY MUCH first born, even though I'm older by less than a year. She scares me (not in a bad way mind you, but still...). Nature? Nuture? I've discovered I'm a thorough mixture of both. It's always interesting to discover the parts of me that are that way because of biology and not the mom who invested so much of herself into me. I tell lots of people I got the best of both worlds.

    Love this post Ruthy!!!! Love your books even more.

  68. Safta2Eight, welcome to Seekerville!!!! What a wonderful thing to say, you've just made my day! Thank you!!!! I'm tucking your name into the cowboy hat, so watch on Saturday when we post the winners list!!!

    I'm so glad you took the time to come over today!

  69. I'm trying to pin down how I differentiate heroes.
    In Kincaid Brides I took a very deliberate BIRTH ORDER approach

    It's so hard to pin down, honestly.
    In Trouble in Texas
    Petticoat Ranch...Clay is a mountain man who's never been around children, powerfully drawn to the softness of women, terrified of tears and endless giggling and chatter.
    He sees a woman as someone he needs to protect and he's signed on with one of the toughest, most self-sufficient women ever born.

    Calico Canyon...a widower whose children are absolutely out of control and who does NOT want anything to do with another woman. Daniel talks to loud, has now social graces and his 'straight talk' is downright rude.

    Gingham Mountain...Grant is driven by his own lonely, struggling childhood as an orphan. He wants to care for any children he can find. It eats at him when he lies awake at night...even though he's taken in around 30 children by the age of the thought of children suffering, cold, hungry.

  70. I think their upbringing and their career and their former experience 'create' them more than looks.
    Making the names very different is important but sometimes when a book is three series long you create new characters in book #2 and don't really think of how their names will affect book #3. Somehow in book three they end up in the book with some minor character whose name is ridiculously similar. And it's too late to change names because they are already in print in books #1 and #2.

  71. This looks really interesting in the characters who will bring the story to life. Can't wait to 'move' to Differentiation Station!

  72. I called the series Trouble in Texas but I MEANT Lassoed in Texas, which isn't to be confused with Lassoed by Marriage....sorry

  73. In the Montana Marriages series I think those three heroes are so different it doesn't even bear discussing.

    RED-The kindly Irish preacher
    SILAS-The tough guy rancher who likes wild places
    WADE-The abused child with a newborn faith struggling to be a man and live his faith and deal with his abusive father.

    NOPE no one would mistake them.

    But you can see this has NOTHING to do with names or how they look really they are very different people.

    Sophie's Daughters
    Alex the nearly insame PTSD war survivor who could somehow cling to sanity when his woman was with him. It might be, because she slapped him with her hat when he started acting crazy.
    Logan the western artist who has little clue about surviving in the west. (he was so different and so fun)
    Tom Linscott the super tough rancher who claims his woman, the fastest gun in the west, waaaaaay faster than Tom....and he's really good.

  74. Totally agree about noses.

    I like a strong hero who appreciates how God designed men and women.

    Please enter me in the drawing and congratulations on your latest published novel!

  75. You can see again, I'm barely aware of it now just because I looked at what I'd written before, but there is NOTHING about describing their hair or eyes and height that has a think to do with how different they are. It's WHO they are, how they react to the world, their skills, their backstory, their anger or peace or fear.

  76. Ruthy, I loved this. You are so thorough in differentiating between the three brothers. I'm working on a series with three sisters. I'll have to think through these things and how they apply in my situation. :)

    I loved your picture of Mighty Finn. When my youngest was about that age, and my husband was traveling, he called. After I chatted with him for a bit, I gave each of our boys a chance to talk with Daddy. When my youngest got ahold of the phone, he immediately pressed it to his ear and began walking around the house while he talked and listened . . . I think he'd been watching me too much. ;)

  77. Oh Ruthy - - when you create heroes, you *really* create HEROES!!
    Loved this post today - - but I must agree with a comment someone else (forgot who?) made: The Mighty Finn tops them all! :) What a cutie!!
    I would say please enter me in the drawing, but it's okay - - because I'm planning to purchase this anyway.
    Hugs, Patti Jo

  78. Fantastic cover, Ruthy! The cover alone would make my buy the book! I'm a sucker for cowboy books but I love all kinds of heroes! That's why the "back cover" is important to me. I read them very closely to see if I want to read the book! The front cover is what reels me in to begin with though! Ha ha! Can't wait to read this book though....YEE HAW!!!!!

  79. Deb H., that's such a good point!

    The nurture vs. nature is such a rage debate, and of course so much of it depends on the kid's nature (what they're born with) and how they're nurtured, what's encouraged, what's discouraged.

    I think we're safe either way, because there are always exceptions to rules!

    I love exceptions!

  80. Love how your mind works, Ruthy! And wish mine worked as well. :)

    Your series looks fantastic. That cover is a keeper, for sure. What a handsome hunk of a cowboy. Be still my heart!

    Each of your heroes is so well drawn. Each unique. Each compelling. Each story loaded with conflict. What's not to like?

    Congrats, dear friend. You and your stories ROCK!

  81. This comment has been removed by the author.

  82. I don't have time to read all of the comments, but this post is wonderful, Ruthy.

    We get in such ruts with our heroes, don't we? I mean, really, how many tall, dark, handsome men with twinkling eyes and a stellar sense of humor exist in the world? (My daughter's fiance has actually cornered the market on that particular description, thank you very much!)

    But you only need to hang out at a bridal fair to see that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. (Can you tell what I've been doing lately?) Every bride is different, every groom is different.

    What makes one girl's bell ring will turn another one off. Even when they're brothers.

    So to make the differentiation between the characters, I'd focus on the heroine's reaction to HER guy. What makes him stand out to her? What does she like best about him? What drives her crazy?

    The brothers might be as alike as peas in a pod, but each couple will grow together differently, and the right way for them.

    And don't put my name in the cat dish. I'm waiting not-so-patiently for my copy on pre-order! *toes tapping impatiently*


  83. Ruthy, I just finished Back in the Saddle and loved every page! The family bonds....and all the complications strong-willed families create....made for great storytelling. Even though this is Colt's story, I liked meeting Nick and Trey with the amount of details you included in the book, and YES, they are all different in the ways you depicted them.....and I love them all! I'm interested in learning about the complimentary heroines for the younger guys. Who will you match them with to soften their hearts and make them complete?

    Thinking about your question on other ways to distinguish between them and for other heroes, perhaps the Bible verses they mention and think about would show part of their Colt thinks of the words "as we forgive those who trespass against us" concerning his relationship with his father. Each of the sons may have forgiveness issues, but Nick would lean heavily on what the Bible says about being a good father. Trey I'm not sure about yet, but maybe scripture which praise God as his music does.

    Thanks, Ruthy, for a great post on showing the differences between heros....lots to think about. And I agree, that cover captures the "feel" of the story.....and Colt is that guy! Love both the cover and the book....yes, every page! And I'll have Angelina's Cherry Cake, please!

    PS: Noses? My husband has a classic, dignified straight nose....a very handsome nose.....and it suits him noses don't always need to be off limits in a romance. :)

  84. Mary, I've done that with extended series, too... And ended up with similar names or circumstances.

    Generally I'm pretty sure if the readers are engaged, they're engaged. I know I'm that way, and the readers that contact me are that way for the most part...

  85. Mary, dying laughing over those titles!!!! Eegads, even I might get confused with all those lassos and troubles! :)

  86. Jeanne, I love that, when little kids surf with the phone!

    And thank you for your kind comments, I'm going to tell you something: Sisters are easier.

    Not only the physical differences (think Petticoat Junction) but women are generally more mercurial than men, and cowboys are notoriously grunters.

    So with women you can peg that personality from the get go and keep them in that groove.

    But men??? Grunting and drawing those brows and lost in thought over a spark plug when we're pretty sure they're stewing over something major and about to ask for a divorce.

    Men are so manly.

    So I find them a little tougher to differentiate.

    But not in Differentiation Station!!! :)

  87. Can't wait to read it! I'm so happy you always have lots of coffee waiting when I visit Seekerville.

  88. Hey Ruthy,
    Sorry you have a cold, stick by that woodstove (I'm hugging up to mine as well, freezing in Va)You need some chicken soup, it'll fix you right up.

    I stopped in early this morning, but didn't have time to comment, almost missed out on talking about favorite heroes.

    DebH said it well, can't wait to post a review of this excellent book! I love Colt, but have to say, Ruthy hasn't written a hero yet that wasn't attractive with a depth of character that made me fall for them. I can't wait for Nick's story, there's just something about him that's appealing, a single dad who's wife took off on him, now trying to be the best dad he can while running the ranch. (reminds me somewhat of Matt in More Than a Promise, and you know I'm definitely crushin on him).

    Cruz sounds interesting too. I need to get ahold of a copy of "Sweet Hush", I've heard you talk about it so much I feel like I'm really missing something.

    There are as many different types of heroes as there are heroines. Jan just said that so well. One type I enjoy reading about is the hero who has loved a girl for all the time he's known her, whether she even knew it or not. A man who won't give up on the girl, even if she's made mistakes or worse rejected him. A guy who can't be persuaded to not love the girl no matter what. A man with an unconditional love for her. That's the bottom line for me, a hero whose love is infinite and unwavering. A hero like that, once found is one the heroine won't ever let go of. After all, isn't that what ever man and women wants in a relationship? to be loved unconditionally for who they are, flaws and all?

  89. Patti Jo, I love you.

    The Mighty Finn loves you! :)

    His Grammy buys him ice cream when kind people buy her books!!!

    Isn't he stinkin' cute????

  90. Valri, that's a great statement... that the cover draws, but then you read that back copy and decide. I do that, too! I want to feel what the back copy paints for me.

    Thanks for being here, my friend!

  91. Debby Giusti, AWWWWWW.......... You got me all ver klempt! Stop that this minute!!!!

    I do get a kick out of all of this, that's for sure. It absolutely delights me.

  92. Jan, that's totally intuitive... that the way a heroine reacts helps define the hero. And even the differences in the heroine help to portray the hero's unique qualities because they're not all attracted to the same kind of woman.

    Awesome observation!!!! And thank you for the preorder!!!! Happy dancing!

  93. Sherida! I'm so glad you loved it, thank you! Your words made me beam!!!!! And it was so fun to layer the men in that first book... and then to tweak it once book two was done... and then to get Trey's story done before the final edits on book two so I can make sure they align.

    Way til you meet Nick's heroine!!!! OH MY STARS I LOVE HER SO MUCH! She's like the perfect blend of intelligent snark and medical compassion, I mean she's a great character with such flaws.... but when you read her character, you see that level of strength even though she knows she's flawed and scarred and living in a hobbit house! :) It's a great meeting of minds and she calls him out almost instantly.

    I ALMOST felt sorry for him!

  94. Patricia, I love that you came over here to visit!!!! Yay, you! And coffee is clutch, isn't it???

    I hope you love this one, Patricia, you have to let me know, okay???

  95. Tracey, the hero in Phenomenon, played by John Travolta who kept showing his love day in and day out even though she never gave him reason to hope... and he bought her ugly chairs. To me that was a great analogy of that persistent man who won't stay down... and I know it wasn't a great movie, but that little tidbit stayed with me...

    When the old man said "He bought her chairs" as if to show that made all the difference in the end.

    So many men forget to "buy the chairs".

    I like that kind of hero, too, it's almost a Heathcliff kind of thing without the A-N-G-S-T overload!

    Cruz is the hero in Grace Haven 3 and he's got a little bit of Colt in him, but for very different reasons. And he gets to be the cool, hard-edged guy because he'd been hurt, but life has a way of being very different as a grownup, doesn't it? I love that Love Inspired allows me to delve into some of today's issues, there's an illegal immigration thread in Cruz's story and we see the darkness of the cartels and the plight of people with no jobs and a thin future... And I'm talking too much!!! :)

  96. RUTHY said: "even though she knows she's flawed and scarred and living in a hobbit house!"

    I laughed a little too hard at that one.

  97. The hobbit house grabs me every time. :)

  98. Ruthy, I. LOVE. THAT COVER. AND THE AUTHOR IS AWESOME, TOO! I would love to win it. The book, though the author would be good too.

  99. Hi RUTH - loved this post! You are so right! Heroes come in all sizes! Audie Murphy was only 5' 5" and one of the most decorated combat soldiers ever - he was even awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Such an incredible story.

    You said "...lucky for us, God created all types, so our job, nay, our duty as authors is to present each hero in his own unique way." Such an interesting and inspirational thought!

    Love the cover of your new book, and the picture of The Mighty Finn :-) Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!

  100. Hey Ruthy,
    LOVE your cover! I'd buy it without even knowing the story line!
    And the description of all those heroes are wonderful. Can't wait to read them!

    Personally I love a wounded hero - one who hides his despair behind a wall of armor! It takes a good woman to teach him how to love, and to believe that above all else, God loves him too!

    Glad to see you back on Facebook again!!
    I'd love to be in the draw for a copy of your book!
    Sue (who is in between deadlines at the moment and can breathe again!)

  101. WEll Ruthy Maybe its because you're Northern girls, but I know women are tough and/or have had to be tough in all parts of the country. The world for that matter. And we have our sensitive ones. And our needy ones. But when you look at the master plan, we are all made for what we are meant to do. Psalm 139. Oh my, aren't I sounding wise. ha ha ha. But I remember when I used to yearn to be like so-and-so and now I've learned to be thankful for who I am because looking back I see why I am the way I am. yay.

    So now to impart that into our heroines and make them the women our heroes are going to love. You are a master at doing that Ruthy girl.

  102. I'm in Havasu today. Took friends up the Colorado for a 20 mile kayak trip and I get to be their shuttle. Yay. Lots of writing today while out in the middle of nowhere waiting for them. JUst picked them up and we're headed for Dairy Queen back in town. I'll bring you all some blizzards. Name your type and help yourself. Don't you just love Blizzards? Its 80 plus degrees out too. Finally broke that cold spell. yay.

  103. Ruthy, Thank you for the post. One thing I notice I do way too much is to make my characters only children! Must stop doing that. I do have one set of twins, and I fully intend on writing the older twin's story this year. As a mother of fraternal twins, I hope I can write a set of identical twins well. I remember taking my twins in a stroller into a bakery, and a high school boy stopped me and told me he was an identical twin and he always felt like he was competing with his brother. But I digress away from heroes and how to differentiate them. Thanks for some tips and for making us think!

  104. I just HAD to stop by and say hi! Y'all know how much I loooove this cover, Ruth! Hubba hubba! 😉

    Not an entry


  105. I will just say up front that I'm partial to heroines. Heroines make one's own world go round.

    That said. In reading this, I know I don't give enough thought to the birth order, circumstances of birth, etc. and how this affects a personality. These are things I need to work on.

    And, in one more shout-out to hot heroines, I have to mention Lena in Refuge of the Heart.

  106. Sorry to be so late. It's been the kind of day when I sure could have used a cowboy! I love this book. Can't wait to read it.

  107. Great hero post! Love them all! Love Mighty Finn too and sure love Colt! I've really enjoyed Back in the Saddle. Loved everything about it. (My review is up tomorrow on my blog.) I want to jump right into the next Stafford boy. Who will it be, Ruthy?

  108. Holy hot heroes, RUTHY! I would not be able to choose a favorite out of the three. I respond to each of them for different reasons. Well done!

    Nancy C

  109. Looks like such an excellent re. So love the cover.

  110. Love the cover! I don't think I would like Nick (or any "hero") who wouldn't let girls be cowgirls. I like heroes that help people especially if they do it without expecting any praise. Can't wait to read it. Any book written by Ruth Logan Herne is a good book!

  111. Ruthy,

    Hot Hunky Heroes! Whew - had to go splash cold water on my face! Love the cover of your new book and can't wait to read it!

  112. The cover is awesome! Your post inspiring. Throw my name in the bowl for this book. You've got my attenton, girl.
    Cindy Huff

  113. Wowie, that cover. The brothers all sound exciting I can't wait to read all their stories and get to know them. Your books are always at the very top of my want to read list. Please throw my name in the cat food dish for the srawing. Thank you.

    Deanne P.

  114. Yeah, I'm a sucker for the strong, silent type with the big heart he's hiding from the world. I agree that they don't all have to be tall, dark and gorgeous but there needs to be something about them that catches the heroine's eye. Would love to win the book! Ruth is one of my favorite authors!!

  115. I like heroes who aren't perfect but are learning and growing. The stories where the hero is practically perfect in every way and the heroine has all the problems are really annoying. =) On the flip side of that, I have read a book where the hero was a jerk at the beginning and still a jerk at the end. So here's to learning, growing, heroes. =)

  116. I love the cover. Bonanza was a great TV show...all of the brothers had different characteristics that made them heroes. I can't wait to read your series. I like your breakdown of each one of the brothers.

  117. I love the Byronic heroes. The ones who are misunderstood, contemplative, might have a bit of a past, who are more than meets the eye. I think of Mr. Darcy or Dantes (Count of Monte Cristo). These tend to be my favorite kind of heroes. There's plenty of character to develop as the story unfolds.

  118. Great cover. Honesty is what I like to see in a character.

  119. Strong and not too chatty. Faithful. A little dark, but not too dark. :-)

    Please throw my name in.
    Becky B

  120. Sounds like a wonderful story! I would love to win and Thanks for the great coffee as well :)

  121. Ruthie, your post makes me think of Susan May Warren's Christiansen Family series which featured six siblings! Actually, there are several series or trilogies that have siblings (brothers, sisters, or a mix) as main characters ... I didn't think about it until now, but it must be challenging at times to have characters with similar backgrounds, but have them all come across as different (I'm assuming the Staffords are brothers at least).

    I think likes and dislikes might be one way to distinguish between siblings. Even if they're superficial (like music tastes or foods) it might reflect or tie into other deeper aspects of the characters that are created. E.g. --A character who enjoys Korean food because she studied abroad or a character that dislikes nuts because her younger sibling was allergic and almost died from being to near them.