Sunday, March 30, 2014

Smokin' Hot Guys

Every Wednesday, my friend and fellow Rose Alicia Dean hosts a game on her blog she calls Want, Wed, Waste, a takeoff on another game with less euphemistic labels. Of course, we have to explain our choices. Each week, it’s interesting which guys the ladies think are hot enough to want (or wed). Many of us have grown children who, probably, would be appalled that we would do this. We may be old(er), but we aren’t dead. I remember my dad teasing my mom about her heart throb, Tyrone Power. My sister and I would roll our eyes, especially when we were teens. Sheesh. Who wants to think of their mother having a crush on a movie star?

When given a choice of three guys during Alicia’s game, sometimes none floats my boat. Other times, it’s hard to choose and they’re all lust-worthy. Sometimes, my choices are way different from the other's. 

So what makes a man appeal to certain women? Looks? Character? Charisma?

Looks sure don’t hurt. Eyes, pecs, buns, hair. Women can be just as superficial as men. What about character? That means you have to know more about the person. Another interesting point some of the women playing the game mention when they chose the one they’d like to wed is how the guy is in real life. He can be handsome yet if he comes across as arrogant or treats his wife poorly, that guy is usually wasted. But give us a guy who is genuinely a good husband in real life, we all want to wed him.

Charisma. That elusive something that draws you in and makes your heart start to trip. Oh, yeah. That’s the hardest element of all.

When I play the game or add comments, I feel like I’m fifteen again, crushing on TV and movie stars. And that’s not all bad.

I blog here on the 8th and 30th of each month and Mondays on my own blogsite

Saturday, March 29, 2014

HOT OR COLD? Phew! It Can Be So Confusing!


When it comes to sensuality ratings in books, the hot or cold designations have always confused me.
 I’ve read wonderfully sensual passages where the couple reached the bedroom door and then..well, the rest was left to the readers’ (often very fertile) imaginations.

And I’ve read scenes where the writer has tried so hard to be outrageously hot that the love scene reads more like a sex ed manual.
And then there’s the totally I’ll-write-erotic-or-die scenes where I’ve wound up giggling in amazement and thinking, gee, that would be physically impossible unless you were eight feet tall and built like an Orangutan.

And who but another Orangutan would find that kind of sexy description hot?

Yep, in my humble opinion, writing really hot and sexy scenes that make the reader all hot and bothered is an art form and is done well only by really exceptional writers who have a knack for it. These scenes are usually highly emotionally charged as well as very physically hot.
I write romantic suspense, so the sexy hot and the murderously hot have to balance. It's also a mistake to try to forcer oneself to write hot - at least, it never works for me. Possibly because when I get to a certain point where it’s obvious I’m trying too hard to get  erotic - I’ll read it to my DH and we both fall about laughing.

My books usually have a couple of sensual scenes in them, but also a lot of banter between the hero and heroine which is both funny and sexy. I’ve been amazed when a couple of reviewers have described my heroines as bitchy, when they’ve actually been showing irritation or standing up for themselves with an Alpha male who’d swamp them if they didn’t. I wonder if these reviewers think women should always be meek and submissive and hide their true feelings?
Still, I’ve always considered my books to be in the ‘mild’ rather than ‘hot’ category, and I’ve often wondered if I should make them hotter. I’ve been surprised when publishers have put them in the ‘sensual’ category. And even more so with reader response. Here’s a few of the reader comments I’ve got:

“Phew – that book is sooooo hot!” Reader fanning herself with said book.
“Gee, I didn’t know sex could be like that!” Uhmmm, wistful reader….

“I marked the sexy parts in yellow highlighter to read to my partner.” What could I say to that?
"Hey, if you ever want help with the research, you know where to find me." Yeah, and I know where to find your wife, as well.

And the all-time most embarrassing of all? “I just loved the sex in that book. Do you think your husband would give mine some tips?” Okay, my poor DH is still squirming from that one, spoken loudly at a party.
Going sort of off-topic: when I was a kid, I used to watch old war movies with my dad. (Yes, I was a Daddy’s Girl). One of them involved a battleship slowly sinking in the freezing cold Atlantic. The Captain talks to the crew about abandoning ship. “We can either wait and hope we get rescued before she blows up, or we can take to the life boats. Would you rather freeze or fry?”

Freeze or fry. Be cool or hot. It’s a question I’ve wrestled with ever since.
Maybe I’ll solve it in the next book.

I'd love to hear comments about how other people feel on the hot/cool/cold issue! To get an idea of how I'm coping with the 'heat', click here to read the first chapters of  some of my books. :-)








Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Yin Side of Writing by Betsy Ashton

On March 17th, I wrote about the yang side of the yin-yang dichotomy. the hot female side of the equation. Today, I turn my schizophrenic brain to the yin side, the cold, calculating side of writing psychological mysteries. As I've said before, I listen to the voices in my head. I get inside the skin of my main characters. I get inside their brains.

Many writers counsel that you should write what you know. That won't work, because I have no firsthand knowledge about how to kill someone. Nor do I want to have it. David Baldacci counsels to write what you want to know. I like him. Good advice. I followed it.

Why the heck did I decide to write about a sociopathic serial killer?

I wanted to see if I could craft a story around a killer that's interesting, not likable, and who doesn't get caught. In first person. Singular. From a woman's point of view. About a female serial killer.

First, I had to craft a character who didn't fit the female serial killer stereotypes. She's not a black widow, killing her spouses for their money. She's not an angel of death, putting sufferers out of their misery. She doesn't fit any male stereotypes either. She's charming in her own way but not the way Ted Bundy was charming. She doesn't want to eat her victims. She thinks some people should not live. Period.

Okay, I have the character. I know what she looks like, where she grew up, what her profession other than killing is. I know where she lives, where she went to school, how smart she is. I now had to decide how she would kill.

I'm so tired of long-distance snipers who get off on pink mist. My character doesn't even own a gun. She's much more up front and personal. How about poisons? Exotic or common? I settled on common, things that you'd have in your house. How about sharp pointy weapons? Hmm, ice picks and K-Bar knives came to mind.

I started doing research on how poisons work in the body. Do you have any idea how much information there is out on the Internet about poisons. (NSA, you already know where to find me. Drop on by if you're in the neighborhood. I'll leave the laptop on.)

I developed a cadre of experts to advise me on how much rat poison can be mixed with cocaine without the user being any the wiser. I wanted to know how long snorting such a combination would take to make the user really sick or dead.

Is it scary to be in the head of a serial killer? Yes and no. It's not too bad because I know I can leave anytime I want. I think. Maybe I checked into Hotel California. The jury is still out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tastes that run hot and cold

I'm not talking about food-taste. I meant taste in books.

I've moved a lot in my life. A lot (like, 29 or 30 times). Around moves 10-15, I accumulated a lot of books. I dutifully moved boxes and boxes and boxes of books for the next 5 or 6 moves. I filled rooms, bookcases, and staircases with books.

In my last cross-country move (Move 25 or so), I weeded out a TON of books. I think I only moved maybe 5 or 6 boxes of books. When we did our last move, I weeded out even more, keeping only those books that I couldn't replace on my Kindle or ones which were so beloved, I felt I had to keep them. That brought it down to two boxes of books.

I've spent the past year going through those books and re-reading -- or not. I no longer have that experience of snuggling down in a big chair with a beloved book. Most of them don't interest me any more. A few books which I read and re-read now are boring or just don't intrigue me.

A few have remained keepers (Marion Zimmer Bradley; Daphne duMaurier; Martha Grimes). But the others have, sadly, gone to the recycle bin (they were falling apart at the seams). I did download them if I could, "just in case" I want to revisit. I have about a dozen to go, and then ...

Then I think I'll consult my list of "books to read someday" and start on them. I use Evernote to keep track of such things. Whenever I read about a book that sounds interesting, I fire up Evernote and jot down the name.

That stack should keep me busy for a while... let's see if I run 'hot' for any of the new titles.

J L Wilson
(30 books and counting)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Is Your History Up To Snuff by Vijaya Schartz

Please welcome Vijaya Schartz to The Roses of Prose today!
HISTORICAL FICTION is a well defined genre. The stories often involve fictitious characters, living in a specific historical time, in a specific place, where specific things happened. The history of the place and time serves as a frame or backdrop for the drama, the romance, the adventure, defining the fate of these fictional characters. That is the covenant of writing historical fiction.

It came to my attention recently that some historical authors think it’s all right to take liberties with history, saying writers should have artistic license. While I do agree with artistic license, it makes me cringe to think that authors would falsify well known historical facts to fit their fictional story. I say, if your novel is not historically accurate, it’s okay, but don’t call it historical fiction, call it fantasy, alternative history, Steampunk, or speculative fiction.

My medieval series is based on authentic legends. Like King Arthur’s stories, these novels involve ancient rulers and nobles throughout the middle ages. But their true story is a handful of recorded deeds, and they are better known through the legends than from historical records. I also call my Curse of the Lost Isle series MEDIEVAL FANTASY ROMANCE, not historical fiction, although I did intensive historical research.

The latest Steampunk version of Alexandre Dumas’s Three Musketeers shocked me at first. Not only they take liberties with the original work, but the battles portrayed include flying ships made of wood looking like galleons with large sails. Louis XIII is portrayed as a popinjay, and they did strange things with the cardinal and the queen... But at least, they didn’t call it historical fiction, just pure entertainment. I call it STEAMPUNK or HISTORICAL FANTASY.

ALTERNATIVE HISTORY is another genre that was popular a few decades ago, featuring alternate universes where, for instance, the South won the Civil War, the Nazis won WWII, or Napoleon defeated the English and conquered the British Empire. This also comes under SPECULATIVE FICTION, or ALTERNATIVE HISTORY, and is not considered historical.

I can have fun with pure fantasy stories portraying Lincoln as a vampire, or Game of Thrones, but that is in no way historical fiction.

When I watch THE TUDORS, or THE BORGIAS or REIGN, however, or when I read a book involving famous historical characters, whether true history or historical fiction, I expect the authors to do their research and feed me accurate dates, information, and historical facts.

Sometimes, during research, you may stumble upon a little know fact, or a small slice of forgotten history that was suppressed by the victors of the time, or an aspect of some historical feat too long ignored. The purely academic historians may not agree, but if you have the research to back up your claim, I’d say more power to you. Bringing this obscure part of history to light in a historical fiction novel is a great way to have it more easily accepted by the public at large.

Best examples of HISTORICAL FICTION are the works of British author Bernard Cornwell, whose historical research is intensive... as it should be. Other famous examples: LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo.

Before starting to write the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE series, I spent a decade researching the history, the legends, the local records throughout Europe, and it feels wonderful when readers and reviewers make comments about how accurately I portray the life of each particular time and place in my novels. I take pride in my intensive historical research, and I believe all true historical authors do.

So, please, when writing historical fiction, make sure your research is accurate and you have your facts right. More readers than you think are educated, especially in this genre, and you might lose your credibility as an author if you take liberties with historical facts... even when you are writing fiction.

2014 release from Vijaya Schartz:
Chatelaine of Forez
Curse of the Lost Isle Book 5
Medieval Fantasy Romance
from Books We Love Limited
in kindle:

1028 AD - Afflicted by the ondine curse, Melusine seeks the soul of her lost beloved in the young Artaud of Forez, who reigns over the verdant hills south of Burgundy, on the road of pilgrims, troubadours and merchants. But this dark and brooding Pagan lord is not at all what she expected or even hoped. He knows nothing of their past love, her Fae nature, or her secret curse. Must Melusine seduce and betroth this cold stranger to satisfy the Goddess and redeem her curse?

The gold in the rivers instills greed in the powerful, and many envy the rich Lord of Forez, including his most trusted vassals... even the Bishop of Lyon. When Artaud’s attraction to Melusine makes them the target of a holy hunt, will she find redemption from the curse, or will they burn at the stake?

Each book in the series can be read individually, but if you are like me, you'll want to read them in the right order. Here it is:

Book 1 - Princess of Bretagne
Book 2 - Pagan Queen
Book 3 - Seducing Sigefroi
Book 4 - Lady of Luxembourg
Book 5 - Chatelaine of Forez

Special edition box set of the first three novels (Curse of the Lost Isle) also available for a bargain price.

"Well written and factual, the book weaves history with fantasy and magic into a story that I could not put down." 5-stars on Amazon

Born in France, award-winning author Vijaya Schartz never conformed to anything and could never refuse a challenge. She likes action and exotic settings, in life and on the page. She traveled the world and claims to also travel through time, as she writes without boundaries about the future and the far away past. Her love of cats transpires in most of her books. Her stories collected many five star reviews and literary awards. She makes you believe you actually lived these extraordinary adventures among her characters. Reviewers compared her fast-paced, action-packed stories to Indiana Jones with sizzling romance, and she takes that as a compliment anytime.

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick