Men who read romance and other mythical creatures.

Romance is for women, right? Men wouldn’t touch the stuff, right?

Oh, naysayers, I am shaking my head at you! Why? Because you’re wrong. There are men out there who regularly read romance…and not because a book with a sexy cover happened to fall into their hands. They seek it out.

Don’t believe me?

This past week, I received a lovely message from a reader on Goodreads. I won’t post his message here but I was tickled pink when I read it. This young man reached out to let me know he was a fan, that he had read the majority of my books and was looking forward to following my series as they continued.  You can imagine my delight (thank you, Jay Jay!)

Is this reader alone in his reading preferences? Is he like the mythical unicorn, wonderful to contemplate but entirely imaginary? I don’t think so.  I’ve had reviews on my books from other men before. The readers aren’t the only ones devouring the genre either. There are also male romance authors out there. Some do quite well. I assume these men actually read what they write.

Why is there still such a stigma surrounding men reading romance? Are men not allowed to love or explore the theme of love in literature? I thought it was pretty much universal.

Of course, we can look to our literary history. Romances have always been considered frivolous and fluffy…you know, very much what women have been considered by some men. I recall reading an article some time ago about male romance authors with Mills & Boon who had to write under female pen names in order to get their romances published. Sure, this was years ago, decades even, and yet the stigma remains.

I see the general derision in my library work sometimes. When romance novels pass the circulation desk, some male customers curl their lips. Heck, some women take the same stance as well. That’s a whole other post and I won’t get into that now.  There’s really no need for this scorn. I just know in my heart of hearts some of these customers have dog-eared romances tucked into their bedside tables, where no one will ever find them.

What would you really think if, on your commute to work, you started seeing men reading romance novels out in the open? Would you honestly do a double take upon seeing a dude reading the latest scorcher on the subway? What sort of judgment call would you make, if any? Would you assume his wife made him read the book or that he was eclectic in his tastes? Would he seem any less masculine?

There are so many things in this life that divide us. Let’s not allow books to be one of them.  We love what we love and no one should make us feel inferior for it.

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I want to suck your blood.

Isn’t it odd that sometimes, when we’re craving something new, we turn to something old? In my case, this means a return to one of my first loves, vampire lit.

As my readers know, I’ve recently finished up a couple of books (and a series). I’ve also begun work on a new contemporary series and am trying to find a good home for it. More on that soon, I hope. However, I need to keep writing and my tastes are currently running to the paranormal again, in particular those sexy vampires.

Yes, I know. Others have beaten me to the punch. My vampire book will certainly not be the first, but I also know it won’t be the last.

Paranormal readers love vamps. I don’t think a month has gone by in which a reader hasn’t asked me to write one. How can I say no? And quite frankly, I love them too. I always have.  I first met Count Dracula in grade school. I hung out with Lestat when I was 15. I dreamed about all the others for years. Yes, even Edward. He’s romantic. Of course, I love him.

But will my vamps sparkle? No. First of all, it’s been done. Secondly, I like my vamps unrepentant and capable of, well, evil. They are vampires, after all. Yes, they will be my heroes but I don’t want their heroic qualities to be evident at first. We will see their darker sides. We will luxuriate in their excess. We will want to sin with them.

I plan to return to the basics with these vampires. They can’t go out during the day time. Sunlight stings, to say the least. They need to drink blood. No getting around that. They can shift shapes. Oh, and they aren’t too fond of wooden stakes.

No magic rings. No wonderful potions that allow them to walk by day. No eating steak as a back up food supply. I want them to be down and dirty and bloody.

But sexy, too. We need to get sexy in there as well.

How can my heroines possibly love these monsters? We’ll find a way. As you’ll soon learn, my human heroines have a couple of interesting tricks up their sleeves too. They might be repulsed at first but I suspect that feeling won’t last long. It never does.

If my vampire heroes suddenly appear at your window late one night, will you give them permission to enter? I’ll make it worth your while.

 

 

 

 

Conflict, schmonflict. An author grapples with literary tension.

If you follow me on Facebook and other platforms, you may have noticed I am embarking not only on a new book but a new series. I’m currently working on the second book in my unpublished (cross fingers) series Handymen.

As I typically do at the start of a new romance, I  flesh out the various conflicts in the novel. Who has an issue? Who has a wound? How will those various problems spark tension between the characters, leading to emotional confrontations, lots of hot sex and enduring love?

Conflict is what drives a plot, right? I will freely admit I’ve spent countless hours trying to find ways to up the ante and throw new hurdles at my characters.

But how much is too much?

My good pal Monette Michaels (Have you read her books? She’s wonderful) has often said to me, “I don’t like angst in my books.” I understand what Monette is saying. It’s sort of like the wheel of punishment I call Coronation Street, my favourite British soap opera. As the characters struggle with problem after problem, one begins to wonder just how much they can take, while staying sane.

I recently read a bestseller (I mean huge seller, like gazillions) and was surprised at the source of conflict in the novel. Basically, it stemmed from the hero and heroine trying their hardest not to fall in love. Sure, secrets were revealed and personalities clashed, but for the most part, the conflict was all about the love affair.

So, angst.

I always thought we needed external conflict as well. That’s what they tell us in writing classes. Internal conflict, on its own, might not be strong enough. You need to toss in more drama (note, not melodrama.)

So how does a writer find balance?

I suppose the first thing we need to do as writers is decide what sort of story we are writing. If our characters are dealing with some sort of “end of days” scenario, complete with zombies, killer bees and mass destruction, yeah, I’d say we need some more oomph in the tension department. Evil villains must be vanquished. Heroes must prevail.

However, if our story revolves around a quieter setting and more lifelike tension, it is probably okay to scale back on the sources of conflict. After all, conflict comes in many sizes and shapes. Sometimes it’s a disagreement with the in-laws. Sometimes it’s neighbors vying for the ribbon in a gardening contest. Sometimes it’s two people trying their hardest not to fall in love. Of course, not all of these are worthy of a book, in my opinion. The only gardening contests that interest me are the ones in which one of the competitors ends up with a pair of shears in his back (sorry- I cut my teeth with cozy mysteries.)

As I begin my new book, I’m tempted to up the ante once again. How else can I make my characters suffer? But then again, I remember that love and relationships often come with suffering too. Perhaps I don’t need to toss so many angst-ridden Frisbees at my hero’s head.

Perhaps I just need to release him into the world and see what sort of trouble he encounters on his own.

Good bye, Gemini Island. An author completes her series.

I knew the day would come.

I’d planned for it. I’d confronted the worries. I continued writing.

What I didn’t anticipate was the mix of emotions I would feel the day I wrote “The End” for Predator’s Salvation, the eighth and final book in the series. What did I feel? Mostly I felt good. After all, this series saw me through eight unique romances, eight sets of main characters, several villains and a setting that claimed my heart from day one.

I’m proud of this series and I’m happy to let it live on in our imaginations after the last book. I never wanted to drag it out. I never wanted it to grow stale. I shed a lot of tears writing the last book but they were such good tears, cathartic tears.

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At the same time, a day or two after completing it, I am now at loose ends. I feel a need to cling to these characters a bit longer, to linger on Gemini Island and breathe in the fresh air. Okay, maybe to breathe in a couple of my heroes as well. They smell good.

But no, it is time to put them all to bed. There is nothing more to explore and as a writer, I want very much to develop and grow and that means taking on new projects.

The Gemini Island Shifters series began a few years ago as a short story, one that just didn’t work. After revamping it, the Snow brothers (Ryland and Soren) sprang to life and took charge. “We want our own books,” they demanded. “And some delightful heroines.” (Okay, Ry and Soren wouldn’t have said that the same way but you get the picture.)

Who was I to deny them?

Readers seemed to notice the series as it began. Predator’s Kiss is still my best selling book. One day, it even beat out a huge author for sales on the iTunes list and it did well at all other outlets. I was tickled.

More stories and characters presented themselves. And then one day, as I wrote book 5, Predator’s Fire, a new villain crept out of the darkness. August Crane was borne and he attempted to destroy my peaceful shape shifters. His story arc took us through another three books. Even death did not stop him. An unlikely heroine, “petulant wolf shifter” Fleur Bissette did.

As my characters now deal with the aftermath, they must also deal with the inevitable grief and pain. The light of hope has shone once again for them. The lodge is being restored after an attack by Crane’s Alpha Brethren. However, no character has emerged unscathed. The scars of this battle remain and the wounds cut deep.

It was important to me to close the series on a high note and a happy note. After so much conflict, I have scaled back on the tension for Predator’s Salvation. Nonetheless, you will still get to meet another villain. Very soon, I will introduce you to Royal Hill. Beware of him. He has no remorse and is set on capturing Elaine Gleason, my final heroine. I don’t want to say too much about Royal yet but I will throw one tiny bone at you:

Taxidermy. Mull that one over. 😉

It was also important for me to give Elaine a happy ending and a life-affirming new love with mountain lion shifter Connor Church. Can these good friends overcome their guilt and grief and find passion with each other? We will see.

Will I ever revisit this series? I can’t say for sure. The idea of a Christmas novella appeals to me but I’d like to know what readers think. Would you read it? If I did plan another trip to the Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort, what would you want to see?

Thank you to all the readers who took a chance on this series and to everyone who embraced it. It has brought me so much pleasure and I’m thrilled so many of you enjoyed it as well. Please stay tuned for release dates and cover reveals and perhaps a couple of special giveaways in coming months.

All my love,

Rosanna

A sneak peek at Selkie’s Lure, Orkney Selkies 3.

Today is the first day of November and January is now officially just around the corner. As my followers may know, Selkie’s Lure, Orkney Selkies 3, launches January 16. I can’t wait to bring this new selkie book to you. Stay tuned, as cover details are just being confirmed.

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In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a sneak peek at the story. Hero Edan Kirk and heroine Amy Woods are so excited to introduce themselves.

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I hope you enjoy the following excerpt!

Selkie’s Lure

“Jesus, it’s been a slow night.” Niall stared at the pub door, as if willing someone to walk through. He cast a derisive eye at the bulges on Edan’s arms. “Maybe you could walk up and down the road for a few minutes, winking at the odd woman. That should be enough to convince them to race toward the pub en masse.”

“And then again, maybe you should open that tight fist of yours and spend a few pounds on marketing.”

“Marketing. The best marketing is done face to face. It’s all about connections. Anyone will tell you that.” He crossed his arms and smiled. “Which is why I’ve decided to give you a promotion.”

“Promotion? This was supposed to be a temporary thing. Besides, I don’t think I’m even officially on the payroll.”

“What? You can wait another week, two at most, for your pound of flesh. It’s not my fault you’re independently wealthy.”

As a selkie, Edan had lived a long time, far longer than any human. In fact, he’d celebrated his five hundred and ninetieth birthday a short time ago. When one lived that long, it was easy to amass a quantity of coin. Still, it didn’t mean Niall should consider him a virtual volunteer. Niall might like to joke that their “enduring friendship was payment enough” but Edan liked to think his time and labor were worth something.

“It’s time we capitalized on your talents. When you entertain the customers, they come out in droves and they stay.”

“No more selkie and finman malarkey.”

Niall ignored him. “Edan, my friend, I’m pleased to announce I’m making you the official storyteller of The Water Horse Pub.”

“That’s my promotion? I’m already doing it.”

“But now you can add it to your résumé.”

“For fuck’s sake, I’m a selkie. I don’t have a blasted résumé.”

He shrugged. “Perhaps it’s time you threw one together. You sex-crazed creatures practically live forever. You should probably give some consideration to career development. Or would you prefer to tend bar the rest of your life?”

“Give me strength. I don’t understand why I remain in this smelly pub with you week after week.”

He patted Edan’s cheek. “Poor darlin’. I’m the best friend you’ve got. You can’t go a day without me.”

“You’re full of shit.”

“Let’s review your storytelling job description. You will be in charge of amusing the customers.” He elbowed Edan in the ribs. “With your clothes on, of course. Oh, and…” His voice trailed away. “I may have put your face on an advertisement or two.”

“What was that last bit?”

“Sex sells, Edan, and you are sex personified. Between your knowledge of our vibrant folklore and your ability to turn women into unthinking puddles of goo, this place could make a mint. And anyway, the flyers are completely tasteful and I’ve only hung a hundred around town.”

“A hundred.” Edan choked out the words. “Show me the flyer.”

Niall retrieved one from the office in back. Edan drummed his fingernails on the bar while he waited, wishing he could scratch the patina off the wood.

Niall returned and held out a paper. “See? Tasteful.”

He’d taken a photo of Edan when he wasn’t looking, one in which he was reciting tales to the group of American women from the other night. His expression was flirty. They gazed at him, mouths open. The text underneath advertised The Water Horse’s new bartender, the one with such allure he might be “descended from selkies.”

“Bloody hell.”

“I think it’s creative.”

“Oh, it’s a fucking work of art,” Edan replied, lowering his voice even though he wanted to strangle Niall. “My only issue is you’ve basically told people I’m a selkie. You know I prefer to maintain a low profile.”

“With that head of hair? Good luck.” He rolled his eyes. “Be a sport. It’s for the pub. You said yourself I should invest in marketing. You, my ginger sea god, are my investment. When folk hear you recount the myths, they’ll fall in love with you. And after you recite your tales of love and woe, you can of course suggest visitors continue to quench their thirst at The Water Horse, the best pub in Kirkwall.”

“Step away from me, Niall. I can’t even look at you right now. If you come any closer, I swear by all the old gods I will skelp you.”

“Violence? That would definitely be a black mark on your performance review.” He slipped away to talk to one of their few customers before Edan could grab him.

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You will find the rest of the series on Amazon as well as B&N, iTunes, Kobo, ARE, Google Play and Liquid Silver Publishing.