Sunday, October 26, 2008

Perfectly imperfect

Two weeks ago I blogged about the Tortured Hero and it reminded me of another sub-genre of books which seems to have gained in popularity.
The Hurt Hero.
The heroes of these books have been injured in some way or have some kind of 'imperfection', whether it be scarring, visually or hearing impaired or in a wheelchair. Sometimes they are healed by the end of the book, sometimes not and not all of them are tortured. So what is the appeal of this kind of hero? In my search for the tortured hero I've read many of these books and the appeal, to me at least, is their vulnerability and ultimately their strength in dealing with whatever cards have been dealt to them. It does however take a very talented author to write it well. The first book I read in this genre and still my favorite is A Man Like Mac by Fay Robinson.
It seems that many publishers are still not sure of the reception of a hero who is less than perfect and if the book even makes it to print, many times the book blurb will make no mention of it and certainly not the cover art. Yet, I know I am not alone in their appeal since all you need do is search Amazon or Google to find other people's lists of books which fit the theme. So how do you feel about hurt heroes?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ever Changing Seasons & Characters

Have you ever noticed that a character's moods change with the seasons?
Is this because, we as writers shift with the seasons as well?
When writing in the summer, the character is almost always on a beach half-naked and
they are either angry, or having a hot 'n' steamy affair. In the winter, they're bundled up
brooding or shacked up in a snowed in mountain cabin. The spring brings them out for long
walks and hot sex in the woods or open flower filled fields. But fall, they tend to slow to a sensual
pace with the turning of the leaves. It then becomes hot cider (spiked of course!), raking leaves then tumbling in them like a couple of kids or a stroll through the countryside, soaking in the changing of the colors. Romantic, the changing of the colors.
Why is it that the fall tends to soften the character's moods?
They tend to reminisce about pleasant memories or create new ones with the love interest in the story.
I think our characters are a part of every writer's soul and takes a little piece with them when they exit to live on a page for all the world to see.
Character's moods are guided by the mood of the writer. Or are our moods guided by the moods of our Characters?
I truly can't decide.
Lost in New Jersey,
Tara Nina

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Tortured heroes... love em or hate em they are playing just as large a role in romance novels today as the were 20 yrs ago. In fact, it may even be more common. Whether their torture has been physical (Acheron of Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacques from Dark Desires by Christine Feehan) or mental (Vinh of Into The Fire by Suzanne Brockmann or Gabriel of Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair) or even both, they are as popular ever. What has changed though is the way they deal with their issues. The eighties tortured hero was more likely to be the strong silent be a bastard to the heroine type with maybe a little forced seduction thrown into the mix. In today's version there is still an element of that but they are more likely to get an ass kicking from the heroine and a 'get thee to a shrink or don't come back near me' ultimatum.
Is this a reflection of how women and society in general feels? Or is it just another victim of political correctness?
Personally, I think it's a little of both. Either way I still love a good tortured hero and yes, I own a lot of those eighties book with men who are bastards as slightly guilty pleasures. They are a bit like chocolate though, one or two leave you wanting more but too many will make you sick.

What about you? Do you love, or hate a tortured hero? Who are your favorites?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Kicking Down the Publishing Door

Reading frightened me. I trembled in front of the chalkboard as my first-grade teacher demanded I read “a” and “an” out loud to the class. *shudder* Even after months of “learning” those small words, the comprehension just wasn’t there; the pathways in my brain weren’t connecting. Those seemingly big words were just odd shapes that I couldn’t commit to my tiny memory. I wanted to read, desperately so, but for some unknown reason, I couldn’t grasp the written correlation to the spoken words.

After years of struggling, the powers that be at school finally forced me to attend remedial reading classes. Mortified, I cut class and ducked into the bathroom everyday, huddling there in a stall, feet drawn up, praying they’d never find me. But one day, my fourth-grade teacher (my first hero!) took pity on me. Instead of forcing me to return to those classes, he tutored me during recess using his own secrets and shortcuts to help me achieve better comprehension. But to me, it seemed he’d set his magic hand on my little head and healed the broken connections deep inside my brain.

Then smart speed-reader Katy moved to town, one of those kids who didn’t just read books, she devoured them. To my surprise, she befriended me, and that was the beginning of a summer vacation that changed my life forever, that in a sense brought me here to the publication path...

One hot, humid day, Katy’s mother took us to our small-town church turned library. I can vividly recall climbing the stoop to that whitewashed building, stepping inside the dusty, sunlit room, and the old wooden boards creaking beneath my small sandaled feet. The scent of aged wood and leather-bound books hung heavy in the air, while rickety bookshelves soared up to the beamed ceiling. It was cool and pin-drop quiet in there with a gray-headed woman seated where the church altar had once been. She wore bifocals perched on her nose, and she often frowned and pressed a gnarly finger to her lips. “Shhh…” she’d repeatedly scold then busy herself with stamping library cards.

That was the day Katy introduced me to Nancy Drew. Using the reading methods my teacher had taught me, I went home, curled up with one of those yellow, hardbound mysteries, and at last embraced the joys of reading. So went the summer. Katy and I lived at that library, hauling out stacks of Nancy Drew books, Hardy Boys, and finally, graduating to Judy Blume. Dare I say I never once accrued past-due fines?

By the age of 13, I’d moved on to Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, rest her talented soul. Then came the day in high school I got caught with The Wolf and the Dove disguised behind the open pages of my biology book. Yeah, I got into major doo-doo, as I’d already been chastised one too many times for reading in lieu of working on class projects. The livid teacher kicked me out of her class, but the principal enrolled me in an alternate one that sometimes allowed free reading time. :D

Now and then, I wonder what that teacher—or even Katy—would think if she read my depraved version of the infamous bandit Robin Hood in A Wanton’s Thief and A Gypsy’s Thief (Ellora’s Cave). Or Moonlite Mirage based on my research trip to the HBO-featured BunnyRanch bordello in Carson City, Nevada. I hope my biology teacher realizes her efforts were secretly appreciated, and that I gained a knowledge of anatomy and physiology that later came in very handy, not only in obtaining my nursing degree but in writing erotic romances. ;)

I don’t know where I’d be today without the love of reading and writing, or without those influences in my childhood. Thanks to all my teachers, to Katy, and to the kick-ass sleuth Nancy Drew, all of whom took part in leading a vulnerable little girl from the terrifying world of incomprehension in reading, all the way to published author.

So what sort of things inspired you to read or write? Whatever they might be, remember, if you still can’t seem to get your foot in the publishing door, don’t go hide in a bathroom stall. Keep persevering, keep reading, keep writing, and kick that door down. Because I’m proof anyone can attain their goals if they persist and truly want it. :)

Oh, btw, I hope you’ll head on over to Myspace at and befriend me…just like Katy did all those years ago.