Monday Musings – What Makes Great Characters?


Whether a story is plot- or character-driven, you aren’t gonna stick with it for long if you can’t stand the characters or they just don’t ring true for you. Nothing ruins a story faster than a TSTL heroine or an ass-wipe of a hero. But what makes a character likable?  Obviously this answer partially depends on individual opinion. But there are a few things that are fairly universal. For example, the first thing a character needs to do is stay true to the persona the author has created for him/her. For example, a strong, independent heroine wouldn’t turn to mush at the first sign of trouble and let the hero drag her around by the nose. Just as a dark, tortured hero wouldn’t break into song and dance under the heroine’s window to win her love.  That’s not to say a character can’t have dimensions and interesting personality quirks, but they have to be believable within the parameters of his/her general personality.

A likable character wants to do the right thing. Though he or she might screw up occasionally, they do it with the idea that they’re doing it for the right reasons, with the right goal in mind. Readers can forgive a lot of sins if a hero/heroine means well and/or tries to recover from a terrible mistake. But one who doesn’t care if he/she hurts somebody is pretty hard to love. There are also some sins that can’t be forgiven. Rape is one of these sins. Child abuse is another. And mistreatment of animals will make a character nonredeemable in many people’s minds. Of course there are ways around even these taboo things. If a character has been possessed by another being (demon, alien…) and had no control over these actions the reader will probably forgive him/her. If he/she is devastated by the knowledge of what he/she has done the reader might forgive the actions. But it’s not an easy sell.

Likable characters have traditional values. Whether you are a radical progressive or a traditionalist, certain qualities are still considered admirable in a fictional character. Men treat their partners with respect and care. Women care for those who are helpless and value strength in their peers. Likable characters will do the right thing, even if it causes them some serious discomfort. They’re loyal, always there for the people they love or others who need their help. They respect other people and guard their rights, despite overwhelming opposition.

Likable characters have a sense of humor, especially about themselves. There’s nothing quite so appealing as a man who can laugh at himself or a woman who can admit her flaws with a smile. While it isn’t appealing when a character turns his/her acerbic humor against another person, laughing at oneself can be very appealing and even sexy.

And most importantly, likable characters are flawed. Yep, it’s true. While we like to read about larger than life characters, perfection is boring and…let’s just admit it…a little annoying. Flaws give a character depth and interest. They help us identify with the character and even put ourselves a little bit into their shoes. Flaws make them human and it’s their humanity that we’re attracted to.

Happy Reading everybody!

 

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Monday Musings – Romance and eBooks – Do They Have a Symbiotic Relationship?


There’s no question that bodice rippers, or their M/M equivalent, wife-beater rippers (okay, yes, I just made that up, LOL) enjoy a large portion of the fiction market today. Even in these challenging economic times the market for romance fiction has stayed relatively strong. The reasons for this are varied. But I think the main reason is that in our fast-paced, digital world it’s getting harder and harder for people to connect in a meaningful way.  Romance can be in short supply.  Books are a low-priced, high value ticket to a world where no problem is too big and love conquers all. There’s no question that fiction romance stories are a thriving business that will continue to grow.  My question is related to whether romance fiction would have such a stronghold on the marketplace if it weren’t for electronic books. I don’t think they would.

One of the biggest reasons stated for reading books on an electronic device is so that you can read in complete anonymity. Though many of us proudly read romance novels, sweet through erotic, there are probably just as many secret romance readers who love that they can read a steamy book on their Nook or Kindle and nobody ever need know.  You can read these books in the doctor’s office, while waiting on line at the DMV, or in front of your stick-up-the-ass relatives with complete comfort. By contrast, women used to hide their romance novels in their bedside table drawers or cover them with book cozies so no one could see the sexy male chest and heaving bosoms decorating the cover.  Digital technology has been both an enabler and a multiplier for this popular genre.

Another aspect of this is the volcanic growth of sub-genres in romance. The popularity of glbt fiction, erotica and bdsm have definitely been assisted by the anonymity of digital reading. People are much more likely to try something they view as unconventional if they can do it in private.

Of course we all know that digital books are generally cheaper, they don’t take up room on your shelves and you don’t have to dust them (my personal favorite). Now you can add expansion of your reading horizons to that already enticing list, making it easy to see why much of the world is turning digital for its reading pleasure.

Happy Reading!

 

Tuesday Taste – Hoaley Inexplicable – Just Released!


Book 3: Hoale Construction Mysteries

Book 3: Hoale Construction Mysteries

Bringing Bobby’s Gym into the twenty-first century should have been fun. But the dead guy draped over the weight machine definitely took the joy out of it!

The Hoale Construction gang has taken on the task of bringing Bobby’s Gym into the twenty-first century. But the dead guy hanging from the new lat machine is putting a serious crimp in their timeline. When Bobby becomes the number one suspect for the murder, Adam and the gang are forced to try and clear him. But who is the guy? And was Bobby really the last one to see him alive? Questions only seem to multiply the deeper they dig. Until they uncover a connection with a group of thugs who call themselves the Indiana Mobsters. Things just continue to spiral downward from there.

~~*~~

Adam kept his head down until Dirk led the girl away and then sprinted through the curtain. He was visually assaulted the moment he entered the room. Every box had a picture of some kind of sexual body part partially covered in leather.

He moved to the nearest rack, beside the door, intending to scan the boxes quickly to find any containing Patrick Peartree. He realized the problem almost immediately. There were no faces. “Crap.” He’d have to read each box to find the actors’ names.

Carnivorous Cocks?”

Adam jumped and turned, finding Maddy skulking in the corner, a box in each hand. “You scared the crap out of me. How long have you been standing there?”

She placed one of the boxes back on the shelf, holding the other one up for him to see. “Frolicking Female Friends. They had me at frolicking.”

He shook his head. “If you’re done, can you help me find anything with PP on it?”

“Eieww!”

“You know what I mean.”

Adam tried to move quickly through the movies, but he kept getting lost in the titles. Massive Dick Mania; Here I Cum, Roger; Bi and Gloving It. More than once he caught himself reading the back of the box for more details.

“You’re likin’ that plot aren’t ya?”

He jumped guiltily, flinging the box in the general direction of the shelf. “I was looking for Peartree’s name.”

Maddy shoved her bangs out of her eyes and handed him a box. There was a massive dick on the front and a woman cringing away in terror. The owner of the dick was faceless. Adam didn’t care what the guy looked like. The visible parts were pretty damn good. “I think I’m in love.”

She pointed a perfect, red nail at the small print, wherein the actors’ names were listed.

“There he is. Good god, do you suppose that’s him?”

Maddy grinned. “Only one way to find out.”

“Double Eieww!”

She sighed. “I meant you should watch the film, pervert.”

“Oh thank god, I though you wanted me to go back to the morgue and lift the sheet.”

“Lift what sheet?” Dirk pushed through the curtain, his eyes going wide as he glanced around. “I haven’t seen this much dick since high school football.”

Adam felt nostalgia rolling over him like a warm blanket. He sighed. “Yeah. Those were the days, huh?”

Dirk nodded. “No doubt. Did you find him yet?”

Adam held the box up for Dirk to see. “Good god almighty!”

“You should rent it,” Maddy said.

Adam’s head whipped from side to side. “I couldn’t possibly hand that box to the sweet child out there.”

Dirk nodded in agreement. “I’d feel like I was contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

Maddy grabbed the box and started for the door. “Bunch of pansies. I got this. I’ll see ya in the truck.”

Adam looked at Dirk. “Is it cowardly to make Maddy rent that movie for us?”

Dirk shrugged. “Probably.”

Adam thought about this for a minute and then started for the door. “Thank god she offered.”

“I know, right?”

 

Book info and more…

Monday Musings – When Does Paranormal Turn the Corner into Horror?


Like anything else in the entertainment world, fiction interpretation is a subjective exercise. One woman’s horror may be another woman’s dark paranormal. However, despite the sometimes murky boundaries, there are basic differences in the two genres.

While dark paranormal may have some elements of horror in it, and horror can feature paranormal elements, the biggest difference between the two is the HEA (happily ever after) ending. Horror doesn’t need to have one. In fact, it usually doesn’t. That alone is a horrifying result to many paranormal readers. This is because paranormal is largely a creature of the romance genre. Even the early Dracula stories featured a man and a woman and a larger than life love, even if it was one-sided. #:0) Werewolf and other “werecreature” stories are perfect vehicles for romance, with all that animal magnetism and sexual chemistry that comes naturally to powerful creatures with earthy inclinations.

But unlike paranormal, horror doesn’t lend itself well to romance. It’s a sad fact that relationships don’t have a chance in horror. Nothing says “come and get me scary guy with the chainsaw” like getting immersed in a sexual moment and not paying attention to the shadow falling over you through the window. It’s a concept many slasher films were built on. In fact, in this type of fiction there’s nothing more delightfully horrible than when the love interest is eaten/beaten/cut into tiny pieces. So no happy ending, no walking into the sunset hand in hand. Unless you’re heavily armed and willing/able to kick some bad guy ass.

Characters in a horror story don’t need to be likable. In fact, it’s sometimes fun to root for the killer to get the “too stupid to live” characters in a slasher/horror story. Things that might kill the mood in a paranormal aren’t off limits in horror. The hero used to rob banks? Nobody really cares. He’s trying to save the sexy young woman, her mother, and the neighbor kid from the ghost with razor sharp teeth. He’s a hero.  The heroine was a street walker/pole dancer with a drug habit? Doesn’t matter. She threw herself over the eight year old boy at the end to save him and died a horrible, bloody death. Perfect horror story fodder.

Ultimately, both genres can be fun escapes. Each fills a specific need. But they aren’t interchangeable. They’re unique types of fiction that deserve unique notice and acceptance. Whatever your cup of tea, you should understand the differences so you don’t unfairly critique either one for not being what you expected.

Happy Reading!

Hoaley Inexplicable is LIVE!


Book 3: Hoale Construction Mysteries

Book 3: Hoale Construction Mysteries

Bringing Bobby’s Gym into the twenty-first century should have been fun. But the dead guy draped over the weight machine definitely took the joy out of it!

The Hoale Construction gang has taken on the task of bringing Bobby’s Gym into the twenty-first century. But the dead guy hanging from the new lat machine is putting a serious crimp in their timeline. When Bobby becomes the number one suspect for the murder, Adam and the gang are forced to try and clear him. But who is the guy? And was Bobby really the last one to see him alive? Questions only seem to multiply the deeper they dig. Until they uncover a connection with a group of thugs who call themselves the Indiana Mobsters. Things just continue to spiral downward from there.

~~*~~

The guard behind him shoved him inside and the other guard slammed the door closed. He heard the sound of a key turning in the lock and ran to the door. The knob wouldn’t turn. He pounded on the door with his fists. “I want a lawyer!”

“That won’t be necessary, Señor Hoale.”

Adam whipped around, his heart in his throat. A man stood at the back of the room, half in the shadows. He wore an ugly dark blue uniform with a wide black belt around his waist. A black, military style hat dipped low over his face, showing only a square jaw and strong chin, which was decorated by a sexy little goatee. “Who the hell are you?”

The man pushed away from the wall and started toward him, his gloved hands coming into view. He held a short, black leather whip in one hand. “I’m your worst nightmare.”

The bad movie line was delivered with a decidedly Hispanic accent. Had Adam somehow gotten on the wrong side of the Mexican police? Not easy to do when you live in Indiana. He swallowed hard. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on…”

“Shut up, Señor Hoale.” The man’s gruff voice seemed somehow familiar and Adam tilted his head, trying to get a better look at him under the hat. The stranger walked with a slight limp, his right leg not bending as well as the left. Adam frowned. He didn’t know anybody with a limp.

The other man stopped in front of him and stuck the whip under Adam’s chin, forcing his gaze upward. “Nothing you can say right now will help and you’ll only piss me off so I’d advise you to keep your mouth closed and listen.”

Adam experienced a strong sense of déjà vu. He tried to lower his chin to get a look at the man again. The whip tightened against his chin. The man pressed closer, his lips stopping close enough to Adam’s ear that it tickled when he spoke. “You are a very sexy man, Señor Hoale.”

Adam blinked, frowned, and started to rebuke the other man. But when the stranger cupped his crotch in one, black-gloved hand, Adam coughed out a laugh, finally realizing why the words and the persona seemed so familiar. It was corrupt Police Commander Cristiano Inocente from Dirk’s last action film, Murder Especial.

Adam grinned. “I’m gonna kick your ass, Commander.”

Dirk’s tongue slipped out and tasted the rim of Adam’s ear. “I don’t think so, guapo. You will scream like a girl as I take you from behind.” The whip slipped down his throat and shoved past the buttons on his shirt, rubbing his nipples until they were rigid.

 

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