1/14/2012

My Imperfect Hero



My Imperfect Hero
Reality Check

Hi, everyone! You all know I'm an avid reader as well as a writer, right?  *stirs cream and sugar into coffee* Feeling like a little sugar coating might be in order today, coffee wise anyway. I'm talking about a topic that's near and dear to many a heart, romance. The BIG L. Love. But be patient.  I'll get to my feelings on love a little bit later, for now...Let's talk about reality. The BIG R.
There's ongoing debate in certain circles over reality in romantic fiction.  In my own fashion, I support both sides of the argument.  *sips coffee*  Yeah...it's mighty uncomfortable up here on the fence post.  Then why sit here? Because I think you have to strike the right balance between reality and fiction in your writing. 
Pure reality? I don't want that.  I live it.  It wouldn't make for exciting reading, let me tell you.  I read to escape reality.  At the same time, I need some foundation in reality to relate to.  I usually like this reality to connect me to the characters. Because I am not going to enjoy reading about people I don't like, you know?
We've progressed some in this venue- in m/f fiction I see that heroines no longer have to be princesses...beautiful, thin blondes, with perfect features who are loving, kind, moderately intelligent, but not ambitious. They no longer have to be virginal, innocent and un-kissed. Covers show buxom ladies and ladies with eye glasses...ladies with guns and ladies in marital arts regalia.
But our heroes.  I read comments every now and then, that lead me to believe we have a double standard. Heroes are still unutterably handsome.  They might be handsome geeks, they might be attractively scarred, or they might be short. Still, they are never overweight, squinty eyed, or bald by nature not purpose.
Beyond physical appearance though, the men of our romantic fiction haven't changed much. People expect the men in our books to be noble, brave, intelligent, strong. All the positives one could ask for in a partner or spouse. I read a comment on a book review the other day, where the reader described the character as selfish, self centered, and childish, concluding with "Who could love a man like that?"
Reality check, reader. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've heard happily married women describe their husbands in just those terms. "He's so selfish."  "He's so self-centered."  
What really bothered me about that comment was that it seemed to imply that the hero didn't deserve to be loved, because he hadn't earned it. Is love something we have to earn? Or does it just happen? Should only perfect people, noble people, brave people be loved? I think this is where I have to insist on reality in my fiction. I'm not a perfect person, and if only perfect people deserve love, I am so fucking screwed.
. Fortunately for me, I have my own imperfect hero in the other room, selfishly watching television while I work away here on the computer.   
What do y'all think? Should a hero be flawed? Do we have to earn love by being flawless? Are there exceptions? Flaws you will tolerate, flaws you won't?  In reality, in fiction?
For me, I'd prefer to be loved by a man who sees my flaws and loves me anyway, as I love him. And those are the types of characters I prefer to read about- ones I can identify with.

And in that spirit- meet Valentine Michael's- a selfish man who nevertheless deserves to find love and happiness, and Adrian Gray the loyal, but manipulative man who loves him.

The Librarian
Blurb

Valentine Michaels has just taken a vow of celibacy.
Adrian Grey intends to take full advantage of that vow to re-create his relationship with Val.
Val is at a crossroads in his life. A college dropout, he's gone as far as he can in his career as a cosmetologist, owning his own style salon. He no longer finds satisfaction in it, though he's put years into proving to his bigoted parents that a college degree and the veneer of straightness aren't the only roads to success. They'd turned their backs on him, and he proved he didn't need them to make it.
His love life is no better than his working life. His relationships always start with a bang and fizzle into boredom, or worse, anger.
Adrian has his own agenda for helping Val: he's been in love with Val since they were freshmen. The intervening years of listening to Val's gossip about his lovers and relationships have taught Adrian just what it was he did wrong all those years ago, and he thinks this time around he now knows exactly how to get—and keep—his man.

Excerpt

Adrian writing in purple ink stunned him more than the idea that Adrian had a crush on him. After all, they'd been down that road once before. Purple ink was so not Adrian. Black. Or Blue. Traditional. Classic. That was Adrian.
"Yeah, did you like it? Here, grab a cup of coffee and a pastry and let's take a walk." The other man turned and walked out the door, apparently assuming that Val would follow.
Val grabbed a coffee and hurried to catch up with Adrian. Jeez. Now what would he do? He had to let Adrian down gently. No sense ruining what had been a perfectly good friendship. No way could he ask Adrian to help with the redecorating project now. Distance, not closeness, was called for.
"Listen, Adrian, we have to talk. I really meant it when I said I'm not interested in men right now and honestly," he touched the other man's arm sympathetically, "you're just not my type, you know? So, much as I appreciate all the little gestures, I just feel friendship for you, okay?"
The other man's blue eyes sparkled at him, in apparent—amusement? "Are you done, Val?"
"Well, yeah, that's what I wanted to say. No hard feelings, right?"
"Right, Val. Let me set you straight on a few things before we talk about feelings, okay? First of all, I noticed you were down Friday, so I sent you the flower, yeah. I love those bird of paradise flowers. The colors are so sunny and cheerful. Then this morning, I wanted to talk to you about something, and sorry, but the coffee and pastries were as much because I knew I'd be hungry as for you. Yeah, you're hot as hell, but I know I'm not your type. And you know I know it, too. That's why you've been ramming tales about your wild and crazy love life down my throat for the past ten years, isn't it? I've heard about every new man as soon as you've met him, and every break up when it inevitably comes along. Why do you do that, Val? It's not for your own benefit, you know? You've been making sure that I knew that you weren't interested in hooking up with me all these years. I fucking get it, okay? You don't seem to see that I'm not the same man today as ten years ago. And that's your loss, not mine. I've done things, experienced things in the last few years that have helped me define who and what I am, in and out of bed, Val. Too bad you can't say the same."
Val swallowed and pulled his hand back. He shook his head as his brain whirled trying to keep up, to comprehend all the data Adrian threw at him in one long speech. "Whoa. Sorry. I just talk while I'm working, you know? I... Shit...sorry."
   

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1/13/2012

Flash Fiction Friday - A Writing Thing


A Writing Thing


"Wow," his breath was a hot caress across my ear. The heat of his cock burned where he pressed against me.

"Ummm..."

 "Where'd you get that?"

"From this Facebook group." Wrong thing to say. He tensed behind me, his grip tightening hard on my arms, bruising.

"What kind of group has things like that?" I should have known it would piss him off.

"You'd be surprised."

"Try me." He wasn't going to let it go. Jealous prick, but mine for all that.

I sighed. "It's a writing thing."

"Doesn't look like writing."

"Doesn’t feel like you were watching football, either."

Like my flash? Check out the others at:


New Blurb: Taking the Dare

Taking the Dare
Truth or Dare book 4
Coming Feb 3
from Breathless Press




Morgan Hawke is happy with the status of his relationship with Dan Blake. After three years though, Dan's ready to move their relationship to the next level

Having seen his brothers find love and settle into family life, Dan Blake has realized he's ready for change. The only problem with that is that his lover prefers to maintain the status quo. Dan's up for the challenge of changing Morgan's mind. He's got plans, and he's used to working behind the scenes to get his way.
Morgan can't understand the changes he sees in Dan. They've come a long way from the office of the bar where they met, but he's not sure he's ready to move their relationship from the shadows to the front pages. Publicity is okay for Dan, he's got the weight of the Blakes behind him, but Morgan isn't sure he's ready to let go of the past he's been clinging to. 
Can Dan manipulate a happy ending for this script? 

1/12/2012

Crawl in Bed WIth Xavier Axelson

Crawling Into Bed With
Xavier Axelson
And a Good Book

Important things first, are these sheets silk or cotton?
        
Cotton!

What are you wearing?

        Pajama bottoms and that’s it!


What are we snacking on in bed while we read tonight?
       
  Gingerbread Men cookies


If I open this nightstand drawer, what will I find?

        Ear plugs, MP3 player for audio book listening, and mini      
        tape recorder for dream remembrances
       


Do you roll up in the blankets like a burrito, or kick the covers off during the night?

        Burrito.  I’m a burrowing, hibernating kinda animal.


Can I put my cold feet on your calves to warm them up?

        NO~ I was gonna ask you the same thing!


What are we reading?
Sneak peek Excerpt: attached

Buylink:



Blurb:

When Pryor's daughter Lily is taken by a wolf, Pryor is convinced she has turned into the creature he sees lurking in his woods.  He swears she promises to return to him. But is it his despair and desperation making him see things or is there something more lurking in the shadows of the forest?  When he meets Ned, a silversmith who helps him with a plan to bring his daughter back into his life, he begins to live again. But can his newfound love help ease the horror that may be waiting? What if the ultimate horror isn’t when Lily was taken but it’s when Lily returns and he realizes his nightmare has only just begun...

Excerpt:

LILY
I am Lily's father, my name is Pryor. It was a year ago last Father's Day when she was taken from me. I still believe being Lily's father is the most important thing in this world.
Unfortunately, my daughter dwells in another world.
* * * * *

I glanced at the necklace. Ned's pressed close to me, but the necklace I hoped would bring Lily back to me felt closer. Ned was soft in his sleep; not the bull of a man he was when he's awake. I loved him soft and I loved him hard. It was his hardness that grounded me, that brought me in from the darkness. The necklace caught the light of the fading moon and I wondered where Lily was tonight.
The old clock on the nightstand hummed quietly; its vintage florescent glow a pale mockery of the necklace that lay beside it and yet I heard the clock, it won in that department. Time always does.
Ned moved against me, I could feel his arms pull me close, felt the bulge of his muscles, his arms thick and powerful. He had never loved a man before me. I had only loved Lily. Once she changed, I had little left to love; in fact, I was certain love had disappeared from my life all together.
The clock still hummed, never quiet; it's old and made noise as if time itself wanted us all to know that it was passing and with each minute Lily fell farther and farther into the darkness. The tears came then and at the same time Ned's cock pushed more firmly against my back. He grumbled, pulled me even tighter so that I could truly feel his penis--not hard, not entirely soft--on the edge of wanting. A tear fell and I gasped a little. Seeing the necklace; hearing the clock, feeling Ned's cock, his muscles, I fell away into him and closed my eyes.
"Why aren't you sleeping?"
"I was," I replied softly.
"No you weren't," his voice was sleepy; distant and yet he knew things, he knew I was awake, thinking about my lost daughter.
"It's Father's Day," I answered, skipping over my lie. "Do you think she will come?" I felt him nod and nodded in return against my pillow. Another tear fell.
"Come closer," he whispered.
"How much closer could I get?"
"Closer," he said again, a growl, a grunt; there was the bull I knew.
His lips brushed on my neck, a hand on my thigh stroking, touching, pulling a sigh from my mouth. I wiped a hand across my face.
"I never get sick of touching you," he whispered wetly, his tongue tracing my ear.
Smiling, I turned in his big arms and I could feel my thoughts ease. Ned had that way about him. 'Magic arms' I called him because he had this way of holding me that made me feel completely safe and for one man to be able to do that for another was amazing.
I kissed him and was happy to discover his breath was not bad but sweet, the trace of his toothpaste before bed still there and I smiled even as I kissed him. Ned sighed gently, his cock fully hard now, urgent, pressing. I reached down and stroked him through his boxers; he was already wet. I tried to pull my tongue from his mouth but he only pulled me closer, deeper; at one point I was almost certain one of us was going to stop breathing.
He finally relented but only because I jokingly squeezed his balls a little too tightly.
"Fuck, you make me nuts," he grumbled, we both laughed at his joke.


His hand reached for my cock; I slept naked so there was no flimsy cotton between his rough hands and my skin.
"You like that?"
I nodded, I did like it, I'd thought I wouldn't ever be able to like sex again, or any intimacy after Lily disappeared.
His hands were rough but I relished his edges; he touched me as if he knew me and, after a year, I guess he kind of did.
"You want me to suck it?" His voice was hoarse with his question; there was still a shy embarrassment behind it, as if he couldn't really believe he was going to suck cock.
"What do you think?"
My response excited him. I could see it in his eyes, even in the dark; the fading moon told me just enough.
When you had a daughter like mine, you learned a lot from the moon.

Where to find Xavier Axelson:






Where to find Xavier Axelson:


Be Yourself

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~e.e. cummings, 1955