What Colour are Your Hero’s Socks?
This post first appeared on www.thenakedhero.com on 24 August 2012
I was at dinner one evening with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and niece when this topic came up.
My BIL was teasing my niece about boys. I tuned in just as she announced that she’d never go out with one who wore white socks.
As the mother of two of her male cousins, I had to confess I was curious with regard to the logic behind this. She’s European, and was fifteen at the time, and both of those things were factors in this seemingly left field decision. In her world, and amongst her peers, boys simply did not wear white socks. Not if they wanted to be one of the cool kids.
I immediately ran through my Canadian kids’ wardrobes in my mind to see what colour socks they wore and whether or not they were cool. Then I remembered my youngest son’s reaction when he got off the plane after his last trip to visit relatives.
“”That country is FULL of metrosexuals,” he said loudly as he walked through the international arrivals gate sporting his uber-trendy new haircut. “Some woman tried to put GEL in my hair!”
Okay, I thought. David Beckham, he’s not. Probably not cool either, but he’s really smart and that’s gotta count for something.
All of this is going somewhere, I swear to you.
Creating a sexy, likeable hero is a big task for any writer, especially if the writer has no idea that white socks on a guy is an issue for some women. Personally, I don’t see the problem, but I’ve been married for a long time and don’t pay attention to my husband’s socks anymore unless he’s crammed them into a pair of Birkenstocks.
As Taylor Keating, I’ve had many discussions with my writing partner about our characters—although she calls them fistfights. (It’s all in the perspective, people.) “Cool” seems to be subjective. I maintain that main characters have to appeal to a wide audience, and don’t get to be quirky or controversial. Therefore, white socks are out. So are neo-Nazis, in case that needs to be said.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule by any means. It’s simply that I have to think about what kind of readers I’m trying to attract, and if I want to corner the European teenage girl market, my hero will have to choose his socks with more care.
But what if my audience is intended to be women over twenty-five with a taste for escapism?
Taylor Keating writes paranormal romance, and in our Guardian series, our hero, Chase Hawkins, is military, and he’s good with technology. But he shows up in a few different personae, because each book takes place in a different setting with an altered reality.
In the first book, Game Over, his consciousness is trapped in a virtual prison while his body remains in stasis. When the heroine, River Weston, enters the prison through a video game, he takes on the role of Sever, her companion and protector.
The second book, Mind Games, takes place on Earth, which is River’s world, but Hawk ends up in another man’s body because his own remains in stasis. It’s not until our newest release, Fair Game, that Hawk gets an opportunity to play himself. This time it’s River who can change her appearance.
When we created Hawk, we knew he had to be fiercely protective. He had to know what it was like to lose everything he’d ever loved, and be someone so confident in himself and his capabilities that he would never question who he really was, no matter what physical appearance he wore. We wanted him tall, dark and brooding more than handsome, and someone who would fight to the death for River—just as she would for him. A lot of thought went into him.
He’s pretty hot in a dress uniform, a loin cloth, and blue jeans. But I can’t say we thought too much about the colour of his socks. I’m not sure he would care. All I can say with absolute certainty is that, given a choice, Chase Hawkins wouldn’t pick argyle.
So what colour are your hero’s socks?
10 Reasons Why Demons Make Better Lovers
Women can’t help but love bad boys. I think it’s programmed into our DNA.
But while women might love them, deep down, we all know the truth – bad boys are rarely worth the trouble it would take to turn them into good mate material.
This is where fiction steps in. Romance writers have found a neat little loophole to circumvent this unfortunate reality and give it a Happy Ever After. We make stuff up. Who wouldn’t rather read about a bad boy than actually date one? (Try them both – you’ll soon see what I mean.)
Since we’re making this stuff up anyway, let’s go for the ultimate in bad boys. Demons are the best of the best when it comes to being bad. To prove my point, I’ve come up with my personal shortlist of reasons as to why demons make better lovers.
Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Lack of performance anxiety
You never hear a demon asking if it was good for you. They already know it was.
2. Ready-made (story) conflict
This one’s more for the writer, but still. He’s a demon. That’s going to take some explaining when you introduce him to the parents. Imagine the conversation you’ll have over a nice family dinner. (“Well yeah, he has a job. He’s a DEMON.”) So if you like annoying your parents, there you go.
3. You can walk into skeevy bars and past construction sites
Go forth with impunity. Demons are notoriously protective of their mates. Who in their right mind is going to approach a woman who dates a demon? No more “Hey, Sweet Thang. How’s about I give you some of this?”
Because you can turn around and give them some of that.
4. Your vices will look good in comparison
No more worrying about PMS mood swings having a negative impact on a relationship. He’ll have no right to judge.
5. Superhuman strength
It comes in handy for opening those little jars of stuffed olives and for killing really big, ugly, hairy spiders. Also whatever was making the strange noises in the closet.
6. Going to hell no longer looks all that bad
If you’re going anyway, you may as well enjoy the ride and take him with you. Makes the prospect look better, doesn’t it?
7. They can be summoned and banished at will
No more awkward good nights or good mornings.
8. They feed themselves after sex
Mind you, what they eat is sometimes questionable and may have to be monitored, especially if you happen to like your neighbors.
9. Depending on who you believe, they can withstand daylight
Beats the heck out of dating vampires. You can go to a matinee together, or take a walk in the park. You don’t have to worry about waking up late at night to find him watching you sleep, either.
10. Old boyfriends will know better than to call.
If not, see #3 and #8. Those will resolve any lingering issues.
There you have them. My reasons why demons make better lovers. Anyone care to add to the list?
This post originally appeared at www.thenakedhero.com June 24th 2012
I recently attended my college reunion. It was one of those really fun events where we weren’t talking about our individual accomplishments, but were far more interested in revisiting a meaningful period in all our lives that’s shaped us as adults.
One of my former classmates, however, now produces documentaries and he took the opportunity to speak to us on regret, interviewing many of us as to any we might have experienced over the years.
He shared a deeply personal regret of his own:
It started us all thinking and talking.
I can’t think of any regrets I have regarding the truly important decisions in my life. While I regret not running as much as I used to, I’m happily married and have great children who’ve turned out well. I can’t regret anything there. I regretted letting my sister talk me into jumping from a second storey window when I was seven, but my adult teeth eventually replaced the ones I lost so it all worked out.
But beyond that one incident (which I knew was stupid even at the time) by no stretch of the imagination can I be called a risk taker. Even my wardrobe is a mix of dark colors, because I can’t bring myself to stray from what’s safe and feels comfortable.
And I do regret that, because it could have led to a deeper and far more meaningful one.
When I first started writing, it was because I wasn’t cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. I love my kids and made the choice to be home with them because it was the right thing to do for my family, but I needed something more, and that challenged me personally. I spent years learning to write, taking university courses that interested me, and doing odd bits of volunteer work. All of that eventually led me to the security of a decent day job once my children didn’t need me as much.
I loved that day job. A lot. The paycheque was something I’d earned all on my own. Praise from my bosses gave me that added personal sense of achievement I never knew I lacked.
Then my writing partner and I sold our first series. Suddenly I was working two jobs, and still taking college courses because I love them. (If I could be a professional student, I would so be all over that.)
Soon after that first sale, I switched to a new job at work. I begged my boss for the opportunity. It looked like a good challenge. I didn’t think of it as a potential risk.
Maybe I should have, because I hated the new job. For the first time in my life I found I was stuck in a situation that was difficult to get out of, and beyond my control. The company I worked for wasn’t the problem. It was the particular job I hated. I wasn’t moving forward and there was no going back, either. I could have asked for another transfer, but that felt like taking advantage of their generosity when I’d already asked them for an opportunity that turned out to be so not for me. But leaving the company would mean giving up a guaranteed paycheque, and for me, that was a scary risk.
For my husband, not so much.
He is much less risk averse than I am. He’s been self-employed his whole working life. For me, money’s a reward. For him money’s a necessity, but it isn’t everything. He thought I should take the risk and write full time. If it didn’t work out, I could find a new job. (How’s that for faith in me considering the economy?)
He asked me about the potential payoffs for writing, what timeframe I wanted to give myself for making a profit, and what I planned to do if it didn’t work out. In short, he suggested I put together a mini business plan. He also asked me if I really believed I could do this, because if I didn’t believe in myself, it might not be the right change for me.
To my surprise, the answer was yes. I might be afraid of risk, but never hard work.
Still, for someone who’s averse to risk, writing full time is a scary prospect. There’s no guaranteed paycheque no matter how hard you work, you live contract to contract, and a few years ago, I would never have considered it. Now, however, I have a writing partner, an agent, two different publishers under two different names, and business skills I never had before. I can’t control certain aspects of publishing, but I can treat my writing as a day job and each manuscript as a project. That gives me the measure of control I seem to need.
More than anything else, though, I’ve discovered that I don’t want to look back on my life and wish I’d tried something I love to do but didn’t, simply because it contained a higher element of risk than I found comfortable. I won’t regret failing, but I’ll regret never having tried my best.
So far, I have no reason to regret the decision.
What regrets do you have? Are you a risk taker, or do you believe in taking things safe?
We’re hanging the curtains.
Rearranging the furniture….
Check back soon