Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Romancing the Cover

A Flame Run Wild,#PinoDaeni,#romance,#cover,#writingtips,#fiction,#romancewriters
Pino Daeni
I have been a long-time fan of Pino Daeni (November 8, 1939 – May 25, 2010). Thanks to my darling husband, I am also the proud owner of several of his paintings. I would stare at his work every time we entered an art store. I loved his portraiture, but what I really wanted was to be able to paint like that. Alas, portrait painting is one of those dreams that got away, but I get to admire his technique on a daily basis.

Long ago in the publishing world, artists were commissioned to create original paintings. Pino’s impressionist romantic style graced over 3,000 book covers, movie posters, and magazine illustrations.

#PinoDenai,#Romance,#writingtips,#bookcover,#coverdesign,#artwork,#fiction

Pino began illustrating books for Italian publishers. When he moved to New York, his work caught the attention of Dell, Zebra, Bantam, Simon & Schuster, Penguin USA, Dell, and Harlequin. His romance novel covers graced works by Danielle Steel, Sylvie Summerfield, and Amanda Ashley and featured the famous model Fabio.

#Fabio,#Pino,#bookcover,#coverart,#romance,#novels,#marketing,#artwork


Alas, Pino left the book illustration business to focus on his own work and the beautiful paintings of past decades have been replaced by photography of muscled men and seductive sirens. 

The art of the cover has further been diluted by the use of stock photos, sometimes the same photo and models on multiple covers.

Here is a list of sites you can visit to build your own sizzling cover.

1. Romance Novel Covers

2. Novel Expression

3. Glass Giant

4. Creativ Indie Covers

5. The Book Cover Designer

6. Self Pub Book Covers

You can even mock-up your own hot romance at Romance Novel Yourself.

Tweet: As much as the process has changed, nothing sells a romance novel better than a cover featuring a passionate embrace by “beautiful people.”

As to whether featuring only "beautiful people" sends a healthy message, is an argument for another day.

You can further explore the romance genre with the following posts:

Sex Versus Romance

The Rules of Romance

Bad Romance



Diana Hurwitz
 is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Relationships and the African American Male Author

In 2000, Entertainment Weekly made note of the growing trend of African American male authors who write “sexy, sensitive novels.”


Back then, over 15 years ago if you can believe that, some of the hottest African American male authors in the market were the late great E. Lynn Harris, Eric Jerome Dickey, Colin Channer, Omar Tyree, and Marcus Major. These men, most of them at the time being in their 30s, wrote stories with strong female characters; these stories focused on the tangled web of relationships and love.

These men were our male equivalents to Terry McMillan, who had women all over the country Waiting to Exhale -- with her book and eventually, the movie.

I will admit, I LIVED for Eric Jerome Dickey and every book he released almost two decades ago. Sister, Sister; Friends and Lovers; Cheaters; and Milk in My Coffee were my first forays into his writing, and I loved how much I could relate to the women portrayed within the pages and the struggles they lived through. I often wondered, How does he manage to get into the female psyche so well? But, he did, and so did the others.


Today at BRP, we ask the question, WHERE ARE THEY NOW, and we take a brief look at the goings on of Dickey, Channer, and Tyree. Are they still, as author Nelson George stated in 2000, “the literary equivalent of the great R&B love songs”?


Eric Jerome Dickey [Site; Amazon]
Eric Jerome Dickey’s career is still as bright as it was in 2000—if not brighter. The author of over 30 novels, Dickey has found himself on several bestselling lists, such as The New York Times, USA Today, and ESSENCE; has been nominated for and won awards for his works; has appeared in anthologies, such as New American Library’s Got To Be Real: Four Original Love Stories; and has traveled coast to coast and overseas in promotion of his works.

Dickey, like so many of these men, is multi-faceted and -talented as his work goes beyond novels and short stories to include his six-issue miniseries of comic books for Marvel Enterprises featuring Storm from X-Men. Dickey has also, in a way, found his career coming full circle, too. As stated in his bio, in early 1998, Dickey revised a screenplay he had written earlier titled Cappuccino and had it directed and produced by Craig Ross, Jr. The movie “made its local debut during the Pan African Film Festival at the Magic Johnson Theater in Los Angeles.” Movies return to his career as his novel Naughty or Nice has been optioned by Lionsgate Films.

Dickey's latest, The Black Birds, will be released April 19, 2016, but it's available for pre-order now from several outlets, to include Amazon! They call themselves the Blackbirds. Kwanzaa Brown, Indigo Abdulrahaman, Destiny Jones, and Erica Stockwell are four best friends who are closer than sisters, and will go to the ends of the earth for one another. Yet even their deep bond can't heal all wounds from their individual pasts, as the collegiate and post-collegiate women struggle with their own demons, drama, and desires.

As the women try to overcome-- or give into-- their impulses, they find not only themselves tested, but the one thing they always considered unbreakable: their friendship.



Colin Channer [Site; Amazon]
In 2000, when asked about writing for the ladies, Channer stated, “Women make love with words, and my language is very grounded in the rhythms of poetry and wordplay and metaphor.”

Channel’s language is still grounded, and many critics have not only praised him for his use of language, but also have compared him to the likes, especially in his novella, The Girl with Golden Shoes, of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mark Twain, and Bob Marley. Critics have said that Channer writes characters (like his heroine in The Girl With the Golden Shoes) as “too real, too genuine”; that Channer “is clearly in the business of helping to make great literature”; and that Channer is a “gifted storyteller.”

For his debut novel, Waiting in Vain, the Washington Post Book World stated that the love story in the book is interesting, but Channer transcends that to develop “strength of characterization and the clear redefinition of the Caribbean novel — in which the discourses of post-colonialism have been usurped by the creative assurance of reggae’s aesthetic — a quintessentially modern aesthetic that has finally found the kind of dialogue between popular music and art that we have not seen in a long time.”

And that aesthetic has not left him throughout the novels and short stories published and the myriad of literary ventures he has taken part of since 2000.

Channer's 2009 short story collection, Passing Through, spans the early 1900s up to modern times; its stories trace the intersecting lives of travelers, expatriates, and local folks in ways that shock, illuminate, and reveal. From the American photographer who finds her world disturbed by new forms of love and lust, to a charismatic priest confronted by the earthly perks of fame and stardom, the diverse mix of characters are united by the universal search for love and understanding—a challenge on an island simmering with issues of politics, power, and race.



Omar Tyree [Site; Amazon]
To know Flyy Girl is to know the NYT best-selling author, journalist, lecturer, poet, screenwriter (and so much more!) Omar Tyree. This was THE book for so many readers, to include me. In regards to contemporary urban novels, it is a classic, and many cite it as a novel that spawned the urban/street lit genre. Tyree was and still is a literary force to be reckon with. In his early 20s, he self-published and marketed his first three books, selling over 25,000 copies under his publishing company MARS Production, and a few short years after that, Simon & Schuster came calling, offering him a two-book deal for with six-figure advance.

Since then, he has publishes nearly 30 novels, written stories for several anthologies, won dozens of literacy awards, and has spoken on subjects, such as art, business, community, culture, education, and entertainment. Tyree’s Flyy Girl trilogy has been optioned for a feature film production by Code Black and Lionsgate Films. Actress Sanaa Lathan is attached to the project.


Tyree's The Flyy Girl trilogy (Flyy Girl, For the Love of Money, and Boss Lady) follows a young African-American woman coming of age during the 1980s. Obsessed with the material world, Tracy Ellison falls into a cycle of gratuitous sex and heartbreak.

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We could debate if these three talented men actually wrote/write "romance" in the traditional sense, but we would--by reading their earlier works and some of their current projects--probably agree that their novels featured strong African American women who moved through their lives while dealing with careers, men, relationships, love, marriage, betrayal, and sometimes, even, happily ever after. And that might not be a traditional romance novel, but it's definitely a novel that is geared toward a female audience and provides that audience with a lot of the feelings they receive from having read a traditional romance.

It's not easy to write a good relationship story. It's not always easy to write a strong female character--and that's for a female writer. It could have been so easy for these male authors and others to fall into the trap of writing stereotypical female characters, leaving a bad taste in the mouth of their readers, but they succeeded in creating, at least for the reader, living, breathing, real women who love hard.


Have you read romance novels or relationship novels that feature African American women and are written by men of color? (Tweet) If so, who? Which books would you recommend? If not, check out these three authors and Google to learn about others!

Creative Passionista Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator whose biggest joys are writing and helping others develop their craft. She has published both creatively and academically and interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her author website.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Nicholas Sparks – A Writer to Remember


I first met Nicholas Sparks through the pages of A Walk to Remember. The poignancy that permeated the story seemed so real that it hardly felt like fiction. Then I learned it wasn’t fiction in the truest sense. His protagonist, 17-year-old Jamie Sullivan, was inspired by his sister, who died of cancer at age 33. By his own admission, Jamie’s story paralleled his sibling’s in many ways—her personality, her faith, her experiences, her longing to get married, the wonderful gift of love her husband gave her despite her terminal illness. The story didn’t exactly follow the typical romance guidelines because the happily-ever-after ending didn’t appear to happen, although Sparks insists the conclusion doesn’t say Jamie died. Even though he believed from the beginning that the cancer would take her, he couldn’t in the end state outright that she had lost her fight with the disease. (I still wonder whether part of the reason he couldn’t carry through with the finality of her death might have been because his sister was still living when he was finishing the book, and he couldn’t end the story based on her life that way while even the tiniest thread of hope of her recovery existed.) Whatever the reason, he left Walk open-ended. Nonetheless, many readers (including me) believed Jamie’s death was the only logical outcome.

Nights in Rodanthe, another of Sparks’ novels, also attracted me to his characters. Unlike most of his fiction books, it wasn’t inspired by actual people or events. Its only tie to reality is that the main characters are named after his in-laws. The story involves two middle-aged people (I was middle-aged when I read it)—both reeling from catastrophes in their own lives—who are drawn to an inn and each other in the town of Rodanthe, North Carolina. Adrienne, whose husband left her for a younger woman, is minding the establishment on the Outer Banks for the weekend to help out a friend; Paul is seeking refuge from the shambles of his life. When a storm traps the two strangers together for five days, unexpected feelings surge and love blooms. After they part to return to their own realities, they stay in touch via letters and phone calls until communications from Paul suddenly cease. You guessed it: he died.

These are just two examples that show Sparks’ penchant for writing tragic love stories. (See Message in a Bottle among others.) True, a lot of people never find what they are looking for in a mate; or, when they do, it may not work out for any number of reasons. That’s life. However, when I read a book, I want an escape, a reason to hope that one day I may be carried away by a knight in shining armor. Realistically, that’s not very likely. Idealistically, why not? (Yes, I have been accused of being an incurable romantic.)

What do you look for in a romance? Do you want the characters to do the happily-ever-after thing? Should hope spring eternal and obstacles be overcome so that they embark on a life of true love? Or should the harshness of reality on occasion separate them forever?

Linda Lane and her editing team mentor and encourage writers at all phases of the writing process. To learn more about what they do, please visit them at www.denvereditor.com.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

An Excerpt from Succulent Wild Love by SARK and Dr. John Waddell

We wouldn't want to neglect real life (a.k.a. non-fiction) in our month of romance from the male perspective, so we are delighted to run an excerpt from Succulent Wild Love, a new book co-authored by SARK with her beloved, Dr. John Waddell. The happy couple share their advice on how we can all keep the love and romance in our lives even when there's only one piece of blueberry pie left. 
Believe You Can Create a Joyful Solution
An Excerpt from Succulent Wild Love

Most people spontaneously look for solutions that meet everyone’s needs. We want to please the people we love and want to please ourselves. It’s when we get stuck that we start to look for a compromise or think someone has to sacrifice.

To create a Joyful Solution, you start with the attitude that everyone can get what they want. That is the biggest factor. Starting from that approach is so powerful because when you believe that everyone can get what they want, you can help the other person get what makes them happy.

Often people are focused on scarcity: they think there is only a limited amount of whatever, so they have to put all their energy into trying to get what they can of it. Then the other person picks up on that and feels pushed away. And then they feel they also have to put all their energy into getting whatever they can, and it becomes a tug-of-war.

But the dynamic changes dramatically when you approach the other person with the attitude of “This is what I want. Help me understand what you want, because I want to help you get what you want too.”

When people feel that, the tension dissipates. From that emotional place they will often happily make adjustments because they see it as getting them closer to what they want.

So, creating Joyful Solutions begins with believing you can. The greatest limitation to finding a fully satisfying solution for everyone in any situation is the belief that compromise is as far as you can go.

There is nothing inherently wrong with compromise, but intimate relationships feel more secure and supportive when both people know they’re on the same side. When people are limited to compromise or even sacrifice, each person tends to think they must push against the other or give up.
The Two Key Parts to Finding Joyful Solutions
Finding the Essence

While you may not always be able to get what appears on the surface, you can find a way to get the essence of what you want. Say there is only one piece of blueberry pie left and two of you want it. If your friend eats it, there’s none for you. A good compromise would be for each of you to get half. That’s easy, and most of us would stop there. Everyone gave up an even amount.

But what if you don’t want to give anything up? If you stay focused on either you or your friend getting that last piece of pie, then you’re stuck — there’s only one. Instead, each of you can ask yourself, “What is the essence of what I want?” Perhaps one of you wants the taste of blueberries and the other wants pie or just a sweet dessert.

On the surface, it looks like you want the same thing — that last piece of pie. But what it means to each of you can be vastly different. Getting the pie is the solution to fulfilling a desire. When you look at the essence of that desire, you can begin to see that there might be other ways to fulfill it.

So the question to ask is, What is it that each of you is looking for when you say you want the pie (or whatever the surface issue is)?

A friend of ours who is a mediator has a great story about two farmers who were fighting over an orange grove. When they were finally forced to sit down and talk to each other, to their surprise, they found out one wanted the orange rinds and the other wanted the juice.

Go Wide

Once you know the essence, you can begin to go wide — that is, look for alternatives that can fulfill the essence. In our pie example, you might ask, “Are there any other sweet desserts in the house? Can we easily get something even better somewhere else?” You could even go on a dessert-hunting adventure.

The main things that keep people from joining together to create Joyful Solutions are anger and mistrust. If you wait to approach the other person until you or they are angry, or if you have a history of approaching each other with criticism, one or both of you will not want to participate.

Succulent Wild Love at Amazon
So if you feel angry, before you begin engaging with the other person, use your Inner Feeling Care System to rebalance yourself. When you know you can create solutions that feel good, it will be relatively easy to take charge of your anger rather than having it take charge of you.

Once you begin to send clear, unambivalent messages that you want to help the other person (knowing you can get what you want too), any anger or mistrust they have will dissolve over time.



SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) and Dr. John Waddell are the authors of Succulent Wild LoveSARK is a best-selling author and artist, with sixteen titles in print and well over two million books sold.  Dr. John has been helping individuals and couples lead happier lives for over 30 years through his clinical psychology practice and metaphysical teachings. Visit them online at PlanetSARK.com
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Excerpted from the book Succulent Wild Love ©2015 by SARK and Dr. John Waddell.  Printed with permission of New World Library. NewWorldLibrary.com

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Morgan Mandel Interviews Popular Male Romance Cover Model, Jason Aaron Baca

I have a special treat for you today. My guest is male cover model, Jason Aaron Baca, whose image has graced so many covers, he's closing in on Fabio’s record of 460.



Jason Aaron Baca of Los Gatos, CA is a romance novel cover model of over 400 books. Jason was a high school and college baseball player before trying his hand at acting. While on location in Bodega Bay, Ca where he was a double for an actor in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” he was discovered by a photographer and asked to take photos. From there, Jason went on to pose for many different clothing lines including YMLA, Sketchers, and many others.


In 2007 he discovered Romance Novel Cover modeling and put his attention into modeling exclusively for that.


AND NOW, HERE’S THE INTERVIEW:

Welcome to Blood-Red Pencil, Jason. Don’t let our blog name scare you. We’re just a bunch of editors and authors sharing experiences and advice. This February we’re focusing on guys in the romance industry.

Q: A book cover can make or break a book, especially a romance. From what I hear, something about a Jason Baca cover produces the desired response. Why do you think that’s so?

Jason – Well, thank you for getting in touch with me. I do believe that an author puts their heart and soul into their writings. So I’d think they’d want someone on their cover who also gives their heart and soul into looking their absolute best for it.

http://amzn.to/1SHlEot

Q: How does it feel to be in such demand as a cover model?

Jason – I love it. I think it’s terrific to see/hear that I’m the go to guy for so many graphic artists and publishers. It took years for it to get this way of course. I had to really go out and make it happen. I mean in this highly competitive business opportunity is not going to just come to you… You are going to have to go and find it.

But as time went on and graphic artists became familiar with me, it became automatic that they’d consider me for the next edit... and THAT… is what I had envisioned when all this began.

Q: How did you get your break as a model?

Jason – I was on location for a movie where I was a double for Freddie Prinze, Jr. (I Know What You Did Last Summer) and one of the photographers had asked me if he could take a few photos of me for his camera…  I said sure… and it ended up to be my first really big connection with anything in the modeling world…  He gave me a contact… then that next photographer gave me a contact… it just kept feeding into itself.

http://amzn.to/1UKVqAy

Q: When did you hone in on romance book covers, and why?

Jason – it was around 2007 or so.  I was about finished with clothing modeling or ad modeling… the typical smile or holding a bottle of shampoo just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. I wanted something bigger, better…  That’s when I saw it… a romance book… in a book store. I was instantly connected to it. I felt driven to do this. On the inside I felt a volcano erupt and lava was flowing in my veins. My excitement was hard to contain in the bookstore and I remember trying to keep myself from flipping out over the idea I’d instantly created.  My birthday happened to be the next day… And when I blew out those candles…. I made a couple of VERY special wishes… And I would make them come true…

Q: How do you keep your looks? Any special diet, exercise, or products?

Jason – I’ve always been an athlete and been into my body and looking great… So when it came to exercise, it was in me to begin with. Doing photoshoots was just an extension of my working out.  I was now getting to see the rewards of my hard work in the gym, on a book cover unlike before where I was just lifting weights for myself and health.

I live in a balanced diet, I eat clean foods such as chicken breast, grilled fish, meats, and Greek yogurt. I enjoy digging into pasta one day per week which is my one splurge I like to do to get those extra calories I know my thirsty body needs for those workouts I dig way down for.


Q: On the day of a shoot, do you do anything special before?

Jason – I certainly do. The day of the shoot, I apply an herb, citrus, and avocado masque which I leave on for 20 minutes. This allows my skin to feel fresh in the morning and start my day right. I then shower, removing the masque from my skin gently. I towel off and apply body moisturizer from neck to toe. For the face, I use an anti-aging eye balm and then around the temples I use an “ultra gentle soothing cream.” I let that soak and then apply a final moisturizing protective lotion which I purchase at the Body Shop.

Q: On a shoot, do you have a say about your expression, pose, clothes, setting, or it is all up to your client?

Jason – Yes and no… usually they’ll send me the concepts in writing or an image. But I always use my imagination anyways… and when they start trying to over pose, I get on the floor and start doing pushups or something to shake it off.  I end up doing what comes natural a lot of the times and throw those poses in as well… 9 times out of 10 they end up using my idea.

Q: Do you sometimes refuse modeling jobs? If so, why?

Jason – Oh sure, I have.  Some jobs just aren’t for me. And they are best for other models.  I listen to the opportunity and thank them for offering and that’s as far as it goes. I never want to feel like I’m desperate or that I have to “take any opportunity that comes my way.” No, that’s no good. It’s the quality stuff that makes my world exciting to me, not the quantity.

Q: Any funny or maybe embarrassing experiences you’d like to share?

Jason – You know, it’s not until I get asked this question that I realize what a boring person I can be in a studio! Sure I have little experiences here and there but nothing to go nuts over.  I’m in the studio and feel like I know what I’m doing.  There is not a kinda confident look… either you’re confident about yourself or not. I take the confident approach.

Q: I read somewhere that at first you didn’t read romances, but curiosity has gotten the better of you, and at times you indulge. Is that right?

Jason – Yes, you are right about that. I have been reading these courtesy copies that they send my way and have been very drawn into some. They are most interesting books and what imaginations romance authors have (without me saying any specific names.)

Q: Tell us something about the two modeling books you’ve written, and how we can order them.

Jason – The books were written when I had other goals in mind. They were written when I was pursuing getting on the cover of Playgirl. Not a thing is mentioned about the romance cover modeling though I do plan to get something going.  But if a person wants to read those books from a long time ago they can be ordered on Amazon. The titles are Journey of a Male Model and Overexposed.

Q: If someone would like to hire you as a book cover model, whom should they contact?

Jason - If someone wants to, they can contact my management at HM Models

If someone wants to purchase an image from my website, they can see the info in the journal of the page.

Thanks so much for sharing your cover model life with us, Jason.

For more about Jason Aaron Baca, check out the People magazine article, the Guardian article, the Marie Claire article, and lots of book cover photos from photographer, Portia Shao, to drool over on Pinterest.


Interview by Morgan Mandel. Check Out Morgan's Standalone Romantic Comedy,  Girl of My Dreams, the romantic comedy series, Her Handyman, and A Perfect Angel. For Mystery/Suspense, try Killer Career or Two Wrongs. For the small town of Deerview series: Hailey's Chance: Will Baby Make 3? and Christmas   Carol.Websites:Morgan Mandel.Com  Morgan Does Chick Lit.ComTwitter:@MorganMandel

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

An Interview with Rich Amooi

For the February theme of Males in Romance, I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Romantic Comedy author Rich Amooi. I hope that you find as much joy in his responses as I did. His bio will be included below the interview, as well as links to where you can learn more about this fantastic author. Please allow me to introduce Rich Amooi. 


Jason: You were once an on-air DJ, which had to be a fun career. What made you decide to become an author?

Rich:   It was a lot of fun and I had an amazing radio career that spanned thirty-three years. Part of that career included writing and producing radio commercials. My favorite commercials to write were comedy sketches where two people were talking, the product magically appeared, and they lived happily-ever-after with that product. My wife loved some of the commercials and encouraged me to take creative writing classes at Stanford to get into fiction writing. I had been considering writing movie scripts at the time but she told me I should write novels and let someone else make them into movies. Smart woman! The first class I took was on crafting short stories and I wrote over twenty-five of them. She fell in love with one of the stories and told me I had to turn it into a full-length novel. It ended up being my debut romantic comedy, Five Minutes Late, and has done very well. It’s wonderful to have such a supportive spouse who believes in me and encourages me.

Jason: Romantic comedy. While so many males seem to run away from the word ‘romantic’, what made you choose your genre?  

Rich:   It was a no-brainer for me since I’m obsessed with romantic comedies. It’s almost impossible to go to the movies with my guy friends since most of them want to watch things that blow up. Give me humor and romance and I’m a happy man.

Jason: Are there any particular challenges you have faced as a male writing romance?

Rich:   The main thing is getting the female point of view right since ninety-nine percent of my readers are female. I think I’ve done a pretty good job and it certainly helps to have three female beta readers.

Jason: The romantic genres are typically dominated by women. Do you have any thoughts on why more men do not take those genres on?

Rich:   They’re too busy drinking beer, watching football, and grabbing their crotches. Seriously, I have no idea. The guys I know usually want to talk about cars, money, and technology when we get together for barbeques. I rarely hear them talking about relationships, so my guess is they’re just not that much into romance.

Jason: You do not write sex scenes in your novels, is there a specific reason behind the decision?

Rich:   I’ve got a hot Spanish wife at home, so nothing on paper can compare to that. I personally skim past the sex scenes when I’m reading romance novels. It didn’t make sense for me to write something that I personally don’t enjoy reading. For me, the most romantic part of a romance novel or movie has nothing to do with sex. I love the anticipation. The connection. Meeting someone new, getting to know them, and having the feeling that it could be something very special. All of that happens before the sex. And I LOVE dialogue. That’s why you’ll notice my romantic comedies have much more dialogue than the average romance novel.

Jason: Does your wife get the first look at your manuscripts, or does she have to wait until they are published? What is her typical reaction to your work?

Rich:   Lucky for me my wife is my biggest fan. She’s my alpha reader and the first person who reads my stories. After I get her crucial feedback, I revise the story before sending it to my beta readers. She’s also the first one to tell me if I nailed the female characters (no pun intended) or was off the mark in terms of what I had a female character say or do.

Jason: If you attend or speak at conferences, what is the reception like being a male in the world of romance?

Rich:   I attended the Romance Writers of America conference in New York in July of 2015. Over two thousand romance writers in one place—only a handful of them men—and it was amazing! I stood out which made it fun. I felt very welcome there and met many of the top romance authors
in the world. Can’t wait to go back again this year!

Jason: What are your thoughts on Self-published vs. Traditional?

Rich:   I never considered being a traditionally published author. I did a lot of research before I wrote my first book and knew self-publishing was for me. I like having complete control. That being said, I’m open to being a hybrid author if the right offer came along.

Jason: You describe your work as “light, fun, silly, crazy and romantic”, but do you have a theme or a lesson that usually appears in your work?

Rich:   I think all my stories have lessons even though I’m not specifically writing them with a lesson in mind. Love always wins. Don’t let what happen in the past determine your future. You can over-come any obstacle. Believe you can do it and you will. Don’t let the negativity of others drag you down. There’s someone for everyone. You can love again after heartbreak. And most importantly, kissing is healthy and fun.

Jason: What is the first romantic comedy you remember reading or watching that really hooked you in the genre? Why?

Rich:   This is an easy one. In 1989, there was a movie that caught my attention, slapped me
upside the head, and changed me forever. When Harry Met Sally. It was the dialogue that drew me in. I still love watching that movie.

Jason: Of the few males writing in the romantic genres, many have chosen female pseudonyms. Is there a reason you didn’t?

Rich:   I was actually advised by an industry expert to make sure to use a female pen name because she was certain women wouldn’t want to read romance novels from a guy. So glad she was wrong! I’m proud of being a man who loves romance. I want everyone to know and want to shout it to the world. I love romance!

Rich Amooi is a former Silicon Valley radio personality and wedding DJ who now writes romantic comedies full-time. He is happily married to a kiss monster and has a hairy golden retriever/lab mix that likes to eat carrots, tuna, and Manchego cheese imported from Spain. He believes (Rich, not the dog) in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.

Website: RichAmooi.com | Rich Amooi's books on Amazon | Facebook Author Page | Twitter

Interview by Jason P. Henry. When he's not working with the dedicated and passionate people of Pikes Peak Writers,  Jason is lost in a world of serial killers, psychopaths, and other unsavory folks. Ask him what he is thinking, but only at your own risk. More often than not he is plotting a murder, considering the next victim, or twisting seemingly innocent things into dark and demented ideas. A Suspense, Thriller and Horror writer with a dark, twisted sense of humor, Jason strives to make people squirm, cringe, and laugh. He loves to offer a smile, but is quick to leave you wondering what lies behind it. Jason P. Henry is best summed up by the great philosopher Eminem “I'm friends with the monsters beside of my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head.” Learn more about Jason at JasonPHenry.com

Monday, February 1, 2016

Showing Some Love

Jason P. Henry: I’m taking a break from my usual Dream Chaser posts here at The Blood Red Pencil, and directing a month of theme-writing from the male perspective. You see, a few months ago I found my work taking an unexpected detour. Instead of writing about the usual monsters, dead bodies, psychopaths, and serial killers, I found myself writing something very dark. 


Romance. 
                  
Believe me, I was just as surprised as you. Not once, since my first word as a writer, had I considered writing a romance novel. But, there I was. After a closer look at the genre, one thing I noticed was an absence of male authors. When I dug a little deeper, the few male authors I found were working under female pseudonyms. Naturally, many questions came to mind.

I decided to look a little more inward for the answers. What had been my own aversion to romance all this time? Was it because I grew up feeling I would be ridiculed for reading romance? Maybe it wouldn’t be considered tough, cool, or even proper for a male to enjoy that kind of material. After all, we guys are supposed to enjoy cars, sports, and other testosterone-infused pastimes, right? I’m sure all of these played a factor when I was younger, but what about as an adult who was able to think for himself and shed the stereotypes?

For me, I think it came down to my idea of what Romance novels were. Admittedly, my perception was illustrated by thoughts of scantily clad men and women on the covers of the old bodice-rippers I used to see on bookshelves. Then there were the stories about throbbing loins, pining hearts, someone succumbing to the primal, animalistic urges of the other. Longing. Wanting. Swooning. Good grief…

Now, I’m not saying the romance industry doesn’t still publish such works. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these themes. They’re simply not appealing, not my style. Romance novels, as I envisioned them, were not my box of chocolate. So, what changed?

I have the pleasure of sitting with a fabulous group of writers every Thursday night. Among them is Harlequin author Angel Smits, who I’m proud to call a friend. As we writers do with writer friends, I went to her signing and I bought her book. After reading the novel, my opinion of romance was forever changed. It wasn’t page after page of sweaty, overly-graphic sex scenes. There were characters with depth, and a plot. A good one. There was an actual story and I was pulled into it. It was about the characters themselves and the relationships between them. It was about the truest form of romance there is. Love. For better for worse, through good times and bad.

I began to look at my own characters and novels much differently. I realized the novels I enjoy the most (thrillers, suspense, horror) all employ the key elements of romance. If the characters don’t have depth, if the relationships aren’t believable, then the story, no matter what the genre, falls flat. So, I decided to challenge myself. I put away my thriller, suspense, and horror, and decided I was going to write a romance novel.  

Let me tell you, it’s been quite the experience. I’ve learned more about character development with this novel than I have with any other project. I’m focused on the internal motivators as much as the external. I’m tuning in to what the characters see in themselves, and how they feel others see them. Rather than planning a murder and figuring out how to hide a body, I’m trying to decide what characters need to make themselves better for the people in their lives.

Now, I’m not done with my true love. My heart will always belong to the crime genres. But I’m convinced that there’s something to this whole romance thing. I hope that more guys will see beyond the sexy covers, the steamy love scenes, and get to the heart of the matter. There’s no shame in reading or writing romance. After all, everyone needs a little love in their life, right?

Please join The Blood Red Pencil team and me this month as we explore the world of Romance, mostly from the male POV. You'll get many perspectives over the next few weeks, and we're going to heat things up with some very special guests and interviews. Romantic Comedy author Rich Amooi, cover model Jason Baca, and others.

As always, we invite you to leave a comment and share your thoughts. Why do you feel there are so few men in romance? What are your thoughts on the genre in general? Thank you for joining us and, no matter what your box of chocolate is, Happy Valentine's Day!

When he's not working with the dedicated and passionate people of Pikes Peak Writers, Jason P. Henry is lost in a world of serial killers, psychopaths, and other unsavory folks. Ask him what he is thinking, but only at your own risk. More often than not he is plotting a murder, considering the next victim, or twisting seemingly innocent things into dark and demented ideas. A Suspense, Thriller and Horror writer with a dark, twisted sense of humor, Jason strives to make people squirm, cringe, and laugh. He loves to offer a smile, but is quick to leave you wondering what lies behind it. Jason P. Henry is best summed up by the great philosopher Eminem “I'm friends with the monsters beside of my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head.” Learn more about Jason at JasonPHenry.com

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