Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baby Boomer Hotness: What it Takes to Rock an Old Girl's World:)

It's 'dream-man' Wednesday, and I'm going to throw some baby-boomer hotness at you. Also, I have updates and more insights on the tantalizing topics explored in my last two blog posts. But first, let's talk older men, quirky, stubborn, brilliant, confident, heroes, and perhaps the perfect antagonist. Stage left is Tim Roth, actor, director, star of  "Lie to Me", TV series on Fox. And you can bet I wouldn't throw him out of the boudoir.

At RWA Nationals last month, I attended one of the smartest, most informative workshops ever – “Boomers in Love” (Career). It focused on writing romances for an older generation of American women. Authors Laura Castoro, Marcia King-Gamble and Sandra Kitt provided statistics, make-sense descriptions of what an older woman wants, what an older hero's characteristics will need to be to attract that woman, etc. If you’re interested about the older heroine, check out their audio at RWA Nationals (if you’re a member:), or their books:)! NOTE: Older means over 35 to me...but I am interested in the 50 plus woman wants to read in romance, too.

I’ve been thinking about this topic not only because I fit in the category of baby boomer, but in a intriguing twist of the paranormal in which my current WIP takes place, my heroine is a baby boomer, kind of:) She’s a vampire. But I’m attracted to all ages of mankind – legal – I decided to take a moment to explore why the “Cal Lightman”, the character Tim Roth portrays rocks my socks. The top five reasons are:

1)      Brilliant, confident and shamelessly arrogant about what he knows he does best (Think J.D. Robb's ‘Roarke’ in the Eve Dallas ‘Death’ series).
2)        He loves his daughter. She is his weakness (See edittorrent post which explores the question of whether or not a romantic hero’s weakness can ONLY be his heroine-real intense discussion - actually it was a multi-post debate - just go to the blog and look around:).
3)        He respects his x-lovers. They are still his friends, colleagues, etc. The man has to be good inside.
4)         Flawed. Massively, wonderfully, flawed, and not sure he will succeed in fixing this issue. Vulnerability that he doesn’t perceive as a weakness.
5)         Patient. He will fall in love before the woman he loves knows/realizes/accepts that she loves him. He will then wait for her to get on the same page.

Just a little food for thought.

Now, a quick revisit of the last post (see below or click here). Alicia Rasley, author of “The Power of Point of View" and a new book, "The Richest Girls in Town" from bellebooks, slated to debut in early 2011, pointed me to Suzanne Brockmann, an author who has written many books NYC Best-Selling Books with a variety of heroes including African American heroes and heroines (main characters, stars of the sub-plot, you name it). I’m adding her to my ‘must-read’ list. (I told you I didn't know everything:)...

That’s it for today. I’ve got to rest up, write and pack – heading to Las Vegas tomorrow and will be posting from there. Attending something called the Hoodie Awards!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blue Eyes, Dark Skin: The Pretty Comes in All Shades

Photos of Jesse Williams, Grey's Anatomy, snatched from the web by Denny S. Bryce

This is supposed to be my let's talk about the pretty Thursday, originally slated for OMG Wednesday. But it's succumbed to a disjointed discussion (with myself) on the romantic hero. What? You ask. Here it is. How can we (writers of romance) make certain that more men of color fit into the shoes of the classic romantic hero...(okay, my goal, maybe not yours:)...

With that, can you help me please? Has there been a black male (or man of color) as a main character in popular romance fiction that you can point me to that was a cross over hit? I mean where tons of readers bought the book?

When it comes to romance, film, television and fiction, it is the white man who is the romantic hero that makes all woman-kind swoon (and I'm good with that. I'm an equal opportunity appreciator of the pretty). I came to this conclusion after decades (forget I wrote that word) of sitting in front of a television and going to movies and reading romance novels. 

(Sidebar - the man here - is FREAKING BEAUTIFUL. He also is now officially a regular on Season 7 of Grey's Anatomy, which had me with the first flash of those baby blues above his mask in the O.R. And in Season 7, let me just admit – he owns my soul).

I would love to write a good story that appealed to a large percentage of readers, regardless of race, etc. (which of course has already been written by such talented authors as L.A. Banks - the vampire huntress legend series - and more) but alas I'm not as well read in this regard as I should be. But remember I am blogging, which means I can make statements as if they were fact (and thoroughly researched).

Now what was I writing about?

See pics of Jesse Williams:). I also wanted to briefly address the nature of blogging and its pitfalls (done, but somewhat light in structure and format). 

Anyway, a good romance is a good romance.

On my bookshelf? Reading Covet by JR Ward. Is it a romance? I’ll let you know when I finish.

Tip for today…

Check out Editorrent’s blog – Theresa and Alicia are having a Throw Down – it’s the great debate on writing the romantic hero…

FYI...Jesse has a major role in a new Joss Whedon film written by Joss and Drew Goddard...Found accidentally - and am getting a little light-headed...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

To Critique or Not to Critique...

Book cover 'borrowed' from Nora Roberts' web site by Denny S. Bryce

I’ve been in a mild quandary the past few days after receiving a list of potential critique partners and on it one of the writers listed African American as a ‘genre’ she’d be uncomfortable critiquing. My initial reaction was ‘huh?’ And frankly still hovers in WTF-ville.

But am I over reacting?

In romance (or any number of genres including nonfiction), publishers, bookstores, you name it, present ‘African American’ as a genre or a separate ‘section’ in their store or bookshelves or web sites. Publishers market books to specific audiences based on content, style, and/or the ethnic niche it may appeal to. And as a marketer, I get that. To reach prospective buyers you want to point them toward their proven preferences. If publishers sell books with African American main characters to mostly African American buyers then they market those
books accordingly. If buyers want one genre over another, the marketer wants to save them time, by letting them know more about the main characters or what the story may be about up front. In today's get it fast world, a decision to buy a book is not pondered, it happens quickly. Mulling over a purchase is quickly becoming passe. Marketers subscribe to the buying publics buying habits.

But in a critique partner or critique group if I felt uncomfortable critiquing romances without African Americans main characters, I’d be limiting myself to a very small list of prospective partners (lucky to find more than a handful).

I’m not saying readers shouldn’t choose or not choose to read a romance based on such guidelines as African American or Interracial, or Gay or Lesbian or Historical or Paranormal (although I might question their sense of fun regarding the latter:), but it’s the critiquing that gets me.

As a romance critique partner, I want to support my partner (or the group) and that means I'm looking for a good, consistent voice, story, plot, character, you know, the stuff that makes fiction work.

I write fiction with non-African American main characters. I write fiction with African American main characters. I feel comfortable and qualified to write stories with a multi-cultural cast because I, Denny S. Bryce, exist in a diverse society. Raised, worked, loved, and hung out, and still do, with friends and loved ones from different ethnic backgrounds. So I know the emotional journey of characters in a romance ain’t all that different from race to race from culture to culture. And even if I start writing steampunk (which I’m thinking about, seriously. I had a dream and yeah, it was good:) or some other historical, I’ll research to find a make-sense way to create a multi-cultural cast, but mostly, my goal will be to write an effective romance in a really good book.

Hopefully, when I get published (boldness ensues on a Saturday afternoon:), the readers who choose to buy my book(s) will relate to the main character’s journey because it grabs them. Whether they are white or black (the readers) is neither here nor there to me. I just want to write a good book that people want to read.

But let me not be too self-righteous here. I know plenty of African-Americans who don’t read popular fiction, don’t read romance with non-black characters, and aren’t interested in paranormal stories. And sure, some of them may be writers, mainstream authors, or politicians, but I still don’t get saying in a list of genres you’d be uncomfortable critiquing African American romance.

Am I na├»ve? Missing the point? Being hypersensitive?  Could be…

But if Nora Roberts had called me (no, she doesn’t have my number) and invited me to be her critique partner for “The Search” (and yeah, I know she doesn't need a critique partner) I wouldn’t have turned her down. Because I know her goal is to write a main character that will intrigue and relate to many readers of romance. I can go on a journey with Fiona, and fall in love with her dogs (and Simon, too). It doesn't matter to me that they aren't black or that the dogs are dogs. 

It matters that it's a well-written romance. And that would be a joy to critique.

PS: In case you're interested (and for full disclosure), I listed the following as categories I'd feel uncomfortable or unqualified to critique: traditional fantasy, high fantasy, no elves or were-seals (the latter I actually meant as a joke, because I bet there's a good book out there with an insanely well-written romance with elves or were-seals). So, maybe I need to check myself, huh?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Getting Back to Basics

"Things That Should Never Be Eaten"
Photo by Denny S. Bryce

My recent vacation has given me a lot of new energy - more relaxed yes, but more confident, too. But I surely don't know why that's the case. After two weeks in Orlando (first week at RWA Nationals), I got a chance to meet and interact once again with a fabulous group of writers, women, and in general people who are doing the same thing I'm doing, trying to fit all of the things they enjoy doing into those snippets of life called 24 hour days. Which we know ain't really the case - we only get something like 18 hours of that day to really work with, the rest is sleep (and yes, six hours is really all you need:)...or at least that's what I've put into my head).

So what are the big plans? I got two agents interested in my manuscript - one requested the whole damn thing. That's a first. So, I guess the year of polishing has been worth it. I'll let you know when and if I get an actual contract with either one. I also had a request for a partial and a synopsis from an editor from a publishing house I'd love to work with. But after the excitement of last year this time - I'm guarded. I had an agent and an editor request the first three chapters - and to this date, I haven't heard a word. I hoped for at least a rejection email, but nothing. So I've let it go.

Next a published writer I admire gave me some encouraging words about my book, my process and my writing. That was a real boost, believe me.

But you know, it gets me how confident I am in my 'career' but when it comes to writing fiction, I really struggle with seeing every word I write as about as close to 'not very good' as you can get.

Some tips for writers - stop thinking and just write. Yes, simplistic, but it's amazing how much energy we put into the process and not into the actual writing. General, but I know it's true.

And by the way, I'm still looking for a focus for my blog, but just like everything else on my plate - it will come to me sooner or later.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Spread the Love and a Shout Out for a Cyberpunk Romance Anthology

Photo by Denny S. Bryce

I've been busy writing, plotting and studying since leaving RWA Nationals, although I'm still in Orlando. Just switched resorts. 

Are you wondering what happened at this year's RWA as far as 'my manuscript' goes? Okay, even if you're not, I'm going to tell you anyway. Good news. I got a request for the full manuscript. Yes, that's right. The whole damn thing (from an agent), and a partial - first three chapters and synopsis - from an editor. So, let's just say I'm excited, but the entire thing is in my hands. The book, of course, needs more polishing. It's like an endless battle - me versus words (you know like man versus food on the travel channel. I love that show:). This week, I'm hanging out at my time share in Orlando with writing buddy Alicia Rasley, and we both have books in the works. She's working on a new sexy Regency (that means lots of sex, btw) set in London circa 1817, while her new women's fiction will be launched in February 2011 with Bellebooks.

That's enough about me. Now, I've got news for my writer friends. With the permission of Samhain Publishing, see below for news about an upcoming anthology:

Call for Submissions: Samhain Publishing Cyberpunk romance anthology

Welcome to the future, a cyberpunk future—-post-industrial dystopias where society has broken down; a world of advanced science, cybernetic and tech. The cyberpunk world is a dark and gritty place, blurring the border between actual and virtual reality.

I'm very happy to announce an open call for submissions for a new, yet-to-be-titled summer 2011 cyberpunk romance anthology. Don't know what cyberpunk is? Think The Matrix and Bladerunner, or the popular role-playing/computer game/book series Shadowrun. For more information on cyberpunk, you can check out the entry on wikipedia.

I'm open to M/F, M/M, F/F, or multiples thereof, any sexual heat level, and the romance must end happily ever after or happy for now.
The novellas must range between 25,000 to 30,000 words in length, no more, no less—please note, only manuscripts that fall in this word count will be considered for this anthology—and will be released individually as ebooks in August 2011.

Submissions are open to all authors, published with Samhain or aspiring to be published with Samhain. All submissions must be new material—previously published submissions will not be considered. Additionally, manuscripts previously submitted, whether individually or for past anthologies, will not be considered either. Be aware that manuscripts submitted to this anthology cannot be resubmitted at a later date unless by invitation from an editor.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please include:

The full manuscript (of 25,000 to 30,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-5 page synopsis. Also include a letter of introduction/query letter. Full manuscripts are required for this as it is a special project.

As well, when you send your manuscript, be sure to use the naming convention Cyberpunk_Title_MS and Cyberpunk_Title_Synopsis. This will ensure that your submission doesn't get missed in the many submissions we receive, and makes it easy for me to find in my ebook reader.

Submissions are open until February 1, 2011. No submissions will be accepted after this date—no exceptions. A final decision will be made by February 28, 2011. Send your submission to and include Cyberpunk Anthology in the subject line.

Questions and queries can be addressed to Sasha Knight ( though do your due diligence and read this anthology call completely and check the Samhain Submission FAQ page before emailing.

Permission to forward or repost granted...

That's it for Wednesday!



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