Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mastering the Alpha Male

I met Ann Jacobs at my very first Romantic Times Convention back in 2004. Because authors are often seated alphabetically at book signings, we've been next to each other, not only then, but several times since. I'm pleased to welcome Ann today to talk about the wonderful Alpha Male characters we all know and love.

What is it about romance readers that draw them to the Alpha Male, that commanding, sometimes exasperating guy they’d most likely strangle if they had to live with him every day?

I believe it’s the fantasy—the secret dream of every woman to be protected, wrapped in the strong arms of a man who will take on all her problems and make them go away by the sheer force of his will. On an even deeper level, it’s the need to escape a modern world full of responsibilities, decision-making, high pressure demands of bosses and society in general…to relinquish the iron control she must exert on a daily basis to a man strong enough to shoulder all those.

A hero to die for—he is hard to buy in a contemporary setting unless… Unless he’s a desert sheikh to fulfill a modern woman’s harem fantasy, a larger-than-life figure so dominant he can master even the strongest woman… Unless he can reach into a reader’s psyche and make her think, “I want this man to take me—anywhere he chooses to go.” That hero must connect with the reader on every level: physical, emotional, sexual, but mostly emotional. He must control the heroine (and thus, the reader) with care, with love, with an understanding of her needs that transcends her own self-knowledge.

Alpha males—they’re strong men, strong enough to tame stronger lovers. Sometimes unabashed Alphas are easier to sell to readers when their stories are set in worlds apart from the contemporary world where we all live, which I believe is what drives authors whose favorite story worlds are contemporary to detour into fantasy worlds of their own making.

Move basically contemporary Alpha heroes into a fantasy world, and an author’s ingrained inhibitions can take a backseat. I did this in a brave yet often terrifying futuristic world that I created, a world very loosely based on premises George Orwell put forth in his classic, 1984, in which Earthlings’ personal freedoms are first eroded and then destroyed.

The result: ten loosely connected novellas based on heroes who refused to accept strictures placed on their sexual freedom and who built their own societies in which there were no sexual bounds, no societal taboos to threaten and emasculate them.

No Bounds, my newest release from Ellora’s Cave Publishing, is the first, chronologically speaking, in the novellas. It is the story of the strong Alpha Dominant who follows and founds a colony off-planet after being banished from Earth—a resort where his fellow Earthlings may safely pursue their forbidden fantasies. No Bounds and the nine novellas (Note 1) that follow demonstrate what happens when Mankind’s personal freedoms are abridged—and how strong men and their even stronger lovers find not only sexual freedom but also the happily-ever-after endings they could not have achieved back home.      

 Ann Jacobs

Note 1:

  • Quest for Pleasure series: No Bounds, Topaz Dream, Gates of Hell
  • Pleasure Partners series: His Pleasure Mistress, Pleasure Slave, Enslaving the Master, Imperfect Partners, Perfect Master, Her Alien Masters, Training the Master, Alien Pleasures, Alien Masters

Your turn! If all the rules were off, if no one was there to tell you, you can't....what would the men be like? The women?

Brainstorm on paper (in your journal is a good spot. Napkins work well, too!). Make a list of characteristics for each gender.

Then write a scene of interaction focusing on dialogue. Let the sparks fly!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Old pictures

I came across an old photo tonight - a set of photos, actually. Three of them. In each I'm wearing the same costume as my eighteen-year-old self poses with King Arthur in one, with Lancelot in another and with the director in the third. The play is Camelot; I played Guinevere and am in my Act I, scene 1 dress with my hair done up and my bearing, regal.

Looking at the pictures of Arthur and Lancelot made me smile. I used to call the two of them my two towers because they were both six foot two and I was (and am) five foot four. Standing between them at the end of Act I when we're all decked out in our rented costumes, I felt alternately protected and small.

But it was the one of my director and myself that, for some reason, struck a chord with me tonight. I'm pretty sure it was a secret to no one that I had a tremendous crush on him back then, despite my protestations to the contrary. He was off-limits, though, for several reasons, one of which was that he was a teacher and you just didn't flirt with teachers. The other, the big one, was that he was a Brother - an Irish Christian Brother - and had already dedicated his life to God. Those of you who've read "Love at Third Sight" know I consider going against another woman to be fair game, but going against God? No dice!

Still I kept in contact with him via letters for a few years -- until I met the man of my heart as well as my dreams. It probably isn't coincidence that both my former director and my husband are both tall, dark-haired Italians (my husband's shorter than my director, though. I don't hold it against him) who were holy men. I wrote my director to tell him I'd met Steven and we were going together, but the letter came back. I'd lost the address and had guessed -- and guessed wrong. I never tried again.

But this is my retirement year. I became a teacher, too. And seeing that photo made me wonder if he's still teaching or if he's now retired. I remember his youthful energy and spark, his love of learning, his artistic talents...and find it hard to imagine him old enough to be on the other end of his career. Yet here I am, so therefore, he must be as well.

It's funny how, when people drop out of your life, they cease to age. In your mind they remain the same as they were when they left. I certainly don't look like the girl in those photos. My hair is grayer, childbirth has added pounds to my frame. I found a recent picture of my King Arthur. His hair is shorter now and his lanky-ness has grown into maturity, but I still see my Arthur in his eyes. If I were to see him on the street, I think I'd recognize him, so maybe we haven't changed too much?

I spent some time doing an online search for my director - just to see if I could find him. I couldn't. The Irish Christian Brothers have gone through some hard times and will, I hope, emerge wiser for it. But their website doesn't list placements. If he's even still a brother.

And I find it doesn't matter. I'll paste the photo into the new album and think of those times fondly. I hope he's had a good life, one that has brought him happiness, friendship, and love. Mine has. It makes me wish the same for all.

I'll close tonight with my traditional admonition, but know my thoughts are decades in the past, at a time when I knew I wanted to write but didn't yet have the courage to try, a time where a young, handsome teacher understood the growing pains of a young woman and guided her in a more suitable direction, a time when I was the queen and several bowed to me...

Play safe,
PS. If you'd like to read "Love at Third Sight", it's in the Timeless Love collection, on sale for a limited time only!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Finding inspiration

Many of my recent posts have been about gearing up for NaNoWriMo (like this one, this one and this one) and, if you don't yet have an idea for your novel, this post might help with that, too.

But today's post isn't just about finding an idea for the upcoming write-a-thon, but about finding inspiration in lots of places. About a year and a half ago I wrote about using art as inspiration, but really, that spark of creativity can be found in just about any object or person. I once wrote a (very) short story about a man's profile. I was eating in McDonald's with my family (we were squeezing dinner in between dance classes and basketball practice. Sue me.) and happened to notice the man in the booth across the aisle from us. I did a double-take because I thought for a moment that I was looking at a full-sized, in-color Roman coin. His profile was classic Roman aristocrat and I wondered if his bloodline included the Caesars. A glance, a look, inspiration and a short story.

But little things....mundane objects....the odd spoon in your silverware drawer, a jagged stone off the ground, a leaf...can also bring inspiration and spark entire stories in our minds. That's the cool part of being a writer. Our minds never lack for stories. Just give us an object and a few minutes of thinking time and we're off.


1. Close your eyes. WAIT! Read all the directions first and THEN close your eyes.

2. Count to five while turning away from your computer.

3. Not facing your computer, open your eyes and focus on the first thing your gaze lights on.

4. Using that object, no matter how mundane, write a scene in which it plays an integral part. It can become the protagonist (personification) or will, perhaps, be an object used or wanted by the protagonist. Or maybe the antagonist uses it against the protagonist.

5. Okay, now you can close your eyes and follow from #2. :)

Play safe and leave a tip!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

A request

Back in the early part of 2012, I wrote a special story for some special friends. Heath Vercher asked me to write a short story detailing a very special Valentine's evening and I was happy to oblige. I don't often write commissioned stories, but this was for a wonderful couple so very much in love, how could I resist? He chose the setting (Houston, Texas) and the hotel (Hotel Zaza) and I supplied the sizzle and steam. His wife loved the story and they gave me permission to publish it as A Night to Remember (for a direct Amazon link, click here)

I wish this story has a happy ending, but it doesn't. At the end of September, Heath's wife, Tania, was killed in a case of road rage. Their son was taken to the hospital in critical condition. No, the anger of the driver wasn't directed at them, but as his own wife and child. In an attempt to run them off the road, the driver ran into Tania instead, killing her instantly. AJ, their two-year-old son, died the following day.

The enormity of such rage, rage so huge it wanted only to hurt, is something I don't understand. But I cannot sit by and simply shake my head and say, "That's awful," or "That's too bad." In the face of hatred, all I know how to do is love.

And so, from now until the end of the year, all proceeds from A Night to Remember will be donated to Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Heath has friends who have a child with SMA and he and Tania used to help at fundraisers for the organization. When I told him I wanted to do this, needed to do this, he suggested donating to this charity in their name.

Let's make this a big donation, folks. The tally starts now, so any copy you purchase between now and December 31st will help out. If you choose to give directly, please be sure to give in the name of Tania and AJ Vercher.

To purchase A Night to Remember in the format of your choice, click here and scroll down the page.

Thank you all,


edited Friday, Oct. 18th.

WOW! You guys are wonderful! We've raised $100 overnight. Thanks and let's keep it up! :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The holiday made me do it!

This past Monday was Columbus Day in the US and it's got my schedule all goofed up. As a result, I missed posting a workshop yesterday as my brain considered it a Monday. Tonight my daughter said something to me about tomorrow being Thursday already and the truth hit me.

I missed posting a workshop yesterday.

So, for those of you getting ready for NaNoWriMo...getting your pencils sharpened? Your laptops charged? A writer's group near me is preparing by having a party for all participating. Of course, they're having said party the weekend BEFORE the craziness starts so all the writers can be well-rested for November 1st.

It's a good idea, actually, to start clearing your calendar for the thirty days of November, if you haven't already done so. And clearing the writing space you intend to use. I tell myself I write best in a dust-free environment, but that's really just and excuse to put off sitting down and writing sometimes. Vaccuuming, dusting, straightening...all those usually mundane chores suddenly become fun and entertaining when used as a procrastination tool.

So your assignment this week is to clean. Seriously. Clean your apartment, clean your house, clean your birdcages, litter boxes and wastebaskets. Do the cleaning now so you can put off doing it for the entire month of November. Make that window sparkle and blow the dust out of your keyboard. Wash the curtains, mop the floors, change your bedsheets (okay, you might want to do that last one more than once between now and November 1st!).

As my mother used to say, "A clean house makes for a clean mind." I think she was talking about dirty thoughts, but I prefer to think of clean as meaning centered and ready to work. :)

So go clean. Write notes to yourself about stories as you clean. Maybe stories about cleaning? Cleaners? Housekeepers? Maids?

See!?! ANY activity can lead to writing ideas!

Play safe and get ready!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

If you didn't get your copy of the newsletter, try this link. Lots of information about not one, not two, not even three new releases...but FOUR books that are in the pipeline and should be available over the next few months. Click to read the newsletter, then subscribe so you don't miss out!


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Limited Time Only!

For a limited time, Timeless Love is available on the Kindle platform. This collection of short stories is being re-released only from now through the holiday season. Because they're romantic in nature, but not erotic, I've released them under the name Diana Allandale. These four short stories make a perfect gift - or great to curl up with on a chilly fall day.

Visit your favorite Amazon to get your copy today!

Play safe,

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Gearing up Part II

NaNoWriMo begins in less than short four weeks. Are you getting ready? Clearing the calendar for November so you can spend every spare minute writing? Telling your spouse, kids, family, friends to leave you alone for thirty days? Obsessively rearranging your writing space to make maximum use of your creativity?

Yeah, me neither. I've got four more week, for cryin' out loud! I'm not pushing the panic button for at least another  twenty-two days!

Of course, I do get my ideas lined up and ready and have one picked before then so I can just start flying on Day One. Although I have yet to make it all the way through the month (I'm not good at getting rid of outside influences), I'm an optimistic sort of person and start out with the best of intentions. So we're keeping positive thoughts on this site!


Below are several one-word prompts to prime your creativity. Grab your journal and spend a few minutes with each one, writing down ideas, fragments of ideas, phrases, character sketches of whatever comes to mind. This is a brainstorming session, so first impressions only. The fleshing out comes later.

And, before you ask, no, this is not plotting. It's idea-generating. For those of you who do plot ahead, this would be the first step in that process. For you pantsers, same thing. You're not writing the story, you're just seeing if there's a story there.

I've deliberately spaced the words out so you can focus on one at a time. Copy the word into your journal, jot stuff down for 3-5 minutes, then move on to the next word. There are five, so this activity should take between 15-30 minutes. If all you have is five minutes now, do one, then come back as time allots.

Above all....have fun! :)


1)       oven

2)        autumn

3)          subway grate

4)         stethoscope

5)         physics

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Not today

Sorry, folks. Life gets in the way sometimes and this week it came barreling through in the form of bad news. Very bad news. You can read about it here.

So no writing today. Surround yourself with the people you love instead. Hug them and give them kisses and tell them how much they mean to you. Don't wait. Do it now. The writing will still be there tomorrow.

Play safe,

update: AJ died as well. He was two.