There are certain things we can agree on when it comes to leading men - hot, strong, and a take-charge attitude. Or maybe that's just my requirements.
In most romances, we want billionaires, sports heroes, CEOs. Alpha males doing their alpha male thang.
But what wouldn't you want your romantic hero to be spending his work hours doing? The following ten occupations might cause you to pause and consider, then again, maybe one of these leading men will be the next-best-thing in romantic fiction?
1) Elephant dung inspector at the local zoo
2) The guy in middle management with action figurines on his desk, who specialises in office drinks’ walrus impersonations
3) Jock strap launderer for the local football club
4) Crime scene clean-up man who keeps his blood solvent in a plastic bucket on his back seat
5) Dr Evil’s henchman. High chance of death on the job, limited benefits, irregular hours, obscure requests for sharks in the middle of the night and a predilection for all black attire.
6) Denture glue tester. Snap, crackle and pop.
7) The male beautician who specialises in back, sack and crack.
8) The guy who cleans the bell in the church tower. Sorry, what?
9) Kim Kardashian’s purse holder, umbrella holder, little tiny dog holder, and lift opener.
10) Dandruff product expert who spends his days inspecting flake thickness, severity and shoulder scurf patterns
oh, and I have to add one more
Pretty sure there's worse out there.
A clean page
Isn't that what a new year is about? Isn't that what writing is about? Filling up all of those blank pages with words, words, words until a narrative forms.
Only my pages are not so blank. My current work sits at halfway. Talk about a metaphor. If I look at my timespan on earth, I’m at about halfway. I might not be. My life might turn out to be more a novella than a grand, epic novel. If I look at the pages already written, there is plenty of drama, intrigue, pain, sorrow, and occasional joy bursts. One thing’s for sure, it doesn't have enough actual romance in it.
Writing romance is one thing, finding romance another.
I have a theory, so it has yet to be tested in scientific settings for reliability and validity, but I have a theory nonetheless, that never-married women sit rather low down on the social ladder. Oddly enough, if you’ve divorced once or more times, your status is elevated - the notion that you had been selected at some point, sufficient to carry you through the rest of your years. There even seems to be a number of workshops etc specifically for the plight of the divorcee.
But for the never married? The ‘clean pages’ when it comes to all things matrimonial?
Ten things you’re most likely to hear as a never married/permanently single/clearly ridiculously impossible to please person:
The truth is, no-one knows when and how you might meet someone. I don't know how and when that particular narrative will form. For some of my characters, they don't meet people on the internet, are picky and choosy with all of their decisions, and have given up hope. They still find love.
With every blank sheet, there’s still the possibility of romance forming. Happy New Year, 2017.
Journey of a writer
The ROSA Annual Conference is coming up in September. If you’re a romance writer, you should be there. Why? Because it covers so many of the aspects of the writer’s journey, including craft, marketing, and talks from heavyweights such as Mary-Jo Putney.
All writers know this journey. Sure it varies here and there, but overall, there’s a certain commonality.
Here’s what mine looks like:
Step 1: Write, write, write, gargle copious amounts of coffee, write some more, have an attack of self-doubt, carry on writing, read something crap someone else wrote, hell-I-can-do-way-better-than-that, write like a maniac, finish novel, party, party, print it out and stroke it lovingly, leave it in a coffee shop (which they then throw out), make another copy, send it out, rejection, rejection, rejection, more rejection.
Step 2: Head back to neglected love life, more rejection, read something brilliant, have pity party that involves red wine and the entire bag of Quality Street that you normally only devour at Christmas, read about writing courses.
Step 3: Realise you know nothing about the craft of writing. Nothing. Shell out what feels like your entire life-savings to attend said writing course. Start writing next novel, write, write, write, attend another course, organiser waxes lyrical about your writing, feel invincible, hammer out rest of the next novel, this time will be different, yep, even more rejection, rejection, rejection.
Step 4: Write, write, write, try out saying you’re a writer at parties, no-one cares unless you’re JK Rowling or that Game of Thrones guy, write, write, write, reject, reject, reject.
Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4
Step 6: Minor success. Instead of getting rejections that run along the lines of “don’t ever send us this sad-arsed tripe again, stick to the day job corporate drone”, you start to get things like “I love your voice, I’d be happy to see anything else you’ve written,” or “such a great hero - he’s hot.”
Step 7: Discover a writing mentor who writes scripts for Hollywood. Actual Hollywood. Structure takes on a whole new meaning. Write like maniac, write, write, write, revisions requested by publisher. Revisions? Revisions! Progress, yay.
Step 8: Repeat steps 1-4, this time with more trips to the Lindt store.
In fact, the write-reject pattern starts to become the soothing backdrop of your life. You do get warned - every writer gets rejected. Which makes you want to torch someone to death with a ghd when you hear of someone just whipping up their crime drama between the school runs, and then just happening to bump into a book editor at one of those tiresome little get-togethers where Word of Mouth should have been the caterers but weren’t, and gosh, what do you know, the editor just lurved the book idea, and well, you know the rest, you can read it as the women’s hobby-careers covered by Woman & Home. Invariably this person will never write another word.
Step 9: Success. You win a writing competition. Yeah! You’re the recipient of a publishing contract. Woo. Hoo.
There’s a popular misconception that this is where things get easy. You can kick back and quaff champagne and quit the day job. Ha! So not the case.
Step 10: Realise from other published writers, that this is when you start refining your craft in a big way, and begin forging out a career as a writer. This is when publishing houses start considering your previous successes as part-and-parcel of their potential offer - I kid you not.
Step 11: Repeat steps 1-10 ad infinitum, except with more wariness of the industry - not all agents and publishers are legit, sad to say.
That’s it. No-one has to tell you to get off your expanding butt to pay homage to the word count goddess. Stories will keep appearing from the ether, characters will start with their jabber-jabbering, and ideas will knock a-knock on your consciousness.
Where was I? Oh yes, write, write, write…
They call it the meet-cute in movie terms. How the couple meets. You know, like bending over to retrieve the last packet of frozen peas from the supermarket freezer… you both reach… for that last packet. Both of you… grasping its frozen slipperiness in your fingers…a tear, green peas fleeing for their lives in the faux arctic landscape…you lock eyes into hate, love, hate, lust, something. But never indifference.
In reality, I have never met someone in the supermarket. Have you? Maybe you have. But in reality, who strikes up a conversation over the fresh fruit aisle? A conversation that’s not with the person weighing your produce?
Places I have met men that would qualify as meet-cute material:
That’s why aeons ago, I started collecting stories. You know the kind - how did you meet, how did you know? Let me tell you one thing, there are a lot of braai stories out there. If there’s one thing I can glean from this informal research is that friend of a friend tends to be a winner.
But occasionally I get some goodies, like: