Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Longing for Steve McQueen

A week or so ago I saw an interesting post on Facebook with an editor wondering why some writers seemed to equate bullying with an alpha hero. Is an alpha hero so big, bad and tough that he becomes a bully? Yes, he can be kind of pushy sometimes. Maybe a little demanding too but where does he cross the line into becoming a bully that you just want to smack in the nose? Maybe that line is very fine. We all have an idea of the attributes a true alpha hero might possess. Tough, yes. Strong, absolutely. Sexy? Without a doubt. But is he mean, domineering and just downright hateful? Nope. I don't think so.

Steve McQueen left us years ago but I still remember the way he thrilled me in his movies. I'm not much of a war movie fan but I'll never forget his featured role in The Great Escape. This wasn't a love story. Not a smidge of romance, sex, etc, in this one yet, in this film Steve McQueen epitomized, at least to me, a true alpha hero in a movie dominated by men.

This was a story about World War II soldiers (both British and American) who were held in a Nazi POW camp and their efforts to plan a great escape. Throughout the movie, Steve McQueen is the solitary man who has his own ideas about escaping from his prison. No tunnels for him. No planning sessions. He was a solitary man who did things his own way. Straightforward, courageous, and always 'out there'. Though he had very few lines in the movie, he dominated through his actions. Most of his on-screen time was spent in solitary confinement, his baseball a constant companion, as he bided his time and plotted his escape. He never SAID that's what he was doing but the audience KNEW he was thinking about it. Not a man of words, he was instead a man of action. He was a man who possessed a stubborn streak and never, ever stopped coming at the Nazis who held him captive. He knew, with each escape attempt, they might kill him but his determination marked every move he made. A true alpha male. Though this movie was dominated by men, no one compared in toughness, grit, and all out fight.

I think maybe some of the old movies and books from the past really got the alpha male right and we would be wise to study up on them when crafting our own alpha heroes. A real hero doesn't brag, he doesn't swagger, he doesn't bully. Yes, he can be wounded and have a little 'bite' to him but he would never mistreat one who might be considered weaker.

One of my favorite books is Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and I've watched the movie more times than I can say. Again, not a romance yet the book and the movie gives us a perfect example of an alpha hero in Atticus Finch. Though the theme of the book deals with racial prejudice in the deep south, it also beautifully illustrates strength and Attitus, the small town lawyer fighting injustice, is the epitome of a 'real man' who is strong and caring. Alpha all the way. Yes, he is a quiet, unassuming man. Rather bookish and intelligent. Through the eyes of his children, we see their love for him but also realize they are just beginning to peel away the layers of who their father really is and what he stands for as a man. He's not a man who swaggers. He fights for right though he knows his world is against him. When a rabid dog staggers down the dusty road and the town sheriff passes off the rifle to Atticus because he's the better shot, you know you have seen another layer peeled away, exposed. He hasn't bragged to his children that he is the best shot in the county and they are amazed by this new insight into their unassuming father.

I've always believed that a real alpha can be moved, touched. He isn't a rough piece of granite with no feelings although they might be deeply buried. Though he may come off to the world as hard and tough, he has a heart. He can be broken, afraid. It's up to the heroine to reach into that deep part of him and soothe all of that. That, to me, is what makes a great romance. Perhaps, when crafting our hero we shouldn't think of him as ALPHA but as HERO. Form a vision in your mind of what, to you, constitutes that ideal man who reaches in, grabs your heart and doesn't let go until you have fallen madly in love with him. If you love him, hopefully your readers will too.

In Ringo's Ride (Ellora's Cave, Book Three High Plains Shifters) I skated the edge with my hero, Ringo Ramone. In the prior book (Lone Star Lycan), I'd introduced Ringo as sullen, moody, a man with a big chip on his shoulder and I knew I had to tell his story. What secrets did he hold in his heart that made him distrustful of others? What forces drove his moodiness? What hurt had made him hide away? And was there a woman in the lycan town of Cloverfield, Texas who could heal him, love him, and ultimately change his life? I worried that he might seem, at least in the beginning, a bit too rough. Unloveable maybe. My plan was to redeem him through Rayne's love and I hope, in the end, I did justice to this wounded alpha hero.

An Excerpt from Ringo's Ride (Ellora's Cave Publishing)

They’d barely touched tonight at the barbecue at the Wolf Creek Ranch. Big Joe McKinnon, the pack’s new alpha had taken Quinn, his newly consummated mate by the hand. Joy propelled Rayne to her feet as she took a step through the crowd and toward the bandstand where the couple had gone to make an announcement. Suddenly, she brushed against six foot four inches of steely-hard muscle. She smelled the familiar scent of clean, masculine cologne and stared into the black eyes that featured prominently in most of her dreams.
“Ringo,” she gasped as his hands reached out to steady her.
“Steady there, darlin’.”
He sucked in a breath and so did she. Their eyes connected and held.
Around her the world narrowed dramatically as a low buzz of energy zipped through her system. Instantly her panties were drenched and a ball of lust tightened low in her belly. Her first thought was to press her thighs together to soothe the harsh ache in her pussy. “Wha—”
“Fuck. No. This can’t be happening,” Ringo murmured huskily. He released her as if burned and shoved his fingers through his thick, black hair. His nostrils flared. His breath whipped in and out of his lungs as if he he’d run a race.
Rayne could do nothing but stare. Ringo’s eyes narrowed on her seconds before he grabbed her arm and ushered her toward the kitchen door of the house. His grip was strong but she didn’t mind. Even a simple touch from him set her on fire. In the distance she heard shouts of “Happy consummation” from the lycan population of Cloverfield, Texas. But then she heard nothing because Ringo led her through the door, pressed her against the wall and took her mouth with a hunger she’d never experienced before. Those lips, that to others might seem cruel, softened over hers and then he nipped her bottom lip. “This can’t be happening. It can’t be you.”
He regretted her. He didn’t want her.
Ringo Ramone couldn’t be plainer about his feelings but it didn’t keep her from wanting him. He inhaled as if breathing her in then plunged his tongue deep. Energy swirled around them, through them and hung heavily in the air as he tasted her, drew on her tongue and sipped every breath she exhaled. The low moan he sent into her mouth made her hot. Her body was on fire and helplessly she arched against him. With a low growl, Ringo took her hands and stretched them high over her head to press against the wall. He moved his lower body against her until she felt the thickness of his erection against her pussy. He was huge and hard. Gasping out, she met him stroke for stroke. Someone could walk in at any moment but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered but sensations that dipped and dived in her body. She wanted nothing more than to crawl up all that lean, rangy body and impale herself on his cock. Rayne brought her leg up to rest high against his hip, opening herself to him. When her vaginal walls contracted and expanded, she wanted to scream her frustration that he wasn’t buried deep inside to ease the ache. Her flesh rippled with sensation as the she-beast deep inside her clawed for attention. She wanted out.
Ringo’s dark Latino features, beautiful and sharp, seemed even harder to her when cast in shadow. White teeth flashed as he gritted them. He dragged his cock across her pussy, stroking her clit with each pass and he thrust wildly as if he couldn’t get enough. “I. Don’t. Want. This. Not now. Not ever.”
All at once everything seized up inside her and Rayne drew breath to scream as intense pleasure made her fly apart in his arms. Ringo’s mouth crashed down on her to swallow the sound as she convulsed. Instantly he let go and stepped back to stare at her as if she were a stranger instead of a woman he’d known his entire life. The predatory stillness about him scared her but made her crave him too.
“You don’t want me, Ringo?” Rayne wanted to bite her tongue the second the words left her mouth. Could she sound more pitiful? She hated her vulnerability and the realization that he didn’t care for her.
Something softened in his face. He reached out and fisted a hand in her long curly hair. Tugging, drawing her head back he looked down at her with a surprisingly gentle gaze. “It’s not you, Rayne. It’s me.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” she whispered. An ache of longing and pain caused her heart to tighten. “What a lame thing to say.”
He released her and stepped back, that sly all-knowing smile tilting his lips. “You’ll do better without me, darlin’. I don’t need a mate.”


Judith Leger said...

Okay, you tempted me with the call of Steve, then you wham me with that awesome excerpt.

You're good, girl! ;D

Molly Daniels said...

And you did a great job with Ringo:)

Tess MacKall said...

Oh honey, John Wayne. THE ULTIMATE ALPHA. That's him, don't care. it's John Wayne, dammit. lol

Can you tell I love John Wayne.

Now that was a man. Strong, never gave up on anything, fight to the death even though he knew he was walking into death, protective of his women--would die before hurting a woman. sighhhhhhhhhhhhhh

And he HAD SWAGGER. Yep, have to disagree just a smidgen there, Reg, Alphas---true Alphas? God gifted them with a swagger and they don't even know they got it!


Alphas are stubborn but they come around. They are pushy, but not excessively so. Sometimes just their presence is all that's needed--no talk--just action. Oh God...I'm drooling here now.

Love the excerpt. too damn sexy for words, hon. Gotta go change my panties. LMAOOOOOOOOOOOO

Regina Carlysle said...

Judith, I've always loved Steve McQueen. Handsome in a 'different' sort of way. He always projected the image that something was going on behind those blue eyes. An intelligence maybe but never overstated. The Magnificent Seven. Another good one.

Regina Carlysle said...

Thanks Molly. Most of the reviews for Ringo were good but I DID get a few comments that me was too rough for some readers. So I always worried about how he came off. Still, he is one of my favorite heroes. Maybe it's that he was wounded and tried so hard to bury that deep.

Regina Carlysle said...

Oh yesyesyes. John Wayne was the epitome of a real manly man. He was never cruel and you sensed his compassion. But he was fearless, even when walking into the fire.

Unknown said...

What an awesome post!!! Ringo is to die for.

The man who gets my heart beating fast is Robert Mitchum in Heaven Knows, Mr Allison. Oh My God...

Steve McQueen and John Wayne oh yes oh yes...The Duke would never hurt a woman, but he was always up for a good spanking. ;)

Regina Carlysle said...

Oooh Robert Mitchum. WOW. One of my faves, too, Melissa. And what about Gary Cooper? There's another who had that quiet way about him and you always were left wondering what he was thinking.

Regina Carlysle said...

Here's what I'm wondering...have we gotten away from the idea of a hero being simply heroic? Does he really have to be pushy, a bully? Have our perceptions of heroes changed over the years? Just wondering.

Natalie Dae said...

I must read all about Ringo. I bet he's a dish!


C. Zampa said...

First of all. Oh, my. I'm going to have to make a point to MEET this Ringo fellow. You know I love the Latinos!

I love my alphas to have a sensitvie side, too. One of the sexiest of all time? Rhett Butler. Very masculine. A rascal, a man of danger, a rake, yet SO gentle with Scarlet and his daughter.

And I love gangster George Raft in "Night After Night'. He's a tough, fearless mobster who falls for a Park Avenue type and hires a coach to teach him how to be a society fellow...in between gangster dealings and gun-flinging, that is.

In fact, the heroine of the story even has an erotic shiver when she sees him stare down the barrel of a pistol without flinching. Sexy with a capital "S". But for her? He's kitty cat.

Love it, love it!

And I LOVE Steve McQueen!

Wonderful blog, Regina! I SO enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

I always had a big crush on Steve McQueen...loved the excerpt.

in Germany

Regina Carlysle said...

Ringo is the third book in the series, Nat. I loved writing him and knew by the end of chapter one of Lone Star Lycan that I had to write his story.

Unknown said...

I think we are constantly redefining what heroic is. Romance heroes are products of their times, they have to be.

Regina Carlysle said...

Oh yes, CZ. Rhett Butler was such a good one. I also recall that George Raft movie. Of course, I knew you'd love the take on the old movie stars. So many good ones who projected the perfect alpha hero.

Regina Carlysle said...

Oh me too, Valerie! One of my faves. Since his death, I've wondered what great stuff we've all missed out on. Loved his daredevil style, too.

Regina Carlysle said...

Yes, I agree with that Melissa. I believe the heroes today might be a little edgier. They would have to be. Back then, there were issues with sex, business, the world in general but they weren't discussed as openly.

Brindle Chase said...

I think Tess is onto it. John Wayne is the epitome of an Alpha Male. A real one. One that truly existed in real life. But in a cage match with the average romance hero. John would get beat… badly. No contest. John had tough image and walked confidently. But he was not tougher than a lot of guys I know in my neighborhood. Now, aside his toughness, lets look at the covers. John was handsome, in a worn-weathered, favorite beat-to-hell baseball mit sort of way. But compared to the gorgeous men on romance covers… again, no comparison. He wasn’t as strong, good looking, tough or probably even as romantic as a romance hero. And I say this as a fan of the Duke! The point being, no real man measures up to the romance hero no more than a real woman can measure up to Barbie.

Nor should they. The genre is about fantasy!! The key ingredient in a romance is fulfilling an undisturbed by reality fantasy for the reader. The reader wants to believe men can be like the romance hero and even more, that they could, if clever, sexy and sassy enough… attract his attention and then his undying love. Reality? No… Believable? It better be, or your book won’t do as well… IMHO. The challenge is making these god-like men seem real enough that a mere mortal woman has a chance!

Logically, I know I could never win Jessica Alba’s fancy… but if there wasn’t a glimmer of hope, the fantasy would be ruined and then most likely, my obsession with her would wane as well. Anywho… there’s my two hundred and seventy cents worth. *lol*

L. E. Brown said...

I've observed a rise in the anti-hero, as opposed to the hero.

I'm actually afraid the hero in my book is not edgy enough.

L. E. Brown said...

Darn it, I hit the wrong button.

The excerpt is very hot. I think "almost" can be even better than completing the act.

Regina Carlysle said...

Brindle, I've always been a big fan of a more 'worn faced' man. I love craggy, strong features. I like a face that looks well-lived-in. Pretty boys have never appealed to me yet I know thousands of women look for that model of perfection. I usually try to supply that but hopefully provide enough flaws to satisfy my own craving for non-perfection. A perfect hero? Who needs him? I like some flaws. Maybe impatience or a bit of temper (as long as it's not directed at the helpless). I want him to live life to the fullest and feel things deeply. I've always thought perfection highly overrated. Along with those little flaws come more twist plots and interesting scenes. I think one of the reasons John Wayne appeals is that he was an everyman...simply ratchetted up a notch with all those wonderful traits like bravely and courage to the n'th degree.

Regina Carlysle said...

LOL @ hitting the button too soon, LE. I do that all the time. Yes, their is definitely a rise in the edgier, anti-hero. Nothing wrong with that. I actually think that 'bad boy' who is multi-layered is fascinating. We want to mother them, sister them, discover them and yes, fall into love (or bed) with them.

Tess MacKall said...


That's blasphemy, Brindle. Blasphemy, I say. Nobody can whoop THE DUKE'S ASS. N-O-B-O-D-Y.

C'mon, put 'em up. I'll duke it out with you for the sake of THE DUKE'S honor. put em up, c'mon.


C'mon, Brindle. The Duke was IT.

And let's clarify here too. Handsome, good lookin', like beauty, is in the EYE of the beholder. Pretty boy looks don't always cut it. So you DON'T have to be a classically pretty man to be an Alpha.

Lots of Alphas out there who were/are less than pretty and still make women cream in their jeans. SWOON in the South.

Charles Bronson--big Alpha. Tommy Lee Jones---big Alpha. I gotta go cook dinner, can't think of anymore right now. But you get what I'm saying.

What is junk to one is a treasure to another. And actually, there is a slow-moving trend to make Alphas have more flaws--to not be so perfect in their looks--and I have a story right now that I'm working on here and there that speaks to that somewhat.

Excuse me while I go kiss The Duke's pic that I keep hanging over my bed--waiting on someone just like him, sighhhh---and then deal with dinner. LOL

Debbie Gould said...

Great post and WOW, what an excerpt. I am really liking Ringo. Need to know more about him for sure.

Brindle Chase said...

I hear ya Regina!! But then... look at romance covers? Ever seen one with an ugly guy? A 6'2" 280 lb guy with hairy arms, shoulders and back, snarled tooth, beer belly and could bench press a chevy truck? Not likely... and you won't. While the hero in the book might differ from the gorgeous guy on the cover, the publisher has already and purposely created the gorgeous impression in the readers mind through the visual. But I get ya. And yep... the bad boy is a whole 'nother discussion! Hehehe... that's the category I fell in when I was younger.

I'm writing one now, where the hero is hideous... using the beauty and the beast formula.

Quasimodo and maybe even Frankenstein were sort of heroes... but you'd never see them on a romance cover! Hehehe. Anywho...

*lol*@ Tess.. I know. Blasphemer that I am. I'll concede on John Wayne, but my point is... you point out Charles Bronson and Tommy Lee Jones.. who in real life are not the alpha males they play in the movies.

The romance hero works where the real life alpha does not. Because even flawed, they are heroes where most alphas are just alphas.

Tess MacKall said...

"you point out Charles Bronson and Tommy Lee Jones.. who in real life are not the alpha males they play in the movies."

They aren't?

Brindle, women joke around a lot about wanting that great big ole Alpha with ripped muscles, want his ass to be tight and rounded, thighs that could crack walnuts straight from my granny's tree and gotta be six two at least---but--is that REALLY what they want? What they fantasize about?

I just about guarantee you that any woman out there reading a romance story paints a pic of that big ole Alpha in her mind that has nothing to do with the description the author paints. Or they plug in the personality traits the author gives them and piece together the puzzle that becomes what he looks like to them.

Yes, we write fantasy OR do we write the fantasy that publishing houses require us to write? As I stated in my other comment, there is a slow-moving trend to develop more Alphas who are flawed--and I don't just mean they have a penchant for drinking iced teas with umbrellas floating from the top--I mean real physical flaws.

There has long been debate as to the reality of what we write. Writers beg for more leeway with reality and publishers and editors tell us we can't get away with it because they KNOW what sells. Well, do they? Not so sure they do. Times change. But still, you can't argue with a billion dollar a year industry either, can you?

The reality is a man can be an Alpha and a very very attractive Alpha and have a limp or a scar running across his cheek. He can have a crooked nose or a hawk-like nose.

In essence, what I'm trying to say is that I honestly believe that the perfect male physique described in romance books is more about how we see our men when we want them, need them, love them--and not how they really are. When you're in love--everything about that other person is perfect.

True story: Years ago I dated a man who was six four--a big guy--but he was older than me by about twenty years. He wasn't pretty boy handsome--I know that now--but at the time? Honey, I thought he was the best-looking thing in the world. He was sex on a stick. And not one friend of mine could see the attraction. They thought I'd lost my mind.

Well, I hadn't lost my mind. He made me laugh. Made me feel safe. Made me feel cared for. Made me shiver in all the right places.

You're looking at this from a man's perspective. Look at it how women see it. Alpha doesn't necessarily mean buffed to the nines. Alpha is what's INSIDE the man. I don't give a rat's behind if he's got a tummy or a six-pack. But I write what sells. And I think what sells is a great love story with steamy sex and an Alpha described the way all women see the man of their dreams regardless of how others might see him.

And how do women see the man of their dreams? As perfect in every way--inside and out.

Regina Carlysle said...

Responding to both Tess and Brindle here. No, B, you won't see a beer bellied, cooked-toothed guy on a romance cover because marketing is involved but I've actually never read many romance novels about that guy who has his ass-crack showing when he bends over to work on my stopped up drain. Yes, this is still fantasy. We want women to swoon but I still say our heroes don't have to be model-y beautiful and they don't have to have ALL the right moves...just MOST of them. LOL.

Yeah, Tess, I've dated a few guys in my pre-Mr. Reg days (28 yrs ago) who weren't classically great looking but there was something...a sex appeal or off the charts funny-ness that rang all my bells and then some. If he was intelligent, funny, charming, etc. I could definitely overlook a nose that was crooked or too big.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hey Debbie! Thanks! Glad you liked the excerpt.

Regina Carlysle said...

Oh and Brindle? You were a 'bad boy'???? hehhehheh. Now WHY am I not surprised? LOL.

Brindle Chase said...

*lol*@Tess... No, I follow you. I think we see "alpha" in different terms. To me, an alpha is like the alpha dog or alpha wolf, the lion king... leader of the pack. The only terms that define this, is his physical dominance, usually through sheer size and brute strength. An alpha male in human terms, is one who cements and protects his dominance through physical dominance, often employing violence. I don't see that as being the same as a romance hero. They might share some common traits. But not necessarily. Not as I see alpha males.

By trait... the romance hero is courageous. Are alpha males? Not necessarily. In fact, many alphas I know, are actually cowards. Alot of people are. Cowardness is not an alpha trait, but its also not a beta trait. Its a coward's trait. Hehehe. A romance hero is heroic and has the traits of a hero and a woman in love probably, as you mention, sees her man as a hero. So he is courageous to her. And he might have some alpha traits. Dominant. Protective. But listing alpha traits also include selfish, pick on/out the weaker... are these romance hero traits? Of course not. That's my point though. Heroic traits are ALWAYS found in the romance hero, but can be found in alpha and beta men, alike, in real life. So when I hear the "alpha" male term applied to romance heroes, often I think... no... not really. Some are, some aren't. But I guess what I'm saying is that alpha and hero are two very different terms and in romance novels, its become blurred.

Anywho.. I'm probably still not making much sense. I try to write a hero who women will adore and admire. To find him sexy, exciting and worthwhile, flaws and all. I don't purposely seek to make them alphas though. They may have some alpha traits, but only the admirable ones. =oP

*lol*@Regina... yeah. Definitely the boy everyone's parents forbid. It wasn't all deserved, but once you gain that rep, it doesn't go away quickly. *lol*

Regina Carlysle said...

Maybe in my own way that's exactly the point I was trying to make, B. I don't believe I will set out to craft an 'alpha hero" but simply a 'hero'. Like you I believe the lines get blurry when we try to pinpoint the exact characteristics of an alpha hero. Some interpret him as a bit of a bully along with the uber sexiness. He can be controlling and domineering. I believe many authors add those characteristics to their 'alpha' hero but that might not be such a good thing. With all the public outcry over bullying (which, let's face it, occurs to both kids AND adults) we might be a little more sensitive to that and think hard before giving your romantic hero those unappealing traits and calling them ALPHA.

Am I making a lick of sense here?

Tess MacKall said...

One more comment then I'm taking my butt to bed.

If I were to craft the perfect man--the man I'd like to see as the hero in all of my work--I'd never sell it.

Why? Cause he has silver hair, is older, doesn't have a six pack, has a bit of a tummy. He has crinkles at the corner of his eyes and laugh lines around his mouth. And he has chest hair that is sort of salt 'n' peppered.

He's tall, cause I like tall men. He's big, cause I like big men. So he won't be a lean man at all. He'll be beefy for sure. I like having something to hold onto and a big man makes me feel safe.

Hey, he ain't a cover model by any stretch of the imagination. He's real and he's perfect---in my eyes...so when I write---I simply write him younger--that's all. But if I could get away with it--I'd write HIM.

Nite all!

Regina Carlysle said...

Which makes me think you're idea of writing 'silver foxes' is a very good one, Tess. I actually think there might be a market for that.

Brindle Chase said...

No, no, total sense, Regina. I guess I get my naads in a tangle over alpha men, because of the way I am. In school, I was known as a bad boy, because I was a scrapper. Meaning I fought. But no one really understood why. Every single one of my fights, was against a bully, sticking up for someone that was too afraid to stick up for themselves. I was definitely not an alpha though. Most of those bullies were. They were exerting their dominance over those lesser (read: smaller and weaker) than them.

I can't stand that. So I would stand up to them, because no one else would. The strange thing was, I became labeled a bad boy and in turn, that attracted more than my fair share of girls. I'm not proud to say as a teen, I took full advantage of that (hormones are difficult to suppress! *lol*)... which only served to increase my reputation as a bad boy. I laugh now, as I'm not much of a bad boy anymore. Life and age has domesticated me... and though I still have long hair and wear black leather and still won't tolerate a bully... my life is dulldrums compared to back in the day. *lol*

And I hear that Tess. Not that silver haired men do a thing for me... *lmfao* .. but my wife raves about Sean Connery and Sam Elliot... I bet there would be a market for that

Janet Eckford said...

I heart Steve McQueen. My hands down favorite movie of his is with Natalie Wood called Love with the Proper Stranger...sigh. He was such a rascally Alpha Male. The excerpt was a nice cherry to such a great blog.

Regina Carlysle said...

Tell you what, B, I'd be friends with a 'bad boy' like you any day over a bully. There have been a few times I can think of when it would've been great to have the back up! :-) Betcha anything those who you defended still remember.

Regina Carlysle said...

siiiiigh. I remember that one, Janet. And wasn't Natalie Wood simply gorgeous. Gorgeous plus gorgeous equals HOT.

Madison Scott said...

There is nothing like a well written Alpha male. Love them.

Ringo sounds delish! Definitely can't wait to read his story.

Tess MacKall said...

You're right, Reg, you won't see a beer-bellied-ass crack-showing dude on a romance cover or between the covers. Marketing IS involved.

But I still say that women aren't reading romance novels because they think their husbands/boyfriends are less than perfection--but rather for the romance/love story and how that man in the story handles himself within the plot line and how he "handles" her.

The hero is painted as perfection because that's how we see our men when we love them--as perfection. Now, did anyone sit around at the inception of ROMANCE WRITING and think about all that? No, romance writing in general, like all things, was simply stumbled upon. But the formula works. Paint a perfect love affair and that includes painting the hero as perfect.

Now, we do see a lot more imperfect heroines than heroes, don't we? And I do believe we're going to start seeing more imperfect heroes too. Not that I think a Beta hero is imperfect, but he's not the perfect Alpha, is he? So more and more of that is coming our way.

And Reg, I think there was a "try" for the "silver fox" market. HQ did that, but I think they dropped the line. Sad, too, because I have a great story I'd love to tell.

Brindle...here we go...lol...You've got to start looking at this whole Alpha equation from the female perspective I tell ya.

It's not about the dominating wolf in the pack. Not at all. It's more about action, deeds, words than what the man looks like. Sure, we paint them as pretty boys for the most part--again marketing--but like I said, we all think the man we love is perfect in ALL ways regardless of what he looks like to others.

L.E. Brown spoke about the rise of the anti-hero. I've written him--he's a hard damn sell to publishers too. But I swear to God, the one I wrote? That is THE sexiest man on the face of this earth--BAR NONE. Seriously. And I can assure you he is a domineering asshole with only a TINY streak of redemption in him. lol But lord 0' mercy--all my betas and crit partners who've read this say the same thing: I'D SO LOVE TO HAVE A SHOT AT TAMING THIS DUDE. lol

Alphas are about a heck of a lot more than size and looks. I've got a fourteen-year-old boy who is 5'10 and 1/2 inches tall and wears a number 13 shoe. His great granddaddy was six five and we figure that's where he's headed. lol He's a big boy--not overweight--all muscle, naturally so. He's yet to be in a fight, but he's come very close a couple of times. Why? Defending other kids who are being bullied, or getting upset when a guy says something inappropriate to a girl.

And he's stubborn to a fault, has a horrible temper, can be very lazy, is techno-savvy to the point of having "geek" tattooed across his forehead, and could care less about what he looks like (although he's a cutie, lol). He's my definition of Alpha--not because of size and looks, but because of words and deeds.

Brindle Chase said...

Hehehe@ Tess... I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. The traits you describe, to me, are what you find in the dictionary under hero. They are not traits you find under the definition of alpha. But I truly do see your point as it applies in romance to the female reader. I do. I just think the term alpha is not the proper term.

Unknown said...

Old movies are loaded with great alpha male examples. I love Clark Gable, John Wayne, Steve McQueen. They were all so good.

Brindle Chase said...

Not that guys are my thing... but I've always thought of Clint Eastwood as the classic alpha male. The strong but silent kind.

Anne Rainey said...

I can't believe I haven't read Ringo's story. I thought I had. Need to fixt hat situation! Great excerpt!

Kathy Kulig said...

Loved your take on the Alpha hero. Think Hero. A bully is a coward, not a hero.

Tess MacKall said...

Hey everyone, Regina is out of town for a few days with a family situation so I'm going to be her stand in. I'm sure she'll check in when she can and comment to everyone.

Brindle--definitions change with actual usage. The term Alpha as used in romance writing is fairly new and you won't actually find it in a dictionary--but more so in reference books and on reference sites within the publishing industry. The vast majority of those reference books/sites will be romance writing related if not outright "how to manuals" of romance writing.

When I'm writing, I never think of my male character as being a hero. I think of him as Alpha--something completely different. The most prevalent dictionary definition for hero is: a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

Now while an Alpha and or a Beta can most certainly be all of that, it's not a requirement. I don't think I've written a single male character that fits that description.

As romance writing more and more becomes a "seriously accepted" work of literature, I imagine you'll find another definition for Alpha listed in Websters at some point. But that's a ways off yet, I'd imagine.

But as you say, we'll agree to disagree. I'm good with that. LOL Strong opinions make for good discussion.

Tess MacKall said...

Georgie...oh yessssssssss Clark Gable. Now how could we leave HIM out of the mix. That man was such a bad boy AND he was a hero too--just as Brindle describes--the best of both worlds for sure.

That scene where he picks up Scarlet and takes her up that big ole staircase is playing through my head now. WOW...what a scene. What a man.

Tess MacKall said...

Clint Eastwood is a damn good example, Brindle. He was so quiet, he did everything it seems with just a look. And some of the most memorable lines came from his movies. Of course--"Go ahead, make my day."

He was amazing in Gran Torino--which proves once an Alpha, always an Alpha. LOL

Tess MacKall said...

I haven't read Ringo either, Anne. We're both behind on reading it seems. But that excerpt was fantastic. I certainly want to read it.

Tess MacKall said...

Bullies are definitely cowards, Kathy. Should probably be listed in the dictionary under the word coward too.