Sexy Alpha Males – or not

cover man.jpgHe is man, hear him roar.  We all love the alpha male.  He’s that dominant warrior, the decisive instigator, the one who takes charge when the going gets tough.  Alpha males aren’t just a staple in romance, they’re in just about every genre from batman to Fifty Shades of Grey.

They’re also shallow.

I’ve mentioned before that I like my male heroes to be a bit more than a bank account and six pack abs.  I also like them to THINK.  I like men who are decisive but respect those who can run through all the options before coming to a decision.  Even sexier is the man who can admit when he’s wrong.

But we don’t glamorize that.  We hold up the icons of medieval chivalry.  We cheer for such brainless acts as holding a door but roll our eyes at shows of sensitivity.  Have a problem?  Just beat it into submission, intimidate it with money, or, um, bully it a little?  I mean, isn’t that how so many alpha males are written?

Not all.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some amazing examples – but the vast majority of them are just jerks.  It’s like the only way we know to show strength is through cruelty.

But lately, I’ve been helping my close friend Kitty Cox with her upcoming book.  Her hero is a cowboy, and a hot one!  He’s dominant but knows his place.  Her heroine is a strong-willed woman with not only a mind of her own, but the finances and connections to be self-sufficient.  She likes him, but for reasons besides his sexy body, lack of money, or overbearing manliness.  She likes him because he’s got a heart of gold.

It’s been refreshing.  This cowboy is a gentleman.  He holds the door, buys dinner, and tips his hat all while losing absolutely nothing to her strength.  Granted, I’m a bit annoyed that my alpha read of her book just ended in the middle, but WOW!  Why can’t we see more icons of masculinity like THIS?

And I think it’s because we just don’t know any better.  We’re so used to the tried and true tropes, but to quote Chance from Flawed, “they’re also tired.”  Pushing the boundaries of acceptable sometimes means harkening back to a day and age when people treated each other a bit nicer.  Sometimes, being the man means taking the shit kicking so someone else doesn’t have to.  Sometimes, being a hero isn’t about flexing, it’s about thinking, feeling, and shutting the hell up.

And so, I’m looking for some books with hot as sin alpha males that aren’t jerks.  Prefer romance, fantasy, science fiction or modern drama (contemporary fiction).  Feel free to tweet or DM me (@aurynhadley), message me on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AurynHadleyAuthor/), reply here, or drop me an email with anything you might have.  I’m always up for indie authors and DO leave reviews – but honest ones.  Hoping y’all have some suggestions, because I’m gonna need something to hold me over!

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That’s not an elephant

woman-1081873.jpgLately, it seems that if we – the people – talk about anything, it’s taken as a spin on politics.  Ok, this kinda makes sense after what happened in the American election… but I don’t want to talk about politics.  I want to talk about the human condition.  You see, that is what I write about.

The problem is that much of the human condition is debated in politics.  That makes this a very big, very grey line.  I think I can walk it.  At least, I’m willing to try.  My goal isn’t to offend anyone or to rally for anyone.  It’s to talk, think, and ponder – because that’s what authors do.  We take the status that people know and understand, bend it a bit to make the whole thing fantastical, and then give it back with a shiny new skin.

For me, I have two themes that keep appearing in my work:

  1. Strong women can be sexy and sensual without losing power.
  2. Hope can overcome anything, because it’s what inspires us to do face the hardships.

But just stop and look for a second at how close I just came to politics!  Hope was a big thing for that one guy about four years ago.  Women?  Yeah, well our rights are always center stage in American politics.

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So, for the record, I want to clear up a few things:

  1. I don’t care how you feel about taxes, borders, or preferred political party.
  2. I do care about human rights regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion (or lack of religion).  I believe that people – even those who disagree with me – deserve to be treated with hope and compassion (the caveat: and in the same manner they treat others).
  3.  If you’re a hypocrite who thinks the rules apply to you and no one else, I hate you.  If you’re an idiot who can’t wrap his (or her) mind around his (or her) own ass, I want nothing to do with you.  If you don’t buy my books because of it?  I’m perfectly ok with that – trust me, those two dollars won’t change my world that much.
  4. I’m kinda big on that whole equality thing.  I mean, if you haven’t noticed, or anything.
  5. I do feel strongly about politics.  I also think that it’s best kept right beside my porn collection and dorky coffee cups – where no one else can see.

So.  Now that I have all that out of the way….

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For most of my life, I have identified as an Egalitarian.  I believe that all people should be treated under the same standards.  No matter what God you pray to (or don’t), you should have the same protections if you’re declared insane.  No matter what gender you identify with, you’re held accountable when you rob a store.  No matter what race you were born into, you have a right to stand up for others when you see inequality.  And, most importantly, no matter who you are, if you want the privilege that comes with something, expect to do the work and take on the responsibilities to get it.

I think most people can agree with me.  Not all, and I get that, but most.

black-and-white-people-bar-men.jpgNow, the irony here is that I spent most of my life refusing to be a feminist.  I think that it’s too easy to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction.  I believe that the state of humanity drives us for a little vengeance when we finally get some traction.  That means feminism, for most of my life, has seemed like just as big of a problem as sexism, but in the opposite direction.

I think that men are often stuck in a very difficult place.  Look at any of our modern romances!  We want them to be strong, sexy, unrealistically beautiful, and yet be sensitive without showing any weakness.  Conversely, we expect them to love us for our fat, out of shape, aging bodies, not think a thing when we’re too tired to be all sweet and sexy for them, and lose it at the drop of the hat (or some hormonal swings, but it’s kinda the same from their point of view).  That’s not exactly fair, and to me, it’s not really all that appealing.  I mean, I get it.  Wouldn’t it be NICE if it worked like that?

But it doesn’t.  So we try to bend the rules, ideals, and mythos to make it happen.  It won’t.  It can’t.  Men are just as human as women.  They have their own dreams and goals.  They’re just as valid as ours, and a little masculine escapism isn’t subjugation.  It’s just one of the glorious aspects of human nature.

black-and-white-car-vehicle-vintage.jpgConversely, my husband is a feminist.  I have no idea how, but he’s managed to capture the perfect balance between strong and protective yet sensitive and domestic.  This is a man who not only believes women are equal, but he lives it daily, proving it through his actions.  He cooks, cleans, and romances me regularly.  I work, work, work, work, then work some more.  We have complete gender reversal in our house – yet not.  He “cleans” the house with a shop vac.  He plays with a welder, drives a tractor, and cooks on the grill.  I write sensual sex scenes, love painting my nails, and have an addiction to salon day.

He feels manly, I feel feminine, and together, we have the most disgustingly perfect relationship in existence.  (Where do you think I get my inspiration from, people?).  But lately, something has changed.  I think it started a few years ago, but I’m honestly not sure.  Somewhere along the line, I decided that I was tired of the sexism that most people didn’t even notice when it was happening.  Worst of all, a large chunk comes from women!  The societal expectations for us are so ingrained that we can no longer see the inequity of it, and that makes me so sad.

couple makeout.pngBut, my problem is that I’m not sure if it’s safe to talk about.  I mean… politics!  How can I rant about sexism without sounding like a parody of the nightly news?  How can I talk about romance novels and those sex scenes without getting into birth control and reproductive rights?   Including diverse characters and not discussing the prejudices they face every day?  Popular culture and all the misogyny?  I mean, things like men who think they have a right to treat women as property?  That was kinda all over the news… and pretty darned political.

Well, after a week of thinking about it, pondering the implications, and weighing my options, I’ve come to a decision.  I don’t care.  If continuing on like I have before labels me as a liberal nut job or right wing idiot, then have fun with that.  I must admit, I’ll be interested to see which it is.

And so, this was a very long way around my coming to a decision.  You see, there is an elephant in this room.  For those of us who try to transcend things like daily life, we’re hyper-aware of it.  We can’t rant about our political beliefs on our facebook pages – that are viewed by fans who aren’t interested.  We can’t toss out a tweet about it without drawing all the wrong kind of attention.  We also can’t close our minds to the other side, because um… it’s kinda our job to write about changing views.  We authors call that character growth.

So let me take this moment and point it out.  These are elephants:

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My opinions are not, and I’m going to have them.

They are what inspire me to write.  They’re what fuel my next story.  So yes, I will be talking about women’s issues, because women are a very strong part of my storylines.  I also will not promise to avoid anything else in popular media.

I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but the stories must go on.

 

 

 

A little R&R is so revitalizing

woman underwater.jpegAs many of my fans know, I’m crazy about this writing stuff.  Sadly, I’ve also learned that I seem to have a limit.  After a year of writing every single second I could, well, I got tired.  So I took a break.

It was a week.  Maybe two.  I just didn’t want to sit down, shut up, and type for hours on end.  You see, I’ve just moved into a cute new house and there’s so much to do!  Unpacking, cleaning, organizing, lounging around with Mr. Perfect doing stupid things with the puppies (like throw sticks, play tug, and such), nap, and other completely non-productive things.

It was great!  But it kinda got boring.

Ok, full disclosure in here.  My father has been really sick, too.  He’s on the mend, but not completely better.  Things are still a bit of a toss up with his health, but it’s now a matter of how long before he’s ok and not IF he’s ok.

So, yeah, like I was saying… I got tired.  I watched some TV.  Now, I don’t actually own a television, so all of my entertainment is online.  I watched a few movies, too.  I had some great ideas of how to handle things that had been frustrating me – and some ideas of how not to.  I started thinking, and thinking, and thinking…….

And in all of this, I just ignored social media.  It was so liberating!  I did the fun things I used to do that gave me the ideas for all these books in the first place.  One year, nine (or so) novels.  I missed my dream of 12 books in 12 months, but meh.  I’m still ok with 9 books in 12 months.  I mean, I wrote those.  I collaborated, edited, helped with cover art, became completely insane, recovered, turned into a bookzilla (which is like a bridezilla, but for publishing) and um, well… got drunk.martini-1117932

For those of you who follow me on twitter, you may have seen glimpses of that stupidity.  (I’m @aurynhadley for those who didn’t know.  Come, join the fun).  Um, but yeah.  I got wasted, laughed like I haven’t since high school, completely embarrassed myself with my co-author, editor, and their husbands, and ate some amazing food.  Thank God I’m not a puker.  Just sayin’.

And, if you can’t tell from the tone of this post… well, I’m feeling it again.  My biggest problem right now is which book to work on!  I have an addendum to the Wolf of Oberhame series (I’m thinking about calling it “When We Were Gods” if that says anything) but I don’t know if I should just finish the last little bit and put it out there, or wait.  I mean, it’s not really IN the series, but it would fit right about now.  Oh, and then there’s When We Were Crowned.  Yeah, had to do a massive cut and start the middle over.  I turned wrong somewhere, but it’s way better.  Trust me.

And the next book in the Rise of the Iliri series?  Yeah, I finally know what’s wrong and how to make it better.  Re-write number three is IN progress.

Oh, but there’s also “Two of a Kind” which I was starting in the wrong place.  Had to jump ahead to the good stuff and ignore all the boring back story.  What was I thinking?

Angel3.pngLet’s not even talk about that folder filled with sci-fi that has been BEGGING me to do some work on it.  Ahem… and torture my cover guy for images…

Or the dystopian?  That one is just begging me to finish and keep going.  But I have those other series to complete first!

Then there’s the post global warming with a fantasy bent thing.  No, it’s really good, trust me.  Like When We Were Kings kinda good.  It’s just hard to describe because it’s really sci-fi that reads like fantasy and has dragons.  Well, wyverns, but who’s counting legs?

Um, right.  and the “not a vampire” series, the steam punk thieves, the sentient world, energy-based alien shape shifters, and so much more.  So many books!  So little time!  I need like 6 more of me, so we can write them all out.  As it is, someone is going to end up waiting, and I hate waiting.  I want to know how they all end, and the characters are keeping their secrets just as much as I am.  So you, my dear readers, are somewhere down the line.

But it’s ok.  I’ve rested.  I’ve recovered.  I’m writing like some kind of psychopath on way too much caffeine (because I am) and loving every second of it.  I’m thrilled, and I’m really hoping that all of this doesn’t get bogged down in editing.  Because……. we’re in my second year as a “real live” author, and I want to make it better than the first.

 

The secret to my success…

Corsair-K95

Yes, that is a keyboard.  It’s a very pretty version of what I use, and while I don’t get any kickbacks (I really should with as much as I hype this thing) I think every author should know that this pricey keyboard DOUBLED my typing speed.  Yes.  Doubled.

I type fast anyway.  On a typical laptop, I hit around 90 – 120 words per minute.  On my Corsair keyboard, I can hit 210 without straining.  I can finally type as fast as I think!  Why?  Because the mechanical keys with brown cherry mx switches (technical stuff there) require less pressure.  Each keystroke is, therefore, faster – and it really does add up.

Oh sure, the above keyboard (Corsair K95) sells for anywhere from 160 to 240 dollars (US).  If you don’t need all the fancy function keys on the left (those G keys) you can get a K70 (same thing with less buttons) for about 80 bucks (US).  But here’s the best part… they really do last forever!

Most authors type enough to destroy a keyboard.  The repetitive presses of each key required to make a 100,000 word novel is about all the thin plastic keys can take.  For me (who writes stupid amounts) I wear out a cheap keyboard in about a month.  Literally wear out.  Like holes in the space bar, no letters on the keys, certain letters stop working kind of wear out.  To date, I have written 30 books, with at least another 10 books worth of cut scenes, and have only used 2 Corsair keyboards, a K95 and a K70.  My second one is still pretty darned shiny and new, too.

Now, if you’re playing at writing a book – and it seems most people are – then this isn’t something you need to worry about.  But for all those people who ask how I can write so much, so fast, and keep pumping out the books?  Well, this really is my greatest secret.  A good keyboard is the tool of our trade.  It’s the method our thoughts use to reach the “paper”.  Having to stop, backspace, and fix a missed letter?  That’s breaking the line of thought, the intensity of action, and it does show.  The way we feel when writing comes across in the nouns, verbs, and descriptive words we unconsciously choose to make a statement.  Having to stop and think about where we were in the action kills the mood as quickly as parents do with infatuated teenagers: in its tracks.

A good quality mechanical keyboard is most often sold as a gaming keyboard.  That’s because gamers are so competitive, and they realize that a millisecond difference in keystroke could be what drops them to second place.  The need for longevity, tolerable pricing (because most teens aren’t rich) and the ability to withstand coffee/mountain dew spilled in the keys means that it works perfectly for the frazzled author.  For me, the brown switches (the types are named after colors) work best, but many prefer red.  Thankfully, these are the two most popular options.  Blue is a bit mushy for my tastes.

So yes, keyboard buying can get rather intimidating, but if you have questions, feel free to message me on Twitter (@aurynhadley) or ask me on facebook (www.facebook.com/AurynHadleyAuthor).  I’m always happy to geek out for a moment.

Now, if I could just figure out how to get those kickbacks.