Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - My Rules for Writing Tough Guys


Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen in the hearse scene, The Magnificent Seven
Okay, so you know I like to say that male and female leads are of equal importance. And more than anything, it's about writing true-to-life, human characters. But when you're writing books about outlaws, you're inevitably writing about some pretty tough fellas. Comes with the territory. I grew up on movies, lots and lots of movies, and Hollywood is rife with examples of both the truly tough, and the sad posers. The book world, too. You know you've seen 'em - male leads that come across as oversexed jerks rather than stern heroes. My mantra is "If you can't imagine Steve McQueen delivering the line, then cut it." 
Steve McQueen as Hilts, The Great Escape
Welcome to the Lauren Gilley List of Rules for Writing Tough Guys:

1. Make Sure He's Not a Douchebag

Okay, this one seems like a given, and it's pretty ridiculous. But, sadly, more and more I see total douchebags being pushed as "strong" and "masculine" and "tough." In my book, men who are rude and cruel to women, men who talk non-stop about how awesome they are in bed, men who make fools of themselves for a little attention - douchebags. Controlling jerks who tell you what to wear, how to act, what to say, and who curse and insult you are NOT STRONG. They are insecure and I WILL NOT write male leads like this. Not ever. There's enough douchy fools out there in the singles' scene, I don't need them in a novel, thank you very much. All guys brag, and talk shit, and give each other grief, tease and poke fun, but there's a big difference between someone being a little cocky, and being a total jerk.

Okay, rant over.

2. When it Comes to Dialogue, Less is More
this drink I like it ANOTHER gif Thor high quality HD Imgur
Chris Hemsworth, Thor
Humans are talkative, so novels need lots of dialogue. But to give your hero an air of being sure of himself, keep his lines to the point, and keep the fluff words to a minimum. Remember, he can think whatever he wants in his head, when you're in his POV, but when he's speaking, he's not going to wax poetic about the color of a girl's dress. A few meaningful, heartfelt lines are much more impactful than paragraphs of overly detailed dirty talk.

3. Tough Guys Aren't Bullies
Chris Evans, as skinny Steve, Captain America

Picking on people for sport isn't a show of strength. End of story.

4. Confidence is Quiet
Clint Eastwood, The Outlaw Josey Wales
A capable, dangerous man is assured of his own strength and skills, and doesn't need to broadcast this to the whole world. The second a guys says he's a badass is the second he's anything BUT a badass. When I'm reading a book, and the guy thinks to himself, "I'm such an f-ing badass" I immediately chuck the book into the giveaway pile.

5. Cussing Doesn't Make the Man
Bruce can cuss however much he wants to.
We all cuss. More than we should - at least I do. Barns make sailors of us all, I suppose. And yes, men cuss a lot. But seeing it written, too many expletives will detract from your meaning. Populating sentences of dialogue with lots of F bombs doesn't make the man sound more manly, and it gives the impression the author is trying too hard to get across his badassery. Let his actions show he's bad, and keep the cursing to a manageable level.

Unless you're Bruce. Then you can cuss however much you want to.

6. Strong Men Are Respectful to Ladies
Denzel Washington as Creasy, Man on Fire
And are kind to children.

7. Tough Guys Don't Have Some Universal Rule Against Falling in Love
Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Each story is unique, and sometimes love isn't easy to express; a lot of times it doesn't come about smoothly (wouldn't be worth reading about if it did). Treat each case individually. But strong men are never made less strong by the love of a strong woman; there's no Badass Handbook that says "Thou shalt not love." Love shouldn't be instant, and it should be born out of true chemistry, but it isn't something all men are desperate to avoid.

8. Individuality is Key
Devoted knight, bucking the system when morality calls for it, Ser Davos Seaworth, Game of Thrones
Tough guys are humans, and need to have many facets; some are leaders, some are devoted followers. Michael is quiet and surly; Mercy is both the happiest and the most twisted of the bunch. Ghost has to make the hard calls no one else could or would. No one wants to read about a bunch of clones - keep things unique and specific when writing multiple strong personalities.

9. There Are Different Kinds of Strength
Hobbitses, The Lord of the Rings
Toughness isn't just physical. It's mental and emotional, too. And maybe a character who isn't any good with his fists is the strongest emotionally, making difficult decisions and upholding honor, honesty, and decency.

10. Humor
Marvel to DC after the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer.
Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy
Everybody's got a sense of humor, even if it's just a small one. Don't forget to add some levity.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Launch Party

I can't believe it's almost here! Price of Angels will be available for purchase as of midnight tonight, if you want to go ahead and grab your copy. I'm going to try - key word being try, because not sure if anyone will play along - to give three copies away tomorrow during the launch party.

Speaking of...

Don't forget that you're invited! It's a totally open Facebook event, running from 2:00pm to 11:00pm tomorrow. I'll be sharing a new blog post about my rules for writing tough guys as part of my Workshop Wednesday series. There will be lots of Dartmoor visuals and book nerd tidbits running through the FB feed. Readers can ask me anything - there will be a post for this - though I do reserve the right to be vague depending on how anything anything ends up being. :)

There will be three trivia questions, with your chances to win copies of Angels:


The first person to answer the trivia question right will be the winner. Questions will be literature or media-related and the answers will be Google-searchable.

Everyone is encouraged to stop by, "bring" friends, like my FB page, drop me a line, just in general help me celebrate the release of my new book. I'm so beyond excited to share it with you! See you tomorrow.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and the Muddy

Let's start with the bad, and get it out of the way first - My back hurts. What else is new? Ugh.

Then the good - Editing has gone wonderfully the last week and Michael and Holly are all ready for their debut. Seriously, guys, I can't wait to get the book out there. Can't wait for you to meet them.

The muddy - My pasture. It's rained steadily since sunup, and the fields look like this. I can't complain, because the grass is greening up thanks to all the showers, and that's a much-needed change. But still...Good day to curl up with a book. If you aren't prepping to release one, that is.

A few quick things:

Angels drops Wed, 3/25. (That means Tuesday night for all you early birds.)

Join me Wed from 2:00pm to 11:00pm on my author Facebook page for a book launch party for a chance to win an ebook copy of the book.

If you do read and enjoy Angels, please consider leaving an Amazon review; it seems a small thing, but reviews help the book be seen and grow, so I'd appreciate it greatly!

Happy Sunday.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

You're Invited to a Launch Party

We are just days away from Price of Angels and I'm getting super excited; how 'bout you? Now normally, I release the book quietly, put it out there, post up the links quickly, and then go slink off and hide in a shady spot, trying to catch my breath, feeling like something hunted at the end of the long novel-writing journey. This time, I decided to celebrate. So next Wednesday, I invite all my readers, fans, friends, and stalkers (I see you out there!) to help me celebrate with an Angels launch party on my public author Facebook page.

Check out my page.

Check out the Goodreads event page.

Between 2:00pm and 11:00pm next Wednesday, stop in for trivia, BTS info, merriment and ask-the-author. Then go grab your copy of Angels! I hope you'll help me celebrate. See you there.

Questions welcome here, or on FB :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Author Style

I've got an indie author event to attend tomorrow, which means I'll have to trade my grungy barn duds for decent clothes. Somehow I don't think the red clay paw prints down the front of my jeans and the hay clinging to my sweatshirt will help me put my best foot forward.

When I attended my first writing conference a few years ago, I was so nervous about what to wear. I'm a tomboy, and I'm not trendy; from what I'd seen on the web, slacks and sweater sets were the recommended wardrobe. Office attire. I cringed. And then I came across a blog post that suggested authors dress so as to best advertise their books. For instance, if your characters are super fashion-forward, you should look the part.

Lucky for me, my girls are all about jeans and boots. So when I go to author events, I try to keep things clean, classic, mix-and-matchable. I like jeans paired with cute, simple tops with good lines.

It is inevitably cold inside a bookstore or banquet hall, so if I can't work a jacket into the outfit, then I always take a sweater. In the fall and winter, I wear my leather jacket; you can dress it up or down, and black leather never goes out of style.

In the spring and summer months, a blazer serves the same purpose.

I don't wear dresses, but I do like a simple black maxi. It's casual, but you could dress it up with a jacket or vest.

I also wear my boots whenever I can. It's my shtick.

I think the most important thing is to be comfortable in what you're wearing. If you don't like your outfit, or it doesn't fit well, it'll show in your mannerisms. I think it's more important to look like YOU, and to look like the author of your books, than to be formal.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Music Monday - 3/16

source: Garden & Gun
If you're writing a story in which scent hounds are used, and the story's set in Tennessee, you've no choice but to make those scent hounds Bluetick Coonhounds. I'm such an animal person, and I loved having the chance to write some canines into Angels, some of which were Blueticks.

And when I talk about hounds, I think about "Ol' Red" by Blake Shelton. Remember when Blake had long hair? Haha!

Can't wait for y'all to meet the hounds and Great Danes of Angels!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Proof is in the Binding

Don't mind me. Just playing with tired idioms over here.

My proof arrived yesterday. Angels in its printed sample glory. The white is sort of a shock, when you're holding it. It really catches your attention. I want to do the whole series in alternating black and white covers so that when lined up on the shelf, they make a pattern. (I could just do the spines in black and white, but where's the fun in that?) If you look at the back cover, you can get a peek at the next title...

The final product ended up being 415 pages in paperback form. It will be a little longer in Kindle format, but all the content will be exactly the same. Including the character reference list I put in the front. There's lots of Dogs to keep up with, and I thought a list of names and ranks might be helpful.
Paperback: $14.95
Kindle Edition: $3.99
Hop over to Goodreads for the summary and to add to your reading list.

I'll be proofing all this week, and then the 25th will be here before you know it! I'm thinking about having a FB launch party for the release; any interest? Will let everyone know if I put something together.

Happy Sunday. The flowers are starting to come up, and it's just magic.