It was Reid Lance Rosenthal’s tweet about being the only male writer at a romance writers’ convention that caught my attention. I checked out his website, liked what I saw, and dared to ask him if he would be willing to write a guest post for Romantic Shorts’ authors. Inspired by his enthusiasm and smooth cowboy style, I was thrilled to have him agree to help out.
I expected a little something that would encourage, teach, maybe give a little insight into the male perspective on romance. What I got was probably one of the most romantic pieces of writing I’ve ever read. I think Reid thought he was writing about writing. But I was reading about romance. So much so, that I decided to share this with our readers, as well as our writers. What follows below isn’t fiction.
It’s what every woman wants to hear…
A #1 Best Seller, Eight National Awards,
A Cowboy Hat, and He Writes…Romance?
My two most favorite tasks in a novel are writing descriptions of scenes, and romantic interaction between the characters. I was hard at work in late winter 2010, pacing back and forth, dictating some sizzling passages of Threads West from the POV of one of the characters, Inga—a tall, sexy blonde from Norway with a sweet soul and a dark secret. I was so engrossed in Inga’s pounding heart, hot rush of passionate fever, and trembling thighs evoked by the knowing fingers of her lover, that I failed to hear three neighbors walk in. I paused in the dictation—which they had evidently overheard—and looked up into startled faces, wondering stares, and eyes that embarrassedly averted mine.
There was a long, pregnant (no pun) pause. One of them, John, finally stuttered, “Came over to talk about spring pasture, ah….uh…..”
Another quickly jumped in to assist John, “Ah…yeah—you gonna to be putting out your own critters over there?” He gestured feebly behind him towards the mountain across the road, his voice trailed off, and he looked down at the toes of his galosh covered cowboy boots.
The third, Kyle, fidgeted uneasily but was not so bashful. “You ok? What the hell are you doing?”
I realized that they had heard Inga moaning, consumed by sexual heat, absorbing the deep repeated thrusts of her lover. I grinned, “I am writing a novel.”
Three sets of bushy eyebrows cocked quizzically in unison. There was total silence. Kyle finally closed his mouth, reached into his pocket and studiously took out a chew. “A novel?”, there was doubt and concern in his voice. “What kind of novel?”
“A Historical Western Romance” I replied, almost beginning to enjoy their discomfort.
“Yep, Romance,” I laughed. “You boys will like it.” I told them just a tad about the story. When I was done they stared wide eyed at me, cast furtive looks at one another, nodded their heads and began to back out the door.
They have all read Threads West, mostly out of curiosity to begin with, I suspect. When I see them now, there is little talk about the weather or cows. Their first words are always, “Where is that damn second book?”
However, there are still plenty of folks, including some who have interviewed me on radio or TV who think—even if they do not voice—A man writing romance? I have had the same reaction along the way from some of the more well-known gals writing in that genre.
I don’t blame them for raising a suspicious eyebrow. There are very few male romance writers, fewer still, if any, male western romance writers, and I’m not sure there’s any cowboy writing historical or any other type of sizzling love story. Those who meet me under the conditions of discussing my being a western romance writer generally cast a glance from my well-worn cowboy boots to my cowboy hat, observe my tanned calloused paws, sniff in what I’ve been told is a high testosterone macho image and-though not often said- I’m certain think, no way could this guy write romance. However, I am a romantic guy!
Every human being on the face of the planet has experienced romantic tingles and the current which flows through us all from the land. As Americans, we all feel that unique essence known as the American spirit. Those universal energies are the saddle we all share on this horse called earth, and they tickle that same core area in our soul and libidos. For me, the combination of the three gives flow, direction and purpose to my writing and makes it a joy. I take particular delight in writing emotion, sensory pleasure, and torrid longings from the female perspective. Some who know me well might say that’s from experience. In fact, I have been blessed. I have known great, real loves, and have been fortunate to enjoy overwhelming passions. Women are truly wonderful. However, when those types of queries become more probing, my simple, discretion laden reply is, “I have read library books.” There’s no sense getting shot before I finish the Threads West series.
Life is half-art, half science. Emotions mix with knowledge. The energy input and output of the spirit blends with the progression of the mind. Novels are about life. That’s why the influences on my writing all flow from the land and personal interaction with real people and personalities I’ve known — you might call that the science portion of my words. The art of creating a mind image with phrases which stimulate emotion and physiological reaction is also an equally important influence. The weave of Western relationships is always the land. The intertwined twist of pioneers, ranch and romance are the loom of the fascinating life threads of the driven men and feisty women of the Old West. The foundation of my stories are those realities.
Combine these primal basic forces of land and love (or lust), mix in detailed historical fact, the West, the American spirit, and the interplay of strong, conflicted male and female personalities with authentic flaws and steamy passions, and “wa-la,” we have a Historical Western Romance! It is not an oft written genre, and I am the only rancher/cowboy writing heated tales of the multi-cultural West.
The key, though—this newbie author believes—is to be able to write equally compelling versions of the same act from both the male and female POV! How do I insert myself in the skin of a woman and write from her vantage? No, I do not squeeze into my fringed tutu, or a set of pink chaps! A great female editor helps immensely, but most important is the accurate tap of direct and indirect empirical experience. Fiction is but the shadow of real life.
In general, women are more in touch with their senses, emotions and perception than most men. But I know (those library books say so) that when a woman gives her heart and body to a man, his scent will be in the memory of her smell, his smile part of her vision, and the texture of his skin, or the traces of his fingertips along her curves ingrained in her tactile data bank. The timbre of his voice will be the sound she most often recalls. When a woman is in love, or lust, her man is an integral part of all of her senses, foremost in her mind, soul and body.
There are exceptions to all rules, but typically a woman is drawn to masculinity, strength, relative stability, brains and a man secure enough with himself to accept her and all her female facets – beauty, intelligence, sex appeal, femininity, and individuality including the occasional Mars versus Venus moments. My job as an author is to show—not tell—those gripping interconnecting facets of male and female personalities and apply them to dialogue, action and reaction in the arc of the story. If I do a good job, the memory of the reader—male or female– will connect to and experience the soft caress, meld of warm seeking lips, electricity of searching fingertips—and on a much deeper level recall the emotions and thoughts of their own similar life experience.
Though some incredibly disagree, the basic universal truth is that a woman is a woman and a man is a man. They are two very different creatures. In a novel, as in life, the personalities of both sexes project a certain individual aura and mystique. Mystique is projection through dress, looks, speech, activities, interplay with the opposite sex, and lifestyle. Aura is something deeper. It is the power of presence, inner energy of the soul, the core pulse of primal current and the promise of base passion and torrid romance. We all know people of either gender whose simple entry into a room changes the atmosphere. One can almost palpably feel their life energy, enthusiasm, emotion, innate strength and sexual halo. All my characters, male and female, possess those qualities. Some have a dark energy—others light. But all are both strong yet vulnerable, each in his or her own unique, gender driven way.
A woman feels like she is a woman through a man’s chivalry, acknowledgement of her femininity, appreciation of her intellect, and consideration of her views. Subject to the caveat of historical mores, she feels “all woman” when a man’s physical need and irresistible primal attraction to her sexual being is spoken and demonstrated often via tone, whisper, touch, romantic gesture, or lovemaking. Penning these complexities of the man-woman tango from the authentic viewpoint of either sex is, in my humble opinion, well written romance. When the heads of readers bob in empathy, and their own life experiences mold seamlessly into the deliciously torrid blends, emotions and actions of the characters, I have struck the chord. Most women demand and deserve respect for their independence, accomplishments, and contribution. My goal is to write convincingly of the inner power a woman feels not only within her own persona, but also in her certainty that her man appreciates her not just for those fine attributes, but equally craves the curve of her hips, how her touch takes his breath away, and how she is the focus of his deepest desire.
If female romance readers were polled as to their favorite male characters in this book or that and why, it would be clear that different women gravitate toward different “fictional” personalities just as in real life women find certain men alluring and others not. Based on reader comments received on Threads West, some gals gravitate toward the roguish courage and nonchalant good natured deviltry of Johannes. Others are drawn to the thoughtful, careful, but brave mixture of physicality and mental aptitude that Reuben displays. Still others are pulled by the quiet lone wolf nature, perseverance, wilderness smarts, and life experience which embodies Zeb. The opposite is equally true. Rebecca’s haughty beauty, aloof, quick and cunning mind—Inga’s tall, sensual stature, and smart but guilt-ridden personality—and Sarah’s curious mixture of attractive naivety and deep inner strength are magnets to some, but not all, of the male characters. I have tried to impart both aura and mystique to these personalities. I step through the portal of my scene description, which usually begins each chapter, share their stage and—literally—join with them in some mystical, physical and mental way. Then I find I can write as if I am them. I can see through their eyes, hear through their ears and feel from their hearts. The characters in any novel must be authentic and true, but particularly in a romantic tale because every reader has had his or her own romantic encounters.
Men and women have mental and emotional defenses or walls. Well written complex characters in romance novels do, too. In Threads West, Johannes struggles with the inner realization that he has nothing to show for life, Inga hides her dark secret and mistrust of men, Rebecca uses her stunning goods looks as a means to an end, employing snotty aggression in defense to male advances, and Zeb just doesn’t like women. As in real life, these barriers to “all man-all woman” relationships are the result of past empirical experiences, the nay saying or warnings of society, religious or family instruction, and social caste. Many women tend to run from their sexuality, that “all woman” center of their being, fearful of letting it show, losing control, getting hurt, relinquishing independence.
Some of both sexes think expression of physical want is perhaps a sign of weakness. If we return to the time proven blend of romance novel and real life, and the sexual recipe of a man is a man and a woman is a woman, we know with certainty that the overwhelming majority of men and women each have a deep, inner primal core. Why ignore or hide it in either life or between the covers (of a book or otherwise)? Embrace it both in person, and with a pen! This is one million years of evolution at work, there’s nothing improper with attraction, there’s certainly nothing wrong with acting on mutual animal magnetism in a primal way, and there is surely no bad in writing the wonder of it all with sensuous accuracy from either gender’s perspective.
It is the little things, flowing both ways, that creates real romance and the foundation for hot sizzle in real life! A hand resting lightly on a forearm, the flicker of an eyelash, a tongue run slowly across an upper lip, a wide eyed, soft but steady gaze of the eyes – coquettish, inviting, penetrating, and adoring, all send a message. The upward spiral to hot skin against hot skin will then proceed. So too, with the characters in my novels. One must make the life and love of the story the interchangeable paintbrush applied by either sex to the palette of their lover’s mind.
But, that returns us full circle to the basics of male-female synergy. To write convincingly from each gender’s perspective sexual tension, desire, and physical interchange, one must realize that equally as important as the words “I love you,” are the words “I want you.”
The blank stares, dubious flickers of the eyes, and slight, “yeah-sure” smiles continue when I talk to folks about being a Western Romance author. To those who still mutter “pssshaw” at the concept of a man’s man cowpoke penning tales from the equal vantage of male and female which twine the West with romantic adventure, white hot connections, and love lost and gained, I say, with twinkling eye and a cowboy grin, “Betcha can’t read just one!”
About the Series:
The Adventure and Romance of the West wrapped in a silver bolo of the American spirit. This is our story.
One saga spanning one hundred seventy years of our history, brim full of adventure, sensuality and history. Eight sizzling reads. This American epic begins with Threads West, winner of seven National Awards including Best Western, 2010, Best Romance 2011, and Best Historical Fiction, 2011. This multiple #1 best-selling, first of eight historical western romance novels is being compared to Lonesome Dove, Gone with the Wind and Centennial by reviewers, authors and readers alike. Then brace yourself as the final novel continues the tale in the real time of the tempestuous contemporary West, replete with current social, financial, resource, and political nuances. Set in authentic locations on three continents and in the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains, the life threads of four generations of characters—whose personalities are forged by the land, it’s evolution and the promise of America—live, love, struggle, die, fail and succeed. In the beginning they have neither country nor culture in common—but the threads of the textured and conflicted lives of these strong women and driven men become part of the fabric of the undulating landscape of the West, and are woven into the rich and passionate tapestry of an emerging nation.
Throughout the series the energy, magnetism and evolution of the land shapes personalities and destinies with promise, freedom, self-determination, economic opportunity, power and greed. The universal energies of romance and torrid passions shape relationships and enmities, creating a real and engrossing pattern of intrigue, treachery and deep love.
Through the characters’ eyes and senses we experience carefully interwoven historical fact and little-known highly nuanced true tales. The saga spans 170 years, four generations and more than 38 primary characters ending powerfully with the final book, Summits, set in the real-time of the contemporary West. In the conclusion, the West, as in modern reality, serves as the anchor for America, her spirit, and principles of years past now under assault by conflicting interests, economic adversity, a global ideological war, and a sharp divergence in opinions and aspirations of the nation’s burgeoning and increasingly restless population.
Threads West, An American Saga is the adventure and romance of the West wrapped in the silver bolo of the American spirit. It is our story. It is the ongoing tale of us.
About Book One, Threads West:
Threads West is the namesake and first book of a eight-novel series, Threads West, An American Saga. This epic begins in 1855 with the first of four richly textured complex generations of unforgettable characters. The separate lives of these driven men and independent women are drawn to a common destiny that beckons seductively in the wild remote flanks of the American West. They are swept into the dangerous currents of the far distant frontier by the mysterious rivers of fate, the power of the land, and the American spirit. Threads West is of the adventure and romance of the West wrapped in a silver bolo the American spirit. It is a tale with a message. The adventure, romance, duplicity, ambition, failure and success is our story.
About Book Two, Maps of Fate:
The multiple #1 Best-Selling Threads West An American Saga series, winner of seven national awards, continues with the second Novel, Maps of Fate, being released by Wyoming based Rockin SR Publishing, in affiliation with Narrow Gate Books, of Texas, and Midpoint Trade Books of New York, New York.
Maps of Fate builds suspense of this epic series. The dark history and elusive promise of the Threads West parchment maps plays out. The characters you’ve come to know and care for in Book One are propelled from one adventure, danger, romantic twist, and encounter to the next as they hurtle towards their destinies through the late 1850’s and 1860’s: Lethal surprises overtake some of the Threads West personalities as they are forced to defend their lands, their loved ones and their honor. New characters, both good and evil, catapult into the tapestry of the tale.
A surprising convergence of events sets in motion the thrilling, yet heartrending conclusion of Maps of Fate, setting the stage for continuation of the saga in Book Three, North to Wyoming.
Enter Reid’s Valentine’s Day Contest to win one of a dozen Threads West prizes.
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Romantic Shorts thanks you for joining us for Reid Lance Rosenthal’s guest post. Please feel free to visit Reid Lance Rosenthal’s Romantic Shorts Author’s Page to learn more about this talented writer. You can leave a comment for Reid, other readers, or Romantic Shorts using the reply form below, our contact form on our Contact Us page, or by sharing this post with friends and family using the share buttons below.
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