Friday, May 13, 2016

Choosing a Hero...

...or How Not to Fall for Your Leading Man

Before we begin, I'd like to announce that my partner in WE TALK TO OURSELVES...A LOT! and popular Heartwarming author Cerella Sechrist, has been slaving away on her next Heartwarming novel AND adding credits to her college degree WHILE working two jobs! The girl's energy astounds me, I tell you, so let's take a moment to applaud her...and send positive energy her way!


Any author worth her salt knows what readers want in a romance novel hero. He needs to be handsome. Successful. Kindhearted--but not a pushover. Romantic, but not in a sappy way. Respectful of friends and family. Helpful, too. But he can't be too perfect or readers will believe he's too good to be true. To say nothing of the fact that all those positive traits and qualities will make the heroine feel 'less than' by comparison. Not a good thing when the 'conflict' cards are already stacked against this would-be couple!

Whether historical or contemporary, I start developing my heroes by choosing a "look." Take Sam Marshall in The Firefighter's Refrain, for example. Born 'n' bred on his family's Colorado ranch, he needed to look as heart-stoppingly good in jeans and a Stetson as a tuxedo. And since he also worked as a volunteer firefighter before moving to Nashville, broad shoulders and muscles were a requirement. Photographs are essential, so I can see my heroes as they make their way through my stories. The guy I envisioned while Sam taught fire department cadets? Jesse Spencer, costar of the hit TV series, "Chicago Fire."


Now I ask you, did Harlequin's talented cover designers capture Jesse's persona when creating Sam, or what!


But I got a little ahead of myself...

After choosing a look, my heroes need good, strong names. In high school, I dated a guy named Sam. Second-string quarterback. Solid B student. Worked part time for his dad's contracting firm, so not only did he know how to make and fix stuff, he had muscles on top of muscles! Sam enlisted in the Army the summer after graduation...and the following spring, gave his life defending our freedom. It seemed fitting and proper that his courage be remembered in my injured firefighter-turned academy instructor's character.

Most times, though, I don't have a "Sam" to help me choose my heroes' names. Meaning I rely heavily on the old Baby Names Book. (And when I say old, I mean OLD: I chose my daughters' names with this tome; without giving away their ages or mine, let's just say it's in the neighborhood of four decades old.) But I digress. Again. The great thing about this book is, it lists Irish names. Scottish names. Native American names. Italian names. Cowboy names...and more. AND it lists the origins and meanings of each. So if I'm 'birthing' an old West sheriff, I need only search in that category. If, on the other hand, my hero is a corporate type, I sift through more 'high falooting' names. 

Heroes must, must, must have family--living or dead. (Sam Marshall comes from a tight-knit loving family, so he just doesn't 'get' Finn's attitude toward her crazy musician parents.) A birthplace. (He can ride and rope with the best of rodeo cowboys, and misses the grand Rocky Mountain vistas visible from the Double M Ranch.) Educational backgrounds. (Though he graduated college by the skin of his teeth, Sam is smart and resourceful, as evidenced by his teaching and business prowess.) Friends. (Torry Martin--who plays himself in The Firefighter's Refrain--and Mark Ligon, owner of The Meetinghouse are great sounding boards for this keep-stuff-to-yourself hero.) Careers. (Sam loved working as a firefighter, but his longtime dream--earning a recording contract in Nashville--can only come true if he leaves everything else behind...and so he does.) A place to lay their handsome heads. (Sam lives in a fourth-story condo overlooking the Cumberland River, and spends countless hours out on the balcony, watching eagles soar overhead.) An sometimes, an ex (or two) to help readers understand how he became the man who first meets the heroine. (Instead of an ex, I gave Sam a kooky, big-hearted sister who good-naturedly nags him to reach for the stars...and the girl.) But he also needs flaws, some minor, some huge, that explain why he acts and reacts as he does: Disappointments, heartaches, failures, and even successes that mold his character, and make it tough to choose between his old life...and life with Finn.



Confession time: I believe most (if not all) romance novel authors fall boots over Stetson in love with our heroes. All of them. Without exception. (If we can't love 'em, why would readers, y'know!) Sam was certainly no exception! 

I hope you'll feel the same way about Sam Marshall him as you read all about him in The Firefighter's Refrain. I also hope you'll drop me a note, let me know what you liked best about this talented good-looking guy.

To thank you for taking the time to do that, I'm giving away a $25 Amazon e-card, and will choose a winner on Monday, May 16th. So check back here soon; I'll need your email address to send the prize!



By the way? Today is my birthday! Yep. Friday the 13th. Don't worry...I'm not the least bit nervous. 13 has always been my lucky number! I'd like you to help me celebrate by posting a comment, below. One of you will win a $10 Amazon gift card, just for jotting down a word or two. Now really, what could be easier than that!



Here's hoping you'll enjoy reading The Firefighter's Refrain as much as I enjoyed writing it!


One last thing...a tasty, easy recipe for you to try out!

PEACH COBBLER (with canned peaches)


Ingredients:

1 stick butter
1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. milk or Milnot
1 lg. can sliced peaches, drained

Directions:

Melt butter in glass loaf pan in the oven. Mix together in mixing bowl flour, sugar, baking powder, and milk. When smooth, add drained peaches. Pour on top of melted butter in loaf pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Top should be golden brown when finished. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream!

Big hugs and happy belated Mother's Day to you!

Loree

49 comments:

  1. Happy birthday, Loree! Also lots of admiration and good wishes to Cerella. Loree, you forgot to mention that she also happens to be a super-nice person!

    Last but not least, just reading your post already has me falling boots over Stetson in love with Sam, and how wonderful that you named your character after a real-life hero. I look forward to reading THE FIREFIGHTER'S REFRAIN.

    Loree, I hope you have a spectacular day!

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    1. Aw, thanks, Kate! You're a sweetheart yourself! But then again, all the Heartwarming authors are. ;) Have a great weekend!!

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  2. Thanks, Kate! And you're right: I did forget to point out that Cerella is one of the sweetest people I know! Hope you'll have a beautiful weekend, and I appreciate the birthday wishes!

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  3. Happy Birthday! You've got the song "I Need a Hero" playing on loop inside my head (I guess I'm giving away my age a bit, too). I'd love to read more about Sam, and your heroine, too, of course! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. LOL on the song, Christy! Hope you'll enjoy reading Sam and Finn's story as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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  4. Happy Birthday, Loree! Wow, all this and peach cobbler, too? Not only was this post terrific, but it brought back the "thing" that I think makes authors a bit of who we are...we never, ever forget--that lost love from grade school or high school or along the way. Those special attributes of all the guys we've met along our life path who did little things and big things to help make us the women that we are. You captured all that here with Sam. What a great guy he must have been and how wonderful that you are keeping him alive for us. Bravo! AND ...my story of Friday the 13th...my grandfather always, always said it was the "luckiest" day of the year for him and he closed his biggest real estate and business deals on Friday the 13th. He was right. He was lucky. HAPPY BIRTHDAY again!

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    1. Your grandfather was so right: 13 IS a lucky number! And I was only too happy to honor Sam's memory. Hope your weekend is wonderful, and thanks for the birthday wishes!

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  5. Cerella is amazing and I wish her all the best (and that she finds time to sleep!) Happy birthday to you and loved this post. We all do fall for our heroes and yours looks and sounds like yet another book boyfriend we shall all be dreaming about :)

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    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Amy! And I agree: Here's hoping Cerella finds plenty of R&R time! Wishing you a beautiful weekend!

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    2. lol! Thanks, Amy!! I do enjoy a good nap now and again. :D Have a great weekend!

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  6. Happy Birthday Loree, and happy everything to hard-working Cerella. I just got my books yesterday in the mail, at the same time I received the final read on my next American book, so it's good I love to read. I didn't realize it was Friday 13th until I saw your post. And yum, I love peach cobbler.

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    1. I'll take all the "happies" you're sending, Roz, and thank you for them! :) Enjoy your weekend!

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    2. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Roz! So happy to hear your books arrived! What a feeling, huh! That peach cobbler is always a crowd pleaser...and it's just as tasty with apples, pears, or even strawberries! Hope your weekend is wonderful!

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  7. I absolutely love your cover with that gorgeous firefighter. Have a wonderful birthday.

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    1. Hard NOT to like that gorgeous firefighter, isn't it! Thanks for the birthday wishes, and here's hoping your weekend is terrific!

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  8. Happy, Happy Birthday!!! Have a great day! Love the cover!

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    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Melanie! And for lovin' on this cover, too! Have yourself a wonderful weekend!

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  9. Happy, Happy Birthday!!! Have a great day! Love the cover!

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  10. ♪ღ♪*•.¸¸¸.•*¨¨*•.¸¸¸.•*•♪ღ♪¸.•
    *¨¨*•.¸¸¸.•*•♪ღ♪•*
    ♪ღ♪░H░A░P░P░Y░ B░I░R░T░H░D░A░Y░░♪ღ♪
    *•♪ღ♪*•.¸¸¸.•*¨¨*•.¸¸¸.•*•♪¸.•
    *¨¨*•.¸¸¸.•*•♪ღ♪•«Happy Happy Birthday, Loree!! And I love your firefighter hero!

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    1. What a pretty, cheery birthday wish, Pat! Thank you! Just between you and me...I'm kinda 'crushin' on that firefighter, too! Wishing you a great weekend!

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  11. Happy Birthday hope it is a wonderful day for you

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    1. Thank you Rhonda! Here's hoping your weekend is wonderful!

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  12. You're supposed to think of age in terms of karats, rather than years. We become many-faceted and our light is brilliant! Happy, happy birthday! The book sounds wonderful, and how great that you gave the real Sam a way to live on. Hugs to Cerella - and you, too!

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    1. Hugs right back at ya, Muriel! <3

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    2. Karats...I love it! Thanks for the birthday wishes, Muriel! Wishing you a great weekend!

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  13. Happy Birthday, Loree. Great post. I always fall in love with heroes, and why not? They're imperfect in the most perfect ways, and after spending so much time together, who could resist? Cerella, it makes me tired to think of all you do, bless you.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! One thing's for sure, I'm never bored! Have a great weekend!

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  14. Happy Birthday, Loree! My oldest son was born on Friday, June 13th, 1997, so 13 is actually a lucky number for me. I hope you have a wonderful day, and thank you for the recipe. I love me some peach cobbler. YUM!

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    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Stephanie! And happy early birthday to you son...it IS a lucky number, isn't it! Wishing you and yours a wonderful weekend!

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  15. Loree, I love the backstory on Sam's name! And I'm sure the real-life Sam would have been honored that your character inherited it. I have so much fun naming my characters, and like you, I rely on those baby name books. :) Thanks for the shout-out at the beginning of the post and happy birthday, my friend!!!

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    1. Hey, we're partners...of course you get opening credits! Besides, as hard as you've been working on your college classes, book deadlines, and at-work work, you earned it! Hope your weekend is as beautiful as you, sweetie!

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    2. You're such a sweetheart, Loree! Thank you! <3

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  16. Happy Birthday Loree!!
    My eldest son was born on Friday the 13th as was his great-uncle...a great day!
    Blessings,Tina

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    1. Some very fortunate people were born on the 13th, weren't they! Hope your week is wonderful, Mrs. Tina!

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  17. Happy Birthday, Loree! My sister was born on Friday the 13th (of April.) She's literally the best person I know, so I think the day is pretty lucky. Hope your day is spectacular. Love the way you talk about your hero Sam. I am head over heels for him already. Just bought the ingredients to make your lasagna soup for my family. Can't wait to add peach cobbler to my list of new recipes to try. Way to go, Cerella! You know what they say - good things come to those who work really, really hard(:

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    1. Thanks for that reminder, Carol! Some days, I need it! :) Have a great weekend!

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    2. Hi, Carol! Yep, the day was glorious in every way! Happy belated birthday to your sister, by the way! You're going to LOVE that lasagna soup, and I think the peach cobbler will be a hit, too! Wishing you a terrific week...and the same to our hard-working Heartwarming sister, Cerella!

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  18. Happy Birthday! Chicago Fire is one of my favorite shows, I can definitely see where Jesse Spencer would make great inspiration for one of your heroes, there's a few other guys on the show who would be perfect for that as well.

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    1. That show is overflowing with 'hero' types, isn't it! Thanks for the birthday wishes...and I'm wishin' you a great week!

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  19. Happy Birthday. Love all the Heartwarming Books. I just started reading Sweet Mountain Rancher.

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    1. Heartwarming novels ARE great, aren't they! Thanks for the birthday wishes, and here's hoping your week is wonderful, Leo of Dixie!

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  20. Happy Birthday! I hope it was a great one. I think Sam sounds like a great guy. He seems to be a fun guy to be around. The guy on the cover looks good too. Just finished Folly Beach this past week. I will put the review for Fireman's Refrain online as soon as I can. I have computer problems so it may be a bit. I will try to use the iPad or Fire to work it.

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    1. Hey, Connie! It was a memorable, wonderful birthday, thanks to my terrific family (and the hundreds of Facebook/Twitter well-wishers)! Looking forward to reading your reviews of Folly Beach and Fireman's Refrain! Thanks so much for taking time to do that for me! Hope your computer issues have worked themselves out by now, and that the week ahead is wonderful!

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  21. Happy Happy Birthday to you!!!! Hope you had a wonderful day :)

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    1. Thank you, Darlene! It was one of the most memorable birthdays, ever, thanks to loving family and friends! Hope your week is just terrific!

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  22. Hope you had an awesome birthday! I think staring at that cover is a pretty cool present.

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    1. I'm kinda goofy over this cover, too, Marcie! Thanks for stopping by and yes, this was a memorable birthday! Enjoy your week!

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  23. AND THE WINNERS ARE...

    Mrs. Tina -- $10 Amazon gift card
    Leo of Dixie -- Signed copy of The Firefighter's Refrain

    Send me your email and snail mail addresses and I'll get your prizes out to you asap! Congratulations, you two!

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  24. Wow, Thanks!!! I emailed you my info.

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