You can see I look like him. Same long face, long body. Even as I age, my face is taking on more and more of his features. There's a funny dent in my cheek exactly where he had one. And my hair, which was always stick straight, is beginning to curl like his.
We were alike in more ways than that. He was an intellectual who valued learning and wit, and a self-taught musician. He loved music, in fact, almost more than anything. In the photo, you see him in front of the electronic organ he has just built. He completed it four days before his 70th birthday. And then he sat down to learn to play it. I can still hear his high tenor voice, singing to his own playing.
Dad had me singing in front of the church congregation when I was 2 years old. I never knew what it was to be afraid of an audience because I had been there in front of them for as long as I could remember, and nothing scary had ever happened.
But he was a distant man, as far as his family was concerned. And he had a bit of a mean streak sometimes. I never understood that, and when he would belittle me, I felt it to the very bottom of my soul and believed myself unworthy of his love. I didn't know he couldn't do any better. It was what he had been given, by a father he despised.
He had a love of history. As we traveled, all five children and parents crammed into our 1954 Cadillac, he would often tell us stories of famous people. I didn't remember until recently how often he talked about Napoleon, but he was fascinated by the man who had come so close to ruling the world. And he had tales to tell about Huey Long, the Governor of Louisiana, for Dad had known him well and was nearby when that charismatic dictator of Louisiana had been assassinated. Dad despised those two dictators, yet he was obsessed with them. "Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it," he would often say.
I ate it up. I loved the history as much as the music. He questioned everything. He examined everything. Whenever he was not tending to his Gloxinias or orchids or Amarillis, he could be found drawing up some new idea for some kind of contraption or other, many of which he built. He'd say, "You never know if you don't try." And sometimes, "Let's run it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes it."
He taught me to love plants and gardening, and to be fascinated with rocks. I just could never figure out Dad. It seemed even though I shared so many of his interests, he couldn't help but always tell me how I didn't measure up.
I must have been about 6 when I came in from school crying because some bigger boys had been bullying and teasing me. Dad said, "If you don't want someone to get your goat, don't let them know where you tie it." I wanted comforting and didn't get it, but somehow that stuck with me. In later years, he said, "Don't give him the ammunition to shoot you." Which would have been better, the comforting or the axiom to guide me long after he was gone? It doesn't matter, because he could only give what he had to give.
I was 13 when we were traveling through the hot, dry land of Northern California on one of those horrendous family vacations, and suddenly Dad slammed on the brakes and pulled over. I thought it was yet another flat tire (we'd had three so far). But suddenly he was bending over, shouting at us to pick up the rocks. They were ugly, black things that looked like battered lumps of coal. But he was a geologist, and he had his rock hammer, and broke one open. Inside was a miracle of shiny, red and black striated natural glass. Mahogany obsidian. I've been fascinated by rocks and geology ever since. When we got home, my older brother and I learned how to chip arrowheads from the obsidian, and we took them to school and sold them for adollar apiece as "genuine Indian arrowheads". We were Choctaw, after all. Once I heard Dad bragging to a friend about it.
Yet when I told him once I wanted to be a geologist, he told me women didn't do that. He was right, of course. Women went to college to find husbands in those days. I could never grasp his idea that I wasn't meant for anything great. I believed everyone was, not just the boys. But in this way, he was a man of hs times. Women washed dishes and had children.
He taught me to experiment, to try the impossible, to sing and play music, to smash open rocks, to find out what makes the world tick, to look beyond a politician's smile and see what was really going on. I learned to design, to create. To write music, poetry, and stories. I learned to look into other people's souls, and to fiercely examine my own.
There were things I didn't learn, or learned because I didn't want to be like him. I learned to care about people, know and be with my children and give them support, in ways he could not have done. Because he was a brilliant but in some ways broken man. I know now that he loved me and my siblings. But I had to see through the cracks to find it.
The last thing he said to me before he died- I think he knew his time was coming- was that he knew he hadn't always been a very good father, and he'd done thngs he wished he hadn't. I wouldn't let him apologize, and I'm not sure why. I said, "Oh, Dad, we all do some things wrong. We can't help it. It's our job to do better than our parents, and maybe our kids will do better than we've done."
And so there was so much left unsaid when my brother called me the following week to say Dad had followed my advice and insisted on being seen by his doctor who kept telling him he "just had the flu". He had entered the hospital with congestive heart failure. He was told he needed yet another heart surgery, and he said, "No. I'm going home." He died before morning.
Yes, I am my father's daughter. My brothers tell me I am more like him than they are, but I think we are all like him in some ways. In spite of his limitations, he had a wonderful life. He was born in 1906, and would be 103 years old if he were still alive. He belonged to a different world from the one I live in now, and I don't know what he would have done if he ever saw a computer. Probably take it apart and figure it out.
He did a lot of things wrong, or no better than his own father. But he was a beautiful man.
We're off to a great start this week at the Wet Noodle Posse. Please help me welcome Contemporary Romance Author, Marie Sullivan Force! You can learn all about Marie at her website.
Have you ever experienced “a moment,” one in which you were acutely aware, as it was happening, that you would never forget it? Sometimes it’s about falling in love, other times it’s an instant of crystal clear clarity.
I had such a moment two years ago, the first time my then-eleven-year-old daughter stepped onto the stage in a middle school production of High School Musical. Playing Ms. Darbus, the stern but comical drama teacher, she tore up the stage collecting cell phones from her wayward detention students as her mother’s mouth hung open in the audience. Despite sharing the stage with ten of her peers, she owned the scene. Chills chased up and down my spine as time slowed, the crowd around me disappeared, and I realized I was witnessing raw, pure talent—the kind that someone either has or they don’t, the kind that can’t be taught or acquired.
When I “came to,” I wondered if it was an aberration, one amazing scene to be followed by mediocrity. Those fears were soon put to rest. In scene after scene, she continued to produce sheer magic. Of course, I thought, every parent sitting here is thinking the same thing: my kid is special. But at intermission people we knew and many we didn’t sought us out to say the same thing: “Oh my God, your daughter is amazing! She’s stealing the show!” Even the director expressed amazement. “Wow,” he said. “I didn’t see any of that in rehearsals.” Watching that first show, I had a very distinct feeling that I was seeing her destiny, and I’ve never forgotten it.
In my new book, Love at First Flight, my hero, Michael Maguire, experiences a similar moment of clarity the first time he lays eyes on Juliana Gregorio in an airport gate area. Even though he’s engaged and thinks his life is all set, he takes one look at Juliana and knows with every fiber of his being that she’s “the one” for him. The feeling is deep and visceral and profound. And he knows if he acts on it, lives will be changed, hearts will be broken, and not for nothing, the object of his instant affection will think he’s a lunatic.
Ryan Sanderson, the hero of my first book, Line of Scrimmage, was a true alpha in every sense of the word. Michael is a true beta. He’s quiet and loyal and dedicated and sincere. It would never occur to him to be unfaithful to his fiancée, even if she and her manipulative parents are on his last nerve. So when he meets Juliana and has an instantaneous reaction to her, he files it away but doesn’t forget about it. Later, when he has the opportunity to act on it, he never loses faith in the love-at-first-sight reaction he experienced. Despite having good reason to give up, Michael trusts that first instantaneous gut reaction until he gets the happily ever after he deserves. By the time I finished writing Love at First Flight, I was more than halfway in love with him myself!
Oh, and my daughter? She’s since been the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, Frenchie in Grease, and was recently cast in her first leading role as Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. Have you ever experienced a moment like Michael’s or mine? I’ll give away a copy of Love at First Flight to the commenter with the best story.
Love at First Flight will be available July 1, 2009. Pre-order your copy NOW!
We'll be finishing up our salute to fatherhood and starting July with a new theme to explore. Please join us for the following blogs:
Monday, June 29th: Guest blogger Marie Force TBA Tuesday, June 30th: Delle Jacobs TBA Wednesday, July 1st: Introduction to Summertime and the Living Is Easy Theme Thursday, July 2nd: Lee McKenzieHot Dog Condiments Friday, July 3rd: Q&A: What’s Your Favorite Summer Drink?
Yesterday, guest blogger Kendra Leigh Castle explored why so many romance readers love those epilogues that show the hero as a happy family man. Some of the heroes we writers create start out as dads already.
What are some books or movies where the story begins with a father hero? What are the challenges inherent in writing a hero who is also a dad?
Who’s Your Daddy: In Praise of the Domesticated Hero
I am pleased to once again welcome Kendra Leigh Castle, writer of paranormal romance, to the Wet Noodle Posse Blog!
When Theresa invited me over to blog, she gave me a general theme: MEN. Fortunately, as a woman, a romance writer, and someone who lives in a house filled with decidedly more testosterone than estrogen, this is a subject I know something about. Probably more than I’d like, actually! But since Father’s Day has just passed, and since I spent a very nice one with all the wonderful men in my life, I thought I’d talk a little about a feature of romance novels I always enjoy seeing: the epilogue featuring the hero as a father.
I’ve talked to a number of people about this, and I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It may actually be an old-fashioned predilection, but in the 80s when I started reading romance, it was a common thing. I’m a sucker for epilogues anyway…I want to see what happened with the hero and heroine I’ve grown to love. I’ve been known to wail at books that, while great, stop short at the end with no glimpse of the future, which I’m sure is why each of my books has an epilogue of its own. But my favorite thing is to see, in the end, the hero (who has undoubtedly been as obtuse and difficult as a male can be for the duration of the story) turned to absolute mush by either his beautiful wife’s burgeoning belly or a baby with whom he has formed a mutual admiration society. It’s so sweet, to see the final transformation. The hero has fallen so deeply in love that he’s closed the circle and formed a family with his heroine.
For me, making a family was always part of the perfect happily ever after, but I think it resonates even more with me now that I have children of my own. Watching my husband fall in love with the kids, as cheesy as it may sound, made me fall in love with him all over again. I suppose it’s always in my mind as I wrap up each book, and several of my characters in the MacInnes Werewolves trilogy have found themselves expecting (you’ll have to read them, though, to find out who!). Even the most difficult rogue is made vulnerable by the innocent smile of his own child, and in a way, it’s the most gratifying to see the toughest heroes cuddled up with their wives and admiring their children. The wild love affair may be over, but for me, there’s a special warmth in knowing that they’ve found, and love, their home.
So what about you? Do you get mushy over seeing heroes snuggle their babies, or would you rather leave the story before the procreation begins? And if you love this sort of epilogue, who was your favorite hero to watch? I think one of the most satisfying for me was seeing Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, through Evie’s pregnancy and then fussing over his (of course) gorgeous baby in the Wallflowers books. He was so tough to reform, seeing him actually become domesticated was awfully sweet.
Thanks so much to Theresa and everyone for having me back…I always love to come over!
Kendra Leigh Castle is the author of the MacInnes Werewolves trilogy, which recently wrapped up with the May release of Wild Highland Magic. She also has an upcoming series, The Fallen, coming from Silhouette Nocturne. You can visit her online at herwebsite and her blog.
I teach an online class for romance writers called "Understanding Men." I thought posting about "bad" men might be helpful.
In cultures worldwide, the things that trigger male violence in abusive relationships are surprisingly consistent.
1. Women disobeying 2. Women arguing 3. Her questioning him about money 4. Her questioning him about girlfriends 5. His belief that his meal isn't ready on time 6. Her refusing to have sex 7. He suspects her of infidelity
Violent men often have low self-esteem, feel insecure about their relationships, and use intimidation and anger as a way to control their partners. They feel victimized by others/society/government/the boss/women and don't take responsibility for their problems. Alcohol is often a problem, and the violence escalates when he is intoxicated.
A good book for developing both villains/ex-husbands/boyfriends you don't want the heroine to keep is Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, by Lundy Bancroft. This is also a good general knowledge book because if you haven't dated a man like this in your past, one of your friends or relatives has. And I sincerely hope you're not with one now. I was halfway through the book when I picked up a category romance by a friend of mine. To my dismay, the hero was EXACTLY like the men in the book. I couldn't finish reading the romance. If this had not been a friend's book, I would have vowed never to read another of this author's books again. Be careful of perpetuating the myth that angry, controlling men change out of love for the heroine. They don't.
Have you read romances where you felt disturbed by the hero's attitude and behavior?
Pride and Prejudice - It's Not Just the Tight Pants
Despite Gina Ardito’s claim to being “just a typical suburban lady with a husband and two kids,” she is one of the co-founders of Dunes and Dreams, the Eastern Long Island chapter of RWA, and not only does she write romantic comedy, she writes historical romances under the pen name, Katherine Brandon!
Please welcome Gina Ardito to the Wet Noodle Posse!
This past week, my husband caught me in the bedroom, indulging my favorite vice: watching Pride & Prejudice. Again.
"What is it about this movie?" my poor clueless hubby demanded.
"It's Jane Austen," I replied smoothly. "The grandmother of my genre."
Okay, sure. Jane's terrific. But I don't watch Emma or Sense and Sensibility with the same rabid fan grrrl mentality I reserve for Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. In fact, I can only think of two other movies that engender the same ferocity in me: The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Count of Monte Cristo. In each case, I own more than one version on DVD--Leslie Howard, Anthony Andrews, and Richard E. Grant all took a turn as the Pimpie, Alan Badel and Jim Caviezel both played the Count, and of course, Colin Firth and Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy.
"You know," my husband pointed out--not unkindly. "They're fiction."
Sure. Of course. I'm not delusional. But these three men are, for some reason I've yet to fathom, my idea of romance hero ideals. Mmmm...time to take stock and see if I can figure out why these three in particular, "do it" for me.
Maybe it's the tight pants?
I'm not that shallow. ...Am I?
So what do they all have in common? Time period? No, not really. They're all English? If that was the only requirement, I'd have moved to the Empire thirty years ago in search of my Happily Ever After. But I found my guy in New York--in the 20th century. Okay, scratch that idea.
But then I started to think about their love relationships. And I hit on something striking. Each of them fell in love with a woman, who, he believed, betrayed him in some way.
Sure, Elizabeth Bennet's crime was more in her loyalty to her family than the so-called crimes of Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel or Mercedes in The Count of Monte Cristo, the former having supposedly condemned an innocent family to the guillotine and the latter marrying the man who'd betrayed our hero.
Yet, in each case, the heroes remained steadfast in their hearts to these women, despite their belief in the ladies' guilt. Why? For honor? Maybe. Sir Percy was already married to Marguerite when he discovered her alleged perfidy. But neither Darcy nor Dantes shared that domestic arrangement and could have walked away at any time. But they not only stayed loyal to their hearts (even with thoughts of revenge burning in their breasts), they managed to learn the truth and find love at the end of their journeys.
And therein, for me, lies the key. These are heroes who remain constant, who face the hardships and still struggle to believe--even when love seems impossible. Because sometimes in life, the hardest thing to do is love someone you think did you wrong. But love forgives, love believes in second chances, and the truly love-worthy hero will be there waiting when the truth is revealed.
To learn more about Gina visit her website. And don’t forget Gina’s book, A Run For the Money, will be available August 24, 2009!
I was one of those girls that had a mostly-absent father. We had very little in the way of a relationship as I was growing up, due to a variety of things, including his alcoholism and prescription drug abuse.
My parents divorced when I was in high school, and I hardly saw my father after that. When I was in college, I saw him once and he had to ask me where I was going to school. That just gives you a sense of how our relationship was...or wasn't.
We had nothing in common, had little to talk about...but when he became sick with dementia and was moved to a facility closer to me, I realized it was the last chance I had to know him. I began to take my kids to see him regularly, and although he didn't always remember them, he did remember me. And we developed a closer relationship than we ever had before, odd as that may sound.
Shortly after he moved into the facility for dementia patients, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died within weeks. I was there with him, with my siblings (none of whom were close to him), when he finally went, after having sat vigil for almost a week.
And you know...I think about him more now than I did during the thirty-some years he was alive as my father. There's a sort of presence I feel when I think of him, and I truly believe that he is somewhere, looking out for me and watching over my family. I feel closer to him, to his spirit, than I ever did when he was alive.
Sad, in a way, but in a way, it's very comforting for me. It's hard to explain, but rather than feeling as if we left things unfinished and unresolved, I feel as if they have been resolved.
So for those who have little or no relationship with their father, I wish for you the same sort of peacefulness that I have now. The knowledge that he, when on this earth, was the best father he could have been--for all his shortcomings (at least in my eyes)--but has also been a different sort of strength for me now that he's gone.
For our last full week of Father Knows Best month, we have the following noodlers and guests:
Monday, June 22nd: Colleen Gleason TBA Tuesday, June 23rd: Guest Gina ArditoPride and Prejudice--It's Not Just the Tight Pants Wednesday, June 24th: Debra Holland TBA Thursday, June 25th: Guest Kendra Leigh Castle TBA Friday, June 26th: Q&A
I don't know about the rest of you, but when I looked at the Sunday paper last week, it was thick with circulars about various stores' Father's Day sales. Bargains galore.
That got me to wondering what I was going to do for my dad. I had already planned to bake him a pineapple upside down cake when he visits in August, but that's two months away. I looked at some on-line cards, but nothing really spoke to me. After some pondering, I got it. Years ago, when I started writing, he told me that when I sold my first novel I should celebrate by buying him beer. And since I sold a middle grade YA titled Haint Misbehavin' to Bell Bridge Books last week, I thought I'd send him some beer. Alas, the brewery near their home does not mail beer. I guess he's getting beer with the pineapple upside down cake in August. I do NOT recommend eating the cake with the beer.
So then I moved on to how my daughter wants to honor her father. He likes Oreo ice cream pie, which she will make for him. Since my husband is into gardening, our cats Turnip Ann and Pixie are giving him bags of manure for his garden. So thoughtful of me--I mean, them. Can't you just hear the laughter around the water cooler on Monday when my husband tells his work buddies about his Father's Day gift?
What are some things you'd suggest for a last minute Father's Day gift? What's the most unusual Father's Day gift you've ever heard of? The most sentimental?
Since we are focusing on the men in our lives, I've decided to talk about my brothers. I have three younger brothers. I always wanted a sister and cried when my youngest brother was born because he wasn't a girl. But by the time I was a teenager, I realized what a blessing it was that he was a boy. I really enjoyed growing up with three brothers.
In the photo at the top I'm sandwiched between my youngest brother George and my oldest brother Greg. This photo was taken in George's retreat house in the woods in northeastern Washington State. I have two photos because it seems that all four of us are seldom together at the same time. We are spread across the country from corner to corner--Florida to Washington State and Texas in between. The bottom photo is of my brother Gary, his son Chase and me.
Growing up with brothers made for an interesting time. I attribute my love of sports to their influence. From the time they were very young they were involved in some kind of sport. During the summer we often had neighborhood baseball games in our yard. As they grew older, they developed an interest in golf and track. When I was in high school, they made their own pole vault pit in our back yard. They also made their own putting green that was really more brown than green. They participated in high school sports, but I rarely got to see them play because I was away at college during most of that time.
Unfortunately, I don't get to see my brothers that often these days, but when we get together, we have lots of fond memories.
My mother always said my dad was the "strong, silent type." Getting him to talk was akin to pulling teeth. He was a "just the facts, ma'am" kind of person who rarely, if ever, dropped into narrative. His family stories were almost all humorous vignettes, his instructions were short and to the point. He could keep a secret like no one I ever knew. He loved to read, especially mysteries, police proceedurals and later, U. S. News and World Report (go figure), and when he became ill and we knew we were going to lose him, he kept his feelings about that inside, too.
My brother, four years my senior and retired now, is nearly a picture perfect copy of my dad. He's always been a guy who keeps his own council. Loves to read and does his best thinking while he's mowing the yard. My sister is a petite, vivacious woman who loves to be around people and loves to talk, and she's brought him out a lot in the years she's been a part of our family. We have a family reunion coming up and it will be pleasant to see my brother in action with a house full of people to talk to.
What about the men in your life? Are the the strong silent types or Chatty Charlies?
I'm happy to host Jeanne Adams, my fellow Romance Bandit here today. In the spotlight, though, is her dad -- the man who taught her to love words and books.
What a wonderful time to join the Posse for a blog! I love that you’re paying tribute to dads this week. It’s a cool coincidence for me, since I’m in the middle of planning my dad’s 90th Birthday celebration. Needless to say, we’re pulling out all the stops. Not every day somebody turns 90, you know.
Now, as you can guess, he was an older dad when I came along. I’m the fourth of four and an “Ooops!” baby at that. Ha! One of the things I’m fascinated with is that my dad was born in 1919. He rode a horse from their farm to school. (No car then, because cars were a newfangled gadget, and expensive too!) When my dad was ten, my grandfather did something men just didn’t do back then. He went to college. That one decision changed my father’s life forever. He saw what it meant to get an education, what broad and wide things there were in the world beyond their South Carolina farm. Although they returned to the farm, my father never returned to farming. He was a scholar to his bones and his path was set.
Grandmama wanted my dad to be a minister or a doctor. Although he served in the medical corps in WWII, Daddy was determined to do what he loved. He became a Librarian.
Now you’ll notice I capitalized that word. Thanks to my fad, I have the utmost respect for Librarians. He taught me that anything you want to know, you can learn in a library. Anything. It’s right there, in the stacks. When he was director of one of the many public libraries where he served, my dad did a contest. He put these huge three-foot letters up in the front windows. BRC. Then he held a contest for people to try and guess what they meant. A library is a B____ R_____ C____. He gave away what was then the equivalent of a gift certificate to a bookstore.
BRC. I’ll never forget it. Obscure? You bet. But that’s the way my father’s mind works. My mama was an English teacher who then became a Realtor. Between the Librarian and the English Teacher is it any wonder I love words and books and all manner of information? When I began to write, in earnest with the goal of publication, he was one of my biggest supporters. How can you fail with that kind of support?
My dad gave me a great legacy just by doing his job; being in the library so much, going in with him on Sundays when the library was closed (we had it as our private domain on those days – ahhhhh, bliss!), being read to, learning to read, and even just the smell of books will always be things I associate with my father. Just delicious.
So which of your parents taught you to read? Or was it a teacher? Do you remember your first visit to a library? Or a bookstore?
And for a copy of Dark and Deadly, my June release, care to guess what BRC might mean? It defines a library, but it is REALLY obscure…Grins. Give it a shot. Even if no one gets Dad’s little joke, I’ll pick the most creative suggestion…
Top -- Model T from the era when Jeanne's dad was born.
Middle -- Jeanne's dad in his WWII uniform.
Bottom -- A current photo of Jeanne's brother and dad.
This has been a theme in my personal life lately, so maybe that’s why I’ve been extra aware of it.
A couple of months ago we went to a hockey game again, and again were surrounded by daddies and their little boys. In front of us were two brothers who brought their three boys. During one of the breaks, the mascot shot t-shirts into the crowd, and one of the brothers caught one. You should have seen the light in his son’s eyes. “My DADDY caught it!” The other brother raced his son to the restroom, and was so patient with him when too much caffeine set in and the boy bounced the rest of the game.
The daddy next to us had a LITTLE one with him, two, I’m thinking, and the little boy wanted the daddy’s attention and even though daddy wanted to watch the game, he gave the little boy the attention. And he sprinted to the bathroom with him when HE had too much soda.
There’s something about fathers and sons that fascinates me, seeing a strong man vulnerable to a small child, seeing the child adoring his daddy, and how that reflects on the rest of his life. My friend Cindi thinks it’s because dads in our generation didn’t have much to do with the kids, let the mothers take most of the responsibility. So maybe women who are younger than us don’t get the same thrill seeing a man holding a baby, or buying his kid an ice cream, or just walking down the street with him, hanging out with him, showing him he matters.
I wrote a scene the other day with Corbett (the villain/hero) and his son, and it broke my heart. Corbett sent the boy to boarding school under another name to keep him safe from his enemies after his wife was killed. Now he doesn’t know how to connect with the boy. He’s in love with my heroine and has the desire for a family, but it may be too late to win his son back.
Part of my fascination with Supernatural is the father/son relationship. (You knew I’d bring it up, right? If I can work that into a conversation these days, I will, too. Can you believe my cps have NEVER SEEN SUPERNATURAL? That’s just wrong.)
Their relationships are so complex. Dean is the daddy-pleaser, Sam the rebel. Both know their father loved them, but did he love them more than he needed to find the demon that killed their mother? It’s still so twisted in both boys.
My dh never knew his dad, so he didn’t have a pattern to follow when he became a father. Maybe he had expectations of what a father should be, and that’s why he’s such a great one. I hope my son someday knows how lucky he is.
What a great week of blogs relating to fathers! Many of us write heroes who are fathers. Many of us write heroes who haven't yet produced any progeny. I think all of us noodlers would agree that we want our male characters to sound like men. So today's question deals with dialogue.
How does dialogue differ for male characters? What do you do as a writer that ensures that your hero speaks in a realistic way? What writers do you think do a good job in creating heroes with dialogue that rings true?
When the topic of favorite TV dads comes up, the names that are tossed out often tend to be from the shows of yesteryear -- Bill Cosby, Andy Taylor and Mike Brady among them. While my favorite TV dad is also from a show no longer on, it's much more recent. Keith Mars was the cool single dad of teen sleuth Veronica Mars. Part of what made the show wonderful was the special relationship between Veronica and her dad, who was a detective. Keith is very protective of Veronica, but not in an overbearing way. He even let Veronica help on some of his cases, but it was never anything too dangerous. He trusted her, joked with her, was as much a friend as a dad.
Veronica admires her dad and becomes a chip off the ol' block when she starts taking on her own cases, typically helping out her classmates at Neptune High.
I think the best way to illustrate the special relationship between Keith and Veronica is to let you see it for yourself:
What, you may ask, is a Dadism? A dadism is a phrase that a father uses with frequency in his quest to parent. I’ll share two coined by my dad.
“There’ll be no.” That’s right, nothing after the “no.” It was an all purpose phrase meant to discourage behavior he didn’t like such as asking “Are we there yet?” repeatedly on trips in the fake wood-paneled station wagon. He employed the phrase as well when my siblings and I asked for something like a fifty dollar pair of jeans, which he called dungarees.
“And rightly so” peppered disagreements that were founded on the premise that my parents were being supremely unfair. For example, if he and my mom said I couldn’t do something like go out to the movies with friends when my room was a mess, and I would say he was harder on me than my friends’ fathers, he’d say “and rightly so.”
What dadisms did your father use when you were growing up? What are some you’ve heard from a husband or brother?
There are many moments in a fortunate young girl's life that only a father can share. One of the most memorable nights of my life was a high school father-daughter dance. And for me–fortunate girl that I was–that night was a twofer.
My dad was away on a business trip and wouldn't return in time for the dance, so he asked his dad to step in. When Papa showed up at my door, I quickly discovered one of the benefits of having a date with a much older man: he presented me with my first orchid corsage. He treated me like a princess, and when we arrived at the dance, he flirted with my friends. And he told me, as he pulled me close, that he preferred to dance with his favorite girls cheek-to-cheek.
I can still recall the warmth of Papa's face against mine and the way he hummed the dance tune in my ear before swinging me away for a stylish twirl. Shhh, don't tell Dad–Papa was much lighter on his feet.
Dancing with Papa was so much fun I forgot my disappointment that Dad wouldn't be able to make it. But near the end of the evening, Papa laughed and pointed toward the high school auditorium entrance. I'll never forget the thrill of watching my dad stride through that door and my delight as he drew me into his arms.
There was one more treat that evening: meeting Edward G. Robinson, whose granddaughter was a fellow student. Mr. Robinson took my hand with one of his wide, sweet smiles. "Charmed," he said.
He was right. I was charmed that night.
What special memories do you have of times you spent with your father?
Last month was all about sisterhood. This month I have an opportunity to celebrate the two very creative men in my life—my husband and my son. Both named Joe.
My husband and I met in college thirty-five years ago, and several years later he began a carpentry apprenticeship. We still have the end table he’s building in this photograph.
He eventually became a high school teacher, but luckily his love for building things didn’t end. Last summer he embarked on a very special project. We call it Lee’s Folly. Here it is in its early stages...
...and here’s how it looks now that it’s finished.
For years I had talked about how wonderful it would be to have a shady place to enjoy the outdoors, and he made that happen for me. I'm so grateful for that every time I sit out there.
From an early age, my son’s creative energy has focused on music. Ordinarily I’d be a bit reluctant to post a photo like this on the Internet, but for a long time it was on his band’s website.
And here’s the band. My son is the left-handed bass player wearing the very cool shades and the old grey Fedora that once belonged to his great grandfather.
Last year he graduated from university with a BFA in Jazz Music, and made the dean’s list. A proud moment for any mom.
I’m so very fortunate to have them in my life, and it’s been fun sharing their talents with you. Now it's your turn. I'd love to hear about the special men in your life.
Please join the noodlers as we begin our second week of Father Knows Best month with the following blogs:
Monday, June 8th: Lee McKenzie The Men in My Life Tuesday, June 9th: Terry McLaughlin Father Daughter Dance Wednesday, June 10th: Maureen Hardegree Dadisms Thursday, June 11th: Trish Milburn/Tricia Mills Keith Mars, Fave TV Dad Friday, June 12th: Q&A
This first week of Father Knows Best month we've discussed heroes, some of whom happen to be our dads, and we've shared their love of romance novels and desserts. Many writers include fathers in their novels. One of my favorite dads is Mr. Bennett in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. His wit and how he teased his wife and daughters endeared him to me. How about you?
Who are your favorite dads in novels or movies and why do you love them?
If you're planning a vacation for later in the summer and need a great read for the beach, don't miss the opportunity to pick up these noodler June releases:
A Small Town Homecoming
All architect Tess Roussel has ever wanted is to open her own design firm. She gets the chance when she returns to California and wins a coveted waterfront project. It's the contractor hired for the job who's got her distracted. John Jameson Quinn isn't her choice. And definitely not her type.
Tess doesn't go for brooding bad boys—especially one who isn't shy about going after what he wants. And he wants Tess. Never mind that he's got a scandalous past to overcome. A daughter to raise. A boss—Tess—and a town to answer to. Quinn follows his own drumbeat. Only, now Tess is starting to hear it, too. Because he's good. And they're good together.
Her design. His construction. Can they build a love to last? Anne Mallory
For the Earl’s Pleasure
Beneath every scornful smile . . .
They were once cherished childhood companions, until a scandalous secret tore them apart. Now Valerian Rainewood and Abigail Smart are the fiercest of enemies. To Abigail, Rainewood is a notorious rake, hell-bent on mischief and not fit for polite society. So what if it seems as if he can seduce her with nothing but his eyes? She will not succumb. But when the earl is viciously attacked, Abigail's distress tells her that something still binds her to the wild Rainewood.
Lies an unquenchable desire . . . Though the ton believes there is nothing between them, Rainewood knows the truth. Abigail tempts him the way no other woman has. Wanton lust overwhelms him whenever she is near. But keeping her too close may put her precious life in danger. He must destroy his enemies—so that with every touch he may prove to Abigail that though their past was filled with trouble, their future will be nothing but pleasure.
Congratulations to Louisa Cornell and Barbara Monajem for winning a copy of Where the Wind Blows. Please send your shipping address to email@example.com and I'll send you a copy of my book as soon as they arrive (around the end of this month). Again, thank you to all who participated in "Does Your Hero Deserve a Happily Ever After?" It was a lot of fun visiting with you all!!
A few years ago, when a beach vacation coincided with a couple of family birthdays and Father’s Day, I decided that I’d perfect my father’s favorite cake, which, by the way, is also an acceptable breakfast option according to Dad. (The picture from Kraft.com looks a lot like my version of the cake, only my pineapples are darker due to the dark brown sugar)
I’m not sure when he decided he liked Pineapple Upside Down cake. From my research, I discovered that this particular dessert became popular in the late 1920’s due to the mass production of sliced pineapples and became all the rage once again during the 1950’s and 60’s. Since my dad was born in 1931, I’m thinking he must have fallen in love with this cake as a little boy or as a young man in the 1950’s. Yes, I’m guessing because he’s not answering the land line. He’s probably out in his garden harvesting tomatoes or tinkering with something in his garage, and no, he doesn’t have a cell phone. If you’re interested in the history of food like Pineapple Upside Down Cake or the maraschino cherry, you should go to www.whatscookingamerica.net. It’s a great site!
When I looked at the old recipe I had, I knew what would make it even better—dark brown sugar and my favorite yellow butter cake mix. Yes, simple changes, but ones that boosted the flavor and yielded lots of compliments. Some people like to use skillets and round pans. This recipe is for a 13x9 cake.
Ingredients for the bottom: Can of Pineapple Rings with juice (reserve ¼ cup juice to combine with brown sugar & butter, Use rest of juice as a partial substitute for water in the cake mix) Jar of Maraschino Cherries 2 cups Dark Brown Sugar 1 stick Salted Butter
Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Golden Cake Mix. Mix according to directions on package, but use as much of the reserved pineapple juice as possible in place of water.
Preheat oven to 350°. Once oven is finished preheating, place stick of butter in 9x13 inch pan (be sure to spray sides of pan with PAM or a similar product). Melt butter in oven, checking often. When butter is completely melted, take pan out of oven and stir in the brown sugar until it is incorporated in the butter. Next, stir in the ¼ cup of pineapple juice. Arrange pineapple rings and cherries inside the rings in a single layer on top of the brown sugar mixture. Mix cake batter. Pour over the pineapples and brown sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake is done in the center and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before flipping onto a cake board or platter.
Today we’re delighted to have Dorchester author Caroline Fyffe with us. As an equine photographer, Caroline has worked throughout the United States and Germany. Long days spent in the horseshow arena have given her plenty of opportunity to dream up stories filled with love, joy, and sorrow. Her feisty heroines and hot-blooded heroes will keep you reading into the night. Caroline’s love for horses and the Old West inspired her debut novel, Where the Wind Blows, which won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart Award under the title Chasing Jessie.
Does your hero deserve a ‘happily ever after’?
We write romance. And, in romance, there’s always a happy ending. Right? That’s one of the criteria of the genre. Whether you write historicals as I do, or contemporary, paranormal or suspense, the satisfying ending for your two main characters is a must. One that’s foreshadowed throughout the twisting, turning plot of the story. A happily ever after, we call it. Riding off into the sunset. Falling into each other’s arms. You know what I mean. It’s the goal both protagonists have been struggling to attain, even if they didn’t know it!
But, here’s my question: Even though we all know he’s going to get one in the end (and we wouldn’t want it any other way), does your hero actually deserve such a blessing? My hero, Chase Logan, even the upright, soft-spoken man that he is, keeps something hidden, something that’s very important to the heroine. He has his reasons, of course, but does that make it right? The proverbial lie of omission.
Tell me about your hero and why he deserves the good fortune coming his way. What would happen to romance if the happily-ever-after disappeared? What was the very best happily-ever-after you’ve ever read?
To celebrate the coming release of my debut novel, Where the Wind Blows, I'm giving away two advance copies to two lucky people who comment. Also, the middle of next month will kickoff my Under a Western Sky Contest with a grand prize of a night’s stay in a bunkhouse (with an outdoor shower and a bed as big as Montana!). So be sure to check out my website for details. Come on, it’ll be fun—all horsin’ around aside.
This month we’re celebrating dads— in movies, in writing, in life in general. As for me, I couldn’t be happier to tell you a little bit about my dad. The hero of my youth, and one of my adult heroes, too. And probably not for a reason you’d normally consider when thinking about fathers.
My dad is a unique gentleman. He’s the one who introduced me to romance novels.
Picture this: a teenager, stuck in a hurricane shelter in the Florida Keys, bored out of her mind when her father offers her one of the numerous Harlequin Romances he brought for their stay. Or this: giving your dad a hug good-bye as you head off for school and he heads off for work, a romance novel tucked into one of his back pockets to enjoy during his breaks. Or this scenario: a car full of family members headed from Florida to Texas for a family reunion, turning around and driving back home 15 minutes into the trip because your dad forgot his reading glasses and he has a stack of romance novels waiting to be read during his vacation. And another of my favorites: my dad opening the tailgate of his truck to show you the paper bags full of romance novels he rescued from the friendly, book-give-away lady at the hospital who had planned on trashing them all, my dad smiling like he’d hit the jackpot.
Like I said, he’s a unique man.
He’s one of my biggest fans, though not one of my manuscript critiquers. In his mind, my books rock, and should be found on the shelves of every bookstore across the globe. That doesn’t bode well when you need someone willing to point out any mistakes. In dad’s eyes, my books don’t have any mistakes. Did I already mention he’s one of my biggest fans? A voice of encouragement no matter what.
My dad is one of those voters who skew the Harlequin surveys many writers have long bemoaned. If there’s a baby, a cowboy or a bride on the cover, he’s buying it! If not, he’s probably buying it anyway. :-)
I think my dad loves romance novels because to depths of his soul, he believes that man deserves to be happy. That family is important, and should stand by you in good times and bad. That love conquers and is enduring. That crappy things happen, but you can always rely on your family to be there. That when all is said and done, you should be able to come home and know that you’re loved and accepted for who you are.
That’s the epitome, the essence, of romance novels. The epitome, the essence ,of my dad. A hero in my eyes, always.
Is there a close male relative—dad, uncle, brother—who has touched your life in a positive way like my dad has touched mine? I’d love to hear about him.
When I think of June, several events come to mind—weddings, my brother’s birthday, and Father’s Day. I confess I do not think of Flag Day as a big event even though it is on my calendar and, if I remember, I put up our flag.
Even if you’re a cynic and believe Father’s Day is a holiday manufactured by card companies and department stores to get us to buy more things we don’t need, we’ve all experienced them. Some in much different ways than others. I’m not sure how Father’s Day went down when you were growing up, but my dad felt that one day didn’t adequately express the holiday. He, being king of the suburban ranch, conferred full weekend status upon Father’s Day. My sisters and brother were then free to honor him all weekend. He’d say, “And rightly so.”
Since there’s a lot of fodder beyond the official holiday when it comes to the father-child relationship, the noodlers will explore all things dad, both in real life and as writers, during “Father Knows Best” month. Please join us for blogs devoted to heroes in our lives and heroes in our novels, for favorite desserts to make for Dad and father daughter dances, for our favorite TV dads and the special bond between father and son.
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