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Longmire vs. Justified

(Let me start with an apology if the formatting of this post is wonky. I’ve been fighting it all day and finally gave up)

When I first talked about new shows starting for the summer, I mentioned that I hoped that Longmire would fill the gap left by one of my favorite shows, Justified. I mean, troubled lawman in a cowboy hat — sounds pretty good. Now that I’ve watched the first two episodes of Longmire, I’m ready to report.

Walt Longmire

First, Walt Longmire is a good looking man, but he’s definitely of the old West cowboy flavor. I’d much rather look at Raylan. Longmire does offer up a deputy, Branch, who I remember from Saving Grace, and while he’s yummy, I don’t like the character much, which takes away some of the pleasure from the eye candy.

Branch Connelly

Next, in looking at the characters, I think Walt could be almost as fascinating as Raylan. I remember way back in the first season of Justified, Raylan’s ex-wife Winona (ugh) said that he was the angriest man she’d ever known. And deep down it’s true; Raylan is an angry man. Walt, on the other hand, is a sad man. His wife died a year ago and he checked out. Although he kept his position as sheriff, he hasn’t much participated in life, and his deputies covered for him. Now, though, he’s coming back in. He’s decided that he wants to run for sheriff again, which puts him running against his deputy, Branch. One little quirk about Walt that I like is that litter drives him nuts. He’ll chase down a paper wrapper just so he can pick it up and get it off the street.

The last thing, and this is a big one, is dialogue. I wrote months ago about the superb dialogue in Justified. The dialogue in Justified reads they way we would all love to sound if we planned out everything we wanted to say, but it suits the characters, particularly Raylan, perfectly. After watching the first episode of Longmire, I thought maybe I hit another great example.

In that first episode, Walt stops and watches birds flying overhead. His deputy, Vic, says, “Hey, Walt. Wacha doin’?” His response?

“Thinking. I do that sometimes before I talk.”

No, it’s not the rambling God-I-love-this-dialogue speech, but this kind of line sums up who Walt is, much like Raylan’s commentary on his lack of “interest in shitkicker-on-shitkicker crime.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t get that same feeling about the dialogue in episode 2. While I still enjoyed the show and Walt is one of those intelligent, well-seasoned sheriffs that is often underestimated because he’s old school (doesn’t have a cell phone, doesn’t use a computer). I’m going to keep watching because my hope is that we’ll get more of that character-revealing dialogue.

I also think that the secondary characters, if they get a chance to be fully developed, will be interesting to watch. The one female deputy, Vic, is a transplant from Philadelphia where she was a homicide detective. We haven’t gotten her story about why she moved, but really, it has to be good, right? What could get you to move to Wyoming if you were a city girl? I think Branch running against Walt will make for good drama. They’re both good cops, but they antagonize each other. Lou Diamond Phillips plays Walt’s best friend, Henry Standing Bear. I wonder how they became friends.

The last thing that makes this show watchable is the setting itself. The big open expanse of land is beautiful. From what I understand, the show is filmed in New Mexico, which disappointed me. I watched the first episode believing that I was seeing Wyoming. Either way, still beautiful.

Have you watched Longmire? What do you think?

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About Last Night – Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a Diamond Jubilee blog hop with Romance at Random. The purpose of the blog hop was to celebrate the upcoming release of Ruthie Knox’s new book, About Last Night. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that I would run into a WordPress/javascript problem that would prevent people from getting an extra raffle entry at my site.

Because of this glitch, I’m going to give away one digital copy of Ruthie’s book.

I’ve been waiting for this book since I read Ruthie’s debut (Ride With Me) months ago. The release date was Monday, so I stayed up late Sunday night waiting for it to be delivered to my Kindle, then I stayed up much too late reading.

I was less than 10% into the book and I found myself totally in love with the characters.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Sure, opposites attract, but in this sexy, smart, eBook original romance from Ruthie Knox, they positively combust! When a buttoned-up banker falls for a bad girl, “about last night” is just the beginning.
 
Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.

Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.

When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: Because of You, Ride with Me, and Doc Holiday.

I love the entire premise of this story because it’s all about perceptions and how wrong we sometimes are. Cath first only knows Nev as “City,” which is a name she gave him while people watching and waiting for the train. As someone who took Chicago public transportation from high school straight through college, I could relate to this. Cath makes up stories about her fellow riders to pass the time. She sees City and assumes he’s a nice guy. A couple of chapters in, though, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s nowhere near as nice as Cath thinks.

He throws a wicked smile at Cath that has her melting, and I knew he wasn’t all nice. In my experience, nice guys can’t really do wicked.

I love that Cath is a bad girl doing her best to reform. I have a soft spot for bad girls. If you’ve ever read the About page here, you’d see that I’m a bad girl wannabe. I’m the good version of Cath — I don’t make huge mistakes, I don’t take risks, and I’ve never woken up in a strange man’s bed. But Cath has, and I’m a little bit jealous.

The book is more than just well-drawn characters. The dialogue is phenomenal and will keep you laughing. The morning after banter between Nev and Cath alone is worth the price.

Although I haven’t yet finished the book, I can’t imagine that I will be disappointed. I want to share my fondness for these characters with one lucky commenter.

If you’d like to win a digital copy of About Last Night (your choice of platform), leave a comment below with your email address.

What book have you most been looking forward to this year?

I won’t be responding to comments to make it easy to choose a winner, but I will be reading. I will choose a random winner on Thursday evening.

Friday Favorites – Slacker Edition

As the title suggests, I’m still slacking. I think it’s going to take me awhile to get used to the whole summer schedule. In the past, all I had to squeeze in around my kids was my work-from-home day job and my writing. Now, I’m teaching part-time and trying (and not necessarily succeeding) my hand at social networking. I do have some great posts, just not as many as I usually do:

First up, two great posts on Pinterest. I’ve joined Pinterest, but I’m still learning the ropes. You can find me here: http://pinterest.com/seschroeder/

Amy Clark from Momadvice has a post on being a Pinterest superstar. Then August McLaughlin offers 5 steps to making Pinterest-friendly blog posts. I know I’m nowhere near there yet (no great pictures to pin from here), but I hope to utilize that information soon.

Lani Diane Rich has an excellent post on how you need to fail in order to succeed. I think most people would agree with this, at least in theory. It’s something that I’ve tried to drill into my kids’ heads. But the thing is, I’m one of those people who have avoided doing anything unless I was pretty darn sure I’d be good enough at it to succeed. Writing for publication is the only risk I’ve ever really taken. I’ve always been a writer, and I knew I had skills, but writing for publication is more than being a good writer. You have to be a storyteller. That’s the part I’ve been so unsure of. How could I not be? After writing and getting rejections, you start to wonder. But when you look at some of those rejections, they can give you hope. I’m not one of those writers who has saved every rejection to either show to other new writers or to burn in a big pile when I think I’ve made it. I’ve only saved the ones that gave me hope. A little hope is all you need.

Finally, Trish Loye Elliot has a great post on advice to writers from the masters.

What was the best advice you’ve ever received?

At the Beach

image from freedigitalphotos.net

I’m being a total slacker today. My kids woke up early and convinced me to take them to the beach. I had a million things to do, like go grocery shopping, grade papers, and edit the stuff I do daily, but I let them win. We stopped at Subway and picked up sandwiches and hung out at the beach all day. The water was too cold for my liking, but it never seems to bother the kids. We had a great time.

As a special treat for those who love a man in uniform (or just find firemen hot):

When was the last time you threw your schedule out the window and did something fun and spontaneous?

Who Do You Love? Alpha or Beta Heroes?

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to write about today and then I read an interview with Ruthie Knox. Ruthie’s new book About Last Night comes out next week. I thought the release date was today, so I was quite disappointed to find out I’m a week early. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I love Ruthie’s first book and I’ve been waiting forever for this one.

For those of you who like free books, I plan to do a giveaway of Ruthie’s book next week since you lost out on an extra raffle chance here during the Diamond Jubilee celebration.

Anyway, in the interview, Ruthie talks about Beta heroes. I totally agree with her when she says that most readers equate beta with weenie.

In fact, I was probably one of those readers.

Then I started writing.

I love an alpha hero. There’s something about a strong man who takes charge. Alphas tend to be possessive and controlling. Maybe even a little caveman-ish. And it’s very satisfying to watch him come undone over a woman.

I’ve spoken before about the adage “write what you know.” My first manuscripts were romantic suspense because that’s what I read. Both of those heroes had a military background. (I’m married to a Marine.)

Both of those manuscripts, while a great learning experience, didn’t fit me. Then I started to write contemporary romance. My debut, More Than This, has been through a ton of revisions because I was still finding my voice, and because I needed to learn to let the characters be themselves.

Part of me is always drawn to writing an alpha, mostly because in my mind, an alpha is a take-charge kind of guy and a beta kind of just lets things happen. I’ve tried to make my heroes be alpha when they didn’t want to be.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned that a beta hero is not a weenie, and he also takes charge when he needs to.

But I think I like Ruthie’s definition best. A beta hero is a “fundamentally nurturing person.”

Reading that single line rang so true to me, I had to stop. It was a total revelation.

Holy shit. I write beta heroes.

Ruthie goes on to say that while beta heroes are strong, they’re less likely to impose their will on others. Even looking back to my first manuscripts, one of those two heroes is clearly beta. I just didn’t realize it back then.

As I started writing this blog post and thinking about the other heroes I’ve written, it’s become more obvious. Using Ruthie’s definition, all of my heroes are beta (except for maybe one). I have a manuscript of a finished book that I need to revise and part of why I’ve continued to write other things instead of revising is because I know the hero is a mess in that book. Now I realize that once again, I tried to make a guy an alpha who is really a beta. I’m still not sure how to fix him, but that’s a problem for a different day.

Even my hero in book 2, who is a self-made millionaire, is a beta. In my current WIP, the hero is a laid back party guy, also a beta.

How did this happen? It’s not like I spend a lot of time trying to define my heroes, or that I try to write a certain type. For me, my characters are people that develop in my head and I haven’t thought much about labeling them until now. Some days, I love being a writer. Today is one of those days. I love it when something just clicks. 🙂

Do you think about hero type when you choose a book? Do you prefer one (alpha/beta) over another? Finally, are there certain occupations that you think you need to be an alpha for? (Can a cop be a beta?)

Friday Favorites – Summertime & Writing Romance

As of 9:30 this morning, summer vacation has begun. I find myself totally unprepared. I just started teaching a new college class at night that will last 4 more weeks and my day job continues, although the work cuts back some for the summer. I find it really hard to focus on writing romance with the kids around. Even if they’re not directly seeking my attention, they’re banging, yelling, and otherwise disruptive. I can manage to write a sex scene in the middle of a crowded kiddie art studio, but the distractions while at home make me a little nutty.

First, I want to give  a quick shout out to momfog for giving me a link for free bowling for my kids for the summer. FREE! What an awesome idea. We do a lot of stuff over the summer — weekly trips to a small beach, museums, zoo, etc, but to have a couple of hours to keep them busy? Priceless.

Now, onto my usual linkety-links:

Emma Burcart has 2 relationship posts up this week that caught my attention. The first is whether or not a guy should ever be worth fighting over. I’m a little torn by this. I’ve never watched the show Emma refers to, so I can’t comment on that. As a woman, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t chase after a guy who chose someone else. BUT…there is that part  of me that believes in trusting your gut. Although I don’t really buy into the whole soulmate thing, there’s something to be said about knowing that someone is right for you. I just don’t know that I’d pursue it if he didn’t realize what a great catch I am. 🙂

The second post is about finding Mr. Right Now. I’ve said probably a million times that I haven’t dated in about forever, but way back when I was dating, I would go on a date with almost anyone. I never approached a date thinking that he might be the one. I don’t think I was unfair to the guy in treating a date as nothing more than a nice night out. I don’t think any of them really thought we would be forever. As a writer, I love the concept of a rebound guy (it’s how the heroine in my second book views the hero). What if the rebound isn’t just a rebound? Ultimately, I agree with Emma that you have to be comfortable alone first.

Jenny Hansen has a great take on how one thing can be sexy two ways. She posts 2 versions of LMFAO’s song, “Sexy and I Know It.” The first is the original, sung by LMFAO. This song is often played and quoted around my house. I don’t know which is more disturbing – hearing my 12 y.o. or my husband sing along. The second version is a slow version. I like the original, but to me it’s not sexy. It’s fun and campy. The second on the other hand, is sexy. The pace kind of gets to you.

Diane Capri has a post about Tubthumping Women. I had to read the post simply because I love the song. But Diane talks about some things we’ve mentioned here before about strong women characters. I don’t mind a woman who can kick some ass, but I prefer to read about real women who show strength that I can understand and relate to.

Monica Bhide hosts Allison Winn Scotch who talks about fear in writing. I think I’ve hit all these fears over the last couple of years and #5 is staring me in the face as I look toward being published later this year. Good words of advice.

Moriah Densley wrote about how she learned to write like a man. As a romance writer, I think this is something we all struggle with at least a little. We want our men to sound and act like men, not women dressed as men.

And last but not least, Buzzfeed has some of the most powerful photos ever taken.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

An Awesome Proposal

I’m fighting off another migraine, so instead of me talking TV today, you get to see one of the best proposals I’ve seen in a long time. I love the song he used. In fact, it’s part of the sound track for my current WIP, even though I’m not sure my characters will get married.

And don’t forget, you still have one more day to enter the Diamond Jubilee blog hop raffle:

What is the best proposal you ever saw or heard?