Avoid Fear; Be Valiant by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Photograph of Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR, 1933, Photo from National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain

In 1933, during his first inaugural address, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

FDR was talking about the fear that was pervasive in America at that time. The stock market crash of 1929 not only bankrupted 20,000 companies but also threw 15 million people into unemployment. More than 23,000 people committed suicide!

When FDR was inaugurated as President, the country was in crisis. Many people were literally starving to death. Back then the homeless were called hobos, and they road the rails and hitchhiked across the country—looking for jobs and food. My mother was a toddler in the 1930’s, but she remembered hearing men knocking on the back door of her home, begging for a piece of bread or any bit of food her mother could spare.

So FDR faced a dead economy, massive unemployment, and unsettling rumblings from Europe. People were desperately afraid of not having food to eat or a roof over their heads.

Fear Sculpture

Fear Sculpture by Adina Mayo

When Roosevelt uttered those words about fear, he was issuing a call to arms to the American people to believe that the crises they faced could be overcome—to be valiant and not succumb to an overall feeling of fear and panic.

We face pretty much the same situation today, but millions of people have never had to deal with a crisis like this. They don’t understand that perilous times call for all of us to dig deep for faith and optimism. Even the most frightened of us have the ability to “gut it out” and be valiant.

Valiant

The dictionary defines this adjective as the ability to be brave or determined. Yes, determined. We don’t have to throw ourselves on a grenade to save others or any of the acts of bravery committed by soldiers and first responders. We just have to be determined.

Sign saying VALIANT

Valiant = Determined

Determined to: believe we as a country (whatever your country may be), and as a people will endure.

Determined that we will not yield to nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror but will be calm and think logically and follow sensible rules.

Determined to set a good example for our children so they will learn how to behave in crisis.

Determined that we will remain optimistic. Determined that we will help where and when we can.

Determined that we will not yield to panic and rush to testing stations when we have no Sign: Be a Warrior Not a Worrier.reason to think we have CoVid19, thereby conserving resources.

Determined to make the best of a bad situation. Determined that we will learn lessons from this awful experience.

Be safe. Be optimistic. BE VALIANT!

I Need a Hero by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Gorgeous male model in wet t-shirtDo you know that song, “Holding Our for a Hero,” sung by Bonnie Tyler? When Tyler sings, “I need a hero,” that’s exactly what romance authors think as we breathe life into the character our heroine will fall for.

Readers are looking for a hero to thrill them too.

As a romance author, I spend a lot of time thinking about heroes and how to make a story’s hero be perfect for the heroine.

What Is a Hero?

Is he the guy in the wet t-shirt? He’s got brooding good looks and toned body. Does that make him a hero? People lay claim to football players, rock stars, actors, and other famous types as heroes, but is that really what a hero is? Do extreme success and likability make someone a hero?

Not in my opinion. Popularity, personality, and skill in a demanding field just makes an interesting man. Maybe it makes someone a potential hero, but it takes more thran a pretty face, good body, and charm to be a hero—in a romance novel or in real life.

Soldier surrounded by children.Real Heroes Give

A real hero gives unselfishly to help others. Most people don’t think about the heroes in their own family, but I think you should look no farther than your own father, grandfather, brother, or other male family members to find heroes.

Think of the men in your family who work hard to give their children a better life. They’re heroes. Far better to idolize them than some hip hop artist or bad boy football star.

Real heroes—whether male or female, on a personal level or the world’s arena—give. They sacrifice, often for strangers. Sometimes that sacrifice is the ultimate one that claims the hero’s life. Real heroes are the Fire Fighters, Police Officers, and other first responders. They are the soldiers who put their lives on the line for us.

They are the doctors and nurses who volunteer for Doctors Without Borders, the emergency room medical staff, the volunteers in free clinics, and the dentists who spend their vacation in third world country villages, providing care for the poorest of people who have little access to any care.

They are the volunteers who dig water wells in poor villages where people don’t have the basic necessities we take for granted like clean water. So many heroes, and they’re everywhere.

Novel Hero Versus Real Life Hero

Is a romance novel hero vastly different from a real life hero? Maybe the romance hero is a little better looking and has six-pack abs rather than love handles, but the qualities of protectiveness, unselfishness, and caring exist in both the romance novel hero and the real life hero.

This desire to protect and serve is why so many romance heroes are soldiers and cops. In my romantic comedy, CinCa Blue, I have a cop hero and a cop heroine. I did a bit of a flip-flop with what the reader might expect. In most stories involving a cop hero, the cop avoids commitment at all costs.

In Cinderella Blue,, Detective Bruce Benton, first introduced in Nobody’s Cinderella, is commitment phobic, but so is Detective Andrea Luft, his new partner who he realizes is perfect for him. He’s the first in their growing relationship to want commitment.

I had fun solving Andie’s problems stemming from her emotional baggage. Here’s a short excerpt to show you these two cops in action.Cover of Cinderella Blue by Joan Reeves

Excerpt, Cinderella Blue

Heat shimmered in waves above the pavement. Across the street, Bruce Benton saw a cluster of shops that created one-stop shopping for women looking to drop a few grand on a pretentious wedding. He crossed the street and headed to the flower shop.

As he passed the glass storefront of a photographer’s studio, he saw a woman inside. A nano second later, he stopped abruptly. The heat must be frying his brain. He retraced his steps, casually glancing in again. The woman wore a wedding dress, but instead of a bridal bouquet, she held a handgun.

Bruce drew his Glock and eased the door open. A bell over the door jingled. He cringed as he slipped inside. Maybe she was deaf.

The woman whirled. Nope. Not deaf. She held her gun in the same shooter’s stance as he. “Take it easy, lady. Maybe the photographer took some lousy pictures of you. That’s no reason to shoot him.”

“That’Cover of Cinderella Blue by Joan Reevess funny.” The blonde suddenly grinned, but her gun never wavered. “You’re cute. Anyone ever tell you that you look kind of like Karl Urban?”

“Let’s not talk about some Aussie actor. Let’s talk about you. Why would a sweet thing like you have a gun?”

“Sweet thing?” Irritation replaced her grin. “Lower your gun. Lay it on the floor.”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You see I’m a–”

Everything happened at once. A man rushed from behind her, slammed into her, and sent her flying into Bruce. They went down in a tangle of arms, legs, and miles of white satin. She came up snarling.
Bruce leaped up, gun in hand. “Freeze!”Cover of Cinderella Blue by Joan Reeves with Cityscape background.

He grinned and pulled out his handcuffs. “I always wanted to say that. Just like a TV cop. You lost your gun, sweet thing.”

He stepped toward her. With a snarl, she whirled. He saw a white blur and felt agony in his hand. A roundhouse kick to his solar plexus cut off his gasp of pain. He hit the floor. Wheezing, he tried to rise, but the blonde stood over him with her gun–and his–pointed at him.

She smiled. “Uh uh, sweet thing. You stay right where you are.”

Bruce groaned. Not from pain so much as humiliation. Crap. He’d never live this down.

Your Thoughts

What kind of a hero do you like best in romance novels? Does your ideal hero reflect the qualities you admire in your real life heroes?

Does Autumn smell like sports to you?

No matter where I go, someone has a team logo pasted somewhere. Whether it’s a tee shirt for the local high school, bumper sticker for the university, or major league team hat, fans are everywhere. That means I need to write a sports romance!
Several of my Authors’ Billboard friends felt the same way, so we got together and wrote stories (some already had one written) with athletic themes. Boxers, footballers, soccer players, hoopsters, you name it. We tried to grab a bit of everything for The Players: Overcoming the Odds.
My story, Too Fast for You, is about a woman baseball player. I created a new format for this story. I call it Now and Then, alternating chapters between eras in Loren and José’s involvement with each other. Chapter One: Then is about their early years and Little League. Chapter Two: Now brings the reader to present day and what’s going on in their Minor League Baseball careers. Of course, Loren has to deal with gender prejudice (I wrote from my own experience there!) and José tries to help her adjust without letting her know he was once her best friend. We have some bad guys in there, too.

Take a minute to add The Players to your Kindle Unlimited library or buy for less than a buck. Now you’re ready for the weekend! Oh, and don’t forget to leave a review. Authors are forever grateful for them.

Story Elements: Conflict

So when we plan a storybook romance, what are some of the elements, besides the First Meet, we try to put into it? We can’t make everything smooth sailing, or we’d have no story. A good story always contains conflict of some type. We have to make one or both of the main characters hard to get, or give them problems to overcome, or dangerous adversaries to defeat.

In The Quietest Woman in the South, I put in a murderous family that pursued them across several states, trying to kill them. They tried to escape, then fought back. This element is called External Conflict, and can be a source of suspense and unexpected plot turns.

Or the woman may not realize that this is the man for her. She thinks he is too handsome or rich or popular to see anything in her. Or she doubts his intentions until he has rescued her from danger, or has demonstrated that she can trust him. This element is called Internal Conflict, and can be the more emotional of the two types of conflict.

The best books usually have both types of conflict in them. Tennessee Touch held an emotional uncertainty for the heroine. She had had numerous stepfathers, including one who tried to attack her, so that she distrusted men in general.

In “The Prettiest Girl in the Land,” Ruth Trahern is plain compared to her sister, Mary. So Ruth doesn’t think any handsome man would be interested in her. This is how she feels:

He sat there atop his horse, with hat, boots, bandana, and chaps, looking so much the western cowboy that I hadn’t recognized him, even though he’d tipped that hat to me several times during the morning. He was handsome enough to bring a dead polecat back to life, and my heart did a little flip.

But this was Gage, who was a rolling stone, handsome as the devil and not responsible for anything except to break women’s hearts. I reminded myself of that, and my heart just flopped right back down in place.

Another element is the Other Woman, or the Interfering Parent, or Best Friend who really isn’t a friend. Then there is always the Boss who can be a source of conflict, either in the office or as an officer in the military. When doing a longer novel, it is handy to have one or more of these mixed into the story.