Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Current listen:  Midnight Romeo by Push Play...a perfect soundtrack to this blog.

Tonight, we're settling on the back porch. The weather is warming up and the sky is a spectacular black velvet canvas, covered in a sea of sparkling diamonds. Throw a shall around you shoulders and get comfortable. We're going to talk about "boys."

Who says boys can't have a romance story? Only girls are allowed to think flowery thoughts and lust after hunky jocks with tight butts, or the bad boy whose plaid boxers show six inches above his low riding jeans? Does "Dear Diary, I think I'm in love..." only belong to the female gender? Why can't a romantic tale be told through the eyes of a boy? And I'm not talking "boy on boy." I'm talking normal heterosexual "Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl," with the same fairytale ending.

This was the challenge I took on in writing Riley's Pond, now completed and in the final throes of editing. I wanted a romance told from the boy's perspective. Of course this meant shedding several conservative layers and tossing out the "gasp reflex" when a bad word unexpectedly flew out of my character's mouth. Here's ten things I learned:

1.  Boys don't believe in consequences. They believe most rules are made to be broken. Life is not black and white, but a gazillion shades of gray.
2.  Boys believe its socially acceptable to name certain body parts. They're "one with the penis."
3.  Boys have different scales they rate girls against.
         a.  The "jiggle scale," (both boobs and butts)
         b.  The "hair scale," (long, but not necessarily blond)
         c.   The "swing scale," which is interesting because this is based on their model as she walks away - is it a backyard swing that sways gently, or a porch swing, long and lazy, or a power swing, wide, fast, and capable of throwing you off balance if you bounce off one of the hips.
4.  Boys rate "kisses" on a scale of one to five (five showing promise of more to come). Are her lips full? The kiss soft or firm. Does she kiss with her lips parted, or sealed tight like a brick wall. If teased with your tongue, will she let you have a free pass or do you have to work hard for a game of tongue tagging. Does she let your tongue in her mouth, or is she a control freak and has to put hers inside your mouth? 
5.  Then there's the body language issues. Does she lean into your curves when you kiss her, or remain stiff like a statue. If you nudge your knee between her legs will you get slapped? If not, forget the rest of the scale and head for the first place you can get horizontal.
6.  Things boys hate:  Obsessive giggling, constant gum popping, squealing and jumping like an idiot, joined at the hip with your BFF, and clingy. Girls should be able to stand on their own two feet.
7.  Boys also don't think its necessary to express their "feelings" or "thoughts" constantly. He likes you, or he wouldn't be going out with you. If he says he loves you, he means it. Don't ask every ten seconds. If you say it and he doesn't give you that same reply, don't go all psycho. Deal. Especially if you are stupid enough to ask in the middle of an intense game, action flick, or in front of any other male within hearing distance, and God forbid, in front of your BFF.
8.  Boys are not always thinking about sex. Granted, ninety percent of the time they're with you, they're wondering how far you'll let them get on this date, but the other ten percent is split equally between food and whether he's got enough money in his wallet to afford you. He also spends a nanosecond wondering if he tucked a condom in his wallet or if there's one in the glovebox.
9.  When boys fall in love, it's fast and hard. Their thoughts are consumed with you. They drop their friends, only wear underwear and socks once, and brush their teeth. Sometimes they shower. They keep their bedrooms clean, praying their parents will be out late and you'll be ready, willing and able. Their cars are stocked with a fistful of air fresheners, and there's a blanket in the trunk, just in case.
10. Boys cry. Hard. Their hearts don't break. They shatter.

In writing Designer Genes, I wiggle into Jordan's and Jesse's head and steal their thoughts for a couple of short chapters, to give my readers a "behind the scenes" glimpse to what's happening that my heroine isn't aware of. I liked the strong voices of my male characters and the passionate feelings they kept hidden from everyone. The facade boys put forth is interesting. They follow the stereotype cast through generations of being tough, unfeeling, crass, and selfish. Underneath, they're vulnerable, caring, and giving. And they love their moms.

In Riley's Pond, my male protagonist, Riley Martin, finds being the middle son, stuck between a wayward older brother and a younger brother he affectionately refers to as "the baby archangel," to be challenging. He feels responsible for keeping his parents happy to compensate for his older brother's bad choices, and frustrated at not being able to sow his own wild oats because of his impressionable little brother. The family dynamics in the story are dramatic, comical, and heartwarming. After penning "The End" I felt at home in the Martin house, having my own chair at their kitchen table.

The tagline reads:  Superman meets The Creature from the Black Lagoon - a love story.

The proposed back cover/query letter blurb:  When Riley finds a beautiful creature swimming in his secret pond, he isn't thinking about the drama he walked out on back at the house. He isn't contemplating that this creature in his black lagoon, encased in a revealing wet t-shirt, might be a catalyst in a dangerous chain of events changing his life forever. No. He's just thinking he wants to jump her bones.

Well? Do you think it works? Think back to seventeen. Where would you have rated on "the scale?" Share your thoughts, memories, or suggestions.  Just don't tell me it can't be done.

As always, thanks for stopping by. Come back over the weekend. I hope to have a surprise to share. Harley Brooks


Carey_Corp said...

I like the tag line and the blurb. You've hooked me. Riley's pond sounds like a great story.

Sandy said...

I raised three sons and you hit it just right. And, I had to listen to many a broken hearted "But Mom, I loooved her!" after a breakup.
At our Carolinas Writers Conference, speaker Omar Tyree said it is imperative to get boys reading. They just might if more books were written from their perspective.

J. Coleman said...

I agree. I'm brainstorming a couple more ideas and if I can get my son on board, I've got a great one about dirt biking I want to try out, but I need his expertise. When I had him read Riley's Pond to see if I'd nailed a boy's voice, he said it was scary that I knew how boys thought. I guess I nailed it. We'll see. Thanks guys.

Calisa Lewis said...

I smiled and laughed at how boys think. Especially about sex. I had a conversation w/hubbs last week in which I asked (for the first time) what guys think about. He said plainly "Sex. It's always sex." No matter what the topic, it somehow relates to sex with the male gender. Now, I'm naive. I've always given men more credit than the stereotypical 'sex' thoughts. People exaggerate about what we females think, so I figured its the same for the males. Nope. I'm no longer a virgin to the male psyche.

I think this is a wonderful idea Joelene. Love the tag and blurb.

Sandy L. Rowland said...

You have it right on.
You could teach a class for YA writers.
Just a thought.

Love it and you.

J. Coleman said...

I thought about "the scale" and remembered overhearing a comment made that I kissed like a brick wall. Come on. I was fourteen at the most. I didn't know about french kissing and I am genetically challenged with thin lips. I guess I ranked a big fat "zero." I made up for it later, big time! Thanks guys.

Clancy said...

I think men don't evolve either - cuz the same things all hold true for men. But, me and other women I know are worse than any man when it comes to a lot of these scales and such. Good post, babe.

Christina Wolfer said...

Yeah, couldn't help but smile while reading this. I love stories from the males POV. And even though they think about sex a lot, they hurt just like the rest of us. In my opinion, men fall hard and stay in love long after women are willing to give up and walk away (most of the time).

As the youngest, with three older brothers, I learned quickly not to giggle alot, scream, jump or show outward emotion. Had to lock it inside or I'd have no one to play with.

Can't wait to get the full read on your stories. Hurry it up, would ya? :)