Friday, July 17, 2009

Men Writing Romance: Meet James V. O'Connor!

Happy Friday!! Welcome back to TLN! Here's stumper to get your thinker tinkin':

What do Sloan Wilson, Jean Barrett, Ken Casper, Leigh Greenwood and Chris Holmes have in common?

Believe it or not . . . They are men who write romance!

Yep, ladies, these are gents who have thrown their hat into the ring of romance and prevailed.

In keeping with the theme of Men Writing Romance, meet James V. O' Connor!

Author of CUSS CONTROL, The Complete Book On How To Curb Your Cursing is here today talking about his writing and how he's offering romancers a look into the male mind with ANOTHER MAN'S TREASURE.

Giddy-Up, cause here we go!

1)If you were a book, what would your blurb be?

A refreshing and candid revelation about the mind and the heart of a man.

2) What would be your "voice's" tagline?

A writer who is concise and straight-forward with a humorous twist.

3) Pantzer or Plotter? What works best for you?

I’m a plotter. I wrote a 32-page outline and stayed with it, for the most part. As I wrote, I cut some scenes and added a few others that increased tension and conflict. When I finished, I reread it several times, cutting a few lines every here and there to really tighten it up. The story progressed and ended as I planned.

4) Give us the male opinion on what makes for a good romance or women's fiction novel? Why did you choose to write a women's fiction novel?

Let’s face it, men like sex, and more and more romance novels are becoming more sexually explicit. In many romance and women’s fiction novels, the protagonists are often ponderous and don’t know what the men are thinking or feeling. In Another Man’s Treasure, it is just the opposite. The protagonist is a happily married man struggling not to fall in love with a divorcee. He is only mildly responsive to her flirtations and underestimates her interest in him while overestimating the strength of his marriage. I want women readers to know that men who seem oblivious and disinteresting can actually be experiencing emotional, moral and ethical turmoil.

5) I heard you had once attended a Writer's Conference of the Chicago RWA Chapter. What was your take? Any tips to share?

It was superb, a great experience. What struck me the most was the tremendous sense of humor the speakers possessed rather than taking themselves too seriously. I also learned there are formulas to romance novels. There are many aspects to my novel—fidelity and temptation, generosity and greed, honesty and betrayal—so it is not a pure romance.

6) Do you have a reference book in your writer's tool box? Any you'd care to suggest?

I read half a dozen books on novel writing, dialogue, and character development. The last one spelled everything out in a simple format: Novelist’s Boot Camp, by Todd A. Stone. Most writers want to write their stories without following a formula or guidelines, but that makes them difficult to get published. Writing has become a business more than a craft. Ask yourself what all prospective publishers ask: who and how many people are going to want to read it?

7) To Agent or Not To Agent- That is the Question! Which is the way to go? Any advice on how a writer can stand out?

You need an agent, and most of them are so swamped with query letters that they give most of their attention to authors who have been referred to them or whom they have met at writers conferences. You have to be aggressive and understand what they want and why. Checking their websites is important for targeting the right agents. Send out 10 queries at a time, and if any are not answered, send them again.

8) Tell us a little about Jim O' Connor and what you write!

My first book was a media sensation:CUSS CONTROL, The Complete Book on How to Curb Your Cursing. My wife and I did all the publicity, and won three awards. I was on more than 100 TV shows (Oprah, The View, Today, CBS Sunday Morning, etc.) , in more than 400 newspapers and magazines, and interviewed on more than 600 radio stations. We have a public relations business, and now specialize in promoting authors, mostly of non-fiction ( ). I’m now writing an inspirational book on how people “unlucky in looks” found self-esteem, love and success in a culture that favors beauty. I blog on the topic, but this week I’m changing hosts and the name from to

I love my novel—all the characters and their relationships—which took two years to write. It’s really a mystery-romance with just the right amount of humor. There are two plots—a romance and a search for riches hidden in a Victorian mansion—that come together in a clever way. The key characters all go through transformations, and there is a surprise ending to both plots. It was enormous fun to write it. I set the scene for both plots in a very short first chapter, which follows:

Chapter 1


The word kept popping into Ted McCormick’s head as he drove down Pine Street, watching for a green Queen Anne house with black shutters. His wife was right. He’s been floundering since they moved to Albany almost two years ago. Mary remained supportive and understanding, but that morning she told him she was getting impatient. His crisis in Chicago was now history, she reminded him, and he was capable of so much more. It was time he expanded his one-man business or found a job. He agreed, but didn’t admit that he wasn’t ready.

Something else was troubling him at the moment, and it wasn’t the potential project at the Queen Anne house. At noon he was due at Janet Blake’s house. Today was the third consecutive Wednesday he would be working for her. Most of his customers were women—friendly and appreciative women—but he always kept his distance, maintaining a businesslike relationship. Until he met Janet. Her lively personality and girlish spirit were whittling away his sense of propriety. He was eager to see her, and that bothered him.

He couldn’t stop thinking about the brief incident in her walk-in closet. After installing several shelves behind the door for organizing her shoes, he asked her to come in to view his work. He should have stepped out and allowed her to enter alone. They were too close together in a small, enclosed room, close enough for him to enjoy the fragrance of her long, wavy, auburn hair. She might feel vulnerable,since they were alone in her house.

“Oh, this is great, Ted!” She smiled and congratulated him with a pat on his upper arm. She rested her hand on his shoulder as she looked back at the shelves. “What a great use of space! No more stumbling on my shoes every time I walk in here. Thanks so much!”

She turned to him again, her beautiful brown eyes fixed on his in a way that conveyed more than gratitude. She was still touching him, but reduced her broad smile to a coy grin. He felt an undeniable sexual tension. He fought a foolish urge to slip his arms around her narrow waist and pull her body against his, anticipating that she wouldn’t object. He had to get out.

“You’re welcome,” he said, feeling like he was the vulnerable one, not her. “Now let’s get rid of all the bags and boxes I tossed out of here.”

Had she flirted with him, or was her touch an innocent gesture of genuine appreciation from a very expressive person? Ted was never skillful at reading what women were up to. He was raised to treat women with respect and courtesy, and he tried not to make assumptions. Most of his early sexual experiences were initiated by aggressive girls, but once it was clear what they wanted, he didn’t hold back. This was different. He was happily married, going on 12 years, and wouldn’t dream of cheating on his wife. He wasn’t going to let Janet Blake get to him.

Deep in thought, Ted almost forgot what he was looking for. Pine Street was lined with towering oaks and maples, and the canapé of branches added to the darkness of the overcast day. Most of the hundred-year-old homes were white clapboard and set back from the street on narrow lots. Except one. It snapped him out of his trance.

“Wow,” he said aloud. “What a brute!”

The house was a classic Queen Anne, slightly elevated on what must have been a triple lot. The lawn and shrubbery were neglected and the house hadn’t felt fresh paint in years, but the structure was still grand. The steep gables and ornamental brick chimneys magnified its height, and the cone-shaped hood of a turret on the left side of the house stretched above the main roofline. A huge stone porch wrapped halfway around the house, with a series of double columns supporting a sizable second-floor porch with thick balustrades.

This could be a monstrous project, Ted thought as he parked his SUV at the curb. The man who had called him, a Mr. Smith, had been tight-lipped. He asked Ted to meet him at this address, provided an understated description of the exterior, and hung up.

Ted approached the mansion from the bumpy driveway that was paved with old bricks, many of them missing or buried beneath dirt. A shiny new Cadillac parked close to the aging house was an odd contrast, except it was as black as a hearse.

Ted had an ominous feeling as the wooden steps to the front porch creaked under his feet. All the curtains were closed. If it weren’t for the car in the driveway, Ted would guess the house was abandoned. His apprehensions intensified when the imposing oak door was pulled open and a burly man stood glaring at him from inside the shadowy entrance.

I'd like to thank James for visiting with us here at TLN on this scorcher of a Friday! Did you enjoy the sneak peek into a hero's POV through a male writer's eyes? Now, would that be considered really deep POV? LOL Oh, yeah! Glad the weekend is but a hair's breath away!

A huge THANK YOU to all of you TLN junkies for stopping by! Have a great weekend! In keeping with men who write romance- here's my favorite lady, Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's singing
MOON RIVER. Enjoy and we'll see back next week, my huckleberry friends.


Nicole McCaffrey said...

Hi Sarah and James! Great interview and thanks for the peek at romance from a man's perspective.

I'm definitely going to have to look for Cuss Control, LOL! I never used to swear at all... and then I had kids. *G*

Best of luck with the new story--loved the excerpt!

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Sarah and James! Superb interview! It's great to have romance from a male POV.

Emma Lai said...

Great interview Sarah and James! My husband reads all of my stories to make sure I'm getting the male perspective as well as I can. We'll see how well I did in my next release, which I wrote in first person from the male perspective!

Anonymous said...

Sarah, brilliant interview, and thanks for the moon river clip. Instantly taken into Holly Golightly's world... what a wonderful way to start a Friday...

James, you had me by question number 3. I'm really interested in reading your stories!

Nice to meet you, and have a lovely weekend.


Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Sarah and James,

Sarah, great questions as always.
Loved the interview on male perspective.
James, interesting answers. The excerpt proves that men definitely approach writing romance a bit differently than women.

Savannah Chase said...

Hi guys, it is so nice to meet a new author and one who is male...

It was a pleasure reading your interview...

Thank you

Kaye Manro said...

I tuly love the fact that guys write romance! You can't beat a man's POV when it comes to heroes!

cindystubbs said...

I always wondered what men really thought, can women really write a man's thoughts accurately? I am really interested in reading a "man's" romance now. Cool.