Some of us are turned on by the scent of books. Some appreciate the well-toned muscles of readers who regularly heft hardcovers. There many reasons to snuggle up to someone who spends lots of time between the covers, but here are my top three reasons readers make better lovers.
Curiosity. Readers want to know what happens next. They’re insatiable. And when a passage really sparks a reaction, they’ll read it over and over again.
Focus. Readers have cultivated an attention span longer than 140 characters. (Even short stories contain thousands!) This makes for a very attentive lover.
Conversation. Readers always have something interesting to say. Even better, they’re dying to hear your stories. You won’t be bored.
Ready to attract a reader of your very own? Here’s the perfect pickup line to get things started: “What have you been reading lately?”
So, maybe you don’t have movie-star good looks. Maybe you don’t drive a luxury car or live in a fashionable part of town. You can still feel like a VIP. All it takes is reservations at Bar Smyth in Dallas, Texas.
Don’t look for a neon sign or sidewalk seating. The entry for Bar Smyth is completely unmarked—part of its mystique. Announce yourself using the small keypad next to a nondescript door and you’ll be buzzed inside.
A dim hallway leads you to a narrow, warmly-furnished space that may have you checking the calendar to be sure you haven’t stepped back to a Prohibition-era speakeasy, or a Cold War-era covert rendezvous.
Menus? This place is too cool for menus
Your bartender visits your table with some questions, then disappears to concoct a beverage to appeal to your personal flavor profile. The results are surprising and exquisite.
My visit included two excellent cocktails. The first, shown here, was an Old Fashioned, crafted for me with grapefruit bitters, and tequila instead of bourbon. The second, a perfectly balanced Sazarac. (Hats off to Robert the bartender for choosing America’s oldest-known cocktail for me. I love a good Sazarac.)
Most of the others in our party preferred slightly sweeter drinks. Our bartender called on a variety of fruits, herbs and flowers to delight each of them in turn.
Bar Smyth sounds like fiction, right? For me, it sounded like my fiction—specifically Club Clandestine, in Going Native. Here’s how it breaks down:
Real vs. fictional VIP cocktail lounges
Club Clandestine (from my novel, Going Native)
Bar Smyth (located on Travis Street in Dallas, TX)
Bouncer asks for password
Secure, locked entrance
Dim stairs lead down to club
Dim hallway leads to club
Speakeasy/Cold War spy vibe
Speakeasy/Cold War spy vibe
Unforgettable night of covert, erotic games in the arms of a sexy hero
Outstanding cocktails in intimate setting, guaranteed to make you feel special
All told, a remarkable evening. And I confess I’m glad to have friends who can assure me it really happened. Otherwise, I might wonder if, like Club Clandestine, I’d created Bar Smyth out of my own secret imaginings.
I follow lots of fellow romance readers on Twitter. Many rhapsodize about “alpha males,” while the very idea of an all-powerful hero sets my teeth on edge.
And then I realized we might not be talking about the same thing.
The alpha hero you can keep, thank you
My old idea of “alpha male”:
Is accustomed to being obeyed
Interrupts his lessers when they speak (and we’re all his lessers)
Considers apologies a sign of weakness
Takes control because he “knows what’s best for you”
In other words, a self-righteous jerk. In real life, I prefer to walk away from these types. If they appear in my writing, they’re secondary characters or antagonists, not the hero.
I like a hero who respects other people, even when he disagrees with them. I want him to make an attempt at seeing things from his adversary’s perspective, even if compromise proves impossible.
Do we need alphabetical labels?
Is respect an “alpha” or a “beta” characteristic? What about kindness? Are all nice guys “beta?” If I don’t know the difference, how do I choose romances I’m likely to enjoy reading? How do I tell readers what to expect from my books?
Before my brain explodes with questions, how ‘bout we accept “alpha” as a synonym for “prime,” as in first choice, or ideal. That way, there’s room for every preference.
The alpha hero I love
Here then, is my new idea of “alpha”:
Lives his values, leads by example
A knowledge seeker
Doesn’t give up in the face of setbacks
Admits his faults and overcomes his failures
Fights to defend, not destroy
Willing to grow and change
I have men like this in my life. I admire and adore them. Small wonder I seek similarly wonderful book boyfriends.
Your list may be different. I respect that. A wonderful thing about the romance genre is its diversity. And if you’re inclined to share, I’d love to hear about the type of hero that wins your heart.
I carry two business cards. My main card describes me as WriterSpeakerAdventurer, same as this site. and you can see the art for yourself. What the description lacks in specificity, it seems to make up in memorability. Folks see it and smile. Some exclaim in delight, needing to repeat it out loud.
When I chose these three words, they represented my personal aspirations. True, I’d been a writer for decades. But I’d not yet had a real speaking gig, and with a few exceptions, my adventures were mostly spiritual.
It worked. I’ve grown into the description. It fits me. When I give someone this business card and get a reaction, I’m not just connecting—I’m paying it forward. Inspiring someone else to take a risk, be playful, stretch a bit. That’s a brand I happily inhabit.
So why carry more than one card? Let me start with a question (and a rant about my personal preferences in business card design).
What do your business cards say about you?
Do you carry cards? Perhaps, like me, several different ones? Trying to find a meaningful, memorable way to represent yourself on a 2 x 3.5” bit of card stock is confusing, isn’t it?
When working for someone else’s company, you take whatever is offered, even if the logo is ugly or your job title doesn’t reflect what you do.
When working a side hustle or are self employed (like me), you face delicious, agonizing freedom of choice all the way down the line.
Job title, yes or no?
If yes, what? I’ve seen quite a few that say President, or Owner. That doesn’t suit me, especially since I don’t operate under a business name. (“Owner of Sally Felt,” makes me giggle.)
I’m more drawn to cards that suggest what’s being offered, such as Illustrator, or Programmer, or Handyman, or Author. As time passes, cards like this help me remember who you are and why I kept your information.
Include Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, 2 phones, 2 webs, email etc.?
In the interest of helping clients, fans, colleagues and prospects reach us, it’s tempting to load up the business card with all our addresses, from email to website, social media, and maybe even snail mail address. Plus at least one phone number. Some authors I know include a list of book titles.
I prefer something sleeker. Simpler. Give me a card that doesn’t try to be all things to all people and I see you as a confident professional. I start to trust you before we’ve done more than exchange cards.
Paring down to essentials
The process of creating ideal business cards proved so tough that I’m currently carrying two cards while pondering how to get down to one.
Things I’ve solved: what to include
A 2-3 word description of what I offer
My mobile number
One email address
It makes for a clean, simple card that gives essential contact information. And I chose uncoated card stock so it’s easy to write on with an ordinary pen. (Do you like to make notes on people’s cards, like where and when you met them? I do.)
And at last, my answer to why two cards?
All that differs between my two business cards is the artwork and the self-description.
My second business card says Intuitive Tarot and uses striking close-up photos of dragonflies, suggesting the transformative potential of receiving a card reading. A Tarot reading is an intimate experience, and though my playful approach to life spills over into my Tarot business, I want a business card that reflects my client’s potential more than it reflects me.
Perhaps I’ll find a pare it down to just one card. Until then, I carry two. What’s a WriterSpeakerTarotAdventurer to do?
Family expectations. Peer pressure. Poor self image. It’s easy to understand why so many of us wind up living life by someone else’s rules—being Good Girls. Do it long enough and it becomes a tough habit to break.
Ready to join Good Girls recovery?
Good girls don’t make demands or attract attention. Even the smallest steps toward independent self expression take courage. It feels like a crazy rebellion, rife with potential for dire consequences.
It helps to have a friend or role model who actively creates the life of her dreams. Someone to encourage us to say what we think and pursue what we want.
For Violet, the heroine of my sexy romance Going Native, it’s a free-spirited friend who lives the glamorous lifestyle of Violet’s dreams. In the book, Violet literally steps into her friend’s shoes for a month, learning what it feels like to live larger.
(Naturally, complications ensue. It’s a romantic comedy, after all.)
Bravery comes in all forms (and t-shirt sizes)
If you’re like me, still working to break the habit of second guessing yourself (or whatever Good Girl behavior is your personal bugaboo), I invite you to solicit support. Friends. Or a mentor.
Step out. Take a chance. Learn what sets you on fire. You are the only you the world will ever know (and I am the only me). Our voices matter. Solidarity for recovering Good Girls!
To get a t-shirt like the one I’m wearing here, visit my CafePress store. And if you’d like to read Violet’s adventures on the wild side, order Going Native from Ellora’s Cave or your favorite book e-tailer.
The year 2013 is a “6” year in numerology. (We get that by adding 2 + 0 + 1 + 3 = 6) The sixth card in Tarot’s Major Arcana is The Lovers, so expect the energy of this card to be widely available. If you have any dreams or plans with a Lovers-like flavor, dust ‘em off and put them into motion—there’s lots of support available this year.
Under the energy of The Lovers, an overall strategy of cooperation (or collaboration) will be more successful than competition. This is the year to release thoughts of us/them in favor of seeking win/win solutions. It’s a time to remember that our decisions impact others.
Of course, there’s a chance of getting carried away with the feel-good, romantic energy of The Lovers. The shadow side of The Lovers includes the temptation to over-sacrifice in the name of harmony. Or to get so swept off your feet that you make decisions you later regret.
That said, The Lovers can provide a welcome spirit of optimism and an interest in working together. To repair/renegotiate/release inharmonious relationships. To explore what’s possible when we embrace a more romantic view of life. Who will we meet? How will we treat the people we love? What happens when we our decisions arise from love, rather than fear?
This is the year to find out.
Check out The Kitchen Tarot at Hay House. It’s currently featured for just $1! (Not affiliated, just a fan.)
Tuck one of my new gift certificates into a lovely metallic gold envelope (included) and voila, you’ve gift-wrapped a personalized experience of insight and perspective. Your loved one can redeem anytime within a year of your purchase.
Gift outside the box
The gift of Tarot works for all the traditional gift giving occasions, such as birthdays, showers and graduation. It’s also a great way to encourage and support family or friends who feel a little lost, or are in the throes of massive personal growth.