Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

“Progress” update May 24, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:08 am
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That word progress in the heading is in quote marks because it feels more like lack of progress this week!

The word count is moving  upwards, even if at a crawl pace at least it’s moving, and I’ve written something every single day. That’s the good news. The bad news is, I feel like I’m floundering. The story seems to have lost direction. I think this is the mid book slump, aka saggy middle, it’s just taken me 47,000 words to get there. That many words, yet I’m only about halfway through the story arc. This is going to need one hell of an edit!

I feel like the conflict is too weak, my hero’s motivation and heroic qualities aren’t coming across clearly enough (no, Luk, being gorgeous and rich is NOT enough!), and I’m in confused whose point of view I should be in when the scene will have equal emotional impact on both characters. The tone is patchy and variable, and the dialog and character behaviour is inconsistent, depending on what mood I’m in that day.

None of these are problems that can’t be worked out in the edits. The biggest problem is my self-doubt and that overactive internal editor of mine switching on at the wrong time.

I’m in the middle of writing the big first sex scene. and I’ve stopped and pulled back, leaving them dangling! This is a scene that will be earth shattering for both of them. Emma loses her physical virginity, but Luk loses his emotional virginity.  The emotional impact on both of them will be equal. But instead of writing it, I’m fretting about whose POV I should be in. Sheesh, what planet am I on? I keep telling myself I need to just write the scene, already, and worry about POV when I edit… and edit… and edit some more…

Problem is, that’s not working.

Maybe the truth is, I’m sabotaging myself. I do want this story to be publishable. But I’m not comfortable with the thought of revealing this sexual writing. I’m so identified with these characters, it feels like opening the bedroom door and inviting the neighbourhood in to watch me make love. It’s safer and more comfortable to step back and go into critic mode and focus on something technical like point of view that get into the reality of opening up to allowing intimacy and deep emotion with these characters.

Hmm, interesting. This is Luk’s character flaw, his main growth challenge. His driving force is staying emotionally safe by keeping people outside a wall he’s built around himself to avoid pain. I knew I was putting a lot of me into Emma, I didn’t realise I was doing the same with Luk too. My difficulty with this scene is the same as his. That’s a useful thing to know. It could help me get through this discomfort and write the scene, and also be something I can draw on to make Luk more real.

Tomorrow I’ll find some nice dark comfortable cupboard to lock the internal editor in, maybe throw in a few cushions and some magazines to keep her occupied, so I can just write and write and write this scene. It won’t be perfect. It won’t have the texture and depth and emotion I want it to have. And I need to find a way to be okay with that, to allow my first draft to be first draft. To trust that if I can get the story down, those things can be layered in during the edits.

Trust, relinquish control, let down the emotional barriers. Luk’s journey as a character needs to be my journey as a writer too.


Some thoughts on writing- romance vs single title May 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Autumn Macarthur @ 2:24 pm


Jane Holland’s  thoughtful comment on the last post got me writing so much in response that I’ve made it a separate post.



Here’s Jane’s comment-

My advice, FWIW? Getting a novel to publication stage is like dieting successfully. You have to forget about getting there with flair and mind-changes and bouts of carefree imagination that allow you to wander from the plot and the basic premise. Make a plan and stick to it strictly. Do not deviate from the path, however pretty those primroses are over there.

Target the line, do the word count, finish the book as planned, polish and spellcheck and send it off.  Whatever you do, don’t start a straight M&B that expands into a romantic saga or a ghoulish thriller halfway through. That’s a sure way to waste your time and never reach the Book Accepted stage.

But then, you need to decide upfront what you want from this. Publication, or a fun hobby. If it’s the latter, feel free to do whatever you like. But if not …

Only my opinion, of course! And many others will see the process differently.  😉

My response-

That dieting analaogy is a good one. Not too close to the truth though, I hope! I’m a recidivist dieter. I’m good at losing weight when I put my mind to it, not so good at keeping it off for more than a few years. I’ve probably lost at least my current body weight since I turned 33 and first decided to lose weight. I think I’ve been like that with writing in the past too. Done it, but without the necessary self-control and determination to get lasting results. Something I want to change now.

I know that writing, for someone who is serious about it and not just infatuated with the idea of being a writer, is work. It takes discipline and commitment. Bum in seat, hands on keyboard. Even if my bum is numb from sitting and my wrists are sore and the sun is shining and there are a million things that seem like more fun right at that moment. For sure, no one ever gets to be a published writer by only writing when they feel like it, or when they are “inspired”, or by allowing the writing to run where ever that day’s fancy takes them without any overall vision or plan.

On the other hand, I do believe there needs to be a place for play, for those unexpected discoveries that happen along the way. Maybe that patch of primroses just off the path is exactly what my story needs, and I never thought of it at the planning stage.

The danger of course is stepping off the path for  a bunch of primroses, and seeing another patch of pretty flowers, and another, and another. Before I know it I can’t see my original path any more, I’ve lost my way, and I’m writing a 250,000 word romance/thriller/fantasy/multigenerational saga/zombie noir hybrid. I hope I’m not in too much danger of that, but you never know…  ; )

I do feel (despite my age suggesting I should know better) that I just don’t know enough about myself as a writer yet. I have no idea where my natural writing voice best fits. I know I want to write romance, for the sheer joy of the happy ending, but should I be targeting series or single title? If series, which line?

The only way to find out is going to be to play a bit. Write steadily, write consistently, write like someone who is serious about her writing, but also experiment. Step off the path now and then, but not so far I lose sight of the way I’m headed. Write this story to the end, then think about where it best fits.

To my mind, and I may be wrong here, the main difference between say a Mills and Boon Modern Heat and a contemporary feel-good romantic single title is the focus and the emotional intensity. The central pathway of both is the ups and downs of the developing relationship, the destination is the Happy Ever  After. But with just 50,000 words, the series romance is mostly tight close up on the couple and the experience of falling in love and eventually committing to each other. The spotlight is on is the emotional growth that allows them to overcome their relationship blocks. With such a tight word count, there’s no room to do more than sketch in what’s going on around them. If it doesn’t impact on the central relationship or the relationship blocks, it’s out. The single title gives space to step back and show more. There’s room for sub-plots, secondary characters can be more developed. The core is still the love story, the end point will be the same, but the emotional intensity is less because the focus isn’t so relentlessly on the relationship.

I’m only thinking about romantic single title here. The broader genre of women’s fiction, I think, is significantly different. The core journey here is the central female character’s personal growth, which may or may not include a romantic relationship.

There are some other significant differences between a series romance and romantic contemporary single title (I really want to say chick-lit, but jeez, I hate that term!), of course. 

There’s whose emotional growth the focus is on. Series romance is now close to 50/50 hero and heroine. Both in whose head we are in, and in who needs to grow and change as part of their journey to love. Actually, in some series, like Presents/Modern or Modern Heat the hero has a lot further to grow. I think that’s part of the appeal of these lines, the idea of  “strong, brave women bringing strong, brave men to their knees” as Catherine Spencer puts it. In a single title, even a romantic one, it’s far more focused on the heroine’s journey.

The other difference is point of view. Most series romances will have only two point of view characters, the hero and the heroine. Many single titles will have just one POV, the heroine’s, whether that’s told in first person or third. On the other hand, I’ve read and enjoyed single title romances with multiple points of view. I’m reading Janet Gover’s The Farmer Needs a Wife (Little Black Dress) at the moment. There must be about sixteen POV characters! But it works.

There are plenty more differences too, but they are the key ones that come to mind straight off.

So my plan is to write in a disciplined way, every day, with writing as a key priority, until this first draft is done. Maybe diverge off the path a bit now and then, if that’s where the characters are taking me, but keep that path in sight and keep coming back to it so I get us all to the correct destination- their HEA. And hopefully the first draft I end up with won’t be some monstrous hybrid, but something that with good revising and editing, will be suitable to submit to either Harlequin Mills and Boon or to target elsewhere.

If I end with 90,000 words, centred around a woman and her journey to a committed relationship, but with lots of humour, other stuff going on besides the relationship, developed secondary characters, and at least one subplot, maybe I need to edit with single title in mind. If I end with 60,000 words, told in only the hero and heroine’s POV, tightly focused on their relationship, I guess I’m writing series romance and will shape it in that direction in my edits. The way it’s looking so far, I do think it will be series.

Then of course, there’s the question of which series, which is a whole other issue in itself!


Book in a Week progress report May 8, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 2:21 pm
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lukas-and-gabi Eileen noticed that my work count bar had gone back to zero. Had I scrapped what I already had on the story? Again?

Oops. Yes.

I wanted to completely rethink the whole thing and go back to the basics of getting to know my characters muuuuuuuch better. Go through the whole process of creating the book again, because I knew what I had wasn’t going to work. Too much external conflict, and the villain was a stronger driving force than either the hero or the heroine.

That had to change!

I signed up for April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week workshop, mainly because the intensive writing week coincided with this week I have off between jobs. Her focus is strongly on character driven plots. Just what I needed. The first few weeks is spent asking ourselves questions about why we want to write this particular story, and about our characters. I had fun doing this! Fell in love with my hero. Felt I knew my heroine so much more. They’d shifted from being cardboard cut outs designed to fit the plot, to being the people who were going to make the plot happen.

Then this week I planned a grand write-fest. This coincided with the intensive writing week of the five week long workshop, which was one of the reasons I signed up. Worked out if I could average 7,000 words a day I would get a 49,000 word first draft done in 7 days. Which was fine for a Presents or Modern Heat as I would have space to layer in more lusciousness- sensuality, sexual tension, the stuff I know my first drafts tend to be light on.

Hah! My word count has been pretty much on target, my estimate of getting a first draft in a week was way off the mark. I have over 35,000 words and I’m nowhere near half way yet. I knew I was overwriting, and that I could chop probably 10,000 off the beginning without too much problem. Then things got even less predictable. Wednesday was a particularly exuberant day, I had so much fun writing! But oh,oh, it’s not a Harlequin Mills and Boon any more. The only way to make it one will be to chop out all the parts I love the most. (Though come to thing of it, I’m sure I’ve read a very similar quote somewhere describing the editing process as exactly that. It is possible that when I was having fun I was being self-indulgent and writing total bollocks.)

The thing is, now I have no idea what to do. Keep writing as I’m doing, and allow it to turn into an 80,000 word monster, or try to rein it in and make it what I originally planned? I want to just let it go wild and see what I get. If what I get is a huge crazy mess that can’t be edited down into a series romance, I can always aim for single title. A harder sell I know, but I do have the RNA New Writers’ Scheme to help. If my reader thinks it’s marketable, she’ll tell me, and make some suggestions where to try.

The main issue is, even if I go with it staying closer to Plan A, I can’t possible write this hero and heroine to their HEA by Sunday.

I really wanted to finish the first draft by the end of the week. With that gone, what’s to push me on? Yesterday was a real struggle. I hit my 7,000 words, just, through hard slog. I feel so demotivated, so tired.  If I’m only going to get two thirds  of the way through by Sunday, why knock myself out for the next few days for that? I can take it easier and be half way through instead. Start my new job Monday relaxed instead of exhausted. It’s now 3pm here, and I’ve written nothing yet today.

Of course, I’m not stopping, maybe slowing down a little.  I have a particularly good scene to start with today. I’ll use Write or Die to push me on. I’ll try hard to convince my husband that when I say “I’m writing now, please only interrupt me if it’s important,” that doesn’t include asking  me if we have any hummous in the fridge. I can probably get 5,000 today. But it does feel a bit, “Why bother?”

Okay. That’s where I feel I haven’t achieved my goal with Book in a Week. Maybe I’ll feel more motivated if I look at what I have achieved.

What I’ve gained (so far, may well be more to add to the list by the end of next week!)-

  • been given a method for planning a book and digging deep into characters that resonates with me and keeps me character focused and the plot character driven
  • discovered a tool to document my planning (Text Block Writer, a free program for organising notes) that works well for me,  and feels really intuitive
  • have created a template  in Text Block Writer that I can use for story after story that seems to help a lot with planning, keeping track of characters, and plotting. I’ve already worked out how I can use it for editing too.
  • discovered that I overwrite big time in first draft. Part of my way of continuing to work out the story as I go seems to be to write far too much. So if I want a 50,000 word finished story, better plan for at least 60,000 in first draft. Possibly this will change as I get better at writing. Possibly it’s just how I write.
  • found I like to write significant scenes twice, from both the hero and the heroine’s point of view. Probably when I edit, those two takes on the same event will condense down into one
  • know I can write over 7,000 story words in a day, if I try. Could come in useful!
  • worked out easy ways to save and back up my writing
  • discovered I probably don’t write Sweet. More Modern Heat or Little Black Dress. Need to wait until I finish first draft and reread to know for sure.
  • know I can manage to write without needing to go back and edit what I’ve already done. Keeping on writing forward at last!
  • even if I don’t get the first draft finished by Sunday, I know I can write an astonishing number of words in a week if I make writing my main focus
  • even if I don’t get the first draft finished by Sunday, two thirds of a first draft is a hell of a lot closer to finishing than what I had before

Okay, enough procrastination, I gotta go write!


More on the Alpha hero May 1, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:04 am
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I’ve spent the day thinking about my hero, Luk, today, especially his motivations and relationship blocks. I don’t feel I have a good enough handle yet on what his internal conflicts are before I start writing.

So I went back to the Kate Walker blog series on the Alpha hero. Plenty to think about here!

I have cut excerpts from the posts that resonated with me, and a response for how that might relate to Luk and my story. I got a load of new ideas about Luk, his background, his fears, and how that might affect the story. Plus a couple of completely outrageous possibilities that could be fun to play with…



That’s the sort of situation, the conflict, that your hero ends up in. That’s the man whose story you are telling. The man who is reacting to a crisis and to what he feels needs to be done to sort it out. And because you pitch him against a heroine who throws him totally off balance because he experiences feelings for her that he has never known before. And possibly because he feels that she is completely the wrong person to feel those emotions about, then his reactions – good or bad – are even more intense, even more heightened. He’s in a situation that is out of his comfort zone, where the way he’s lived up to know, the coping techniques he’s used, the things that have worked in the past, no longer work. He’s dealing with different sorts of dangers – emotional dangers – the ones that can break hearts. Kate Walker
He’s never felt in love before, never felt so protective. (Maybe I need to make all his sisters older, as he would naturally have felt protective to his little sister- saved them from bullies and bad boyfriends the like.) This does throw him off balance.
Also, the element of her being the “wrong person”. I did toy with the idea of making Emma’s character totally different, at least appearing to be something he disapproves of and unsuitable to be Princess, so he has an internal conflict right there. Can he foist this woman onto his country to avoid taking on the responsibility of being Prince? Meanwhile, Emma is going to see him as irresponsible and selfish. Is the fact that she is his second cousin and heir to the throne enough to make her the “wrong person”? 


He controls his world. Nothing can shake it… but, of course, something will. A woman. One very special woman. And once he meets her, his life will never again be the same. He’ll do whatever it takes to bed her because sex is vital to him. He’s a man who likes women, enjoys being with them, knows how to be an out-of-this-world lover. But being in love, admitting to it? That’s different. It’s probably the one thing that terrifies him, though he’d never admit it. A man in love is not a man in control of his feelings. That realization will shake him to the core.
Still, not even he will be able to deny his feelings forever and when he finally admits he wants that one special woman, not just now but for all time, watch out! He’ll move heaven and earth to win her and keep her… and that will bring into play all those sexy qualities that make him the man he is, a man women everywhere adore. Sandra Marton

This is Luk’s main internal conflict- admitting he is in love. He sees love as a weakness, as losing control. Initially, he’ll risk losing her, because he can’t admit it, even to himself. His self image is based on always being the one in control. It’s going to be very difficult for him to let go of that.


 For me an Alpha hero is a guy who gets the job done. It’s as simple as that. He’s honorable and reliable and dependable. He’s the one who — despite what he says or what anyone else says — will never let you down. Even if he doesn’t want to do it, he will do what needs to be done. And because he’s competent, he succeeds.
He doesn’t have to be brutal or arrogant or wealthy or a bully to do any of that.
He is not, however, perfect. Usually he’s anything but. I guess you could make a hero brutal, arrogant and a bully and reform him, but it doesn’t particularly interest me. What interests me is seeing him find the courage to face his own flaws and overcome them — getting that job done. That’s what makes him truly and fully an Alpha hero in my book. Anne McAllister

This is Luk for sure. He doesn’t want to take on the job of being Prince, but he finds the lost rightful heir. He doesn’t want to have to rescue Emma from the kidnappers, but because he can, he does. And he got her into the danger, so his sense of honour won’t let him leave her there. He’ll sacrifice a little bit of his freedom, in the marriage of convenience. But the biggie is giving her the ultimate control, admitting that he loves her, that he wants to make the marriage real. He can’t do that and stay the man he thinks he is, can he?


 In his personal life? Here’s where his cynicism creeps in. A man who is so wealthy, powerful, good looking and single can take his pick from the countless beautiful women who throw themselves at him – which does not mean that he does. Discernment is the key to my alpha hero. To simply take a woman because she is there for the taking is, in his view, as bad as a woman selling herself for money. My Alpha Hero would have way too much pride and respect in himself to do that.
Which means he isn’t stupid. When it comes to his deeper emotions he keeps them securely locked away from all the mercenary vultures out there he knows are waiting to pounce on him.
A hardened cynic about women then? No. My Alpha hero has a romantic streak which lives deep in the very core of his makeup. He wants to love and be loved – for himself. Some might call it his fatal flaw, because when that one particular woman does come along and breaks through the emotional protection he wears around his deeper feelings, he becomes as vulnerable and as unsure of himself as any man recognising that he’s falling deeply in love. He’s wary, suspicious. He does not want to be caught out and made a fool of by some feline vulture wearing an angel’s mask. So from the moment he meets her he’s fighting both her and himself. Hence the conflicts he has with himself and the heroine, hence the ups and downs in their relationship as they proceed towards the inevitable outcome.
The bottom line? My Alpha hero does not choose his life’s mate with his eyes or his libido. He chooses with his carefully guarded heart. And when he mates, he seriously mates for life. Michelle Reid

This is Luk, exactly. He’s successful, powerful, discerning. He’s used to women throwing themselves at him. He didn’t start off cynical, he became cynical, suspicious of motives, because of that. He fears falling in love and losing control, but he also longs for it, longs to find the woman worthy of his love. He will resist surrendering to this love when he meets her. His main turning point is that moment when he realises it is her he wants, more than anything else in the world. When he’s willing to open himself up to that vulnerability and potential loss of control. That’s why I loved the story where the hero goes to find the heroine at the end and kneels before her- the ultimate gesture of surrender.


 But all my heroes tend to be demanding (both in bed and out!). They know what they want (or think they do). They’ll do whatever they have to do to get it (from seduction, to a bit of light-hearted blackmail, to kidnapping) and they’ll be totally focussed on their goal (which is the heroine… what could be sexier than that, right). And like all great alphas they’re also protective, nurturing and honourable. To which you’re probably saying, ‘hey, hang on a mo, how can a guy be honourable and then blackmail someone?’
The answer is simple, they have to believe in their heart of hearts it’s the right thing to do. So here’s a top tip, when writing an alpha hero (or any hero) if he’s going to do something outrageous give him a very good motivation for doing it – so he can defend his behaviour to himself, and the heroine and the reader. Of course, that doesn’t mean the heroine’s going to buy it (and in my books they frequently don’t), but that’s all part of the delicious conflict you want to get steaming between these two.
You have to fall in love with this guy – and the reader has to fall for him too. So don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that because he’s an alpha guy he can’t have a sense of humour, or be a fantastic cook, or be kind to children and puppies. Don’t let his alpha-ness limit you in creating your hero… Use it to make him that extra bit more gorgeous and larger than life, because let’s face it these are romantic fantasies – and the more romantic the better. Heidi Rice

So for Luk, this is about how he justifies his choices. He is doing what is right for everyone. But he does also have to be fall-in-lovable. I think with Luk it will be how he is with his nephews and nieces that shows his human side. Ack, just had a totally outrageous idea! Does Emma refuse to go and Luk kidnaps her, explaining that it’s a perfectly acceptable way of doing things in Melusia, and it’s for her own good and the good of the country? Whoooee! That would be fun! Wonder if two kidnaps would be a bit much? It could be quite funny really, when he is outraged that someone else would do exactly what he did in the first place. Hmm, I like the idea!


 He’s definitely on his way to success, if not already there; he can see the big picture rather than worrying about tiny details (though if you quiz him, you’ll discover he has a handle on absolutely everything). He works hard (mine have workaholic tendencies); he also plays hard (which is how come my current Modern Heat duet is called ‘To Tame a Playboy’). He’s charming and approachable, wants someone who’ll be his equal, and is quite likely to make an outrageous bet with the heroine. He cares about his family and will put them first. But getting him to admit to loving the heroine… that’s where the she’s going to have a hard time. He’s be completely up front right at the start and say he doesn’t believe in love, doesn’t do love, and he’ll offer her an affair with very defined limits. But when he falls, he falls hard. And my favourite bit is when a Modern Heat alpha finally admits he loves the heroine – because he’ll do it with style! Kate Hardy
Okay, the bit that really caught my eye is the italicised part. Maybe this is the piece I am missing about Luk. He doesn’t want to be Prince, so he finds Emma and installs her as Princess. So now he can go back to his old life right? No, cos then she’s kidnapped and he has to rescue her. Now can he go back to his old life? No, cos unless he marries her she can’t be Princess, which means he has to be Prince anyway. So her agrees to the marriage of convenience, she can be Princess, and he can go back to his old life, right? No, cos now he’s fallen in love. He wants it all now, his old life and Emma. Except he can’t have both. Emma has to choose. He has to choose.
Why doesn’t he “do” love? No massive tragedy. He grew up in a happy and loving family. His sisters are all happily married. But he’s been burned by too many golddiggers after his money. He’s seen friends make stupid choices over love, give up their own ambitions. Love is fine for other people, but not for him.


 An alpha male, to me, is a take-charge kind of guy. He’s powerful—maybe it’s because he’s wealthy or physically strong, but more often in my books it’s because he’s very talented, very intelligent, very competent. He’s a natural leader, the centre of everything, fiercely protective of his world. He often finds it difficult to trust, because that implies losing control in some way. I’ll put an alpha in a situation that’s completely new to him, and his usual straightforward “my way or the highway” of dealing with things just doesn’t work. My alpha heroes’ journey is always to understand what true power is—the cooperative power of trust, and the authentic power of self-understanding. Julie Cohen
This is more reinforcement of what I’d already been thinking- Luk’s central journey and the source of his internal conflict will be learning to trust, learning how to feel safe when he isn’t in control of every aspect of the situation.


 Above all, he’s always a hero even if it takes a story arc to get him through his reluctance to the point where he’s willing to make sacrifices or take risks for the sake of the heroine or a larger cause. Anna Campbell
Again, taking risks, the greatest risk of all, opening his heart and risking rejection.


 The Liz Fielding Alpha hero is strong, resourceful, the man who others will turn to in times of crisis. Arrogance may hide mental and physical scars but while he may seem distant, apart from other men, he will risk his own life without hesitation to save another. He will sacrifice his own happiness for those he loves. He will demand honour and courage to match his own from the woman he chooses to share his life, but he will be tender, loyal to death. For me a man is closest to being the perfect Alpha when he mirrors the attributes of the leader of the wolf pack. He is the hunter, lover, father, protector. The Alpha male makes the perfect Romance hero. And the perfect Romance heroine will match him for courage, honour and passion every step of the way. Liz Fielding
I think for Luk becoming this hero is his emotional journey. This is the man he is at the end of the book, but at the start his motivations are more selfish, he is unwilling to sacrifice his happiness. But Emma’s “courage, honour and passion” challenge him into becoming the fullness of who he can be.


 An alpha is a leader. He doesn’t wait for things to happen, he MAKES THINGS HAPPEN. Even if he makes a bad decision – he’ll be committed to it 100%.
Alphas might have that little bit of an edge that makes them seem sometimes hard or ruthless, but that is because they make decisions and stick to them.
Alpha heroes are also aspirational. They are always looking forward to the next achievement or opportunity. They are successful because they are driven. It is not enough to rest on their laurels. And this doesn’t have to be financial gain either. But they are forward thinkers. They are proactive.
Alphas live life on their own terms. It makes them exciting, powerful personalities.
Alphas don’t like to show their vulnerabilities, which is why when they finally do reveal their “scars” to the heroine, it has such an impact. Those vulnerabilities might simply be their feelings for the heroine, or they can be something more entirely. Donna Alward

Luk does decide on his course of action, and follow through totally. He doesn’t sit back and relax with what he has achieved, he is looking for more. And the bit about the vulnerabilities- that is exactly it. For Luk, letting Emma know how he feels is the biggest vulnerability of all.


 That sense of honour goes with pride – and maybe arrogance – but then these men have a lot to be proud about and they will fight to the death to defend it. Their attraction for the heroine may often seem to threaten that honour – but the good news for the heroine is that he’ll fight to the death for her too. Louise Allen
Luk’s self-image is very much that of the lone wolf. Why is that? Was it a defensive mechanism growing up the only boy amongst all those girls? I think perhaps his father was loving, but retreated to his books, leaving Luk without a real male role model. So falling in love with Emma threatens that completely. He is already in love with her when he proposes the marriage of convenience, but he won’t admit that.


 For me this means: a leader who cares about his men, a leader who has integrity, a leader who is strong and tough because he has to be. He has strength of will. He is willing to make the hard decisions and does not shirk from his responsibility. This is a man who understands there are lines which you do not cross. He lives by a code. But he is also someone who does not automatically give his respect. It has to be earned. And above, he requires a strong mate. Michelle Styles
Luk has integrity and honour, but is not fully ready to take on responsibility for others at the start of the story. By gaining respect for Emma, he learns to be more responsible, just as Emma learns to be lighter and more joyful. She needs to be a strong worthy mate for this man.



Well, that’s a lot of extra insight into my hero! And there are still more posts to come in that series. I love the generosity of published romance writers in sharing information and insight like that! Thank you!