Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reading Alpha Males: Guest Post by Mary Buckham

Reading male body language can either be a lifetime of trial and error – or involves a specific study of what sets them apart from women. Knowing and understanding male body language is very important for women writers to make sure their portrayal of male characters are accurate and grounded in ‘scientific’ facts, as opposed to simply being based on personal experience of viewpoint. So let’s have some fun in looking at what makes a male Alpha in his behavior and body language.

Male animals living in packs, such as wolves and wild dogs, compete to be the leader of the pack. This brings the strongest and smartest male to the leadership position and every pack has a leader who dominates and leads the other members of the pack. Thus the human Alpha Male refers to a type of man who is strong, smart and a leader. Others respect his decisions, and tend to not challenge him. An Alpha Male moves and stands in ways that show he expects to get what he wants without being questioned or challenged. After all who’s going to attack the biggest and most powerful?

Men can display some of their Alpha tendencies by consciously using their body posture. Standing or sitting erect with chest out, head up, arms relaxed and not flailing about are signs of dominance, and thus Alpha Maleness. Moving only when necessary, and moving slowly and deliberately indicate great self confidence, pride and determination.  So an alpha male can be both the protagonist and villain on the page.

Alpha Males tend to display the following behavior patterns.
Aggression. This does not mean to be argumentative, belligerent and ready to fight but involves being dynamic and doing what needs to be done. They don’t wait to be shown what to do—they’ll ask forgiveness, not permission.
Assertiveness. Alpha males tend to communicate in a clear, straight forward fashion, respectful of others as long as others are following the Alpha’s direction. Alphas are used to leading and taking responsibility for others so they assume others will acknowledge this by following blindly and without complaint.
Courage. Alphas are ready and willing to confidently tackle problems and see them resolved. They take responsibility not only for themselves but for those under their protection—their family, their group, their community. There’s a reason why organizations such as the military or law enforcement abound with Alpha males. There is a structure, hierarchy and willingness to accept responsibility for doing the hard jobs,  as well as an awareness of what protection of others entails that attracts Alphas to these fields.
Persistence.  Alphas can and will keep focused on their goals and apply all resources until goals are achieved. These are not easy men to divert or stop once they’ve determined what they see as the right course of action to take.

Research has found that males, especially young ones in their teenager years, compete in many subtle ways for a perceived Alpha Male position on sport teams, gangs, or in neighborhoods. One way they demonstrate their Alpha Maleness is by taking risks and doing dangerous things. Risk-takers are advertising their fitness to potential mates by showing off their strength and bravery.

Not every man is a natural Alpha Male, and those who are not cannot fake it. A Beta male can be an Alpha male in the making, or can accept a lower position in the pack and thrive there.   
More body language cues the dominant person uses can include:

Directs and controls the conversation. A true dominant  steers the conversation without resistance from others in the group. An Alpha Male-wannabe will hog the conversation.
Freely asks questions and expects a response back but gives little or no self-disclosure. The Alpha male-wannabe will assume the conversation is all about them and steer it in that direction.
Stands with hands on hips, elbows out to sides. Takes up more personal space that way and wants to look bigger. If sitting tends to also take up more space.
Stands or sits taller than others subconsciously.
Freely interrupts others speaking, not to shut down others but because he and others are willing to listen to him. Others don't interrupt him. Alpha Male-wannabes will override others to prove their points and shut others down.
Long pause when answering a door knock, or replying to someone. Makes others wait. Not as rudeness but as the highest in a hierarchy.
Freely touches others whereas others don't touch back. Example – a boss would pat an employee on the shoulder or back but the employee does not feel comfortable initiating or returning the gesture. Alpha Male-wannabe will use the touch in inappropriate ways.
Will stare at others and as a result demand their attention. Others don't do the same back. Think of law enforcement officials in any kind of public interaction.
Never breaks eye contact first. Others usually break eye contact first by looking down, signifying submission.
Occupies a bigger personal space and crowds others on purpose but only because they are used to protecting their space and wanting, subconsciously, the strongest offensive or defensive position.
Takes the lead purposefully when walking and going through doors.
While sitting, will put hands behind head, put feet on desk, remove eye glasses and put ear-piece in mouth, or turn chair away from others and stare out window. [though many of these gestures are more common to men than women]

To learn more from Mary about the wonderful dynamics between male and female characters check out her upcoming live workshop in Lexington, Kentucky:
2nd Annual Kentucky Romance Writers Spring into Writing Workshop
on Saturday, March 20, 2010 - 9:00 A.M. - 5:00 PM
Sex Between the Pages: Understanding and Writing Sexual Tension
with Mary Buckham
HOST HOTEL: Hyatt Place, 2001 Bryant Road, Lexington, KY 40509 (For reservations call: 859-296-0091)

For more information visit:

Mary’s Bio:
Award-winning author Mary Buckham has worked with thousands of writers both on-line and in live workshops throughout the U.S. and Canada. She loves meeting writers at all levels of their development. She’s also the co-author of the ground-breaking plotting book BREAK INTO FICTION®: POWER PLOT YOUR NOVEL (Adam’s Media/June 2009).

To learn more about Mary visit her website www.MaryBuckham.com  or www.BreakIntoFiction.com

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Really Cool Day at French Lick Springs Resort

I had the most fabulous day. My friend and new-found soul sister, LoganAnne, gave me a tour of French Lick Springs Resort and West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana. May I just say...

O. M. G.

I'm a sucker for all things old, and history, and stories, and all that stuff. This place reeks of all of the above! The resort and casino is simply beautiful and I know for a fact that it will not be my last visit. I am looking very forward to staying there and relaxing one day soon.

But first, business. Then, play.

In fact, LoganAnne and I discussed the possibilities of me holding a writers workshop/retreat there in May. Details will be forthcoming! In the meantime, just take a gander at some of these pics and imagine the stories....

A fabulous lobby.

Can you believe this was all covered up at one time?

West Baden, once billed the largest domed structure in the world.

Look how tall that is!

Oh, Romeo, Romeo...

Can you believe that used to be a piano bar up there? Really!

French Lick Sprints Resort

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How to Catch and Keep a Vampire

What better day that Valentine’s Day to talk about how to catch and keep a vampire? I mean, what more do we need? Valentine’s Day is all about hearts, and hearts pump blood, and blood attracts vampires, and vampires, well, are sexy and dark and brooding and just downright lovable in an evil sort of way.

Perfect. So, how does a woman go about catching and keeping a vampire? I have no clue. But author Diana Laurence does. In fact, she wrote the book on the subject. The book is titled, How to Catch and Keep a Vampire: A Step-by-Step Guide to Loving the Bad and the Beautiful.

And guess what? It is is chockfull of advice on how to do exactly what the title says. There is even a list of Top Ten Vampire Pickup Lines. The book is full of discussions with real vampires, with names like Conner and Gwendolyn and Mordred. Sigh… Yes, Mordred…

So what’s up, really, with this catching and keeping of the vampire thing? Let me just tell you, Diana Laurence must really know her stuff because, well, she’s got a lot of insider info here about hooking up with that vampire of your very own. Get more scoop straight from the author with his quickie interview.

Intrigued? I know you are. Be sure to visit the official How to Catch and Keep a Vampire website. There is so much to explore!

But in case you are not quite exactly convinced, here is a review:

“…a wonderful guide to balancing fantasy and passion with your oridinary life…fun, humorous, and has an underlying mssage that I can definitely get on board with. If you’ve had people poo-poo your vampire passions, this book assures you that are not alone and that your interests are totally normal.” – TrueBloodNet, 10/25/09

Totally cool, huh?

So maybe, on this St. Valentine’s Day, if you are pining away for chocolate or roses or safe, chaste smooches from some safe, chaste guy, you’re really yearning for something dark and delicious and delectably bad—like, maybe, Mordred. Or Colin.

Just one more thing. Be sure to check out the How to Catch and Keep a Vampire Book Trailer.

On Facebook? Click to become a fan of How to Catch and Keep a Vampire.

Good luck. And if you do catch and keep a vampire of your very own, be sure to tell me about it. I'm bloody fascinated by the subject.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Adventures of Clio and Calliope: Take that! Said the cat...

Clio:  You know, when she gets that big red thing out and starts putting her clothes in it, she's going away for a few days.

Calliope:  Yeah. And then the next sign is when she starts closing off the extra rooms.

Clio:  I know! I hate that. I can't get into her office then and watch the birds in the front yard while laying on top of that short bookshelf.

Calliope: Sigh. Yes. The backyard birds are not nearly as exciting. That tree in front is closer to the window. And then there are those bushes they like close to the house.

Clio: But of course, she does leave the shades up in the back so at least we can still sun ourselves on the bench and watch out over the back yard.

Calliope: True, but why in the heck does she shut us out of her bedroom? I mean, like, sleeping in her bed is my favorite thing!

Clio: She does that because you knock things off her dresser onto the floor.

Calliope: Pshaw. It's carpeting in there. Doesn't hurt anything. Besides, I like to watch things fall.

Clio: Well, if you wouldn't do that, she might let us in to sleep on the bed. I miss sleeping in there while she's gone. I like to sniff the sheets.

Calliope: She does leave our favorite afghans out on the couch. Gotta give her credit for that.

Clio:  Sure. But you know, if you wouldn't nibble on the palm branches she might let us go into the office next time. Think you can keep your teeth off the palm fronds? You shred them to pieces, you know. I think that's why she moved the palm tree. You have made a mess of it.

Calliope: I have not!

Clio:  Have, too.

Calliope: I suppose.

Clio:  See? It's all your fault. We can't go into the office because of the palm. We can't sleep in her bed because you knock things off the dresser. If it weren't for you, we'd have the run of the house while she's gone. But nooooo....

Calliope: Let's teach her a lesson.

Clio: What? Oh, this isn't good....

Calliope:  C'mon. Follow me.

Clio: Oh dear. What? What are you doing? No, Calliope, not that. She moved that stuff because she was painting. Oh dear, did she forget? Please, not that... plant.

Calliope:  Let's just watch it bounce.

Clio:  Stop! That's not carpet!

Calliope:  What? Oooopppsie!

Clio:  We're so dead. When is she coming back?

Calliope: I dunno. But I'm going to deny it.

Clio: Good luck with that.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Day 6: End of Week

It has been an interesting week, this week to begin the next chapter of my professional career. Let's review a few highlights:
  • It snowed.
  • I vacuumed up lots of cat hair.
  • I got to watch Oprah and Dr. Phil a couple of times this week.
  • I didn't set my alarm all week.
  • The cats are in heat. Both of them. Simultaneously. Cycling. Together. Meeeeeoooooowww!
Oh, but those are not the things you wanted to hear? Okay, so I'll talk about the writing week. And let me just
begin by saying it was one really good week.

Let's start with the previous weekend. I received an email from Roni, at The Romance Book Scene, saying that she had chosen my novella, Red: A Seduction Tale, as her best short story for 2009. Woohooot!  What a surprise and so much appreciated. Thank you, Roni!

Monday: I finished a 2,000 word feature article on Louisville for a southern regional magazine, selected the pictures from a photo shoot I did last summer, and submitted it to the editor. Monday project, done!

Tuesday: Had a cable television interview for a show that will air next week; the subject, Valentine's Day. She featured my Matchmaking Chef series. Yay! After that, I stopped by my old office to sign a contract for some future work with them.

Wednesday: I worked the entire solid day on finishing the painting of my office, then dragging the furniture back in, arranging and organizing, etc.... Whew! Felt good!

Thursday: The edits for my cookbook, Family Stories, Family Recipes came in from my editor. That was an entire day's work, which spilled over a little until Friday.

Friday: Finished the edits, selected stock photos and some of my own pictures for the cookbook, cropped, enhanced, fiddled with, arranged, etc... to send off to the editor, as well. Cookbook project done! Later in the day, the galley for a Mia Jae short story collection came in, so I read through the galley, and returned that one as well to the editor. PLUS, I worked 6 hours on contract work for former employer (wrote two reports, proofed two reports, a 1 1/4 hour conference call, a phone call followup...).

Saturday: Proofed a story for another publisher I swap out work for advertising with. Then, capped off my first "writer work week" with a Saturday afternoon with some old and new writer friends at a coffee shop here in Louisville (followed by an ice cream chaser.)

Wow! Productive week! Tonight I veg. And tomorrow? Well, I have a couple of blogs to catch up on, an interview to write, a couple of columns for eHow and examiner.com to write, a newsletter to pull together....

A writer's 5 day work week is not really a 5 day work week, is it? (but I already knew that)

Next week:  Phoenix

Monday, February 01, 2010

Day 1: The next chapter

It's February 1, 2010. An ordinary Monday, eh? Maybe so, maybe not.

I've been thinking about this Monday for quite a while. Perhaps not Feb. 1, 2010 Monday, but the first Monday of a new chapter, so to speak. A new chapter of me, my life, my career.

I was thinking about it over the weekend, having just come off of my last day of full-time employment. Remember? I resigned my day job back in December. I worked until the end of January. I've worked, for someone else, since I was sixteen-years-old. Now, mostly, I'll be working for me.

I'm still doing some contract work with my previous employer and I'm glad of that. A writing income, as many of you know, can be sparse and the paychecks sometimes unreliable (although my main publisher is very good about that). It's nice to have some regular work coming in. The nice thing about this arrangement, however, is that it frees up time for me to write.

Let's not sugarcoat this and say I've not had a couple of second thoughts or panicky oh-my-god-what-have-I-done-moments, because sure, those have been had. Wouldn't be normal for them NOT to be there, right? After all, I left a job of ten years with security, benefits, insurance, a nice office, etc... But what I will gain, I hope, will be the attainment of a very long dream coming--to support myself with my writing. I've worked at it long enough. I have a bit of a track record to fall back on. And I'm pretty much diversified in my writing.

This morning, there was no panic, just work. I set out about 8 a.m. working on an article about the city of Louisville, KY for a regional southern magazine. More about that later. Next, I took a break and painted on the office for about an hour. Now, I need to shower and head to the mall (yeah, it's a tough job, isn't it?) because I have a television interview tomorrow for a cable network talk show. The subject? Valentine's Day. Nice, huh? And well, a television appearance requires new clothes, right? Of course.

So, I'm busy. I likely will remain very busy this week. The Louisville article's deadline is this week, edits came yesterday for my cookbook, I have a novella due by the end of the month that needs some attention, there is another online interview to complete, and I have several blog and column articles to write.

No time for panic. Not now! The only thing left to do is fulfill the dream.