Setting the Record Straight

Keep Calm Write OnI’m taking a moment away from writing, in spite of a looming deadline, to go over a few things because first, I am a dirty rotten procrastinator who puts off work, but mostly because some reader misperceptions have come to light and I really would like to address them.

It seems the point of some scenes were misinterpreted. Here are the two specific instances I’m referring to…

In Valentine Cowboys there is a scene in a calving shed.  The two young ranch hands have to help a young cow deliver her first calf because this is a high risk birth. The cowboys take care of their work while the heroine watches, and in the end, they have sex with the heroine right there in the calving shed.

There are many reasons I wrote this scene. They are…

1) To show how these two young ranch hands had to, for the first time in their lives, handle a difficult birth on their own because their boss had been pulled away. The two young cowboys are hard workers, but they can be jokers at times, and to have them be completely responsible for the life or death of not only the cow but also the calf, on a working ranch where the loss of either is a considerable financial loss not to mention the devastation of the loss of life, is a big deal for them. It’s a right of passage. It’s a growth experience.

2) I needed the heroine to see them as more than just two guys who shovel manure for a living. For the first time she realizes the expanse of their job. That it’s more than what she assumed. They have responsibilities. More than that, they are good at what they do, and handle a difficult delivery perfectly. Their capability, and being in charge of the situation, adds to her already existing attraction to the two men.

3) I’d done a shitload of research on calving and I was going to use it somewhere, dammit!

So that is why I wrote the scene. It developed the characters and their relationship. It was never meant to entice sexually.  I never thought, expected or assumed the reader would find the birthing scene sexual. It was never meant to be. Yes, sex happens in that calving shed but it’s because the three characters are already attracted to each other, and they take advantage of being alone in the middle of the night in the shed. Compared to their first time together in the front seat of a truck in a parking lot outside a bar, having the whole shed to themselves seems like a luxury. The heroine is a guest in her grandmother’s home. The two cowboys live in the bunkhouse with their boss. So opportunity and privacy is a challenge.

Another reader misperception I was told about but didn’t see first hand is from the opening scene in TREY.

In this scene the hero’s squad is on a training mission. It’s called OPFOR and they play the part of the Opposing Force, or the bad guys, to help train another unit for what sneaky tactics to expect from the insurgents when the US unit deploys to Afghanistan. So they must set up traps and ambushes and hide improvised explosive devices, all to catch the other unit unaware in hopes that it will teach them a valuable lesson and prevent them from making the same mistake again overseas. So Trey and his unit are playing at war games, kind of like a paintball game, or laser tag on steroids (the game, not the men).  His unit is the best of the best, and they know they can use their expertise to beat the pants off the other team. Yes, winning is fun, but the lessons they are teaching will save lives.

What I did was not let the reader know for the first couple of pages that this is a training. It reads like a real battle and until we discover his identity, we don’t know who Trey really is or what he’s doing there.

The comment I was told about said something to the effect of how horrible it was that Trey was rejoicing over killing people.  Most likely the reader didn’t read farther than the first page to discover this was all an exercise. If they did, they still missed that Trey rejoicing that he managed to “blow up” his opposition is because this is just a game. He is a competitive Alpha male running on adrenaline. Much like a quarterback during the big game, he likes to win. But more important, Trey knows that the other unit will never repeat the same mistake again because of the beating they took, and that will save their lives in real combat. I would never ever write a character who takes another life lightly. More importantly, my character wasn’t actually killing people.

That’s it. I’ve made my explanations. Now I can go back to writing and you may all carry on with your day. Thanks for listening!


10 responses to “Setting the Record Straight

  1. I was upset with the first page or so of Trey also. Having a husband (retired) and son in the Army, the scene made sense as I read on. It was actually amusing and made me think, yes, my husband and son would have enjoyed that scenario.

    • Hi Lisa,
      I’m sorry you were upset but I’m very glad you kept reading. I guess because Trey was originally released in 2006, then re-released years later after I added that additional scene, I assumed I wasn’t really fooling anyone with the mysterious attack, because everyone would already know I had an existing series out featuring SpecOps who ran trainings. Then they made it free at Amazon for 2 weeks and thousands and thousands of downloads later, it was in the hands of people who never heard of me, or my military romance, they’re not invested with money or attachment to me, so it’s much easier to read page 1 then toss it as a DNF.

      Thanks for commenting! It’s important to hear from readers where I can respond to their concerns.

  2. Hello Cat,

    I know that you were just clearing up a few things but I just wanted to let you know that I have read both of those books and was right along with your thinking. I remember the scene in the barn and thought it was hot. I did not for once think it was directed at the calving scene and I would agree that it showed the 2 cowboys to take their jobs seriously.

    In Treys book also the same thing. I don’t remeber once feeling like the character was rejoicing in kills.

    Just wanted to let you know from a readers aspect that I didn’t get any of those aspects that you discussed and you should keep writing!!

    Looking forward to your next books. I have them all!!😄

    • Thanks, Carey.

      I do think, or at least hope, that the readers who got my intention outnumber those who didn’t. But I thought I had to put my thinking on record. Maybe it will inspire a reader to pick back up the book they put down because of a single scene.

      Thanks for commenting! And you have all my books! Wow. LOL Thanks for being such a dedicated reader!

  3. Hi Cat,

    TREY is one of my all time favorite books, and I enjoyed the first few pages. I took it for what is was knowing that you would never write a character that was purposely cruel or sicking. The bad guys in the book were BAD guys, but you made that distinction between good and bad very clear.

    I have all your books both in paperback and my kindle. Your book covers are too yummy to enjoy a tiny version from an e-reader.

  4. I have read both of these and many more of your books, and though I did not know exactly were the beginning of Trey’s story was going I have read enough romance novels to know the hero is NEVER A BAD GUY. Trey was the first story of yours I had read and I loved it so much I have since downloaded all of your books and you are an auto buy for me. In fact I have Model Soldier on pre order.

    • Thank you, Nell. That is so good to hear!

      You bring up another good point–that as a romance reader, you knew some twist was coming. I bet the person who downloaded the book during the 2 week free period and left that comment was NOT a romance reader. This may have been the first erotic romance novel they ever tried to read, so as someone who is not my target market, they’re probably going to get offended by the content. And, sadly, the complainers never fail to leave a comment about how unhappy they are with the free book my publisher and I provided. It’s really mind-boggling.

  5. Trey was the 1st book I read of yours 🙂 The Red, Hot & Blue series is definitely HOTT! I’m about to add a whole lot more to my TBR!