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Tuesday, April 3, 2012



Welcome to the next stop on the Frat Boy & Toppy Blog Tour Extravaganza! *confetti*

On this tour, I'm writing a series of posts on how I cook up a story. Not a how-to manual, just a how-I-do manual, wherein I reveal all the dirty little secrets about how I approach a story, using Frat Boy & Toppy as an example.

For a schedule—with links—of all the places I'll be on my tour, visit my blog, There you will also find information on my tour contest—I'll be giving away a Frat Boy & Toppy notebook, signed paperback copy of 18% Gray, and e-book of my next release, Turning Tricks. To enter the contest, you must ferret out the three questions (each in different blog tour posts) and answer them in one email sent to I will chose one winner at random from all the emails received by 11:59 pm (PDT/GMT -7:00) April 3rd.


The Reluctant Hero’s Dark Moment of Lurve ©

To be really entertaining, every story should have a Dark Moment. A point where your reader is on the edge of his/her seat, thinking, “This can’t possibly end well.” Will there be rending of hair and gnashing of teeth? Will the villain not be unmasked? Will someone die? And the absolute scariest of all: Will that character be The One That Got Away?

If a story doesn’t have a Dark Moment, it tends to be boring. It’s like a roller coaster without a death-defying spiral (or at least a really big, steep hill).

Romance writers have Dark Moment handicaps, beginning with the biggie; our couple will hook up in the end, so the biggest, most obvious relationship Dark Moment (a definitive end) is not an option. Even if the couple breaks up, everyone knows they’re getting back together.

I could go on about how constrained we are in the romance genre by Dark Moments available or unavailable to us, but I won’t. Because there’s one Dark Moment available to romance writers that’s unavailable to others: when a character realizes he’s in love.

“What?” you may be thinking, “That’s not a Dark Moment!” It is though, because of another quirky convention/trope of the romance genre—the Reluctant Hero. He’s the guy who thought he’d never love (again). It’s his identity. So when he turns a corner one day and realizes love just smacked him upside the head and stole his wallet, he has himself an identity crisis.

Are you wondering what all this has to do with Frat Boy & Toppy? This is the Frat Boy and Toppy Blog Tour Extravaganza *confetti*, so I should be getting around to mentioning it about now . . .

Using FB&T as a case study, we’re going to explore my four stages of the Reluctant Hero’s Dark Moment of Lurve ©. Because, yes, Sebastian (a.k.a. Toppy) gets bitch-slapped by looooooooove.

First stage: Disinterest. Here’s an example from Chapter Seven when Sebastian is speaking with his sister Sophie:

Sophie called that night. “I think I’m in love.”

Sebastian smiled into the phone at his sister. “What’ve I told you about that love thing? It’s just a word straight guys use to get girls into bed.”

Sophie sighed. She didn’t go for her usual line, though. “You don’t really believe that.”

“Eh.” Verbal shrug. Sebastian pulled another plate out of the dish rack and started wiping it dry.

“You’re just asking for it. You know that, right?”

Screwing one’s face up in confusion made it hard to hold a phone between one’s shoulder and cheek. He needed one of those dumb headsets, because Sophie had a knack for calling when he didn’t have any free hands. “Asking for what?”

“Asking for Cupid to come and shoot you in the ass with one of his arrows.”

“Then what, I’ll fall in love with my own ass? Already happened. It’s a lovely ass. Well-formed. And you know it’s not Cupid—”

“It’s Eros,” she finished for him in a drone.
After his conversation with Sophie, we see him enter stage two: Self-examination; wherein the Reluctant Hero debates whether he’s even capable of love. It doesn’t actually matter what he determines, simply that’s he’s opened the door to the possibility, then firmly slammed it shut (otherwise it’s difficult to lead him into love, like a cute, fluffy spring lamb to slaughter).

Presumably he was capable of falling in love, right? He was twenty-eight, and he hadn’t really had a serious boyfriend. No one had ever caught his interest that way. What if the reason they hadn’t was because he could only fall in love with straight guys?

He realized he’d actually sat up straight at that thought. Jesus, he was losing it. That was just asinine.

He settled back against the headboard and shook it off.

Love. Riiiiight.

Besides, look at their father. Maybe Sebastian wasn’t capable of falling in love at all.
The writing’s on the wall now. Sebastian can’t avoid falling in love. Deep inside, he knows it, too, leading him to display (for an extended period of time), the third stage: Oblivious Denial.

Here we have Sebastian on the phone with his sister Sophie again, right after he and Brad (Frat Boy) hook up for the first time. He’s trying to explain why Brad’s important, yet not. He’s convinced himself it’s because he was Brad’s “first”.

“He put a lot of trust in me, yeah? He chose me, for some reason.” Sebastian got up from the table where he’d been studying and wandered into the living room.

“Maybe he likes you.”

He had a feeling they weren’t talking about Brad liking his skills in bed. “Where did I go wrong? Everything’s a relationship with you, yeah? I don’t think so. He didn’t say anything about that.” He flopped on the couch and slouched into the cushions.

She snorted. “Yeah. Because guys are always talking about their feelings first, then the sex. So, are you going to let him choose you again?”

“Mmm, yeah. It’s not like I’m getting nothing out of it. He’s hot. I’m attracted to him. I want to mentor him.”
You know what happens eventually—the fourth stage: Crashing Reality. When our Reluctant Hero realizes “Oh, hey! I am in love!” then has his freak out and kicks love in the teeth.

The dreaded Dark Moment of Lurve follows soon after. The moment when our Reluctant Hero realizes that he’s gone and screwed love’s pooch and if he wants love back, he’s going to have to go out and fix love’s damage.

The beauty of the Reluctant Hero’s Dark Moment of Lurve © is that it’s not about creating a suspenseful climax, it’s about emotional payout. The reader knows what’s going to happen. The satisfaction comes from watching the Reluctant Hero grovel and otherwise debase himself to make amends to the object of his love.

Regrettably, I can’t show you Sebastian’s Crashing Reality or his Dark Moment of Lurve here, because it would ruin the book for anyone moved to read it. If you want to know more about Sebastian’s journey through the four stages of lurve, purchase Frat Boy & Toppy by visiting Riptide Publishing.

Abut the Author:
Raised on a steady media diet of Monty Python, classical music and the visual arts, Anne Tenino rocked the mental health world when she was the first patient diagnosed with Compulsive Romantic Disorder. Since that day, Anne has taken on conquering the M/M world through therapeutic writing. Finding out who those guys having sex in her head are and what to do with them has been extremely liberating.

Wondering what Anne does when not writing? Mostly she lies on the couch, eats bonbons and shirks housework.

Check out what Anne’s up to now by visiting her site.


Kassandra said...

He'd hurt Brad. He was an asshole. Ergo, he needed a beer.

I read that bit out loud to my husband. His reaction: "sounds about right".

Wonderful read!

Anne Tenino said...

Hey Kassandra :)

You read my stuff aloud to your husband? Whenever I try my husband covers his ears and runs away...

I do love that line. I remember coming up with lots of similar excuses for drinking beer in college.

Kassandra said...

As long as I stay away from any parts with boy bits in it he is good, lol!