Writing from the Opposite Sex’s Point of View

My sophomore novel releasing this September–Dry as Rain–was originally a third person, dual point of view (POV) book written half from the wife’s pov, half from the husband’s. You see I didn’t think I was ready to write an entire book from a male pov. I am, after all, a woman. I would have to do much research to get it right and I was up for all that. . . UNTIL… my publisher told me they wanted it to be first person all from his viewpoint. They said I wrote the man’s point of view better than the woman’s. What does this say about my estrogen to testosterone level? I’m not sure and don’t guess I really want to know.

Not wanting to throw a year’s worth of work away, I figured I’d better at least give it a try.

Did I get it right? I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to find out from the male reviewers. My husband read every word and I’d get an occasional raised eyebrow with, “He’d only say that if he were gay,” remark which I would, of course, change, but all in all he gave me a thumb’s up.

He was instrumental in some of the scenes where he would add a detail here or there that I never would have thought of, paperclips stuck to the back magnet of a dealership plate or the smell of new tires on a showroom floor.

Particularly tricky were the scenes between my main character, Eric and his best-friend Larry. I know how women relate, but it’s not like I’ve ever been able to observe two male friends with no one else around. Having a guy who’s willing to say yay or nay on a scene was a life saver. I also will probably draw some fire for saying the mindset I put myself in to write from a guy’s perspective, but when have I ever cared about being politically correct?

So, below are the tidbits of masculinity I traded my girly thoughts with. Are they true of most men? Gina shrugs. They were true of my main male character though.

1. Men have an ego. They compare themselves with other men, differently than women compare themselves to other women. We size up her beauty, her figure, her talent and intelligence. My male character sized up his competition literally, by size first, followed by job,  income and attractiveness.

2. Men’s eyes are drawn to flesh, like women’s are to beauty. I’m apt to look at a beautiful vase, a pretty flower, a sunset, he might also admire those things but there’s a stronger magnet in those high-heeled legs strutting by his table. My main character describes it this way: My eyes were drawn to flesh like metal to magnet, if my Aunt Edna showed some skin, I’d have to look whether I wanted to gouge my eyes out after or not.

3. The best defense is a good offense. Okay, maybe I’m paranoid, but I’ve noticed that at least the men who’ve been in my life abide by this philosophy. Catch them doing something wrong and they will turn it around into something I’ve done in less than a minute flat. No matter what he does, I end up being the one to apologize. I gave my character this defense mechanism.

4. Not all men are womanizers and cheaters. Maybe not even most, but there are plenty who are. My main character commits adultery, but his best friend would never have done it. Why does my main character cheat? She stops touching him, looking up to him, respecting him and he thinks, loving him. He succumbs when a woman he works with looks at him like he was the man he used to be. For him it came down to loneliness and needing admiration that he’d lost from his wife. Yes there’s remorse and redemption of course.
5. Live and let die. Women will feel weird around their best-friend if they’ve fought. They might not talk for months and if they do someone is profusely apologizing most likely. Men? At least my male character? He and his best friend duke it out literally and the next day they’re having lunch. Talking about it? Um… that’s what the roughhousing was for. ‘Nough said.

6. Sports. Yeah, they like them. My main character watches his favorite player make a killer layup and feels as happy as if he’d been the one to make it. Yeah, women don’t tend to do that.

7. Feeling the pressure to succeed for the entire family and sometimes missing the boat. My main character, Eric, gives up a life his family loves near the ocean to give them the so-called American dream. A McMansion, luxury car, private school. It takes him losing his wife to realize relationships are more important than how much is in the bank.

8. Love makes the world go ’round. I think men want true love as much as women. My main character, Eric, certainly does. He misses it when he loses what he and his wife, Kyra, had. He describes the lonlieness as quite literally killing him a little more each day.

Okay, that’s certainly not an exhaustive list but it’s a lot of what ran through my mind as I wrote Eric Yoshida in Dry as Rain. I’d love to know how flawed or correct my thinking was. I’m writing my fourth book from another male’s viewpoint, so please tell me if I’m off and what you can add to the list.
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DRY AS RAIN

From the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans comes a powerfully moving story that tests the limits of love’s forgiveness. Like many marriages, Eric and Kyra Yoshida’s has fallen apart slowly, one lost dream and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal finally pushes them beyond reconciliation. Just when it looks like forgive and forget is no longer an option, a car accident gives Eric the second chance of a lifetime. A concussion causes his wife to forget details of her life, including the chasm between them. No one knows when—or if—Kyra’s memory will return, but Eric seizes the opportunity to win back the woman he’s never stopped loving.  

Marketing as Good Stewardship

Dear Author: Is it God’s will for you to sell a lot of books?

To some, that question illustrates the complexity of understanding God’s will. To others, that question illustrates the complexity of understanding book sales. Either way, when it comes to successful marketing, there seems to be a strange dance between skill and luck, hard work and good fortune. Or to spiritualize it — there is a give-and-take between the book’s creator and the author’s Creator.

Have you noticed that marketing often gets a bad rap from Christian writers? Don’t get me wrong, I’m no marketing whiz. Like most of you, I am much more comfortable writing than selling. Nevertheless, it puzzles me how some Christian writers approach marketing. It goes like this:

I’ll do the writing, but God must do the marketing.

In her post Why Do We Think Jesus Will Do All Our Marketing?, Mary DeMuth quotes Randy Ingermanson:

I’m hesitant to say this because I know I’ll immediately hear from people who say that I have no faith, that I am sacrilegious, or that I am Not A Real Christian. But somebody needs to say this. So here goes:

The worst advice I have heard is “Jesus will do all your marketing for you.”

Let’s be clear that Jesus is on my management team and I consult him often when making big decisions. But in my experience, Jesus has never typed a press release, called a radio station to set up an interview, posted a blog entry, fixed the CSS on a web site, or written copy for a sales page. (emphasis in original)

Randy’s POV takes aim at a perilous but pervasive mindset among many Christian writers: We’ve come to see writing as “spiritual,” and marketing as not. Marketing is the “ugly” part of writing, the “worldly” dimension of being an author, the “necessary evil” you must tolerate, the downside of being published, the greens in an otherwise tasty meal.

This bifurcation is symptomatic of the sacred / secular mindset suffered by many evangelicals. It goes like this: Church is sacred, work is not. Praying is sacred, doing the dishes is not. Reading the Bible is sacred, reading Robert Frost is not. Serving at the homeless shelter is sacred, volunteering at the art gallery is not. Thus, writing is sacred, marketing is not. Which is why

  • We over-spiritualize the writing process, and
  • We under-spiritualize the selling process

One of the unspoken (but perhaps intended) results of such a compartmentalized view of writing is this: We can always blame poor book sales on God. “I am proud of my book,” we say. “It just wasn’t God’s will for it to take off.” Heaven forbid that an author blame themselves for poor book sales.

Please do not misunderstand me: Just because you approach marketing with vigor and savvy is no guarantee your book will do well (and really, what is “doing well”?). There are multiple factors to a book’s success — like good writing, hard work, the right publisher, market trends, endorsements, platform, etc. (see self-published phenom Amanda Hocking’s post entitled Some Things That Need to Be Said.) And having all those things in place is still no guarantee your book will perform well. Nevertheless, the person who sees God as having “called” them to write can inevitably stick God with the blame if their book tanks.

For this reason, I’m starting to believe it is helpful to see writing and marketing as flip sides of the same calling. If God’s “called” you to write, then He’s “called” you to market.

I’m thinking of The Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30). In this classic tale, not only did the master entrust his servants with different sums of money, he held them responsible for their management of said sums. Those two elements are the crux of the lesson: (1) Gift and (2) Management. So for the writer, that looks like this:

  • Writing is your gift / talent.
  • Marketing is your part of the stewardship of the gift / talent.

No, marketing is not the only part of stewardship. Nor is it probably the biggest part. I faithfully manage my writing talent by trying to write better, not just trying to yell louder. Marketing is just one way to “multiply” my talent, which seems to be a big deal for the master in the biblical parable.

Another interesting spin on marketing from a biblical perspective could be this: Your talent is intended for others, not just you. This may sound supremely arrogant, as if you are “God’s gift” to others. Nevertheless, Scripture teaches that our talents are not meant entirely for personal gain. Take this verse: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (I Peter 4:10 NIV). So…

  • Your talents are a gift from God
  • Your talents are given to serve others

The point being: If your writing gift is intended for others, how else are you going to deliver besides, um, just writing?

Of course, if a Christian writer’s sole purpose in marketing is to “get rich” or “become famous,” they probably missed the gist of their “gifting.” This isn’t meant to imply that prospering from your talent is wrong, but that the heart of marketing (from a biblical perspective) is sharing, not getting rich, it is connecting with others, not just advancing your “brand.”

So for the Christian writer, getting an agent, growing in the craft, employing an editor, expanding your platform, studying trends, jumping through hoops, may not seem very “spiritual,” but they can all be parts of being a good steward with your talent.
And parts of selling more books.

Yeah. Writing is a lot more fun than marketing. Marketing can be a grind, it can be distasteful, it can bring out the absolute worst in a person. Nevertheless, marketing can also part of “good stewardship.”

Question: Do you agree that marketing gets a bad rap from writers? Should it? Do you tend to see marketing as the “un-spiritual” part of writing? Do you think it’s God’s will for writers He has “called” to sell books? What are some signs that a person is going overboard with marketing?

* * *

Mike is a monthly contributor to Novel Journey. He is represented by the rockin’ Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. Mike’s debut novel, “The Resurrection,” is in stores now. You can visit his website at www.mikeduran.com.

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A Matter of Perspective By Anita Mellott

Tourists buzzed around the deck, and cameras flashed as the Statue of Liberty came into view. As I moved up to get a better look at the towering edifice, I swallowed against an unexpected lump in my throat. 

What went through the minds of the boat-loads of immigrants when they first saw Lady Liberty? Did they fight tears like me? What hopes and dreams welled up in their hearts as they approached the shores of New York?

Despite the flurry of tourists around me, I stood quietly drinking in the majesty of this symbol of hope and new life. Ten minutes later, when the engines revved and the boat moved away from the island, I was the only one left at the prow of the boat. I watched as the gigantic statue soon became a speck on the horizon. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective, I thought as we passed under the Brooklyn Bridge.
“Sometimes that’s what happens to God’s presence in your life.” As the whisper sounded in my heart, I shivered.

Then I remembered the countless times I reach for my computer rather than my Bible when I awake. Or how more often than not, when confronted with a problem, I reach for the phone to call a prayer partner rather than dropping to my knees. Or the times when my attempts to meet a deadline steal my time with Him.

“But, Lord I want your presence to envelop me, to overwhelm me even more than the sight of the Statue of Liberty.” As a deep yearning welled up within me, I remembered the verse, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).  

The King of all Kings, the One who spoke this world into being, invites me to tarry with Him, to know Him, to fellowship with Him. The moisture from the spray wasn’t the only thing that wet my cheeks at those life-changing words. 

“Lord, forgive me for losing my perspective. You, who are the Creator of all, the One besides whom there is no other, and whose majesty has no equal, You call me to lay my burdens before You, to give me rest. Help me seek You above all else. May I know what it is to learn of You and rest in Your presence.”

When Anita Mellott isn’t homeschooling, she writes to encourage others. Her book, School Is Where the Home Is: 180 Devotions for Parents is available for pre-order.