Apr 23

Romance Heroes and Men in General — What Women Admire!

I know my posts have been all over the place lately, but I had to share this one that caught my eye. I think it’s particularly interesting to romance writers and readers. Do we describe the correct part of the male anatomy in our stories in order to capture a woman’s interest?

Reposting from The Richest, you can read Julie Mahfood’s article in it’s entirety, and I recommend you do for the clever writing and for the great images, by clicking here The 10 Male Features Women Like Best.

In summary, from what we supposedly care about least at #10 to most at #1 along with my own take:

10. Muscular chest/shoulders

I would have placed this higher on the list, along with good posture. If a man has big shoulders but stoops over, I’m the first one to say, “Straighten up!” But when we’re kissing, yes, I love to run my hands over a good, solid chest, and what’s not to love about feeling strong shoulders under your fingers.

9. Penis

This made me laugh, even at #9, because it’s basically a funny-looking appendage. (Sorry, men!) Men put this higher on the list and thought women would really take note of a fine-looking specimen of manhood. I’m not sure how it would even come into play during a meet-and-greet when you’re checking out a guy for basic attractiveness. I think most women assume that most men have a regular, get-the-job-done penis. I guess at some point, you’ll take a peek at it to assess whether it can perform, but other than that, who cares what it looks like?

8. Neck

Yes, as someone who loves to kiss a man’s neck, yes, I want it to look . . . manly!

7. Hair

If you’re with Bruce Willis or Dwayne Johnson with their awesome smiles and overall sexiness or Patrick Stewart with his smoldering and debonair appeal, who cares about hair? On the other hand, sometimes a girl wants to tug on it or run her fingers through it. Really depends on the guy.

6. Height/Tallness

I’m tall, so I understand this one, but it all equalizes when you’re both horizontal! If you want to wear heels, it’s nice to have your man be a few inches taller than you are. If at a similar height though, he might kiss you more because he isn’t getting a crick in his neck leaning down the way all romance heroes seem to lean or bend before kissing.

5.  Long legs

Waste of #5, if you’ve already got #6. Having said that, I am a leg lady, meaning I like a man to have well-shaped legs, not froggy legs.

4.  Eyes

Definitely. And you must read the article and go to #4 just to see Bradley Cooper’s eyes. Seriously! The eyes have it. You could almost put a man’s eyes in for #1 through 10, at least for me.

3.  Flat stomach

Ok, this is a good one, too. The man doesn’t need washboard abs, but we like a man without a beer belly. A nice flat stomach, a little V of tapering hair if you’re a romance hero, and we’re good!

2.  Slimness

Huh! Bigger waste of #2 than long legs was for #5. Are you telling me that a smile–sexy, boyish, devilish, wicked, and/or dimpled–doesn’t get your attention better than slimness? Again, see Bradley Cooper at #4 or Bruce Willis or Orlando Bloom or … Don’t get me started on great smiles, but they can make or break a man’s sexiness. All my books’ heroes have smiles that melt their ladyloves’ hearts. I’ve never waxed poetic or romantic about slimness. This one is an abject fail.

1. Buttocks

I wouldn’t place it at the top of the list, but maybe if I was with a guy who had a terrible butt, I’d change my tune. I haven’t seen enough bad butts to really appreciate this as #1 for what women admire, but I’ll have to start looking more closely.


Do you have a top 10 for what turns you on in a man’s appearance? We’re not talking humor and generosity here, only looks. The meat of the matter, so to speak. Let me know.

Happy Man Watching,

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sydneyjanebaily.com/writing/romance-heroes-men-general-women-admire/841/

Apr 21

Easter Critters, the Apocalypse, and Justin Bieber

I know, I’m the most inconsistent blogger in the history of bloggers. May as well be the best at something! Here goes, my first post since March:

Yesterday, I awoke to the quietest Easter I’ve had since having children. Both teens were out of the house, having spent the night elsewhere. Husband slept on. First thought: Do I get to keep the chocolate bunnies I would have given my children yesterday morning? Second thought, good God, look at all the ants swarming on my kitchen counter, avoiding the well-placed poison and carrying the crumbs that I thought I’d cleaned up. Apparently, I am about as consistent of a housekeeper as I am a blogger. This is not a photo of my actual ants, but you get the idea:

Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

I cleaned up the ants with boiling water. Then it was time to deal with the other critters: one dog and two cats circling my feet, demanding their due. I always change their water first.

From www.whatsthatbug.com. Yuck!

From www.whatsthatbug.com. Yuck!

That’s when I saw the most despised critter of all (or so I thought until I got to my daughter’s bedroom, but that comes later). There was a nasty centipede drowned in the cats’ water bowl. As a tried and true arachnophobe, this was right up my alley of terror. I let the cats drink from the bowl all day and left the creepy crawly for about six hours until I got up my courage enough to toss it down the kitchen sink and run the garbage disposal at full throttle. Here’s another not actual photo but it looked just like this, I swear. Even dead and drowned and at the bottom of the water bowl, it still looked just like this:

Could the day get any creepier? Apparently, yes. I decided I had to retrieve my favorite gray spaghetti-strap tank top from my teenage daughter’s room. The horror! The mounds of clothing! The piles of paper! The candy wrappers and iced tea cans. The odd scritch-scritch noises coming from her under-the-bed clothing drawer! What?!

Against my better judgment, knowing I probably shouldn’t investigate, I delved further. One of the cats and I discovered mice: three of them, living in a small plastic cage in said daughter’s jeans drawer. This is an actual photo, which I took after I stopped screaming: “Rats! Rats in her room!!” (because at first I only saw the white one with red eyes).Sabbyfindsmice I called my sister who lives across the country becuase after all, she is my big sister. I told her what I’d found.

“What did you do?” she asked.

“I put them back in the drawer.”

“That’s cruel. Get them out and give them food and water and sunlight.”

So I went back upstairs and got them out again. I lowered in a small bowl and poured the water in after. Then I momentarily panicked. “What do mice eat? What do mice eat?” Duh! Cheese! So I gave them cheese and also some lettuce, just in case they needed roughage.

SabbywithmiceThe cat was happy to see them back out of the drawer, but I had to lock them in my bathroom because wherever I set the cage down, the cat was right there attempting to liberate them from their prison.

The quiet Easter stayed quiet after that except for the dog escaping from the yard, leading me to walk around the neighborhood, calling his name, half certain I’d lost him forever, which I’m sure is why I had the dream that drove me from my bed this morning. But first, the Apocalypse.

Husband and I didn’t speak all day. No need. Kids were gone so nothing to discuss regarding discipline or which teen cleaned out his wallet. Eventually, we reconnected for dinner. “Let’s go out,” he said, looking at the non-existent Easter feast that I had thoughtfully not cooked. I made chocolate macaroons just to try out the recipe and because somehow shredded coconut seemed very Easter-ish. Shame that I used wax paper instead of parchment, and they all melded themselves to the wax, but that’s a story for another day.

We drove to the next town over. “Wow!” I said, “did I miss an apocalypse? Zombie or otherwise?” No cars on the roads, no people walking. Empty and quiet. Perfect!

“It’s Easter,” he explained, which made more sense than my apocalype theory. Plus there were clearly no zombies roaming.

The first restaurant we tried was closed. The second one was . . . if I may use the word again . . . perfect. We walked right into the cozy bar with the stunning views of the Merrimack River, classy high-top tables, three stooges playing endlessly on one TV and three other TVs playing an opening Red Sox game. This is a bar we can’t usually get a table in unless we arrive at 4 in the afternoon, know someone who works there, or slip someone a bribe that amounts to more than the quarterly royalties from my book sales. And we had it nearly to ourselves. Dare I say it a third time, perfect!

It was the end to a strangely quiet day that should have contained no creature more interesting than a chocolate bunny.

“So, the post’s title?” you ask.

The last thing I was dreaming this morning before I sprung out of bed to greet the day-after-Easter was that Justin Bieber had possession of my beloved dog. He’d been arrested, the Biebs, not the dog, and somehow, I had to go rescue my dog from his house, the Beibs’ house, not the dog’s. I knew there would be bodyguards and people who would doubt the dog was mine. So I decided I had to take my secret weapon, my teenage son with his black belt in kung fu. And then I woke up.

And that’s why I entitled this post the way I did.

Best wishes to all of you and, as usual, happy reading!


Permanent link to this article: http://www.sydneyjanebaily.com/miscellaneous-fun/easter-critters-apocalypse-justin-bieber/827/

Mar 27

Kristen Lamb on Being a Jerk

Another great post from Kristen Lamb at her blog, entitled Pride, Perfectionism and Anger—Confessions of a Recovering Jerk. I offer it here in its entirety because of its honesty, well-written prose, and so we can all see ourselves a little more clearly. Take it away Kristen:

Image via QuickMeme

Image via QuickMeme

I am one of the most blessed people on the planet. Truly. I’m not a millionaire and may never be, but I’m infinitely rich. I wouldn’t trade the wonderful people I know personally and on-line for anything. This is a tough post to write because it’s vulnerable. But I know that all of us struggle and fail and fall and often what keeps us pressing is to know others have been a mess (or still are one). It’s why I’ve branded everything I do under We Are Not Alone.

I have a confession. I am a Recovered (Recovering?) Jerk. It would be nice to lie to you and tell you I never have my moments, but I do. Thankfully, they are much rarer than they used to be. Today, I’d like to talk about some of my Jerk Reformation. It could be a BOOK…okay a SERIES of books, but we will touch on the highlights.

And I realize all of you are kind and sweet and don’t need this for you, but maybe it can help with someone you know ;) .


I used to be highly critical of everyone and everything, including myself. The last part was likely what others never saw. I led those around me to believe they never measured up, but the truth was, I never measured up. I came from a highly dysfunctional and chaotic home. I knew nothing of peace. I only knew control. Granted, in my mind I was helping. Yet, I’ve learned over the years that people need love more than “help.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 10.46.35 AM

I was fraud.

On the outside my clothes were perfect, my hair perfect, my house perfect, but truth was? I was falling apart. I felt that showing any weakness was bad, that it made me a failure. This made me prideful and afraid to ask for help. Others didn’t see I needed help because, “Well, Kristen is ‘perfect’” *rolls eyes* Granted, others probably sensed I was a mess so my “perfect” facade simply generated more resentment.

People aren’t fond of phonies. Imagine that?

Life popped me on the snoot and opened my eyes to my character (or lack thereof), my poor attitude, my judgmental ways and my impossible (and stupid) standards. I couldn’t give away what I didn’t have. I had no grace for myself, so how could I give that to others?

I was white-knuckled-terrified of failure, of not knowing ALL the answers or being *gasp* WRONG. Every quiet moment was a montage in my mind of how I sucked, how I’d screwed up, how I should’ve could’ve would’ve….


Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

I refused to cry, to let others know I was a mess. I bottled it up—the fear, the disappointment, the feelings of inadequacy.

What I’ve come to understand is that failure is the tuition we pay for success (Yes, I’ve been using that phrase a lot lately). Failure is vital. Failure is an event, not a state of being. Failure is to be celebrated, because it means we’re being brave. We’re trying. We’re daring to do something remarkable. As I began to give myself permission to fall on my face and laugh it off, I realized I needed to do that with others.

We don’t need critics who point out we fell and draw a diagram of our stupidity and how “they would have done it better.” Likely they wouldn’t have done it any better and even if they did? Who cares? What we need is a hand helping us up, patting us on the back and then high-fiving us for daring to TRY.


An ugly stepchild of perfectionism is pride. As I mentioned earlier I was prideful. I knew better, did it better and life was all a competition because 2nd place was the first loser.

Dumb, dumb, dumbditty-dumb-dumb.

Yes, I know. I had something to prove but was too foolish to realize there is nothing in life TO PROVE. Good people don’t judge us by our resume or our lists of accomplishments or rows of trophies. Others won’t remember our designer handbag, our perfect house, our fancy car. They will remember and respond to how we made them feel when they were in our company. 

In the United States, the average household has SEVEN credit cards. Out of your hundred closest neighbors, four homes are on the verge of being foreclosed upon. How many of us buy into the lie that others care that much? We run and scramble to keep up with the Joneses when we aren’t seeing the Joneses are BROKE, hurting and miserable.

I worked a job for years that I loathed because the pay was good and the title “impressive.” But, I longed to write. Oh, but writing meant I might have to shop at Walmart or thrift stores instead of fancy boutiques. I might have to drive an old car and clip coupons. THE HORROR! What would others THINK?

Probably nothing, LOL.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 10.49.52 AMThe funny thing was all those people who were my friends when I could pick up the tab or take them shopping vanished when the money ran out. I learned the hard way that real friends aren’t for sale ;) .

Pride created other problems. Because I was too afraid to admit I wasn’t the All-Knowing-Oracle-Perfect-At-All-Things, I was an unteachable @$$. This left me to relying on luck and resenting others who were successful. Tearing others down to make myself feel better.

Oh, sure, SHE’S a successful writer. If I had a more supportive family, a better computer, a magic pad of FLOWER POST-ITS I could be there too. WHAAAAAHH!

Stupid, I know.

But when I let down my guard and began to admit that perhaps-maybe-kinda-sorta that I didn’t precisely-specifically-exactly KNOW EVERYTHING I began to grow. I could take advice and even *gasp* criticism. I could separate my work from ME. Mentors, critique partners, etc. were pointing out problems in a story or a situation, not ME. Wow! Who knew?

These were baby steps to learning that my work could be flawed and I’d live and even improve. The next step? I could be flawed in my character, behavior, or attitudes and would live to tell the tale! I might even…improve.

Whoud’a thunk?

Boundaries, Anger, Forgiveness

Original image via Melissa Bowersock WANA Commons

Original image via Melissa Bowersock WANA Commons

For a long time I suffered with an anger problem. I’d love to lie to you guys and tell you I’m perfect and cured but I hear thunder rumbling outside and don’t want to push my luck :D . When I grew to a point that I could accept increasing layers of critique/criticism with my writing, I was more open to others pointing out my personal flaws.


I was a people-pleaser and said yes to everything. Then I’d get overloaded, stressed, angry and lash out. I’m still working on not overextending. I love to help. This is a great character trait, but it needs balance. One of the reasons I’d lash out in anger is I was realllllly bad at putting down boundaries, communicating them and sticking to them in a loving way. I’d back up and back up and back up and say, “Oh, it’s okay” when it wasn’t.

Then BOOM!

Image of a Kristen Temper Tantrum via Wikimedia Commons.

Image of a Kristen Temper Tantrum via Wikimedia Commons.

Three of my best friends, Ingrid Schaffenburg, Jay Donovan and Piper Bayard pointed this out (among other things). It hurt. I defended. I railed against the unfairness…then realized *sigh* they were correct.

What I’ve learned is that boundaries are part of all healthy relationships. I heard this metaphor and love it. Your life, MY life is like a beautiful garden (which likely needs a lot of weeding but that’s another post). Frequently we buy into the lie that fences are bad. People should be free to come in and out of our lives. This is true, which is why all good fences have a GATE.

Image courtesy of Norah Wilson WANA Commons

Image courtesy of Norah Wilson WANA Commons

We need to let people in and out and through, but this doesn’t mean we offer them permission to dump old tires and toxic waste into our space. I was letting others bring in junk and saying, “Oh, it’s okay, set the rusted emotional refrigerator there…but next time.” No, it isn’t okay. It wasn’t okay. This led to anger, resentment and then an outburst.

HOW COULD YOU PUT THAT HERE? So I LET you…. Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Rene Schweitzke

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Rene Schweitzke

I’d explode, then justify. Then talk about it over and over and over as if this replay made me being an angry jerk okay (Hint: It didn’t). And then I’d think about it over and over and that’s when anger had a chance to take root. I didn’t know how to forgive, thus adding to my Supreme Jerk Status.

Are We Ringing the Bell?

I used to believe that forgiving others gave them a pass, that they were somehow “getting away” with something. Unbelievably, I’d somehow forget about all the times I’d shown MY butt and wanted grace. I was wanting from others what I was unwilling to give in return.

Then I heard another story and it changed me (because I dig anecdotes).

There once was a young monk who’d been terribly wronged by another. He prayed and prayed but the anger never went away. He could not forgive no matter how hard he tried. So, he went to the old parish priest and asked for advice. The older priest knew the young man was in charge of ringing the bells for service. He said to the young man, “When you pull the rope to ring the bell, does it only sound once?”

The young monk replied, “Well, no, it keeps ringing.”

“But the ringing eventually gets softer then fades and finally stops. Correct?”


“My son, anger and forgiveness is the ringing of the bell. The pain will be deafening at first and will take time to fade. Our job is to not continue to pull the rope.”

I used to believe that if I forgave, that magically-mystically the pain would go away. It doesn’t. It takes time. This is why my family was so angry (and many still are). They are still talking about when Such-and-Such did this or that and how awful they were and GOOD GRIEF that person has been DEAD for 15 years! Enough already!

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.01.45 AM

Maybe some of you have relationships where you aren’t in trouble for something you just did, you are still getting hammered with how you failed a month ago, a year ago, or when you were FIVE.

And the bells still ring.

I didn’t realize I was doing that to others. To make my poor behavior somehow better, I’d talk about how Thus-And-Such did this or that and HOW AWFUL and poor ME. Then, I was oblivious to why I couldn’t have solid relationships.

Here’s the hard news. All of us will be hurt and all of us will hurt others. It’s life. With some, we need to stop ringing bells. I was terribly abused by certain people and I had to discipline myself to let it go. I was letting someone rent space in my head for free. Failing to forgive was like drinking poison and hoping the other person would drop dead.

And this is why the gate is vital. We need to forgive. Forgiveness is for US. This doesn’t, however, mean we allow the person free reign to trample though our garden. Some people might never get to come through the gate. This doesn’t mean we haven’t forgiven or are still angry, it means we are setting a BOUNDARY.

For instance, I have a family member who is like living with Mt. Vesuvius. Everything has to be HER way and she looks for opportunities to create strife. I recall the family throwing a birthday party and, as par for the course, this person arrived and within minutes, the conflict began.

In the old days, I would have bitten. It would have become a Jersey-Shores-Jerry-Springer-Argument over who’d done what or worse or whatever. We’d have fought over a list of wrongs reaching back to the 80s.

This time? I didn’t. I calmly said, “I understand you’re upset. Please go take ten minutes to cool off. But, we are here for a birthday celebration and we still want to be. But, if you are going to act this way, then I’m afraid we will have to leave. I hope you choose to let it go and enjoy the fun we’ve prepared.” And the difference this time was I was calm, but I was also FULLY prepared to leave.

As a recovering jerk, I was unwilling to take the bait. I’d learned that if I maintained peace, the offender would be the only jerk left standing. Jerks can be like a hurricane. They NEED that hot-moist air to fuel their raw powers of destruction. If we refuse to fuel them, they fizzle.

Image of a Family Reunion from SPACE, courtesy of Tom Brandt via Flickr Creative Commons.

Image of a Family Reunion from SPACE, courtesy of Tom Brandt via Flickr Creative Commons.

The same applied to ME. The perfectionism, pride, back-biting, resentment, jealousy, anger, false pretenses were fuel that kept me in the destructive cycle of being a jerk. To change, I needed to learn to love others where they are. Love myself where I am. Perfection is a lie. Pride is a poison.

We Are All Works in Progress

We all have good days, bad days and days we wish we could erase completely. Most people are not sitting up all night thinking of ways to make others miserable (Some do, so don’t let them through that gate until they knock it off). We screw up and always will.

But the good news is we can learn, grow and become better. We can discipline ourselves to look for the good in ourselves and others, because it takes no great talent to be critical. And the beautiful thing is when we learn to give ourselves permission to be imperfect, we get better at extending that grace to others.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, via Stupid.Photos

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, via Stupid.Photos

If we only want to be around “perfect” people, life will get really lonely. Also, good fence-building is a skill that takes time.

I love this blog and adore all of you. Honestly. I love how you guys talk about your struggles and lift one another up. I’m inspired by your generosity, your honesty, your newness, your authenticity, your brokenness, your flaws, your weakness, your strengths and all of it makes me better every day. I might still be a jerk without you :D .

What are your thoughts? Shocked I am a Recovering Jerk? Hey, we jerks need friends too. Do you struggle with perfectionism? Do you find yourself holding others to super high standards because you do it to yourself? Are you afraid of being you? Afraid if people knew your house was loaded with laundry they might not like you?

Do you deal with family who tramples through your heart and home? Are you learning about how to put up good fences too? Are you afraid if you cry you might never stop? Are you a Recovering Jerk too? What did you learn?

For a LONG-TERM plan for a fit, healthy platform, please check out Kristen’s latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sydneyjanebaily.com/uncategorized/kristen-lamb-jerk/816/

Mar 01

Read an Ebook Week Starts Sunday


Get reading people. As if I have to tell all of you that! Sunday begins Read an Ebook week. You can learn more by going to Smashwords and clicking here. This is the sixth year and Smashwords is the sponsor. My own books are not at Smashwords anymore; they are in the KDP Select exclusive program through March 8, but this is such a good event for you, I wanted to mention it anyway. There are loads of deep discounts and freebies at Smashwords, so go fill your ereaders.

Cheers and happy reading!!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sydneyjanebaily.com/miscellaneous-fun/read-ebook-week-starts-sunday/809/

Feb 17

Winner of Valentine Giveaway

Love Historicals Valentine's graphicI want to congratulate Kimberly Chacon, one of 13 winners in the Love Historicals Valentine’s Day Giveaway and Scavenger Hunt.

Kim won my prize, the boxed set of my first three books for Kindle.Sanborn-Malloy Boxed Set

Congratulations, Kim, and thanks to everyone who participated!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sydneyjanebaily.com/contests/winner-valentine-giveaway/803/

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