Sunday, 7 October 2012

Guest post by Charles Sheehan-Miles + Giveaway

Today I would like to introduce you to a romance author not like the others, because you see the author of Just Remember to Breathe, a heartbreakingly emotional military romance story is Charles Sheehan-Miles, a man romance writer, a rarity! So I asked Charles to share with us his story and how he became a male romance author. Please give him a warm welcome and you could even win a copy of Just Remember to Breathe!

Hi everyone! I want to thank Stella for asking me to guest post here!

When we were tossing around ideas for the post, one of the topics that came up is a question I hear periodically: why is that so few men write romance? And that being the case, why did I write one, with another on the way? One of the very first reviews of Just Remember to Breathe posted on Amazon started out like this: When I saw this book, the cover and the blurb I thought to my self "Hmm looks like a good book" so I read the sample and got even more intrigued but then I noticed the author was a man….

She ended up loving the book, and titled her review, “I’m so glad I took a chance on this book,” which I’m grateful for. But it got me thinking about what’s behind it. And the only thing I can pin down is that first, most romance novels are written from the point of view of a woman, and second, we don’t expect men to be able to “get” women well enough to write them convincingly.

There are plenty of exceptions. For instance, writers like Leigh Greenwood (Harold Lowry), Jennifer Wilde/Beatrice Parker (Tom E. Huff), who write under pen names, and of course Nicholas Sparks. Pat Conroy, who was one of my idols when I was a teenager, always has huge romantic elements to his novels, as do many other male writers.

Maybe the bottom line is, we don’t expect enough from men? Women in our society are raised to understand what’s going on in the heads of the guys around them. Men are mostly raised to understand football.

In any event, when I look back at my own writing history, one of the things I see is heavy romantic (sometimes tragic) elements in everything I’ve written. My most successful novel (up until now), Republic, featured two lovers who split up when the guy slept with someone else at a party, and the main character was a widower whose every action was dominated by his love for his wife of twenty years. My first novel Prayer at Rumayla also dealt with a tragic romantic plotline, a guy returning from a war to find that is fiancé had fallen in love with someone else (it’s a depressing as hell read, by the way, I don’t recommend it).

The bottom line is, I’ve always been somewhat of a romantic, and the direction my writing has taken in the last year is a natural progression. What happened was this: I was struggling to get the perspectives of two characters right. Young couple, just turned eighteen, and absolutely in love. It’s been a long time since I was that young, so I dredged out my journals from the nineteen eighties, when as a high school student I was sent on a foreign exchange program and fell passionately in love with a girl from San Francisco. At the same time, I picked up a number of young adult and “new adult” romances, and quickly found that they were absolutely addictive!

And that’s how I come to Just Remember to Breathe  I was thinking about two people, the people from my long ago journal, who had fallen in love in a faraway country, then split up when they returned to the United States. I went off and joined the Army and went to Iraq in 1991, she went to college, and that was the end. My mind said, “Wouldn’t it make an interesting story if two characters went through that, then ran into each other in college?”

In Just Remember to Breathe  Dylan Paris is a young soldier who went through heavy fighting in Afghanistan, was badly injured and lost his best friend. He’s pretty messed up. Alex Thompson is the girl he loved in high school. She’s still struggling with shock and fear and shame after an attempted date rape the previous spring. The two of them run into each other on the campus at Columbia University, and the story begins.

When I finished the book, I toyed with the idea of publishing it under a pen name. But then I thought: no. Part of the freedom of indie publishing is being able to break boundaries, and write outside the lines and expectations of the traditional publishing market, which is tightly focused on the bottom line and the available shelf space in bookstores. So I went ahead and published it under my own name, and I’m so glad I did. So far, the book’s been far more successful in a shorter time than I could have imagined. It’s shot up into the top thousand books on Amazon and the top 500 on Barnes & Noble and is getting great reviews. So something is working.

Besides, romance is fun. I got my own happily-ever-after, with the wonderful woman I’ve been married to for nearly twenty years. Plus, I’m horribly sentimental. I watch movies that make me want to cry, and like to read (and write) books that do that to. And when it comes to fiction, why should women get all the fun?

Do you agree with the idea that men in our society just aren’t expected to understand the women in their lives? Or, are there other reasons men don’t write from a female point of view? Respond in the comments to be entered into a giveaway for your own copy of Just Remember to Breathe. Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter or on the web at

I'm a forty-ish writer of several novels including Republic, Insurgent, Prayer at Rumayla and Just Remember to Breathe. I've got a few short stories and non-fiction books out there as well.

My background: I spent some time traveling the Middle East on my own in the late nineteen eighties, then went back courtesy of the United States Army as a tank crewman during the 1991 Gulf War. After that I spent most of the next two decades pursuing dual careers: nonprofit activist and information technology professional. Eventually the two combined: from 2003 until 2009 I was completely in the nonprofit sector, served as executive director of two nonprofits and director of IT of a third.

Unfortunately, when the 2008 economic crash hit, it took my career with it. For several years I had to retool, and managed restaurants in the Atlanta area. Recently I found my way back into my chosen career: I work in veterans outreach and public affairs for a law firm which represents disabled veterans. In my free time I write books, my blog, play with the kids, and generally try to make it through life doing as much good as possible.

Just Remember to Breathe by Charles Sheehan-Miles

Alex Thompson’s life is following the script. A pre-law student at Columbia University, she’s focused on her grades, her life and her future. The last thing she needs is to reconnect with the boy who broke her heart.

Dylan Paris comes home from Afghanistan severely injured and knows that the one thing he cannot do is drag Alex into the mess he’s made of his life.

When Dylan and Alex are assigned to the same work study program and are forced to work side by side, they have to make new ground rules to keep from killing each other.

Only problem is, they keep breaking the rules.

The first rule is to never, ever talk about how they fell in love.


Charles has generously offered an ebook copy of Just Remember to Breathe to a lucky commenter!

Just leave a comment answering Charles' question: Do you agree with the idea that men in our society just aren’t expected to understand the women in their lives? Or, are there other reasons men don’t write from a female point of view?

Giveaway open worldwide and ends on 14 October 2012!

Good luck!

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