Personal Ads and Your Characters by Lynne Marshall

We’ve all seen those singles want ads in local papers or online.  People are looking for partners and attempt to somehow explain themselves in a few sentences.  This is a huge undertaking, and often the outcome is giggle-worthy.

I had to find a website to help explain the abbreviations.  Here are some samples:

D – Divorced

DTE – Down to earth

NBM – Never been married.

MM – Marriage minded (or depending on the circles you run in
– a whole different meaning)

FTA – Fun, Travel, Adventure

GSOH – Good sense of humor

ISO – In search of

HWP – Height, weight, proportional

LTR – Long term relationship

LD – Light drinker OR ND – non-drinker

SI – similar interests.

The list goes on and on.

I started thinking about the characters in romance books and what kind of personal ads they might write for themselves.  First off, having read the book, we’d probably write a completely different ad for them than they would.  Honestly, how many of us have a clue what we’re looking for until we see it, and even then don’t always recognize it?

For instance, I recently finished Home Sweet Texas Home by Caroline Clemmons, and her hero, Derek, might write an ad that reads like this:

D M ISO F with SI for LTR.

Her heroine, Courtney, might post a personal ad that reads like this:

NBM F ISO M with GSOH who likes FTA.

However, after reading Ms. Clemmons book I would write a completely different ad for both Derek and Courtney.  Here’s my take.

Derek: Divorced male, father of two, hurt by and mistrustful of all women. A devoted father who puts his children first. Looking for companionship.  Hard worker.  Not interested in marriage ever again.

Courtney: Never been married female who recently inherited a lot of
money.  Hard worker with much to prove to colleagues.  Enjoys the 3Ds (dining,
dancing, dressing up) because she’s never gotten to do that before.  Wishes to make life a better place for people.  Guardian for her brother, whom she puts first.  Likes children. Trust issues with men who accuse her of tricking others out of their fortunes.

In my current release, One for the Road, both my lead characters start off the book posting ads, though they’re not exactly personal ads.

D’Anne: For hire 40 foot RV.  Sleeps six.  Cook and driver included.  Fee negotiable.  See owner at campsite #47 Paradise Park Campground.

Tyler:  Seeking cheap transportation for cross country tour.  Wanted: large crew cab truck or comparable.  Will swap classic El Dorado Cadillac.

Neither character knew what they were really looking for on the personal front when they posted those business ads. The last thing they expected to find was love. Funny how want ads can open a whole other can of worms!  Read an excerpt of One for the Road here.

I Want Your Comments!
If you are an author, I’d love to hear the personal ads you’d write for your characters, or if you’re a reader, share a recently read book and the ad you’d write for those characters.  This will be lots of fun!

I’ll chose one commenter and send a copy of One for the Road in either print or
e-book form gift card from The Wild Rose Press, per winner’s choice.  Or, if
you already have the book, I’ll send a gift certificate for any book of your choice.

Now – show me those personal ads! (This blog will be up all week.  Winner will be chosen and posted this coming Saturday.)

Until next week – make it a great one!



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22 Responses to Personal Ads and Your Characters by Lynne Marshall

  1. robena grant says:

    SWF NBM ISO M for FTA. Loves spontaneity.
    SWM NBM ISO F for companionship, dinner, movies, nothing serious.

  2. LOL, Robena – yeah, your hero and heroine don’t have a clue what awaits them!

    Love it.

    Thanks for commenting. Fingers crossed more comments are on the way…

  3. Charlene Sands says:

    Hey Lynne – How savvy you are about these abbreviations! Seems like a whole new language!! How would you say, about to be divorced couple, finding their way back to one another? That’s a mouthful!! I’m hoping blogger works for me this morning!

  4. Robin says:

    Oh my gosh, Lynne, I had no idea there were so many abbreviations for those looking for love. 🙂

    Let’s see, how about this for both my hero and heroine:

    ISO F and A with NSA (no strings attached)

    ‘Cuz we all know there’s going to be strings. 😉

  5. Hi Charlene –
    I had to look those abbreviations up, and there were at least a hundred more! It’s like another language. This divorced couple trying to make it back together, would that be in your current Harlequin Desire release – The Cowboy’s Pride?

    Looking forward to a great read.

  6. Hi Robin – oh, yeah, there are always strings attached. It is funny how the poor unsuspecting characters think they want one thing, in your case, F & A, but wind up with so much more…

    Thanks for commenting!

  7. Dee J. says:


    Holy cow! Charlene is right! It’s a whole other language. I just now got good with LMAO, LOL and ! I think if the hero I’m currently writing saw all that on a piece of paper, he’d wad it up and toss it. LOL. Or toss his computer. Haha.

    Fun post!

  8. Hi Dee J –
    which hero is this? Which book? Give us readers a crumb? We;d love to hear a bit about him – the computer tossing guy.


    • Dee J. says:

      He’s the PI who’s made an appearance in most of my books. His name is Troy Mills and after 9 books, he’s finally getting a shot at a HEA. (D’oh! Did I just write more initials?) He’s quiet and not into the dating scene. He only has eyes for one woman… This is another potential book in my Adrenaline Highs series.

      Did I tease you enough?

  9. Oh yeah – QM ISO A with LMF, with potential for LTR.

    Quiet male in search of adventure with like-minded female, with potential for long term relationship.

    I can’t wait for Troy’s story!

  10. Since my story, A Marshal of Her Own, is a time travel and heroine ends up in the past, she’s not really looking, but is fascinated by the nineteenth century male. So, her ad might read –
    NBM independent woman ISO man GSOH MM SI who will let me continue my career.

    The heroes would read –
    NBM man with demanding job ISO MM strong woman not afraid to be alone for weeks at a time.

    This is harder than it appears! Great blog post and interesting activity. Thanks for inviting me to join in the fun.

  11. Hi Linda –
    Thanks so much for commenting. I think you got the hang of what I’m talking about and nailed it for your h/h’s personal ads.

    I love the concept of your book!

  12. LOVE the idea of this post, how fun is this! but my brain is boggled by the day job abbreviations at the moment. I guess my heroine Merys would be NBM ISO LTR but how you describe the Ancient Egyptian Crocodile god Sobek in his fully human form, who knows? He probably needs a whole new set of letters…or heiroglyphics! Terrific blog!

  13. ROFL, Veronica. I think you’re right, we’d need to create a whole new set of abbreviations for your story.

    How about: Crock in search of adventure seeking female with nontraditional taste in males companionship?

    We’ll have to keep working on this one!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting,

  14. Lilly Gayle says:

    Love this post. So much fun. But no way could I remember all those abbreviations.

    Slightly Tarnished want ad:
    NBM M Earl looking for wife who doesn’t like adventure or exploring and understands the need for privacy and keeping family secrets secret.

    NBM American daughter of a sea captain looking for assistance getting mother out of England and back to America.

    Wholesale Husband
    Business minded NBM female looking for husband in name only. He must be uneducated and willing to stay out of wife’s bed while allowing her to run the family business without interference.

    NBM Irish immigrant looking for extra work to help get brother out of the meat packing industry and cash to send sister to a lady’s finishing school. Not interested in a long term relationship.

  15. I love these, Lilly! I wonder what those personal ad newspaper would do if people were as honest as you were with your character ads?

    I especially loved from Wholesale Husband: He must be uneducated and willing to stay out of wife’s bed while allowing her to run the family business without interference.


    Thanks for reading the blog and commenting. Great stuff.

  16. Calisa Rhose says:

    I meant to get this yesterday but took a day off to rest. SO here goes:

    For my gypsy heroine and her soldier hero-

    NBM/ISO soldier to brave life’s unexpected battles with FLF (fun loving female).

    Fun post Lynne!

  17. Hi Calisa – thanks for stopping by. Hey, you even tought me a new abbreviation FLF. I like it!

    You forgot to tell us the name of your book (which is coming out in December, right?)

    ; )

  18. I meant to say “taught” not tought. eesh. Too early yet for my brain.

  19. Calisa Rhose says:

    Yeesh. Yes HOME comes out on my birthday Dec 28th.

  20. What a great present, to have your book – HOME – come out on your birthday, Calisa!

  21. Congratulations to Lilly Gayle – I drew your name for a copy of One for the Road. Please contact me via my website and I’ll make arrangements to get the book to you.

    Thanks everyone for commenting. I hope all of your character’s personal ads get answered by “Soul Mate” 🙂