Category Archives: Erotic

HOW FAR THE BAR?

Greetings, everyone. Thea here today. This past weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at t CTRWA March meeting about writing erotic romance from my perspective. Which admittedly goes back at least twenty years, when one of my historical romances, Beyond Desire, was the first romance to be reviewed as erotic romance — a totally new designation at the time. And not one that publishers jumped on either.

That took the publication of the anthology, Captivated, in 1999. Labelled “tales of erotic romance,” it flew onto the USAToday bestseller list in no time. And even then, the industry sat back and watched as the follow-up anthology, Fascinated, zipped onto USAToday as well.

There were constraints at the time as to what terms you could use, what body parts you could name, how far you could go.

Twenty years later, 50 Shades changed everything.

Now everything is on the table (and in the bed) as far as combinations and sex — front, back, side, upside down, inside out, casual, meaningful, manacled, chained, blindfolded, whipped, flipped, one night stands, one day, one hour get it on and get off, no commitment, scratch the itch and over you go.

So now that there are readers for every sexual taste, where’s your line? How far will you go? You could push the bar even further — male/male, female/ female, triads, quadrads, and any multiple combination of that; bestiality, hard core bondage/domination/punishment, corset discipline, flogging, gagging, needle play, fire play … .

And so my question to you, which I asked at the meeting as well, is — do you feel the need to compete with 50 Shades? To push further? To define the bar rather than straddle it? To be the one to make waves? Or you do have your own strict won’t-go-there parameters?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romance. She’s the author of 27 historical and contemporary erotic romances and a dozen novellas. Look for “Beyond the Night”, the sequel to “The Darkest Heart,” to be released as a Pocket Star eBook, fall 2014.

When the Sound Stopped

Thea here. Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, everyone.

Now, you know I’ve confessed to being a tv-holic. But people, I can’t watch everything. So when some gremlin snuck into my remote and rendered my tv silent for four days, I was near to losing my mind. How was I going to catch up on Revenge, The Good Wife and Homeland? Was I really going to have to sit in my kitchen to watch Wendy Williams? Or raise the sound on that tv so I could hear and watch in the living room? What about Thursday, and Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal? The #@#$% tv was ruining my life.

You guys should understand: I watch these shows for research. There are writerly lessons to be learned from them. I got hooked on Pretty Little Liars because I loved the premise — and then the whole onion peeling of the plot was fascinating. And Scandal — the twists! the turns! The yes I will, no I won’t. Delicious. And the burning question: how could I apply those strategies to what I was writing?

Now I told John this. I won’t say how he responded except I will never ever try to explain my tv viewing habits to him again. I will be as kind as he was after we’d moved and I told him two months later I wanted to move back to the house we had moved from (he didn’t divorce me). In all fairness, the analogy of house:move=tv:research doesn’t quite equate, but you get the idea.

I really thought the solution to the silent tv was simple: something in the remotes, you know? There were two of them and my oldest son, John and I all fiddled around with them for days and nothing happened. We disconnected all cords and reconnected. Nothing got grounded. Score: TV reception perfect. Sound: 0.

I finally called the appliance store where we purchased it. Two days later, the repair person determined it wasn’t the tv, it was the cable box. He did not leave me hanging, thank goodness.

Listen carefully, people — this may save your tv viewing life. He disconnected the cable box from the tv and pressed the power button on the cable box for a minute. He then replugged the cable box and voila! SOUND!!!!!

People! It was Thursday!!! I had Grey’s Anatomy back. And I didn’t have to watch Scandal in the kitchen with an aching back. And this weekend, I and the Mentalist finally found out who Red John is. How do you put a price on priceless?

And life is back to normal. I know you’ll be happy to know I caught up on nearly everything, though John is absolutely certain I watch Vampire Diaries every day. (I wish). However I have taken on Almost Human and Hostages and I’m thinking about catching up on Blacklist, Dracula and Sleepy Hollow.

Really — you guys get it: too much is never enough, right??

Have you had a tv-is-ruining-my-life moment? How did you handle it? What did you do? What did your husband or significant other say?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romance. She’s the authors of 27 historical and contemporary romances and a dozen novellas. She was a freelance manuscript reader for many years, and is a Romanic Times Booklovers’ Romance Pioneer honoree. Look for the sequel to The Darkest Heart — Beyond the Night — in 2014.

What Do You Like To Read?

Thea Devine here, curious to know. I told you about all my to-be-read piles, didn’t I? I know what I like to read — or should I say what we all first and foremost probably read: romance. But over and above that, what books do you love to settle in with on a cold snowy day?

My list includes romantic suspense, serial killer mysteries, gothics, women’s fiction, hearth and home novels, category romance, thrillers — especially object of desire quests. What I’m not reading a lot of recently is historical romance and erotica, which you all know I write. I wonder about that sometimes; if what you read is a reflection of what you love to write, I should be devouring historical and erotic novels by the armload.

But I really love romantic suspense and a good gothic mystery. And I adore books (and tv movies) about women returning to their small town roots, especially if they live down south. And I’ll “read” Pride and Prejudice dozens of times as long as it’s broadcast in 6 parts on cable tv. Preferably in a marathon.

Inquiring minds want to know — do you write the kind of book you like to read? Or is your reading for pleasure light years away from what you write?

Thea Devine’s novels defined erotic historical romance. She is currently working on her next erotic contemporary romance. She’ll be speaking at the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October.

Moms and Hot Sex Scenes

Last weekend my entire family came from New York to celebrate my twenty-eighth birthday. We went to a small family owned Mexican restaurant that makes kick ass guacamole and really good raspberry margaritas. That fact that we were ALL together was a novelty. With work and school and living in separate states it’s rare we all get to eat at the same table.

So there I was seated between my parents and across from brothers. Everybody was having their own conversation when my mom mentioned to me that she was still reading Dangerous Curves Ahead and that one scene brought up a memory from her past.  I knew the scene she was talking about. I knew it very well because it took place shortly after my hero and heroine get it on for the first time. So, I turn to look at her and quietly say, “I guess you survived the sex scene.”

At that point all conversation at the table had stopped.  My father looked off into space as if he had suddenly went deaf. Three brothers stared at me. The word SEX seemed to have a magical effect on them, because normally they never pay any attention to what I say.

“Yes, I survived the sex scene,” my mother continued, not seeming to notice that the table suddenly went quiet. She put her hand on her forehead and stared at me. “I can’t believe you know so much. I can’t believe you’re so descriptive. A mother doesn’t want to think about her daughter knowing so much about sex. It makes me uncomfortable.”

I have read HUNDREDS of romance novels in my day. While my stuff isn’t exactly sweet, it certainly isn’t anywhere near erotica. “You just don’t read romance novels trust me, Ma. That was nothing.”

Meanwhile in my head I’m thinking, wait until she gets to second sex scene. Wait till she reads my books that are coming out for Harlequin.  But I say nothing. I catch my youngest brother staring at me from across the table. He’s always surprised when I know anything about sex. In his eyes I’m supposed to be this lame virginal super good girl, who has never heard  the word  PENIS much less have seen one. And I understand why he thinks that way. I’m the prude in my family.

photo (11)
My mother and I on my 28th birthday.

But I’m twenty-eight. Hello!

“It’s like Fifty Shades of Grey without the torture,” my mother goes on, clearly distressed about my life’s choice to write romance novels.

“It is not!” I’m offended by this. There is no bondage in my book. There is no sex for sex sake. I’m rather fond of those scenes. They’re some of the best I’ve written. “Besides, you’ve never read Fifty Shades. How would you know?”

“I just know,” she says.

My brother Jordan who always has something to say, says nothing. Jason continues to eat tortilla chips. Jonathan keeps looking at me as if he is trying to figure out if I’m secretly turning tricks on my free time. My father continues to stare at the sun sculpture on the wall behind him. I feel sorry for the man. He didn’t deserve this.

I’m sure my family all thinks I’m a pornographer now, but that’s okay. I’m going to keep on reading and writing those sexy sex books. And maybe someday my family will get who I am.

What about you? How would you feel if your kid starting writing romance novels?

M. Leighton Pulls Her Book From the Shelves

Hello, Scribes Fans. Sugar here. I’m sure some of you may know that indie author M. Leighton pulled her book UNTIL I BREAK from the shelves today.

Why? That’s a very good question.

If you want a synopsis of the book click HERE. I learned about this after seeing a conversation on Twitter about it. For me 97% of Twitter is white noise but this topic grabbed my interest and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. An author pulling her own book? Not because of low sales, not because it was poorly edited or badly written but because it was too dark, too ugly for some readers tastes.

Here’s what Leighton had to say about it.

When I wrote Until I Break, I could’ve watered down the story, made it more palatable, easier to accept.  But as an artist, I didn’t want to cheat Sam and Alec out of their story.  As I’ve said before, life isn’t always pretty, but I had hoped that the majority of people would be able to see beyond the ugly to the wonderful story of love and acceptance and healing that was embedded in Until I Break.  Sadly, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.

So, rather than risking people misunderstanding Sam and Alec and, therefore, me as a person and author, I’m pulling the book from publication. It will no longer be available in any format from any source after tomorrow.  Yes, I could leave it out there to earn money, but every cent would be bitter, knowing that there are some who not only don’t “get” the story, but who are misunderstanding it in a disheartening way.

Every book is not for every reader. We all know that. And no matter what we write we always know that there are going to be readers out there who don’t like or misunderstand our work. I think that’s all apart of being a writer.

And as another writer that makes me so dissapointed in Ms. Leighton. If you want to read her entire post click HERE. We’re writers here so we know what it’s like to pour ourselves into something and I can tell that from Leighton’s words that she loved these characters and their story. I’m sad that she pulled it down. I sad that she cared enough about what a few people thought that she had to hide it from the world. I’m sad that she didn’t say F YOU and stand by it. 

Part of me gets it. Our books are like our babies and we want to protect them, but sometimes being a good mother is letting your baby go out there into the world and letting it fly. I wished she would have let it fly. Especially since it seems that more people loved the book than hated it, more people thought it was insightful and thought provoking and compelling. 

Part of me thinks that Leighton is pulling some big trick on us, that by announcing that she was pulling her book she drove people into a frantic rush to buy it and see what was so dark about it. Last night her book was number 6 on the Amazon list. Even I was sucked in and Until I Break is so not my kind of book. And if it is a trick it’s damn near brilliant. I hope she is laughing all the way to the bank.

So what is your take on this? Would you pull a book that you loved even though some people didn’t understand it?

It Was A Dark & Stormy Night …

And it’s not even Hallowe’en as I write this.

Thea Devine here, waiting on the storm, and feeling that an unbridled hurricane can be every bit as scary as a supernatural Hallowe’en scenario. For one, it comes out of nowhere with its own unearthly sounds. You’re at the mercy of its driving winds, and the full force of its destructive and uncontainable nature. You’re powerless and yet you try to defeat it every time.  And when you survive it, you feel as if you’ve gone through some mystical transformation.  You feel superhuman.  You feel you’ve cheated death.

Maybe that’s why Hallowe’en — and ghosts, ghouls, vampires and zombies — has such a powerful hold on the imagination.   Life beyond death, no matter form it takes, is beyond seductive, and perhaps worth the price you might have to pay.

It’s fun to fictionally play with the idea of life beyond eternity. But that’s underscored by the certain knowledge mortality is just around the corner for all of us.  That’s why we write about the monsters, the ghosts, the storms.  Leaving something tangible behind is a way to conquer the beast. Wading into the storm gives you strength.  Manipulating fears with words makes you feel superhuman again.   Overcoming the threat gives you the sense that you can surmount anything.

Hallowe’en always reminds me of the times I watched the classic horror movies with a friend who lived several floors above our apartment.  She would have to go up two or three flights of steps in a dimly lit stairwell after we watched that week’s movie.  Now, remembering those nights, I wonder what would have happened if she’d just disappeared.  In the stairwell. That was barely lit.  Her footsteps echoing and then suddenly, not. With no witnesses. And no clues.  And she was never found.  Ever …

Are you a ghosts and ghouls Hallowe’en person?  Or a princess and fantasy Hallowe’en person?  Your favorite old horror movie?  (Me, The Mummy — love 1920’s Egypt )  Any Hallowe’en moment in your life that you could make into fiction?

Thea Devine has been delving into the world of vampires with The Darkest Heart, and its sequel, Beyond the Night (April 2013 Pocket Star eBook). There are no vampires in her just reissued erotic contemporary novel, His Little Black Book, available now.

The Vampire Secret

Thea Devine today,having just finished Beyond the Night (Pocket Star eBook April 2013), the sequel to The Darkest Heart, and I thought you might enjoy a little insight into how I got the idea for the Darkest Heart.

Actually, I’m Romanian on my father’s side, so you’d think I’d be steeped knee deep in vampire lore.

But in fact, apart from being scared to death on viewing Dracula when I was eight years old, I never gave vampires a half a thought until I was looking for an idea for my thirteenth book. And even then, and in the subsequent vampire book I wrote, the hero was not a vampire.  In Sinful Secrets, the whole English parliament were vampires;  in Forever Kiss, the vampire had a doppelganger who pretended to be him, so that when the vampire finally returned to his stomping grounds, he had to pretend to be the doppelganger pretending to be him.  Believe me, he was royally peeved — for lots of fun-to-write pages.

However, I couldn’t find a way to wrap my head around vampire as romantic hero.  So when I was thinking about my next book, which it was suggested to me should have vampires, I really was at a loss.  I needed an idea and I needed this vampire to be a hero.

And I really needed to figure out some real ways a woman would feel an attraction to a vampire — because all I’m thinking is blood, gore, dessication and rot.  Coffins and fetid grave dirt.  NOT very sexy.

I was in a local store one day, talking about this current project, when the teenaged clerk overheard me say, vampires, and she exclaimed, “Oh, I love vampires.”   I asked her why and she said, because they were sooo Romeo and Juliet.

Right:  yearning for something, and never to have it.  And it all ends in bloody gory death.  Murderous immortality.  Not hardly romantic.  Not quite the jump-start I was looking for.

So I listed all the reasons why a vampire is supposed to be seductive:

He is the love that cannot be

He’s immortal.

He has super-powers

He’s dangerous to love

He’s super sexual

He’s protective (paternal and sexual)

You yearn for what you can’t have

Reckless endangerment:  death is but a kiss away

Still — nothing in that list sent plotlines roaring through my head.  I was discussing it with my husband one night and I read him the list.  Then I asked him why he thought vampires were so seductive.   I mean, there’s nothing like the male perspective, right?

John said, “they’re victims.”  He said, “they have no choice.”

My jaw dropped.  The heavens opened.  Light flooded the earth, angels sang, and everything fell into place.  Of course.  Genius.  But my husband always says genius things just when I need to hear them.

Victim.

A whole other side of the vampire.  Immediately plot questions steam-rolled through my mind.  What would he do, feeling like that?  How could he take anyone else’s life?  How would he live?  Did he want to die?  How would he survive?  What lies would he tell himself?

AND, if he’s a victim, you then have a heroine wanting to somehow help, nurture, make it better, change it.  If you have the love that cannot be, one might feel the call to sacrifice for the other at some point.  And there was the bedrock of the story — vengeance and sacrifice.

So I wrote this as my logline:

He’s been exiled to the dank bloody world of the undead

He lives solely to destroy the one who sired him

He’s been living to die

Until he encounters the one he can’t live without

And eternity is not an option.

And from that one astute observation, I wrote The Darkest Heart, and the sequel, Beyond the Night.

Thank you, John!

What about you?  Has your husband ever contributed something brilliant to your plotting and planning?   Does he have any input at all, ever?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romance.  She just completed Beyond the Night (April 2013, Pocket Star eBook), the sequel to The Darkest Heart.  The reissue of her erotic contemporary romance, His Little Black Book, is available now.