Category Archives: Sex

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?

Do You Remember…?

Do you remember all your plots? I mean, if you had a backlist that dated from the mid-80’s, would you remember every character, every storyline?

Several years ago at an RWA conference, I was talking with a reader who in the course of conversation told me that one of my books she liked best was the one with the nun. I said there was no book with a nun. She insisted. I was firm. She was certain. I held tight. No nuns.

A few months later, for no reason I can say, I picked up ANGEL EYES, the fifth of my five backlist reissues now available in Kindle eBooks, and there, in the opening chapters, Angelene, my heroine, in a bold move to escape the murderous future her mother has planned for her, disguises herself as a nun to try to make her way to her wealthy grandmother in England.

Really. I couldn’t believe I didn’t remember. I felt like an idiot, remembering my conversation with that reader. How could I forget a detail like that?

Since then, I’ve reread several of my backlist titles, and it was like reading someone else’s books, I was that far removed from the writing of them. They felt new, It was fun to read them, and it was interesting to see the evolution of my writing and my perspective. I kept thinking, did I really write that — then? Did I honestly get away with that scene? Those words? That many pages of foreplay and sex?

Apparently I did, and at a time when the language was much more circumspect and hard core words were tacitly not used. That my early books were reviewed as “spicy” and several years later, “erotic” is still amazing to me and a testament to how powerful everyday words can be.

These first five backlist books are all westerns.. But as I’ve written previously, my true love is antebellum romance. I wrote three of those, which are still to be released, and I’m beyond excited that these backlist titles — anyone’s backlist titles — can now have a second and longer shelf life on-line and with it, a new generation of readers.

Thea Devine is pleased to announce the following titles are now available in KIndle eBooks: Reckless Desire, Ecstasy’s Hostage, Relentless Passion, Montana Mistress and Angel Eyes. She’s currently working on an erotic contemporary romance.

What is ARWD in YA Lit?

PJ Sharon, coming to you on this fine Tuesday from the Northeast Hills. I hope you’re all well and ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. Today, I’d like to share a few new tidbits I learned last week. I just finished taking a YARWA sponsored online workshop , Sex in YA, with the fabulous and talented Heather Howland, editor at Entangled Publishing, who cited ARWD as one of the main problems she sees with YA manuscripts. So what does this strange acronym stand for?

Adult Romance Writer’s Disease. That’s right, it’s that inadvertent adult voice that seeps into YA manuscripts, especially when writing sex or sexual tension scenes. She noted that this seems to happen most often when writers of adult romance make the leap to writing YA. She also noted that she sees this as a problem in many indie-published YA titles. I would agree, and think this is possibly due to the fact that indie-authors are not working with “commercial” editors and aren’t worried so much about fitting into the trad-publishing mold, which has some pretty strict standards about what is marketable fiction. It may also have to do with the fact that YA has a huge cross-over market with adult readers these days, so the language has become more sophisticated. Whether this is intentional or simply an oversight because of the ARWD problem is anyone’s guess.  

There are many levels of steaminess in YA, and Heather has seen it all. But what separates YA from adult romance is the subtle, or not so subtle nuances in voice, word choice, and knowing how far is too far for the story. I saw many awseome examples during the workshop and Heather’s critiques were invaluable.

For instance, if you’re writing about a teen pregnancy, as I did in ON THIN ICE, you’ll likely have to account for the “deed” and will want to make it real to readers…along with the consequences. But we as authors might just need to be sensitive to our audience and take some responsibility for HOW we make it real. Of course this is up for debate, but in my opinion, you have to consider whether you want 12-14 year-old readers (the lower end of the demographic for YA these days) getting a head full of “on the page” description of body parts and anatomical functions the way we see it written in most adult romances. Or is it oh-so-much better to be in the character’s head, experiencing not only the physical, but the emotional impact of the scene from that “first” time POV, which is usually less about the act and more about the feelings involved and all the crazy thought processes that interfere with the actual event.

 I thought I had handled this pretty well when I wrote about Penny and Carter’s first time, but alas, Heather rightly diagnosed me with ARWD. I submitted this particular scene, because it was the steamiest I’d written in any of my books–the only time any of my characters have gone “all the way,” and I knew something wasn’t right. Heather was kind enough to critique our scenes and underlined the sentences that came across as “adult” language. It’s been two years since I wrote this passage and I’ve learned a lot since then, but when she pointed out the problem, I saw it clearly for the first time.

Like any good critique, she started with a positive:

My first impression was that you have a strong, smooth voice. Very easy to read. I can definitely appreciate this as an editor who sifts through a lot of submissions!

Thank you so much for saying so, Heather! And here’s the part of the excerpt that she found problematic, followed by further critique:

As for the intimacy itself, there are some ARWD moments:

A large sleeping cat awoke deep inside me, ready to make its escape. My body purred in response to his flushed face and blazing eyes. His fingertips scalded along my cheek. He wanted me. I could see it, feel it—even taste it in the air.

 As our lips touched, my heart fluttered madly in my chest. I felt the power of his desire, the confidence of his touch. He wasn’t like any other boy I’d known or kissed. He was gentle and sure, and he knew what he wanted. He laced his fingers into my hair and pulled me closer, his lips parting. His tongue felt soft and warm against mine, not demanding, but giving and taking equally. Beyond the saltiness of potato chips and the shared bitterness of Budweiser, I tasted a unique flavor that was his and only his. I wanted to drink him down until I was drunk with it. I wanted to drown in the sensations and smells, the sounds of our mingling sighs and the feel of his hands on my skin.”

Heather’s critique:

With minor exceptions, these are the exact descriptions I’d expect to find in an adult romance novel, not the observations of a 16yo virgin. That’s problematic in and of itself. Your heroine is very aware of her body, his body, her body’s reaction to his body, and all the back and forth physical actions of the kiss—none of which I’d expect to see from someone with her experience. I think this can be tweaked by remembering how you felt about sex at her age. While times have changed and sexual attitudes have relaxed a bit since most of us were 16, I think a lot of the same fears and maturity issues are the same. Teens really do think of everything in a self-oriented light, and when they experience something like this for the first time, it’s hard to be in the moment for them. Their minds are rioting with new information and observations. (There was some confusion about Penny’s age…she was actually 17 in the story, but I agree with this critique on all counts).

This was enormously helpful feedback and made me wish that Ms. Howland was one of my editors. I’d love to see what she would do with my more recent work. Hopefully, I’ll manage to avoid the ARWD trap now that I know what it is and can hopefully spot the signs and symptoms.

Do any of you YA writers out there have this problem? Have you seen it in the YA lit you’ve read? How do you like your YA sexiness…sweet or spicy?

 

 

Sex in Science Fiction by Tam Linsey

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here. Today my guest is science fiction romance author Tam Linsey. Tam and I met in a class to learn how to create a WordPress Blog and we’ve been buddies ever since!

Sex in Science Fiction

By Tam Linsey

In an interview by Scott Westerfield, Samuel Delany says, “The [science fiction] hero, though he may be a renegade, is a guy who doesn’t feel. Anything. Ever.” (Think Spock from Star Trek.) And according to Wikipedia, other than exploring alien methods of reproduction, “Sex is often linked to disgust in SF and horror, and plots based on sexual relationships have mainly been avoided in genre fantasy narratives.”

In the 60’s and 70’s, more science fiction authors broke into exploration of sexual themes, but it seems to me that most of these books dwell on the concept of sexuality (or, in many cases, homosexuality) rather than on relationships. Exploring a relationship requires delving deeply into a character’s point of view, and hardcore science fiction fans would rather read about the intricate physics involved in a starship warp-drive than get into a character’s head. Some readers insist characters in real science fiction only exist to further an idea or concept.

Anyone who has read a science fiction romance knows that’s no longer true.

Women are reading science fiction, and while we are drawn to science fiction theories, we also want characters who feel. We want characters who love. We want characters who experience the fullness of life, including sex. However, I will qualify my statement by saying sex scenes should belong in the story, not be thrown in for sensationalism.

There were multiple reasons I chose to include sex scenes in Botanicaust. First of all, the hero, Levi, comes from a repressed, fundamentalist society, where sex must only occur within the bounds of marriage. He struggles with his own carnal desires (he fathered his child out of wedlock, albeit with a woman he loved, and married after the fact.) And he struggles with other aspects of his religion. What better way to test his character than to pair him with a heroine from not only a more promiscuous society, but a society his people consider an abomination?

And the heroine, Tula, who is genetically engineered to have photosynthetic skin, is deeply affected by sunlight which creates alkaloids (drugs) in her body. Let’s just say these drugs tend to make her frisky. She’s confused about her first sexual encounter with Levi because she doesn’t know if it might be love, or merely the drugs. Of course, she must have sex again to find out. ;)

Botanicaust is a science fiction romance. Although purists in either genre might complain, I attempted to satisfy readers in both camps, and that includes sex scenes. How do you define a successful blend of science fiction and romance? Can science fiction include sex?

The only crop left … is human

After genetically altered weeds devastate Earth’s croplands, much of humanity turns to cannibalism to survive. Dr. Tula Macoby believes photosynthetic skin can save the human race, and her people single-mindedly embark on a mission to convert the cannibals roaming what’s left of Earth. But when Levi, a peaceful stranger, refuses alteration, Tula doesn’t think the only options should be conversion or death.

Levi Kraybill, a devout member of the Old Order, left his Holdout farmland to seek a cure for his terminally ill son. Genetic manipulation is a sin, but Levi will do almost anything for the life of his child. When he’s captured, he’s sure he’s damned, and his only escape will be death.

Tula’s superiors schedule Levi’s euthanization, and she risks everything to set the innocent man free. Now she and Levi are outlaws with her people, and she’s an abomination with his. Can they find sanctuary in a cannibal wasteland?

Buy now at AmazonKoboSmashwordsiTunesAll Romance Ebooks, or in paperback at Createspace

Tam Linsey lives in Alaska with her husband and two children. In spite of the rigors of the High North, she grows, hunts, or fishes for much of her family’s food. During the long Alaskan winters she writes speculative fiction.

Excerpt:

Tula sat on the desert floor clutching her knees against her chest, face slack and eyes glazed. She babbled the whole time he worked. He assumed she was offering directions, but since he couldn’t understand, he didn’t pay attention. He draped the blanket over himself like a cape and held out the robe toward her, leaves and branches rattling in the stiff breeze. Her eyes widened and she skittered backward. “No, no.”

“Tula, we have to hide.”

She shook her head vehemently. The duster sped closer. Had he and Tula been spotted?

“Tula. Hide!” He tried to put the robe over her. She cried out and scurried away, moaning.

What was wrong with her? The flyer was nearly upon them. He pounced on her and dragged her to a beat-up stand of amarantox. Pushing her backward to the ground, he settled on top of her to hold her still. Her struggles didn’t make covering them with the blanket and robe easy. “Tula, stay still,” he said against her cheek.

She sobbed and relaxed her limbs, but her whole body trembled violently. Panting against his shoulder, she moaned his name.

“Shhhh. Tula.”

They waited. How long until the search party came their way? Beneath the blanket the air grew stuffy. The smell of evergreen filled the space, and he became embarrassingly aware of how close they were. Pressed against her skin so intimately, they might as well be making love, he couldn’t help his arousal.

Save me from temptation…

The drone of the duster drew nearer.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured. His hips ached to press tighter against her. Her hands crept up his sides, gripping the small of his back. Lips against his shoulder.

Stiffening, he said, “God, Tula, no.”

The fabric over them rustled in a breeze, halting his protest. The humming flyer passed directly over their position.

Seemingly unconcerned, her tongue caressed the skin at the edge of his collarbone in lazy circles. What was wrong with her?

“Tula, we mustn’t.” The same words he’d spoken to Sarah so many times.

The whirr of the craft faded, but he resisted the urge to move. They could still be nearby.

She pulled his head toward her, lips against lips. The hint of wintergreen filled his mouth.

A shiver raced to his toes as the world spun out from under him, like after drinking too much apple wine. The soft warmth of a woman seemed like a dream, smooth skin beneath his fingertips, a subtle sigh of sweet air against his cheek. His body took over, and suddenly the duster didn’t matter. The hard, dry earth beneath them didn’t matter. The only thing in his world right now was the willing woman beneath him.

Her legs parted, encouraging his hips between them. He could hardly breathe beneath the blanket. Tasting her lips again, his head spun with drunken desire.

Her fingers bit into the flesh of his buttocks, pulling him deeper, closer, as her heels locked his thighs in place above her.

No turning back. Waves of mind-numbing pleasure crashed around him and he let go, primal need claiming him. The release was exquisite, lasting forever and over too soon. Palms planted against the baked earth, he lifted, allowing a cool rush of air to flutter beneath the blanket. She was so beautiful, the light turning her skin green. Green?

His head swam as he raised his face to the horizon. What had just happened, here? She was Blattvolk. A temptress of the devil. And they were supposed to be hiding from the search party. “What have you done to me?”

She didn’t speak, just traced his lips with her index finger. His vision wavered again. Drugs. She’d drugged him. This must be a trap.

Wow! <fanning face> Thanks for being our guest today Tam. So romance fans, who’s read a sci-fi romance? And sci-fans, do you enjoy romance with your science fiction?

Let’s Have That Sex Talk

Thea Devine today, talking sex.  Or writing sex, actually, based on a talk I gave at the NJRWA meeting this month.

I’ve been writing erotic romance for nearly all my writing career.  I don’t plot and plan all the sexual compass points.  I have an idea of something I want to do, like, oh say, nipple rings, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t ever started a book knowing just when and where I’d use something like that.  It all comes organically out of the plot and conflicts, and that’s overlaid by other things, like my watching an HBO show one night with a belly dancer and those rings, and thinking, after a week of walking around with my arms crossed over my breasts, what if the rings weren’t pierced, what if they hung there. Just so.  Just so you feel them.  Where could I use that?

As it happened, I was writing Beyond Desire at the time and the heroine was in a harem, and there were all these bare breasts and …  Beyond Desire was the first historical romance that RT reviewed as erotic romance.  That was 1993.

It didn’t cause even a ripple in the industry.  But in 1999 Kensington books shook up mainstream publishing when it released Captivated, a trade paperback anthology of steamy novellas. And they put the words “tales of erotic romance” on the cover.

Nobody fainted.  And the book blasted onto USAToday in about thirty seconds.  Fascinated, the follow-up, blew out of the stores and onto USAToday as well, proving — obviously — that women will pay for sex.

Erotic was suddenly the next new thing.

Then recently, for the last two years or so, there’s been a pull-back on the assumption that readers were going to the internet for erotic content because — why? more privacy, more variety, more tailored-to-the-taste choices, easier access, e-readers.

And then came 50 Shades of Grey , and erotic was suddenly the next new thing.

So what about erotic romance as a platform for you?  Can you write erotic romance?  There are editors who believe that authors who write it can’t NOT write it, that it’s absolutely integral to the way some authors write.

If you’re wondering what your husband will say, your mom, your sister, your minister, if you think people will wonder what goes on in your bedroom — then maybe erotic romance is not for you.

I never had those qualms.  I’ve written explicitly from the get-go, right from that scene in my first book where, as I’ve recounted elsewhere, I had the cornered heroine put her hand between the hero’s legs.  In that scene, I found my erotic philosophical footing — that adversarial relationship which gives a just-can’t-help-themselves edge to the sex and the story.

But when I first started out, in 1987, I couldn’t use four letter words, or proper terms for body parts.  We used none of those one syllable hard hitting hard-core words you would expect when writing a sexually explicit book.  .

Try to describe something which is essentially indescribable:  I mean, how do you describe a kiss?  And orgasm?  A man’s touch?  How do you do that without relying on those time-tested sex words?  There’s no language for it.  Yet we could — by using plain old every day household words to write about sex from a woman’s point of view.

I think that was extraordinary and a revolution all on its own.

Now, when nothing is off the table,  you can be as over the top as you want or care to get.

Is anything goes right for you?  How far are you willing to go?

I essentially write erotic male/female relationships, with the heroine and the hero constantly wresting for control, tons of sex, and a happy, or cusp of happy, ending.

My own guidelines from day one were:  no negative visual images (she isn’t on fire;  he doesn’t impale her with his molten rod). He doesn’t hurt her (he can, emotionally).  She has some control.  Sex is consensual (no matter what’s going on).

But you could push even further — orgies, male/male, triads, foursomes, bestiality, hard core bondage/domination/punishment, corset discipline …  There’s a place for all of it now, and readers for every taste, from graphic and raw to sweet and super romantic..  Only you can decide where to draw the line on how far you’ll go.

A guest at a conference once asked me how much of what I write is really me. That’s a question to strike full-blown terror in a writer’s heart. I really had to think about it.  And truthfully, in the end, some of it.  Not everything.  But that scary thought is huge barrier to some authors to actually put themselves “out there” that nakedly in fiction.  I mean, what if someone thought all of that sex toy play was all about you?  Was it?

If you have constraints but you want to write erotic, why not try?  It’s you and your computer screen.  No one ever has to see it if you don’t want them to.  You can let yourself go — or you can say NO — and delete before things go too far.

But if you really love to write explicit romance, write those scenes as if your characters are Adam and Eve and they just discovered sex — and you did too.

I have to confess I have been asked to tone things down a couple of times.  Once I was told there was too much semen in a particular novella.  Really, people, can there ever be too much semen — in fiction or in life?

You could view erotic romance as a love letter to men — or as a sex act in and of itself (lots of foreplay, climaxes and reader satisfaction).  It’s safe sex, and the best fun in the world.  And if you choose to play, I promise I’ll respect you in the morning.

Can we talk?  Do you write, or want to write, erotic romance?  What are your boundaries? What won’t you do?  What won’t you read?  How far can an author go with you?

Thea Devine is nearly done with Beyond The Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart.  She is the author whose books defined erotic historical romance and the USAToday best-selling author of 25 historical and contemporary erotic romance novels and a dozen novella. She is looking forward to the reissue of His Little Black Book next month.