Tag Archives: sex

I love to read, but…

Yesterday, my writing friend, author Holland Rae, wrote a blog post titled  Why I DNF. I highly recommend you click on that link and read it.

Now, for those of you who don’t now what DNF means, it stands for DID NOT FINISH. Anyone who has judged the RITA awards has seen these 3 letters mentioned over and over again the past year in the judging instructions and online. To the regular world, the letters are for readers who have failed to finish a book. Not because of time constraints, but for reasons that run the gamut from not being on board with the subject matter, to hating the mealy mouthed, weak heroine. I’ve picked up books after reading the back blurb, thinking I was getting one story, and when I started reading, was given an entirely different one. This kind of publishing bait and switch isn’t common, but does happen. I think I’m getting a romantic comedy about a run away heiress and the private eye sent after her to bring her back, and once I get into the story it’s really about a spoiled bitch who doesn’t deserve to live, or the hero is a misogynistic bore.

I stop reading. Really, I’ll never get that hour I wasted back now and don’t feel I want to invest any more of the little time I have left to finish the dopey story.

I picked up a book recently by an author that I’ve read before and enjoyed and that was touted as romantic suspense and there was – literally – nothing suspenseful or romantic about the plot. The story  crammed as much sex into the pages as the author could while the h/h were being followed by a stalker. Sex in a tiny car, in a public bathroom ( yuk! Just…yuk), under a desk, in a closet. If the book had been marketed properly and not labeled a romantic suspense, I might have passed on it at the get-go. I have a large list of one-click authors, though, and she was among them, so I never really delved into the blurb.

I’ve stopped reading books and tossed them into the recycling pile, not even the donate to the public library pile because I didn’t think anyone deserved to waste their time on  poorly written, boring stories.

Judgmental, thy name is Peggy, I know.

In Holland’s well written article, she states,

  • “I…will finish problematic or frustrating reads because it teaches me how to avoid making the same mistakes. As an author, I think it’s important to read books that aren’t perfect so we can perform more effectively in our own stories.”

That is such a valid point, and I agree with it 100%…in principle. When I was first starting out in my fiction writing career, I did commit to finishing all the books I read, even though some of them were awful. Learning what not to do is as important as learning what to do, and this was my validation. Nowadays, though, I simply don’t have the time to devote more to a book that just hasn’t captured me in the first 3 or four chapters.

The deal breakers for me about whether to DNF a book or carry on til the end to see if it gets any better ( and really, haven’t we all done that?) are as follows:

The characters curse a lot.

I know this is kind of dumb, but I hate watching a movie where every other word is the f-bomb. Use our beautiful language to paint a picture, writers, and not depend on expletives to do it for you!!

The sex is all Insert A into Slot B, lather, rinse, repeat. 

I was a Registered Nurse in my before-writing life. I know how sex works. I don’t need an anatomy or a causal lesson in how to do it. What I do need – what I crave – is reading about the emotions the people involved in the act are going through while they are…acting.

Cruelty as a plot point. We’ve all read the redeemed hero. I happen to love a redeemed hero. What I don’t love – and what no one should – is a hero who starts out sadistic, mean, verbally or physically abusive, caustic, or nasty and then magically  – through the love of the heroine, someone who comes along to show him how to love for the very first time – changes into a sloppy puppy without ever finding out why he is the way he is. Dumb, just…dumb and lazy writing. I’m tossing that one down in chapter one.

Vapid, walk on secondary characters. 

 

(Holland and I agree on this one.)My real-life friends are fully formed human beings with working minds, opinions, and thoughts. They have jobs, families, hobbies, things they love and  things they hate. They were not put on this earth to walk into my life, act as a sounding board for my choices, and then walk out again. Another toss in the recycle pile if I find this in a book.

Voice.

(this is another point I have in common with Holland). I like to read books written in all points of view. First, third, revolving, omniscient. If the story is solid and the characters are well formed, the voice (or  POV) the story is told in shouldn’t be a negative factor. I know someone who says he/she never reads anything that is written in first person. Suffice it to say she isn’t reading anything of mine, then. But back to my point. If a writer has decided on telling his/her story in first person, that characters’s voice better be the best one for the job. I don’t want to read an historical romance in first person where the heroine states, Lord Suchanass was a total tool last night at Lady Fatass’s shindig. Um…no. Just…no. That’s a DNF straight into the garbage, never mind recycling. Having said that, if an author is going to use revolving first or third person, she/he better make sure the person speaking is immediately identifiable and doesn’t sound like every other person in the book. I’ve truthfully had to start a chapter over because I thought I was in the heroine’s POV when I was actually in the hero’s. There was no distinction between the two voices. That’s just poor writing at its core, peeps.

I need to own up to this: my DNF pile has grown exponentially as I’ve had more of my own books published. As stated, I simply don’t have the time to waste on a book if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do on page one or in the first chapter: capture the reader’s ( ME!) attention. I hope I’ve learned to write that way. I’d hate to be on anyone’s DNF list/pile.

If I have been on yours…have pity on my fragile ego and don’t ever tell me! I’m better off not knowing.

~Peg

When I’m not reading you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me

Here’s the link to my TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAMN BOOK podcast interview, just in case you missed it: TMAYDB

and the link to my recent interview on NewHampshirePublicRadio

 

 

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Open doors…or closed doors?

My, my, my….there are so many ways to interpret what the title of this week’s blog challenge is. I’m going to go with the first thing that came to MY mind when I read it, namely, as a romance writer, do you write sex scenes openly, or do you leave them for behind closed doors?

The first actual romantic story I ever read was Pride and Prejudice. 

The sexiest thing about that book was its lack of sex. No hand holding, no touching except with gloves on and while dancing, no stolen kisses behind chaperone eyes. Lingering looks and side glances were the extent of the sexual tension shown. And I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it tension. More…expectation.

For hundreds of years after that book was published, the majority of romantic fiction remained the same. The hero and heroine fell in love, had their troubles, then got married. The End. The wedding night was never detailed; their children seemed to be sent from God as immaculate conceptions. You literally didn’t know how they got it on in the bedroom.

Even in the movies things weren’t shown. Remember the great staircase scene in Gone With The Wind?

A drunken Rhett scoops his wife, Scarlett, up in his arms and carries her up that grand staircase, the light fading behind them the higher he goes, his intent obvious. End of scene. Cut to the next morning with Scarlett lounging in bed, a girlish blush on her cheeks, and our imaginations left to run rampant on what occurred after the fade out and the bedroom door was shut in our faces. (Click here to see the actual filmed scene)

Fast forward a half century.

A little independent movie called The Devil in Miss Jones opened and sex – raw, in your face ( and every other body part) sex between two people…and even more than 2 people at once – was now on view for all to see and be…entertained by. It wasn’t shown in back street, urine smelling alleyway hole-in-the-wall porno theaters, but right on Main Street, USA movie houses. The people who stood in line for hours weren’t pedophiles or sex perverts ( although, I’m sure there were a few of those!) but everyday men and women, NORMAL people who were intrigued -and let’s be honest, titillated – about this movie and its usually forbidden subject manner.  It became an overnight cult classic that was accepted and viewed by the mainstream majority.

If you could watch sexual acts among consenting adults openly in the movie theater, sitting next to your neighbor, your boss, your politicians, even your doctor or dentist, why the heck couldn’t you buy a book and read about it openly as well?

Jacqueline Suzanne thought the same thing and wrote a little fictional tome called Valley of the Dolls.

 And while this wasn’t classified as a romance story but as literary fiction – nowadays it would be referred to as Women’s Fiction – it was a runaway bestseller and the major reason it was is because it talked about people having sex — and showing it!! All kinds of sex in all kinds of places – and I’m not just referring to locales, but to different orifices! (Orifi?)

Writers Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss thought the same thing. Why couldn’t you show the physical side of a relationship? In detail? 

This new openness about sexual acts opened that bedroom door and they invited us in. All in! Before those two burst on the romance writing scene, if you wanted to read about what consenting adults did in the privacy of their bedrooms, you had to go to a certain brand of book shop and wander in the erotica section because that’s where the books with sex were kept. Or behind the counter and you had to – blushingly – ask for them by name and author.

 Rogers and Woodiwiss made it acceptable for the average romance reading MOM to buy a book with detailed sex scenes in them at the town independent bookstore, or the local Walmart, Target, and KMart.

Once that bedroom door was opened, it hardly ever closed again. Sweet romances still sell – a lot – but the majority of romance books written and sold now all have open bedroom ( and every other conceivable place and room) doors.

I’m with the majority on this one. I like reading about open bedroom doors and I write about open bedroom doors. In its baldest sense, I have an open door policy for my writing. Pun intended. I read all genres of romance except pure erotica. I do, though, read and enjoy erotic ROMANCES because –HELLO!!!– romance is the major part of the equation. A really good writer can devise a “love scene” where you never even realize the physicality of what you’re reading as much as you do the emotions involved in the physical aspects of what’s on the page. And let’s face it, if you’re getting a little…turned on…both emotionally and physically by what you’re reading, that author has done her job. I long to be that type of writer!

To quote the late and amazeballs George Michael,

“Sex is natural, sex is good
Not everybody does it
But everybody should
Sex is natural, sex is fun
Sex is best when it’s, one on one”
from I WANT YOUR SEX

Now, there are a bunch more authors in this blog challenge who may have interpreted this blog title just a little bit differently than I have. Let’s hop over and see what they’ve come up with, shall we?

 

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