Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Big Love Scene

As I write this, I have reached the spot in my latest story when the big sex scene is about to unfold. Other erotic romance writers will be familiar with this moment, and readers may find it interesting. Writing the Big Love Scene is, at least for me, a whole nother experience from writing the rest of the narration.

The rest of the narration is plot, description, and dialogue. The plot is just a matter of creative planning and getting from point A to point B. Honestly, it takes more discipline than anything else. The description requires a bit more imagination but it isn’t bad. The dialogue is a joy because it’s typically just the process of writing down what the characters have to say.

But the sex is different. You have to have your imagination cranked all the way to eleven, because sex never writes itself. The plot to sex is pretty much a variation on a half dozen possibilities. The description tends to be clichéd. And usually there isn’t much dialogue. So if you want to get words on paper, words that will actually move the reader, you have to have a sexual experience in your head that is worth telling about. A real sexual experience.

I’m a terrible actor but I can relate a bit to those who use method acting because that’s what an author must do for the Big Love Scene. I have to become the heroine. And by the time I let the hero have his way with me, I have to know him well enough and feel strongly enough for him that I can’t resist him. (Now you know why it usually takes awhile to get to my sex scenes!) This guy has to be vivid in my mind: his appearance, his unique charms, the feel and scent and sound of him. And he can’t make love to me in some commonplace way; there has to be something notable about it.

Once all this is achieved, the nudity and touching can finally get underway, and hopefully something lustful ensues. Okay, it always does, but only because the preparations were carefully made. And then it’s time to make an attempt to actually record this imaginary encounter, in language potent enough to convey it successfully to the reader.

I wouldn’t go through the bother of this work if it weren’t so fun. But of course it’s one of the most fun things ever, especially after the writing is over and I can read the passage as often as I like. Really, what’s not to like about having perfect, consequence-free sexual encounters with men I created myself? Reminds me of the guys who made the female robot in “Weird Science,” only the supplies required are much cheaper.

So I don’t mean to whine. But I need to stop stalling and write this scene. Raniwa (that’s his name—plan to buy Soulful Sex III if you’re curious) is waiting…and although he has infinite patience, Rebekkah doesn’t. I wouldn’t either if I were her.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Please Make Me Want to Do What I Don’t Want to Do

I just finished watching the 2002 mini series version of “Dr. Zhivago.” It's a tragic story on both personal and socio-political levels, a serious film indeed. But for this blog entry I am focusing on one small aspect, a trivial one, so bear with me for setting aside the more important themes of the film.

My subject today is particularly Sam Neill as the evil but sexy Victor, who corrupts young Lara years before she falls for the good and noble Doctor.

It’s not easy to pull off a role in which you must evoke two opposing reactions from the audience at once. Sam Neill must make us feel repugnance (“he’s old enough to be her father, and such a terrible man—she should rebuff him!”) and attraction (“but wouldn’t it be fun if she gave in—after all, he’s really attractive in a deliciously evil sort of way”) simultaneously.

I have been haunted by the image of Keira Knightly’s Lara in Victor’s clutches, her expression alternating between despair and bliss. I can just imagine what he is doing to her below the line of the camera’s vision. And when she begs him to leave her alone, only to capitulate under his kiss, a person has to marvel at the potency of his charms.

I just love the “Please Make Me Want to Do What I Don’t Want to Do” Phenomenon. In this case, I imagine myself as this young girl who wants to be a good, pure person, to be with a noble young man of character. But my curiosity leads me to yield to the rich, powerful, sexy older man, just to find out what he would be like. Unfortunately for me, he happens to be an experienced master of the arts of pleasure. And even more unfortunately, I realize my involvement with him will cost me heavily: after all, he is a bad man, and what I’m doing is a scandal. So I’ve put myself in the position where I don’t want to do the very thing he makes me want to do…and that makes it twice as hard to resist.

Why? Because there if pleasure is so intense that it overcomes all our better judgment, it must be very potent indeed. The very act of giving in convinces us of this fact. The more we want to stop doing it, the greater kick there is in giving in.

Nowadays everyone understands the importance of the concept “no means no.” But when you’re talking about fantasy, I have to hark back to that old clichéd line of dialog, “Your lips say no, but your eyes say yes.” We have to admire the villain who is so confident of his sexual prowess that he sees through the rejection and recognizes the secret lust. It’s hard not to hope he won’t “press the point” so we can experience that wonderful moment when hands stop pushing away and start groping and caressing.

Just some light and trivial thoughts in the midst of the Bolshevik Revolution...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Secrets at Work: A Real Life Adventure

The poem that follows was inspired by a real life adventure. I recently struck up an email correspondence with a guy who works for my employer in another department. We had never actually had occasion to interact at work. One day he sent an email company-wide, which revealed that outside of his rather mundane day job, he is in a rock band, and also does graphic and web design. I had never suspected such marvels of this guy, and thereafter he and I began emailing. Likewise, of course he had never guessed one of his co-workers wrote erotic romance.

We two are classic examples of people who look ordinary but in reality are not.

Our correspondence so far has led us down some interesting paths of mutual discovery, not the least of which is that he very kindly shared with me a sample of his own erotic writing after having read samples of my own. The little tale was lovely, and delightful, and soul-brightening. I read the piece in the morning and then went to work, where of course both of us went about our business not even having opportunity to converse.

It is a very strange thing to have swapped such creative intimacies with someone and then spent a day in which both parties must carry on with the mundanities of life, disguised as ordinary people. It made me wonder what mysteries go on every day, in the lives of people everywhere, beneath the façade.

Beneath the Façade

It’s 8:04 a.m. and I punch in,
Check out your desk, but you’re not to be seen.
I fetch my coffee, read my email, meet with my boss;
And meanwhile I know you do your own Monday.

But all the while my soul is far away,
In that world your words fashioned,
The room of your imagination where lovers meet,
And tentatively touch, then surrender to desire.

I know it’s not real because I alone see it,
Although it seems more substantial than this office.
Not real—and yet, are you and I not true magic,
Even though no one else suspects?

I swap news with my co-workers,
Talk about movies and home projects;
I settle down to write a report,
So professional in reading glasses and tasteful skirt.

No one can tell that I am haunted
By the thoughts of another dreamer,
His secret longings, his trembling heart,
His kiss, his bliss as he takes love in his arms.

Nor I suppose do those who look upon you
Guess that your thoughts might be so bright.
As your fingers work you must seem just a man,
And no one sees the light, the music, the fire...

Except me,
Several walls beyond you in this building of brick,
But all the while cohabiting with you
Beneath the façade.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

"More Emotionally Sexy Than Erotic"

My book Soulful Sex just received it’s first really big time review. It got 4 stars from Romantic Times BOOKclub, which is quite a thrill for a new romance author. But I’m not here to brag; rather I want to comment on the reviewer’s interesting observation that the stories in my book are “more emotionally sexy than erotic.”

I’m not taking issue with her at all. I’ve known all along that my books are not “typical erotica” which is why I’ve always referred to it as “erotica with soul.” So it came as no surprise that she started off her review by making a distinction. What I found interesting was the distinction she made.

I suppose the statement means that my stories stimulate the libido via the emotions, and frankly, I feel that’s the only “genuine” way an author can do it. Sure, it’s possible to arouse a reader simply by inspiring his or her imagination to conjure up sexual images. That works, at least for a lot of people. But some people don’t enjoy erotica simply because that doesn’t work for them.

However, these same people can get horny as heck from a scene that doesn’t even employ nudity. For example, to lots of us, vampires are big turn on, but they seldom feed undressed, true?

I won’t differ with my very kind reviewer concerning the statement that my stories are “emotionally sexy.” I’m thrilled she thought so. But I don’t think she really meant to say they aren’t “erotic.” Isn’t sexy, any kind of sexy, erotic by definition? I believe rather that the reviewer was trying to say, “Don’t expect the typical words and scenarios you find in erotica in this book.” And that is definitely something worth saying and completely true.

The problem is not with this reviewer, but rather with the narrow view some people have today of “erotic.” If you’ve poked around my blog at all, you know how broadly I define it.

If specific words are required to arouse you, in a more or less Pavlovian fashion, then you’d be wasting your money on my books. But if you want your emotions provoked in such a manner that you end up lusty, you might well enjoy them.

“Emotionally sexy.” I kind of like that.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Face Time

Here’s what I’m up to these days: bringing the characters I’ve invented in my erotic romance stories to life!

Well, okay--not literally. But I’m using a software program called FaceGen to create portraits of all the lead characters in my stories. That’s a list of 47 people at the moment, so it will take awhile. But it’s a labor of love if ever there was one, particularly creating the portraits for the heroes.

I suppose since my business is dealing in words, I should be content with creating intensely attractive guys verbally. However, the prospect of being able to look all these fellows in their cornflower blue, hauntingly gray, wild green, or infinitely deep brown eyes is awfully exciting.

And using this 3D software adds another haunting element: After you create a face, you can rotate it in space this way and that, make it look right at you, make it form expressions for various preset emotions, and so on. This just makes the experience of bringing a character off the page and into real life that more intense.

My first portrait was of Anders, the vampire hero of my short story “Pints” from Soulful Sex Volume I. He’s a sweet, sensitive guy, but at the same time, he is a vampire. So I created this fair Swede with a boyish face capable of being very good-humored, but caught in a moment when his vampire side shows as well. I find his beauty to be eerie and otherworldly, and intensely sexy. To see that face which until now has been only a misty picture in my mind is amazing. And the heroine Eliza’s obsession with Anders makes even more sense now!

When it comes to sex, I like to think of men as visual and women as much more cerebral. Nevertheless, looking at Anders is arousing, there’s no doubt about it. It makes me wonder, how exactly does that work? Why does turning his head so he meets my eyes give me that shiver? Why did making his nose at precisely that angle appeal to me the most? Why is there such pleasure in the simple act of gazing upon those lips, those eyes, the sum of that face?

I know the science of human behavior has theories to explain answer all these questions, but it’s more fun simply to bask in the mystery.

Anyway, this project is going to be one ton of fun. Authors play god for a living anyway, but I feel like I just got promoted a few clouds higher…

Monday, August 01, 2005

Guys…Wanna Be Sexy?

In my ongoing efforts to make the world a happier, sexier place, I thought I’d pass on a few tips to guys who want to increase their sex appeal (assuming there are a few in that category out there). Here’s a short list of some sure-fire ways to increase your desirability to the average woman, and keep in mind, you don’t need to look like Brad Pitt to pull these off:

1. Play guitar. You get ten points for this if you are actually in a band or play professionally (any instrument counts then, including orchestral bassoon). But even if you only play for your own amusement, it counts big. Note: Simply owning a guitar but not being willing and able to demonstrate your ability does not count. Second note: Playing air guitar could give you a point or two if you do it convincingly.

2. Fix cars or do home improvement. These talents do not simply appeal to women because they could save them money or trouble. They also demonstrate your capability, independence and resourcefulness, all very nice masculine qualities. Ask any woman who used to watch the old NBC show “Ed” how she felt when Ed fixed Carol’s plumbing. There’s a double entredre in there but I’ll ignore it for now.

3. Be good with kids. Whether or not a woman has any interest in having kids of her own, your ability to handle them will still get you points. It proves that if she herself ever chooses to be childlike, whether in terms of neediness or desire to play, you will be able to relate to her.

4. Cook. The preponderance of TV shows featuring chefs is hardly due to the fact that everyone in America wants to learn to cook; as always, it’s all about the sex. Women go crazy for guys who can prepare béchamel or chop scallions really fast. Look, if a guy who looks like Alton Brown can seem hot (and believe me, he does), you can too. This is just another case of seeming capable, and it’s also a very sensual skill. Serve a woman a tasty meal—gourmet or simple—and she respond by salivating (interpret that remark as you will).

5. Be funny. I have always believed and always will: the quickest way to a woman’s heart is her sense of humor. I fell in love with David Steinberg when I was 13, and all he had to his credit was boyish good looks and a great standup routine. But man, that guy was hot. Laughter is pleasure, and something in a woman’s brain makes her think that if you can tickle her funny bone, other delights must certainly follow.

6. Do something exotic. Any unusual quirk about you could be a sexual claim to fame. Stuff in this category includes: speak a foreign language, know how to make stained glass windows, raise orchids, collect fine wines, be able to recite sonnets from memory, be an expert on spelunking, etc. If you are Scottish and own a complete outfit in your clan’s tartan, and wear it to your local Scottish festival and for Halloween, you will get chicks in droves.

7. Be able to dance. If you are actually a good dancer, you’ll get ten points for this. If you are willing to learn ballroom dance, big bonus points. If you are merely a decent dancer but are willing to actually get out on the floor, that will get you more points than you think. Women just like a guy with enough confidence to get out and move, regardless of style.

8. Pick something the Fab Five would recommend. It’s a cliché to point out the irony of the sex appeal gay men have, but let me just mention that the topic is worth your consideration. No one’s asking you to become a dyed-in-the-wool metrosexual, and a lot of women, myself included, like guys who drink beer and enjoy sports. But you really will get some points if you dress decently, get a quality haircut, and decorate your space with a bit of style.

9. Understand women’s sexuality. Once you get beyond the superficial and into the realm of intimacy, it will behoove you to have a good grasp on what makes women tick, sigh and swoon. There are plenty of resources out there, so avail yourself. Your knowledge of how to please a woman in bed (or even just on the front porch) will well be worth the effort.

10. Love her. Incurable romantic that I am, I can’t limit myself to just the stuff that will “get you the interview.” If you really want the job long term, nothing is sexier than being the kind of guy who can be sincerely interested, selfless, faithful and devoted. If you merit a zero on this one, she will figure it out before too long. But a ten in this category will cover a multitude of sins. It will definitely get you out of having to take the ballroom dance lessons.