Tag Archives: sex

Happy Summer Solstice! T-minus 10 days and counting to Becoming Magic

Happy longest day of the year! Happy lightest day of the year! Happy summer solstice!

And happy T-minus 10 days to my new book, Becoming Magic. I’m calling it a new kind of romance.

What is a new kind of romance?

A romance where women are in charge of their own fate and aren’t considered property. A romance where rape is rape, not fantasy. A romance about what real women really want—real men secure enough in their own masculinity to be able to both protect a woman who wants it and back off when she doesn’t.

That’s real romance. It’s sexy and fun and no holds barred. It’s loving and tender and passionate. And here’s a little taste of it.

Connor pulled the linking rings back out of their velvet bag and began practicing with the engagement ring on them. “I may need your help, too.”

“With the trick?” She raised her eyebrows. “I’m not sure I’m the one—”

“Nonsense. You know how it works. You just have to catch it correctly.” He tossed the ring to her. She caught it neatly, but the engagement ring went flying.

“Damn.” She cursed softly. “I thought I could do that.”

“No, you weren’t sure. You said so.” He found the engagement ring and replaced it on the linking ring. He fixed her with a stern look. “Be certain.”

“Okay.” She shrugged, but she knew what he was talking about. Every movement in magic—or any showmanship, really—had to be done with certainty. No rethinking yourself or doubts allowed. The audience should never be aware that you might not know what you’re doing. And so she banished any doubts and looked at him expectantly.

“And don’t look at me like that.” He twirled the rings in the air, absently connecting and disconnecting them. She knew how it was done, but he’d gotten so good at it, she couldn’t catch him.

She laughed. “Why not?”

He paused in the act of juggling the rings, caught them and displayed them all connected with the engagement ring dangling at the bottom. “Because you make it hard for me to be certain.”

She tilted her head, wondering what he meant…

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A New Kind of Romance

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]On July 1, 2018, I will release my latest romance, Becoming Magic. In a very real way, this is an apt title for a turning point in my own writing. In it I address some pretty difficult issues facing the world at large as well as writers of romance today.

I’ve written before about how today’s empowered women have influenced my writing. Once upon a time romance was filled with shrinking, helpless “heroines” dominated by dark, brooding, melancholy “heroes”. Women were overpowered by the sexual demands of men in those romances. Rape fantasies were played out in the pages by manly men—remember the “macho man” from the eighties?—men who took what they wanted without asking.

Is it any wonder men of former generations thought we liked to be wolf whistled at, called “darlin” and sweetheart, and that it was okay to cop a feel if we left an opening?

But it seems women are finally willing to speak up and say they don’t like that. We prefer to be asked appropriately before touching begins. In today’s world, the dukes and tycoons of those old romances would find themselves on the wrong end of a sexual harassment lawsuit.  So how do romances change?

It’s a good question. Romances, at their heart, are fantasies. In the post-50 Shades world of romance, authors have begun to push those fantasies to the limit. Rape fantasies are more blatant and much more graphic in many romances. Is there really any need to stop pushing those limits, though?

The simple answer is yes. Fantasies are only fantasies until they touch on reality, and psychologists are already concerned about the effect mainstream media’s acceptance of borderline practices like S&M will have on developing teenage minds and their sex lives. I believe that the problem has existed all along and goes much deeper. I believe romance authors must address sexual harassment and face the #metoo movement head on.

We have a place in this. We can write a new kind of romance, shape the fantasies of the future. We can write first and foremost about love. Sex is a part of love, a way of expressing love and, in some romances, an essential part of character development. It is not, however, an end without means, and romance writers can and should, at least for our own characters, define what those means are.

I hope you’ll read Becoming Magic. And I hope I’ve succeeded, at least partly, in starting to write my own new and more mindful kind of romance.

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Writing “those” scenes in the age of #metoo

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Never has writing romance been more of a balancing act than it is now, at least if you want to be sensitive to the #metoo movement and yet still satisfy your readers’ cravings for romantic escapism. Let’s face it, first of all, the day of the alpha hero who demands what he wants from a simpering heroine is—or at least should be—over. Flirting that goes too far is also dangerous ground. And writing one of those scenes—sex, that is—well, that’s harder than ever, and writing good ones has never been easy.

If you take all that away from romance, you don’t have much left—though I admit I wave a cheerful good-bye to the alpha hero. But the rest? What is romance without anticipation, flirting, and, ultimately—because we are human—sex? At our cores, we are animals looking for a mate, and that’s what the whole romance genre is based on.

I struggled with this for a long time. I want to believe I’m a liberated liberal woman, but I believe in love and romance. I believe in the value of finding your soul mate and building a life together. The #metoo movement and the ugly stories I heard about things that have happened to women seeking that same thing made me rethink myself. I looked back at my past work and found a number of mistakes and missteps. How could I call myself a feminist if I wrote this?

I put away one work-in-progress without writing that scene for a few weeks, went back and wrote a very bad, almost robotic one with no feeling in it, and finally, a couple of weeks ago, did what I should have done in the first place. I examined my characters’ motivations, especially the heroine’s. Why did she want to have sex at this particular time, with this particular person? I knew she was going to leave him right after, so why did she decide on him in the first place? Once I had the answers, I wrote probably the best one of “those” scenes I’ve ever written.

My point, I suppose, is that romance is a genre in flux right now. I believe you’ll see fewer alpha heroes making demands and fewer simpering victim heroines. If authors of romance are willing to make a change, I think the genre has an opportunity to make an impact—to take us all on a journey away from the #metoo movement to a world where women and their partners can create a world that is safer for our daughters. And isn’t that a world worth escaping to?

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