Virtually Ecstatic

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I love it when I open up my email in the morning and there, buried among the updates I can’t remember signing up for and urgent invitations to spend money, is a jewel, a golden nugget, a genuinely juicy piece of virtual mail. .

Like today, when I opened my inbox to find the entries I’ll be judging for the Passionate Plume Contest. I signed up to be a judge so long ago, I’d almost forgotten about it. But Holley Trent, Passionate Ink’s Vice President and the coordinator of the contest didn’t. She sent me two tidy little digital packets of erotic romance goodness to read, enjoy and evaluate.

I’ve got a million things to check off my to-do list before I settle in to read them, but like a little kid left alone with brightly wrapped presents under the Christmas tree, I couldn’t resist taking a tiny peek.

Big mistake.

I don’t really need to get that chapter written, do I? Or tackle that pile of laundry that has grown so large and unruly it seems to be developing a personality? That can wait. Same with the empty fridge. Canned beans count as a vegetable, I’m pretty sure. And when you’re a romance writer, any romance reading you do is research, right?

Fellow Passionate Ink members, if you’re a competitor in the the contest, I wish you the best of luck. And if you’re a judge? Same. Choosing a winner is not going to be easy.

I know you can’t judge a book by its cover. Or its blurb. Or its first page (Okay, chapter. I admit it. I’ve got a reading problem.). But they do give you some idea of what to expect. If the quality of submissions matches what I’ve read so far, we Passionate Plume judges are going to have a hard time narrowing it down.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some reading, I mean laundry to do.

 

Edible Ink

 

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I wouldn’t say I have a tattoo fetish.

I mean, sure, both the hero in Please and my current work in progress sport healthy doses of inked skin. And the heroine in my paranormal romance short, Ripe, has Diego Rivera’s Nude with Calla Lilies engraved on her back. But I’m not obsessed. It’s just that tattoos and erotic romance just seem made for each other.

I mean, think about it.

While erotic romance alphas may often seem tough and guarded, their tattoos reveal the depth of emotion hiding beneath. You could say that inked men literally wear their hearts on their sleeves. The pictures on their skin represent something so important, they want to be reminded of it every time they look in the mirror. Guys with tats are not easy-come, easy-go. They feel strongly, deeply, passionately. Mm.

Then there’s the whole bad-boy thing. After all, tattoos are subversive. Or at least, they used to be. Now, in North America at least, everyone from your barista to your kid’s kindergarten teacher seems to have one, but it wasn’t too long ago that skin art was seen mainly on those who had turned their backs on the conformist values of the white middle class. That shadowy history still colors it. Despite their prevalence, tattoos project that I-don’t-care-what-you-think vibe. They say rebel, rule-breaker, risk-taker. And that is incredibly sexy.

How about the actual process of getting the tattoo? Hints of sadomasochism aside, there’s the whole vulnerability thing going on. Big strong man lies down and lets someone go to work on him. Willing submission. Penetration. Need I say more?

And, of course, tattoos are the ultimate symbol of commitment. I’m not talking about celebrities getting matching tats to immortalize their love. But a hero who has permanently altered his body, and in most cases, displays it for the world to see, shows that he’s willing to go all-in for something when it means enough to him.

What could be more romantic than that?

Are you into ink, too? Check out my Pinterest board Tattoos.

Photo Credit: Lily Lvnatikk

Just Because I Write about Sex, it Doesn’t Mean I Want to Have it with You

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Dear Bill (not your real name),

I have to give you credit for coming to our writer’s meet-up. You must have felt a bit out of place, a lone seventy-something man in a gaggle of young to youngish women. And it did take balls to share your ad copy with a group of serious fiction writers and listen, semi-patiently, as they ripped it apart.

It’s those balls, though, that are the problem. Not that you have them, but that you let them and their over-eager appendage buddy dictate your behavior.

Hey, it’s okay that you felt a little something in those balls when I read my chapter aloud. A little tingling or stirring or whatever. That means I was doing my job. When I craft a sexy scene between my leading man and leading lady, I sure hope the reader will get an erotic charge out of it. That’s what erotic romance is all about – the deepening of intimacy between a couple as they get to know each other’s minds, hearts, and yes, bodies.

It’s not okay, however, to leer. To look at me like I just flashed you my ass and invited you to spank it. To make suggestive comments to that effect.

I wonder. Would you have had the same reaction if an overweight octogenarian in a tracksuit had read those lines? Nothing against overweight octogenarian erotic romance writers. I fully intend to be one someday. I just wonder if my (relative) youth and (relative) attractiveness played into it at all? Made you think it was okay to look and talk to me that way. That by being a nubile female writing about sex, I was somehow asking for it?

Let me clarify: I wasn’t.

See, Bill, I didn’t write that scene for you.

I wrote it for women like me. Women who may be happily married (or not), who lead full and busy lives but who want to lose themselves in a sexy love story every now and then.

I didn’t read it aloud to titillate you, either.

I read it to get feedback on what was working and what wasn’t, so I could craft a story those women might want to read.

So, if you want to come to another meet-up, don’t let me stop you. If you want to share constructive feedback and help other writers strengthen their craft and their stories, feel free.

But please, check your balls at the door.

(Photo credit: Volkan Olmez)