Category Archives: sex

Thirty Two Years

That’s how long the fella and I have been married. I have trouble remembering the exact number from time to time, actually–that’s what age does to one, after all–and then I have to Do Math to calculate it. But that’s the number. 32.

We delayed celebrating on our actual anniversary, Thursday, and went to church band practice instead. New songs every week can be a lot to learn. Friday, there was a faculty awards banquet the fella had to go to, and of course, I dressed up and went along. Stayed after and had a giant margarita while chatting with various faculty and spouses. And then, Saturday, we made reservations at one of the best restaurants on the island. I’d been wanting to go there for a while, so at last, we did. They do seafood with a Central American flair…and yes, you know I’m going to share our menu with you.

I like calamari, at least the fried appetizer kind. I even like the ones that have all their little tentacles. I have never had calamari flavored like this, though. It was delicious, fried up like those other sorts, but dressed with sweet banana peppers and caramelized onions and red bell peppers…pretty sure they were cooked in olive oil, and then all mixed up together in a sweet/hot/crunchy/calamari-tasting deliciousness. Oh, and they also serve–like you get tostadas with salsa at a good Mexican restaurant–this place serves plaintain chips with salsa and a green sauce–I think they called it chimichurri. The salsa was milder, with other flavors than in a Mexican salsa casera. Anyway, very good.

We had what one of the other waiters described as a signature dish of the restaurant. Red snapper with a plaintain crust served with raspberry chipotle sauce and Parmesan scalloped potatoes. The plaintains weren’t sweet and only faintly banana-y. Nice and crunchy, and wonderful with the sweet-hot of the sauce. Not very hot, just … right. And then we succumbed to dessert. I had a pecan ball, which is a giant scoop of ice cream coated in pecans (I thought it would be a little smaller) drizzled with butterscotch. They didn’t…quite…have to bring out the wheelbarrow to roll us out of the restaurant. It is really a treat to live where there are so many wonderful places to eat. We still haven’t made our way through all of them…

And then we went home to watch Charlie Wilson’s War, and enjoyed lying around like overfed slugs to watch it. And that was our anniversary celebration.

Oh. And okay, let’s just confess my native dorkiness here. I dropped, dribbled and/or dripped every single course on myself, beginning with a banana pepper slice, continuing through a piece of Caesar salad dressing-coated Romaine, to a droplet of chipotle sauce and ending with a major dribble of ice cream and butterscotch, right down the front of my red blouse. Sigh. Can’t say I didn’t enjoy my food…and I really tried hard not to wear it too…but, well, somehow these things always seem to happen to me. It has become a family joke. Years and years ago. Sigh.

Beach Report: I am now a seagull voyeur. I caught a pair of seagulls Doing It, and did not look away and give them privacy. I figured if they were going to Do It right there on the public beach with a dozen other seagulls watching, they probably got off on exhibitionism.

The male was standing on top of the female, who looked rather long-suffering, squawking like a little boy doing sound-effects for a slow machine gun, sort of an ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah. In seagull voice, of course. And in perfect rhythm, every dozen ah-ahs or so, the female would give off a little high-pitched squeal while he wriggled his butt against hers. The squeal was the only thing that convinced me she wasn’t totally bored by the whole affaire.

Now I have to wonder where the seagulls nest. Probably over in the marshes on the bay side of the island. It’s sure not safe to build a nest on the beach with all the beachgoers exploring.

And now I must add seagull porn to my oeuvre. Ah well. This, I think adds either to my geekiness or my nerdyness quotient. Nerdyness, I think. Geeks tend to be monomaniacs. Nerds want to know everything about everything, and since birds are not my only fascination… Yep. I’m a nerd.

Writing about Sex

I have a list of things I want to blog about someday. I write them down–the ones I can remember long enough to write down–so I don’t forget them. For instance, I do want to write about the TIME Magazine article “Who killed the love story?” But not today.

And the son, who is home from university this week, found my list and wrote on it: Monkeys in Outer Space bent on destroying zuwieroiyushamnn At least that’s what I think he wrote on it. And I may write a blog about monkeys in outer space bent on destroying…whatever… But not today.

Today, I’m going to blog about sex. Specifically, about writing about sex in novels. See, I got a note on my Shelfari Shelf from a friend who said that she was “unimpressed” by the One Rose books because she didn’t like books that “focus so completely around sex.”

Which took me totally aback, because I certainly didn’t think the books at all focused so completely around sex. I’ve read books that focus completely around sex, and believe me, they have a LOT more sex than the Rose books do.

The Compass Rose has only three fully consummated love scenes in it. It has a few more “sex by magic” (sorta like phone sex, only without the phone) scenes, and the characters talk about sex a lot. Because the books are about men and women who care about each other, who have a relationship–who are married to each other, to be more exact–and who have different understandings from each other about relationships and about sex and how the world works. And I firmly believe that to put people in that kind of situation and NOT address the sex issue would have been nothing less than a flat out lie.

(The Barbed Rose has more sex, as does The Eternal Rose, because in those books, the relationships are on-going and more fully developed. By the time The Eternal Rose begins, seven years have passed since the beginning of The Compass Rose. The characters have been married for that long. Sex is going to be a part of those relationships.)

All those books that have men and women traveling together on a quest for months to retrieve the Magic Hoohah and save the world–and the characters Never Even Think About Sex–are just plain lying, IMO.

People think about sex. They have sex. They screw up their lives because they try to ignore sex and they can’t. Or they screw up their lives because they have sex with anything that moves and never figure out why they’re lonely. Sex is a part of life. It’s a huge part of life, and I think that novelists–in whatever genre they write–should address it, if they’re comfortable with it.

In speculative fiction, like fantasy and science fiction, it’s possible to explore a greater range of “what ifs” than in novels set in contemporary or historical times, and exploration is a good thing, I think. If I’m ever able to write more books set in the One Rose universe, I can see Kallista’s children complaining that it’s hard enough to find one person willing to put up with your faults–

I do understand that sex is a private part of life and that some people are uncomfortable with a discussion, or even a portrayal of something so intensely private and intimate. I understand that some people have moral issues with reading about sex. Personal opinions are just that. Personal opinions. And everyone’s entitled to have them. Which is why I left the note up on my Shelfari page and didn’t delete it. Tanis has every right to not like books with much sex in them, and every right to express her opinion.

But I did want to explain why I wrote the books the way I did, and why I write about sex, and there’s not a way to respond to a note on one’s own page, and I didn’t want to stick a note on her page without any context, so I came here to share my philosophy of writing about sex with the world–or at least as much of the world as comes by to read my blog.

I’m still waiting for my copies of The Eternal Rose… Sigh.

Sex in Fiction

I’m writing mostly fantasy now, but it’s romantic fantasy, and it could as easily go the other way, to fantasy/paranormal romance. I got my start in romance, writing Harlequin/ Silhouette/ Mills & Boon series books. Those of you who’ve read the Rose books know they have sex in them. I don’t think I’ve written anything without it–I know I haven’t published anything without it. Some of the books I’ve written have more than others. I was surprised when I got through New Blood and only had one sex scene in it–but that’s because of who my characters are. They have issues. A lot more issues than Kallista and her crew ever had.

I’ve found it interesting that most of the male-written fiction has a lot less sex in it than that written by females, despite the stereotype of the sex-crazed male, and the ones that have sex tend to do more “closing the bedroom door” than female authors. And while I haven’t done any real statistically significant studies (which seem to me to be impossible anyway, since quality of writing is a pretty subjective thing), most male writers don’t seem to write sex scenes as well as women writers. There are some who do. And most of them write romance. (Harold Lowry, who writes as Leigh Greenwood, and K.N. Casper are two good ones.)

I’m heading in a round-about way for my point. In a rather scholarly discussion of the romance genre begun by a Princeton University class in “American Best Sellers” on Romance by the Blog a couple of weeks ago, someone asked about romance and porn and the difference between them. And some of the respondents got into a discussion about whether romance gets labeled as porn because it is, at least in part, about women’s sexuality, which can be threatening to some people. One of the respondents (Robin) had this to say:

IMO the vast majority of women are conflicted *in some way* about our sexuality. I don’t know how much of this is a function of patriarchal assumptions about gender roles and how much of it is some kind of policing mechanism among women that is only *partially* informed by patriarchy (at what point do we take responsibility for our own agency as women?!), but I think the ambivalence emerges within Romance fiction … and I’d even go so far as to say that much of what shows up in Romance is some effort to grapple with this ambivalence, to put it out in the open and to work it out somehow.

I quoted this, because I couldn’t say it better myself. I do think a lot of the “policing” in romance fiction–and in other fiction by women–is done by women.

My Rose books are out of the mainstream when it comes to the relationships between the characters. They’ve had some pretty harsh reader reviews at Amazon because of that. (I haven’t read any of them since I saw the first one–why inflict them upon myself?) I won’t say the reviews were all by women, because I don’t know. But I’d wager most of them are. The men who’ve read my Rose books (guys tend to want more bashing and gore than most fantasy books have–though the Rose books have plenty of swordfights and such) have liked them. Still, given the current uproar in the romance-reading world over rape in romance, and the letters I’ve received on the sex in my books–all anecdotal evidence to be sure–I’d say that women are the quickest to react, and to condemn when a (female) writer steps outside the “zone” to explore these ambivalent areas that make us squirm.

I won’t be buying or reading the “rape” book (You’ll have to go elsewhere to find out what I’m referring to.) because it’s not one of my fantasies. Nor will I be reading any more books in the Silhouette Desire series because the heroes have gone too close to that abusive edge for my comfort even though my first published books were Desires, and I have a lot of good friends still writing for them. I hate that I won’t be able to support them any more, but I don’t buy books I don’t read, and I just can’t read those books any more. I hate that editorial/ marketing decisions have transformed what was once one of my favorite lines into something I just can’t handle. But this is a personal issue.

Just because I don’t like very “alpha” heroes doesn’t mean I think nobody should write them. Just because I don’t care for submissive-female erotica doesn’t mean I think they should be banned. Obviously more women prefer that sort of erotica than the other way round, because several of the erotica publishers won’t even look at stories with dominant women. And if someone wants to write rape-fantasy stories, I’m not going to say she shouldn’t. I’m not going to buy them, because I don’t like that kind of story, but I don’t like really scary romantic suspense either, and that’s certainly not going away.

I guess my point is exactly like the points made by lots of other people. If you don’t like whatever sexual episode might be in a story, don’t read it. If you do, and if you decide to post a review about it, try to be cogent in your reasons for disliking the story. But under the fiction umbrella–whether it be romance, fantasy, mystery or literary–an author should feel free to write about whatever kind of sex he/she wants to write. It’s a way to explore part of what makes us human, and the mixed-up feelings that go along with something so important.