I have to say that it was quite exciting to be doing a book signing. Mr Kate added to my nerves considerably by a) deciding to vacuum the lawn or something 15 minutes before we were supposed to be there and b)by telling me I'd got the wrong day just as we pulled off the freeway. I didn't laugh. He was lucky to survive.
Barnes & Noble even had a big poster at the from of the store with my name and the cover of "Roping the Wind" on it! Apparently, she had to down pedal the "Simply Sexual" one to avoid complaints from Saturday shoppers with kids, and I totally understood that. Debra, the B&N community relations manager loves romance novels and thank god for people like her-she was thrilled to see me, got me water and ice and even had a pen ready in case I'd forgotten to bring one!
So here I am, looking pensive as shoppers mill around me. I was strategically placed between the cafe and the new arrivals tables so I felt a little like a fish in a bowl, or one of those Victorian ladies waiting patiently at the side of the dance floor while being ignored by all the men.
And yes, people really do ask strange questions. My favorite was, "Did you write this?" Um, yes, otherwise why would I be sitting here? Of course, I didn't say that, I just smiled graciously and admitted it. I REALLY DID get asked where the bathroom was as well!!
Look! Real people in a line, for me! Okay, so I know some of them, but hey, they came out to support me and buy my books so I love them all.
Because of what I write, I expected a few oddballs as well, and yes, they turned up to say hi, every time Mr Kate wandered off to read Motor magazines. I 'think' they just wanted to see what an erotic romance writer looked like and I 'think' I probably disappointed them seeing as I wasn't dressed in black leather or brandishing a whip!
So,it was fun and Mr Kate took loads of photos, I felt famous for at least 5 minutes and that was quite enough for me :) Back to the writing cave!
Monday, March 31, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Away with silks, away with lawn,
I'll have no scenes or curtains drawn ;
Give me my mistress, as she is,
Dress'd in her nak'd simplicities ;
For as my heart, e'en so mine eye
Is won with flesh, not drapery.
Lovely words from Robert Herrick, but it's quite possible that his naked mistress would have been, by our standards, quite well-dressed:
I drank bohea in Celia’s dressing room:
Warm from her bed, to me alone within.
Her night-gown fastened with a single pin:
Her night-clothes tumbled with resistless grace,
Her bright hair played careless round her face;
Reaching the kettle made her gown unpin,
She wore no waistcoat, and her shift was thin.
Yes, it was quite usual for women in the early eighteenth century to wear some sort of waistcoat as their night attire, and although Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in 1716 doesn't mention it, sexy Celia would almost certainly have been wearing a night cap.
Just to make things even more confusing, according to historical costume expert Cathy Decker, during the Regency period, "Undress" meant simply casual, informal dress. It was also called "dishabille" or "deshabille," the French word for the same type of dress. Another clue is anything "negligently worn" or "à la négligé" is probably either undress or designed to resemble closely undress. Undress is the sort of dress to be worn from early morning to noon or perhaps as late as four or five, depending on the engagements one had. Compared to half dress and full dress, undress was usually more comfortable, more warm, more casual, and much cheaper in cost.
In other words, clothes to slop around in at home, rather than some sexy little nothings for the boudoir.
You begin to suspect that there wasn't a whole lot of the full Monty in the Regency. For one thing, you didn't need to take your clothes off for any sort of sexual contact (drawers were to remain crotchless into the Edwardian period); if you did, you'd then have the problem of lacing oneself back into the stays, which were nearly all back-lacing, unless you'd had the foresight to wear side lacing or front lacing ones.
Where it gets really interesting, of course, is that you would only undress completely in front of your inferiors--your personal servants. So nakedness, or its absence, implied a certain level of power, and we talk quite a lot here about power and power shifts. But nakedness also implies vulnerability and trust. So was there an added frisson here, on the rare occasions when one or both (or all!) participants got their clothes off, that rules were being broken, the social order turned upside down?
What do you think?
Monday, March 24, 2008
Since last I wrote here, I was struggling to find the ending to my current WIP proposal. I found it. And no, I’m not going to tell you what it is. You will have to wait and see (if it ever makes the light of day.)
I am in a hundred different places at the moment: the course I’m doing, the course I’m preparing to give (no, nothing nearly so sexy as Pam’s), the current WIP. Which strangely is not the same WIP as the one I’ve been writing about.
I was talking to my husband about both WIPs, one just a germ of an idea at the time, trying to figure out which way to go with it. And he said, more or less, you sound most passionate about #2, why not do that one? If WIP #1 isn’t appealing, why do it?
But that WIP has some kick-butt scenes in it, that’s why.
With a part-time job that feels like a full-time one, and study and limited time to write. I think he’s right on the money. Follow my passion. Follow my bliss. Make writing fun again. And I have been giggling over this idea -- which I did when I came up with ONE MORE TIME and we all know how that turned out. (That is, if you read it.)
So it’s an interesting thing--to turn from the obligation of writing and preparing a proposal for a difficult-to-write book, to the joy of writing something for fun. Figuring out real motivations hasn’t been quite so much fun, but I got there.
Enjoying my break in the middle of the day, and going off-campus to a deli and sitting outside and doing some brainstorming writing. And I have character names already. I never have character names this early.
Anyway, I suspect I’m rambling. So writers: are you still following your passion in your writing? Readers, can you tell the difference?
Friday, March 21, 2008
I’m in the midst of revisions, and rushing out some copy edits, in addition to preparing for RT, and clearing off a big report for the day job, so I’m not thinking too clearly right now. There have been times in the last few days when I’ve been a little uncertain what my own name is. And telemarketers beware. I’m not even trying to politely weasel out of your calls. You may just suddenly hear a dial tone if you call me.
I’m sure many of you out there are in the same boat. So much to do. No time.
Of course, Happy Easter to everyone who is celebrating, visiting family, eating chocolate, praying for spring (or actually enjoying it if you are seeing grass beneath the snow). We have about six feet of snow in the back yard. And it’s staying cold.
Black Silk releases this month. Actually in about 4 days, I think. I’m excited to see it coming out, and have been taking little sneak reads and enjoying myself thoroughly. When a book is done and ready to go out there, it always feels that it simply appeared by some mystical force and not months of pounding the keyboard. All the blood, sweat, and tears that got it there is long forgotten, and I’m just wrapped up in the joy of having a real book in my hands.
Since I can barely think tonight, I’m going to cheat and include a little excerpt from Black Silk. I’ve posted quite a few excerpts of late, but I really am incapable of brilliant thought right now, so I do hope you enjoy:
"I didn’t like Mrs. Master’s salon," she whispered, "before I found you there. There were eight men, and it was all very horrid."
He grasped her wrist. "Eight! You didn’t tell me about this. Did they hurt you?"
"No!" Maryanne remembered to drop her voice. "A courtesan exposed her breasts, shoved me out of the way, and distracted them."
"Thank the lord for that. And all this talk of crowded beds is making me hunger for our bed." He adjusted his trousers. "We could slip off behind a grove of trees—"
"We can’t make love out here. It’s freezing!" Maryanne cried.
A boyishly beseeching look lit up his eyes. "We would heat up quickly."
"It’s fine for you," she protested. "You only need one part of your body, and you’ll be sliding that into warmth."
Except from Black Silk, © Sharon Page 2008
Posted by Sharon Page at 3/21/2008 09:30:00 PM
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Huh? James Bond?
Wrong genre, that.
Except that my hunch is that all genre fiction has common roots. Which lie in romance, as it happens -- originating in the fictions of second century Greece, which were highly disrespected, and which were the first extended stories (in the West, anyway) written in prose, which had to prove how disreputable and un-serious they were.
These proto-romances were always about lovers who were separated, abducted by pirates, sold into slavery, reunited at the very last moment. There was a lot of travel: the literary scholar Northrop Frye said that the chief mode of transportation in these early rudimentary romances was shipwreck.
I love this linkage of romance and travel because it also ties so neatly to those medieval quest stories, like the hunt for the Grail, which were also called romances. And because since then we've learned that if you're looking for something outside yourself you just might find it inside.
But the inside-outside quest-and-self-discovery thing is a relatively modern invention. In the Greek proto-romances, on the other hand, the lovers know they love each other from page one, so all the kidnapping, abduction, near-rape (and real rape too) are all just trials of their separation and their honor. My guess is that it isn't until Richardson's Clarissa that we get that hero writhing in his discovery of his own passion.
I've already written about how critical that moment of declaration is both to Pride and Prejudice and a generation of bodice-rippers. And my further guess is that it's that moment of discovery and disclosure that ties together any number of popular fiction genres and makes them cousins of romance.
Including BDSM, btw. I don't know if I've ever mentioned here that the Marquis de Sade was a huge fan of Samuel Richardson's, and thought he was rewriting Clarissa when he was writing Justine. Interesting, no? You can, and should, read more about that in Angela Carter's The Sadean Woman. Not to speak of my own Safe Word (w/a Molly Weatherfield). That I-have-you-in-my-power moment is so much fun to write exactly because as you write it you can feel the ground shifting -- and the fragility, the vulnerability and contingency of erotic power.
Which brings us from Richardson and Sade and Austen back around to James Bond (you did know I'd get there eventually, didn't you?) Well, anyway, to the villains in James Bond, and to an ancient Saturday Night Live skit that I've never forgotten, about a confab of villains -- sort of an evil villain consciousness-raising group, where the villains try to convince each other that the point is just to kill James Bond now, and talk later.
But they never do, do they? Because at the moment of the height of their power over James Bond (which was a naked Daniel Craig in the last one, as I'm sure I don't have to remind anybody), they have to talk. They have to brag. They have to give away everything. Which shows that they're incomplete; they're not so powerful at all.
Which has just enough family resemblance to those beloved writhing-hero-must-declare-his-passion romance scenes to be interesting.
Because who has the power in those scenes? And isn't it always the understanding of one's own incompleteness that blows the solid ground out from under a character? And if it's a romance allows for the possibility of finding completeness in the other.
In SM and in superhero/spy adventure fiction -- I'm going to go way out on a limb and say that in all the genres that are kin of romance -- it's this ambiguity of power that creates the important narrative hinges upon upon which the story turns. In SM sex (which always goes for the narrative element), the popular term for this is "power exchange". And in fact, the panel I'm going to speak on later this week at the Popular Culture Association Conference is going to be called something like Romance and Power Exchange.
But I'm thinking that "power exchange" might not be as good a term as "power slippage" or "power instability" or "power balanced on the fulcrum of its self-expression". Or whatever Colin Firth was acting so well that unfortunately he froze his face into those lines forever. (Be careful what you wish for, actors... or anybody looking for the big score.)
Still, isn't it interesting that the power slips into desire when the hunky object of desire (ie hero or villain) becomes a desiring subject through his (or her) own need to speak?
Which I guess is my question.
Along with: what do you think about any of this?
Or do you think about any of this? (With a wave to the other theory geeks out there)
Friday, March 14, 2008
First off-the good news. Kensington Aphrodisia offered me a contract for two more books! The best bit is that they are connected to the first two, "Simply Sexual" and "Simply Sinful". So I get to write about the Madame of the pleasure house, Helene and Valentin's half-brother Anthony Sokorvsky.
It will be interesting to write about Helene because most of my books are dominated by the hero, and in this case, things are different. I just hope I can make her sympathetic enough-she's had a tough life. But, as I explained to my editor, I have to write Helene's book first so that we can get to Anthony's, because characters have to be developed who will impact his life and his happiness. Anthony is seriously messed up sexually and it will take an exceptional person to sort him out.
I've no idea when these books will come out, although I'm thinking the first probably late 2009, we'll see how they go :) It is actually slightly easier to write books when you already have some back story to help you along, although it can get a little complicated at times :) Not sure what the titles will be either, whether we'll continue to 'Simply' ones or not-although I think the awesome Mary Balogh has used most of them already :) I picked a deliberately lame title for Helene's story in the hope that Kensington would choose another one. I didn't even try to find one for Anthony-I just called it "Anthony's book" :)
I should have a cover for "Simply Sinful" in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to that-I think!
Question-do you like linked books as much as I do or does it get old?
Posted by Kate Pearce at 3/14/2008 11:52:00 AM
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I read this morning in the Washington Post that today is Viagra's tenth birthday, but certainly not the tenth anniversary of the deification of male arousal and the peddling of silly myths about female desire. That has been going on for far too long.
Consider another story that came out yesterday on yahoo news (I can't give a link because, well, yesterday's news, or even last hour's news online is old news) that men who did housework had more sex than men who didn't.
The implications of this made my jaw drop. Oh, I suppose there's a certain erotic quality to a man manfully handling the vacuum cleaner or thrusting the toilet brush into the depths, but ... we reward men with sex? Like handing out candy? How insulting is that, to both genders? Have we really evolved no further than ooh Ig bring home big mammoth steak, must now assume mating posture?
When the media, or anyone, insists on sex as a favor women grant to men it's a denial of female sexuality. But back to that Washington Post article, which is really about the search for a female equivalent to Viagra, led, naturally by the pharmaceutical industry. The industry argument is that erectile dysfunction used to be considered to be a psychological problem but the research that led to the development of Viagra proved that in many cases it was physical. So now there's the untapped market of women who "aren't in the mood."
I really find myself undecided here. In a sense I'm in agreement with Leonore Tiefer and her colleagues who argue that the problem is not chemical but
"...for many women the solution to their libido problems isn't that exotic. Maybe they have a partner who hasn't a clue about technique. Maybe they're stressed out. Maybe they can't possibly get in the mood because they're so busy raising children. Therapy, counseling, even free day care, says the New View Campaign, might do more for women's sex lives than any drug company ever could."
But maybe it's not that prosaic, either, for men or women. It's not a question only of lubrication and circulation, or phsyical/emotional wellbeing and opportunity. People can succumb to desire in the most inexplicable circumstances and situations and ultimately I don't know that science can ever explain the phenomenon.
Maybe it's something we should leave to the poets:
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
What do you think?
And would you ever take a "female Viagra"?
Posted by JRMullany at 3/12/2008 11:15:00 AM
Monday, March 10, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
My new book released this past week and has been doing so very very well... So i thought I would give away a free copy!
So here is my question...
What is your favorite sub genre of historical romance? ie Paranormal historical, Time travel historical, wild west, Victorian etc...
I will draw one winner at 9PM PST on Monday March 10th from everyone who posts their answer.
Also I wanted you all to know that I will be doing a reading and signing at the Seattle Babeland store on Tuesday March 11th from 6-8 pm. For more information on this event check out my blog Lacy Underthings on Monday the 10th and I will have a post up.
Hugs and kisses,
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I write about a lot of things: being tied up, being spanked, threesomes, foursomes homo erotic action, etc etc. In my fiction I'm quite happy to explore anything.
But I always get a shock when I read other people's blogs and realize that people actually do all that stuff and enjoy it . I've never experienced a single slap on my bum since I was a kid and that's okay with me. I have absolutely no desire to experience the stuff I put my characters through.
Does that make what I write less authentic because I haven't done it? I don't think so. I've never had any complaints, in fact, just the opposite. Most readers assume I know all about it and want to share their experiences with me too. Not that this is a problem because being a writer I'm obviously a complete and shameless voyeur.
Last year I wrote a story for my first foray into erotica with Cleis Press. It's called Sunday Service and it's in the L is for Leather anthology. it was such fun to write something completely kinky with no worries about making the ending happy. But I still made it all up and I have a suspicion that some of the other authors in that anthology didn't and that is amazing.
So I wonder, can readers tell whether you've done the deeds you write about?
Saturday, March 1, 2008
I've mentioned before how I like the hidden eroticism of everyday life--particularly useful if you're writing books set in a time where the appearance of propriety was more important than propriety itself. I came upon this splendid picture a few days ago, Cookmaid with Still Life of Vegetables by Sir Nathaniel Bacon, c. 1620-25. It is altogether rather odd. (The perspective is very strange. Why the gigantic cabbages in the foreground? They have to be three feet tall.)
And the, uh, blatant symbolism of the uh, big melons. For at least a couple of centuries, portraits of women at work, particularly in kitchens and surrounded by fecund heaps of produce and game, had great erotic significance. If she displayed a melon, she could display her own; if she could peel a carrot, she might peel his.
Here's a short excerpt from an earlier version of Forbidden Shores, an example of the erotic of the everyday, the everyday item in this case being a pair of gloves which Allen has lent Clarissa:
Oh, the poor young man. Such a shame, after he’d tried so hard to impress her. Clarissa cradled Mr. Pendale’s head in her lap, gingerly exploring the rising lump on his scalp. His gloves lay somewhere among her skirts. She had removed them with some reluctance, after savoring the secret warmth of the silk and leather, the heat all the more enjoyable for having been rendered by a male, and a stranger. The intimacy of his gesture and her enjoyment of her fingers being where his had lain gave her a definitely indecent pleasure. As did her exploration of his head, warm and heavy in her lap. He groaned. His eyelashes, long and dark, fluttered against his cheeks.
She resisted an impulse to touch his face, her fingers itching once again for that pleasurable roughness. Had they not been surrounded by a cluster of interested kitchen staff, she might have risked it.