Tag Archives: Becky Black

Does Erotic Romance Still Hold a Stigma?

“Oh, you write those kinds of books.” Many romance writers, and those who write spicier works especially, have run into comments like that over the years. Since romance is predominantly written and read by women, this could be a carryover from when literature was male-dominated and the “scribblings” of the softer sex were considered fluff. The truth is there’s probably the same proportion of truly brilliant books to not-so-brilliant in the romance genre as in every other genre, heat level notwithstanding. In a modern society that has also brought us R-rated movies, thongs, and Viagra, I suspect the population of prudish readers has diminished. I’m curious, though, to know if erotic romance still holds a stigma. My personal answer would be yes, but it’s diminishing over time. I posed this question to some author friends to get their take on the issue, and here is what they had to say:

Rosanna Leo:  Thanks so much to Allie for having me here. I’m so excited to talk about people’s attitudes toward romance novels and authors, as I have a fair bit of experience with this topic.

As well as being an erotic romance author, I work in a library, and love it there. I adore being surrounded by books of all genres and love my customers. If only they were a little bit more open-minded about the romance genre.

Because my library has celebrated my writing work (I’m a lucky girl), many of my customers know what I do. Several have been complimentary. Others, not so much.

I can see it now. They ask what I write, with bright interest in their eyes. I tell them romance. Suddenly, shadows flit across their faces, and they usually say something like, “Oh. I don’t really read that fluff, dear.” Conversation over.

When I check books out at the library, a lot of folks check out romances. However, they all blush when presenting them to the librarian. Many are proud to read romance. Others, apologetic. I never question someone’s book choices, but people feel the need to justify them to me. They say things like, “These are for my mom, NOT for me!” Or “My wife reads this trash. Give me a David Baldacci any day.” Or “I just need something mindless for my vacation.”

Mindless. Where did we get the impression these books were mindless, thoughtless? I know I put a great deal of thought into mine.

It’s usually at this point that I say to the customer, “Well, I LOVE romance, and I write them too!” I try to show them people don’t have to be embarrassed to enjoy romantic literature. Heck, we have our roots in great works of art by folks like Charlotte Bronte. I will never be ashamed of loving love.

So the next time you glimpse a shy reader, hiding the book cover with the gorgeous dude on it, smile and let him/her know you enjoy romance lit too.

Wendi Zwaduk:  Erotic romance holds a stigma and yet it doesn’t. For me, it doesn’t bother me. I write hot stories, plain and simple. My stories feature second chance romance that has lots of kink and romance. But there are instances where my work isn’t welcome and I’m looked at as a pariah. I never shout about what I write where my tot goes to school, but there’s another author who does. Her covers are very plain–a piece of fruit or another inanimate object. My covers are much hotter and explicit. Where her work is welcomed–even though it’s very hot–mine isn’t. I get the ‘ooh, that’s kinky’ response. “I can’t read that because it’s…dirty…”

Sex is a very healthy thing to do. How the characters decide to do it is up to them. I write hot, so people think I do all the things in my books. I’ll never tell what I do or don’t do. Grin. But when people in certain circles talk about what I write, they show their disdain. What’s in the bedroom should stay there, in their opinions. Me? Hey, whatever works as long as it’s legal. Lots of people have sex, otherwise the population wouldn’t be quite so high. Go forth and read hot. It’s so much fun!

Jackie WegerIn light of Fifty Shades of Gray does erotic romance still hold a stigma?

I know a half-dozen women who bought, read and adored the trilogy Fifty Shades of Gray. All are over the age of fifty. The heroine appealed to them. They liked the Happy Ever After ending. In essence Fifty Shades is a modern Cinderella story. Rich prince in industry; naïve klutsy waif gets her man. The story worked because it was told from the woman’s POV. While the sex titillated, had the reader been privy to the dark side of the hero’s mind—we might not have liked him. What triggers sadism?

Not a single one of the erotic stories I’ve read would work if the male character was from the dregs of society. Writers are glamorizing dark and different sex. Readers want it. Writers provide it. Every business course I’ve taken suggested the entrepreneur identify a consumer need or want and fill it.

Makes good business sense to me.

Dark sex has always been with us simply because the forbidden appeals.

Yes, eroticism will continue to hold a stigma because lust and sex often get people into trouble. Political sex scandals will see to that. Recall Eliot Spitzer. He liked kinky sex. It was splashed all over the news. All of America despised him. Getting caught destroyed his career and marriage. Scandals of all stripes are where much of the stigma arises. There was no way to glamorize or fantasize how Spitzer besmirched and betrayed his wife, children and constituents.

I believe that women who would never dream of walking into a bookstore to buy a hard copy of an erotic tale are comfortable downloading to an e-reader. No brown covers, no embarrassment. I think that’s fabulous.

I don’t see the erotic romance genre going mainstream. But the publishing industry is changing—so I’m not certain what mainstream is anymore. Perhaps as time goes by more books similar to Fifty Shades will rise to top best seller lists creating a niche in the mainstream market. Fifty Shades sold millions of copies, which means the market for eroticism is there waiting to be tapped.

I put my name on everything I write from romance novels to reviews of erotic reads. I’m not ashamed to do it. I believe in supporting my sister writers. I’d love to write erotica, but I don’t think I have the talent and mindset—or right this minute—the time to learn.

Do some people still look down their noses at romance writers?

Yep. People who have never read a romance novel trash the books and the writer. Romance novels are often equated with sin and sex. I wrote the first black character novel Harlequin published. I got a lot of press in the Houston Chronicle, my local daily and USA Today. The next Sunday I went to church. The pastor spotted me and started right in about the sinfulness of romance novels. I don’t even want to mention the hate mail because my characters were black.

Once the romance market was opened to American writers we got a lot of flack from academia and feminists—which annoyed me because I’ve been a card-carrying feminist since the Sixties.

For years I fired off letter after letter defending romance writers, family values and romance readers. Writing was my day job.

I will tell you where I did get respect—from my banker and my CPA. My contracts were golden—and collateral.

There’s a real disconnect even within the publishing industry though. When Nicholas Sparks writes a novel, it’s mainstream, trade paperback, woman’s fiction. If a woman wrote the same story it would be labeled romance and shelved in the romance section in books stores and Amazon.

Becky Black:  I believe there is still a general stigma and snobbery. Fifty Shades of Grey is probably a temporary effect. Every few years an especially saucy book hits the big time and people get all amazed and shocked that women read about sex! Meanwhile erotic romance continues to sell steadily without anyone making a big fuss about it. It mostly stays under the radar. Books like Fifty Shades are outliers. But it was very intriguing that despite what people keep saying about ereaders selling well because they allow people to read sexy books without anyone realising, it was interesting to see people quite happily reading Fifty Shades in public. Maybe it helped that the books have quite simple, classy covers, not obvious erotic ones

As for me, I used to be very shy about it, kept it secret that I was a writer. But eventually I told my family, and then my work colleagues found out. And while there’s plenty of banter about it at work (we are British after all!) it was kind of a relief in the end, how much it didn’t matter. It’s just sex, let’s be grownups about it.

***

Nobody squirms in their seat or hides the fact that they watch movies with nudity and sex scenes, but for some reason a lot of people are still embarrassed about reading material with the same content. After learning what these authors had to say about the issue, I think the consensus is that romance and erotic romance do still hold a stigma but, like the writing industry as a whole, this may be changing. It will be interesting to see how this genre continues to evolve and adapt to the market. In the meantime, I’m with Rosanna, Wendi, Jackie, and Becky on this: we’re adults, we can read what we want, and it’s okay to love romance!

One-liners (Part 2)

Can’t get enough? Welcome back for the rest of the one-liners from some of your favorite authors.

“Pray my lord have a care for our audience and greet my face, not my bosom.” – The Peacemaker by Jianne Carlo

Website: http://www.jiannecarlo.com

“The bottomless pit he’d been expecting to open up at any moment and swallow him whole finally made its appearance.” – The Ice Prince by Jessica Freely

Website: http://www.jessicafreely.com

Buy link: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/g-k/jessica-freely/the-ice-prince.html

“And I’ll bet when the midwife slapped your butt, you charged her with assault and battery.” – Liar’s Waltz by Becky Black

Website: http://beckyblack.wordpress.com/

Buy link: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/a-f/becky-black/liar-s-waltz.html

“It would be if it wasn’t the famous Owen Quinlan remedy for punching a woman in the nose and having her collapse on the living room floor.” – The Dance by Kaye Spencer

Website: http://www.kayespencer.com

“Know you how long it takes to thread a needle?” – The Dragon Slayer by Jianne Carlo

Website: http://www.jiannecarlo.com

“Being trapped in a lamp for twenty years at a time wasn’t as unpleasant as it sounded.” – Dragon Food by Emily Carrington

Website: http://www.emilycarrington.com

Buy link: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/a-f/emily-carrington/dragon-food.html

“Leaping out of the maelstrom of churning black clouds, gray ghost cowboys came riding hard and fast after the phantom herd on wild‐eyed, fire-snorting horses.” – Gunslingers & Ghostriders by Kaye Spencer writing as A.L. Debran

Website: http://www.kayespencer.com

“Might be I don’t fool around with my boots on, but sure as a hen dips snuff, I do the dirty with my hat on my head.” – Harrison Indiana Ford in Notorious in Nice by Jianne Carlo

Website: http://www.jiannecarlo.com

“Reloading with each descending step and disregarding the horrified stare of the clerk, Beau slapped the door open and mounted his horse.” – Lonely Places by Kaye Spencer writing as A.L. Debran

Website: http://www.kayespencer.com

“The genie rode with one forearm cocked on the door and his lamp dangling from the rearview mirror.” – Dragon Fire by Emily Carrington

Website: http://www.emilycarrington.com

Buy link: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/a-f/emily-carrington/dragon-in-training-2-dragon-fire.html

“She wanted it so badly; wanted to reach out and grab her heart’s desire, but she was so very frightened to.” – Head Games by Cassandra Carr

Website: http://www.booksbycassandracarr.com

Buy link: http://www.bookstrand.com/head-games

“The languid cadence of her cotton-soft southern drawl wafted in the air, embracing him with bittersweet memories of their last night together and the ring he hadn’t put on her finger.” – Gambling with Love by Kaye Spencer

Website: http://www.kayespencer.com

“All the trials and problems and joys and ecstasy that married people shared, he got to have.” – Golden Dancer by Tara Lain

Website: http://www.taralain.com

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Dancer-Dangerous-Dancers-Book-ebook/dp/B01DM27HGM/

“So this was what it felt like to have a soul. It was nice.” – Amaranth and Ash by Jessica Freely

Website: http://www.jessicafreely.com

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Amaranth-Ash-Jessica-Freely/dp/1607377411/

“Looking up into the beautiful blue and green eyes that she’d left everything for, she smiled. ‘Yes, my darlings. We are and always will be a package deal.'” – Genetic Attraction by Tara Lain

Website: http://www.taralain.com

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Genetic-Attraction-Tara-Lain/dp/1623001404/

Thank you to all of the guest authors who participated in the one-liner blogs. I hope everyone had as much fun reading these as I did.

One-liners (Part 1)

We’ve all read them: those lines in a book that pop out at you and stick in your memory long after the last page. Some make you laugh; others make you think. Oh yes, and a few make you blush, too.

For this post, I’ve collected some of the best one-liners from a fabulous group of guest authors. I’ve also thrown in a line of my own from Switching Positions that others have told me they especially enjoyed. I hope you have as much fun reading these as I have.

 (Warning: this post contains content of a sexually graphic nature. Not appropriate for minors, so run along kiddies. The rest of you, read on!)

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“Before she could protest, he slid down her body and pressed his mouth to her lips, and he didn’t aim for the astonished ones on her face.” – Switching Positions by Allie Ritch

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Switching-Positions-Allie-Ritch-ebook/dp/B01C55XURC/

“I’ll let you in on a secret — my favorite champagne glass is the one between your thighs, the finest crystal in the world.” – Manacled in Monaco by Jianne Carlo

Website: http://www.jiannecarlo.com

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Manhandled-Wind-Dancer-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01836GW5O/

“The way she saw it, she had three choices: disappear and never see him again, convince him she has a biting fetish, or tell him the truth.” – In the Cards, The Vampire Oracle: Life by Kaye Spencer writing as A.L. Debran

Website: http://www.kayespencer.com

Buy link: http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/books/life.htm

“The air grew stifling, the world shrank inward, her eyes widening, nostrils flaring—it was as if he possessed a net of seduction, as if lust was a tangible thing, drifting through the air and laying heated atoms of itself upon her body, her skin, her lips, her groin.” – Three Days of Dominance by Cari Silverwood

Website: http://www.carisilverwood.net

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Three-Days-Dominance-Cari-Silverwood/dp/1515081370/

“And have you heard the word ‘f**k’ before?” – White Wolf by Jianne Carlo

Website: http://www.jiannecarlo.com/

“I’m gonna make you scream so loud and for so long you’re going to be hoarse for days, and I’m gonna keep at it until you pass out.” – Talk to Me by Cassandra Carr

Website: http://www.booksbycassandracarr.com

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Talk-Me-Cassandra-Carr-ebook/dp/B016NVQJ1I/

“It was the first performance of the Pageant of the Masters in which the statue of David featured a perfect hand print on his ass.” – Volley Balls by Tara Lain

Website: http://www.taralain.com

“I counted three vibrators on that kitchen counter, one Deep Throat DVD, the whole Debbie Does Dallas collection, and Candy Stripers. Tell me, Ms. Parker, exactly what were your plans for this cabin?” – A Paratrooper in a Pear Tree by Jianne Carlo

Website: http://www.jiannecarlo.com/

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sinner-Hades-Squad-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00SAVCYZK/

“That he liked her strength was somehow…intoxicating, because already, she liked the idea of surrendering.” – Iron Dominance by Cari Silverwood

Website: http://www.carisilverwood.net

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Iron-Dominance-Steamwork-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B0141TS3DG/

“As he gasped and writhed under the Green Man’s touch, Scarlet’s beautiful features flowed from one exquisite expression of pained pleasure to another.” – Bound for the Forest by Kay Berrisford

Website: http://kayberrisford.com/2011/04/10/about-bound-to-the-forest/

Buy link: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/g-k/kay-berrisford/the-greenwood-bound-for-the-forest.html

“The most beautiful man in the world sucked your f***ing cock?…Baby, that doesn’t make you gay, it just means you’re smart.” – The Scientist and the Supermodel by Tara Lain

Website: http://www.taralain.com

“If you start making double entendres about sausages, I’m leaving.” – Liar’s Waltz by Becky Black

Website: http://beckyblack.wordpress.com/

Buy link: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/a-f/becky-black/liar-s-waltz.html

“You’re sex on wheels, Shoe. I pop a boner at the sight of your left eyebrow.” – Broken by Jessica Freely

Website: http://jessicafreely.com

Buy link: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/g-k/jessica-freely/broken.html

“He quickly found it was impossible to feel righteously indignant while he had an erection.” – Stowaway by Becky Black

Website: http://beckyblack.wordpress.com/

Buy link: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/a-f/becky-black/stowaway.html

“You named your…” Her gaze swept between their bodies to the bulge at his crotch. “St. Pete? Pourquoi St. Pete?” – Carnal in Cannes by Jianne Carlo

Website: http://www.jiannecarlo.com/

One-liners definitely make for great hooks. They’re like amuse-bouches for the imagination. I don’t know about you, but I found these lines definitely whetted my appetite for more. Be sure to catch Part 2 of this post next week for more great lines from some of your favorite authors.

Mixing It Up: Sci-fi Romance & Other Cross-Genres

Once again, my fellow authors have come through. I threw out the open topic of sci-fi romance to learn what other writers have to say about this hybrid genre and the trend toward mixed genres in general. Special thanks to Becky Black, Kayelle Allen, and Tara Lain for taking time out to share their thoughts.

Becky Black is the author of m/m sci-fi romance and has published Stowaway (January 2011) and Liar’s Waltz (August 2011) with Loose Id. She has an entertaining blog that I’ve enjoyed visiting, and she may be the only other human being I’ve encountered who’s seen, let alone liked, the Kurt Russell version of The Thing. Becky shares her perspective on sci-fi romance:

“For me the advantage of mixing science fiction and romance is that I have the control to create the exact situation and environment I want in order to maximize the problems and conflict my characters will have to overcome. It also lets me deal with contemporary issues if I want to, but in a metaphorical way, not as ‘on the nose’ as it would be in a contemporary novel. Sometimes it also means my characters can triumph in the battle over these issues in a way they couldn’t if the story was set in the real world. I also like to explore the idea that even if we generally progress not everything will be better than today, socially for example. In Liar’s Waltz I have gays absolutely forbidden from Earth’s military. But I also don’t want to assume a monoculture. In Stowaway (out in August) one character is from a colony world that has no problem with gay people in the military.

“I think science fiction also allows a writer to explore timeless themes, in this case about love and relationships. People have faced the same problems in making relationships work for as long as we’ve been people. They’ll continue to face them in the future. They might differ in details – your lover is assigned to Pluto not New York while you’re stationed on Mars not in London. What now? Different places, same problem. Same emotions. I love the idea that we’ll go into space with the same brains as humans of the Stone Age, filled with the same drives and needs and strategies as those people. Space age cavemen. Or the writer can go the other way and give the characters entirely new situations to deal with – ones our caveman brain doesn’t yet know how to figure out.

“Striking a balance can indeed be tricky, satisfying both romance readers and science fiction readers and not leaving one or the other, or both, feeling short-changed. I’ve had comments that Liar’s Waltz feels too contemporary, so I probably didn’t pull off the balance there. I’ve tried to take that criticism on board to work on. Maybe I’m just not too much of a “high concept” science fiction writer!”

~ Becky Black ~ Blog ~ Author Page

Kayelle Allen is the multipublished author of the Surrender trilogy: Surrender Love, Surrender Trust (coming soon), and Surrender Will.  She was kind enough to share how the mix of sci-fi and romance works for her with her Surrender series:

“Since I write both m/f and m/m I can give both viewpoints. Setting it in the future allows me to create a society which accepts being gay as if it’s of no more consequence than eye color. It also let me create a not-so-forgiving world outside the Tarthian Empire from which the younger hero fled in fear of his life. The fish-out-of-water aspect nabbed sympathy in the Surrender Love, and in Surrender Will, the third book, that gets turned around when the older hero dares to take his younger spouse home for a visit, and finds himself the only human in the northern hemisphere.”

~ Kayelle Allen ~ Blog~ Books~ Twitter ~ Facebook

This is what authors have to say about sci-fi romance, but what about mixed genres in general?  Tara Lain is the multipublished author of The Scientist and the Supermodel (May 2011, Loose Id) and Genetic Attraction (Loose Id). She shares her thoughts on mixing and matching genres and the impact of digital publishing on the industry:

“Mixing Genres Expands ‘What Works’

“The trend toward mixing genres is very much a phenomenon of digital first publishing — and I love it. Since digital-first publishers don’t have to guarantee huge audiences for every book in order to justify publishing them, they can provide books that are exactly to the taste of a smaller group of readers. For example, my new release Golden Dancer (Sept 27 from Loose Id) is a romantic suspense. Romantic suspense is a time-honored mix of genres, BUT my book also happens to be a M/M/M ménage. Not exactly the book you’re likely to see at WalMart. Lots of people love scifi, but BDSM romance in outer space? It may not be mainstream fiction but it’s wildly popular. I love the freedom to explore and experiment that digital-first publishers allow to writers. My holiday book, Mistletowed (Dec 13 from Loose Id) combines 7 main characters (unheard of in a romance novella) with a dash of paranormal and a mixup of pairings and threesomes that boggles the mind. Will it find an audience? We’ll see. But it did find a publisher because digital-first can afford to take some chances. As digital-first becomes the mainstream and ebooks become the norm, this expansive experimentation will likely tighten up. Publishers will encourage (pressure? LOL) authors to ‘repeat what works’ even more than they do today. But the publishing business will be far better for the mixing of genres because ‘what works’ will have a far broader definition.”

~ Tara Lain ~ Website ~ Blog ~ Book Blog Author Page ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

These are all fantastic points. Becky, Kayelle, Tara, thank you. I enjoyed your insights, and I’m sure readers will, too.