Tag Archives: romance novels

Whiny, Pathetic Losers Who Can’t Get Laid – And Why You Should Know About Them

13 Nov

By Elizabeth Shore

Remember right around this time last year when many of us were more than ready to kick the hot mess of 2016 to the curb? Don’t blink, but we’re now practically through 2017. While this year has had its share of crap, there’s positive momentum as we’re heading into the home stretch. It’s empowering and showing no signs of slowing down, and I for one am completely pumped. How ’bout you?

Let’s review. After the paralyzing shock of having a misogynistic, narciscisstic man baby elected president had subsided enough for rational thought to emerge, women roared to action. March on Washington 2017 in January saw millions-millions!– participating across the globe. Take that, you disgusting, self-professing, I-grab-women-by-the-p**ssies jerk. It was a good start. And we’re headed toward a strong finish. Women in 2017 decided their crap meter had reached its limit. A few brave souls spoke up, and then more, and then the tsunami wave began. Now it seems like every time we turn around there’s another male celebrity being exposed (as many of these cretins were wont to do toward their victims) as sex offenders. And that’s a very good thing.

Except, not everyone thinks so. Enter, the incels.

Incel is a portmanteau of involuntary and celibate. Incels are frustrated dickheads whose interaction with women has been so horrendously unsuccessful that it’s resulted in them never getting laid. Not surprisingly, they don’t like that. It’s made them angry. Very, very angry. Like any really pissed-off group of people, they come together to vent their frustrations. In the case of the incels, to rue the day they ever met a woman. After much gnashing of teeth and spewing of venom, their unified conclusion to deal with the double X chromosomes also known as woman is to encourage violence against them.

These sad sacks used to gather virtually in the subreddit r/Incels, but recently Reddit announced, as part of their policy to ban content that “encourages, glorifies, incites or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or group of people,” that they were shutting down the incels’ subreddit. Incels can gather there no more. Good on ya, Reddit! Alas, there are plenty of alternate options. Widespread misogyny on the internet is alive and well. But it’s a start.

Odious incels love to cry like babies at how horribly women have treated them, never for one milligram of a second acknowledging that maybe their creepy disgusting behavior has a little something something to do with whatever shunning they’ve received. The thing about incels is that they’re not just a forum of lonely hearts. Oh, no. In the incels’ simplistic world view, their lack of sex has nothing to do with them and everything to do with women. It’s 100%, entirely, wholly those vile women who’ve caused these men to involuntarily have no sex. Because, I guess, if it weren’t for women they’d be having lots of sex…with women? Who they hate? Or…?

A part of me – while not feeling sorry for these creeps – does try to understand where the anger is coming from. Identifying the motivation behind someone’s behavior can be enormously helpful in trying to address the problem, right? So it’s a pretty safe bet that the numerous rejections from women that incels have received eventually pushed them over to the dark side. No guy wants to be emasculated. It’s the rawest form of humility for a man. So rejection from a woman, the “weaker” sex, can strip down their very maleness and turn them into stark raving, violence-promoting, scary wackos. That’s why you should know about them.

One thing the revolting incels seem to have conveniently forgotten is the shit-ass treatment that women have received from men ever since the f**king beginning of time. Rape and bullying and violence and unfair treatment from men toward women for no other reason than because of their sex. Not because women have “done” something that in their twisted minds justifies shitting on them. No no. Men have simply been brutally horrific toward women because they can be.

What do we do? We stand up and fight. We speak up. We create a movement (hello #metoo). And if we’re romance writers, we still in our minds think up beautiful, wonderful stories about the awesome relationships that can be had between the sexes. We conjur up our dream men. Men who are kind and thoughtful and supportive and generous. Oh, and super scorching hot.

So incels, how about a challenge? Why don’t you start your own romance novels? Why don’t you dream up a woman you’d love to be with and write a story about it. A story in which you’re not rejected and in which, after a few bumps along the way (cause it’s not really a very fun story without a conflict to resolve), you work together, as partners, to form a relationship. You have hot amazing sex. You share laughs. You support each other. And you always end up happy at the end.

This whole girl power thing has worked pretty well for us. I dare you to give it a try. If you’re man enough.

Elizabeth Shore writes contemporary and historical erotic romance novels. Find her on Twitter, Facebook or her website. Her next release will be Hot Bayou Fire, the second of her steamy, sultry series after Hot Bayou Nights set in the Louisiana bayou. Look for it in 2018. Release date announced here as soon as it’s known! 

 

 

Hark! I Hear An Audiobook

10 Apr

Girl listeningA writer friend of mind recently had one of her print books made into an audiobook, and I went to the website for a sample listen. It was an . . . interesting experience, to say the least. Now, let me preface by saying that in general I’m not an audiobook listener. I like my books in text form, whether on the paper page or in an electronic reader, and I’ve listened to only a handful of audiobooks. Furthermore, the ones I’ve listened to have been mainstream fiction. For example, Ian McEwan’s Saturday, or Frederik Forsyth’s Icon, so I’m by no means a seasoned expert in this format. But I went to have a listen to my friend’s contemporary romance audiobook and came away from the experience somewhat turned off.

There was something, I don’t know, kinda icky about a non-emotional reading of a romance novel when the genre inherently contains so much strong emotion. The reader was just, you know, reading. She wasn’t acting or performing, she was reading aloud the words on a page. Perhaps the thinking is that the listener will want to put her own spin on the emotions of the text so if the reader does so it inhibits the listener. But I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t care for it at all. And on top of that, the reading of the sex scenes was just downright weird. Imagine in your head a robotic-like voice saying, “Come on, Mitch. Just f**k me. Yeah, baby. Just like that. Rub my pussy. Mmmm, it feel so good.” Did you put a robot voice in your head? Creepy, right? And it doesn’t exactly arouse desire which, after all, is a huge part of the fun from the sex scenes.

I decided to pursue the matter further by discussing it with others who regularly enjoy listening to audio books. What’s fun about them? I asked. What distinguishes a good audiobook from a bad one? Is it the story itself? A good story is a good story, after all, so ergo, a good audiobook? Not so, say those in the know. There were two main characteristics of a good audiobook – and this is with the assumption that the story is strong. So OK, you’ve got a good yarn on your hands. It doesn’t necessarily translate to a good audiobook. The two primary distinctions told to me are that the audiobook reader must be a good performer, and the production value needs to be high.

Taking the first point, about the performance, leads me to think that the romance audiobook clip I listened to made me feel squishy because the performance was as enthralling as watching paint dry. Or perhaps, in this case, listening to paint dry, meaning there was no performance whatsoever. The reader made the decision to be dry and unemotional. It may work for some, but for me it was a complete snooze with a dash of discomfort. If the hero is baring his soul and revealing his issues and declaring his love well, damn it, I want emotion.

About the production value . . . clarity is key, with perhaps a little music thrown in here and there for mood setting and to signify scene or POV changes.

In the end, I’m going to stick with the printed text, where I can be screaming in my head when the heroine’s screaming on the page, but I’d love to hear from others. What’s your take on audiobooks, specifically romance audiobooks. Are they a fun alternative from print, or do they just make you want to hit the off button?

A Touchy Subject

20 Feb

Hands touchingI was feeling a little old school this morning, so I fired up Salt N Pepa’s Whatta Man on my iPod as I walked to work. I like that song, and who cares if it came out, like, 20 years ago. As I bopped along, one part of the song perked my ears up. The lyrics go like this:

My man gives real loving that’s why I call him Killer
He’s not a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, he’s a thriller
He takes his time and does everything right
Knocks me out with one shot for the rest of the night
He’s a real smooth brother, never in a rush
And he gives me goose pimples with every single touch

Hmmm. Goose pimples with every single touch. Clearly her man knows exactly where and how she wants to be touched. The dudes in romance novels are blessed with this knowledge as well, never needing any instructions or guidance into where our hot buttons are, they just know it. They also know where our hot button is, and what to do with it once they strike gold. These guys are goooood. I guess that’s why they’re in romance novels. But real life? Not so simple.

Part of the challenge in teaching our partners how to have the right touch is that, well, you actually have to teach them. As in talk to them, telling them exactly what it takes to get you going. A lot of us are kind of quiet on that matter. Why? Is it just way too embarrassing to have to reveal what feels good and what’s not so hot? Is it better to just hope and pray that your guy gets it right rather than speak up and say, “yeah, that’s it. Harder. Slower. Faster. More!”

A friend of mine holds nothing back when it comes to teaching her man. She’s very direct in telling a  new lover what she wants and how she wants it. When I asked her if she was ever embarrassed by having to do that, she said she wasn’t embarrassed in the least, but it’s happened that the guy didn’t necessarily like it. It wasn’t clear to her why that was although she conceded that maybe he felt emasculated by the whole thing. Like he was supposed to just somehow know everything about pleasing her because . . . well, because he’s a guy. Or something.

Honestly, it seems kind of insane to have an expectation that someone new would know exactly what to do since we all like different things. A smart smack on the rump feels sexy as hell to some and tortuous to others. How’s a guy to know? Or a gal, for that matter. Guys gotta speak up for what they want, too.

Maybe it’s the words that make things difficult. Imagine yourself saying, in the heat of the moment, “Um, you could rub my (pussy? vagina?) a little harder?” It’s so un-sexy seeming, too clinical or dry or un-romantic. How much more fun if our lovers could simply touch us where and when and how we want it. ‘Cause if they don’t do it right, and we have to say something to correct it, they might get a little, you know, touchy.

Isn’t It Romantic?

16 Jan

CF3611My father-in-law is a psychoanalyst. He’s a highly educated, brilliant man, holding both a Ph.D. and an M.D. He’s been practicing in his field for over 30 years, has written countless papers, as well as a couple of books. He can spend, literally, an entire day in deep discussion about the differences between embarrassment and shame, or about the debilitating effects society suffers from shyness. But what he really loves talking about, what truly gets his imaginative and creative juices flowing, is romance.

Now, to be fair, the way he thinks about romance isn’t necessarily the same way as how many of us think of it. Traditional romantic associations – roses, chocolates, bubble baths, quiet dinners for two – aren’t at all what he’s interested in. Instead what he wants to talk about is how those things make us feel. Why they arouse such emotions. If a cute guy brings you flowers, do you blush? Are you flattered? Aroused? Excited? Happy? Is the surfacing of those emotions the essence of romance? In other words, what exactly is romantic?

Once when I was visiting my in-laws, my father-in-law plopped down in front of me (I could already sense he was in for a long spell) because he wanted to have a discussion about romance. He’d been thinking about it a lot and was wondering why I felt certain things are romantic. Poverty, for example. Say, what? Poverty? Indeed, poverty has often been portrayed in a romantic way. The picture I chose for this post I felt was a perfect example of his point. It’s by an artist named Thomas Kennington and is called The Pinch of Poverty. But it certainly has a romantic element to it. The sweet face of the litle girl, the shine of the rainy sidewalk, the loving way the mother cradles her baby. But the artist is portraying poverty for gosh sakes. Why would anyone call that romantic? And if they do, why?

Exploring what is or isn’t romantic doesn’t have to delve into non-traditional territory. Let’s take candles, for example. The lights are low, and candles glow. Romantic, right? But, as my father-in-law would kindly, yet persistently probe, why? Why are candles romantic? Is it just that the dim lighting flatters our physical features? I would venture to say no. The emergence of romantic feelings aren’t caused soley by vanity.

The definition of the word romantic includes the following;

1. of, pertaining to, or of the nature of romance; characteristic or suggestive of the world of romance: a romantic adventure.
2. fanciful; impractical; unrealistic: romantic ideas.
3. imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry, etc.
4. characterized by a preoccupation with love or by the idealizing of love or one’s beloved.
5. displaying or expressing love or strong affection.
Those are a whole lotta definitions that haven’t really helped me reach any conclusions. However, I give credit to Papu (as we affectionately call him) for making me think about romance in new and different ways. Feelings, emotions – and the reasons behind them – play an important role as I outline a story. And when I’m writing, I keep Papu’s questions in mind as I take myself, and my characters, on their romantic journey.
Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Collecting The Classics

4 Jan

FirstsI’ve been subscribing to the book collecting magazine Firsts for many years. I’m fascinated by the idea of collecting books and all the knowledge that goes into assessing what makes a book valuable, what authors command what prices, how to tell a book’s condition between good (which, in the book collecting world, isn’t actually considered good at all), fine, and very fine. Naturally, once an author has passed away ahis or her books automatically become more valuable, but there are other considerations that go into determining a collectible book. If you happen to come across a fine or very fine first edition of Sense and Sensibility you’re looking at paying upwards of $50,000 for it. But even books much less well known than the esteemed Ms. Austen’s can fetch a pretty penny.

Still, book collecting isn’t necessarily all about the dollar value of the book but rather the emotional value to the collector. I happen to be a huuuuuge Stephen King fan and own almost everything he’s written. Certainly they’re not all first editions and some not even in hardcover. But I love them all and would never want to part with them. In this age of digital books that get downloaded and deleted after they’re read, retaining a book in hand seems that much more valuable in many ways.

So how about romances? Are there old favorites out there that are on your shelves and will forever remain a part of your treasured collection? Or how about some romances that you don’t have but would love to own. Maybe you covet Jude Deveraux’s or Nora Robert’s very first books. Or perhaps Fifty Shades of Grey has made you decide that you want to start an erotic romance collection. Whatever the case, part of the fun of collecting books is the hunt to locate them. I’ve looked casually for a first edition of Stephen King’s Carrie but so far have been unsuccessful. They’re tough to find, probably because they’re pretty darn valuable. I’ve seen first editions priced anywhere from $2,500 all the way up to $7,500, which explains why they’re not just casually lying around in used bookstores.

Tigers EyeI first started reading romances with Johanna Lindsey, I believe it was Gentle Rogue. But the romance that really made me fall in love with romance was Karen Robard’s Tiger’s Eye. The hero is a bad boy from London’s underground and the heroine is high-born lady from an aristocratic family. It’s a book that I can read again and again and one that has a permanent place on  my keeper shelf.

Skye O'MalleyI would also add Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley to my list. This is definitely one of those romance classics from the “golden era” of romance in the 1980’s. Sure, the writing’s been criticized, but I’d argue that this book was a groundbreaker of its time. The heroine captains her own ship, takes a variety of lovers, travels the globe – what more could you want?

Another set of books that retains a place on my shelf is perhaps a little more of an odd choice, but I found it Wideacreintriguing nonetheless and that’s the Wideacre trilogy by Philippa Gregory. Gregory is known for her historical fiction, perhaps best represented by The Other Boleyn Girl, but if you haven’t read the Wideacre Trilogy I’d suggest you check it out. The heroine is strong-willed, almost bordering on crazy in a fascinating kinda way. She’ll do whatever she can to hang on to her ancestral home, Wideacre, including seducing her own brother. Before you shudder in revulsion, give it a try. I was intrigued by the way Ms. Gregory completely made me buy the story. I believed the heroine’s obsession over her home and I believed that she’d do everything she does in order to keep it. Wideacre is followed by The Favored Child, and then Meridon. They’ve all three got a place on my shelf.

I would love to hear what romances are considered collectibles in your world. Hmmm . . . cozying up with Tiger’s Eye suddenly sounds like the perfect weekend plan!

Talkin’ Sex on the Telephone

30 Nov

Woman on telephoneThe company where I work is setting up a new call center and we’re conducting testing to see if the reps who pick up calls actually know what they’re talking about. I’m quizzing them on various scenarios to make sure they’re giving out correct information, so I’m spending a lot of time developing a relationship with people I don’t know and can’t see. All of this recent phone talk naturally got me thinking about phone sex (hey, what do you expect? I’m a blogger for Lady Smut).

A friend of mine was once involved in a long-distance relationship and she and her guy used to have phone sex on a regular basis, even up to the point where he fell asleep on the phone afterward. That seems like a snooze (if you’re pardon the pun) of a way to end the experience, but hey, if it works for them that’s what counts. The whole notion of traditional phone sex is an interesting one. I can’t think of another situation in which you have a very intimate, personal experience with someone you can’t see. Even when you visit a convict in prison you get to look at each other through a glass wall (or so it is on TV, anyway. Luckily I haven’t experienced it first hand). But here’s the thing: when I’m reading a sex scene in a romance novel, an important element of the scene is the couple’s visual communication. Looks between the hero and heroine can portray so much – longing, arousal, excitement, love – and that unspoken communication is lost during phone sex. So those scenes in a romance novel leave me a little empty and dissatisfied, even when they’re masterfully described by the author.

Nowadays, of course, there’s a twist. You’ll recall above that I wrote about “traditional” phone sex. I was referring to those ancient times before Skype and Facetime became the norm. Now that it’s so easy to see the other person with whom you’re talking on the phone, it takes the whole phone sex thing to another level entirely. “What are you wearing?” becomes a pointless question when the heroine can simply point the camera to her scantily-clothed body and show her man the naughty garter belts she put on just for him. There are some pretty delicious possibilities here, but I have to confess that I haven’t come across a good romance, erotic or otherwise, that contain a phone sex scene in which the couple uses today’s technology. If you’ve have and want to let me know about it, I’m all ears!

In the meantime, I guess I’ll get back to my calls.

Have a great weekend!

Elizabeth

In Defense Of Purple Prose

2 Nov

Fifty two years ago today in Britain, on November 2, 1960, a significant jury ruling was made in defense of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover as a book whose literary merit amounted to a “public good” and did not “deprave or corrupt persons likely to read it.” The trial, known as R v Penguin Books Ltd, and its finding for the defense, is said to be viewed by some people as the beginning of a more tolerant and open-minded British society.

For us readers of erotic romance and indeed consumers of content in general, the trial’s ruling is a noteworthy milestone in the ongoing battle between people who believe in free expression and those who feel that some material out there ought to be censored. But there is another point that surfaced in the trial which also caught my attention. A witness for the defense, sociologist Richard Hoggart, was called upon to discuss the literary value of the book and specifically to testify as to the purpose of the “four letter words.” In Hoggart’s opinion, D.H. Lawrence’s use of the word “fuck” was absolutely merited. He pointed out that there really are no other words in the English language that so simply describe the act without being abstractive or euphemistic and he defended its use. So in that same vein, let’s talk about purple prose.

It used to be, particularly back in the ’80s, that romance novels were fraught with purple prose, woven into the fabric of the book the way the hero weaves his manly hands through the heroine’s golden locks. The website All About Romance Novels even used to host an annual purple prose parody contest in which readers were encouraged to write the absolute worst (or best, depending on how you look at it) example of purple prose. Terms such as “manroot” and “fiery honey pot” were liberally thrown about.

But as the genre grew and more writers jumped on board to write romances, the writing itself got better and those euphemisms disappeared. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for it. As a champion of the romance and erotic romance genre, I encourage skeptics to read some new releases and judge the writing for themselves instead of acting as if the old cliche of “bodice rippers”  is an accurate description of the romances being published today. Yet, when I think about the significance of R v Penguin Books Ltd, I have to admit that a part of me wants to stand up and say, Yeah, so what if the romance genre uses words like “turgid manhood” or “weeping petals”? That’s beside the point. What should be celebrated and remembered is that, although those stories may not win a Pulitzer, thanks to cases such as R v Penguin Books Ltd and many others like it, if a writer wants to use purple prose, she can.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Remember that the best comment of the day wins a free copy of J.R. Ward’s Lover Revealed.

Have a great weekend!

Elizabeth

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