30 June 2013

Fade to black...

I'm probably one of those odd folks who can't write a love scene for love or money but LOVES to read a good love scene. Put a Sara Brookes story in front of me and I'm diving in and not coming up for air until I get my fill of some sweet luvin'!

But as for my own works I've been sort of, well... fade to black. While I'll drag the lovers up to the edge I just can't push them over, preferring to leave the good details to the reader's imagination - because that's what I think works for my characters and the way I write.

Here's an example from the first book in the "Blood of the Pride" series.


I fumbled with his shirt, fingers numb with anticipation. “Maybe. Okay, yes.” I ran my hands over his chest, pleasantly surprised at the light fur covering his skin. “Maybe you’ve got a little Felis in you after all.”

“Maybe. Does that mean I get to be on top?” A tingle ran down my spine as he drew his fingers leisurely down my back, stroking the scarred skin before expertly snapping my bra open. “Or do I have to wrestle you for it?”

Maybe. Yes. I don’t know.” I let out a sigh, surrendering to the mixture of emotions, exhaustion and plain old lust drowning me. “Shut up and keep touching me.”

To me that's enough to give the reader - you can figure out what happens next, right?

But, as I said above, I'm no prude - give me a hot and heavy love scene and I haz great fun! It's only when the scene seems forced and suddenly I find my mind wandering as to trying to figure out how person A is still breathing and where person B's leg is and how the heck can anyone be that flexible and I'm bounced out of the story.

A good love scene can be graphic or may not be. But what it has to do is send the reader on an emotional ride that's got to pay off at the end with flushed cheeks and grabbing for the water bottle. Whether it's a "fade to black" or a hot steamy scene the writer's got to deliver those feelings or it just descends into an engineering test of who fits into whom.

As with all things - just my wandering thoughts! Feel free to agree or disagree below and if you have any refs to authors you want to recommend - jump on in!

28 June 2013

Once More, with Feeling

For me, love scenes are tough to write (gasp!) and sometimes tough to read. It seems there is, in some quarters, the feeling that erotic romance is basically stringing a succession of sex-scenes together. Yet it is, like any other genre, subject to rules. Yes, there is a heightened sexuality and frank language, but just as in any other kind of book there has to be a cohesive plot. Without one, you might as well be reading a bunch of those “true confession” letters in a men’s magazine.

And also each scene must serve a purpose—including the sex/love scenes. For me, when the love scenes are really hot you can almost bet your sweet bippy there is a new and thrilling shift in the relationship going along with it. Yes, the characters are having sex, slots and tabs as per usual, acrobatics, dominance etc. not essential (although sometimes welcome and even necessary, depending on the characters), but they’re also discovering something about themselves or their partner at the same time. While they’re doing that, the reader is learning about them too, and the heat is ramped up.

For me there has to be emotion, whether acknowledged or fought against, and relevance, or it’s just sex.
It could be the thrill of finally realizing the dream of having an encounter with the man the heroine’s been lusting after forever. Or perhaps the moment when a man looks at the person he’s having sex with and thinks, ‘Mine.’ Even the second when, scared spitless, one of the characters recognizes the very thing they didn’t want—love—has entered the equation. There are a bunch of different scenarios, instant attraction, resurgence of floundering love, angry sex, make-up sex, etc. that we use as plot devices, but the bottom line is if you don’t have emotion behind it and a reason for the sex, it just isn’t hot to me.

And let’s not forget there are scenes in books where the characters never even get undressed, much less get to actual sex, that can be hotter than the desert on a mid-summer day! The slow seduction scene that gets interrupted or is curtailed because one character knows the other isn’t ready is an example that comes to mind. Again I bet it's the heap of emotion behind it that makes the temperature rise.

So up the stakes, up the feelings behind the action, up the revelations and discoveries through the lovemaking and, in my estimation, the heat quotient rises too!

Journeys Through Seduction

Anya Richards/Anya Delvay books available from Samhain Publishing, Ellora's Cave, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo.

26 June 2013

Some Like it...not as hot

I know this month's theme is Some Like it Hot. But I write YA, and I don't really read romance outside of that genre. But lately I've been thinking about YA romance, which is a , um, hot thing right now. And I'll tie it into a theme that comes up at just about every conference I've been to in the last year or two. How much is too much for YA? What is the line?

Well, I usually answer, if you've read the Hunger Games, then you know the line is WAY back there.

 But what about sex in YA? That's a tougher questions. I mean, it's obviously going to be off-screen sex, or toned down. YA is more of the sweet variety of romance, but that doesn't mean it can't have a little heat in the buildup. In the Young Adult romance, there is the added layer of turmoil that comes with adolescence, the hormones, the flirting, the jealousy, the uncertainty of first (or second) love. There's kissing, petting, even allusions to sex, off-stage sex, and some of those flirting and kissing scenes can leave you swooning. It's almost an art form.

And it's a rich soil in which to grow a story. Add in fantasy elements, and it can be a roller coaster ride.

For me, the look at it this way, whether dealing with violence in YA or with romance scenes: it's not the subject, it's the author's treatment of it. Cursing, for example. A book for older kids may use the word "Bitch", but one for younger kids might say "he cursed", leaving to the reader's imagination. For a violent scene, it's the difference between a scene written by Suzanne Collins vs. the same scene written by Stephen King. See what I mean?  Same with romance. The difference between a scene written by Cassandra Clare and the same one written by...someone who writes hotter than that. LOL.

Hot can be hot without being...hot. In YA, it has to be.

24 June 2013

Hot Stuff

I totally agree with my blog co-authors. I love to read stories with sizzle. The characters don't have to enter the bedroom as long as the attraction between them is real and palpable. That attraction will keep me reading.

I will be the first to admit that writing, ahem, hot scenes is outside my comfort zone.  I've gotten better at it because I let the characters guide me, not the other way around. If I am deeply connected with my characters, they will do what they do naturally. I just try to get out of the way.

That said, I am not a fan of including sex scenes in a story just to jack up the heat level. The scenes I write, no matter what they are, have to serve specific purposes.

They MUST:
Drive the story forward
Give the reader a peek into the character's soul
Establish the conflict and keep cranking up the difficulties
Keep the reader entranced

In that respect, hot scenes are no different than, say, action scenes.

Crawling under the sheets together is apt to create more problems and conflict for the characters than before. Coming together shows strength as well as vulnerabilities. More is at stake once the characters make that leap, which is juicy fun for the reader.

In my mind, conflict is what keeps us turning the pages. Can the sizzle be part of the conflict? You betcha.
Love is the glue that sticks us to the characters. A satisfying ending makes us want to pick up another book and start all over again.

So...is it hot in here?


23 June 2013

Do I really need a sex scene?

When it comes to writing Sex Scenes, I'm a panster and I let my characters decide.  I write mostly M/F but some characters in my contemporary novels have wanted more in the bedroom.  More partners, more positions, a little more kink.

Lance anted a threesome with his ex to get to her best friend (F-M-F).

Dani couldn't decide between two men (M-F-M).

The Caulfield cowboys like to tie their partners up and participate in light bondage.

Needless to say, my fantasy characters have much more interesting sexual characteristics.

My werewolves tend to go into heat, and of course with shifters, there's a lot of nipping, biting and general teeth involved. I have a vampire, who of course, takes on blood slaves and a zombie who sleeps (and thus heals), in his case sex is therapeutic. :)

I have a fire fairy who plays with candles and wax, an Atlantian with gills who likes to give blow jobs under water and a fire elemental who can mark you (like a sunburn) when he gets out of control.

What I put the story to paper, sex and what happens in the bedroom tends be what characters are by their nature. 

I was once asked to add a sex scene much earlier in a book, I refused and added a masturbation scene to appease my editor at the time.  I found it to be much more believable for the character than if she randomly called my hero, ran into him conveniently, or whatever plot device I needed for them to get it on.  She simply wasn't that kind of girl.

I just typed "THE END" on a book and am debating an additional love scene for the characters, I have a perfect spot for it and I think it will show readers on their trust issues, but they haven't decided if they'll let me open the door.  Ultimately I let the characters decide what they want share.  After all I'm merely writing their story. :)

14 June 2013

Birds, bees, and other fun stuff

Late to the party again -- sorry! Life has been a roller-coaster lately. But nonetheless, here I am.

Some like it hot -- yep, they sure do. I don't mind a little heat, myself, however if you really want to know the truth, I prefer what I like to call 'the sizzle'. ;)

The sizzle is all that sexual tension that leads up to the big moment between the main couple in a story -- whether that moment is on-screen, off-screen, or some combo of the two, it doesn't really matter to me. The sizzle is where a romance shines. It shows the couple falling in love.

Honestly, many romance writers will tell you that writing love scenes can be tough. I've even had some writers tell me it's their least favorite part of the story. Reason? There are many to choose from.

For instance: You can either wind up sounding like a biology textbook or an engineer.

Really? (fights urge to turn book sideways) Is that physically possible?* 

Then there is the issue of what words to use. Should you call it what it is? Use the clinical and sometimes cold or jarring terms? Should you find some interesting metaphors or euphemisms to soften the prose? And what if your mother reads this?!

"Yes, mom, I know that word."

Yes, there are quite a few reasons why writing sex is last on many writers' list of fun things to do. It's also difficult to make things different from book to book -- I can't even imagine the magnitude of that task for some multi-multi-published authors.

As I said before, I prefer sizzle. A subtle glance; a brush of skin to skin; the sudden realization that he really, really smells good. *sigh* I like to build that tension between my hero and heroine, usually from the moment they appear on the page together. Spark. Heat. Blush. Sizzle... and then on to something else if the story line and story length allow.

Romance novels are not, despite popular opinion, all about the sex. They are about relationships and trust. But I shouldn't have to defend the genre here. Everyone here loves romance. :)

~~Meg Allison


06 June 2013

Some Like It Hot: What Makes A Love Scene Hot?

I think this is an interesting question because there's no one answer.  What makes a scene hot depends on what the viewer finds hot.  To a logophile, a well-crafted iambic pentameter might be just the thing.  To a BDSM fan, maybe it's a St. Andrews Cross.  To a cat fan, maybe it's a Siamese peach-point.

For me, the heat comes from the relationships and not necessarily the sex scene.  I've read sex scenes that are all about the sex and nothing about the people and I don't find them hot.  There's no investment in the payoff.

One of the hottest scenes I've read is in Zodiac by Neal Stephenson.  There isn't even any sex in it.  (Well, the sex comes next.)  The two characters are trying to figure out why the car died, and they get oil on their fingers.  Then they look at each other and realize the lubricant is sexy and slippery and...

What do you find hot?  If you like M/M romance, or are interested in giving it a try, I have a new book coming out on July 23rd.  Called TIGER TIGER, it's the sequel to BURNING BRIGHT.  It's about a veterinarian and animal empath who falls in love with weretigers.  It seems natural, within the flow of the story, and we worked hard to make the sex scenes part of the story.  They move the plot forward.

What do you find hot?


“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

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Publishers: Samhain Publishing | Torquere Press

Check out BURNING BRIGHT, available from Samhain Publishing.
Check out EMERALD FIRE, available from Torquere Books.
Check out "Taking a Chance", available from Torquere Books.
Check out COOK LIKE A WRITER , available from Barnes and Noble.
Watch for TIGER TIGER, coming July, 2013, from Samhain Publishing.

02 June 2013

Are you ready for some more shifter love???

One of the best things about writing a series is letting the characters grow and expand, show the reader more of what makes them tick. While the first book is usually all about the action the second and continuing stories allow the author to show more of what the characters are all about, what makes them either so lovable or loathsome.

In "Blood of the Pride" I introduced you to Rebecca Desjardin, a cat shifter who can't shift—outcast and shunned by her family until they need her help. With a foot in both the Felis and human worlds she helped find a rogue male and at the same time found love in a curious journalist named Brandon Hanover who not only figures out what she is but loves her for it.

"Claws Bared", book two, was released this past January and sent Reb down to a small town in Pennsylvania to help figure out who killed a popular male stripper. During that adventure she and Brandon figured out where they were going with their relationship and moved to the next level.

Now with "Family Pride", releasing June 3rd from Carina Press, the intrepid cat shifter finds herself in dangerous new territory—dealing with Brandon's family. It's one thing to meet the parents and find them wanting someone better for their son, another to be forced into working for them in order to save your own.

Here's a short excerpt from "Family Pride"!


"My parents want to meet you."

I dropped the thick ceramic mug in the sink. It bounced once before landing in the inch-deep soapy water. The clanging sound bounced around my skull, settling behind my left eye and throbbing.

"Your parents are dead." I turned and leaned against the counter. "Are we attending a séance?"

Bran bit his lower lip. He hadn't bothered to put a shirt on, choosing to pad around my house barefoot in a pair of jeans that fit perfectly in all the right places. We'd finally dragged ourselves out of bed for lunch, ordering in pizza because we had run out of groceries.

His dark eyes met mine, apologetic and pleading.

"They're not, ah, dead. They're sort of alive."

I picked up the mug and contemplated how much strength it would take to smash it. "Your parents are zombies?"

"My parents are alive and well and very much human."

I weighed the mug in my palm, letting him watch my fingers curl around the cool clay. "You lied to me. Four months ago you lied to my face."

"Maybe." Bran put out his hand, pointing at the mug. "Please put that down."

I glared at him.

"Okay, I lied. A bit." His hand didn't move, still outstretched toward the mug. "I told you my parents were dead but that was right after we'd met and we were on opposite sides of the case." Bran smiled. "And I didn't know how good we could be together."

I didn't blink.

"Cut me a break, Reb. You've got your own family secrets." He shifted to one side with a grin, showing off his newest scratches on one shoulder. "And I can make you purr."

Damned redhead had a point. We'd both kept things from each other back then. I hadn't exactly been forthcoming about the fact that I wasn't human, but when Bran had come face-to-face with my Felis heritage I hadn't lied and denied.

I still didn't have to like it. "Who are they and why did you lie?"

He didn't move. My gaze traveled over his bare chest, resting on the fresh scars across his midsection courtesy of our latest work trip to Penscotta, Pennsylvania. He'd fought another Felis for his life and, in his own way, for me.

The least I could do was hear him out before throwing the mother of all temper tantrums.

"My father is Michael Hanover." Bran paused. "Of Hanover Investments."

I nearly dropped the mug.

"Hanover Investments. As in, they make more money in ten minutes than I'll ever see in my lifetime?" I croaked. I'd flipped through a few business articles over the past few years when I was supposed to be reading a paper and instead using it for surveillance. The business section guarantees you won't be distracted by the articles.

"Yeah. Them." He sounded almost apologetic. "It's a family business. Three generations."

"You're related to those Hanovers?"

"Michael and Bernadette Hanover are my parents." He reached out and took the mug from my numb fingers. "The reason I lied was because it'd become an instinctive reaction to explain away my wealth. Easier to say trust fund than explain my dysfunctional relationship with my parents." He shook his head, a sad smile on his lips. "You'd be surprised how many gold diggers are out there looking to snag a rich man. Or his son."

I tried to get my breathing under control. "Those Hanovers."

"We'd just met," Bran repeated. He placed the mug out of my reach and returned to stand in front of me, both hands up. "And I used the same line I use with everyone to explain my wealth. It was automatic."


While I don't think many of us lied to our prospective mates about our family being dead, I think we can all relate to Reb's shell shock at finding out who the Hanovers are—and when she finds out how dangerous they are it'll force her to make decisions that will change her life and her relationship with both families and Brandon forever.

I hope you'll come along for the latest book in the series and get to know Brandon and Rebecca better—after all, there's still plenty of mysteries for them to find and solve!

On another note I'll be appearing from June 12th to the 16th at the Origins Game Fair as part of the Library track – if you're in the Columbus, Ohio area and looking for a great way to spend a day or five, please check out the schedule! I'll be there discussing superheroes and romance writing along with many great authors such as Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole and there'll be plenty of great books for sale along with some faboo gaming opportunities.

If you're in the area it'd be great to see you!