Friday, August 29, 2008

And we think we invented this stuff!

Every age likes to think they're different than the one before - than all the ones before. My generation likes to think we're more open than our parents were. Certainly less inhibited than our grandparents were.

But are we right?

I used to think so, then I came upon the most extraordinary thing - a four-minute animated porn film from 1929 featuring a cartoon character named Eveready Harton.

If you've never seen the Eveready Harton cartoon - it's known variously as Buried Treasures or Pecker Island - you're not alone.

The frankly funny but raunchy cartoon wasn't meant for public viewing, but rather was created anonymously as a sort of booby-prize - part of a tribute to cartoonist Winsor McCay.

But all that changed with the internet. LOL

Thanks to the internet, Eveready Harton is having something of a rebirth, and encouraging every generation to rethink the straight-laced boxes they put their predecessors in!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

There's no room for car porn in the bedroom

Hubby is addicted to porn.

Car porn, that is.

He got his BMW Car Magazine in the mail today and, since we were having lunch together anyway, I thought I'd bring it along. The day his car porn arrives is a special day - yeah I don't get it either - but I knew it would put a smile on his face, so I popped it into my purse on the way out the door.

The thing is, apparently Hubby isn't the only one who thinks of his car magazine as porn - apparently the magazine's marketers do as well. The thing arrives in a sealed - and concealed - plastic sleeve that looks suspiciously like the plastic sleeved-magazines you find in truck stops and adult book stores around the world.

Standing in line for fast food, Hubby covertly tore off the sleeve and opened the magazine, a silly little grin on his face the whole time. He made a quick flip-thru the pages looking at pictures -is this sounding more familiar? - then went back to the beginning and perused the magazine more thoroughly.

I'm pretty sure he was pitching a tent inside those wool dress pants of his.

And then, as if to reinforce the belief that car magazines are - in fact - porn for some men, Hubby looked at me with those adorable baby blues of his, touched my hand and said, "Wouldn't it be sexy if you were in bed, wearing that little black silk teddy of yours, when I got home from work tonight?"

I smiled my most seductive smile and was just about to agree when he opened his mouth and train-wrecked the whole thing. "Oh and make sure you bring my magazine up, ok Honey?"

I came home, dropped the magazine on his side of the bed and composed an email to the marketing team over at BMW Car Magazine suggesting they might want to try centerfolds. They seem to do wonders for other magazines in the marketplace.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A little something to heat up a cold night

Hot Cinnamon Cider

Trina pulled the old Buick off to the side of the road, her nerves shattered. Ten years ago, the Wisconsin weather wouldn’t have phased her, but things had changed. She laughed to herself, that’s what happens when you move to the South

Trina peered through the ice-crusted windshield at the blizzard beyond, pondering her options. She could, of course, keep driving. She’d be a nervous wreck by the time she got to Aunt Viv’s cabin, but she could do it. Or she could stop and find some place to stay. Looking around, she caught a glimpse of neon lights up ahead, and the decision was made. She’d get a room, call Viv and ride out the storm.

Years of travel had honed Trina’s first-impression mechanism, and she sighed with relief, sensing the Wild Rose Inn was no Bates Hotel. It was clean, modern and smelled like cinnamon. Without hesitation, she rang the bell.

“May I help you?”

The man who emerged from behind the counter was tall, dark and handsome. And vaguely familiar. Not in a Norman Bates sort of way, she chuckled silently, but in a, “I wonder how I know him” sort of way.

His eyes were kind and his smile instant as she explained her situation.

“Welcome to Wisconsin,” he chuckled, before bending slightly to take care of her check-in details on the hotel’s computer. Trina took advantage of his attention to detail to take in some details of her own. His shoulders were broad and muscular, and the faded jeans he wore were stretched taunt over powerful thighs. And there in the middle…

“And what name would you like me to put that under?”

Trina started. Absorbed in his generous details, she’d forgotten to listen.

“Katrina Walters,” she stammered quickly.

A long pause ensued as the man behind the counter checked her out. Trina felt her ears flush as his curious, appraising stare continued. She shifted slightly as a sexy smile touched his lips.

“Katrina Walters,” he repeated softly. “I thought I recognized you.”

“Excuse me?”

The man apologized. “I’m sorry,” he said with a smile, “but when you walked in, I was sure I knew you, but it wasn’t until you said your name that I put two and two together.”

Trina nodded slightly. “I,” she paused, embarrassed. “I thought you looked familiar, too,” she finished.

They smiled at each other sheepishly, then the man extended his hand, “Grady Reese,” he said. “I was on the Habitat house outside of Meridian, Mississippi.”

Trina brightened, Of course! The summer after junior year. She and her boyfriend of the week– she struggled to remember his name – Byron, yes she and Byron had spent that first week of summer in Mississippi. It had been his idea, of course. He was an architecture major. Her smile turned to a frown as she recalled the details: Byron had turned into Mr. Know-it-all on the build site, and Trina had dumped him on the way back to College Station.

“Wow,” she said, still holding Grady’s hand. “You have a brilliant memory!”

Grady’s blush was immediate. “I just remember you,” he admitted finally.

Trina couldn’t keep the pleased smile off her face.

Grady smiled back.“You’re right down the hall,” he said, dropping the card key into Trina’s hand. “ Number 27.”


“Have a good night.”

Trina reached for her overnight. “You too,” she said with another smile. “Good to see you again.”

She was midway down the hall when he stopped her.

“This is crazy, “ he half laughed, “but I had a huge crush on you, way back when. I didn’t do anything about it and I’ve always regretted that missed opportunity…” Grady took a deep breath before continuing, “so anyway – it’s okay if you say no – but I’m wondering if you’d like to come to the lobby in a little while and we could catch up over some cider.”

Trina smiled. “I’d love to,” she said sincerely. “And cider sounds fabulous!”

Grady laughed. “I’ll even get the electric fire cranked up!”

And he had. By the time Trina unpacked the little overnight bag, freshened up, and made her way down the short hall, the lobby was awash in the glow of artificial flames and two cups of steaming apple cider were on the low table in front of the brick fireplace.

Grady met her at the door, and in that moment she remembered.

He’d had longer hair and fewer muscles six years ago, and he’d been in charge of the landscape crew. She’d worked on the house’s interior, so they’d only crossed paths occasionally, but those few times, she’d felt something special in his shy smile.

Trina couldn’t help herself, she smiled.

“I remember!” she laughed, grabbing Grady’s hand in her own. “You were the shy landscape guy!”

Grady’s thumb caressed the back her hand. “And you were the beauty queen with the nasty boyfriend in tow,” he whispered. “The one I was too afraid to talk to.”

With their eyes locked, Grady guided Trina to the loveseat nearest the fire, then sat down beside her.

“This is going to sound really awkward,” he started, smiling into her eyes, “but I am so happy this blizzard stranded you at my hotel.”

Trina opened her mouth to speak, but Grady silenced her with his finger.

“Let me finish,” he said. “Six years ago, I experienced something few people every get to experience – love at first sight. But at 20, I didn’t know what to do about it.”

He stroked the side of Trina’s face gently. “Now I do.”

Trina had been kissed before. She’d even had sex before, but never in her 26 years had any man made love to her the way Grady did – with his heart.

As the warmth of new love spread over her, Trina sighed happily, hoping the roads would be blocked for a good, long while.

She had some catching up to do.

Why sex isn't enough

When someone asks my husband what genre I write, he invariably says I write “bodice rippers”. Usually I laugh, but lately, I’ve been giving the label some thought, and I’m not too thrilled with the inference.

Labeling romance as “bodice rippers” implies that the stories are all about the sex. And they’re not.

Frankly, if women wanted to read about sex – even great sex – they’d pick up pornography (which of course, many women do, if the statistics are correct).

Romance novels, on the other hand, are about something else – they’re about relationships.

Sure, sometimes they include the relationship between physical intimacy and emotional intimacy, but on a grander scale, they explore the relationship between two complete and complex characters.

Can’t find that in the pages of Penthouse.

Some folks contend that the only difference between porn and a romance novels ("porn for women" they usually call it) is the unrealistic expectation involved. In porn, it’s an expectation of sex, in romance novels it’s an expectation of romance.

They might be onto something, but seriously, what’s so bad about a heightened expectation of romance? (I know my life is better because of it, and I bet my husband would say the same!)

Which gets me to the point: porn and romance novels ma both portray unrealistic expectations, but those expectations have the exact opposite impact on relationships.

Writing in The Porn Myth, Naomi Wolf talks about the impact of porn on relationships saying, “If your appetite is stimulated and fed by poor-quality material, it takes more junk to fill you up. People are not closer because of porn but further apart; people are not more turned on in their daily lives but less so.”

Wolf visited a lot of college campuses for her research, and if anything, the kids she spoke with reinforced the belief that porn makes them feel less connected to members of the opposite sex and less capable in relationships.

“They know they are lonely together, even when conjoined, and that this imagery is a big part of that loneliness. What they don’t know is how to get out, how to find each other again erotically, face-to-face.”

How sad.

And what an indictment of porn.

On the other hand, according to Dr. Virginia Lyn Neylon of Cuyamaca College, romance novels stimulate our appetites for romance and help to build and maintain better, stronger relationships - and not just in the bedroom.

“Popular romance novels are an evolution of cultural ideals, gender issues, and writing conventions. They illustrate how the culture has changed from a belief system of marriage for property, prestige and wealth to a system of marriage for love. They show how a woman's place in society has changed over time in her roles as daughter, wife, and mother.

“Romance novels connect women writers to women readers and allow for the expression of female ideology. By using this popular medium, we will not only reach women and instruct them as readers and writers, but also through them, we will come into contact with the next generation. Popular romance novels are so much more than heaving bosoms and brawny chests.”

And that’s the message we need to get out.

Great sex isn’t what makes a romantic novel a great read – it’s the romance that matters. That’s what we hunger for, and that’s what romance writers deliver – whether or not any bodices get ripped!

(This post is part of the ProBlogger writing project.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Life in the buff

What do you sleep in?

I used to sleep in sweats. No kidding! Big. bulky, shapeless sweats. Then my husband convinced me I should sleep naked. I tried it and, altho I'd like to say I liked it right away, that'd be a lie.

Sleeping naked made me feel...well, naked.

I suppose it has to do with being a mom. I'd gotten used to having the kids pop in at odd times, or - worse still - having to run to their rooms at some unexpected noise. Taking the time to get dressed each time seemed silly.

Thank goodness the kids grew up!

These days, we're empty nesters, which means - apart from making sure the shades are drawn - we can walk around the house naked anytime we like!

About a hundred years ago, I published an essay about nakedness. I searched through old files and found it and have added it to my list of reads on the sidebar.

Funny how my thoughts on nudity have changed since then!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Inspired by eavesdropping

The great thing about writing romance is that inspiration can be found anywhere.

Some of my ideas come from real life - my own and the lives of real people I happen to know. Other ideas come from the media, and still others from historic events.

My favorite way to get inspired is to eavesdrop. Yeah, I admit it, I am an fine me!

Seriously, that's what the punishment for eavesdropping was in the olden days - fines.

The history of eavesdropping is actually pretty cool.

The term “eavesdrop” has its origins in the architectural genius known as the eaves of a house. The eaves are the part of the roof that extend past the actual outside walls, so that rainwater will pour off of the slanted roof, away from the house and its potential damage. (We weren’t born with gutters, you know). This creates a dry area to stand outside the house (the eavesdrop), and, incidentally, the perfect venue to overhear what is going on inside. The term “eavesdropping” has definite negative connotations because of its implicit proactive busy-bodiness. Like a snoop, or a meddler, or a wire-tapper. But an overhearer? There’s no fault there. We cannot help but overhear. And be overheard. (Thanks to the Cornell Daily Sun for the history lesson!)

Eavesdropping was such a problem in ancient China that warriors got in the habit of drawing their plans rather than speaking about them!

Anyway, this all goes to reinforce my belief that eavesdropping is a great way to get inspiration for stories!

Of course, I'm talking about casual, friendly listening in on conversations, not the stalking, wire-tapping, corporate secret-stealing eavesdropping of the bad guys in every action flick!

So, go ahead! Listen in. You never know what kind of inspiration you might find!

An Unexpected Interview

My newest short story, An Unexpected Interview, has just been accepted for publication on Whipped Cream over at Long and Short Romance! Judy and Marianne notified me today that the story - which gives new meaning to hot, office romance - will go oneline September 11.

Snuggle in!

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