Emily Bryan is our Guest Author TODAY!

A warm welcome to…Emily Bryan

emily-bryan

…who is our Guest Author, today.
Emily is making a stop here on her
50 Day/50 Blog Tour which is promoting her sizzling, upcoming novel, Vexing the Viscount.
Emily Bryan, who also writes under the name Diana Groe, is giving away One(1) copy of Vexing the Viscount to one lucky person who leaves a comment on this post, today (Open to all countries!).

* Congratulations to Aja Jackson on winning a copy of Vexing the Viscount

Literary “First Times”

Thanks for having me here today, Bobbie! I love your blog!

When I tell non-romance readers that I’m a romance author, the first thing they do, after a giggle or two, is ask if my sex scenes are autobiographical. (If they ask my DH, he just smiles and says, “Of course!”)

vexing-the-viscount1

The truth is I write explicit scenes when the story demands it.

Writers work with nothing but ink on a page and somehow hope to breathe life into our characters. We play on their hopes and dreams. We catalogue their triumphs and failures. Nowhere are these more evident than in our character’s sex lives. Even if a character is not currently sexually active, he thinks about it as often as we do. Sex is a ripe store house of emotions and motivations. Commercial fiction is rife with sex scenes. It’s not just for romance novelists any more.

It never was. My literary “first time” was not a romance book, at all. It was Rabbit Run, from the highly respected and recently deceased, John Updike. I was a junior in high school, an extremely naïve junior. The scene where Updike’s hero, Harry Angstrom, talks a hooker into giving him oral sex while his wife is giving birth was a shock to me. First because I had no idea people did such things (told you I was naïve) and second, because the relationship in which the act occurred was so cold and devoid of joy.

But did it deepen my insight into the characters and propel Mr. Updike’s story? Like a runaway locomotive.

Writing a sex scene is not about being an exhibitionist. It is not about me. It’s about my characters and their relationship. Which leads me to my first rule about writing sex scenes.

erinsong

1. It’s about serving the story first and foremost. If I can replace the scene with the words, Then they had sex, with no change in what comes afterward, then the scene is unnecessary and must be cut.

Not all stories call for hot, sweaty monkey sex. The bedroom door can remain completely closed and yet be totally romantic. Less is often more.

What to call it . . .

“The sun glinted off his chiseled pectorals.” No, that’s not from a romance novel either. It’s a Washington Post reporter waxing poetic over President Obama’s work-out regimen. It’s also a shining example of trite wording (why even mention a pec unless it’s chiseled?) and dangerously close to Purple Prose.

All writers face word choices and nowhere is it more important to choose the right word than in a sex scene. When in doubt over what to call something, I ask my characters. What would they call it? In the 80’s a romance writer might get away with “the raging beast of his desire,” but if I tried that now, my editor would have me in a headlock. Beauty of language is one thing, but there’s no room in any scene for, pardon the pun, flaccid prose. I want my readers with me the whole time, not giggling over my Victorian silliness. (Unless of course my story is set in the Victorian era, but even then I try to keep the use of euphemisms down. Or better yet, let one of my characters joke about the verbal coyness.)

distracting-the-duchess

So here’s the second rule:

2. Call it what the characters would call it. When the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense. Technical terms may not sing, but they don’t confuse anyone either. And it is possible to write a totally hot sex scene without mentioning any body parts at all.

Not even a chiseled pectoral.

It’s about sex and . . .

So often sex scenes will stop the story dead. If we know what’s at stake, it’s more interesting. The basic tenets of the writer apply. What does my character want? How will he/she go about getting it? How can I, as the writer, throw obstacles in his/her path? What’s the subtext? It’s rare that both parties will be in complete accord. It’s also boring.

In Vexing the Viscount, both my hero and heroine are virgins. That means the angels don’t sing without a few fizzles and moments of comic relief. (Face it. Sex is pretty darn funny.) Two inexperienced characters lent itself to plenty of trial and error, some pleasurable, some frustrating. Fiction may be made up, pleasuring_the_piratebut that doesn’t mean it can’t be true. Which leads to my last rule . . .

3. The scene must be about sex and something else. For the writer, a sex scene is a chance to examine how the relationship between two people changes, how they feel about themselves as well as each other. A tryst interrupted, a near miss because someone lost their nerve, a wardrobe malfunction—these are all grist for the mill and a story propeller instead of a stopper.

Sex scenes, like every other scene, should reveal my characters, help or hinder their growth, challenge them, uplift or dash them. I’m not afraid to follow my character into the bedroom, or the library, or the . . . well where ever the action leads me.

Sex is part of who my hero and heroine are. It’s part of who we all are.

I won’t wimp out. I’ll tell the whole story.

 

An excerpt from Vexing the Viscount:

Daisy and Lucian have finally become lovers, but the games that started it all are still definitely afoot.

“Lucian climbed the stairs, his body thrumming with anticipation. Would Daisy be wearing that naughty red gown again or maybe the elegant corset with all those lovely lace ties? Perhaps this time he’d manage not to befoul the ribbons as he undid her.

But when he rapped sharply on her door and heard her call out, in French for the servants’ benefit, for him to enter, he discovered she was wearing neither of those delightful confections.

She was naked as a newborn babe.

“Bon soir, Lucian,” she said, from the burnished copper hip bath in the center of the room. silk-dreams

She’d dispensed with Blanche’s mask and wig, her own blonde curls piled on top of her head, just a couple of wayward locks teasing her slender neck. Where the froth of soap bubbles parted, the water was like molten gold in the glow of candles.

He knew his mouth was opening and shutting but no sound would come from his lips.

She laughed softly. “You might close the door behind you. The hall is drafty, you know.”

She leaned back and propped one foot on the end of the tub, water and soap bubbles slithering from her ankle, past her shapely calf and back into the bath. She sank into the tub up to her shoulders.

“I so enjoy a good soak, don’t you?”

“From this vantage point especially,” he finally managed to say as the latch clicked behind him. A bath had never seemed like anything other than a method for getting clean. Daisy Drake festooned with soap bubbles was as far removed from something next to godliness as anything he could imagine.

He wasn’t conscious of ordering his feet to move, but he found himself standing over her. The mysteries of her flesh were hidden in the water’s shadows. His groin clenched anyway.

“A few more candles would not come amiss,” he said.

She laughed again and this time, he thought he detected a little maidensong nervousness in the sound. He was a bit relieved by it. She’d been a virgin when they made love in the Duke of Lammermoor’s library. But she played the wanton with such devastating conviction; he wondered where she’d learned the courtesan’s arts.

“No more candles.” She wagged a wet finger at him. “A man’s imagination is a woman’s best asset.”

“Your assets need no help from my imagination.” He dropped to one knee beside the tub, letting a hand trail in the water. It was quite hot. No wonder her exposed skin was so flushed.

Before he reached the soapy knee that was his goal, she found his fingers and set his hand firmly back on the side of the tub.

Evidently in this new game, he was allowed to look, but not touch.”

**To learn more about her books or about the lovely Emily Bryan / Diana Groe, make sure you visit her websites and her blog.

*Make sure to visit Emily at her Blog Tour’s next stop, tomorrow at  http://erineisenberg.blogspot.com/ for another chance to win a copy of Vexing the Viscount !

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24 thoughts on “Emily Bryan is our Guest Author TODAY!

  1. No need to enter me in the contest (I already won a book!), but had to comment what a great article this was! (Am I immature if I giggled at “flaccid prose?”) You make some great points about how crucial sex scenes are to a book, whether the doors remain open or tightly closed. I loved the excerpt, too! Yummy!

  2. Good Morning Emily! Whew, I am starting to feel like a stalker, following you around the blog each day! LOL!

    But I learn something new and helpful to writing every time! I was just struggling with a scene last night and it would have been the first time my Hero and Heroine would have sex, but it didn’t “feel” right to me in her head so I stopped it from happening. Of course at his total frustration, which added a playful twist to the story, but I am happy to know its OK to stop it and re route sometimes those first sex scenes!
    P.S. I also don’t need to be entered in the contest! Thanks to your DH! But I enjoy joining the party!

  3. What a wonderful post, it’s fun to see a glimpse of how you deal with the giggles on the writing side of these wonderful books. Normally we as readers only receive the giggles about reading romance novels. Some people can’t seem to understand that wonderful books transcend genres. Thanks Emily, for your wonderful writing.

  4. “Why even metion a pec unless it’s chiseled?” Love it.

    I’d love to be entered.

  5. So true, and not a word of what you said would be different in the erotica genre. Yes, the sex is more descriptive, more focal, and more often , but it still has to move the story and the characters forward.

    I love this scene! I’m fanning myself here!

  6. Good article, some sex scenes can be truly educational too. I remember reading I think the second of the “Clan of the Cavebear” books by Jean Auel. There Jondular was initiating a girl into womanhood through sex. He was chosen because of his ability. Man….I kept the book to give it to my kids as a lesson on “HOW TO”. lol

  7. Hi Bobbie and Emily,

    Emily.. Do you have any creative control of you cover? I have always wanted to know if an author gets to choose what is on their cover. Do you have a favorite cover?

    Bobbie… Your right! They are all wonderful.

  8. I agree, having something at stake for the protagonists and describing it all the right way is so important – if a sex scene just makes me think, yeah, okay, good for you, whatever, it can really ruin a book for me. No risk of that with your books, Emily! But it must be hard to write those scenes, and even with your pointers, I don’t think I’d be able to do it!

    Nynke

  9. Hey Emily,
    Great blog! I really love learning about the process in which the books that I love to read are written.
    Great Excerpt!
    ~Afshan

  10. Hello, Emily,
    Since you mentioned your blog tour on this morning’s Crazy Tuesday program while we were chatting about heroes on http://internetvoicesradio.com/CrazyTuesday I decided to stop by.

    I see what you mean! Your viscount does look like Colin Firth!!!! How do they do that?

    I roared with laughter over your comment about President Obama’s chiseled pecs. That is sooooo inappropriate.

  11. Bobbie–I look forward to your review of Vexing the Viscount!

    Shannon–If I hadn’t wanted you to giggle, I wouldn’t have said “flaccid prose.” :)

    Colleen–Thanks for stopping by. Hope your “wing” is doing better. I encourage everyone to visit Colleen’s http://www.boxingoctopus.blogspot.com . It’s a writers’ writing site!

    Jane L–The first time I reached a point in my story where a sex scene was required, I had to go soak in the tub for awhile and just play the scene over and over in my mind. Then, with fear and trembling and “What will my grandmother say?” running through my head, I sat down at the keyboard and let my fingers speak. Just remember, it’s not about you. It’s about your characters.

    Aja–Life is a funny business, all the way around. I’m glad to be a giggle distributor.

    Stacy–Consider yourself entered for the daily drawing. Just remember if you don’t win today, there’s another blog coming tomorrow!

    Dalton–Being a servant of the story is what writing is about. And that’s why good erotica (like YOURS) is not porn.

    Ruth–LOL! I try very hard not to have “insert tab A into slot B” style instruction in my scenes, but I suppose you couldn’t do much better than a really good Jean Auel scene for a source of ‘how to.’

    As a side note, neither of my grown daughters have read my books (though one of my pastors has admitted to it!) It has nothing to do with the level of explicitness. It’s just the “ew!”-factor of reading a sex scene written by their MOTHER!

    Joni–Dorchester sends out questionaires for authors to fill out, but I have no say in how the cover eventually turns out. Which is ok since I seem to have been kissed by the cover faeries anyway!

    Which is my favorite? Can a mother have a favorite child?

    I will however admit that I wept when I first saw MAIDENSONG, my debut cover. It was more beautiful than I could imagine.

    Nynke–The trick to writing any scene is for the author to get out of the way and just tell the story.

    Afshan–Thanks for coming by. I love talking about the writing process.

  12. Wow Emily, I like what you shared with us about the sex scenes, that makes so much sense!!!!
    Thank you for sharing your time with us and of course I would love to read your book!
    Darby
    darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

  13. Rowena–Thanks again for having me on your Rowena Cherry’s Crazy Tuesday radio show. I hope this blog allows html or this is going to look awful. I just popped over and found out the radio show was recorded and is available at the above URL. What fun!

    Darby–Thanks for stopping by. It’s snowing like crazy here in New England. I’m trapped in my condo since a post-operative fall is not advised. My daily blog outings are like a visit with friends. Cyber-friends, but real nonetheless.

  14. I’m listening to that Crazy Tuesday show now – it’s fun and interesting! I’m pleased to say you sound a lot like I’d imagined, Emily – but the word ‘viscount’ does not! Turns out I’ve been thinking and saying it wrong for years :-S. ‘Vie-count’, who could have guessed… Still, today’s as good a day as any to learn, so thanks :-).
    Glad you timed your blog tour so well – but I hope you’ll be able to get out of the house soon!

  15. Nynke–English is tough to learn as a second language. The vowels all have several different sounds and there are almost as many silent consonants as French. I admire you for doing so well in our language.

  16. This article is a keeper! I nearly fell off my chair laughing about the sun and the “chiseled pectorals.” I have never read such descriptive wording from a journalist.

    With your 50 day blog, I have found yet another quote by you for my journal. The sentence “For the writer” in #3 is the gist of it all. Great insight Emily.

    Julie

  17. Just reading over the comments now and I see the reporter’s comment about the president’s pectorals tickled Rowena’s funny bone too. From a point of view aspect, it sounds like someone who is standing on the sideline, noticing in detail the physical attributes of our president, which makes me now wonder what else this reporter was noticing!

    Egad! I wouldn’t have thought to think that way!!!

    Julie
    PS. Sorry, Emily, that you had to be so rudely educated. I too was very naive and my ‘first experience’ coming across a sex scene was in “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.”

    Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to listen to the show tomorrow or by Friday.

  18. Thank you Bobbie for having me here and thank you all for coming.

    There’s another chance to win today. I’ll be at Into A Writer’s Mind sometime today. When I checked last, my post wasn’t up yet, but my friend is on the west coast and probably still asleep. We’re talking about my switch from Diana Groe’s dark dramas to Emily Bryan’s light-hearted romps. Hope to see YOU there!

  19. I agree, sex should be more than just sex. When romance novels first started increasing the amount of sex, I was intrigued, and, I admit, titillated. Now, there’s so much sex, I’m bored. I want a good story, and the more sex, the less story. Some sex is fine. After all, sex is part of love, but enough is enough. I remember reading one book, which I now realize was erotica, and as I read I kept asking myself “Where’s the story?” I regret that I actually finished the book, but I’ve never read another by that author.

  20. I agree with Linda though I must say that every once in a while I come across authors who are brilliant in combining plots, emotions, strong characters and great sex all within a few hundred pages and that’s when my romance-loving heart soars!

    I’m would love to be entered in the draw! I’m definitely going to check out your books Emily!

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