Friday, May 14, 2010

Embrace Your Inner Sex Goddess


Please help me welcome the lovely and talented Anna Alexander. Anna makes her home in the Seattle area with her two daughters and her overactive imagination. She writes contemporary and paranormal romances that raise the temperature on those grey, rainy Northwest afternoons. Or maybe that’s just the heat coming off the oven as she bakes her infamous cranberry-white chocolate chip cookies. Follow her writing journey at AnnaAlexander.net, Facebook- Anna Alexander, or Twitter- AnnaWriter.

HERE'S ANNA: Family gatherings. No matter whose family it is, the conversation follows a similar pattern. “How’s work?” “What grade are you in now?” “How’s the remodel going?” The question I’m always asked is, “Are you published yet?”

“Not yet,” I respond. “But I was recently named a finalist in the Between the Sheets contest.”

“Great. What is that?”

“Well, I entered a ten page love scene and I was one of the five best.”

“Love scene? Oooo. What was it about?”

“Uh…well…” I can feel my ears burn as my spoonful of vanilla ice cream melts onto the top of Optimus Prime’s chocolate head.

I know for certain that this will not be the last time I encounter such a question. My books contain some fairly racy scenes, and very little is left to the imagination. I foresee a time in the future, after I’ve received the call (see, me being optimistic), when I will be standing in a lovely bookstore chatting with nice people, and someone will approach me and say, “So, you like to tie men up and shave their private areas.”

Regardless of whether I personally enjoy that or not, I wrote that scene, and it will be tied to me forever. Now, do I hang my head in shame and run and hide in the self-help section, or do I lift my chin, smile and say, “Thank you for reading my book. I hope you enjoyed it.”

The answer is smile, of course. Even if my cheeks are on fire, and my eyes glaze over in horror, I will still smile.

So if you are like me, a naturally shy person who is able to describe in explicit detail several uses for extra-virgin olive oil that do not involve cooking, how do you overcome that gut clenching, sweat producing, please-world-swallow-me-whole reaction? The key to that is understanding you as a person, and your reader.

The number one rule is write to your comfort level. This, I believe, is most important. Read out loud the sexiest scene in your manuscript in a strong, clear voice. If you can’t do it in the privacy of your own room, then how can you be comfortable promoting all aspects of your novel in public? Listen to your heart, and your internal embarrassment thermometer. If the thought of describing steamy oral sex makes you break out in hives, don’t do it.

Even though it’s the 21st century, people as a whole are still very sheltered when it comes to sex. I can’t understand why it is more publically acceptable to have a movie where someone is violently decapitated over a moving, emotional, explicit love scene. What may be vanilla to you, may be exotic and unimaginable to another. That person may lash out and make juvenile or negative comments to cover their own embarrassment or fear. Smile, nod your head, thank them for their opinion, and move on. My job as a fiction author is to entertain, not to teach, argue, or psychoanalyze their response to my book.

Be proud of your work. Conveying the nuances, both physical and emotional, of a sexually intimate relationship is a talent that takes incredible hard work and skill. The authors who are masters at love scenes cultivate enduring readerships for that reason. Their readers want that experience. If you can deliver that then don’t be afraid of embracing your inner sex goddess. The world can handle a little sexy.

17 comments:

  1. Awesome post! I'm not overly talkative in my day to day life and tend toward the shy. When I'm writing? Yeah, I come alive and all that shyness falls away. It's a great feeling.

    I looked for a contact button and couldn't find one. I just recently found your blog and am really enjoying it. Thought I'd share the love and gave you an award. You can find the link here-http://sanchezzoo.blogspot.com/2010/05/i-received-blog-award.html

    I apologize for the long html, I am soo not web savvy, lol! Happy Friday!

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  2. Thanks Lisa,

    I find writing like singing. On the page I can be that egmatic person I'm too shy to be in real life. Just like in the car I'm a rock star. My goal is to be the rock star in reality as well.
    Happy writing.

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  3. Anna,thanks so much for being here today. I think a lot of your fellow writers (me included) can SO relate.

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  4. What, you mean you don't whip out your racy manuscript and start reading the fun parts to strangers in the street? And here I thought I knew you...

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  5. Thanks for having me Rebecca.

    You never know when a comment, either good or bad, will fly at you. For example, when my sister reads my work I have to highlight the sex scenes and label it "Sexy bits! Skip if you need." She's not too keen on sex in novels.

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  6. Hey Danielle,

    I wrote my first novel when I was 14 and all in pencil. All my friends had me put a huge star where the sex scene started. Wouldn't you know it, those pages were the most popular and wore away to where it's just faint script now.

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  7. I so love your advice to read your sex scene out loud at home. If you can't get comfortable with it there, where can you? Great blog, Anna! Thanks!

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  8. Hi Laurie,

    I guess I should have a warning about making sure little ears are not about when you do that. That's the worse, when you're composing a great scene and a tiny voice chimes behind you, "hey mommy, whatcha doing?"

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  9. LOL. So a shy person penning words so smokin' hawt, they burn up the page, and just then the kids run into the office having a squirt gun fight. Kinda dampens the mood. hahaha. Ah, the writer's life.


    Jacquie

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  10. Great post! I love the advice to write to your own personal tolerance level. Such sane advice :) Thanks!

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  11. Hey Jacquie,

    Kids tend to dampen the mood whenever sex is involved. I think that's part of their job. :)

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  12. Hello Jemi,

    I will hear a writer say they need to have a steamy 10 page scene in their novel, but I always wonder why? If it's not in you to write, it comes off false.
    Happy writing!

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  13. Hi Anna,

    Great post! I've gotten less shy over the years, but when my coworkers read my books and then want to talk about the sex scenes, my cheeks blaze like I'm a sex-scene virgin. It's a bit uncomfortable when I'm in the lunch room peeling my hard-boiled eggs to be asked where I get my motivation to write such a "sexy scene." It's also a bit uncomfortable if my husband reads the sex scene and recognizes something he's done or said. Oops!--hey, I can't help it. Sometimes the line fits just right. LOL! ;)

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  14. Anna, this was a great post. I relate SO much. The things I write about are what my characters want to experience, not necessarily me. And for a shy writer, that can be tough to convey. Posts like this help me to know I'm not alone. Best of luck to you. :)

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  15. "So, you like to tie men up and shave their private areas." LOL When do I get to read *that* one? :P

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  16. Hi Ann- Does your husband ever ask if you need help with your 'research'? I get that one sometimes and I'm not married- HA!

    Thanks Cari- Trust me, you are not alone. Our characters do take on a life of their own. To someone who's never experienced it, it's unimaginable, but it does happen. Good luck to you too.

    Gwen you crack me up! That scene is part of my cowboy series. I had entirely too much fun when I wrote it. And the repercussions afterward will probably need to be edited out, but I fall over laughing every time I read it. It's just part of my twisted sense of humor.

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  17. Thanks for this post Anna. It's something I go through every time I tell someone I'm a novelist. Because it's always followed by the obvious question "What are your novels about?" I haven't written any tied up shavings yet, but I've written plenty of things on the same level and yeah... What's natural to write about and share with the world is difficult to *talk* about with family members or co-workers in the lunch room. I've always taken the attitude that if I wrote it and published it then I should be willing to own it. but that doesn't always mean the owning part is easy for us shy folks.

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