Monday, May 9, 2011

Where Do YOU Draw The Line?

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We draw imaginary lines in our personal lives all of the time. Simple things like what types of movies we watch or TV programs, what to wear and just how low cut. LOL All of this got me to thinking about just where we should draw the line in what we write overall within the erotic romance genre.

It would seem that more and more, certain subject matters are becoming less and less taboo. It wasn’t that long ago, maybe four, that M/M was considered to be a taboo genre. But look at it now! It has been well accepted within the almost all female erotic romance reading community.

There was a time in which BDSM was only whispered about. Now? Even I have a scene or two here and there with handcuffs and a spanking. LOL I even have one book in which I use wax play. It never ceases to amaze me just how sexy all of this comes across when I write it, too. If a guy had you tied up in bed and was coming at you with a candle and tilted it so the wax would drip on your nipple, would you think that was sexy? In my real life, I just can’t see that happening in any way that I would consider sexy. But when I see it all written down? WOW! Just WOW! Now I’ve had a paraffin bath for my hands and that feels pretty good. But the temperature is a certain level, etc., and I’m in control. And as we all know, it’s that lack of control that makes the difference. But still…my nipples? Hmmm…

Menage is all the rage. I’ve got one of those I’m working on—IF I can ever finish it. I have trouble writing ménage as strictly romance, however. I’m pretty vanilla—well, I like a little chocolate syrup and a few nuts, too—LOL—but I don’t see the romance in ménage at all. I’m more of a one-man-one-woman kind of gal. But I have read a ménage or two that came close to showing me a loving relationship. I think my friend Ava Rose Johnson did a good job with her books. For me, though, ménage fits much better in the paranormal realms, maybe sci-fi, too. But that’s just me.

Publishers usually list what they DON’T want to see in a submission. And I must say I agree with their list. However, there are publishers out there that will publish anything. We’ve all seen that. No bestiality has always been a rule with legitimate publishers, but lately I’m seeing publishers extending that warning to include no sex with a shifter while in shifted (animal) form. That leads me to believe that there are enough authors out there who are writing this that the warnings have started showing up. I love shifters. But to me sex with a shifted form would be a major ick factor.

Today that has me thinking about just where I believe the line is sometimes crossed and places we don’t need to go. I don’t like to see blood drawn in BDSM books. That bothers me. I don’t like to read erotic romance books in which children are introduced as characters. And I’m not talking about children being a part of the actual story line other than being someone’s children, but just being in the story. If a character has children, and the romance starts, I like to see the kids packed off to grandma’s. LOL A sexy relationship with kids underfoot just loses its sexual tension for me. Now that doesn’t mean it can’t be done or isn’t being done. Just means I haven’t read one in which it works and it’s not good for me. So personally I won’t write a book with children in it—unless it’s NOT erotic romance—and very probably not in mainstream romance either.

I also have a bit of a problem with polyamory. Or however that’s spelled, LOL. And it’s not the sex part of it all. Nope. It’s the way the relationship is presented. One man—two or three women. And these women get along???? No way. Two women in the same house???? There would be blood on the floor. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this does and has worked for a very long time in real life and we see these men and women on TV all of the time.

Yep, we do. And it’s usually when the FBI has gone in and rescued a bunch of them. OR it’s on a Lifetime movie. To me? That’s a “control” situation. A cult. Brainwashing. The women are born into a situation in which they had no choice or are lured into a situation where they had no real understanding of what they were getting into. And I have heard of polyamorous relationships that work just fine through a couple of blogs. But I do believe those are the exceptions and not the rule at all. So I don’t enjoy reading that particular subject matter.

What about the “ick” factors in acceptable scenes? Anal without lube? Anal and then vaginal sex with no clean up in between? Those are two of mine for sure. Authors AND EDITORS need to pay attention to specifics. What do you think of two brothers involved in a ménage? Or fisting? Tongues in places you generally wouldn’t think about putting them?  

Where do YOU draw the line? What’s your personal ICK factor? What sexual relationship or act do you feel is just not for you? Has anything in the erotic romance/erotica genre NOT been explored that you’d like to see written about? 

Today I'm sharing Tina Donahue's book trailer from her sinfully good IN HIS ARMS. The music, the imagery...everything is just so amazing. Make sure you stop by Tina's website and check out all her books. She's just too talented and you can't bypass her books for sure! 


Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Tess - have to say I've pondered much of what you said, especially the shifter thing. (Does the guy shed a lot during those times?) :)

Thanks so much for posting my video for In His Arms. It was done by the very talent Dara England!

C. Zampa said...

First of all, I'd never given much thougth about having children as characters in erotica books. Must think on that one. As one of gazillions of single parents, I of course shipped my child off to grandma's when I had 'gentlemen callers' But, would I be saying that, by allowing children into a book as a character, that sex itself is immoral if I have children? And okay if I do not? Not sure if I see the significance in it.

But, as far as what is 'squicky' to me. I'm not against as much against the actions in books (I, of course, don't like violence against women, and am even now trying to adjust to the BSDM) I am against a lot of the crude references to things....'cunt', 'pussy juices', 'creaming panties', just to name a few. Those make me cringe and completely drown any sensuality that could possibly be.

An I KNOW I'm a minority in this, I know I am, and I just can't help it. LOL...To me, it sounds like crude barroom guy talk, not ways to describe something that should be sensually beautiful.

Sorry..ducking my head and running! LOL...

Good post, much to think on.

anny cook said...

What if they're both shifters of the same species? Would that make it okay? Have read those...

Justine Darkholme said...

I really enjoyed reading your post. :) I'm an editor at Muse, and I'm usually the devil's advocate with things that make other people go ‘squick’ but I think that's part of my personality. I tend to be very open-minded and pride myself on having a very high tolerance for other people's life styles and personal preferences. However, one thing drives me up the fucking wall in erotic romance is: when characters who haven't known each other for a three pages hop into bed and have unprotected sex. That right there grinds my fucking gears. Idk why that strikes a chord in me, considering whether someone wants to have unprotected sex or not is entirely their choice, but I'm telling you I will close the book after that and never pick it up again, and if it is one of our submissions I'm ten times more likely to reject it. I’m not saying that I will reject a manuscript just because of that, but it definitely doesn’t help the author’s chances.

lynneconnolly said...

Gallons and gallons of come (I never use "cum" it's too porny for me). Squicky ick ick.
I'm comfortable with the guidelines set out by EC and most other publishers of mainstream erotic romance. Suits me.
Urine play. And the other one. Oh my, ickicicick.
Creaming. When the woman is producing cream, it's time for her to see a doctor.
And while I love a menage, I like them to have a shower sometimes.

I write shifters having partially shifted sex, but my shifters are all mythical beasts. So a dragon might grow his tail, or a firebird his wings, to embrace his love. And the tongues on those dragons, well, nuff said!

Natalie Dae said...

I will never ever forget reading a M/M where, when one man inserted a finger into the other's behind, the word "poo" was used to tell the reader what the scent was. This sounds incredibly funny now I think about it, because poo is a funny word, but even mentioning THAT scent in a supposedly erotic scene is NOT erotic. It was my first M/M and very nearly put me off for life. Had I not been sensible and given other M/M books a try, I would have missed out on a lot of very fine writing.


Tess MacKall said...

Yep, I'm a bit icked out by a shifted form and a human, Tina. And you are most certainly welcome.Great book trailer. Dara is very talented.

Tess MacKall said...

Well, no, Carol, I don't want anyone to think you are being a bad person by having sex with a child in the house. Can't do that at all. lol

But when I read I just don't want children underfoot. It takes away the sexiness of it all for me. It's not exactly "ICK". But it screws with sexual tension for sure. I go from revved up sexual engines to Oooops...there's a child in the room. I just say it's okay for the hero or heroine to have kids, but let's send them to camp or grandma's when it's time to meet and get down 'n' dirty. LOL

Tess MacKall said...

Gotta run out for a bit and won't be able to finish commenting to everyone for a couple of hours. Appt calls!!!! But I'm loving this discussion.

Valerie Douglas aka V. J. Devereaux said...

Well, if you know my alter ego, you know that I write menages as well as paranormal and contemporary erotica. I actually had a reader write a fairly harsh comment about one of them, because in it the guys didn't get it on and in her words she found that 'completely unbelievable.' I have to admit I was both amused and a little startled by her vehemence. To me the guys were best friends, and not all best friends want to jump each other. I'm also not into M/M - not because I have anything against it, it just doesn't turn me on.
Would I object to animal sex? If they're shifters it's hard for me to imagine them turning desire on and off depending on form, but I also don't write shifters.
However, as someone who experienced domestic violence it's very hard to get into anything beyond very mild BDSM. I'm not fond of the use of cruder language in real life and it tends to make me cringe when I read it in books that are supposed to make me feel sexy.
For those reasons I try not to get too judgmental about other people's tastes because we're all different and erotic imagery differs for each of us. It's also FANTASY. While I very much wouldn't mind meeting a hot sexy alpha male shifter...I'm pretty sure my husband would object. *grins*

Jen B. said...

Ah, the squick factor. I will not read any book with siblings getting it on. And, that goes for any family sharing even if it is an adopted child or the aunt or uncle aren't blood related. They are still FAMILY!!! I agreee about the anal with no clean up before the next act. Yuck! I have put down at least one book for that reason. Animal sex, no. If it is a shifter book, then animal on animal is different but I haven't found one I enjoyed so...whatever. I also agree, no blood drawn during BDSM play. I know it happens in real life but it's not for me. I also don't like rape play in stories. It's too upsetting. I try to read the book description and some of the reviews before I try a new author so that I avoid most surprises. I actually read a book last year that was not listed as menage even though it was a MAJOR part of the story. The author mentioned that the men were together sexually but never included it in any of the scenes with the heroine. I actually found that pretty disturbing. I enjoyed the book but I imagine there were complaints.

Beautiful Trouble Publishing said...

ick factor:
oral sex after the hero has ejaculated in the heroine (no condom)

multiple penises in the scene where the author has not bothered to keep up with them thus having a penis that has been in her a** later inserted in her mouth or vagina

language such as calling a vagina a well-used hole

technical language in the middle of a sex scene...

sweaty balls...that always makes me gag

Delaney Diamond said...

I can't think of any erotic romance I've read where there were children as main characters, but it wouldn't bother me.

Ick factors: I just read a call for submissions from a publisher who is "pushing the envelope" by asking for stories that include necrophilia and bestiality.

Yes, you read that correctly. No, I won't say which publisher. If you're curious, you'll have to find it yourself because I feel nauseous just thinking about it and wish I could un-see what I saw.

Other ick factors:
Incest - I just read a James Patterson book where that was included between twins. Talk about shocking.

Heroines lapping up lots and lots of cum from a complete stranger.

When a heroine's "juices" run down her thighs because she's so aroused.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic, Tess!

I don't want to read about kids in any type of romance. Not unless the character is bundling them off to Grandma's like you mentioned.

I don't mind reading about shifters having sex as long as all characters are in human form when doing so. If I wanted to watch wolves or cats have sex there's plenty of Nature programs for that.

Other "ick" factors: bestiality. Incest (whether between siblings or parent/child)is so disgusting to me. Golden Showers....unless it's gold coins falling from the sky, don't go there.

I know there's a few others, but I have to get to work.

Great post, btw!

Tess MacKall said...

Oh and Carol, the terms you mention, "pussy juices", "cunt", "cunt", and "creaming panties". I know what you mean. Not my faves---as I am a lover of purple prose and would much prefer to say "the creamy essence of her pink satin love grotto" LMAO---but we really don't have a lot of choice.

It's like we're damned if we do and damned if we don't. There are only so many words to choose from. And if we don't go graphic, then we're purple prose nuts.

Tess MacKall said...

Shifters of the same species, Anny? And you mean showing a scene with these two in shifted form having sex. Unfortunately, for me that wouldn't work. It would be like watching animals mate. The purpose of erotic romance is to arouse the mind, body, and soul.

So in showing a sex scene between animals (shifters in shifted form), then we would be trying to arouse someone with reading about sex between two animals, wouldn't we? Well, I suppose some people might be aroused by watching animals have sex--but that's a definite ick factor for me.

Tess MacKall said...

Hello Justine...the mark of a good editor is when she/he tells an author that they have gone too far around the bend. lol Among other things, of course.

The whole issue with condoms in something else we can discuss here on the blog, too. Some agree with your stand--practice safe sex. Others argue that we're writing fantasy and it just throws a reader out of a scene to put on a condom. lol And then there is me.

I happen to believe that there are times when people just don't practice safe sex because they are too busy doing the down 'n' dirty to care. OR because they just don't give a damn. And I have the tendency to lean toward that whole "we're writing fantasy here" argument as well.

Really, if you want to remove that issue--well, at least somewhat, lol--then maybe incorporate it as house style. AND...take it a step farther and have it listed in the submission guidelines. Just tell everyone to keep in mind that safe sex is a part of house style.

Personally, I think that safe sex is a good thing and there is even argument for saying, hey, we're helping out all the readers who might not be practicing safe sex.

I don't know if it is my duty as an author to do that or not. But I do use condoms in my books---for the most part! lol As an editor, though, I don't think I'd be likely to reject a book because the hero didn't slip on the latex. *snicker* That's something that could be worked out with the author.

Tess MacKall said...

Golden showers! Ewwwwwwwwww You are so right, Lynne. And the other one too. YUCK. Now I like the usage of "cum". That works for me.

And I'm going to have to agree with you on a woman "creaming". Sounds like a bad infection, doesn't it. lol

Now about your shifters. I'm assuming they are both shifters. And throwing that tail around and such? Well, when I read about weres or big cat shifters--my personal faves--I'm always looking for--and writing them--with it in mind to take some of the characteristics of the shifters animal form and incorporate that as part of the sex. After all, they are supposed to be different in bed than a mere man, right? The fact that they are some kind of animal at least part of the time is what makes them so sexy. Feral, primal in bed.

So, maybe hair grows longer, beards get scruffy, someone howls, etc---or in your case, a tail finds its way out to swish around. Incorporating those traits adds something to the sex in my opinion. But it's all in the execution, too.

Tess MacKall said...

Now why does it not surprise me that you found something to say about "poo", Nat? LMAO

I remember when you read that. You weren't the same for a long long time. lol So glad you found your way to better written books. So now we have the amazing Sarah Masters and all of her phenomenal M/M books!

Tess MacKall said...

Yes, Valerie, we all have our personal limits. I so agree.

There are loads of menage books with no M/M contact. Menage does not require that. And usually publishers will specify pairings with the description of the book. M/M/F meaning two men who do touch and a female. OR M/F/M meaning the woman is touched and the men don't.

Now, what I have issue with--another thing--in menage is M/M/F and then saying that the men are gay. If they are having sex with a woman AND each other, aren't they bisexual? God! There are too many questions. Too many rules!

And...errr....I bet your hubby would object too! LOL

Tess MacKall said...

DEFINITELY NO INCEST for me, Jen. I so forgot to put that in my post. Damn!

I absolutely hate that. And do not call it legitimate erotic romance. They can't make that romantic for me. NO WAY! Thank you for mentioning that.

Tess MacKall said...

Whooo Hooooooo!!!! I am so honored to have the great ladies of Beautiful Trouble Publishing commenting here. I'm a big fan!!

And I agree with everything you said. Sweaty balls? LMAOOOOOOO

I can smell that for sure. What reader wants to have that smell in their nostrils? lol

A well-used hole. Oh hell. I read that some place not too long ago. And yep, I remember the author's name but won't repeat it here, of course. But I was a bit offended by that.

Thanks for dropping by, girlie!

Tess MacKall said...

OMG Delaney. Necrophilia and bestiality. Please shoot me a private email and let me know what publisher that is. I'd be very interested in knowing so I can steer clear of them. Nope. Won't purchase books from that place at all.

And a James Patterson book? OMG...I hope it's not the one I'm reading now. I soooo love James Patterson.But that would tear me up for sure! God. NOOOOOOOO What the heck is going on, Delaney? Have we got publishers and authors going for shock value to sell books?

Tess MacKall said...

I agree, Casey. Shifters having sex in human form is just fine. I just don't want to see a fully-shifted wolf or cougar or alligator or duck thrusting inside of a woman. Just don't.

Now I have a picture of a duck and a big orange bill engaging in oral sex in my brain. DAYUM! Got to burn that image for sure! LOL

And I'm with you all the way on everything else you mentioned, too.

Delaney Diamond said...

Tess, the JP book is Postcard Killers. I'll send you the link to the publisher that's "out there."

Tess MacKall said...

Whew! It's not the JP book I'm reading then. You know, I read a book years and years ago by Phillippa Gregory that had incest in it. Shocked me then and still does.

Got your email and all I can say to that is HOLY PUBLISHER FAIL!!!!! Some sicko stuff for sure.

Cari Quinn said...

Tess, great post! Oddly enough I wrote a blog on condom use in fiction for this Friday's post, because it's something I've heard debated for a while. It's also kind of a hotbed issue so I thought it might start an interesting discussion.

I definitely have certain phrases, etc. that turn me off. I don't like "wept" or "seeped" for bodily fluid. Also don't like the usage of the word "tummy" in erotic romance. That reminds me too much of Bert and Ernie and Sesame Street. As for "cum"...I don't like that word but one of my editors prefers I use it instead of come as the noun and sometimes I just let it fly. ;) Creaming panties and cunts also aren't necessarily my cup of tea but sometimes you just use a different word to vary your sentences a bit. At least I do.

That said, none of the above is enough to turn me off a book. I could still love a story with lots of weeping, seeping, tummies and creaming panties if I enjoyed the rest.

Harlie Williams said...

Great post Tess. Mine are golden showers, geez, tits, cunt, cum, blood, wax play, pain for pleasure to the extreme, squirting, ribbons of cum, creaming-really?, menage without the HEA, and for the love of Pete, please shower. I also don't like semen on the female, incest-does there need to be an explanation, animals, too many penis' with no direction or for them just to be there for shock value, not using lube during anal or toy usage in the anal area.

My list I realize sounds pretty vanilla but there it is. I still like straight m/f but I do understand in paranormal and sci/fi/fantasy its okay.

Tess MacKall said...

Oh! Looking forward to the blog on Friday about condoms, Cari!

I think in a lot of cases editors feel like there needs to be a distinction where "cum" is concerned. "Come" being the verb and "cum" being the noun. I generally use cum.

Wept or seeped? Yeah, those are a bit purple prosey over the top words for sure.

Tess MacKall said...

Okay Harlie...I think we're pretty much on the same wave-length here.

And vanilla sex is really getting knocked these days, isn't it? Heck, the hottest scenes I have read have been vanilla. And I think for me the reason being is because they are more realistic to me. Believable.

I also think that people believe vanilla is just the same old same old. Well, that's the writer's fault if readers are coming away with that feeling about plain ole M/F.

You don't always have to put a man and a woman in bed now do you? LOL A little change in venue can lead to really hot hot sex! Not to mention sprinkling a few nuts and some chocolate syrup around. lol

Starfox Howl said...

I may be a former sailor and been all sorts of weird places, but I have an squick list. Oral/anal contact, big squick, as well as the more extreme version of 'play', scat/urine, blood/cutting, etc. Now, children as actors in a book, not good. However, children as secondary characters, sure. Reading the blog, I could think up a couple of ways children could be used without having the squick detector go high and setting of an alarm.

Teen rebelling against the single parent's choice for a romantic partner, or having a child wander in while the lovers are in a romantic embrace, when things are warming up, but before any clothes come off, requiring a postponement of getting hot and heavy.

Then again, scenes like that might be too 'real world' to qualify as romance.

Brindle Chase said...

I feel like should a prude in the erotic romance community. My comfort zone is actually pretty confined as far as sex acts. Vanilla by most peoples standards. For BDSM I won't go beyond playful spanking. definitely nothing that causes pain, even if it might be appreciated by one of the characters. Tying up would never go past silk scarves or something the character could break free of. Blindfolding is okay.

Anal? No... mild anal play is okay, but I won't do anal. *lol*

I don't write toys into scenes for the most part. Definitely none that penetrate. Foods have nothing to do with sex, accept maybe whip cream or chocolate syrup, nothing put inside someone ...

I dunno. While most agree my sex scenes are very hot, they are vanilla in the actions therein. I get told my books are surprisingly sweet for porn! *lol*

Mia Watts said...

I love you Tess-lady, but hot wax on my nipple actually made me wince at my laptop. I once read a book where the heroine was tied down and spread. The hero slapped her, um, girl parts until she came. All I can say is, OW! Okay, and maybe No thank you!

It is somehow different on the page. I think as readers we can allow ourselves to let go for the sake of the story, get into the mindset of the hero and heroine in order to appreciate the pain the way they would. Doesn't mean we want to try it ourselves. LOL.

Tess MacKall said...

No hot wax on the nips, huh, Mia? LMAO Me neither. But I wrote that scene and it sounded just so damn sexy.

An author can make rolling in the mud with pigs sound sexy! lol

But do we want to try everything we write about? Of course not. However, errr...errrr...well...that spanking DOES sound pretty hot. lol

And slapping the girlie parts? LOL My upcoming release, Strip Down, has a little of that too. And it does sound sexy. I can't help it. It does. It really does. lol

Tess MacKall said...

Hiya John...I don't really mean that having children in a romance book or erotic romance book is an "ick" factor.

What I'm trying to say there is that it simply interferes with the romance in general and if there are kids, they need to be written out as fast as possible. I see your point with the storylines you offer, however, I still want that issue resolved and want to see the romance evolve. Issues with children can be solved in a fade to black kind of way. lol

Tess MacKall said...

No anal, Brindle? Interesting. Anal is kind of "old hat" now as my granny would say.

And NO toys! Mannnnnnnnnn ya gotta have toys! lol

To each his own. Every author needs to tell the story their own way. Vanilla is great. I like vanilla!

Mia Watts said...

Yeah, it does sound hot. I made the mistake of TRYING it and OMG sore for days and it hurt like hell. I'm just sayin'...

Fiona McGier said...

I agree with almost all of the other comments...but the one thing that makes me put the book down is if the man has to "put the woman in her place" because she's too uppity. Usually alpha men. I HATE that! We are talking about grown adults here, and any man that tried that with me would be singing soprano! No smacking the heroine around, no hitting her until she comes, no forcing her to submit...if I write a scene like that it's not the hero doing it, and the heroine will fight back until the "bad guy" is stopped!

Tess MacKall said...

I think Mia is trying to warn me away from spanking. LOL

Tess MacKall said...

Well I like the dubious consent, Fiona, and the ultra strong-willed Alpha who throws his weight around. And I think we've discussed this before. At least I think it was you. I could be wrong. I apologize if I have the wrong person.

But I kind of like the idea of the strong Alpha putting the little woman in her place. Our books are fantasy not reality.

I've only known wimpy men who needed to be led around by their noses. And I've raised children all by myself, brought home the bacon and put it on the table too.

As a woman who has spent most of her life being the "man" and the "woman" for her family, I have the tendency to wish for a real take charge kind of guy. I'd just love for one to tell me I'm being uppity, toss me over his shoulder, take me to bed and have his way with me. At least in my fantasies. And we are--again--talking about fantasy when we talk about what we write.

As for slapping her around? Well, I don't think you meant the practice of BDSM. So to me, a man who smacks a woman around is not a strong Alpha. Sounds like what you are referring to is out and out rape. I'm talking about dubious consent. When no means no means yes yes yes YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

And a strong Alpha can make a woman want him without having to hurt her--at least in books. Not sure about real life. As I said, I've only known wimps. And if I can walk all over a man and have to tell him what to do--he's not at all strong and not what I'd want in my life--personally.

But to each his own. Your life experiences with men have probably been different from mine. And that, of course, would influence the way you see the Alpha male. And there ARE varying degrees of Alpha male, too.

I think I'll blog about that next week possibly.