Saturday, October 29, 2011

Flavors of Sex: Readers Weigh In

by Ann Leveille, editor

Though I was running a bit late after lunch that first Romanticon© day, I wanted to know what was up with the delicious-sounding 31 Flavors of Sex panel and ventured forth to listen to what authors Desiree Holt, Allie Standifer, Cerise DeLand and Samantha Cayto had to say. And I’m glad I did, because I gleaned some interesting tips from the no-holds-barred discussion that those wildly funny ladies had going.
(Please be warned, I didn’t number my pages of notes, so if you attended the workshop and my order of discussion seems a bit…out of order, well, that’s why.)

Heavenly Hash, in the panel authors’ terminology, is just about any kind of group sex. They emphasized that the complications and difficulties of Heavenly Hash were the dynamics between the participants and the logistical aspects. Many panel attendees said that they preferred some sort of polyamorous relationship in the end to just having the Hash as an aspect of a more traditionally coupled story. (So go, ménage authors!) Desiree Holt confessed that she uses a certain brand of not quite anatomically correct dolls to act out her multi-partner sex scenes. She’s apparently broken off a few legs during her plotting stages.

As part of the discussion the authors asked about the male-female-male ménage. Readers agreed with the panel that the fun of that kind of relationship is that the focus is all on the central female character, the character with whom they most closely relate. However, the attendees were also clear that they liked to have an emotional connection of some sort between the male participants in ménage relationships, even if they weren’t physically interested in each other.

French Vanilla, defined as a male performing oral sex, was referred to as an “art form”. Authors and readers agreed that they didn’t want a male down there who didn’t know what he was doing.

Phish Phood, or sex on the beach, was only briefly touched on. Most agreed that while it sounded really romantic, there are a lot of practical considerations that can ruin the mood. (However, those considerations can be worked around, and attendees had some great ideas how to make the actual deed read as romantic an act as it sounds like it could be!)

I was happy to see that there was time spent on Rocky Road, or BDSM, and that I didn’t miss that discussion. Audience members said that they didn’t necessarily like submissive (doormat-y) heroines but that there was a lot of appeal to the strong woman who wanted someone to take over for a while. Some commented that they were drawn to the idea of BDSM in real life but that the question of who to trust left them preferring their fantasies on the page instead.

The panel agreed the BDSM is a misunderstood flavor in a lot of ways. It’s not just about hitting a person or making them submit or serve. They emphasized that BDSM requires intimacy, trust, emotion and respect between participants. There is, it was emphatically stated, more trust in a BDSM relationship than in any other relationship.

As things wound down, the panel threw out a few questions. One interesting one was if the audience had a preference for circumcised or uncircumcised male parts. While attendees preferred their men cut by a respectable margin, there were some holdouts for the au natural in the group. Panel authors were unsurprised and commented that in the United States readers tended to prefer the former, but international readers weren’t as fazed by the latter, as circumcision isn’t as widespread overseas.

My only regret is that I missed some of the fascinating flavors that these delightful authors came up with. I would have loved to have heard what they had to say about Icing on the Cake (Exhibitionist Sex), Chunky Monkey (Shape shifter sex) and Cappuccino Crunch (Morning sex). Oh and maybe Vanilla Fudge Twirl (Masturbation) and African Vanilla (Interracial sex). And Tutti Frutti (Same-sex sex). Okay, honestly, I’d have loved to have heard them all!

But let me put the questions to our dear Redlines and Deadlines readers: What do you think about the flavors of sex? Is there anything in particular that you’d like to share? What turns you on about fill-in-the-blank flavor when you read it? Inquiring minds want to know!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Art of Exotic Pole Dancing

by Martha Punches & Marie Allison

What do you think of first when the words "pole dancing" are mentioned? Yeah, I’m sure the first thing you thought was stripper dance. Well, think again. To be honest, we thought the very same thing. But to be a good pole dancer takes dedication, agility, practice and strength for this tough and demanding profession. And yes, believe it or not, being a pole dancer is a profession and requires a lot of work.
At Romanticon© 2011, a few of us editors decided to sit in on the Pole Dancing class. No, none of us are planning a career of being a professional at this. It was more out of curiosity. What we expected and what we learned were worlds apart. This class should have been attended by any author who has plans or thinks of including a pole dance in their book.

Because boy, did we learn a lot from this short class. For instance did you know that in some countries, pole dancing is done mainly by men? Also, there are national and international organizations for professional pole dancers, some of them in the Akron/Cleveland area. (Yes, that’s what I said, international as in all over the world.) Not only that, being a pole dancer requires a great deal of body strength not found in the average man or woman. The stamina for doing this dance is tremendous. We watched several attendees try their hands, legs and arms at the pole. From what we saw, just the attempt made our bodies hurt!

First of all, clothing must be kept to a minimum. Hmm, that probably is why many associate the pole dancer with stripping. But in fact, the need for more skin to be visible isn’t for the exotic part. A pole dancer must have a great deal of friction to stick to the pole and do very impressive moves, twists, climbs, and turns. Of course, if you really want to be covered, wear leather, vinyl, or pleather so that you do not slide down to your butt in a second.

Second, the pole cannot be lubed to make those slick moves. Every pole must be as clean as possible. During our demonstration, the dancers wiped down the pole with rubbing alcohol to reduce the amount of skin oil for the next user. Some even use gymnastic rosin to be able to grip the pole tightly. Slick moves are done with a spinning, rotating pole.

Third, I don’t know about you, but when we saw those moves the pros made, we saw that there would be a lot more involved to being a professional dancer who can move up, down and around the pole AND remove her clothes in a sexy, enticing manner. I’m sure there are those doing it well in stripper clubs but very few doing gracefully. And I’m sure the clothes are specially made for a fast removal. Your average male or female audience member won’t be able to jump up and do a great job with no training. All they will do is make a fool of themselves! Grace is a necessary element for doing a good dance!

Size does matter. Honestly, those women who are more impressively endowed in the chest department are NOT going to make good pole dancers. Their center of balance and arm strength will not give them the ability to be a good dancer. Stripper yes, dancer, no! Those who do this professionally are just that, professionals, probably more on par with professional gymnastics. In fact, did you know there is a grass-roots movement to make Pole Dancing a part of the Olympics? I could see that happen, and especially after seeing this class, I’d fully agree.

So, the next you want to include a pole dancing scene in your book, think about it, act it out and see just how easy it is. NOT!

The explanations and professionalism of all three women putting on this demo made us realize that yes, some will think Pole Dancer/Stripper were the same. If more had seen this class, I’m sure their opinion would be as changed as ours was.

The women of the Cleveland Exotic Dance Troupe are all professionals. To see more, visit Oh, and they do more than just pole dancing.

In summation:

Myth: All Pole Dancers strip.

Myth: All Pole Dancers are women.

Myth: Anyone can do this as it takes no training at all to be a good pole dancer.

Myth: You can wear all kinds of clothes, be fully clothed in any fabric and still stick to the pole.

Myth: The more lube you use, the better the dance.

Myth: Wimpy, shy women (or men) with no strength can do this.

Myth: Stripping is really easy when doing a good, graceful pole dancing routine.

Myth: Anyone can jump up from an audience and do a great pole dance with no training at all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Old-Time Cowboys: In or Out?

by Ann Leveille, editor

At the 2011 Romanticon©, I had the privilege of helping out with the Bodacious in Boots panel held by Western Romantica authors Regina Carlysle, Desiree Holt, Cerise DeLand and Nicole Austin. They started with a description of what a cowboy is and what a cowboy does (complete with handout!), then discussed movie cowboys and asked attendees for a few cowboy seduction lines. Things got a bit…heated.
As the end of the session neared, this curious group of authors asked their captive group of fellow authors, readers and fans a few questions about their reading preferences. They wanted to know if readers were interested in historical Western stories, or if they only wanted modern Western stars.

The answers they got were enlightening.

Readers were clear that they were interested in historical Western romance but there were some specifics that came up. Current and aspiring authors, take note!

Readers said they want strong historical women – not weak-willed girls rescued by strong men. They want women who could stand up to modern women, women who can rescue themselves. And, one audience member noted, strong women shouldn’t be seen as anachronisms. Women in the Old West may have had different lives but those lives weren’t easy. Women became widows young, lost families, dealt with tragedy and hardship. They weren’t wimps waiting for heroes to come along and save them from their misfortune. (Okay, so there were probably a few of those hanging around but, well, we don’t want to read about that kind of woman!)

The trick is, they don’t just want these women to match their hero – they want them to feel as real and as alive as heroines in contemporary stories, not cardboard “strong women” caricatures slotted into a historical setting.

One audience member called cowboys, and the various trappings that leave readers wanting more (their rough and readiness, their physicality, their heroic qualities, their appreciation for the land and hard work and, of course, their proficiency with ropes and easy access to leather) essentially timeless.

In an interesting twist, some readers commented that the idea of bringing Dominance/submission elements into historical Westerns wasn’t really something of interest to them – but that wasn’t a comment echoed with room-wide agreement. But kudos to those who spoke up and brought the subject to light, as that’s something we do want to know more about!

Discussion turned to the fact that what readers really like, what draws them in and hooks their attention, especially in historical stories where an author has to fit in both a hot, sexy love story and the trappings of a historical world, is a good series.

There were lots of comments about why series were great – because the historical world could be developed over multiple books, and because characters could be introduced and developed and – this seemed key – returned to in future series installments. Some audience members even called out what seemed like wish list read ideas including books with horses, trains or mail-order brides.

Readers were clear though they may not go looking for more “mainstream” Western historical romances, if they could get some hot, sweaty, sexy historical cowboy romances, they’d sit up and take notice.

So, the general consensus was “Go for it!”.

As an editor I loved the panel and I was excited to hear all the comments and questions from the audience during the discussion. I’d also love (and the panel authors likely would too!) to know what Redlines and Deadlines readers think about historical versus modern Western erotica, and cowboys in general. And what about the kinkier stuff? Is that something of interest in your Westerns, be they contemporary, or set in the Old West? Please comment!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

RomantiCon© Roundup

Our EC RomantiCon© reader/writer convention gets better every year! Parties, awards, great food, gorgeous cover models, fun games, music and dancing. This year we had our EC-label dessert wines and root beer, scads of "interesting" tee shirts and lots and lots of souvenirs and promo items.

Author KJ Reed makes great videos. Have a ball enjoying her pre-RomantiCon© and post-RomantiCon© stick figure videos, and her film of great moments at the convention.

Pre-RomantiCon© stick figure:


Post-RomantiCon© 2011 Stick Figure:

We'll be posting about the fun workshops over the next week or two.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vote in Pitch Contest!

Refine your own pitching talents by helping analyze and judge the pitches from other writers.

EC editor Grace Bradley has already made her selection of pitches to move on in the second annual Passionate Reads Blog pitch contest. Now thirty-four entries are battling to earn the most votes, thus moving one lucky author into round two (if the pitch was not already chosen by Grace). Cast your vote now. Poll closes at 11:59 p.m. EST.