Can Women Write Sex Scenes from Male POV?

Can a woman write a sex scene from a man’s point of view?

This is a question I asked myself recently when writing a hot sex scene between my heroine and hero.  I initially thought I would write it from the male point of view but after a couple of paragraphs I began to question my wisdom.

man thinkingDo I really know what a man thinks and feels emotionally when having sex? Does a man feel differently when having sex as opposed to making love? Is there actually a difference for men? Do men just have sex, regardless? Does my reader want to know what really goes through a man’s mind or does she want to imagine what she’d like him to be thinking?

I suppose the obvious answer would be to ask a man, or several, but I wouldn’t be sure if he was telling me what he really thought or what he thought I wanted to hear. I’m of the opinion, these are two different things and not only that, I could get myself into a bit of bother canvassing men to share their inner most thoughts on sex. Unless, of course, it was Richard Armitage … now there’s an idea [goes off to stalk him on Twitter.] What? That’s inappropriate? Okay delete that Tweet. Back to writing from a female point of view it is.

What are your thoughts on writing sex scenes from a male POV?

Should women attempt it or should they steer clear?

Sue Fortin profile

Sue

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Charlotte Ledger,Content Developer with HarperImpulse chats about her role and an exciting Publishing Comp!

Hi, Charlotte! Welcome to The Romaniacs’ place, we’re delighted you’ve made it, especially as you’re so busy with HarperImpulse.  Can you tell us a bit more about your role at HarperImpulse and how you came into the world of publishing, please?

CharlotteHello lovely Romaniacs! I’m a big fan of your blog and so excited to be here… plus there’s nothing I love more than chatting about romance and HarperImpulse!

I came into publishing in quite a roundabout way – having graduated from Edinburgh University with a Classics degree, I ended up as an intern at a place called Chawton House Library, a gorgeous historical house in Hampshire with connections to Jane Austen. It was during that six month internship (and those endless days of dreaming of Darcy) that I decided I wanted to work in publishing and indulge my book addiction.

I’ve always been such a massive fan of romance (I put this down to my obsession with Dawson’s Creek when I was younger –no one writes a teen love triangle like Kevin Williamson) so when I got the call from Mills & Boon about an Editorial Assistant position I was over the moon. I spent two very happy years there working across all the series and getting, in my opinion, the very best training in editorial and women’s commercial fiction. 

Now I’m at HarperImpulse tackling all things digital! My official title is Content Developer and that covers a really wide range of things – I edit the books and work with our authors, buy new authors for the list, contact and liaise with bloggers and reviewers, brief the covers, help out with our social media by tweeting and writing content, put our titles up on NetGalley, make sure all the metadata for the online retailers is ready and correct by the deadlines and I even generate the epubs myself using a very fancy new online programme (which I’m finally getting to grips with!). It’s a very varied and exciting role, and luckily I have an awesome and super talented team around me to help with all this.

Can you give us a quick low-down on your day to day routine at work, or is there no such thing as a routine?

No day is ever the same – usually it starts with a cup of tea and a quick check through my e-mails, answering the more urgent queries, and then a look into the Impulse inbox where I log the new submissions that have come in. The rest of the day is made up of meetings and fitting in all of the above! Evenings and weekends are for reading new submissions!

Roughly how many submissions does HarperImpulse receive each week and what makes a manuscript stand out over others?

It’s hard to say exactly as every week is different – in our first month we had about 500 submissions! Now, we get a steady stream coming through – maybe about 30-50? Sometimes less, sometimes more (that’s not very helpful is it?! ;))

It really varies as to what makes a manuscript stand out over the others –sometimes it’s a title or a really great hook that immediately catches your eye, such as Lorraine Wilson’s Confessions of a Chalet Girl. Kim had just come back from a ski holiday and I thought what could be a more perfect submission for her to read! But then you have to have the talent to pull off an exciting concept, which Lorraine definitely did – an author’s voice and storytelling ability is very important. It’s so difficult to define the ‘x factor’ but I would say to play to your strengths and write what YOU want to write – not necessarily what you think a publisher wants or what might be ‘the next big thing’. Your passion and enthusiasm for your story and characters will shine through… and that’s wonderful to read.

HarperImpulse have just launched a Christmas competition, can you tell us a bit more about it?

Yes, our Winter Wonderland Competition!!! I’m very excited about this because I LOVE books and movies that feature Christmas… crisp white snow falling softly outside, roaring fires…… that episode of Dawson’s Creek (yes I am obsessed) where Joey and Pacey watch the Christmas lights… it’s such a magical time of year!

So we’re looking for novels of ANY length with a romantic element that is set around Christmas, Winter, New Year or Hanukkah – simply submit to romance@harpercollins.co.uk and mention the competition in the subject heading. The closing date for entries is midnight GMT October 16th and it’s one entry per person. Kim and I will then read all the submissions and pick our favourite!

The winner will receive a three book contract with us and afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason’s in London (it’s worth it just for the tea right?!). And if you can’t make it to London then we’ll organise for a Fortnum’s hamper to be delivered to you wherever you are in the world!

Feel free to tweet us @harperimpulse or @girl_on_a_ledge if you want more details!

And finally, keeping on the Christmas theme, what has been your worst Christmas present ever?

Ooo worst?! I don’t think I can say that… they might be reading this!!! My birthday’s the 14th December so occasionally I do get the odd joint birthday and Christmas present which used to annoy me… I want two presents. TWO!!! (in a very undemanding and bratty way..ehem)

Thanks again, Charlotte and good luck to all the competition entrants.

Thank YOU Romaniacs for having me on your wonderful blog! 

HI logo

Happy Bank Holiday!

Beach and Buckets

Happy Bank Holiday!

It’s a lovely warm day here at Romaniac HQ, and with the virtual beach on our doorstep, we’re taking full advantage of the sand, sea and sunshine.

We have a large hamper packed with sandwiches, pies, fruit, crisps, champers, chocolate and chocolate cake, and we have deckchairs, towels and a blanket. We’re all set.

Gajitman, my IT engineer husband advised us not to take our laptops or tablets because if the sand gets inside, it can cause all sorts of gritty issues. Notebooks and pens at the ready then …

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Have a great day, enjoy this beautiful weather, and come and tell us how you spent your day.

Laura x

Tuesday Chit Chat with Cara Cooper

Cara Cooper

Hello, Cara, and a warm welcome to Romaniac HQ. The weather’s been so nice, we’ve had the windows open and we’ve aired the joint. It’s so much more pleasant. Iced tea? Cheesecake? It’s got flaky chocolate on top and a Hobnob base.

Thank you, any kind of cake is my downfall but as this is a special occasion I’ll have two slices please.

In recent months, you’ve been posting advice on your blog about writing a magazine serial. Please tell us about your pocket novel and serial writing.

I guess I’m an object lesson in slow and steady wins the race!

I researched many magazines and publishers and decided as The People’s Friend is dedicated to fiction I’d try and write for them. I studied the magazine from cover to cover – they know what their readers like. They produce sweet, feel-good stories with a clear narrative. After a number of attempts, I managed to have around five short stories accepted. I always feel you should try and go up a notch so then read a number of the PF pocket novels which at the time were around 50,000 words. I had half a dozen pocket novels published by The People’s Friend and My Weekly: Safe Harbour, Healing Love, Tango at Midnight, Leaving Home, The Sanctuary and Take a Chance on Love. I was then approached by PF who said, ‘you can write short and you can write long, so would you like to try a serial?’ I believe in always grasping opportunities even if they scare you to death so I’ll never say no. The result was an 8-part serial called The Lemon Grove set in sunny Sorrento.

Serial writing is tough in that you have to wait for each episode to be approved by the editors before going on to the next. Maybe for more experienced serial writers they get it right first time but I had revisions requested for each instalment. The most important elements are to have enough characters to carry that many episodes. PF is a family magazine so I included all ages from teenagers to a beloved granny. You also need a cliffhanger every week. This can be dramatic – one of my characters gets lost at sea – or more low key but it does need to contain enough intrigue to make the reader want to buy next week’s mag. Whilst I was writing each episode I always had at the back of my mind the ending scene. I’ve put some tips on writing serials on caracoopers.blogspot.com.

How did The Sanctuary come about? How much of an animal lover are you?

It was prompted by many idyllic visits to the Isle of Wight and is set in a beautiful cove by the sea. I also set Safe Harbour by the sea, being a city girl I have fantasies about living next to the tranquillity of water. I love animals and am besotted by our beautiful black cat, she came from Battersea dogs and cats home and gives us endless joy.

I love both the sea and cats, Cara.

Some authors write whilst listening to music. Although I love music, I need silence in which to write – I tend to get carried away if music’s playing. Is music important in your life?

I’m married to a musician! However, like you I need total silence to write or else I can’t concentrate on the story.

The first time we met, you were giving a demonstration of the Argentine tango. It was very cool. This is the dance I love watching on Strictly. Please tell me about your dancing. And the glitter. There is glitter, right?

Oh my, there’s glitter with salsa and loads of shimmy and shake. Argentine tango is far more reserved but there are split skirts and fishnet stockings….

What’s next for Cara Cooper?

Safe Harbour and Healing Love are being released by Accent Amour, a new romance imprint. I’m also working on a full length crime novel with a smouldering romance.

Cara Cooper Safe Harbour

Now for our Romaniac Quick Fire Questions:

Salsa or Tango? Salsa.

Classical or rock? Hmmm, tough but on balance classical please.

Beach or countryside? Beach every time.

Ice cream or ice lolly? Ice cream from my favourite ice cream and coffee shop in Soho or from Italy (but Soho’s nearer!)

Hot and spicy or sweet and sour? Either please.

Alhambra or Cavatina? I’ve heard my husband play both a million times and never tire of Recuerdos de la Alhambra.

Cara, thank you so much for dropping by Romaniac HQ. It’s been wonderful getting to know a little more about you and your books.

Thank you a million for asking me, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

You can follow Cara at caracoopers.blogspot.com and find her books at these links:

Safe Harbour here

Healing Love here

The Sanctuary here

Take a Chance here

Tuesday Chit-Chat with Isabel Ashdown, Summer of 76

Hi Isabel, thank you so much for dropping by Romaniac HQ for a chat, it’s great to have you here. It must be a very busy time for you at the moment with the recent launch of your new novel ‘The Summer of 76’ – and how appropriate the weather has been for the most part!

SUMMER_OF_'76_by_Isabel_Ashdown,_COVER,_April_2013

Thanks for inviting me Sue.  Sadly, I think the 2013 heatwave broke just short of the 1976 records …  But still, hasn’t it been glorious – I know I’m certainly a much better person to be around when the sun’s shining!

If you had to sum up in one sentence what your new novel is about, what would you say?

Summer of ’76 is about a scandal in a small community, and the subsequent effect of family revelations on 17-year-old Luke Wolff during the ceaseless heatwave of 1976.

Your previous novel, ‘Hurry Up and Wait’ was set in the 1980’s, what inspired you to set ‘The Summer of 76’ in this particular year? Do you have any particularly poignant/striking memories from that year?

Isabel_Ashdown_Books_Group_Shot,_2013,_clear

From the outset I knew this would be a book set in the summer of 1976, having developed an obsession with that year when I first started writing in earnest.  I was only very young that year, but the extraordinary conditions seared themselves into my memory bank – the heat-baked scent of drying lawns; the rise and fall of honeysuckle; the slip-slap of flip-flops on boiled asphalt; the swarms of ladybirds.  I grew up in a seaside village, and that summer, we swam at the beach every evening – a salty alternative to our usual baths, which had been restricted by the drought police!

Knowing this would be a book of revelation, of sexual revolution and rising tension, it seemed only fitting to set it in a summer so extreme that the emotional pot might just boil over.

You are part of Three Sussex Writers, together with Gabrielle Kimm and Jane Rusbridge – how did you all get together and what is it that keeps you together?

We all studied on the excellent MA for Creative Writing at University of Chichester – but not at the same time.  I met Jane briefly as an associate lecturer during my studies, and Gaby later, at one of the university’s events.  We found our debuts were all to be released within a year of each other.  When mine, Glasshopper, was published, I contacted them both with the idea of joining forces for events, but also as a way of creating a supportive local writers’ network.    It’s been hugely beneficial – we share new contacts and opportunities, compare notes, and have a lot of fun doing talks and workshops together.  It’s a huge support to be part of a collaborative, generous trio – there’s always someone to chat to, and to laugh with when this writing lark gets a bit much!

I know you often post pictures of the local countryside and wildlife, can you tell us a bit more about your interest in this?

Walking is a vital part of my creative life, and the natural world feeds into my writing.  I have a strong amateur’s interest in birds, so I can often be found wandering around the hills and beaches of West Sussex, with Charlie the border terrier at my feet and my eyes to the sky!  Landscape provides such a powerful emotional backdrop to a story; when I’m walking frequently, rain or shine, it shows in my writing – and I’m a happier, healthier person.

It’s been lovely chatting with you Isabel, thanks for taking the time to drop by, I know how busy you are.  Wishing you every success with ‘The Summer of 76’.

About Isabel

Isle_of_Wight_Aug_09_Col_Master

Isabel Ashdown is the author of three novels published by Myriad Editions: Glasshopper (London Evening Standard and Observer Best Books of the Year 2009) Hurry Up and Wait (Amazon Top Customer Reads 2011), Summer of ’76, and winner of the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition 2008.

In 2013, her essay on the subject of ‘voice’ will feature in Writing a First Novel, edited by Karen Stevens, in which novelists, agents and publishers discuss the joys and challenges of writing a first novel (Palgrave MacMillan).

Isabel writes from her West Sussex home which she shares with her husband, a carpenter, their two children, and a border terrier called Charlie.  Find out more about her at www.isabelashdown.com , chat to her on facebook and twitter, or subscribe to her newsletter here.

Hazel Osmond talks about her new novel PLAYING GRACE

Blog Bombing us today we have the lovely Hazel Osmond talking about her new novel ‘Playing Grace’

Over to you Hazel …

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From King Lear’s very mixed crew to the Bennet girls, literature is full of sisters. And I’m particularly fascinated by the ways in which this relationship is portrayed as I’m one of three daughters myself and a mother of two girls.

I think that how you make this relationship work – or don’t – is key to your dealings with women out in the wider world. If you come from a highly competitive set up where your sister(s) pushed you out of the way to get to the best food/praise/men, I’d wager you’re unlikely to buy into the idea of’ supportive sisterhood.

While my sisters and I squabbled when we were growing up as part of the rough and tumble of family life –  I’ve always counted them among the people I can trust without fail. I hope they’d say the same about me. The only thing I could complain about is that I had to wear a lot of their hand-me-down clothes (cue violins). But that’s a small price to pay for having two people who have always been completely on my side.

What happens, though, when your sisters aren’t a source of comfort, but of irritation? People who, when a crisis happens, offer the kind of advice that just makes things worse?

In ‘Playing Grace‘,  I’ve had some fun with that idea.

When the book opens, Grace Surtees lives a very ordered life.  She’s got a job that she’s very good at with a company offering art tours of the major galleries in London and a boyfriend who works abroad and only pays brief visits back to England. Neither the job nor the boyfriend ruffle the surface of her life – until her boss takes on a young American guy called Tate to offer tours of the more challenging types of modern art. Then things start to fall apart. Big time.

Not only does art start to disappear off the walls in the galleries she visits, her parents’ marriage hits a rough patch and her boss starts to display increasingly worrying behaviour. And Tate? Well he senses that there’s a different Grace hiding under the one everyone else sees and starts to chip away at her self control to find it.

And how do her sisters help?

By offering increasingly bizarre advice and constantly reminding Grace that the person she is now, is not the person she used to be. And, to make things worse, the advice is dispensed via emails, phone calls and specially crafted poems, which by the time they arrive are usually out of step with what’s happening in London.

If I tell you that Grace’s mother, a woman who sees herself as being at one with the cosmos, has brought her girls up to be free spirits and that all the sisters except Grace have slightly off-world names and professions – Zinovia True works in an ashram in California, another sister is part of an all-female mime troup – you probably get the picture.

Under pressure from all sides – what could make matters worse? Except finding yourself attracted to the very man you know you should run away from …

This is where I say the bit about you having to read ‘Playing Grace’ to find out what happens. If you do I hope you enjoy it .. . I also hope that if you have sisters yourself, they don’t give you as much bother as Grace’s do!

Find out more about Hazel by visiting her blog here

Thanks so much Hazel, I have a sister and also have two daughters, I always find the sibling bond or un-bond fascinating.

Kate Lord Brown: The Road to The Perfume Garden

Kate Lord Brown Cover 3I am delighted to welcome Kate Lord Brown to Romaniac HQ, who shares her road to publication story.

Hello – and thank you for inviting me over to Romaniacs. It’s always interesting hearing about everyone’s route to publication. For me, it’s been a winding journey, with several u-turns and road blocks, but I’m a big believer in the saying ‘fall down seven times, stand up eight’ …

Maybe you’re the same – the signs were there early on, writing stories, diaries as a child, being asked to write love and break up letters on the school bus for friends to send to their boyfriends! It was all good practice. I was, and still am, a voracious reader. At school it was the era of ‘Lace’ and ‘A Woman of Substance’ – the well-thumbed romantic bits handed round and read aloud during break time. I think that’s when the seeds of writing sweeping, romantic histfic were sown.

In 1997 I began drafting my first novel after joining a writer’s group in London, ‘Women’s Ink’. We met one evening a week in the basement of Nomad Bookshop in Fulham, and it was a great introduction to writing fast, and getting over any nerves about reading and sharing your work.

I had short stories published, and some editorial, but writing a novel seemed like the ultimate challenge. I used to get up an hour before work to write, balancing the keyboard of the computer on my husband’s sock drawer in the corridor of our flat. The first book took a few years to write – and it was mammoth, nearly 200,000 words (newbie mistake!). It is, needless to say, unpublished, but the best way to learn anything is by doing it yourself, and I learnt a lot.

In 2000, out of the blue, my husband announced he wanted to quit his job and retrain as a pilot. We took the plunge, sold the home we had just finished renovating and moved to rural Spain. I kept on writing, learning and improving – another novel, a screenplay, editorial. I used my rejection letters as kindling. Put it this way – we kept the fire burning constantly during that first winter. It was in Spain that I began researching ‘The Perfume Garden’, about the Spanish Civil War.

With a young and growing family, and working full time, writing had to go on the back burner – but the ambition to write never went away. Some time in 2007 – ten years after starting it, I picked up the first novel and revised it. This led me to signing with a wonderful agent. In 2009 I started a three year MA in Creative Writing – working late at night when the children were asleep. I was also chosen for ITV’s ‘The People’s Author’ contest, and my agent liked the new book I was working on, ‘The Beauty Chorus’.

Success seemed tantalisingly close – then my husband was made redundant just before Christmas when his airline suddenly laid off hundreds of the youngest pilots due to the recession. We were on the move again in 2010 to Qatar – I had to get out the atlas to see exactly where this small country next to Saudi Arabia was.

The night before we left the UK, I had a call from my agent – a publisher was offering a two book deal. So in 2012 after fifteen years, eleven moves, two children, several jobs, and countries I finally achieved a MA and two books published. ‘The Perfume Garden’ has just come out in paperback, and is being translated into several languages this year. A lesson in never giving up on your ambitions, and a fairytale ending – or beginning.

Thanks for having me, and I hope I’ll get a chance to meet you all at an RNA event soon. Now, I’d love to hear your story …

www.katelordbrown.com

THE PERFUMEGARDEN

The PerfumeGarden combines the gripping storytelling of Kate Morton with the evocative settings of Victoria Hislop to tell this sumptuous, escapist story of lost love and family secrets set between modern day Valencia and the Spanish Civil War.

High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco’s forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled; the garden, laden with orange blossom, grown wild.

Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed in her mother’s will, she has left her job as London’s leading perfumier to restore this dilapidated villa to its former glory. It is the perfect retreat: a wilderness redolent with strange and exotic scents, heavy with the colours and sounds of a foreign time. But for her grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed here during Spain’s devastating civil war, Emma’s new home evokes terrible memories.

As the house begins to give up its secrets, Emma is drawn deeper into Freya’s story: of crushed idealism, of lost love, and of families ripped apart by war. She soon realises it is one thing to let go of the past, but another when it won’t let go of you.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfume-Garden-Kate-Lord-Brown/dp/1848879342/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Thank you so much, Kate, for spending time with The Romaniacs. We wish you all the best for The Perfume Garden.

Romaniacs’, Celia and Laura will be sharing their ‘road to publication’ stories in the near future. As Kate asks, what is your story?

Laura x