Winterflood's Passion

Six Sensual Suggestions for Writing Sex Scenes

Here at For Pity Sake Publishing, things are getting a little steamy. With Valentines Day fast approaching we’re excited to promote Diana Thompson’s Bowral Romance series, including her latest title Unbridled Passion. We’ve already spent some time with Nick the hunky vet and Jordana, his beautiful lover. Unbridled Passion may just be even raunchier than Diana’s previous work, Winterflood’s Passion (which you can buy here!), and the whole thing has got us thinking, frankly, about sex. Here are some top tips for writing sex scenes, inspired by Diana’s fantastic work.

  1. Vocabulary is everything

There’s a science to describing anatomy. The writer wants terms that are accurate but not clinical. Some romance publishers have strict suggestions on what words can and can’t be used. Variety certainly helps, as the repetition of any single word can be tiring and break the reader’s attention. But similarly, too much variety and the work borders on absurd.

  1. Don’t be afraid of their bits

Describing his ‘member’ is likely to illicit more giggles than just telling us about his ‘cock’. Describing her arousal as a ‘blossoming flower’ is more likely to have the reader rolling their eyes than just telling us that she can feel hserself beginning to become wet. So don’t be afraid to name something for what it is. Balls, breasts, butts, nipples, clits, labias, shafts…when it comes to sex scenes, metaphor and simile can sometimes get in the way of the story.

  1. What does the sex tell us about the characters?

Sex scenes aren’t just about people doin’ it. It’s also about the relationship between the two characters. Sex reveals a lot about who’s in charge, who’s feeling more playful, who’s feeling ashamed, who’s feel confident, and more. The writer can treat sex scenes as a giant metaphor for how two characters interact. Are they quick, fierce and full of passion? Or are they slow, sensual and in complete adoration of each other? Do they flirt at the edge of violence? Does he take control, or does she? Or does it shift at some point? There’s a lot to play with.

  1. Use the environment

Settings are half the fun. Don’t let the characters get so involved with each other’s bodies that you forget the environment around you. Scenes in beds are absolutely fine, but if you’re going for several sex scenes in your work, you’ll want to switch things up. Try outdoors, in different rooms of the house, or anywhere your heart (and loins) desire.

  1. No two scenes are the same

With all of the above, keep in mind that no two scenes should be the same. There’s no real point in making two scenes identical. What’s changed for the characters from one scene to the next? Where are they and how are they feeling? Consider the journey of the relationship and their comfort with each other. Are they more daring? Or more guarded?

  1. If you’re turned on, it’s working

In fact, if you’re not turned on, something’s wrong. Trust that if it works for you, it’ll work for your reader too.

If you can't get enough of Diana Thompson and her steamy romance collection, be sure not to miss her appearance at Muse Canberra this Sunday at 3pm! You'll be able to grab signed copies of both books, and hear all about the inspiration behind Diana's raunchy romance!

Hooked on Romance

I have a bone to pick with Diana Thompson. With her debut novel Winterflood's Passion and the second in her Bowral-based series, Unbridled Passion, Diana has made me into a reader of romance novels!

Before assessing Winterflood's Passion manuscript with a view to publishing it, I wasn't a romance reader. It's not that I disliked the genre - hey, I'd read my fair share of Victoria Holt's and Mills and Boon in my time - but romance novels had never stuck with me as a reader past my teen years. To be fair, neither had any other genre. Crime, biographies, fiction or non-fiction, I was eclectic in my taste and very soon, romance slipped well and truly off the radar...until bloody Diana Thompson.

I've known Di for many years. Our husbands went to school together and I've been a frequenter of her exclusive jewellery store, Briolette, in Canberra on several occasions.  Knowing her in that incarnation, imagine my surprise when on hearing I was starting a publishing company, Di sent me a completed manuscript for her debut novel.

Soon after I displayed my spectacular ignorance of things romance when I asked Di if works of this genre typically contained so many sex scenes. She assured me they did but there seems to be less and less good old fashioned fucking and more and more just plain fucked-up sex in the 'romance' novels of today.  Although I've never read Fifty Shades of Grey, one couldn't fail to miss the hubbub over the controversial, kinky and confronting nature of the sexual encounters in that particular series. I think Diana might be right on that score.

Now there are a couple of questions about this sex thing to my way of thinking - the first being, is a novel really a romance novel if it doesn't contain any explicit and (with any luck) well-written sex scenes? A friend of mine reports throwing Stephanie Meyer's Breaking Dawn up against her bedroom wall (violently enough to wake her flatmate in the next room) because the prick-teasing of the previous three books was seriously unrequited in the fourth and final installment in the Twilight vampire romance series. Readers of romance might well be into foreplay but consummation is clearly a must-have and I can attest that Diana Thompson has that covered in both of her books to date.

Which brings me to my second question - whether artfully written or not, are sex scenes the only draw card to the romance genre? I'd have to say not, and while my evidence is totally anecdotal I've been surprised by the number of people - blokes even - who've told me it's the setting, the story and the characters that really drew them into Diana's work.  One friend said she skimmed the sex bits on the first reading of Winterflood's Passion because she knew she could always go back to them. She was more interested in how things would turn out for the beautiful but lonely heroine, Charlotte Ranleigh, and the unlikely hero, playboy art entrepreneur, Daniel Winterflood.

It's Di's character development and her vivid descriptions of country life in the picturesque NSW Southern Highlands that had me hopping from one foot to the other to read the manuscript for the second in the Bowral series, Unbridled Passion, where the fate of the sexy vet Dr Nick Delaney was to be revealed.  With apologies to Diana's loyal readers, I got the jump on all of you as it was my happy duty to edit the manuscript ahead of the book’s publication last year.  Unbridled Passion was finally unveiled at the inaugural Canberra Writer's Festival in August 2016 to rapturous applause and much voyeuristic gratification that finally, we would learn about Nick's journey to love with a newly introduced character, Jordana Talbot.

As is my wont, and in keeping with my new-found 'romance novel reader' status, I re-read Unbridled Passion recently, marvelling yet again at how Diana Thompson has made me care about the romantic lives of the good burghers of Bowral.  The streets and surrounds of the town were very familiar to me and I warmly welcomed Charlotte and Daniel's intermittent appearances throughout the book as if they were old friends!

The expansion of Nick's story doesn't disappoint either.  Although he seems to have it all - looks, a successful veterinary practice and many loyal co-workers, clients and friends - there's strong themes of abandonment and betrayal running through his life coupled with just plain bad timing in not 'getting the girl' in Winterflood's Passion. The other main protagonist in the story, Jordana, is equally fortunately endowed with looks and talent but like most people in romance novels (or in real life, it would seem) she's also known her fair share of trauma.

Unbridled Passion isn't a sequel per-se and could happily be read as a stand-alone book. But I'd be willing to wager that you'll want to backtrack and read Winterflood's Passion once you're done. If that's the case, save time and buy both books together at a 10% discount when you purchase from the For Pity Sake website. Just type in the coupon code UNBRIDLED at check out and voilà, your Valentine's Day is well and truly covered!

Diana Thompson will be 'in conversation' with Jen McDonald at Muse Canberra in Kingston ACT on Sunday 5 February at 3.00pm.  Tickets are $10 with a free glass of wine and bookings are essential - http://www.musecanberra.com.au/events/.

Six Sensual Suggestions for Writing Sex Scenes

Here at For Pity Sake Publishing, things are getting a little steamy. We’re preparing for the release of Diana Thompson’s new romance work Unbridled Passion, which is now available for pre-order. We’ve already spent some time with Nick the hunky vet and Jordana, his beautiful lover. Unbridled Passion may just be even raunchier than Diana’s previous work, Winterflood’s Passion (which you can buy here!), and the whole thing has got us thinking, frankly, about sex. Here are some top tips for writing sex scenes, inspired by Diana’s fantastic work.

  1. Vocabulary is everything

There’s a science to describing anatomy. The writer wants terms that are accurate but not clinical. Some romance publishers have strict suggestions on what words can and can’t be used. Variety certainly helps, as the repetition of any single word can be tiring and break the reader’s attention. But similarly, too much variety and the work borders on absurd.

  1. Don’t be afraid of their bits

Describing his ‘member’ is likely to illicit more giggles than just telling us about his ‘cock’. Describing her arousal as a ‘blossoming flower’ is more likely to have the reader rolling their eyes than just telling us that she can feel hserself beginning to become wet. So don’t be afraid to name something for what it is. Balls, breasts, butts, nipples, clits, labias, shafts…when it comes to sex scenes, metaphor and simile can sometimes get in the way of the story.

  1. What does the sex tell us about the characters?

Sex scenes aren’t just about people doin’ it. It’s also about the relationship between the two characters. Sex reveals a lot about who’s in charge, who’s feeling more playful, who’s feeling ashamed, who’s feel confident, and more. The writer can treat sex scenes as a giant metaphor for how two characters interact. Are they quick, fierce and full of passion? Or are they slow, sensual and in complete adoration of each other? Do they flirt at the edge of violence? Does he take control, or does she? Or does it shift at some point? There’s a lot to play with.

  1. Use the environment

Settings are half the fun. Don’t let the characters get so involved with each other’s bodies that you forget the environment around you. Scenes in beds are absolutely fine, but if you’re going for several sex scenes in your work, you’ll want to switch things up. Try outdoors, in different rooms of the house, or anywhere your heart (and loins) desire.

  1. No two scenes are the same

With all of the above, keep in mind that no two scenes should be the same. There’s no real point in making two scenes identical. What’s changed for the characters from one scene to the next? Where are they and how are they feeling? Consider the journey of the relationship and their comfort with each other. Are they more daring? Or more guarded?

  1. If you’re turned on, it’s working

In fact, if you’re not turned on, something’s wrong. Trust that if it works for you, it’ll work for your reader too.

Unbridled Passion

Let us tell you about Nick, the sexy vet. Last year, Diana Thompson released her stunning debut romance novel Winterflood’s Passion. Raunchy and immensely readable, the book created a loyal fandom hungry for more. Diana always knew the characters had lives larger than what she provided in that first work. So it is with a great deal of pleasure that For Pity Sake Publishing is able to announce the release of Unbridled Passion, the next book in the Bowral series, arriving on shelves with plenty of time for Christmas.

Readers of Winterflood’s Passion will remember Nick, the unlucky vet who missed out on our heroine Charlotte. Unbridled Passion focuses squarely on picking up his story. Because the protagonists are different from that of the first book, you needn’t have read Winterflood’s Passion to enjoy Unbridled Passion. Indeed, they can be read in any order. But readers of Winterflood’s Passion will be very pleased to know that Charlotte and Daniel definitely make an appearance.

As a hero, Nick is everything a romance reader could want. Sensitive, gorgeous and a keen animal lover. When Jordana Talbot arrives in town, however, their two personalities clash. What happens over the ensuing pages, however, is a must-read for any lover of romance. Unbridled Passion still has all the high drama and intriguing characters of Winterflood’s Passion, but it’s an even raunchier read.

Due for official release late August 2016, you can pre-order Unbridled Passion now and delivery’s on us! Click here.

A Passion for Romance Writing

One of our beloved authors, Di Thompson recently sat down with Barbie Robinson from Artcetera on FM 92.7 Canberra, for a chat to talk all things romance and her plans for future books. Listen below or buy a copy of Di's book here. [audio mp3="http://forpitysake.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Diana-Thompson.mp3"][/audio]

Five Rules for Writing Historical Fiction

With the second season of the Outlander series now gripping the world, and with the re-release of not one but two of Peter Yeldham historical fiction novels only days away, it seems fair to say that historical fiction is now very much in vogue. It seems we’ve monkey-swung from sparkly vampires (Twilight) to titillating BDSM (Fifty Shades of Grey) to re-examining our collective past. In truth, historical fiction never really went out of vogue. Technically speaking, the vast majority of Shakespeare’s works were historical fiction. It could be said even our most basic folk lore (Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, etc.) are a kind of proto-historical fiction that harkens back to a generic fairytale time tinged with nostalgia.

Still, there’s never been a better time to be a historical fiction author, and we’re thrilled to publish quite a few. But before you put pen to paper, you might want to consider a few critical tips that we’ve learned from reading our award-winning authors.

Researching and Reading Research is obviously incredibly important when writing historical fiction. There’s no quicker way to alienate a reader than to make them stop believing in the authenticity of the world you’re trying to create. So research and read. A lot. Read historical accounts of the time, and even dig into other historical fiction that’s focussed on similar eras of history.

Researching and Talking If you’re able to actually talk to living survivors of your chosen historical era, don’t be shy in asking to sit down and have a chat. A minute in conversation can illuminate areas that history books simply can’t tell you. The colour of the wallpaper, or the smell of a place, or the daily, mundane routines that shaped their (and your characters) lives.

Researching and other reading An extremely helpful tip comes from Elizabeth Gilbert, award-winning author of Eat, Pray, Love, as well as critically acclaimed historical fiction The Signature of All Things. While it’s valuable to read history books, it can be even more helpful to read documents, novels or journals that were written in the specific time period that you’re setting your work in. This will tell you so much about the lexicon of the age, along with the concerns, dialogue and details of your characters.

Know when to stop researching This is the trickiest bit. Some historical novels feel more historic than novel, and can be too dense a read to be truly pleasurable. Always remember that your novel still has to operate under the same laws as any genre, and needs to create a compelling story with intriguing characters. The research will only take you so far. If you’re on the right track, you’ll usually feel a mounting sense of excitement as you’re researching, and there will simply come a point where you’re desperate to write. So write! The research will be there when you need it, and you can always return to hunt for extra details.

Be Authentic to the Politics of the Time …while not being too offensive to modern sensibilities. This is tricky, and most complicated around gender politics. Times past are often incredibly violent places to write about, and women are often treated abhorrently. It’s important to be authentic to this, and not create a rose-tinted version of the past that readers will find too sickly sweet. On the other hand, every reader has a line, and so much of narrative is frequently about the under-dog becoming a hero. Claire in Outlander is a classic example, who is subject to the subjugation of her time, but constantly subverts the gender norms for wonderfully entertaining results. Peter Yeldham often places an under-dog at the centre of the story, who is able to see with greater moral clarity than most of his peers.

Don’t know where to start reading? Why not try Peter Yeldham’s fantastic historical fiction around World War 2 in Above the Fold . Or if you’re in the mood for more sparkly vampires, you might be interested in Jennifer McDonald’s take on how Edward Cullen brought about a spiritual awakening in her memoir Vegetarian Vampires. Then again, you may be more into the Fifty Shades of Grey trend and want some page-turning romance. In that case, try Winterflood’s Passion by Diana Thompson.

 

The Bowral Bodice-Ripper

When I read the first draft of Diana Thompson's just released Winterflood's Passion I dubbed it the 'Bowral bodice-ripper' a name that has stuck much to the bemusement of the author, I'm sure. An article in the Southern Highland News and the program of the Southern Highlands Writers Festival (where Winterflood's Passion was recently launched) both picked up on the term with unfettered glee at having a novel set in Bowral, a jewel of the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales. Who can blame them? It is a beautiful place and a very apt setting for the passionate love affair between the fictional young and beautiful widow, Charlotte Ranleigh and the dashing, playboy art entrepreneur, Daniel Winterflood. The bodice-ripper part is not so easily explained, except to say that, not being an aficionado of the romance genre; I had no idea before reading Winterflood's Passion that there would be so much explicit sex in a romance novel. Silly me! Hot sex is writ large here - and stirring stuff it is too without being kinky, dark or dysfunctional. The bodice-ripper term refers not so much to the timeframe (bodice-ripper inferring an historical or regency theme) but to the unbridled lust and its many earth-moving incarnations of which Diana writes so skilfully in this, her first novel.

It's certainly not my intention to leave you with the impression that plentiful, well-written sex is the only thing that attracted me to this book as a publisher and a reader. Like most things in life it is far more complicated and multi-factorial than that - so please, let me attempt to explain.

Firstly, Diana's work is very descriptive and I found that really drew me in.  From the herbs that Charlotte grows in her garden to the Aubusson rug and Margaret Olley painting in the living room, to the detailed description of the furnishings in Daniel's bachelor lair in Sydney and every meal they consume together - Diana's attention to detail is, dare I say it, very seductive. A vivid picture is painted around the main protagonists, how they look, feel and live, that I found myself quite spontaneously seeing them in my mind's eye – even wondering who might play them on screen.

The second thing I love about Winterflood's Passion is that Diana doesn't push the boundaries of fantasy too far.  Sure there's escapism here - beautiful, wealthy people living in luxurious surrounds with fabulous careers - what's not to like? But in amongst all that Diana deftly weaves in some strong correlations with anyone’s real life - a tragic death, misplaced guilt, thwarted dreams and self-doubt. All of these make an appearance and help to ground what would otherwise be fantasy characters that one only reads about in, well, romance novels.

And finally, the greatest appeal of Winterflood's Passion is the context of true love in which the mind-blowing sex is set. Call me old fashioned but reading about sadistic or violent sexual encounters that are way beyond my understanding or aspiration is not my idea of a rollicking good roll-in-the-hay read. Diana's novel strikes a brilliant balance between the raunchy, wanton, get-on-board-or-get-out-of-the-way sex and exquisite love-making between two people with a very deep connection.

Diana Thompson is a long-time friend of mine and a highly acclaimed jewellery designer in her own right.  To my way of thinking, Di epitomises the person who is strangely compelled to write and who's actually sat down and done it while carrying on with life as normal. She is the very type of writer we had in mind when we founded For Pity Sake Publishing and the fact that our fledgling publishing house has been able to produce her first novel brings me more joy that I can adequately express here.

Bowral bodice-ripper it is.

 

 

Buy your copy of Diana's debut novel Winterflood's Passion here!

Not a Romance Reader

I’ve never really been one for the romance genre. It’s not to say I don’t like romance novels, it’s more that I’d never really found one that filled me with an urge to read more. Granted, until last year I had only ever read four romance novels, three of them being the Fifty Shades series, the other was a novel by Rachel Gibson, a book so bland I can remember neither the title nor the story. It wasn’t until I read Winterflood’s Passion, the first novel by Diana Thompson, that I actually found a romance novel that I enjoyed. When I read the novel for the first time, what struck me the most was Diana’s ability to create such vivid imagery. Winterflood’s Passion is set in the Southern Highlands, a veritable cornucopia of scenery porn. Diana harnesses the natural Australian beauty of the Highlands and uses her beautifully emotive and rich descriptions to pull the reader deep into her story.  Those of you who have read Fifty Shades of Grey will attest that artful descriptions of scenery were the farthest thing from E.L James’ mind when she wrote the series. It’s safe to say that Diana’s well-rounded approach to romance novel writing was a welcome surprise when I began reading.  I think, like most of us who are unfamiliar with the romance genre, I had constructed an idea of what the novel would be in my head before I even picked up the book. I naively believed that all Romance had to follow that cringe-worthy mould of awkward sexual encounters and the over-use of the term ‘throbbing member’, but Diana’s novel surpassed all expectation.

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of this novel was the development of the protagonist, Charlotte Ranleigh. Charlotte is a young widow who is living in self-imposed exile in her marital estate in the Southern Highlands. Life for Charlotte has fallen into a rut after the unexpected death of her husband, Michael, one year earlier. After Michael’s death, Charlotte is overcome with guilt over their last parting. She closes herself off from everything around her, giving up her dreams of owning an art-school, punishing herself for something which was out of her control. It’s not until Charlotte is introduced to the playboy, art-dealer Daniel Winterflood, that her life begins to blossom again. When Daniel enters the picture Charlotte is given the motivation to start living again. She begins painting once more, and slowly starts to return to her former self. To me, this book was as much about Charlotte’s personal development as it was about the love story between her and Daniel. Diana created an amazingly real and relatable character through her development of Charlotte. It’s almost impossible to not love Charlotte, and through the book I found myself sharing her joy as she began to rebuild her life.

I have never thought of myself as a romance reader, but after reading Winterflood’s Passion (and having a sneaky read of Diana’s next novel, a book which follows the story of the dreamy vet Nick Delaney) my mind has been changed. I can truly say that a love story has never interested me quite like this one, and I think that has to be attributed to the copious amount of thought and time that went into Diana’s first novel. Each character is so sincere and realistic, and you can really see the love and effort that Diana has put in to developing such intriguing and individual characters.

Winterflood’s Passion is a truly unique and beautiful novel that offered me a new perspective of the Romance genre.

 

You can buy your copy of Winterflood's Passion here!

 

This blog was originally posted on annablackie.com on the 10th of August, 2015.