TMI

Writing Icky Stuff (and other sticky matters)

As a new writer I’m always on the lookout for advice about writing, particularly around “tricky” or intimate subjects. I personally have no qualms about dipping into the squeamish but I appreciate that I’m approaching it from my own particular angle and not everyone has my stomach for the earthier side of life. So I have to be mindful ’cause, hey – I’m here to turn heads, not stomachs. So I’m really chuffed to introduce my good friend Jennifer Denys, who has kindly written a guest post for Menopausal Me about just this icky, sticky subject.


Jennifer Denys Jen new blog pic

How far can a writer get away with writing real life stuff like the menopause, periods, illnesses, disabilities, etc, and not turn the reader off?

I am a writer of erotic romances and readers of this type of story have certain expectations. I had great fun writing Friendly Seduction where I totally took the piss out of writing my own genre. Here’s an excerpt from that book as the heroine explains to the hero exactly what women want from their erotic romances:

“He never shows negative attributes like cruelty, laziness, picking his nose, having a hairy back, and so on. Those are reserved for the bad guys.” (Need I say more?!)

Readers of this genre (who are predominantly women) like to put themselves in the shoes of the heroine. Therefore, they want the hero to be tall, handsome and hunky. However, being the rebel that I am, every now and then I batter down this restriction. Here’s an excerpt from The Sub Who Switched. Suffice to say, the heroine did end up with Nick despite being taller than him. (I even had a lovely review on Amazon where they stated how refreshing it was to read a story about everyday people who happen to be unusually erotic!)

She shivered at the thought of a strong man, preferably one taller than her, unlike Nick, who was a few inches shorter.

But what about things that could turn off a reader. Sex or intimacy is such a personal thing – what one person likes, another doesn’t, such as this line from Friendly Seduction, “The only thing I loathe reading about is sucking toes.”

You can’t please everyone so I tend to throw in things that are personal likes or dislikes (yep, sucking toes is a real turn off for me!) – but my characters can’t be the same every time so I will have to have one hero hunkering down at the heroine’s feet in one book. (Maybe when I am at death’s door!)

Since we are talking about sex, how often have you read stories where the heroine is a virgin and the hero has no problem giving her the time of her life? (Get real!). I deliberately made the taking of Brianna’s virginity a harrowing experience for both hero and heroine in Wife for Three as it helped shape their relationship:jd-d-wifethree-full

The yelp of pain that came from Brianna stopped him in his tracks. He didn’t remember the woman he’d had at the brothel all those years ago being this small, this tight. But that woman hadn’t been a virgin. That was the difference, surely. And now Brianna wasn’t anymore. It should get better, shouldn’t it? That thought left him as he felt her body tense considerably beneath him, her hands leaving his body to fall back clutching the pillow instead, her face averted. He could see she was biting her lip and her eyes were clenched tightly closed. His body shook with unreleased need, but at the same time, he didn’t want to cause any more pain to the tiny woman underneath him.

As he started to retreat, she whimpered. It wasn’t a good whimper but one he had heard from animals in pain. It struck him to his core. Damn, I’ve fucked this one up soundly.

But what about other ‘icky matters’ that the readers generally don’t want to be reminded off? Well, in Kink After Dinner I had a heroine in her fifties, so I referred to hot flushes and her midlife spread – although in both cases it was positive (see below if you don’t believe me!)

kad-jd-fullBeth felt herself flush as he looked intently at her with his brown eyes. Her high colour was something that had annoyed her all her life. At least she could put it down to having a hot flush these days.

And then further on:

She giggled. Her breasts were bulging over the top as it was. She used to be quite skinny, but in the last ten years, her midlife spread had hit. Some women, particularly short women like her, hated their bulges, but hers worked to her advantage as her breast-cup size had increased from A to C, making her look nicely voluptuous for once in her life.

I don’t recall any of my characters having had a cold yet – clearly I will have to remedy that!

And none of my characters have any disabilities – possibly because I have no idea what it is like for someone with a missing limb, for instance, and I wouldn’t want to get it wrong. However, I do have a work-in-progress that has a heroine, badly injured in a car accident, going to a BDSM club and watching from a dark corner to get her kicks until the hero spies her there and gradually seduces her into taking part. (Watch this space for further info on that story…) I can’t find any references to the heroine having her period – although I have a vague recollection that I had a line in one book about being glad it wasn’t time for her period. Having had sex myself during a period it really is icky to experience and I wouldn’t want to inflict it on the poor reader! (Ed: speak for yourself ;))

So, in conclusion, will it put the reader off to read things they may rather not read? Possibly—but if you want them to be real life people and not cardboard cutouts, then go for it. On the other hand, readers who are older, shorter, poorer, less-than-beautiful, or whatever, might just want the fantasy!

 

Jennifer Denys is in her mid-fifties and has written nearly 20 erotic romance novellas and short stories. She draws on her real life experiences ‒ including the dreaded menopause ‒ for her stories. To find out more about her and her books head to her blog site: http://jennifer-denys.blogspot.com/ where she posts three times per week.

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Hair today, gone tomorrow #2

Age has indeed played a cruel, cruel trick.

My once luxuriant bush is no more. YupIt’s not the bountiful bush it once was; in fact it’s thinned out dramatically, and the glossy, chocolate brown lustre of youth is rapidly fading to grey. *Sad face*. It would be bad enough if this were the extent of it, a couple of grey nether hairs here and there, but no – it’s much, MUCH worse than that. Far from growing the kind of exuberant bush that would put a 1970’s porn star to shame as I reach middle-age (and which I’d secretly quite looked forward to), I have developed what I can only describe as ‘(fe)male pattern baldness’. But on my nether regions. I have lost much of the hair down the middle of my pubis, but kept it on the outskirts. Which, as you’d imagine, looks horrendous.

So I have to shave it quite extensively, leaving just a pathetic bit of bum fluff on show at the front. But my man (who loves oral like the dear departed Bill Hicks did – how lucky?!) has been begging me to leave it au natural, a la 1980s – him being nostalgic for his teenage years when girls didn’t have smooth, shaven groins like creepy Barbie dolls. He thinks (bless) that I shave my bits because I’m self/sub-consciously buying into the current trend for bald, hairless ladyparts, because that’s how I think I should look. Hah! I can’t bring myself to tell him that the nearest we’re going to get to a retro bush is in fact the 1970s, and I’m not talking about the spectacular porn-star arrangement as mentioned above. giphy

No, sadly, I’m talking about the “Max Wall”, the “Bobby Charlton”, and Pennywise, the evil clown from It.

(Ok, the last baldie in this tragic list isn’t from the 70s but if the dutch cap fits…).

Definitely time to consider a merkin, methinks – wonder if ebay do them..?    

Hair today, gone tomorrow: #1

Right then. Let’s talk about hair. Hair down there.

But first, let me put this out there: I’m fancying a merkin.fuzzy-heart-merkin

You see, in my younger days, I had a pretty decent bush. Not too thick and not too thin. Relatively easy to control, although it did meander slightly down the insides of my thighs (and perilously close to my knees in the winter)…but anyway, nothing a sharp razor wouldn’t fix.

But the razor rash was a swine. So one day I decided to try waxing. By god it hurt. A good friend of mine is a beauty therapist and she did it for me. How she laughed and called me names as I screamed and squirmed and swore like a navvy – and the more I screamed and swore, the more she convulsed with laughter (she’s not particularly mean, I was just pretty inventive with my swearing). Of course, laughter renders you momentarily weak (think about your knees buckling when you laugh really hard), so instead of whipping the hair out at the speed of light (and therefore marginally less painfully), she was actually wrenching it slowly and agonisingly out of my bits like some kind of sadistic beauty-therapy-based torturer. Which is every bit as painful as it sounds.

waxing some eecards

Unsurprisingly, we had to abort this particular mission, and decided to try again another day. So we did. I still screamed and cursed, but she didn’t laugh, and we eventually got the job done (thanks mainly to the small bottle of vodka I necked just before we got started).

Or at least we thought we had. On closer inspection –  both of us peering down together at my blood red, angry-looking groin – we realised that instead of pulling the hairs out, they had actually been ripped off at the roots. My super-pubes were so strong, so deep-rooted, that they just refused to come out. Hence all the super-pain I’d been in. See?? But I tell you, she’d given them a bloody good going over: I went on holiday two days later with extensive mottling/blue-black bruising all over the insides of my thighs, which actually resembled huge, juicy love bites. Classy. Although to be fair we were in Ibiza so I didn’t look that out of place, but even so…