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Thirteen Ways I Learned to Write About Sex

I’m thrilled to welcome Marian Perera, a fellow Samhain Publishing author. She’s celebrating the release of her paranormal fantasy romance, The Highest Tide and has a fun post about sex. Smile with tongue out

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen ways I learned to write about sex

Thanks for hosting me, Shelley! I like interesting lists, so when I found your blog I read through all the Thursday13 posts first. Those gave me the idea of this guest post.

But here’s the story behind it. I grew up in the Middle East, in a devoutly religious family, a sex-segregated school and an extremely conservative country. How conservative? If a couple kissed on a TV show, this was cut out before the show was broadcast. So speaking of kisses, my first had to wait until I went to college in the States. I was that sheltered.

And now I write romances with explicit sex in them.

Of course, this transition from saint to sinner didn’t happen all at once. So here are a few of the steps I took to become an enthusiastic proponent of the open-bedroom-door policy…

1. Read every romance novel I could lay my hands on, from Sweet Savage Love onwards.

2. Bought and read Stacia Kane’s book Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet. The book is so blunt it overcame a lot of my inhibitions.

3. Reminded myself that it’s not about what I’ve been taught, or what my family believes. It’s about what’s right for the characters and the story.

4. Reminded myself that my editors have read hundreds of steamy romances, so there’s no need to be embarrassed if they refer to certain, uh, technical aspects of the scenes.

5. Kept sex scenes in-character. If the couple enjoy verbal teasing, there can be a rest in the action where they playfully spar with each other.

6. Put the characters in unusual locations. Not only is this fun, I get to think about where they could have sex long before they reach that point. Cave on a deserted island? Got it. Inside a hollow baobab tree? Came out earlier this year.

7. Pushed my personal envelope. Most of my romances are a slow burn where the sexual tension builds up until the characters finally give in. With The Highest Tide, they got their clothes off in the first chapter—and had good reason to do so.

8. Used sex to heighten the characters’ emotional struggle. At the end of The Coldest Sea (coming out later this year), the heroine has settled down with a job she enjoys, and she reluctantly tells the hero, a freighter captain, that she can’t just leave to marry him. So he makes love to her in an intense, the-last-time-we’ll-have-each-other way. The story ends happily, but I milked that scene for all it was worth in terms of heartache.

9. Read some really bad sex scenes. It’s good to know what not to do—for instance, I don’t believe it’s ever arousing to mention the heroine’s urethra.

10. Learned to drop the occasional f-bomb. I don’t use this word very often, so when it occurs—especially when the hero says it in a sexually charged moment—it packs a punch.

11. Held true to my convictions. I believe that even in fiction, when a woman says no, a man should back off (unless they’re play-acting or the scene is written as assault). So I’ve written hot makeout scenes which stopped when the heroine remembered a good reason not to go further. That made it even better when she did want it.

12. Figured out how to incorporate contraceptives into fantasy romance. Or, if they’re not used, to show why not. One of my heroines is infertile, and knows she is, and doesn’t end up with a surprise baby at the end.

13. Wrote sexy fanfics. Less pressure there. Plus, they were Transformers fanfics. If I can write about giant robots having sex, I can write about anyone having sex.

Bio : Marian Perera started reading fantasy at 6 when she found a huge hardcover copy of The Lord of the Rings. Her parents replaced that with a more age-appropriate paperback of The Hobbit. Later she discovered another book with an adorable bunny rabbit on the cover. Yes, that was Watership Down. She had to wait ten more years for romance novels, but once she discovered those she never looked back, and now combines the two for maximum fun.

Marian was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in Dubai, studied in the United States (Georgia and Texas), worked in Iqaluit and lives in Toronto. For now. With five hot fantasy romances published by Samhain and Loose Id, she’s just getting started. She blogs at Flights of Fantasy, is on Twitter, has lots of excerpts on her website and still writes the occasional giant-robot-smutfic with no guilt whatsoever.

The Highest Tide

BLURB:

One touch, and the tide isn’t all that’s rising. When brothel health inspector Jason Remerley finds a uniformed woman waiting impatiently in the Velvet Court parlor, wanting to hire a man’s services, he’s struck by lightning. His intense, immediate attraction compels him to pretend his way into her arms.

Enough silver, and most men forget about Captain Lera Vanze’s half-burned face. She senses something off about the handsome, ill-dressed prostitute who sells himself so cheaply. But with his first touch, goose bumps turn to shivers of desire—right before the truth drives them in opposite directions.

Her fury is still simmering when they face each other in a more “official” capacity. She’s joined a warship to stop a terrorist only Jason can identify. Though trust is scarce, they’re swept away in a tidal wave of murderous plots and an explosive attraction that could leave them marooned in an emotional—and very real—minefield.

Warning: She knows how to wield her sword, he knows just how, when, and where to apply his…mind. Contains deception in a brothel, sex in a cave, a shark with a bad habit, and one very large wave.

Samhain Publishing | Amazon

Do you have any questions for Marian or tips to add to her list?

13 Things About Tomatoes

Thursday Thirteen

I love eating fresh tomatoes. Actually, I love eating tomatoes full stop, and I’m eating a lot at present. Often my lunch will be sliced tomato on toast with lots of fresh ground black pepper.

Tomato

Thirteen Things About Tomatoes

1. Tomatoes originated in the Andes, around the area of modern day Peru.

2. Botanists categorize the tomato as a fruit rather than a vegetable because it grows from a flowering plant and contains seeds.

3. China is the largest producer of tomatoes, followed by the US and India.

4. There are around 7500 different varieties grown worldwide.

5. They are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that’s great for the heart and effective in fighting some types of cancer.

6. Cooked tomatoes are healthier since the heat releases more beneficial chemicals.

7. The town of Bunol hosts the world’s largest tomato fight.

8. Tomatoes are members of the deadly nightshade family.

9. Tomatoes didn’t become widely eaten in Europe until the 18th century.

10. The first cultivated tomatoes were yellow and the size of the cherry. They became known as golden apples.

11. When tomatoes first arrived in Europe they were also called Peruvian apples.

12. Elizabethans thought the red color signified danger and that they were poisonous.

13. Most of the tomato scent comes from the leaves and the stem rather than the fruit, which is why vine tomatoes have a stronger aroma.

Are you a fan of tomatoes? Do you like them raw or cooked best?

Thirteen Things About the Baobab Tree

Thursday Thirteen

I’m currently working on the third book in my House of the Cat series. One of the characters is a tremin, and although sentient, he bears many characteristics of a tree. Hubby and I were walking the dog, and I said to him, “My character is a tree. Not a real tree, at least not all the time. He needs to be a tree that can survive in the desert. What sort of tree would he be?”

Hubby didn’t hesitate. “A baobab tree,” he said.

It was a duh moment for me. We’d seen enough of them when we visited Africa. A baobab was perfect, so I’ve taken many characteristics and shaped them to make Kelvin, my tremin.

Baobab Tree

Thirteen Facts About the Baobab Tree

1. The baobab grows in Africa, Madagascar and Australia. Six of the eight species grow in Madagascar, which has puzzled botanists for a long time.

2. The baobab hates waterlogged roots.

3. It can grow back new bark even if fully stripped. The fibres of the bark can be used for roofing and to make ropes, which is used in fishing, baskets and nets.

4. The seed pods are huge. The pith inside can be used to make a refreshing drink, which tastes like sherbet. It can also be used as a substitute for cream of tartar.

5. Sometimes the pith is used in a medicine as a replacement for quinine.

6. Locals use the empty seed pobs as cups and containers.

7. Some of the trees are enormous with huge girths. One called Chapman’s baobab had a base of 85 feet in circumference.

8. The trees are unusual in that they look as if they’re planted upside down.

9. The trees store a lot of water in their trunks to sustain them during the dry season. A perfect fact for my plot!

10. Some legends state that each baobab contains an elephant inside, waiting to get out. A way of explaining its huge trunk.

11. The Kalahari bushman believe the baobab offended God and in punishment, he planted it upside down.

12. The flowers of the tree bloom at night. Bats thump into them while hunting for food, and in the process help with pollination.

13. The seeds hang down on long stalks and are about the size of a coconut.

Source: The Remarkable Baobab Tree by Thomas Pakenham.

I love trees and from where I sit right now, I can see quite a few varieties. My favorites are some of our New Zealand native trees, which are just about all evergreen. Some, like the kowhai and the pohutukawa, have gorgeous flowers.

What is your favorite type of tree?

13 Animals and Birds that Mate for Life

Thursday Thirteen

As a romance author, I believe in happy relationships and happy endings. I live them everyday while write and reading my books. While some humans are monogamous, there is an equal number of those who cheat or move on to another partner for one reason or another.

The other day I was thinking about this and wondered what other animals or birds mated for life.

Thirteen Animals and Birds that Mate for Life

1. Swans

2. Wolves, which makes the werewolf the perfect hero/heroine in a romance novel.

3. Penguins

4. Gibbon Apes

5. Barn owls

6. Brolga cranes

7. Pigeons

8. Cockroaches

9. Bald Eagle

10. Termites

11. French Angel fish

12. Royal NZ Albatross

Albatros Colony

13. Atlantic puffin

Like humans there are exceptions with the above birds and animals, but generally the creatures in this list stay with the same mate throughout their lives.

You already know I adore a happy ever after story. When you read a book featuring romantic elements, do you enjoy cliffhanger endings, or do you like all the plot strands to tie up and the characters to walk off into the sunset together?

13 Events From This Week in London History

 

Thursday Thirteen

I’m currently reading The London Book of Days by Peter de Loriol. For my TT this week, I thought I’d give you a quick rundown of some of the things that happened this week in London history.

Thirteen Events from London History

1. Nov 24 1434 – There was a severe frost. The cold snap continued until Feb 1435 and the river Thames froze over. Frost fair alert!

2. Nov 24 1740 – A man called William Duell was hanged at Tyburn. His body was prepared for dissection by surgeons, but they found he was still breathing! They ended up deporting him instead.

3. Nov 25 1944 – World War two is in full swing. By this date 251 V2 bombs had been dropped on London. The first V2 bomb was dropped on 8 Sep 1944.

4. Nov 25 1952 – A murder mystery play called The Mousetrap, written by Agatha Christie, opened at the New Ambassadors Theatre. This show is still running in London at St Martin’s Theatre. I’ve seen the show twice and loved it both times.

5. Nov 26 1703 – A hurricane struck London. It ripped off roofs, destroyed spires and turrets and forced ships from their moorings.

6. Nov 26 1962 – The Beatles recorded their single Please Please Me at the Abbey Road Studios.

7. Nov 26 1969 – Margaret Thatcher said in an interview, “No woman in my time will be Prime Minister…Anyway, I would not want to be Prime Minister, you have to give yourself 100 percent.”

8. Nov 26 1983 – Gold bars worth 26 million pounds were stolen from Brink’s-Mat security warehouse at Heathrow Airport. The resulting investigation took almost 10 years and most of the gold was never found.

9. Nov 29 1814 – The Times newspaper was printed by steam instead of manual power. The steam printing press could print 1100 sheets an hour.

10. Nov 29 1855 – A public meeting was held at Willis’s Rooms to raise funds for what became the Nightingale School of Nursing.

11. Nov 29 1934 – Prince George, Duke of Kent married Princess Marina of Greece at Westminster Abbey.

12. Nov 30 1016 – King Edmund II of England was reputedly stabbed in the bowels whilst in the outhouse. He died on the same day.

13. Nov 30 1936 – A small fire at Crystal Palace, Sydenham raged out of control and destroyed the entire building. 88 fire engines were deployed to fight the fire. Melted glass was everywhere.

The London Book of Days is a really interesting book full of snippets about London history. If you enjoy history, you’ll love flicking through this book.

Thirteen Holiday Highlights

Thursday Thirteen

Hubby and I had an awesome holiday in September and visited the Baltic area along with parts of the Mediterranean.

Thirteen Holiday Highlights

1. Visiting St Petersburg, Russia and gawking at some of the many treasures displayed in the palaces and mansions. So many valuables everywhere!

Peterhof Palace

Peterhof Palace and the gravity fed fountains in front of the palace. They’re switched on a 11.00am each day.

2. Eating fresh wild blueberries purchased from a Helsinki market. Hubby ate the reindeer meatballs and some tiny fish.

3. Seeing the Viking Museum and the incredible boats, which are still mainly intact in Oslo, Norway.

Viking Ship

4. Visiting the Folk Museum with the range of old buildings that have been relocated to make a village. Loved the Stave Church and the buildings with grass growing on the roofs. Saw a man up on a roof, mowing the grass.

Stave Church

5. The Vasa Museum in Stockholm. The Vasa is an old ship that sank in the harbor on its maiden voyage. The king had ordered more cannons, which wasn’t a good idea! Who was going to argue?

Vasa, Stockholm

6. Dubrovnik  – a place I’ve wanted to visit for ages. We spent far too long in the heat, wandering around the walls of the old city and exploring the buildings inside.

7. Corfu – exploring the old fort and finding a taverna for lunch. Delicious!

8. Venice. I love Venice, and it’s never a hardship to get lost in the back streets. It was the Regatta on the day we were there, and we saw the parade of old gondolas down the Grand Canal. Discovered a fun place to have a drink (The Corner Pub), tried a peach bellini and had a hazelnut gelato. Yum, yum, yum!

Me in a Traghetto on the Grand Canal

9. Visited Gibraltar and caught the cable car up to the top of the Rock. Got up close to the Barbary apes that make the Rock their home.

10. Visited London where we lived for six years and hadn’t realized how much I missed this city. It was the same but different too, with lots of rebuilding going on.

11. Made quick visits to the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museums. So much history and lots of fascinating things to gawk at.

12 Walking around many of the London sights. Walking in Hyde Park and visiting the pubs where we worked in London. Walking, walking, walking until our feet ached.

13. Afternoon tea at the Ritz. Expensive but such a lot of fun and so memorable. Scones with jam and clotted cream, tiny sandwiches and lots of delicious cakes plus lots of tea. Oh, and a glass of champagne to start.

13 Destinations in My Future

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Hubby and I are counting the days until our holiday, which starts in about seven weeks. Here are some of the places we intend to visit.

Thirteen Places We Will Visit

1. Southampton, England

2. London

3. St. Petersburg, Russia

4. Copenhagen, Denmark

5. Oslo, Norway

6. Helsinki, Finland

7. Stockholm, Sweden

8. Tallinn, Estonia

9. Venice, Italy

10. Valetta, Malta

11. Cadiz, Spain

12. Gibraltar

13. Dubrovnik, Croatia

We’ve visited London (lived there for six years), Gibraltar and Venice before and the rest will be an adventure. I’ve wanted to visit Dubrovnik for years, so I’m happy we’re finally getting there.

Have you visited any of these places before? Any tips?

13 Types of Citrus Fruit

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Citrus fruits originated in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia. They are acidic and the seeds of the fruit are covered with juicy yet bitter fruit segments. They range in color from bright yellow to orange and green. They’re good for us and delicious to eat.

Thirteen Types of Citrus Fruits

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1. Lemon

2. Grapefruit

3. Mandarin

4. Tangelo

5. Lime

6. Clementine

7. Satsuma

8. Kumquat

9. Orange

10. Pomelo – has white flesh

11. Naartje – in China this is known as a seedless mandarin. This is the Afrikaans name for the fruit.

12. Shaddock – has white flesh and a green to yellow skin

13. Tangerine

I like all citrus fruit and gravitate toward lemon desserts. My husband can’t eat grapefruit because it clashes with his medication.

Do you like citrus fruit?

13 Nautical Sayings in Common Usage

Before I get to my TT today – two public service notices!

1. The Covergasm contest closes on 13 June. I’m giving away a $10 Amazon GC. All you need to do is comment on my post, which is here. You can also enter the Grand prize draw and win a larger Amazon gift certificate by completing the rafflecopter

2. Win an e-copy of The Bottom Line at Sidney Bristol’s blog. Sidney is also giving away an Amazon GC and a bundle of e-books.

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Mr Munro and I went on a Pacific cruise last year, and each day at midday we were told how far we’d traveled, about the weather and given the history of a nautical term. I was surprised by the number of nautical terms that had been integrated into every day use.

Thirteen Nautical Sayings in Common Usage

1. All at sea – means a state of confusion or disorder. This phrase comes from the days of sail prior to accurate navigational aids. When a ship was out of sight of the land they were in danger of becoming lost, therefore they were all at sea.

2. By and large – means all things considered or on the whole. If the wind was blowing from a point behind the position of a ship’s direction then it was said to be large. By means in the general direction of. If a ship could sail by and large this meant it could sail downwind and also against the wind in order to progress on its voyage.

3. Give a wide berth – means keep a good distance away. Berth used to mean a place where there is sea room to moor a ship, and if a sailor was told to give a wide berth, they had to keep the ship away from a certain object.

4. Batten down the hatches – means to prepare for trouble. A hatch is a hatchway or an opening in the deck of a ship. They were like a skylight and enabled ventilation. If bad weather looked likely then the hatches were covered with tarpaulin and edged with wooden strips known as battens to keep the tarpaulin in place during a gale.

5. Close quarters – means close contact, and in particular, close contact with an enemy. In the nautical world, close quarters were barriers of wood stretching across a merchant ship in several places. They were used as a place to retreat when a ship was boarded by pirates or enemies. They were fitted with loop holes in order for the men to fire out at their enemy.

6. Shake a leg – means to hurry up. It’s said show a leg, which means make an appearance, is related. The nautical meaning is an order to rouse and get out of bed. Sailors were expected to show that they were awake by sticking a leg out from under the covers – a sign they were ready to leave their hammocks.

7. Taken aback – surprised or startled. In nautical terms if the direction of the wind changed suddenly so the ship was facing into the wind, then the ship was taken aback.

8. Mal de mer – seasickness. A ship’s motion is three dimensional, which makes the person suffer illness and misery for a long time. There was no escape.

9. Loose cannon – an unpredictable person or thing. This saying comes from the 17th century when the cannon was the main weapon. They had an enormous recoil after firing and were mounted on rollers and secured with rope. A loose cannon was one which had become free of its restraints.

10. Plain sailing – smooth and easy progress. This meant a the voyage was without trouble. Primarily a US term.

11. Hard and fast – without doubt or debate. In nautical terms a ship that was hard and fast was beached on land and wasn’t coming free without difficulty.

12. Shiver my timbers – this was an oath that expressed annoyance or surprise. If a sailor said shiver my timbers he was hoping that the ship would break into pieces.

13. Push the boat out – to spend generously or to spend more than you usually would. Boats were often too large for one person to push into the sea if they were beached. To help push the boat out was an act of kindness because you were helping a man get his boat ready for use.

Do you suffer from mal de mer?

Source – http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/nautical-phrases.html

13 Things About Gemini

Thursday Thirteen

I picked up a copy of Everyday Astrology for a better life by Sasha Fenton at the library. Astrology always fascinates me, and I find it can be very helpful when “designing” characters.

Thirteen Characteristics of a Gemini

1. The Sun sign Gemini belongs to those who were born between May 22 and June 21.

2.  Gemini is the sign of twins and is a masculine air sign.

3. Gemini is ruled by the planet Mercury.

4. When it comes to health, a Gemini’s weak areas are shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, brain, pupils and tongue.

5. Best forms of exercise – gardening and walking the dog.

6. Biggest indulgences are cigarettes and alcohol.

7. Favorite foods are pasta, seafood and light meals.

8. Gemini people are fussy about their clothes and choose the best that money can buy. They are cautious in their choice of colors.

9. Gemini’s vanity means that they’ll be on a diet for most of their life. They prefer coffee instead of bothering with cooking. They are fans of takeaway meals and ready-cooked meals.

10. Gemini people are friendly and going out and meeting with friends is an important part of your life.

11. A Gemini cannot stand a job where they have to do a repetitive task. An office life suits you, especially if it is a busy office, but you don’t like too much stress.

12. A Gemini worries about money and you’re sensible when it comes to financial manners.

13. A Gemini likes to live in a place where there is plenty of room for gadgets and tools, and they like lots of bookshelves and magazine racks. You’re a good gardener and can make even a small plot look like a picture.

So, that’s a little about the Gemini Sun sign. If you’re a Gemini, does any of this hit the mark? Do you read your star signs?