Showing posts with label sex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sex. Show all posts

Sunday 26 November 2017

It's Time for the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards...

Not sure whether you could call this a highlight of the book awards year, but it's certainly 'different'...

"According to the prize’s organisers, the Literary Review, the purpose of the prize is to draw attention to “poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction”. The prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature." (The Bookseller)

It seems there were a few nominations that despite being well supported didn't quite fit the spirit of the award so were ruled out.

So here are the titles and authors of the 2017 contenders:

  • The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet.
  • Here Comes Trouble by Simon Wroe.
  • The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen.
  • War Cry by Wilbur Smith (with David Churchill).
  • Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby.
  • The Future Won’t Be Long by Jarett Kobek.
  • As a God Might Be by Neil Griffiths.

You can read the extracts in the Guardian's article here.

This year's selection is much better than it's been in previous years; perhaps the trend for sex scenes in books that really don't need them has passed, so the poorly written stuff hasn't reached print.

So my contenders from this year's crop: The Future Won’t Be Long by Jarett Kobek, and for what on earth is he going on about- it's sex not Meccano- The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet.

The results will be announced this coming Thursday (30th), and no doubt the winner will get a few extra sales as a result...

decision time...

Thursday 19 November 2015

This Year's Bad Sex in Fiction Shortlist- 2015...

Yes it's that time of year when the shortlist of the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction shortlist is revealed.

Now I have to admit that I thought Morrissey's 'List of the Lost' was guaranteed to win, as it was so excruciating- and he did make the final cut, so he's in the running.

But now, having read the other shortlisted entries, I don't think he has much to be concerned about...

I do wonder (just for a few mad moments) if editors of literary fiction ever have a conversation with their writers about making a mediocre sex scene awful instead, just in the hope of getting a bad sex nomination.

Many will have heard the saying: There is no such thing as bad publicity.

We all know how difficult it can be to get a book noticed among the myriad of other books. So how better to boost sales than by getting onto this shortlist- and even winning.

(No, of course not,  I was just letting my imagination get the better of my common sense.) :D

So this year's contenders are:

  • Morrissey - List of the Lost

  • Aleksandar Hemon - The Making of Zombie Wars.

  • Richard Bausch - Before, During, After.

  • Joshua Cohen - Book of Numbers. 

  • Erica Jong - Fear of Dying. 

  • Lauren Groff - Fates and Furies.

  • George Pelecanos - The Martini Shot. 

  • Tomas Espedal - Against Nature.

If you have a strong enough constitution you can read the extracts in this Daily Telegraph (books section) article.

If I had to choose it would be either, Fates and Furies, or Book of Numbers.

The winner is announced early December.

Thursday 13 November 2014

It's November So It's Bad Sex in Fiction Time...

I admit, I do enjoy reading about the shortlisted entries for the annual Bad Sex in Fiction award-the winner is announced 3rd December.

Some years the entries get more publicity than others, and I suspect 2014 might get more than usual as there are a few well known names among them: Kirsty Wark, Wilbur Smith and Michael Cunningham.

You can read the shortlisted entries in this Guardian article. You can even take part in their own vote on who you think should win.

If you have missed this before now, the Literary Review's purpose for the award- in it's 22nd year- is to bring attention to, "poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them."

Now admittedly, these extracts are only a small part of the book- I've just had to rewrite that sentence, as my original words sounded like a deliberate double entendre... :D

This year's nominees include Man Booker Prize winners, current and past; and a former winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Fortunately these high tokens of literary esteem don't take bad sex scenes into account in the judging process.

Having read through each extract in this Guardian article I went from thinking that Kirsty Wark's wasn't that bad, but as I read the rest it quickly became: good grief, that's really bad- and the really bad ones- five in my opinion.

My nominations for possible winners: 'From 'DD-MM-YY' In Things to Make and Break', by May-Lan Tan, and 'The Hormone Factory', by Saskia Goldschmidt.

You can find out more on the Literary Review webpage here.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Now to Writing the Love Scene...

I know I could leave this until later, but I write sequentially, whether it's a first or last draft...

So I'm now at that stage where my hero, Hugh, has resolved his conflict, and Sarah has remembered enough to make sense of the past, so getting the pair of them together shouldn't be difficult, should it?

The storm has made it easier to create the opportunity, but why do two confident people then suddenly turn shy!

I know some writers, and readers, prefer the action to stop at the bedroom door. I've no problem with that.

I think it really is about the characters and how they feel. If you know your characters well then you'll know what is right for them.

I've never had any doubts about my current couple in the novella, they've clearly been attracted to one another from the moment they met again; and as their relationship has progressed, on the few occasions they've been able to kiss you could see the lighted fuse slowly heading for the powder keg...

But give them the opportunity to be alone together and for Hugh to propose...

I really can't blame either of them for this temporary hiccup, as they've both got issues that they've had to deal with. And their story is set in a time when there were moral expectations for young women.

When I went back to the scene today they were making progress, but I think they will only let the reader stay for a while before they demand privacy; they'll tell me when enough is enough...

As the final part of tying up the past has still to be finished to reach the happy ever after (HEA) it will only need one more chapter to complete the draft.

I know I said Chapter 16 was going to be the last one, but I was wrong, it will definitely be Chapter 17. :D

I've no doubt that when I begin the second draft and put in the missing scenes, some of the current chapters will change number. I may even end up with a couple more than I have now...

Saturday 24 November 2012

December Approaches, So it Must be 'Britain's 'Most Dreaded Literary Prize'...

Time for the Literary Review's shortlist for the annual Bad Sex in Fiction award...

This is the 20th year, and the ceremony to announce the winner "for the most embarrassing passage of sexual description in a novel" will take place on Tuesday 4th December.

I do wonder if some authors don't leave these dreadful scenes in, rather than edit them to make them better, so they can improve their chance for the shortlist and get their book publicity - no actual cost in time or money needed. 

As it's really not bad publicity on the scale of everything that could be classed as bad publicity...

Others no doubt, just aren't very good at writing such scenes- though I'm sure they think they're okay at the time...

If you had the option, saying you did it deliberately is much better than admitting you write bad sex scenes... :-)

In a year that has seen the rise of 'Fifty Shades of Grey', you might expect the book to have been a sure-fire candidate. But no, and here's why.

"The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to the crude, badly written, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it. The prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature."

So that rules FSOG out...

There've been the usual newspaper articles mentioning names;  the shortlist includes the following: (if you've actually read any of them, and have an opinion, do please comment.)

  • The Yips by Nicola Barker
  • The Adventuress by Nicholas Coleridge
  • Infrared by Nancy Huston
  • Rare Earth by Paul Mason
  • Noughties by Ben Masters
  • The Quiddity of Will Self by Sam Mills
  • The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine
  • Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe

  • "For snippets from the shortlist, follow Literary Review's twitter account, @lit_review. The tweets are tagged as #LRBadSex2012."

    I'll definitely be following on Twitter...


    Saturday 21 July 2012

    Austen and Bronte Classics Turned into Erotica...

    No, I couldn't believe it either when I heard it, but sadly it is happening.

    The 50 Shades trend has now reached the literary classics: Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Jane Eyre. :(

    Now I've always thought there was an underlying sexual tension between the hero and heroine of these well-known novels; but that could just have been my imagination of course. :-)

    And this isn't the first time that Jane Austen's characters have been given new lives in other genres.

    There's been Mr Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange, and Vampire Darcy's Desire: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation by Regina Jeffers.

    Admittedly there's always been new stories or alternative versions of the original story- too numerous to mention.

    Even P. D. James (Baroness and a best-selling crime novelist) had a novel featuring Darcy and Elizabeth, Death Comes to Pemberley (published in 2011) which takes place six years after Pride and Prejudice, and features Lydia Wickham arriving on the eve of the annual ball declaring her husband-the scoundrel George Wickham- has been murdered.

    That I can accept. It's a new story-even though the characters were Jane Austen's invention.

    But honestly, an erotic makeover for Pride and Prejudice is so wrong.

    If you want to read an example- though the excerpts are quite tame- you should look at this piece from The Independent by Sherna Noah; and if you want to see the book covers, there's a gallery here.

    I have to say the covers wouldn't be too out of place among many of the historical romances from US publishers.

    Will I read any of them? I honestly don't know.
    If I could read a longer excerpt first I might consider reading the rest.

    It's sad that literary classics get mucked about with like this just to make money because erotica is the latest big selling trend.

    At heart I believe books should be published because they are good and readers will buy and enjoy them. But as a writer who lives in the real world I accept that this no longer seems to be the priority.

    Saturday 19 May 2012

    Kate Walker Workshop...

    My post is a little late because I've been at the Kate Walker workshop on Writing Romantic Fiction at Nottingham Writers' Club today.

    Thanks to everyone who took part, especially those who travelled a long distance to attend, and of course the brilliant, Kate Walker.

    I'm not telling you what I said that caused everyone to laugh or smile- I only realised what I'd said after the words had left my mouth- and it wasn't what I'd meant, but that's romance writers for you, quick witted... :-D

    I can assure you it was not just a roomful of women either, we also had four men there to learn about, or improve, their romance writing skills.

    We started with a few facts about getting romance published in today's markets- the words, marketing is 'cut-throat' was mentioned. And just as with genre fiction generally, the 'who can market you' is important- after all there's no point in producing a book for publication if you can't sell it.

    Writing a romance  requires characters, conflict, emotion and the HEA (happy ever after). And we looked at each element in more detail.

    I'd never thought about the readers expectations, but thinking about it, it makes sense. A romance wouldn't be satisfying if the two main protagonists could solve their problems easily and without any suffering.

    There was even a writing exercise, and we were soon being very creative- the only sound was pens on paper and pages turning.

    So here are a few of the snippets I learnt today:

    Setting is not just the background, but it can also be the stage that your character has reached in their life.

    'Feisty' is a current buzz word...

    PTQ- Page Turning Quality. 60% dialogue and 40% narrative.

    "Emotions don't have a logical basis, so can't be reasoned away."

    If there's a secret involved, write it from the point of view (POV) of the one who doesn't know it, as that makes the most of the emotional impact...

    BM and GM- Black Moment and Grey Moment- those points in a novel when things are looking bad, and possibly unrepairable. (I'd not heard these terms before.)

    There's a lot more but you'll have to go on one of Kate's workshops to find out more...

    And yes, sex did get mentioned briefly- we didn't have enough time to go into detail :-), but the scene must 'work' for you-have a purpose, as sexual intimacy can change everything (between the characters, their circumstances etc). We should also consider the emotional vulnerability of our characters at these times.

    I certainly learnt a lot to add to the mass of writing information I've already absorbed.

    Many of us bought books and Kate signed them for us. I got her '12 Point Guide to Writing Romance', now on it's Third Edition.

    But I must also thank Mills and Boon for providing a freebie book for everyone attending the workshop- Kate signed those too.

    And finally...

    There's a new term that I must share with you- you've heard of the slush pile (the hard copy type) well there's even a digital pile- manuscripts loaded onto an e-reader for an editor to read- it's 'slush Kindle'...

    Saturday 3 March 2012

    Infidelity and 'Forced Seduction' in Historical Romance Novels...

    I decided to blog about character behaviour after reading a couple of items on the Heroes and Heartbreakers website- they came up on Twitter links; then today I was in my local Waterstones branch glancing through a couple of new romances, and one of them brought these articles to mind.

    The issues of infidelity, and 'forced seduction' (so wrong, in so many ways) have more relevance to historical than contemporary romance fiction. And perhaps mostly related to books produced for the US romance market.

    A romance novel doesn't have to have a sex scene- or more than one of them- to make a good story with believable characters. But some of those characters will do it- it's part of who they are and it would be daft to deny it.

    Personally I consider it's up to the individual  author whether they show that aspects of their characters. In my stories, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. My characters are usually quite clear about that point in their developing relationship.

    Women today have freedoms and advantages that their sisters in earlier centuries didn't; so I don't feel it's right to apply modern day thinking to stories set in the past.

    So let's start with Infidelity.

    Here's Limecello's piece on the H&H website: 'When Going Strange...Isn’t: Adultery in Romance'.

    Read any social history of the aristocracy covering 200-300 years ago and you'll quickly discover that infidelity was accepted if it was carried out discreetly. A number of  younger aristocratic children were actually fathered by other men- not the man whose surname they carried through life.

    The ideal is fidelity within marriage- I believe in that myself. 

    But in the circumstances of the two novels mentioned in the article, I could understand and agree it's not infidelity- when both partners know and agree to the situation for their own reasons.

    Yes it goes against my personal view, but I can't impose my morality on another writer's characters/story.
    If a storyline offends me, or just doesn't appeal, then I won't buy the book.

    'Forced Seduction' is another thing entirely... It truly belongs in the past of the so called Bodice Rippers- horrid description.

    Here's a list on Amazon that gives you an idea of some of the titles from the last thirty years- and yes I can confirm that over the years I've read a few of them- especially those by Johanna Lindsey...

    Sexual violence against any woman is wrong. Sexual coercion is wrong. Seduction is not coercion.

    ( I'm not including erotica, bondage and associated preferences in this category, as it's legal and it's between consenting adults.)

    I have to say that the line between coercion and seduction can be very thin for some writers. As I saw today when I was looking through the improved romance section in my local Waterstones.

    I picked up a book by a US author whose name I recognised (but her stories have not appealed to me previously) and after reading the blurb on the back of the book, I did my standard routine of opening the book a couple of times at random pages and reading on.

    Unfortunately I found myself on part of the story where this very thin line between coercion and seduction was on show. Perhaps it was tied up with the author's word choices in that scene, but I decided not to buy it.

    Fortunately there are still a lot of good books from both the UK and US on the romance shelves that don't see the need to walk that fine line...

    Thursday 2 February 2012

    Reading Books and Symbols...

    Last year I decided to make an effort to broaden my range of reading and try books by authors whom friends had said they'd enjoyed.

    I start by reading one of the most recent books. If I can't finish the book then it's a bad sign, I won't be reading any more of their books...

    One of the books I bought for reading over the Christmas holidays on my e-reader was the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' by Trisha Ashley. And I really enjoyed the tale of a twice bereaved house-sitter who didn't celebrate Christmas, but ended up doing just that and with a happy ending...

    Actually I didn't get round to reading it until a couple of weeks ago, as once I'm in historical romance writing mode I will only read contemporary. And likewise if I'm trying to write a modern story, I'll happily immerse myself in an historical.

    So my latest purchase is Trisha Ashley's, 'Chocolate Wishes'. I'm looking forward to finding out about Chloe and her former love, Raffy, an ex-rock star who is now a vicar...

    But I was surprised to see some strange symbols on the back cover- the paperback is an HarperCollins Avon imprint.

    I'd never seen these Content Guide symbols before, so I was intrigued to look closer and see what they meant.

    Now 'Chocolate Wishes' has four symbols: linked hands which indicates Friendship; a statuette- think Oscar and you've got a good idea- which means Drama; a heart within a heart which obviously represents Love and a box with a tissue poking out to indicate Tear-jerker.

    (It doesn't feature in this book, but the symbol for Sex is what looks like lace-edged knickers... :-))

    Unlike age rating on Children's books that some publishers started to use a few years ago, I'm inclined to think this type of Content Guide is quite a good idea.

    I know cover design and the blurb will often indicate what sort of book it is, but it can sometimes be a bit difficult to tell when the latest trend in cover design changes to something completely different and slightly...obscure.

    I know that many readers of historical romances prefer novels without sex scenes, so I think content symbols would be very useful in this situation.

    Have you read any books that use similar content symbols, and what do you think about their use?

    Monday 13 June 2011

    Why Are Women's Magazines Stopping Short-Story Slots?

    If you're a regular reader of the Womag blog you'll already know that many short story markets have gone and others have restricted submissions to writers who have previously sold to that magazine.

    (I know I'm not the only who has yet to make that first womag sale, and now our options have been further limited by these changes.)

    There are overseas markets, but when you're still trying to get that  first sale, or further sales after that first acceptance, submitting to those other markets can be a little intimidating and daunting.

    So what is the reason for the decline in fiction slots? I would like to hear your views on this too.

    Personally I don't think it is just one thing...

    Look on any magazine shelf  stocking the weeklies and you'll see a good proportion with sometimes bizarre straplines- basically revealing the dirty laundry of  numerous women, who slept with their brother-in-law/ran off with their mother's boyfriend and so on.

    Then there are the celebrity gossip magazines spilling the latest on Cheryl Cole, or a television personality undergoing a trauma in their personal lives. Let's not even mention unfaithful footballers' illicit love-interests.

    Fact: Sex and celebrity sells.

    Publishers want their magazines to sell well, otherwise there's no point in employing all those people and with the increasing printing costs it would be cheaper to shut them down.

    So they must make money.

    Editors are under pressure to give the reader what they want; be it the latest miracle face cream, that must have accessory or outfit. The latest news on Eastenders or Coronation Street, or any other popular soap.
    And to keep up with the above mentioned gossip and 'real-life' stories.

    (Do you think these supposed real-life stories are there to make the reader feel better about their own lives?)

    Demographics- Many of the young aren't interested in reading the traditional end of the women's magazine market- they want the celebrity culture that they (perhaps) aspire to.

    So where will the future readers of short fiction come from?

    As a young woman I read Cosmopolitan, but I also read Woman and Woman's Own, and Woman's Realm (I think it became part of Woman's Weekly) not only for the articles but especially for the fiction.
    I could afford to buy that fiction at a time when there was less choice in book genre and the prices of those books available was  fixed.

    But today the choices for the young spending their money is immense, film releases, music and digital downloads, nightclubs, mobile phones that access the web and send e-mails and so much more.

    They aren't going to suddenly start picking up women's weeklies just because they (will eventually) hit 40...

    This may be a battle that writers cannot win.

    But if you're willing to try, pop over to Patsy Collins blog and follow her suggestion on her 11th June posting.

    There is news of a Facebook crusade on both Patsy's and Womag's blog, so follow the links above.

    Friday 3 June 2011

    Romance is Healthy- On the Page or Off...

    I've been reading romance books for many years - all I'm admitting to is that it started a long time ago...

    My long term relationship with romance novels really began when I picked up a Mills and Boon in my city centre library, from then on I was hooked.

    Recently Sally Quillford highlighted an article by Claudia Connell that featured in the Daily Mail. Sally rightly called it patronising and I agree with her, romance writers don't automatically wear twin sets and have blue rinses, or any of the other suggestions.

    Now the Guardian has an article discussing claims made by a religious Psychologist on the effect that reading romance books has on women- "women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books'  entrancing but distorted messages as men can be by the distorted messages of pornography".

    Romance books have always suffered disparaging comments, and the term 'bodice-rippers' usually features as it did in the Daily Mail article. Ripping bodices to me suggests aggressive sexual violence, that isn't romance.

    I don't see Psychologists suggesting that authors of crime novels are all balding nerds, dressed in black who really want to go out and murder numerous people in the most horrible ways possible...

    (Okay, I know I got carried away there, but you know what I'm saying.)

    Romance writers are inventive-I'm not even going to try counting how many sub-genres there are. They're smart, helpful, very knowledgeable and they like a happy ending.
    (In this current world that's something that should be applauded and encouraged.)

    Romance writers took on the challenge of e-books early and are getting the sales to prove it was a wise move.

    Your choice of romance reading can have the intimacy go on behind closed doors or in full view of the reader, but it is never tacky- porn is.

    To paraphrase something someone else said on the subject, what's so bad about love and monogamy?