I’m not new to writing… non-fiction. Fiction is a whole different story, pardon the pun. I was a little nervous about the editing process, because I knew I’d have to keep in mind that while my fiction work is personal, editorial suggestions are never personal. This is something easy to keep in mind when someone is editing one of my product reviews, but this story was a lot closer to my heart than a magazine article.
Also, there was the little matter of the sex. I may write erotica, but talking about sex doesn’t come easily to me at all. I am the queen of euphemisms when it comes to Down There and Making the Beast With Two Backs. What if we had to talk about the sex scenes? What if I had to explain my reasoning and defend my characterization? What if my editor thought the sex was silly or unappealing? And – EEK – what if my editor thought I had really done all that stuff?!
Kathleen Dienne: Putting the Erotic in Neurotic Since 2010.
Fortunately, my editor Melissa Johnson has done this before, even if I hadn’t. She was low key and matter of fact, and either I managed to keep a lid on the crazy or she was generous enough to pretend not to notice until I had myself under control.
And it turns out that I was worried over nothing. Editing a sex scene is no different from editing any other kind of scene. But there is something about the graphic nature of the material that inspires some crazy margin notes. We had one exchange that almost went longer than the page, regarding the horrible things our children have done to our bodies.
“Crepe belly. Hawt” is just one sample. It didn’t get better. As I told her, my son is the light of my life, and the reason I get dressed in the dark.
And yet we managed to keep the sex in the book hot enough to steam up the windows. It just goes to show you that despite real life hang-ups (and real life stretch marks), anything can happen – because the most important piece of sexual equipment is the mind.
Her Heart’s Divide, Excerpt #2 (edited to be totally safe for work and small children):
Safely in our bedroom, I leaned into my husband’s embrace with relief. “What the hell is going on, Ry?”
“I don’t know, babe. He seems fine, except that he really believes you two live here, and that it’s me who practically lives here on weekends instead of him and Allison.”
“It can’t be true.”
“I don’t see how it can be, but that doesn’t make it a lie.”
I stared at him. “If it’s not true, how is it not a lie?”
Ryan didn’t answer for a minute and kept stroking my hair. “Well, a lie is something you say even when you know the truth is something different. I think Jack’s telling the truth as he sees it. Plus, he’s never lied to either of us, ever.”
“Then he’s crazy. You can’t erase the last seven years like that.”
He chuckled. “You never wonder how things might have gone if you made a different choice?”
“Seems like a waste of time to…” My hot-tub fantasy sprang to mind, and I felt something twitch deep inside of me. “Okay, sure, everyone wonders now and again, but you don’t dwell on it if you’ve got your act together, and you don’t rewrite seven years of history.”
“Probably not. I just know that what he’s saying is impossible, and that he never, ever lies. So either he’s crazy, or we are, or something’s going on that I can’t see.” He took off his shirt, revealing the tight abs and pectorals of a man who works with his muscles every day. I whistled in appreciation and he winked.
“You are a gorgeous, gorgeous man.”
“Glad you think so, Mrs. Crosse.”
With our teeth brushed and all the other parts of the bedtime routine finished, we got into bed and looked out the picture window at the stars. The moon hadn’t yet risen, so I could barely see the outlines of the furniture on the part of the deck that ran outside our bedroom. I lay on my side, with my head pillowed on my husband’s strong arm. His crisp chest hair was a tactile joy, and I ran my free hand through it in slow circles. Occasionally I let my fingers wander down the trail to his taut belly and then combed them back upward. My hand seemed so small against the broad expanse of his torso. I felt him relax under my touch.
“Mmm. That’s nice.”
“I love your chest hair. I have no idea what I saw in all those hairless poster boys I hung on my walls in high school.”
“Your husband Jack doesn’t have much chest hair,” he teased.
I sniffed. “You’re not funny.”
“I’m very funny. You laugh at my jokes all the time.”
“That’s just to make you feel like a big man.”
“I am a big man.”
“Don’t brag.” My hand brushed over his body, and I felt him stir. “Okay, you’re not really bragging if you’re being descriptive.”
His laugh was low and sent a shiver through me. “You say the nicest things to me, Lila.” He reached over and traced a line down my ribs, into the valley of my waist and up over my hip.
I sighed. “Now, that’s nice.”
The calluses on his hand added a dimension to his tender exploration that I’d never felt with any other lover. Long, smooth strokes over my back, with small circles from his thumb added to my enjoyment.
“It’s too bad I can’t purr,” I whispered.
“Those little soft noises you make when I’m petting you are just as good,” he whispered back.
I’m not a slow woman when it comes to hints.
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