Thursday, August 23, 2018

Two Middle-aged Introverts write a Sex Scene (and ruin my childhood)

Catriona writes: Two swerves today, Mind Readers. One - I am bunking off. Two - honoured guests Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker aren't even answering the question! I can't imagine there will be any complaints because, instead, they are going there. Yep, it's fluttering curtains and tumbling puns as the double-booked tour tackles sex scenes..
And now over to Shannon and Jess.
Thanks to Catriona for inviting me, Shannon Baker, and Jess Lourey back for our Third Annual Lourey-Baker Double-Booked Blog Tour. We love you guys because your couch is the most comfortable and you don’t complain when Jess eats all the cheese. (Jess here: cheese is more addictive than heroin and I’m okay with that.)
Shannon’s newest page-turner in the Kate Fox mysteries, Bitter Rain,  and Mercy’s Chase ), the latest in Jess’ feminist thriller series that Lee Child calls “highly-recommended,” are available for preorder and will be released within days!
Make sure to read to the end for a chance to win a signed copy of both.

Shannon: One of the best things about being in a joint tour, apart from the fact that Jess is so darned fun to hang with, is that we take turns coming up with topics. And since this is our third tour, we’re trying not to revisit issues we’ve already covered. Which brings us to today’s topic, chosen by Jess. I don’t know what prompted her to think of this, but, as it turns out, writing sex scenes is a very real problem I’m struggling with right now. Jess, what is the real reason you came up with this? And did it involve wine?

Jess: I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that, but here’s the truth: I HATE writing sex scenes. I get squirmy and ashamed when I do it (not that it; the writing of it). I know you also struggle with writing them, Shannon, and so I figured we could talk it out and get each other over the hump, pun totally intended.

Shannon: Okay, so Immuna ‘fess up here. Not that it really needs forgiveness or confession. I’ve ventured into the romance genre and I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m of the opinion that writing romance is like having an affair. If you can’t say it out loud, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Even if I do write under an alias: Shanen Black.

Having said that, I’ll admit that my books make me blush. I don’t have any trouble channeling my inner romantic side, and even writing to market by using the tropes romance readers expect. But I accidently fell into writing steamy romance because a friend encouraged me. Steamy makes me squirm. (Jess here: I have to note that we both used the word “squirm” in talking about writing sex scenes. Any therapists reading this? Please diagnose us below.)

A friend tempted me with writing romance because she’s so successful with it and because I told her I want to learn to write better emotion. She offered to  partner with me, mostly to teach me the ropes about indie pubbing. It’s a good thing she did because, turns out, writing steamy sex scenes is not my strong suit. It’s like in real life for me, I’m much more comfortable closing the door. What about you, Jess? Do you write good sex?

Jess: I recently got the rights back to my Mira James Mysteries, and reading them over, I was delighted to find that while it was incredibly uncomfortable to write the steamy scenes in those books, they’re pretty awesome. I loved rereading them! So yeah, I think I do write good sex. I now need to figure out how to write more of it. Do you have any tips?

Shannon: My writing partner read my first sex scene and told me that until I was comfortable using the words “p*ss*, and *co**,” I’d never make it in the steamy world. She insisted I could not use Mr. Happy and “my secret place,” instead. (True story.) I tried, bless my heart. Finally, with infinite patience (in email, because I don’t know what kind of fits she was throwing in real life) she said just leave the spot blank and she’d write those scenes.
Sometimes, when I can’t bring myself to find different words for “hard” and “wet” (seriously, think about it) I’ll leave the scene blank for her and write “pound, pound, pant, pant,” and move on. She’s pretty good at filling in the blanks.
Because I don’t want to give up, I still try to write most of those scenes, though. She edits them and makes them… more robust.

Jess: Okay, it’s hard to type while I’m laughing. I think “Mr. Happy Goes Camping in My Secret Place” was a popular children’s book back in the day? To be fair, I’ve never written explicit sex scenes and would have no idea how to do it. I’ll have to read your upcoming release to see how to do it. (Shannon here: not upcoming at all. One released at the end of June, one at the end of July, the next at the end of October, a novella in November, and one planned for January. I’m (ahem) pumping them out.)
Shannon: A writer I know said to me once, “Did you notice how I write my fight scenes? I write them like sex scenes.” I walked away confused by what she meant. But I’m wondering now that since I’ve written lots of fights and action, if I ought to write my sex scenes like fight scenes. Still not sure what that means, but it might take me from the label of steamy romance into BDSM.

Jess: Do you think she meant to write it like a dance, with give and take and tandem movement, rather than to literally throw punches? In any case, I’ve begun outlining April Fools, which is to be the final book in my Mira James Mysteries. I make a promise to myself (and to you, dear reader) that I will put at least three sex scenes in that book. And…drum rollllll…I swear to god I’m going to use “Mr. Happy” and “My Secret Place” because that’s too beautiful to waste.

What about you, dear reader, do you enjoy reading/writing sex scenes and on the scale from closed door to erotica, where do you make your bed?

We are each giving away three signed books on the Lourey/Baker Double-Booked Tour. To enter to win, sign up for our newsletter!
       Jess Lourey newsletter sign-up (when you sign up, you’ll automatically receive a free copy of May Day, the first in Jess’ comic caper mysteries):
       Shannon Baker newsletter sign-up (when you sign up you’ll receive a free Kate short story):
For every comment you make along our tour stop, you’ll get another entry in the contest. Don’t be shy; we love talking to you.


August 23: "Two Middle-aged Introverts Write a Sex Scene" on Criminal Minds
August 26: "Write What You Fear" on Writer Unboxed
August 27: "The Five Stages of Author Grief" on BOLO Books
August 29: "Tools and Tricks that Changed the Game" on Femmes Fatales
August 31: "Write a Great Scene" on Fiction University
September 2: “Author Interview” on Jess Lourey
September 4: "The Unexpected Places Authors Get Their Ideas" on Wicked Cozy Authors
September 8: "A Day in the Life of Our Characters" on Dru’s Book Musings
September 13: "Most Embarrassing Author Moment" on Jungle Red Writers
September 26: "Create an Author Persona" on The Creative Penn
TBA: “More than the Sum of Our Parts” on Career Authors
Shannon Baker is author of the Kate Fox mystery series set in rural Nebraska cattle country, and the Nora Abbott mystery series, fast-paced mix of Hopi Indian mysticism, environmental issues, and murder. Now a resident of Tucson, Baker spent 20 years in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. She is proud to have been chosen Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2014 and 2017 Writer of the Year.
 A lover of the outdoors, she can be found backpacking in the Rockies, traipsing to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, skiing mountains and plains, kayaking lakes, hiking, cycling, and scuba diving whenever she gets the chance. Arizona sunsets notwithstanding, Baker is, and always will be, a Nebraska Husker. Go Big Red. Visit Shannon at  Bitter Rain is an August release.
Jess Lourey (rhymes with “dowry”) is an Anthony, Lefty, and Agatha-nominated author best known for her critically-acclaimed Mira James Mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing “a splendid mix of humor and suspense.” She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft’s Excellence in Teaching fellowship, a regular Psychology Today blogger, and a sought-after workshop leader and keynote speaker who delivered the 2016 “Rewrite Your Life” TEDx Talk. Mercy’s Chase, the second in the feminist thriller series Lee Child calls “highly recommended,” releases September 8. You can find out more at


J said...

I don't understand why mystery authors think that these scenes are required. If I'm reading a mystery, I just want to know "whodunnit" . I don't care who "did it", and I certainly don't want the messy details.

Ann said...

I don't mind sex scenes except those in bodice rippers, which are pure crap in my estimation. Am I allowed to say crap here? On the other hand, I haven't read a bodice ripper in forty years or so, so what do I know?

Keep on doing what you do. Part of the mystery in a mystery novel is keeping some things a mystery.

Now, where do I sign up for my free autographed copy of BITTER RAIN and MERCY'S CHASE?

Love, you4 fav fangirl who won't be at BCon because she'll be in England.

Lyda McPherson said...

Good Morning: Welcome to you both. Jess, I was fortunate to attend your workshop in No. Hollywood last year hosted by the Sisters In Crime LA. Loved it! Shannon, I've not had the pleasure of meeting you but if you're hanging with Jess and Catriona, well... we're known by the company we keep so come on it. I'd like to ask a question of you both. What are the alternate names that you publish under? Which of your titles (series?) are self published?

Shannon Baker said...

Thanks to Criminal Minds for letting us start our Double Booked Tour with you. J--I've successfully navigated through 6 mtsteries without putting in a sex scene... yet. One woman from my hometown library in Nebraska figured out email to tell me she was glad I didn't include "all that dirty stuff." It's all preference. If Kate continues, she's gonna have to do it. It's part of her arc.

Ann--we fangirl back at you! I'm not going to be at B'con either. England sounds wonderful. I'll be in Denver at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference.

Hi Lyda. Yeah, I'm pretty lucky to get to call these women friends! My two series (Nora Abbott and Kate Fox) are both traditionally pubbed. My romance titles under Shanen Black are indie. And with Bitter Rain, I'm going indie under my own name.

Shannon Baker said...

Also... just wanted to add that Forge (the publisher for the first two Kate Fox books, Stripped Bare and Dark Signal) is dropping the price of the digital Stripped Bare to $2.99 for September. Get in while the getting is good!

Jessica Lourey said...

Good morning, all! Ann, you are entered to win, AND you get to go to England. Woot! What are you going to be doing there? And hello, Lyda! Are you coming to the October Sisters in Crime event where both Catriona and I will be leading workshops? Looks like it'll be a fantastic day:

Gram said...

Thanks for the interest talk. I too like sex scenes behind the closed door or as they used to do in movies a fade-out. Looking forward to Mercy's Chase. I will look for the Kate Fox books at my library.

Jessica Lourey said...

Gram, thank you so much for stopping by, and for sharing your reading preferences in regards to this topic (I totally get it), and for your kind words!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Ooh, ooh, I want to go to the NorCal event! I'm finishing Quiet Neighbors right now, and am trying to catch up in order on all the Mira James novels before April Rain?/Showers? comes out. Just about to read Shannon's story.
Jess, your Mira series is a lesson for those of us trying to amp our humor. And both of you, loved this topic and the post. It was a hard one, heh, heh. I don't see how you can best it in future. Have a fun tour.
By the way, I enjoy sex scenes in mysteries. And in romances. Oh, and in life! But writing them makes me blush, too.

Unknown said...

Dears Jess, Shannon and Catriona, Like your writing (even when it's about death), sex is life affirming! Also, sex sells. Outlander anyone? Single women enjoy this stuff so write on.

Shannon Baker said...

Hi Gram--thanks for your continued support! You've traveled with us for every Double-Booked Tour and we appreciate that!
Thanks, Kathy. We are going to talk about all kinds of things, so stick with us! You should try to make it to NoCal, even though it's a slog from Tucson.
Ah, Laura, you're the most supportive person! I just read that Outlander is the most unfinished book according to Goodreads. I finished it and liked it!

Cathy Ace said...

Great to have you drop by - and thanks for a super piece :-) Good luck with everything you're doing!

Jess Lourey said...

Thank you, Cathy and Laura, for your kind support! And Kathy, you nailed it (heh heh). :)

Bethany K. Warner said...

I think sex in fiction is like anything else. If it advances or shows character or plot or gives somebody motivation for future actions, it's great. When it's gratuitous, I'm happy skipping it. Also, romantic suspense (as a genre) sort of cracks me up, because they usually have strong mystery/thriller plots but the sexy-chisled-jaw sheriff/racecar driver/NAVY SEAL suddenly has to have lovins' with the perky (or damaged) profiler/child kidnapping survivor/bank teller who is the female lead, right before putting the hurt on the bad guys.... and even then, I'll still read them sometimes when I want a brain candy book.

Jess Lourey said...

BETHANY, you said it all perfectly. Thank you.

James W. Ziskin said...

Shannon and Jess,


Back to your regular programming now,


Jess Lourey said...

Hahaha! Thank you for the required shaming, Jim. Our souls are cleansed, and we're back at it!

Shannon Baker said...

Ellie Stone would not be shaming us! She'd be egging us on. Throw open those doors!

Ann said...

Xox. My daughter lives in Chester so lotsa dayvtripping from there. Plus Oxford. Wanna come?

Jess Lourey said...

I wish, Ann! Safe travels. That sounds fantastic.

Grandma Cootie said...

Laughing out loud, and the books are great!

Jess Lourey said...

Yay! Thank you, Grandma Cootie! :)

Brian Cornell said...

As a non-writer I am rather an outsider on this thread. However, I am curious about your process of "character development" with
a romantically involved couple. At what point in your writing do you decide whether to write their relationship as friction or non-friction?

Unknown said...

As a non-writer I am rather an outsider on this thread. However, I am curious about your process of "character development" with
a romantically involved couple. At what point in your writing do you decide whether to write their relationship as friction or non-friction?

Jess Lourey said...

Hi, Brian! I'm going on the assumption you really did mean "friction" and not "fiction," :) and responding with this: fiction is, at its heart, about conflict. There has to be friction as it is where our characters are tempered and grow. So far, that's meant that any peace in romantic relationships in my books is short-lived. Maybe I'll mellow on that as I age.

Unknown said...

Hey Jess,
Thanks for the intellectual response. I was, though ( because I am a heathen) using the term “friction” in a more euphemistic (or ribald)
manner. More like “friction”. Like when know, like when two things (bodies, as an example) are being vigorously rubbed together 🙄.