Let’s talk about sex, baby!

OK, so you’re writing a romance novel. Obviously there are lingering glances and touches and sighs. And of course, there’s Lurve (note the capital L). But what do you do about sex? Do you write a sweet style romance where the bedroom door is firmly closed with the reader on one side and our heroes getting their happy ever after on the other side? Or do you write a saucy and salacious erotic novel with a bit more slap than tickle?

When we first wrote Yesterday’s Shadows, it was with the intention of entering it into the Clendon Awards. We already knew our story was a paranormal romance and that affected both the word count we could have and also to some extent the amount of sex. We didn’t think our story was a 55,000-word ‘category’ type romance so that was out. It was suggested that we might have a single title stand alone novel which doesn’t have a category. Convention with a single title is that they are about 75,000-100,000 words and generally there is some sex in them before the protagonists have their happy ever after.

Funnily enough, Sam and Christa’s first sex scene was the very first scene that Caro wrote. She wrote it eyes closed, blushing furiously and feeling VERY uncomfortable indeed. I blushed reading it! Then it came my turn to write one – I’d done lots of the longing glances and sighs and small fantasies, but writing a whole sex scene is very different. Much like Caro I did it eyes closed, and terribly embarrassed.

With practice, writing sex scenes did get easier, and actually Verity and Noah’s sex scenes (including one memorable garden scene and an even more memorable dream sequence) mostly wrote themselves.

The hero and heroine of our new book get together extremely fast. In fact we’d written the sex scene and outlined the first couple of chapters before we finished Noah and Verity’s story. But actually getting our heroes together properly and having a truly meaningful love scene? That proved extremely difficult and we were a LONG way through their story before it happened (yes, there’s a big spoiler that you’ll have to be a bit more patient this time – but it’s worth it!). Caro couldn’t proof read it after she’d written it and had to send it through to me to look at.

Romance readers seem to be divided about sex – how much is too much? When is the story sacrificed to too many sex scenes? I know some of the Clendon readers were deeply uncomfortable with how much sex we had, but we felt the balance was about right.

What are your thoughts? Sex? No sex?

No Sex Here

***Disclaimer – at least some of our embarrassment is knowing that at least one of our parents, siblings and/or in-laws is likely to read anything we write (they’re kind that way). Also, people we ACTUALLY KNOW, IN REAL LIFE, are kind enough to support us by buying our books. And some of them read them as well. We worry sometimes that they might start looking at us a bit funny…



Weird and wonderful…your week’s links

Last week we were discussing what we should choose as our topic for this week’s blog. I was obviously having a moment and I suggested the History of Carrots which I discovered years ago on a slow day at work – truly it is very interesting, feel free to check it out.

Although that was a flippant response, it got us thinking about all the things we have had to either learn or fact check  while writing. Evidently, our characters know a lot of stuff about things we didn’t. The following is not an exhaustive list but gives you some idea of what we have had to be able to write about knowledgeably on topics we had never been particularly familiar with, and some of the links we found useful:

We save everything in our ‘Bible’ so (hopefully) we get our facts right and weave them in seamlessly to our narrative as and when required. It also means we can revisit information when needed. This is also where we have our list of bit characters and a short precis about them, where they fit in and potential story arcs/ideas.

It’s research but it’s so much fun that often it feels like skiving off and sometimes we just end up in the oddest places, like all the things you never knew about carrots, including Giant CarrotsGhost Bath Houses of Paris, weasel trivia and the most adorable cats in the world.







What would your karaoke anthem be?

Amidst all the drama, trauma, tears, angst and unrequited love we put our characters through, sometimes we like to let them let loose to have a little fun. So it was that six of the characters in book 3 have a great night out at a karaoke bar!

We had a lot of fun researching the top 50 karaoke hits of all time, and then proceeding to work out which songs we would sing at a karaoke bar (Caro says she wouldn’t but we all know how well she sings, so maybe a field trip for research is on the cards in the not-so-distant future!).

We decided against such gems as ‘Born in the USA’ (Caro and Bruce Springsteen are not the best of chums), ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon’ (utterly too cheesy) the TNMT theme (heroes in a half-shell may not resonate with people of a certain age) ‘I’m Mandy fly me’ by 10CC (I’d never heard it), Barry Manilow’s ‘Mandy’ (also too cheesy) ‘S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!’ by Bay City Rollers – too repetitive, anything by One Direction, the Macarena, These Boots are Made For Walking – good fun but done to death. We liked A Whiter Shade of Pale, The Night Chicago Died, Born to be Wild, Love Shack, The Lion Sleeps Tonight and various others but discarded them as being actually too hard to sing. Well, the choruses were easy enough but neither of us knew the verses…

We then tormented some of my children with various songs – if they were lucky, it was YouTube, but many of them were sung by us. Do you know they hadn’t heard Dreadlock Holiday by 10CC until we played it for them? Clearly a lack in their musical education!

To find out what the men sing, what the women sing, and what they sing together you’ll have to buy the book when it comes out!!

In the meantime, Caro and I have picked our go-to karaoke songs. Caro would take on Alison Moyet’s ‘That Old Devil Called Love’. I would go for ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ by Bonnie Tyler, which I would do very badly, or Bohemian Rhapsody, which I would do even more badly.

Or maybe my current ear worm, not something to be easily sung on a karaoke night, but I reckon I could have  go (the children are cringing at the mere thought)!Disturbed


Tupperware – and Robin Chadwick

We’ve had a lot of changes recently, some good and some not so good – although there are silver linings to all things, right? I must confess, I wasn’t quite so optimistic when I (Caroline) was made redundant a couple of weeks ago but now, OMG, life is opening up to a brave new world and I’ve heaps more time to write too!

So it was lovely to go along to a Tupperware party at Lisa’s on Saturday afternoon where we caught up with some old friends and met some new ones while enjoying a stellar afternoon tea*, in the patio lovingly created (and cleaned up!) by Stephen (aka the camera slave). The lovely Morgan (who gave us our writing surname) arranged the food so it looked beautiful as well as making cupcake frosting in a Tupperware doodah at no notice.

Along with lemonade and cream scones with jam and cream, club sandwiches, mini quiches, cup cakes, Hershey’s kiss meringues (Lisa’s secret recipe, although she says it is Jo Seagar’s in fact) and the best shortbread I’ve ever tasted (lemon and cardamom), our demonstrator Wendy was great and I broke my NO BUY rule and bought, not just one thing, but THREE + a mystery pack so have joined the ranks of the Tuppersluts…I believe I have even put my hand up to have a party at my place in the future but I’m only doing it so Lisa gets all her hostess goodies – I SWEAR 🙂

Anyway, the Tupperware party theme inspired a scene in book three, Out of the Shadows, where our spiky heroine meets and makes some good friends who have already popped up elsewhere in the series and demanded their own story down the track. Fisherman’s Creek is a very small town so it should come as no surprise to us when we discover the links between some of our characters. You’d think we were in control of who populates our world of Shadows but somehow, these people take on a life of their own.

One of Lisa’s favourite authors, Suzanne Brockmann, has also had a similar experience, where secondary characters she has been developing through multiple books suddenly pop up demanding their own ‘happy ever after’ well before it’s supposed to happen. (Lisa is calling out “Robin Chadwick, I’m talkin’ about YOU!”). She’s written a fantastic and funny article about it here.

We have also heard Nalini Singh talk about this so there is some comfort in knowing that we are in good company when our cast misbehaves and takes control of their own fate. And sometimes, people just pop out of the woodwork – wait until you all meet Joe! And those of you lucky ladies who were at the real life Tupperware party, who knows, you may find someone you recognise when we finally publish Jaime’s story.

*If you’d like recipes for any of the afternoon tea food, just comment below!

The last, lonely remnant of the afternoon tea…

Sugar and spice and all things nice…

FemaleWe’ve already told you that we didn’t like alpha males. If there’s one thing we like less, it’s weak simpering giggly girly heroines. Flawed, for sure, and sometimes foolish, but consistent and never stupid.

Writing that is harder than it sounds. We’d decided to make Sam a bit of a SNAG and not especially practical and thought we’d really like a heroine who could fix her own house. One who wore a tool belt, was really good at her job, but wasn’t your stereotypical girl. Combine that with our setting of an old house and Christa very quickly identified herself as a builder. We like to think she gets confused, but that she’s a good mother, independent, sexy and has a great sense of humour. She’s also fiercely loyal and sensible, for the most part. She is scared though – after losing a great love, she’s not sure she’s brave enough to be that vulnerable again.

Verity is completely different. She’s really brave, but also flirty, floaty and frivolous! She’s a real girly girl and revels in it. She’s also had a huge number of career changes and amongst their group there’s a general perception that she’s completely impractical and can’t stick to anything for more than five minutes. That’s a misconception really, as she has studied and built a successful business. She’s quite private and quite modest. And also, very open to the paranormal, which she’s dabbled. She’s very smart and reads extensively across a huge range of subject areas. She presents as a bit of a rainbows and unicorns person and does have that sense of wonder, but underneath it all she’s got a backbone of steel.

Jaime was harder. Caroline didn’t like her for a long time, which was unfortunate as I had a very clear picture of her in my mind. This was great though because in order for us to tell Jaime’s story, she had to become more likeable. Hopefully, you’ll find that she grows on you as she radically changes and grows through the book.

Another thing we were really keen on was real people. No Greek shipping tycoons or virgin princesses or Celtic heroes or witches for us. Nope. We have builders, gardeners, history professors, electricians and actresses. Oh wait, how did that last one happen? Oh well, Jaime wrote herself a part – originally Noah and Christa did not have a younger sister and then BOOM, there she was, acting in a long-running soap in the UK.

We have a couple of heroines on the boiler. They’re quite different to Christa, Verity and Jaime, but appeared unexpectedly with their own back story and we found that we had to spend an evening plotting out book four (aka shutting up the next heroine for long enough to concentrate on the current one) when we were supposed to be writing book three! You have met both of them already, and at least one of their suitors.

We’d love to hear what you look for in a heroine – do you like them to have an extraordinary life and be something out of a story, or do you prefer someone a bit more real and down-to-earth?

Caro and Lisa
Here we are being very flash out to dinner in town, drinking very nice cocktails. Probably doesn’t happen as often as it should…