Jul 222014

One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. In this last post of our “Putting the Romance into Your Sex Scenes” series, romance author Angelica French will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first-ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.


By Angelica French

I have to learn not to take umbrage. I get it a lot—the sly winks, the horrified looks, the gasps. The queries: How does it feel to write smut? Dirty books? Trash?

I love writing sex scenes. Yeah, I do. Maybe because I like sex so much. Maybe because I feel that sex in all its infinite forms is essential to what it means to be human.

To write sex scenes, I must become a character. I imagine the touches, the emotions, the sounds and smells. I use touch to experience what I am writing so I can capture the sensations accurately. Hubs loves my “research”!

But I do not write smut/dirty books/trash. I write stories about people struggling with the same issues they struggle with in non-erotic romance—it’s just that I add in the very real component of their sex lives as well. This makes some people uncomfortable.

In my erotic romance, Streetwalker, protagonist Carrie wrestles with heavy stuff. She is a victim who refuses to be one—but her refusal doesn’t change the fact that she is, nonetheless, affected by past events—and lives the life she does because of it. Streetwalker is, at heart, is a story of redemption, recovery and renewal. But if you didn’t get past the first page where she is bored while servicing a john, you might not know that.

Streetwalker includes sex scenes and romantic sexual encounters. The difference? To me, sex scenes focus on physical acts in themselves. Romantic sexual encounters focus on emotions.

I included kinky sex, BDSM, straight sex, same-gender sex, and other incarnations of The Act(s). Each of the scenes I wrote, whether tender romance or sex-to-humiliate was difficult in its own way.

In writing about sex, the author has to understand and relate so many aspects of the human psyche. How does it feel to hurt and enjoy the act of hurting? How does it feel to want your beloved to step on your back while you crawl around a room? How does it feel when your heart is uplifted and expanded by someone’s touch—be it gentle or aggressive, tentative or commanding?

How does it feel to try to connect soul and body while making love?


After 39 years as an educator, Angelica French “transitioned” to the life of full-time fiction writer. She’s an intrepid cook, game-player, and miniatures lover. She writes culinary mysteries, women’s fiction, historical fiction, short stories, plays, and erotic romance. Angelica has lived in every region of the country except the Pacific Northwest and has loved every single one of them. Her current favorite region is the desert Southwest. She is married to the most extraordinary man and has four children, one daughter-in-law, a grandson, and a dog named Maudie.

For more information Angelica French and her premiere novel, Streetwalker, check out her Guest Author Interview with Romance blog Happily Ever After Thoughts!


Jul 072014

One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.


By Gianna Simone

No question erotic romance has come a tremendously long way in a short period of time—and in my opinion, it’s about damn time! There’s nothing better than a wrenching love story accompanied by scorching sex.

Despite its rise to prominence, though, erotic romance has a major hurdle yet to clear: a misconception that if it’s erotic, a story is “no better than porn.” Everyone who writes erotic romance has likely, at one time or another, been on the receiving end of varying degrees of disdain. I am no exception, having had a similar phrase directed at me very recently. The word “porn” on its own draws very visceral reactions, and from what I’ve experienced, those reactions tend to be on opposite ends of a spectrum. You either love it or you loathe it. One of the latest catchphrases to describe erotic romance is “Mommy Porn”—which, by the way, I happen to despise. It arose from the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, and seems to me to be a mocking term to refer to the millions of women who were awed by this story, thinking it the be-all and end-all of kinky sex books. Others think “Mommy Porn” is a great way to describe a sexy, erotic love story.

Maybe this is part of my social conditioning, but I’ve found that the word porn suggests to many people—myself included—a certain degradation of the women involved. From my perspective, porn reflects a lack of respect for women. Others will argue with this of course, and that’s okay. Everyone has their own tastes and opinions, and even the porn itself varies (at least a little) in this regard.

Certainly, rough and raunchy sex can be a part of great romance. Especially since for those involved, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. But when reading erotic romance, I prefer something else with that sex—the connection between two (or more) characters that transcends the physical dynamite, where they bond on a far deeper level. Emotionally, intellectually, passionately. It’s sort of become a cliché these days, but there is truth in it—the brain really is a very powerful sex organ. It goes beyond finding someone attractive in the physical sense, and that connection the characters make, to me, enhances the physical side of things. Pleasure is fun for the sake of pleasure, but reach a common point on an intellectual and emotional level, and the pleasure skyrockets!

That’s why romance in all its various forms has always been my favorite genre. At its core, beyond the sexual aspect, a romance is simply a love story. When people fall in love, there’s a joining that goes beyond the tangible, physical level, and to me that is the thread that makes romance a compelling read. There are so many layers to that bond: a need to protect, care for and about, and genuine interest and support for what the other person does and is interested in. Peeling back those layers, as the characters discover them, adds to the obvious appeal of the sexual relationship. Each person continues to learn things about the other that has nothing to do with sex, but tightens the that bond regardless.

For me, the most compelling way to touch on those parts of the relationship is quite simply, emotion. Sex alone does not make a romantic relationship—whether it’s vanilla, kink-lite, or hardcore BDSM. Emotion is the mortar that holds the bricks of the physical side of a relationship together. Of course, in a love story, nothing is ever quite that simple.

Keeping that emotional tension and connection high in a love scene isn’t always easy. In a love scene, the characters already have an unspoken yet intense conversation going on. I tend to focus on a character’s reactions, both physical and internal, to bring out the emotional tension as the scene progresses. Sure, there’s longing and desire, but there’s also excitement, security, trust, worry, apprehension and a host of other things racing through their minds. Yes, eye contact can convey a lot of those feelings, and certainly words can as well, but sometimes there simply isn’t a way to accurately vocalize what someone’s experiencing during an intense sexual encounter. Non-verbal cues such as a lingering caress, accompanied by a piercing stare and a fierce kiss, or a gentle squeeze of a hand, can be key to showing what’s in the characters’ heads while adding another layer to the lovemaking. Each partner’s delight in the other’s reactions show that these two people care for one another’s well-being and pleasure, not just their own immediate gratification.

In Prince of the Universe, Merry suffered badly at the hands of an alien from the planet Aldarra. When another Aldarran, Prince Vega, shows up on earth, she wants him out of her life ASAP. Vega is not quite sure what Merry’s been though, but he is determined to get past it and show her the passion they can share. Here’s an example of how aware he is of her emotions, and how he reassures her not to be afraid. Slowly, she begins to trust him, even if only a little:


Vega took Merry’s hands and placed them on the bed beside her. “I will not restrain you, but you must keep your hands here. Do not move them.”

She squeezed her eyes shut for a few moments, and another tear broke free. When she spoke, her voice quivered with fear. “I don’t know.”

“You can do this.” He ran a finger down her nose and she opened her eyes. The terror had eased, but a trace still lingered.

He would banish her fear, would show her that to give herself to him in this way was pleasurable, that he would take care of her needs and not harm her. He began by gently caressing her cheek, wiping away the tear that escaped her clenched eyelids. He continued tenderly stroking her face, her hair. He leaned over, and followed the path of his fingers with his mouth, smoothing soft kisses along her cheeks and forehead, brushing across her closed eyelids. The stiffness slowly left her body and he leaned close to her ear, nibbling lightly at the delicate skin. Her body once more began to quiver, but he no longer detected terror. Apprehension perhaps, but even that slowly faded. Her fingers clutched at the sheets, and he smiled at her efforts to obey his instruction.

He licked around the edge of her ear, and the thought he wanted her to do the same to him flashed in his thoughts. His own ears, with their contours so different from a human’s, were a very powerful erogenous zone. Did Merry get the same excitement he did from the act of having her ears licked? He repeated the motion, supremely pleased when she gave a little moan. He drew away to study her. The flush of passion stained her cheeks and a shuddering breath rippled through her, the pulse at the base of her neck jumping. He pressed his mouth to the spot, the taste of her perspiration sweeter than drucaray, his favorite sugary treat back home. He licked the spot and moved his mouth along her throat. The trembling that overtook her told him he had broken through her fear. His cock throbbed. Soon she would beg him.

He lowered his hands slowly to her breasts, and touched her with soft caresses until a moan escaped. Her eyelids fluttered, and she focused an unsteady stare on him. The haze in her eyes now came from passion, and his body heated in response.

Some uneasiness still lurked under her desire, waiting for the right prompt to free it and destroy the pleasure she felt. He needed to utterly extinguish every trace of her fright before he could see to pleasuring them both.

“Vega?” A tremor of agitation laced her voice.

“Do not fear.” He realized his expression of concern may have revealed his anger at the way she’d been previously treated. Forcing a softened countenance to his face, he resumed caressing her breasts, trailing his fingers around her nipples until they hardened and stood up straight. He pinched them, and drew a groan from her. He rolled the pebbled buds in his fingers and a fierce quiver swept over her. When she pushed into his hands, giving him more of her flesh to touch, he lowered his head and licked one hard nipple.

She squirmed when he sucked the tip deep into his mouth, lightly grazing her with his teeth. Her flesh writhing against his drove his need to a new level of torment. A low moan escaped her and her wiggling grew more intense, her hips undulating against him. Her response pleased him, and sent a bolt of delight sizzling through him, settling with ferocity in his now excruciatingly hard cock.


So there you have the physical sexual connection, and an emotional bond that arises from one partner caring about what the other feels. When I read an erotic romance, those are the things I’m looking for—the things that will not only get my body hot and flustered, but touch my heart as well.


Gianna Simone writes erotic BDSM-themed romance novels in just about every genre. A born-and-bred Jersey Girl with Brooklyn roots, she still lives where it all started. She married her very own alpha male many eons ago, and still has plenty of passion left over to read and write hot, sexy and emotional stories about people both glamorous and not-so-glamorous. And some of them are even downright un-heroic, which is part of what makes them so sexy, in her opinion!

You can find Gianna at her blog and her books at her Amazon Author page.



Jun 302014

One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.


By MJ Flournoy

Back in the day, certain genres were geared exclusively to the male reader. The language was coarse, graphic and to the point—no flowery language, no building of sexual tension. That old adage, slam bam, thank you ma’am, pretty much summed it up.

Today, readers expect more, demand more and, of course, receive more. While early examples of male-oriented porn insisted on “just the facts, ma’am”, modern readers expect the genre to deliver the same erotic punch, but with heightened sexual tension. The genre has moved from behind the counter and under young men’s mattresses into the cultural mainstream as writers have increasingly described sex with excitement, passion and titillation—all while pulling the reader right into the action.

I much prefer to write love scenes than sex scenes. Does that mean the characters must be in love to engage in sexual activity? Not at all. It means the writing must engage the reader by considering all the senses, rather than limiting the scene to physical actions. Our readers have become connoisseurs of fine erotic literature. They want to feel the sexual tension, to enjoy the sensual tease of anticipation, to explore with the characters the pleasure of the sexual experience.

In my writing I seek to deliver the passion, tension and pleasure of an erotic encounter that will pull you into the emotional, sensual, tactile arousal of the characters—you should enjoy the experience along with them. The emotions and feelings of the fictional people in whom you’ve invested your time deliver as much or more erotic stimulation than graphic language in itself. The reader, when pulled into the scene with deep characterization, feels, experiences, and enjoys the masterful touch of a skilled lover.

Words are my tools and my palette to make these scenes come alive for readers. Describing sexual acts—especially the one known by most people as the sex act—in coarse graphic detail is easy, using words to evoke an erotic image in the reader’s mind isn’t. Graphic language detracts from the mood of the scene. Throwing the f-bomb around doesn’t measure up as erotic to me. I prefer to use more descriptive language that appeals to the senses and stirs up a vicarious emotional and physical experience. I want my readers to feel the romance inherent to the sex, not just witness it from a detached remove. After all, the characters aren’t just “going through the motions”—and neither should the reader.

A Matter of Trust

In this scene from my novel A Matter of Trust, we find Jolie suffering from shock after experiencing a vision foretelling her own death. She touches Mac seeking reassurance from his physical form. It is in reaching out and connecting with him that she pushes the darkness away and restores the equilibrium to her world. Their joining is an affirmation of life and living.

Excerpt: A Matter of Trust

“It’s over, the danger’s gone.” Mac continued to stroke her back holding her, cradling her against his chest.

“The house exploded, we were…”

Mac’s arms tightened around her. “It didn’t happen, won’t happen.”

Jolie shivered, shock stealing into her system. In her mind she saw again the carnage from the explosion.

“There, those windows.” Her gaze fixed on the wall of glass that framed a breathtaking view of the lake.

“Hush, we’re safe.” Mac’s lips brushed her cheek offering comfort. “Your warning prevented what could have happened.”

Clinging to Mac, Jolie focused on him, his strength, his energy, his unique maleness that caused her body to hum with feminine longings. She luxuriated in the explicit sexiness that was Mac. With him filling all her senses, there was no room for terror, for fear. Only Mac.

Need built within her. Her body throbbed with awareness at his touch. His hands traced over her. Deep cravings awakened. She snuggled closer to him. The spicy scent of his cologne and unique male essence filled her senses causing the chill slowly to subside. He lowered his lips to hers and the flames that licked at her had nothing to do with fire and everything to do with passion.

“You’re safe.”

He lifted his head, lips slowly gliding across her cheek to find the tender flesh of her neck just below her ear. His teeth found the soft flesh of her ear lobe and a soft moan escaped her throat. She tilted her head, granting him easier access. Her arms circled his neck, pulling him closer.

“God yes. Make me feel alive.”

Mac’s answer was a low growl deep in his throat.

His hands landed on her butt, and pressed her against the hard ridge of his erection. Jolie rubbed herself against him, filled with the power of her own femininity. He throbbed growing harder with each movement.

His hands slid up her back, found the tail of her shirt and slipped beneath to caress away the coldness that had invaded her body. Liquid fire replaced her chills burned a path from her shoulder blades to her ribs. Slowly, his fingers crept up until they found the mounds of her breasts.

“You’re sure?”

“I need you, now.”

This moment had been inevitable since the first time he’d touched her, running his hands over her body searching for the non-existent wire, Jolie thought, while he stripped the shorts from her body leaving her vulnerable. His lips followed the path of his hands down her body. She could no longer resist this attraction to him that left her feeling off-balance and needy and now that need had grown much too strong to deny any longer.

He held her, pressing her back against the cool plaster of the wall as one leg insinuated itself between her thighs. His fingers teased her nipples as his lips plundered her mouth. Jolie found herself riding his thigh, her hips rocking against him as tension built within her. With unerring precision, she reached lower; her hands found the fastening of his jeans, unbuttoned then unzipped them. Her fingers sought the shaft that pressed insistently against her. He shifted his body slightly to grant her better access. Her fingers closed around his engorged flesh and he groaned deep in his throat, pressing deeper into her hand. Need filled her. She wanted him, wanted to feel him inside her, feel the power of his body while he fed the hunger that threatened to consume her.

From one pocket Mac produced a small foil pack. He pressed it into her hand. A challenge issued, blatant need, like electricity, spiraled from his fingertips to hers when he deposited the small trophy within her grasp. Her hand trembling she accepted his offering, unwrapped it and quickly sheathed his length with it.

“Put your legs around my waist.” He lifted her.

Jolie followed his instruct and was rewarded with the pressure of his fullness against the heated mound at the juncture of her thighs. He pulled her shirt up and over her head and pressed her back against the smooth cool surface of the wall. His hot, moist lips claimed her nipples, one after the other through the thin material of her bra. Then even that meager barrier was gone.

One hand moved down to tease her intimately and Jolie arched her back, tightening her legs around him, urging him closer. He found the throbbing center of her desire and pressed home with one swift, sure stroke. He filled her completely, stretching her, electrifying nerves that had never felt so alive. He braced her against the wall, his mouth plundering hers, even as he plunged to the depths of her. Tension built within her, she felt herself spiraling out of control, sailing away into the stratosphere, past the rings of Saturn and on into the void of space beyond. In her mind’s eye she shot across the midnight sky like a rocket before she shattered into a million pieces, her pleasure raining across the heavens spewing behind her like the tail of a comet.

Mac followed her into the stratosphere, urging her on, demanding more, seeking more, giving more. She felt the intensity of his climax, the coiled strength of his whipcord muscles beneath her hands, the straining of his body when he reached ultimate release. The pleasure built to the point where it was too much to bear . Quickly she followed him toward a powerful climax that left her trembling and depleted. She whispered his name and collapsed against his chest.

In the darkness Mac lowered her to the floor and Jolie found her legs would not support her.  He followed her down, his body cradling hers when they lay on the smooth hardwood.



MJ Flournoy lives in Georgia, USA. MJ writes romantic suspense with paranormal elements. MJ’s motto is “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” When not writing, MJ enjoys traveling, reading and doing any type of research. Connect with her via her website, Facebook page and tweets.

Jun 232014

One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.


By Sabrina Luna

Hi!  I’m Sabrina Luna and I’m an author of paranormal and erotic romance stories.  Yes, I personally see a big difference between a written sex scene and a romantic sexual encounter. Over the years, I’ve written both.

When I started writing in the late 1990s, I was a member of an online group which focused on ‘erotica’. Basically, erotica consists of a scene or short story which focuses only on the sexual relationship between the characters. There is very little building of a romantic relationship and the primary goal of the story is to stimulate the reader’s libido.

Then, around the year 2000, erotic romance hit the book market. Romance stories which allowed the readers to enjoy what was happening to the characters in the bedroom became popular and, since then, there’s been no turning back. Nowadays, readers can find any level of sexual heat in erotic romance stories. However, in my honest opinion, well-written erotic romance stories show a growth in the characters’ relationships as well exploring their sexual chemistry together.

The last piece of short erotica I wrote had a sexually adventurous couple who were more ‘buddies’ than romantic partners. It was a fun story to write—but, as the author, I found myself hoping they’d get together in the near future.

What can I say? I guess I’m an erotic romantic at heart. The last few erotic romances I’ve written have focused on building the relationship between the characters and using their sexual encounters to spark and cultivate their feelings for one another throughout the story. And, at the end of the story, there is a commitment in their relationship. The couple can either live happily ever after—or my personal favorite kind of ending, happy for now.

So, to me, there is a big difference between a written sex scene and a romantic sexual encounter. And, although I enjoy writing and reading both kinds of stories, I prefer an erotic romance with both a good relationship *and* sexual chemistry.


Sabrina Luna is an author of paranormal & erotic romances and, recently, became an indie ebook author, too. She enjoys haunting bookstores and coffee shops, listening to classic rock, and attending movies and munchies with her fellow geek-peeps.

Jun 172014

One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each week a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.


By Emma Paul

Today’s erotic novel has changed greatly from the old days of porn and sex-driven plots. What was once a “male”-dominated genre has evolved to encompass the romantic element of popular literature, and has brought this taboo writing to store shelves and women’s bedside tables.

It was only after the mid-eighties that former adult star Candida Royalle created her first adult movie aimed at women, titled Femme. The film centered on the woman’s pleasure through explicit sex scenes that did not include shots of external ejaculation.  Thanks to Ms. Royalle, the porn industry opened its doors to a whole new genre to target a female audience. I believe this helped women explore—and see themselves as central to—their sexuality and bring a more romantic flavor to pornographic media.

Pornographic literature has been around since Roman times and although I have done little research past that era, I’m sure there are cave drawings somewhere of our earliest modern human ancestors getting it on.

As an author of erotic romance, I feel that the appeal of a good erotic story lies in the relationship between the main characters, and its emotional effect on the reader. Sex is a very important part of erotica—and when that sex is portrayed as romantic, I believe it only emphasizes the scene’s excitement. It means a lot to me to be able to connect sex with love—or in the case of erotic romance, love with sex. In my books, one cannot occur without the other. Love and romance are pivotal parts of my writing and, to me, they’re the most important forces driving the plot to the end.

To understand what this means, it’s necessary to understand the difference between a sex scene and an erotic romance scene. What is the difference? A sex scene in and of itself gives little attention given to the emotional connection between the characters. Although I have written such scenes into my novels, I still believe that they need to fit into the context of the story. When I hold back on describing their emotional connection during a sex scene, I ensure that the main characters will express their love for each other far more effectively during subsequent encounters.

Romantic erotic scenes are more geared toward progressing the relationship between the main characters. The focus should be placed on the emotional bond between the lovers, and on sex as an instrument that strengthens that bond. Every sex scene in an Erotic Romance should move the story forward. At the same time, it should be sexy, titillating and hopefully make the readers tingle. After all, reading Erotica and Erotic Romance is all about getting in the mood.


Emma Paul is the alter ego of a happily married, middle-aged woman. She has been writing short stories all her life and loves bringing her wild imagination to others. She writes Romance, Erotic Romance, Paranormal & Fantasy Erotic Romance, and is the author of Kaden’s Breeder, Corbin’s Captive, Soulmate’s Touch and Prisoner of Darkhavenwith more books coming soon!


Jun 092014

One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.


By Mary Marvella

I remember several years ago I met an older man who thought he was writing romance or erotic romance. He said he needed an editor, so I agreed to edit his books. Contrary to his idea of them, his stories were all about sex with no romance involved. He had all the sex acts of porn and none of the finesse of erotica or erotic romance. Not once did his writing make me want to be part of his sex scenes. I tried to help him and finally found someone who could tell him where he might get his books published, if anywhere—and even they suggested his books were similar to the ones sold for men in truck stops. Today, if the dear man still lived, his stories might be self-published, or he’d need to let me just rewrite his books for a fee.

A sex scene is about bodies commingling in various ways—part A goes into slot B; there’s some licking, some sucking and a lot of coming—but isn’t required to include meetings of minds or points of view, let alone emotions. As such, the idea of a standalone sex scene bores me to tears; so far I haven’t let a sexual encounter continue in any of my books without also describing the emotional connection or need that motivates it.

In my book about a 40-year-old who lost her virginity in a one-night stand, I thought I had done it—I thought I’d written a sex scene between two strangers who met, briefly rocked each other’s worlds, and then parted ways, never to see each other again. But I thought wrong. The “stranger” character was hurting, but I didn’t know it at the time. I had intended for him simply to make the heroine feel beautiful and have a sexual experience to remember, as a new chapter of her formerly-repressed life. The man I had chosen to give this woman a baby—yes, I did, and she was grateful, too—turned out to be a man in pain and a responsible man. The next time they had sex, there was love neither could admit.

When I write a sex or love scene, I make sure my characters want each other and need that connection to the point of emotional pain. They move from old-fashioned kissing and petting to doing what comes naturally. My readers must also want the characters to finally consummate their passion with vividly described, rather than just implied, sex—I’m no more inclined to write a “sweet” romance any more than I am to write straight-up porn. I don’t have my heroes “take” the heroines and “make them theirs”, especially if the men don’t love the women. I never let my characters actually consummate the sex scene the first time they think they will, and they tend to think of that sex as lovemaking by the time they finally “go all the way”. My guys worship the heroines’ bodies. They don’t use the old trite terms. Their encounters are not just about being horny and gettin’ some ass. They are drawn to their sex partners for more than tits and long legs to wrap around the men’s hips and scream with…

Protective Instincts was the first book I wrote and edited and rewrote to give it stronger romantic suspense. I also added as much emotion as I could each time I worked on any scene where the two main characters were together.

They are considerate of each other. Since they have fears and self-doubts, they are vulnerable. Brit, the heroine, has been attacked twice by a man who planned to rape and kill her. Several women who had worked with rape victims warned me Brit would have issues and not likely have sex with Sam early in the book. That led me to remove two early sex scenes.

Sam wants Brit, but he doesn’t want to frighten her. Her fear that she can’t let a man dominate her from the “man on top” position leads to a sex scene where she must take control and he must allow her to do that:


With a moan, he moved both hands to her bottom, pressing her against him. She wanted to feel his touch all over her body. She wanted all he could offer – now!

She trembled in his arms.

“Brit,” he whispered. “Scared?”

She brushed her cheek against his chest, kissed his throat. “No,” she said against his skin, “not as long as you hold me.” She unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, branded his chest with kisses, then his neck, then his chin.

“Make love to me, Sam.”

“Not so fast, Teach.” Sam touched his lips to her forehead. “Take it easy, love.”

“But I need you. I need for you to make love to me.”

“We have all night.”

Brit shivered again. “But what if I can’t? If I wait too long I might lose my nerve. What if I can’t, what if I panic?” What if I disappoint him?

“We’ll take things slow and easy. If you need to stop, we’ll stop,” Sam’s voice rasped. “So, sweetheart, take charge. Make love to me. Take me, take me now!” He flung his arms wide and grinned. “I’m all yours.”

Brit chuckled against his chest. “You got it, bud, I’ll take you to heights you’ve never been before.”

She kissed his throat again, unbuttoned another button.

Tunneling his hands through her silky hair, he tilted her face up. Lowering his head, he kissed her slowly, gently, thoroughly.

Brit needed this man. Sam was so different from Tommy. Was she disloyal to want this man so much? Surely not! She needed to feel alive and clean. She needed to enjoy a normal sexual experience with someone who cared. She needed to know she could stop whenever she wanted to.

Kissing Sam made her feel cherished. He made her feel he needed her as much as she needed him. He was handsome, manly, sexy as all get out, gentle, in control, and caring. If Sam can’t help me through this, no man can. I can do this. I can. I must.

Sliding her hands inside Sam’s shirt, Brit absorbed the rough texture of springy chest hair between her fingers, against her palms. She gasped into his mouth when he picked her up and moved to a couch. Without breaking the kiss, Sam seated them, with her in his lap.

Kissing Sam, nipping at his lips, Brit tried to stoke his passion. She wanted him to make love to her but he held back. Why was he waiting? If he would just make love to her, she would know she wasn’t scarred for life.

Changing positions, she became more aggressive. She straddled his legs and faced him. “Too many clothes,” she yanked his shirt from his jeans. Gliding her hands up his chest and over his shoulders, she exposed his sculpted torso.

Gripping the bottom of her blouse, she yanked it over her head. Heat and moisture spread through her loins. Sam’s emerald eyes glittered. She knew she was tempting him. His heat burned through their clothes.

Emboldened, she slowly unclasped the front catch of her lacy bra, freeing her breasts to press against him.

“Come to the bed, lie with me. We need to slow down.”

“Why? I need you now.” Snaking her arms around his neck she pressed her breasts against him.

“Hang on.” He rose with her. “Lock your legs around me.”

She knew making his way to the bedroom wasn’t easy while she kissed his face and rubbed against him.

When Sam reached the large bed, Brit leaned over to grab the satiny coverlet and toss it back. He toppled them onto the bed.

He lay on his side facing her. He kept his touch gentle. Her pebbled nipples begged for more than his touch. Dipping his head, he stroked his tongue over a nipple, then its mate.

She clutched Sam’s shoulders. Tension built to an unbearable peak. When Sam’s hand moved between her thighs, touching her through her jeans, she felt heat spiral inside. Her world flashed, went dark. She floated and she wanted him with her. He pushed her over the edge.

Sam hadn’t taken his pleasure. If she could just rest for a few minutes, she would show him real earth-shaking pleasure.


Mary Marvella has been a storyteller for as long as she can remember. She made up stories for the other children and created the details for their “let’s pretend” games. Sometimes the details were so real they scared the other children away; sometimes she even scared herself. The arrival of the book mobile was as exciting as hearing the music of the ice cream truck. It was more exciting, since she could check out books but seldom had the money for the ice cream.

Mary was born in Augusta, Georgia to two eighteen-year-olds. Her daddy, a young Mississippi man, was stationed at Camp Gordon and fell in love with a young girl selling flowers. The story of this particular romance is told further in Mary’s blogs.

When Mary’s daughter was small, story time often meant Mama made up stories. Now retired from teaching the classic works of the masters, Mary writes her own stories and reads modern novels. Sometimes she writes books with steamy sex and danger.

Georgia raised, she writes stories with a Southern flair.

Get to know Mary and her work at the blogs linked above, and at her Amazon author page, website, and Facebook page.


Jun 022014

One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.


By Sally Swanson

In the not-so-distant past, erotic stories favored male readers and relegated women to the role of Object of Desire, rather than characterizing them as sentient and sensual beings. The comparatively new genre of erotic romance, however, empowers women to be in control of their bodies, their hearts, and most importantly their desires.

Erotic romance is hot and graphic, letting instincts run over the conventions of polite society. This titillating variation on the time-honored romance novel intertwines sex with romance as a tool to advance the storyline. The style is provocative—what some would call naughty.  Initially, a reader who is not familiar with the genre could perceive the sex scenes as gratuitous, yet they are integral and meaningful to the story. A good erotic romance author will share their characters’ feelings and insights before, during, and after sexual encounters—sharing intimate knowledge of their most fiercely guarded secrets.

Today’s heroine has a career and daily challenges, and these common experiences resonate with the reader. She is independent and accepts her sexuality, whether she is with a man or another woman—and no matter how dominant, submissive or versatile she likes her partners, she’s willing to go out and find them if need be. She takes charge of her life, unlike the traditional swooning, gothic heroine found in many romance novels, waiting for her One True Love to come and rescue her. Erotic heroines don’t have time for that. Their lives are often hectic and overbooked—qualities which, for some characters, some in handy as excuses to avoid intimacy.

Having sex isn’t nearly as intimidating as falling in love, and the heroine shares her subversive emotions of insecurity and doubt. The pain of love lost, unrequited love or a past relationship gone wrong can sully her ability to trust a new love interest (or indeed anyone), and drive her behind a shield of indifference. However, true love is the strongest force known to humankind and energizes even the most jaded soul. Being in love makes her vulnerable and strong at the same time.

With a variety of characters, the reader can see themselves in the participants or be a voyeur; in either case, that connection creates a bond with the characters and keeps the reader engaged. Women and men can enjoy erotic romance, and a well-written novel shares a variety of their perspectives. Erotic romance blends hedonistic sex scenes with tender passion, and the combination sizzles on the page. The reader feels this heat right alongside the characters as their growing tension tightens into tingling awareness. Wanton hedonism takes charge, revealing the core of their carnal desire and tender emotions to the reader—and together, they experience ultimate satisfaction.

But erotic romance doesn’t end with an orgasm—sometimes it begins with one. The heroine continues to battle antagonistic forces until love triumphs. Sometimes the heroine and her lover will decide that their future is together; sometimes one of them will move on. Either way, love unearths the most hidden and vulnerable aspects of the heroine and allows her to grow stronger from the experience—a “happily ever after” ending in its own right. In the end, she emerges confident and courageous.

Erotic romance empowers women to be the heroines of their own lives.


Sally Swanson is the author of the Soul Desire trilogy and the Ghost Lovers series. When she was twelve, she started to write her life story and realized she needed to live life before launching a writing career. To that end, she’s lived in or visited 46 of the 50 states and learned to speak Spanish while living in Mexico City, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. If you haven’t yet guessed, she loves to travel—and, while doing do, she discovers strange-yet-true stories to provide fuel for Ghost Lovers, her latest paranormal romance series. If you like ghosts and steamy sensuality, you will love Ghost Dreams and Ghost Emerald, now available in multiple e-book formats.


May 272014

One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” 12 writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday (or Tuesday, if Monday is a holiday) a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.


By Clarice Clique

As a writer, I enjoy imagining vivid and hot sex scenes. I draw sketches, look at photos online, gossip with my friends, read my old diaries, and have a drawer of dolls that have been put in much more interesting positions than your average Barbie.

Overall, though, when writing I derive the most excitement from creating believable characters. Whichever fantastical world they inhabit, whatever strange activity they are engaged in, and whomsoever they are entwined with, I always want my characters to feel real.

It is when the reader is connected to the characters, and cares about their fate, that porn becomes erotic romance.

Many of my longer pieces, including my two published novels, have contemporary settings which make it simpler from a creative perspective to develop very recognisable characters. Because so many people are familiar with working in an office and having secret crushes on a special colleague, or the budding sexual tension of a first date in a fancy restaurant, the reader can immediately relate and empathise, twisting their own hopes and dreams around the fictional scene. And through a small amount of dialogue, the meeting of eyes followed by shy turns away, the accidental brush of a hand against a muscled arm…it is possible for a writer to easily covey the attraction between two people. On top of this I often borrow and sneak in little quirks and incidents from my own life, which makes the characters more three-dimensional and their relationships feel more realistic.

For example, my novel Hot Summer Nights contains lots of very graphic sex and BDSM. When dealing with bondage and domination, I think it is incredibly important that the characters have some kind of truth within them. Even when my leading lady, Vanessa, is involved in an orgy with complete strangers whose names she’s never going to know, all the emotions she experiences are based in the love and trust she has for her best friend, Penelope. Penelope acts as her Mistress, guiding and pushing Vanessa to explore her sexuality to the fullest.

Hot Summer Nights contains many couplings, but at its centre it is about friendship and support between women. I hope that alongside the obvious thrill of erotica, my readers are invested in Vanessa’s journey and, with that investment, get a different sort of satisfaction from how her story concludes.


May 192014

One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” 12 writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.


By Blake C. Aarens

My first thought was that there isn’t any difference between a sex scene and a romantic sexual encounter.  Both describe the selfsame event with fake notions of good and bad, right and wrong, coming down to nothing but the use of language to try and tabulate and limit by judgment some forms of sexual expression. That’s my default setting these days, to try and emphasize—as often as possible in as many arenas as possible—that we humans and the animal things we do are more alike than unalike.

But that’s not an honest answer to an honest question, ‘cuz just as I say out loud, as I read the question off my phone and mutter “there is no difference”, the split screen in my head plays two scenes:

On the right-hand screen, a couple, A and B, are at each other in the dimly lit corner of a club. A has at least one body part inside at least one opening in B’s body. Tab A in slot B. Penetration and friction. That is the essence of a sex scene. But on the left-hand screen in my head, and playing at the very same time, are the same two people, in the same corner, in the same club, with the very same lighting, tab A in slot B, even. But here is where the romance comes in: in the way they strain in the darkness to see the expression on the other’s face as they move together, in the way the owner of slot B holds their breath to hear the noises coming from the owner of tab A, in the way their focus on each other makes the bouncer’s mouth water and he leaves them alone and lets them love each other up.

If you look the two words up in the dictionary—as I did—you’ll discover that both have entries as a noun and as a verb. They can both be either an action, or a person, place, or thing. But for the purposes of this roundtable discussion, I want to concentrate on several very specific dictionary entries:

romance1—n.  4. a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention.
—v.i.  10. to think or talk romantically.
—v.t.  11.  Informal.  a.  to court or woo romantically; treat with ardor or chivalrousness.

sex n.  3. the instinct or attraction drawing one sex toward another, or its manifestation in life and conduct.
4. coitus.
—v.t.  8.  sex up, Informal a.  to arouse sexually

For me, it’s all about focus.  And not just the focus of the writer. If my characters are primarily about body parts and positions—and there ain’t nothing wrong with that—it’s more of a sex scene in the way I craft it and the details that it makes sense to share. But if I’m writing a romantic sexual encounter—George Carlin would hate the wordiness of that phrase—the focus is about cause and effect. This is what I’m doing to you, with you, and this is how it is making me feel, and breathe, and arch my back. The difference seems subtle, but is in fact, huge.  It is the canyon that exists between intimate physical contact, and intimacy itself.

They say you don’t fall in love with another person, but you fall in love with the person you become when you’re in the presence of your love. You fall in love with how they make you feel about yourself. Within yourself.

I wrote a story called “I Want You Back” where one of the characters is having a sex scene while another is involved in a romantic sexual encounter. The interesting thing is, they’re in the same scene. The story was published in my erotic collection Wetting the Appetite.

To quote the introduction I wrote to the story,  it “deals with the uncontrollable urges some lovers are able to arouse in us”, particularly “that lover we know isn’t a damn bit of good for our head, or heart, or self-esteem, but who does something to us that we can’t live without.”

The point-of-view character—who is never named—becomes the object of badboy Nick’s focused sexual attention the day they meet in a bowling league.

He made me nervous, made me conscious of my own body, made me ask him to come over just to get a break from all the sexual energy he was aiming at me.

The narrator is already off into a romance, inventing a connection between them and exaggerating its meaning, based on nothing more than how Nick’s attention makes him feel.

Nick, on the other hand, is just doing what he’s done with every other member of the league. He meets a bowler he hasn’t had sex with, and he does the obvious thing: he makes sex happen between them. That’s what Nick does.

The story details their first sexual encounter. An encounter completely dominated by Nick’s timetable and tastes.

When we arrived at my place, he pushed me inside.  He kept on pushing until he had me on my back on the living room floor.  His dick was in my face before I knew what was happening.  I lunged for it with my mouth, but he put his hand on my forehead and pushed my head back onto the carpet.

“Open,” he said, and I parted my lips.

He put his dick in my mouth, but he wouldn’t let me suck it on my own time.

The narrator is turned on by his own openness, his quick obedience. Nick seems to take it as his due from a sexual partner. The narrator relaxes and just lets him, focusing on the pleased murmur that comes from Nick when he registers the narrator’s surrender. He can’t get his pants down fast enough.

When they move to the narrator’s bedroom, it’s still a two-tier encounter. Nick has found the bedroom and waits on top of the comforter, stroking himself back to hardness for round two. The narrator, on the other hand, is on an expedition through his own apartment, trying to find where his newfound lover has gotten to.

I walked to the door of my bedroom and found him lying naked on the bed. He had his own fat cock in both hands and was taking long strokes up and down it.

“C’mere,” he said.

Of course I went to him.

When I got close enough, he let go of his dick and grabbed me by both wrists. He snatched me off my feet and onto the mattress, then dragged me to lie on top of him. We were belly to belly, our cocks pressed between us and just touching.

I could barely look him in the eye. He put one of his hands behind my head and the other in the small of my back and made me kiss him for a very long time.

They are having two very different experiences. The narrator’s is amorously familiar; he’s submitting to things and showing sides of himself that make him feel vulnerable. Nick is doing what he likes, when and how he likes, to get himself hard and get himself off, end of story.

And therein lies the difference between the two. Romance is about more than the interaction of genitalia. It’s more than just the act itself. Romance is about breath and eyes and feelings. It’s about the stories we tell ourselves about what the intimate physical contact means. It’s about the actions we take and the thoughts that propel us into action. And it’s those details—above and beyond and beneath what characters are doing with their naughty bits—that carve out the difference between romance and sex.


Live fully, keep reading, and don’t stop pressing those keys!



Blake C. Aarens is an author, playwright, poet, screenwriter, and former college theatre instructor. Her play, The Prince of Whiteness, was the Invited Play at the 56th Conference on World Affairs.  Her solo performance piece, My Great-Grandmother Had a Sex Life, debuted at the “Have I Got a Story for You/Solo Performance Showcase” at The Studio Theatre, College of Marin. Excerpts from her erotic poetry collection Words on Fire appeared in the Milvia Street Art and Literary Journal. Her script, Still Life with Android, won a Judy Award for Achievement in the Thriller/Horror/Sci-Fi Screenplay division.

Blake is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who writes award-winning erotic fiction.  Her work has appeared in the Herotica series; Aché: A Journal for Lesbians of African Descent; Best American Erotica 1993; Penthouse Magazine, and numerous other anthologies.

Blake has seven letters after her name and more than two decades’ experience teaching classes on everything from Principles and Theory of Acting (Laney College), to Dramatic Technique for Fiction Writers (Berkeley Story Workshop), to Writing Life’s Moments: The Craft of Personal Narrative (The Writing Parlor, SF), to How to Write and Read a Dirty Story (San Francisco Center for Sex & Culture).

Her first collection of stories, Wetting the Appetite, has been published by Sizzler Editions both as a paperback and an ebook.

She lives in the Bay Area with Kazimir, the Crown Prince of the Universe.


May 122014

One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” 12 writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.


By M. Millswan

I made my first introduction to sex between the pages of a book when I accidentally discovered a dog-eared paperback during a search for my father’s secret stash of Playboys. I don’t remember the title, but I will always remember the illustration on the cover: an impossibly buxom redheaded stewardess bending over to offer a traveler a drink, along with a view down into the grand canyon of her cleavage. Upon those pulp-fiction pages ran a story of lustful abandon—fucking, sucking, groping, stroking, and cumming and cumming and cumming, with enough jizz to make even Linda Lovelace choke. Upon page after steamy page, I learned that a woman craves nothing more out of life than to give herself over in every way possible to the lustful desires of any male she encounters, anywhere and at any time. And every macho man she entices into her embrace possesses a twelve inch rod of high-carbon steel, and his impassioned thrusting makes the pounding of a jackhammer pale in comparison to power of his massive manhood.  For a young man still yearning for his first sexual encounter not involving a spinning bottle, books such as these provided a peek into what I assumed was the real-life adult world of lust and sex. And, clearly, it was all about the sex—raw and carnal, yeah, baby!

Let me finish this cigarette, Toots, or whatever your name is. Then how about you bend over, and let’s go for sloppy sevenths.”

“Oh …yes …yes …do me, Big Daddy! Give it to me! You know I want it! And baby wants it now!”

Erotica such as this (complete with rampant exclamation points so the reader knows when to be excited) had its place when sex had no choice but to hide in the shadows. And yet, just as people have evolved and learned that living in a house is much more comfortable than living in a cold, dank cave, so too have we learned that sex spiced with passion and romance is much more fulfilling than sex as no more than another excretory bodily function. Much more than heaving bosoms and thrusting cocks gushing cum, an awesome sex scene should always be about the emotions of the participants, whether experienced by real people or enjoyed vicariously through our books and stories. Sure, sex will always be a natural function of the body—but the passion and pleasure of it is all in the mind. Every successful romance or erotica writer today knows they must show the scene—and make the reader feel it—rather than simply describing its mechanics. It’s necessary for the reader to envision these scenes with such passion that the story really can be a vicarious sexual experience; that it’s their lips being kissed and their body locked in a sultry embrace. To satisfy the discriminating tastes of today’s sophisticated consumer of romance and erotica, rather than writing a wham, bam, thank you for swallowing, ma’am type of sexual encounter, it’s important to encompass both the physical and the emotional aspects of sex. As an example, here is an excerpt from “Snap Shot” which illustrates the promise of romance mixed with the anticipation of passion, setting the scene for a romantic but very sexual encounter:

It seemed she filled the room. The scent of her, the blue of her nightie, the pink of her lips, the heat of her breath, the flush in her cheeks, the way her hair shone as it moved in the afternoon sunlight, everything; she seized my every sense and so much more. When she slipped off her nightie and let it fall to the floor, it seemed a haze clouded the room, time stood still, and there was no sound at all other than my heart pounding in my ears. In my private reality, the one I’ll always cherish, there was no more outside world, only this ravishingly beautiful girl standing stark naked before me. She glided right past me, easily as alluring seen naked from behind as from the front, those legs, her hourglass hips, the way her cheeks came together below the curves of her bottom, merging into that place of dark mystery concealed between her legs. My awareness of her nudity was almost overwhelming. I just could not believe I was here with her, even while feasting my eyes upon her. When she lay down upon the bed and beckoned to me with her eyes and a come to me crook of her finger, it was almost too much to comprehend; but here she was, alone with me and entirely willing to do whatever I desired of her. Yet I wondered, would she truly do anything, anything I asked?

Of course, there are as many different tastes in sex and romance as there are readers of sex and romance, which is why there are so many genres out there—and a whole spectrum between “sweet” romance and edgy, no-holds-barred erotica. Yet whether a reader enjoys a little romance with their sex, or a little sex with their romance, it is the writer’s goal to anticipate and fulfill those desires. The one common denominator between all these genres, subgenres and combinations of romance and passion? The surefire way to satisfy as many readers as possible? Put them in the scene. Because isn’t that what we all want anyway?  Not to just read about it, but to actually be there.


M. Millswan is the author of over one dozen books, many of them erotica.

Millswan writes, “Isaac Asimov gave me great advice about what it takes to become an author.  Corresponding with him was always as flattering as it was educational and  inspirational.  My first best-seller, Farlight, was a science fiction novel. From the success of Farlight I have expanded into the genres of Horror and Erotica.”

From the cutting-edge socio-erotic novel Living in the State of Dreams to the softly sensual Snap Shot series of novellas and short stories, readers from around the world have expressed how much they enjoy the vivid sexuality and softly sensual emotion captured in every M. Millswan story. In ’09, Millswan’s short story, “The Best of Friends”, was singled out for critical honors as one the best of the best in the Swing! anthology. Newly released erotica titles include Tabu, Weekend at Sally’s, Damned, Lady Luck and The Best Erotic Short Stories of M. Millswan.

“It was surely destiny that I moved into the field of Erotica,” Millswan says. “While owning and operating a white water lodge in the jungles of Costa Rica, my wife and I were victims of a tropical storm. With our business destroyed, she was forced to return to the States while I stayed behind to guard our remaining property. Almost completely cut off from the world, each week I penned her a handwritten letter. After a while I had the idea to begin writing her a story expressing how much I missed her. She saved each chapter, and once we were reunited she urged me to try to get it published. The rest is history, as the historical romance I wrote for her, Rolling the Bones, helped me to become established as a professional author.”

“When people claim they are only human,” he often observes, “it’s usually because they have been making beasts of themselves.”