Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cross Pollination

I MUST CONFESS (and please don't take offense) . . .

shapeshifters in romance fiction have always made me somewhat uneasy. In fact, just the phrase shapeshifter romance strikes me as oxymoronic. Why? I'll tell you why. Because we're talking about people who turn into CRITTERS on a regular freakin' basis!

How romantic is that?

How can you possibly trust someone who "shifts" all the time? It's hard enough to trust people whose bodies change in normal ways. People can be pretty damned shifty without shifting, if you know what I mean.

And don't tell me there aren't some unpleasant smells attached to these guys (just to make this post easier, I'm going to use male nouns and pronouns). I don't care how thoroughly they transmogrify from horny animal to horny human; there must be some lingering trace of brute stink. Ever been to a zoo? Even a clean zoo? Ever smell dog breath, cat piss, bear fur, deer shit, goat anything? Enough said.

And a merman? Hell, dude is half fish all the time! At least, I'll bet, he isn't inclined to make those offensive tuna comments about women.

Speaking of mermen, I once read a book that featured a young lady getting all frothy over one of these creatures and finally (dig this) marrying him. I had to read the book because I volunteered as a judge for the Eppies a while back, and it was thrown my way.

Many parts of the book pushed many of my buttons--the laugh button, gag button, groan button, huh? button--but there was one line that pushed all the buttons at once. Just before the heroine decides she MUST do the do with the ichthyic hero, the author gives her this justification (I'm paraphrasing here): Ethel just had to fuck him; she didn't care if he wasn't of her species.

I shit you not.

Boy, that shivered me timbers. Can you imagine yourself--ever, under any circumstances--feeling that way? I thought, yiiy, if aliens ever do invade our planet and try to breed with us, Ethel Merman (bwahaha) will be the first in line. Under those circumstances, though, I suppose her mindset would be beneficial.

So, maybe I was traumatized by that book. Maybe that's why shapeshifters creep me out. I know the problem isn't my lack of imagination. Uh-uh. There are just some things I don't want to imagine.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006



as a writer I’ve always been torn on the "penis maximus" issue in romantic/erotic fiction. We all know good goddamned well that most men consider themselves fairly fortunate if they fall within the six-to-nine-inch range. And most of the most must eke out their gratitude from the lower end of that range.

And, hey, their self-satisfaction is completely justified. I, for one, have never felt particularly cheated by an average Mr. Happy--not, that is, unless Mr. Happy’s trainer is noticeably lacking in endurance, finesse, enthusiasm, rhythm, or basic wienie-wielding competence (like getting it in the right hole, dumbass).

So, now that we’ve covered mundane realism, on to romantic/erotic idealism. Any writer who deals in this stuff faces a conundrum. We know we must pay homage to the appendage. Readers expect it and RWA requires it. (I think this dictum is in the secret rulebook you get from them after paying your outrageous membership dues--or pirate from them if paying membership dues is against your religion.) We cannot avoid a nod to the nuke, a curtsy before the cuke, a tip o’ the tam to the pink torpedo (that one is for writers of gay erotica set in Scotland who happen to be Spinal Tap fans). And even though we’re all hip to the dick trip in real life, we’re not allowed to portray ordinary winkies in our fiction. If we did, trust me, books would fly against walls. No siree, they must be extraordinary winkies. Dig it:

Ella--called SalmonElla by those bitterly disgruntled men unworthy of her passionate gifts--peered hungrily at the only man who was worthy: Peter Proudpunt. As she squinted through the parallel slits in the locker’s door, he began to shed his grass-stained uniform.

Peter promptly peeled off his pants, sliding them over his tight end. Ella’s breasts ballooned within her already cramped hiding-place as desire inflated every vein in her fatty tissue. She held her breath in anticipation, even though the strain this put on the locker’s thin walls threatened to give her away.

Then Peter yanked down his jockstrap, removing the nut cup...

...and, Oh God! there it was, flopping flaccidly into the fluorescent light. What a cute little cock he had, what a pretty, almost poignant little pecker! Ella tilted her head, admiring it. A cockle, she thought with a pootang pang, a veritable cockette.
How sweet, that gherkin stem. How overwhelmingly...common.

Okay, see what I mean? A run-of-the-mill member, respectable and effective as it might be, doesn’t inspire believable rhapsody (and we must rhapsodize about the danged things, I’m tellin’ ya!) Hell, even calling it a "phallus" seems inappropriate--way too hightoned--unless, of course, it’s a wee bit of a hang-dog widgie on a magnificent statue, like Michelangelo’s David. But now we’re getting into a whole different, weird kind of Pygmalion subgenre that could very well rival MMBDSM with undercurrents of EIEIO.

So please, brethren and sistren, forgive us this day our penis-maximus clich├ęs. We don’t freakin’ believe them any more than anybody else does. We’re just putting out there what’s expected of us. (And, uh, kind of enjoying it!)