Meet Me Monday Blog Hop

I’m taking part in my very first blog hop! Thanks to Rachel Firasek for starting the Meet Me Monday Blog Hop!  Rachel Firasek’s Meet-Me-Monday Blog Hop Sign Up

I’ll post something about myself, that maybe everyone doesn’t already know, and hopefully, you’ll share something about yourself in comments. Please link to your own blog or site in your comment, so everyone can drop by and say hey.

So, the whole something about me thing now. Hmmm. Okay, here goes.

I grew up on a farm, and tobacco was our main crop, though we also had beef and dairy cattle, and raised corn and hay as well. My mother worked the fields alongside my father, and took me with her. I spent many days in my playpen under a tree while they worked not far away.

At around 3 or 4 years, I started working, too. Then it was my job to “pig-tail”, or follow the tobacco setter to fill in any plant spaces the machine missed. I had a little curved stick, or “peg”, to poke the hole for the plant. The setter took care of the water, so I just had to put the plant in the ground.

As I got older, I graduated to harder, more dangerous work. My parents were over-protective, so I was in my mid-teens before I was allowed to use the crazy-sharp knives to cut the grown plants, or climb up into the barn to hang the cut tobacco.

Other than occasionally helping out while we were home on leave, I haven’t worked the fields since leaving home for college. And I miss it terribly – even the aching-burning-sore muscles, blistering sunburns, cuts-scrapes-bruises, bleeding blistered hands, ass dragging tired, before daylight ’til long after dark, and the danger of lifting 40lbs from below my feet to above my head while I balanced with each foot on two inch poles three feet apart while 30 feet off the ground.

So now you know. I’m not the brightest, or sanest, person – who in their right mind misses that kind of work? I do think maybe all those years of hard physical work that didn’t require a great deal of thought or interaction with others allowed me to develop the imagination necessary to become a writer, though. To me, that makes all that work worthwhile in more ways than the obvious.

How about you? Is there something about you that most people don’t know? Come on, you know there is.

Writer Wednesday: You Write WHAT!?!?!

Okay, so a while back, I mentioned something about new features here. Since then, I’ve done absolutely nothing about it. Until now.

Starting today, on Wednesdays, I’ll post something related to writing. I have several topics in mind, from networking, writing queries, to writing craft and adverbs. If there’s something in particular you’d like to see, leave a comment. Some of these topics will hopefully be of interest to readers as well as fellow writers.

Now, on to Writer Wednesday:

You Write WHAT!?!?!

When I tell people who’ve known me for a while that I write fiction, they’re usually not too surprised. After all, I’ve been writing since elementary school, one way or another. Then comes the ‘What kind of books do you write’ line of questioning. Depending when a person first became acquainted with me, they expect different things: western, horror, YA, fantasy, picture books, and some even seem to expect literary of me. But they almost NEVER expect the real answer.

Their surprise when I say paranormal romance runs the gamut from the fascinated ‘Oh?’ to the outraged ‘WHAT?’ with boggled eyes. The next question almost always seems to be about whether sex scenes are included. Apparently that sort of thing is entirely unexpected of me. Maybe because all through school, my primary interests outside school mainly involved horses, and then I became a preschool teacher. If I add that my most recent work is erotic paranormal romance, I get anything from stunned silence to moral outrage that I’m writing ‘porn’.

If I can get them to listen, I try to explain the differences between erotic romance, erotica, and porn. Sometimes it all falls on deaf ears, but not always. I’m offering my explanation here, in the event any of you need to use it. Not that I’m an expert, or anything, but this is what works for me. Sometimes it even convinces people that I’m not a social pariah to be kept away from civilized people. Oh, and this is pretty much just my opinion, not hard and fast rules, but at least some other erotic romance authors share similar opinions.  Even if you don’t write any sort of erotica or romance, maybe it’ll clear up some misconceptions for you, or someone you know.

First of all, porn is just sex. There are no relationships, or if there is, it isn’t the central focus. There is no story. No emotion. Just one sex scene after another. If there is some sort of story, it is very rudimentary, and only serves to connect the sex scenes. There is little or no character development. The words used are often crude, and the sex acts might not even be physically possible. Let’s face it, readers of porn are not looking for great story or character growth. They’re looking to get off.

Erotica has a lot of sex scenes, too. The language may not be as crude, and the sex scenes might be a bit more physically possible. There may be a relationship, or not. There is a story, with fully developed characters. Maybe the main character is female executive sleeping her way to the top. Maybe she finally realizes that she could have gotten to the top without spreading her legs. There may be some emotion. She could be angry that she chose sleeping her way to the top. In well-written erotica, the story is complex and the sex is woven intricately into it, and the characters are fully developed.

In erotic romance, most of the sex is between the characters involved in the relationship that is central to the story, though there may be scenes involving other characters. Like any romance, the main focus of the story is the relationship and its progression to a Happily Ever After, or Happily For Now, ending. The sex scenes must move the story forward, or show character development. The emotional aspect of the sex is shown, and the scenes may range from violent desperation to achingly sweet. The words used are more often the slang of the time period of the story. An erotic romance has all the elements of any other romance, and it explores the sexual activity between the characters in a more graphic and explicit way than other romances.

My first two paranormal romances had a pretty high heat level, but they didn’t quite cross the line into erotica. As I wrote them, it was a struggle to keep them on the right side of the tracks. Currently, as I contemplate rewriting them, one of the things I plan to change is to allow the characters free rein with their sex lives. If I don’t like the results, there’s always DELETE.

There were a couple of reasons for keeping my earlier books on this side of the erotic line. First and foremost, I live in a very small, very conservative community. I don’t want my family members being looked down upon because of what I write, and that would absolutely be the least of the consequences. I was also uncomfortable with writing sex scenes. But the books and characters kept insisting they needed more heat.

After a long conversation with hubby, I decided to give it a try anyway. I practiced writing sex scenes until I was able to do more than Tab A goes into Slot B scenes. Finally, I concluded I could write erotic romance, and BLOOD DRAGON was born.

What about you? Does your writing ever offend the sensibilities or morals of others? Because you write about sex, or violence, or mythical beings, or something else?

© Copyright Kenra Daniels 2011

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all those great Dads out there! I was lucky enough to have had one of the best possible, and I’m forever grateful for him. He passed away almost 11 years ago and I still miss him horribly. My mom remarried a couple of years ago, and now I have the best step-dad in the world. He makes my mom happy, which is tremendously important to me, and he doesn’t try to step into my dad’s shoes. He’s just himself, a fantastic dad, step-dad, grandfather and great-grandfather, and a wonderful person.

My daughter and I were recently talking about fatherhood, and what makes a good daddy. She considers herself lucky to have a good one. He still gives her his time, material things when necessary, and shows her daily that he loves her – sometimes by saying “No” and sticking to it. He’s the same with her sons, though he is a bit more lenient with them than he was with her. They’re still babies, the oldest is getting ready to turn 3, and he loves spoiling all 3 of them.

While she and I talked, we tried to list some of the qualities that make a good daddy. We quickly determined that contributing the sperm that fertilizes the egg has nothing to do with fathering, only with biology and genetics. Nothing mind-blowing there.

The things like providing for a child’s physical needs for food, water, shelter, and medical care should be taken for granted, but unfortunately, they aren’t. Providing for the child’s emotional needs for safety, limitations, and affection should also be taken for granted, but again, they aren’t. A child has myriad other needs, too many to list, but these are  just the most apparent ones to me.

Too many children with an embarrassment of physical riches – plenty of high quality food, clean healthy water, a clean safe home, and all their health needs met – are emotionally destitute. They have to live in fear of physical or sexual abuse, are verbally and emotionally abused. Or there are no rules in the home to give them a sense of security or teach them to make appropriate choices. Some children have no idea that the adults in their lives care if they live or die, let alone love them.

Giving a child time and attention can be something a good father does. If a man chooses to be absent from his child’s life, is he necessarily a bad father? What if his presence somehow endangered the child? Maybe he has a tendency to hit first and ask questions later, and removes himself from his child’s life to remove the risk of physical abuse. Does that make him a truly bad father? What if he chooses not to be present in order to work to able to provide for his child’s physical needs? Does that make him a better father than the one who stays away because he’s potentially abusive?

Loving a child of course factors in. Children need to know they are loved, that no matter what, they have someone to turn to. If a man never tells his child he loves  him, never gives a hug or kiss, or even a pat on the head, is he a bad father? How else would the child know? An older child might realize the father is incapable of displaying affection, but what about a young child?

How does a man learn all the elements to being a good father? I used to think it was solely by example, but I know too many good fathers whose own fathers sucked. Perhaps there were other men in their lives who provided good role models of fatherhood. Maybe, realizing what they lacked in their own childhood, they sought information or support to give it to their children. There could even be an instinctive element to fatherhood.

I don’t know the answers to all these questions, but I usually know good fathering when I see it in action. If my father hadn’t been a good one, I might not. I do know that my most important goals in life are to see that my grandsons have a good father – whether that’s their biological parent or not . So far, they do, and I’m grateful. Another of my goals is to see them grow into healthy responsible men who will be good fathers themselves when the time comes.

What about you – what do you think makes a good father? How do they learn to be good fathers?