Victorians: Hysteria and the Vibrator, Part Two: The Vibrator

In Part One of this blog miniseries, we learned how Victorian doctors defined “hysteria” and how they treated it. Spoiler alert: doctors used various methods of stimulation to bring women to achieve the “hysterical paroxysm”, i.e., an orgasm.

Around 1879, the electric or electro-mechanical vibrator was introduced into doctors’ tools of the trade for treating hysteria. Vibrators were first used in France, then this method spread to the rest of the European continent, England, and America.

But what did the Victorian vibrator look like? One perhaps imagines corseted women cowering as a mustachioed doctor approaches with some bizarre Steampunkish contraption… Continue reading

Victorians: Hysteria and the Vibrator, Part One: Hysteria

I recently saw a revival of the play In The Next Room, Or The Vibrator Play by Sarah Ruhl. In case you haven’t heard about this play it takes place in upstate New York in the 1880s. A doctor provides treatments for hysteria – to both women and men – using the latest technology, the electric vibrator. In the course of the play there is emotional and sexual discovery amongst all the characters, along with several orgasms.

I originally saw the play in February 2009 at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California. The play had been written for the Berkeley Rep and made its debut there before being launched on Broadway. I’m not a theater regular – I do see shows from time to time – but when I heard about this play, I absolutely had to see it.

“Had to” because I had already started my notes for Dr. Christopher’s Device (later The Pleasure Device). Perhaps I should have subtitled that book, Or, The Vibrator Erotic Romance. Continue reading

Definitions: What is Erotica?

People frequently make broad assumptions about what it is I write. Friends, family, and acquaintances snicker about my “porn”. Romance writer colleagues imbued with the cadence of traditional romance often bandy about the term “erotica” as if to signal the ugly otherness of erotic romance.

So I will attempt to answer the provocative question What is erotica? and by doing so answer corollary questions about misunderstood erotic-like literary variations: Erotic romance, steamy romance, smut, porn, and Romantica®. Continue reading

Keeping Sex Between the Covers

It’s June 14th and in the United States we’re celebrating Flag Day! I have a special promotion for June (Flag Day month) and July (Independence Day month). See the end of this post!

I generally write historical erotic romance, although I have also written contemporary, mythological, and Steampunk. But my comfort zone is historicals because I’m a historian and, I suppose, I’ve internally fetishized history to a certain extent.

I’ve written stories that take place in ancient Roman and Victorian England. But my favorite book I’ve written takes place in New York state and is set in 1777 during the American Revolution. Continue reading

My Bisexual Heroes: Extended Version

Hi Everyone, I’m blogging over at AReCafe today about my bisexual heroes for LGBTQ Pride Month. But I had to keep it short and was only able to promote my books listed on ARe. I got a lot more stories with bisexual heroes. Below is the extended version of my blog post.

Remember Torchwood? The Dr. Who spin-off show set in Cardiff? There’s definite sexual chemistry between Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper, and we the viewers so want something to happen, but we know Gwen already has a boyfriend who is a nice guy and she can’t just have an affair without consequences then suddenly…

OMG. Continue reading

Rewriting the Persephone Myth

An excerpt from “Hot as Hades,” my story in Naughty Flings: Twelve Naughty Little Romps, is up today on our Naughty Literati blog.

When I was thinking about what to write for Naughty Flings, an anthology with the theme of springtime, the quintessential springtime myth came to mind, i.e., the story of Persephone. I decided to revisit this myth, but to put a new spin on it, which proved pretty easy.

Because I’d put a new spin on the story once before. Continue reading

Personal Reflection: In memoriam, Carl Degler

I thought I’d end the year by starting at the beginning, and by doing so, I have to start with the end of a life. Carl Degler, professor emeritus of American history at Stanford University, died on Saturday, December 27, 2014, at the age of 93. It was an article by Degler that was influential on my embarking upon a career writing Victorian erotic romance. Continue reading

Character-Driven Sex

Whew! I just finished Book 2 of my Harwell Heirs series on Friday December 13th and sent it to my editor at Ellora’s Cave. While I was editing and polishing that manuscript (working title: Lord Petersham’s Contract), I wrote 50,000 words of Book 3 in the series (working title: Miss Danby’s Condition) for November’s National Novel Writing Month. This intensive period of writing solidified a belief I’ve had about writing erotica from day one: sex is driven by the characters and not by the author. Continue reading

Snippet Sunday: The General’s Wife: Sam and Pat

I think this might be my last General’s Wife snippet for Snippet Sunday* for a while. The book is now with a copyeditor. (Thanks to P.T. Wyant for catching that typo last week! I hate typos! Go nuts copyeditor!) I’m hoping to release it by this November (cross fingers), so maybe I’ll do some more snippet teasers just before then.

In an earlier post, I had alluded to Pat and Sam being “very close buddies” which, of course, is a euphemism. Wait – what? They like each other? Aren’t they the heroes for our heroine Clara? Let’s just say I like to mix it up a bit with my writing and I have a soft spot for the bisexual beta hero. Continue reading