Susan Lyons Guest Blogs…

Please welcome guest blogger, Susan Lyons!

Want some character growth along with that sex? By Susan Lyons

Interesting things are happening with romance – in the book world at least. It’s getting hotter. In the last couple of years, many publishers have started lines that are labelled erotic.

Some readers dismiss these books as “porn” and won’t go near them. For some reason, they assume that simply because a book is sexually explicit, it’s going to be poorly written.

There are a lot of publishers and authors, including me, who beg to differ. Our books have a story line, a heroine to identify with, a hero to fall for, and a happy ending. An erotic (or highly sexy) romance is, first and foremost, a romance.

To me, romance is about character growth. One character (and often both) starts out with a flaw that comes from their personal experience (what we writers call “back story”). For example, she’s afraid of men because she was abused; she doesn’t trust men because she caught her fiancé cheating the night before the wedding; his beloved wife died and he’s afraid to love again; his father taught him to be work-obsessed and he doesn’t believe love matters as much as career success.

This character may live a perfectly normal life in most ways, but when it comes to love she/he is basically stuck. Not moving forward. Unable to open her/his heart, to risk and trust, to believe she/he is lovable or has the ability and strength to love. The character could go on this way forever.

Except, we writers aren’t going to let that happen. We’re going to introduce that character to a man or woman who is their dream and nightmare all wrapped up in one, because this is the one person the character could actually fall in love with. And she/he is starting to do it. But in order to love, the character has to move past their emotional logjam – to face past traumas and find the courage to risk and love again. And that’s not going to be an easy journey. We writers do like to torture our heroines and heroes! But seriously, there’s a good reason for that. We’re testing them. If they’re going to win love, they’re going to have to struggle and prove themselves worthy.

This is the journey in a well-written romance. The character arc. If the romance is a sweet inspirational, intercourse won’t be part of that journey – though some degree of sexual tension may be. If the romance is erotic, you can darn well bet sex will play a significant role in the journey. And sex is ideally suited for that, because it’s intimate. A character may be able to maintain emotional distance in a business meeting, during a walk in the park, even over a candlelit dinner – but it’s really hard to do it when she/he is naked in a lover’s arms, sharing tenderness and passion, a giggle here and a gentle touch there. Sex is a physical act that can break down emotional barriers and shoot cupid’s arrow straight past the walls the character has built around her/his fragile heart.

In my erotic romances, both the heroine and hero start out with their own flaws. Meeting each other is the catalyst that begins the tough process of growing and changing into a better person – a person who can love, and who deserves love in return. The path to love is rocky (and it’s sexy!) and there are laughs and tears along the way as each couple earns – and gets – their happy ending. That’s what romance is all about!

cover_shes_on_top_120px.jpg(Please visit my website, where you’ll find blurbs, excerpts, review quotes and other goodies.)

Readers, you can learn more about Susan Lyons and her books by visiting her website:
Her upcoming release, She’s On Top, will be out this April!

Susan also generously donated a prize to one lucky winner!
One winner chosen from the comments left below will win their choice of any of her titles.
Winner will be randomly chosen and announced on January 21!
It is up to you to return to see if you won and to contact me if you see your name!
By entering you are stating you are over 18!


32 Responses to Susan Lyons Guest Blogs…

  1. Jane says:

    Keep the Aussie and Greek men coming.

  2. Wendy says:

    Hi Susan & Jennifer!

    Erotic books doesn’t mean they’re all about sex and I don’t understand why some people would think that, even I know that and I’m not a huge erotic book reader.

    Susan, your books sound great but can they be read out of order?

    Jennifer, thanks for introducing me to a new author! 🙂

    Have a great day, ladies. At least better than mine! Agh, nothing worse than having to sit and study while having mind-numbing cramps, let me tell you. It sucks!

  3. Laura J says:

    Susan, that was beautifully written. You really explained it well.

    To me the romance is the main part of the book, the couple finding their HEA. The sex is a bonus! I’ve read some erotic books that were just a tad over the top to me, but it didn’t bother me at all. To me reading is an escape and there are days when I just need to escape!

    Have a great day!!!!

  4. brownone says:

    Great blog Susan! I’ve been reading quite a few “erotic romances” recently and they are quite good. I have noticed that erotic books have gone from the old time “wham bam thank you mam” to more character development and feeling. I checked out your website and your books sound pretty cool! I love finding new authors!

  5. Jolene says:

    Susan anyone that thinks your books are poorly written are sadly mistaken and missing out on some awesome reading.. your storys are wonderfully written and told and i hope to see many many more to come … thanks for coming and sharing with us.. and thanks Jennifer for hosting Aphrodisia authors.. they are among the best there are..

  6. Susan Lyons says:

    Wow, y’all are way ahead of me this morning! Good morning, folks, and thanks to Jennifer for inviting me again.

    Aw, Jolene, you’re so sweet to say all that nice stuff! And thanks for being such a great supporter of Aphrodisia. We authors love you!

    And Laura, it’s nice to see you again.

    Brownone, thanks for checking out my website. I hope you pick up one of my books and enjoy it. Be sure and let me know.

    Wendy, yes, they can be read out of order, but the absolute best way is to go in order. I guess it’s no big surprise in my romances that the guy and girl get together at the end of each book (g), but the second book does give away some info about the couple in the first book, and so on and so on. Each book focuses on one romance but each book also has stuff about all 4 of the girlfriends.

    Jane, I’ll do my best! I really do get bored with reading stories where the characters are all white folks with no apparent ethnic background. That’s just not the way it is, in Vancouver where I live. There’s a scene in She’s on Top, my April book, where all the girls and their guys are finally going to get together – and they’re going to do a potluck dinner. They decide to each bring a dish that reflects their ethnicity: and so we have Greek, Chinese, English, Italian, Jewish, Jamaican etc. Yum!

  7. Great blog, Susan! Very well said. And your books are so beautifully crafted. Yey for Aphrodisia!

  8. Crystal B. says:

    Great blog Susan. I love your books. 🙂

  9. Kate Douglas says:

    First of all, Wendy, you have my sympathies–there’s a lot to be said for getting too old to worry about cramps!

    Very well said, Susan. Something I’ve discovered is that I can push the sexual envelope (my Wolf Tales tend to go WAY past the comfort zone for a lot of readers) so long as I engage my readers’ emotions. Writing characters with enough depth to bring them to life within the world the author creates goes a long way toward making sexual acts that might be too over the top for most readers, perfectly acceptable to them within the context of the story. My Chanku are ruled by their libido. Sex with any adult member of the pack is not only acceptable but expected, regardless of gender, race or basic sexual orientation. (My gay characters are all physically involved, at one time or another, with members of the opposite sex.) All of my lead characters have very strong moral values and a powerful sense of personal integrity–within the context of their world. Readers write and ask me about them as if they’re living, breathing people, not mere figments of my overactive imagination. If I didn’t have that connection between readers and my Chanku, I doubt the books would be at all acceptable.

  10. fedora says:

    Thanks for the great post, Susan–you said it very well! Just because a story is hot doesn’t mean that it can’t also be well-written and have a great plot and interesting characters! I’m fairly new to reading Aphrodisia books, but have enjoyed the ones I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up–I’ll definitely be buying more, and Jennifer, thanks for giving us the chance to meet so many of their talented writers!

  11. Susan Lyons says:

    Thanks, Crystal, Lucinda and Fedora.

    Kate, yes, I think emotional connection is huge. In some of the literary erotica I’ve read (as compared to erotic romance), I’ve found that the author doesn’t give me that emotional connection with the heroine. There’s a kind of distancing going on. And so, when the heroine goes on her sexual journey (e.g., has sex with a bunch of strangers), I’m not drawn in. I don’t care what she’s doing because I don’t feel like I know her. It’s not even arousing because I’m so distanced from her. For me, a simple closed-mouthed kiss can be more arousing than pages of explicitly written intercourse – if I know and care about the characters. And, as Kate says, things that might otherwise be offputting become understandable and arousing when the reader has that close connection with the characters.

    Wendy – I hope you’re feeling better.

  12. JSL says:

    Hi Susan,
    I really enjoyed reading this interview (Jennifer – thanks for doing this and setting everything up!). A lot of my friends refuse to read romance novels, or even consider the genre – they can’t even say “romance” – “trashy” always comes before it. Sad.
    I love the character growth, the emotion and the journey an author takes their characters on. Erotic romance is just an added bonus ;-). I just recently happened upon your site, and I’m eager to get my hands on one of your books!

  13. ellie says:

    What a great interview which gives me a wonderful background to your writing and unique books. I think that your books are special and enjoy them greatly. Your photos which are featured on your note cards are a favorite of mine, especially of your spectacular setting and locale.

  14. Maureen says:

    What you said is so true and since I know the ending is going to be a happy one in a romance it is the journey that makes a good romance.

  15. Jennifer Y says:

    Thank you everyone for stopping by and commenting.

    As you probably have noticed I cover a wide range of subgenres of romance on this blog…to me it doesn’t matter how much or how little sex a book has as long as the story and characters grab my attention. I like variety in my romance reading and read everything from Inspirational romance to Erotic romance. It is all about the story and characters for me…and of course, the romance…I LOVE a happy ending!

  16. Stefanie D says:

    Great blog Susan! I haven’t read your books yet, but they sound awsome!

  17. Cherie J says:

    Great post Susan! You put it so well. I sympathize with authors who put their heart and souls in their books only to have it summed up as smut or porn because there are some sexually explicit scenes. These are the same annoying people who judge me for reading it. I think it is really sad.

  18. Susan Lyons says:

    JSL, I wonder what your friends read, that they think is so superior to romance? I can’t think of another genre of fiction (including literary) where there are such positive messages. Our heroines and heroes are strong people who have the guts to face their personal demons and become better people. They’re people who believe in love. I really wonder, if you ask most people what’s the one thing they most value, or would most like to have in their lifetime, wouldn’t the majority say love? Yes, we’d like to save the world, and we’d also like to have great careers – but in our heart of hearts, don’t we really long for love?

    Ellie, I’m so glad you enjoy my books – and thanks for the compliment about my photos. I love taking pictures of nature. Especially flowers!

    Maureen, yes, I totally agree. It’s about the journey. In fact, I’m working on a proposal for a 3-novella anthology called Wild Ride, that’s about 3 single sisters’ journeys to attend their baby sister’s wedding. Bet you can guess, they meet some guys along the way! And the journey is about much more than just the trip by plane, train or beat-up old van.

  19. Susan Lyons says:

    Jennifer, me too. I read everything from inspirational to erotic. Two of my favorite inspirational authors are Shelley Bates and Deeanne Gist. They tell fantastic stories about women in difficult circumstances.

    Stefanie, I hope you check out one of my books – and enjoy it!

    Cherie, yes, it’s incredibly hurtful when people don’t “get it”. How dare someone condemn another person for reading or writing about love? As for condemning books with explicit sex – I always have to wonder if the person is really sexually inhibited. If you don’t like sex, I can sure understand why you wouldn’t want to read about it. But if you do like it … LOL.

  20. Susan Lyons says:

    By the way, I have a monthly email newsletter, if anyone is interested (I know some of you already subscribe – and thanks!). It will keep you up-to-date on what’s going on with my books, what’s new on my website, where I’ll be doing signings or chats, etc.

    If you’re interested, visit my website and either subscribe via the Contact page or, even better, enter my monthly contest. That will subscribe you plus give you a chance to win a very cool prize package themed around Ann, heroine of Touch Me.

  21. cathy M says:

    I love erotic romances and have three of your books on my keeper shelf already. Keep ’em coming!

  22. Susan Lyons says:

    Hey, it’s Cathie/Caffey! Nice to see you. I’m so thrilled to be on your keeper shelf.

  23. ThatBrunette says:

    Hooray! I’m glad you wrote this blog. No, I don’t think the new erotica is porn. I think what some people forget is that sex happens in real life. It happens in real romance. Now, this does not mean I want to have sex ‘thrust’ at me any time romance is mentioned. I think these books have a place. I’m not sure where the line is between erotica and smut. Or if there is a definite line. There are authors in erotica that wrap a plot around their sex scenes and authors that have great stories with some smoking sex scenes. Maybe that is the difference. Letter to Penthouse vs. talented writing.

  24. Pat L. says:

    Hi everyone. I just found this site. Will have to stop by often. Funny this topic comes up. I was the library and was on their computer and when I plugged in a particular author’s site – it was blocked due to being porn. I thought that was hysterical. I guess being a public place. who knows.

  25. Susan Lyons says:

    Hi Brunette. Yeah, sex happens, doesn’t it? It must, or none of us would be here. (OK, I know, no-one wants to think about their parents, well, you know…) You just gotta hope that when it happens, both partners are enjoying themselves. And if that’s the case, then why not read and write about it?

    You mentioned the “where do you draw the line” question. I guess courts sometimes do it, but for readers I really think it’s subjective. It’s a matter of what you like and don’t like. And I don’t think anyone gets to tell you you’re wrong!

    Of course there is the issue Pat raised. What’s just fine at home isn’t always okay in a public place. Or for readers of a certain age. Most of us who write erotic romance or erotica have warnings on our sites about excerpts being “adult only”. But of course we have no way of stopping young people from reading them. Gosh, I remember what I read when I was a teenager! If the worst a teen stumbles across is one of my books, I sure don’t think it’s going to hurt them. It should actually help them have a healthy attitude toward sex – i.e., that it should be respectful and consensual and tender and fun.

    Pat, I’m glad you found Jennifer’s site. It’s great! I know you’ll become a regular.

  26. Angie-la says:

    I have to agree with Jennifer…I don’t care how much sex is in a book. The story has to grab and keep my attention.
    I enjoyed the interview very much!

  27. Sue A. says:

    Susan you did an amazing job of getting to the heart of what romance books should be and aren’t. I read romance for the emotional journey and character growth (and sometimes my own) that only a good author can create. When I’m connected to the charcters emotionally then the sex is hotter.

  28. Hello Jennifer & Susan,

    This was a great post 🙂 I noticed a few readers do think that Erotic books or porn but as an erotic fan reader I wouldn’t say it is. Also I don’t think it is right to judge a book because it has sexy scenes it 😉 Me I love it and I think they are hot books.

    Sex happens in real life and since we have them written in books some people act all scared and want to judge the book. Like how do you think you got here SEX duh *G*


  29. Susan Lyons says:

    Thanks, Angie-la – I’m glad you liked the interview.

    Sue, nice to see you again. You and I read romance for the same reasons!

    Hi Linda/Reading, hugs back at ya. Thanks for dropping by and LOL re “how do you think you got here?”

  30. Thanks Susan and you are welcome. Jennifer sure did line up a wonderful group of authors. I am having loads of fun being here. Thank You Jennifer 🙂

    Don’t mind me Susan I had to say that. For real though it seems some people think the books that have sex in it is porn but when they having sex or making love as well as the people in the book what do they call it *G*


  31. Jeanette Jackson says:

    I have read that some people believe erotica is porn but I personally don’t think this is the case. In the early 80’s I read a couple of books that were labelled porn and there is definitely a difference. I’d like to enter for a book please.

  32. tina brunelle says:

    that cover is smoking!!! love your work would love this one too! keep up the writting love reading it.

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