31 May 2011


Ever wonder what romance novels romance writers are reading (wow, that's a bit of a tongue twister. Try saying that 3 times fast).  A group of romance writers let you in on the secret - although in this case the secret is not so much what they're reading, as what they're misreading :)

24 May 2011

A billion Wicked Thoughts 2

As I mentioned last week in their upcoming book A Billion Wicked Thoughts, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam studied thousands of romance novels looking for clues about social expectations. I also warned you that I had a second blog planned for this topic, so here's more....
They found "in men, physical and psychological arousal are united. Men may be surprised to hear that this is not necessarily true for the ladies. A woman can be physically aroused yet mentally turned offor downright disgusteda finding replicated across dozens of studies. This disconnect explains why there is no "female Viagra": you can't arouse a woman's mind simply by arousing her body

….It turns out that men and women not only have different erotic tastes, they have astonishingly different tastes. As biological anthropologist Donald Symons explains, "To encounter erotica designed to appeal to the other is to gaze into the psychological abyss that separates the sexes."

...we all come wired with a set of sexual cues analogous to our tongue's taste cues. However, men respond to radically different cues than women. Male cues are primarily visual. Female cues are primarily psychological. Men do have psychological cues, but (with a couple exceptions) these cues are quite different from female psychological cues. A man's cues are all directed outwards, at his partner. Some of a woman's cues are directed outwards at her partner, but some of her cues are also directed inwards at herself.

...But not only are the male and female cues different, the mind software that processes these cues is different. The male sexual software is what a computer engineer would call an "OR gate." It is instantly aroused by any single cue. The male brain is turned on by deep d├ęcolletage or sashaying hips or the whisper of a sultry voice or two Applebee's waitresses kissing.

...The female sexual brain is what a computer engineer would call an "AND gate." It requires input from multiple cues simultaneously to surpass a combined threshold of activation before arousal occurs. The female brain may be turned on by a man who is handsome and a cardiologist and pets her beagle and is popular with her lady friends and plays the sensual melodies of Cat Power in the dappled candlelight. for women, no single cue is necessary or sufficient. The female brain is designed to be flexible and adaptive. In order to achieve this adaptive flexibility, the female sexual brain can mix and match sexual cues. If a man is smart, makes her feel adored, and is handsome, that might trigger her AND gate. If the same man slouches and has a comb overbut also an American Express Blackthat might also get the job done. If he's not smart, gentle, nor handsome but is tall, confident, and a man of dusky mystery, that could still trip the same woman's AND gate. But there's not many women who can obtain sexual release by gazing at a disembodied photo of a naked man's buttocks. Even if it's Ashton Kutcher's.

...internet search histories above are a fair representation of what each sex tends to do online. Men seek out visuals and go straight for orgasm. Women prefer stories and often favor conversation over culmination. The five most popular adult sites for men are all within the top 100 most popular sites on the entire Internet. All are webcam or video sites featuring anonymous graphic sex, such as PornHub, the most popular adult YouTube clone, which draws about 13.9 million visitors a month. In contrast, the most popular adult video site for women, For The Girls, draws a meager 100,000 a month (and up to half of those visitors are gay men). All across the planet, with women free to access any erotic content they wish, they mostly seek out character-driven stories of sexual relationships: romance novels, erotic romance (sometimes called EroRom or Romantica®), fan fiction, slash fiction, gay romance novels, and erotic stories.

So, what does all this mean? Well, it should all be taken with a grain of salt. Generalizations are great but there are always exceptions, especially when it comes to people. That doesn't mean it not very interesting :)

And of course it means that as a women writing romance fiction I'm far more likely to have women readers - shock horror :)

To read more follow this link to read an except from their book or here to read something from their blog. 

17 May 2011

A billion Wicked Thoughts

In the upcoming book A Billion Wicked Thoughts, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam studied thousands of romance novels looking for clues about social expectations. 

After analyzing 15,000 Harlequin books, they came up with the most popular professions for heroes in romance novels. The complete list follows belowwhat do you think?
1. Doctor
2. Cowboy
3. Boss
4. Prince
5. Rancher
6. Knight
7. Surgeon
8. King
9. Bodyguard
10. Sheriff

Okay, so now I'm trying to think of my writing (published and unpublished to think of what my heroes do).
Human with a Twist he's basically an antiques deals (but not her boss)
Redemption's Kiss he's a police officer (is this close enough to Sheriff??)

What does the occupation of our favourite heroes tell us about ourselves. Of course studies like this need to be read with a critical eye - after all, any one who reader Mills & Boon/Harlequin know they are heavily skewed to certain tropes (& hero employment choices). But just because one is reading with a crietal eye - doesn't mena it's not interesting. They also say...

"While modern radiophysicists have discovered black holes and developed the means for communicating with extraterrestrials, scientists studying desire still struggle to identify basic differences between the sexual interests of men and women… Quasars don’t close the curtains out of modesty or suspicion. In contrast, most of us are unwilling to let curious scientists photograph us as we tumble between the sheets. Radio waves may be invisible, but they don’t try to deceive curious physicists and they’re incapable of self-deception. Humans are guilty of both."

They don't stop with what our heroes do, they look at how we describe them as well:
"...We analyzed the text of more than ten thousand romance novels published from 1983 to 2008 to determine the most common descriptions of the hero’s physical appearance.

Here are the seven most frequent masculine features:

And the seven most common adjectives used to describe masculine features?

...no synonym for penis appears in the hundred most common physical descriptors used to describe the romance hero. If we wished to describe the ideal-looking hero, we could use the most common two-word physical descriptions: the perfect hero boasts “blue eyes,” a “straight nose,” “high forehead,” and “square jaw” together making a “handsome face.” His head is framed by “dark hair” which accents the “white teeth” in his “sensual mouth” curved into a “crooked smile.” He stands tall with “broad shoulders,” a “broad chest,” “narrow waist,” “flat stomach,” “strong arms,” “big hands,” “big feet,” and “long legs”though the heroine’s eye might ultimately be drawn to his “powerful thighs.”"

Mmmmmm, he sounds nice :)

Follow this link to read an excerpt from the book. 
And yes this stuff fascinated me so expect a couple more blog based on their material :)

10 May 2011

Fables and reality and cynisism

Telling stories is all about the fine balance between reality and fiction. You need to tell a story in such a way you take the reader out of their reality and at the same time make them believe your created reality - your unreal reality. It's a balancing act. If things are too unbelievable your reader will be thrown out of the story, on the other hand if your story is too real what is there left to tell. The following takes on fables throw a large enough dose of reality to completely douse the story.

03 May 2011

Music/film industry parallels with publishing

Blog on the Harvard Business Review about the film and music industry after reading it I couldn't help thinking about how the comments could be applied to publishing as well.
"Innovation has emerged as a key means by which the US can pull itself out of this lackluster economy. In the State of the Union, President Obama referred to China and India as new threats to America's position as the world's leading innovator. But the threats are not just external. One of the greatest threats to the US's ability to innovate lies within: specifically, with the music and movie business. These Big Content businesses are attempting to protect themselves from change so aggressively that they risk damaging America's position as a world leader in innovation."
 Sound familiar?And this...

"Many in the high technology industry have known this for a long time. Despite making their living relying on it, the Big Content players do not understand technology, and never have. Rather than see it as an opportunity to reach new audiences, technology has always been a threat to them. "
I've, and many others, have posted on eBooks, DRM, electronic lending, ePublishers vs print etc...  Technology is something that publishing is struggling with. It's facing challenges that film & music have been facing or years - the question is whether they learn from what's gone before & deal with better... or not.

I won't post the whole article, but it is definitely worth reading.