Mary Roach on Orgasms

One of the things that we here at Olivia Waite find most enjoyable about being an erotic romance author is the kind of subjects we get to research. The history of the vibrator! Contraception through the ages! Underwear of generations past! We here at Olivia Waite also love the great nonfiction author Mary Roach. Her books will make you feel like your world is bigger and more awesome than you ever knew it could be. I particularly recommend the chapter of Packing for Mars where she describes the mechanics of sex in space, because it is thorough and plainspoken and has a whole section on whether or not that monkey really masturbated while in orbit.

So when we hear that Mary Roach has a TED talk called "10 things you didn't know about orgasm," we took seventeen minutes of our day to educate ourselves in the name of being a knowledgeable erotic romance author.

And it was fun, and fascinating, and indeed there were many more than ten things we did not know about orgasm.

We were definitely not expecting the bit about the pig.


The Uncontest: Resolutions

Are you reading the Rejectionist? If not, you really should. We here at Olivia Waite are privileged to count ourselves among her more worshipful admirers/fangirls/willing acolytes should she ever decide to start some sort of book-and-squid-based cult in subterranean caverns whose altars foam white with the brine of saltwater sacrifices. For the month of December, writes our heroine, there shall be a trial run of resolutions for the coming blank slate/New Year. It is a lovely idea, and resolutions sound so much more fun in December, especially when you only have to think about them for a month. And I lost NaNoWriMo this year, so I could use a little victory at present.

Be it resolved henceforward: Every day in the month of December, I will work on each of the following:

  • the nearly finished novella
  • the second draft of the YA fantasy novel
  • the first draft of the new secret manuscript

Now, I'm hoping to do this on top of my forthcoming line edits for "Generous Fire," and the new puppy takes every available opportunity to chew on anything valuable or electronic, so time is at a premium. Therefore it counts as work if I open up the file and only change one word. Because at least that's one word further than I was before I opened the file.

Let the great experiment begin!

The Nano Question

This year is the second in which I have attempted National Novel Writing Month. And the question is: is this a good idea? Many people are pro-Nano. Others, including the venerable Maggie Stiefvater, are not. Both sides have good arguments: it is important to keep pushing when writing fiction, because otherwise you'll never finish. But, like La Stiefvater, I like to take time and work out problems with particular scenes before moving on to later parts of the story. Otherwise, things go very, very wrong.

Which is actually why I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year.

See, last year, I took a pretty promising story idea and ran with it. And halfway through it became clear that the idea was not long enough for 50,000 words of its own.

So, because I was pressed for time and sleepless and tired, I added a time-travel subplot. To a speakeasy romance.

It was, as you can imagine, a complete disaster.

But there was value in it. I learned that outlines are my best friend when it comes to first drafts. I also learned that if I just keep pushing and don't stop to edit, I can put down sentences with true things that surprise me. Things I never knew I thought, with images that remain striking. I live for these gems, when they deign to appear.

So this year, I worked out a detailed, synopsis-level outline. I know all the moves the characters make, and why. And already there have been a few moments

Warning: Do Not Get Yourself Impaled

There is a scene, in World's Awesomest Movieā„¢ The Core, where our heroes are in a spaceship drilling through the Earth's crust (don't ask) and they burst into the center of a gigantic geode (really, don't ask). There are huge purple amethyst spears everywhere, and when I saw this in theaters, I laughed so hard I nearly choked to death on the grapefuit-juice-and-vodka I was sipping from my smuggled-in flask. Turns out this scene was not as implausible as I thought. Science is amazing!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Crystal Cave of Giants from Naica, Mexico:

These are gypsum crystals in a silver mine. For hundreds of thousands of years, conditions in this hidden chamber were so protected and stable that normal crystallization processes resulted in enormity. Mining processes removed the fluid, though the chamber remains superheated by surrounding magma (hence the suits, which are filled with ice).

The explorer's own description: "Actually going inside, wearing the suits and exploring the cave was a dream come true. I've never seen such a spectacular place. It was like setting foot on a new planet. Many of the crystals were so large that I couldn't even wrap my arms around them and the terrain was so difficult to walk on that we had to be extremely cautious not to slip and fall. Doing so would could get you impaled on a sharp crystal and would require a dangerous and difficult rescue."

Cue the action scene!

Beginnings and endings are easy . . .

Well, that just isn't true, is it? It's a line from a movie, and it tends to appear in my head according to some mysterious schedule of its own. Taunting me. Beginnings, sure -- beginnings are fun. They brim with possibility. They can also be terrifying, and terror begets interest. Let me be scared -- let me be anxious -- let me be frozen with fear -- so long as I am not bored.

Endings? I find them impossible. There are two perfect endings:

  1. And they lived happily ever after.
  2. And someone/several someones died in a manner so wrenching that the survivors wished they'd died themselves.

Jane Eyre is a perfect example of No. 1 in its sophisticated form. King Lear would be an example of No. 2. (The contrarian in me suspects that the reverse would also be a defensible theory.)

This is why The Princess Bride is such a perfect book: you get both perfect endings at once. The rest of us are compelled to choose one.