Vulnerability looks like a cat scared s***less.

You know the look.

I once got“the look.”

You know… the look you get when you may have over shared. I’m at a place in life where I can be open about my OCD, my faith and the history that created their journey together.  It’s my hope by doing so I can help someone else overcome the stigma of saying  they are afraid to be vulnerable and authentic and overcome the fear of having a silent illness, whatever theirs may be.

I’m versed in emotional intelligence. I take a lot of training on it for the work I do; however, not enough to make me any sort of expert but enough that I can use it daily.   After being in a training for awhile, I shared a thought with my workshop partner, a total stranger until this class. We were speaking on how personalities can get in the way of critical conversations and brainstorming strategies to overcome that roadblock. I shared that I’ve been told that when people first meet me I seemed cold.  Once they came to know me though, they shared they were happy to find I was the complete opposite.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.~Psalm 34:4-5

What they didn’t know upon their first introduction to me is that I have a mental illness. My silence is nothing more than finding a safe place for my mind to be. I have to study people and new situations to make sure I’m comfortable with all of it.  Last thing I want is to be triggered into a state that has me in tears and a cycle of obsession. My workshop partner looked at me as if to say, “you’re mentally ill?” I could tell by his expression and body language that he was trying to figure out how he didn’t know that from day one.

It doesn’t work that way with the silent diseases. I lay odds that society has no idea how many people suffer with mental illness because it is not always obvious, especially with Pure O.  Frankly, it’s not always comfortable to be candid and admit my OCD diagnosis.  But I think it’s vital.

Later my partner asked if I thought the seating assignments would be rearranged for the next class. I said I hoped not because I’m not a huge fan of change once I get things organized in my mind.  I’d have to get used to the differences and spend time getting comfortable all over again.

He laughed and said, “I hate it too. Things like that are what really stirs up my–”

GASP! She is NOT blogging about THOSE topics! The horror

…. and it’s that pause that is so essential. The odds are he was going to say “his OCD” for it looked like he had it perched on his lips and the tell tale emphasis he placed on  “my” is usually a dead giveaway.  If I had a dime for every time someone used OCD as a designer term for a quirk or a preference, I’d be a millionaire. Only on a rare few occasions have I met someone who legitimately shared my struggle. Instead, he stopped, regrouped, and said it “bugs” him.

I’m left to wonder…. was he one of the millions out there suffering and unable to trust vulnerability enough to share it? Or was he one of the few to learn that this is a serious illness and deserves respect? If it’s the former, I hope my vulnerability helps him find courage to speak his story. If the latter, kudos and thanks for rephrasing.

I show my vulnerability to helps others. I’ve seen the power speaking out can have in finding a path to healing. I show my soul to prove what abilities hide in the weaknesses we THINK we have. Shame can be turned to a strength if all trust and faith is placed in God.  I’m vulnerable here on my blog, using a platform that is for my career as a writer to speak about OCD and my faith. There are some out there that would say I am wrong to do that here and I’d alienate readers by not being “PC” and mum on such topics.

I’ve my corner of the web and I intend to use it.

Let’s speak honestly and say that all struggles come with a healthy dose of  shame. Stepping outside of that prison and sharing a story can open doors.  Just… share it truthfully. Don’t hide behind false social media profiles, phony pictures of yourself or bogus stories about your life. Leave your story to be yours sans embellishments to hide your shame or fear.  I believe we need to be in authentic relationships with our neighbors in the hope that ignorance ends and awareness begins.

Don’t have it? Don’t own it.

Here’s the thing.  If you don’t have it, don’t own it.

This post has been on my mind for awhile now. It gets under my skin when folks mirror those with OCD, thinking that in some level their idiosyncratic ways are the same as having a diagnosis.

It’s not.

They way to relate to a person with a mental illness is just to be who you are. I respect that more.  There is zero need to exclaim how you are “so OCD” yourself.  Saying that is a dead give away that you do not have the disorder and in no way creates empathy. Sharing stories of how you prefer things neat or how stressed you may get when things don’t match, without sharing the level of devastation created in the wake of your obsessive thoughts (not to mention what your mind and body were forced to do to find relief), creates skepticism, distance, and mistrust.  I’ve met folks who toss around that they have OCD as a method to excuse away their habits or explain their quirky behavior.  They do this even though they know I have Pure O. Perhaps they have some form of anxiety, which is painful enough as is,  yet respect the disorder and the diagnosis by not tossing it around as a casual term if you don’t know—concretely—that you suffer with it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you ~1 Peter 5:6

Help end stigma.  Mental illness, and especially OCD, is stigmatized too much as it is and using the disorder as a global label is damaging.  Diagnosing OCD is a lengthy process.  It cannot be self-assessed and it requires psychiatric evaluation and treatment.

I’m blessed. My Pure O is being controlled (it’s a daily process) and, in my opinion, mild compared to others who suffer the same. I think that is why I can stand up as I do and speak out like this.

Just be who you are. That’s far more respectable.

Flirting with Death: The role of the mother and father in Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera

Image by Greg Hildebrant in his illustrated edition of Phantom of the Opera. Find this book, find it now!

I’ve a confession to make that should be obvious to those who have read my Phantom series or follow me on Facebook. I am a firm believer that the idea of a relationship between Erik and Christine would not have been healthy. This stems from the original novel and the unhealthy love between Erik and Christine born from the idea of the mother/son and father/daughter relationship that Leroux crafted into this pairing.

First off let me say that the age difference between Erik and Christine doesn’t bother me in the original novel; however, it does in the stage show and especially in Webber’s movie. In both adaptations, Erik and Christine were portrayed as too young, although the stage show was slightly was closer to the novel in that. Leroux’s age difference of an assumed 50 year-old man and an assumed 16 year-old girl was natural in the mid to late 19th century. Many men, especially those of the aristocracy, did not marry until well into their 40’s and often with women many years their junior. So while historically that isn’t an issue, the moral implication it bears on a modern day reader is. The reader sees Erik as a man old enough to be Christine’s father who is pursuing her with a need for object and maternal love.

Erik clearly had issues with his mother whether spoken or unspoken. His home beneath the opera house was not the image most in the Phandom think of thanks to Webber’s movie interpretation of it: a cluttered, cavernous, lakeside cave. In the original novel it was a house with all the natural amenities a house has. Erik’s primary possessions were his mother’s furniture stored in a room that was nothing short of a shrine to what was left of his relationship with her. This is the very room he gave to Christine, and the same room that was filled with Freudian indicators of masculinity and sexuality.

Michangelo was genius.

He tells the Persian he was moved to tears (or as some believe redemption) when Christine held him in the final “Pieta” scene. For those of you not familiar with the “Pieta” by Michelangelo, it is a famous sculpture of the Virgin Mary (here the virginal Christine) holding her dying son, Jesus Christ (here the already “dead” Erik). In the novel the position as Christine leans down to cradle Erik after allowing him to kiss her forehead, therefore mingling their tears (maternal fluids according to Freud) is very similar to the pose of this famous portrait of mother and son.

Christine associating Erik as a father figure is far more believable. The idea of a young girl hero-worshiping an older man is a theme familiar in many ideas of a father/daughter relationship. From the beginning, Christine was in love with the idea that her beloved father, with whom she was extraordinarily close, promised her the “Angel of Music” upon his untimely death. Erik becomes for Christine the living vision of her dead father. While not an actual angel, Erik was a musician with an angelic voice in addition to being a walking embodiment of death. For Christine, this translated into a reincarnation of all her father was returning in another form for her to love and worship.

Some may think it a stretch to believe that anyone would love a walking corpse or even yearn for a physical and sexual connection with it, especially if it reminds us of our fathers. In art history “Death” plays a major role as a both a father figure and a sexual seducer of young women. Many paintings and sculptures depict Death either teaching or luring maidens with enticing gifts, music, or just good ‘ole seductive looks . Death was the ultimate and attainable, albeit unwanted, element to life. Even today you hear of people “flirting with death.” Why? Is it so alluring because they want to actually die, or because the idea it conjures up of being able to conquer and overpower death?

Christine being seduced by the reincarnation of her father and being lured into a quasi-incestuous relationship was, in a way, “flirting with death” and the power and control it portrayed.

The Violence Question

Horrible events have occurred here in the United States in the last few months in such rapid succession it is hard to comprehend. From a mass shooting in Las Vegas, to an ISIS driven attack in New York City to the most recent mass shooting at a small town Baptist church in Texas and a school shooting in California. While I know this blog is usually about updates to my books, it is also about my life and thoughts. Authors are not immune to the sadness and fears of the world even though we spend so much time in fantasy. It leaves me thinking of my huge church where inside hundreds of family members gather weekly and daily to serve Christ. I fear for our safety, yet then I remember how many times in the Bible God tells us not to fear.

Its 365 times. By God’s design there are 365 days in a year. Not a coincidence.

Times like this lift up the question, “Why does God allow such horror?” If you’re like me and a Christian, you’ll get asked that in your lifetime. So I remember that in times like this…. God weeps.

God isn’t allowing this suffering to happen. This horror and pain entered the world on the back of sin in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose sin over God’s loving guidance. The next question that will come flying at a Christian is, “Then why did He allow sin into the world?”

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33

That’s when Christians tackle the tough task of explaining how God loves us and how He wanted us to have free will. In order to be in a unique relationship with every son and daughter He has, He gave us individual choice. Without that, we’d be carbon copies of one another, marionettes for God instead of children of God. With our freedoms we have the ability, daily, to choose God’s love or to choose not to love.

“Then why can’t God just stop it all?”

The truth is, in my opinion, God surely can. Just as He opened his mouth and spoke light into existence He can speak sin out of existence. But then… when would God be able to stop? Take away one sin there is still another to deal with, then another, and another, and soon a world of sin to discipline. Pretty soon humans are nothing more than those marionettes with God constantly intervening to correct our thoughts and movements, instead of humans learning from our free choices.

Look at it this way, as children didn’t we learn from our mistakes? A parent who constantly scolds and corrects the bad action of a child isn’t teaching in my opinion, they’re merely controlling the child’s actions. If children behave there is no need to correct them, yet once they misbehave then the correction must occur. It’s a learned process to do the right thing. Had sin not entered the world when it did, learning right from wrong wouldn’t be an issue. The world would have known only right, good, and love.

God’s world.

Now I consider the fallen world I live in since sin entered and look at my neighbor. Would I rather be exactly like them, in all ways, the good, bad and ugly or have the ability to choose how I want to behave? Would you want to be controlled, or free?

“But He took care of getting rid of sin early in the Bible, so why not now? Answer that one!”

When the world was created, when Mankind was just taking its baby steps, there were a lot of miraculous ways God showed His power. He had to. In order for the race He created to understand His great love, and their mistakes, God had to perform many signs of His power, even if it meant things like the Great Flood. Today… He doesn’t have to. His great faith is evident in the millions of followers of Jesus worldwide.

I sadly heard one morning that someone somewhere said loud enough for the news to pick up on it, that praying at times like this doesn’t control or change anything so why bother. I’ve even been told myself that God can’t change things. That was one of the saddest statements ever said to me, and I disagree. It doesn’t make tragedies easier to endure knowing about free choice. But understanding that God gave me a will of my own can help me, and others, pray over tragedy. Pray that those impacted have hearts that remain rooted in the love of God, and that God’s spiritual warfare is present in their lives so that Satan doesn’t get a grip on them in the wake of their sadness. Just as the horrible choices of one person changed the lives of the victims and their families and friends forever, their individual choices after a tragedy can have impact good or bad too. Do I  want them to fall prey to all the horrible feelings Satan wants them to experience in this time, or do I want a hedge of protection to envelope them to know God’s loving guidance even more? I think many would agree with me over which is the better choice.

God wants us to use our free will to make the right choices. He wants us to choose to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. We have the choice to pray for the sinners of this earth to turn to Christ so other horrific events don’t happen. So, praying in my opinion changes everything.

When we weep, God weeps too. Spiritual growth occurs in the valley and in that sorrow His love endures.

Something to ponder as I write.

 

Really… stop looking at your phone and make eye contact!

“Literary fiction exercises a reader’s imagination in matters of character and emotional nuances.” ~Sherry Turkle

When was the last time you noticed emotional nuances? The reply should be just now, or two minutes ago, or whatever is the last amount of time you spent in the room with another person. Every second we stand before another person we are giving off emotional cues about our inner, unspoken feelings that add to the conversation and our ability to build empathy. That is totally lost in the digital age.  By spending so much time with screens in front of our faces we lose out on the nuances of body language.

Imagine  this: Lets say we are sitting together in a room and you declare  “Let’s go see The Shack!”   I slap my hand down on the arm of my chair, point to the ceiling,  nod and say “Great. Lets do that. What time?”  What feeling do you get? Lets say instead, I reply by rolling my eyes, hanging my head to my shoulder, stare at the floor, then say “Great. Lets do that. What time?”  What feeling do you get?

In the first instance, body language would show enthusiasm and engagement; in the second disengagement, boredom, maybe even disgust.

Now imagine a screen in front of you and you type the same question to the person on the opposite end. All you see are letters forming the words, “Great. Lets do that. What time?”  Sans any visual clues you have zero idea of what is really being thought and felt. Without this type of engagement, where we get to read another person’s body cues, there is only so far empathy can build. It’s common knowledge that using all caps means someone is yelling at you–but are they really angry? Can you see their pupils dilate or their fists clench? If you type something funny is the person really “ROTFL” or are they sitting there stone-face, bored and saying that to humor you?  A problems existing in today’s world is that folks are forgetting the importance of being together. What suffers is empathy. Reading body language builds connection.

Turkle wrote of something called “disconnection anxiety.” That’s a phenomenon of when people who are always plugged in to there phones, emails, or computers finally get to be alone–they can’t handle it. Concentration suffers, boredom sets and the fear of falling off the radar becomes too much. Alone–is the worst thing possible. When there is a constants stream of  blogs to read, emails to check and things to like on Facebook or Twitter, there is little time being spent on just being quiet enough to understand the benefits of true solitude.

Too much time spent focused online or on phones leads to an inability to take time for oneself. And, if one cant take time for oneself, how can they take time for another?

Something to ponder as Lent continues….

crossposted over at Strong Finds Power

The Shack Weekend

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a long while. The Shack has finally released.

I can testify that there is no relationship on earth quite like the one we have with God, through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  When I first read The Shack I thought it was a good book, but didn’t really understand it. The ideas and concepts confused me even thought I grew up in the church. I wasn’t ready to hear what the book had to say. I was reading it for the wrong reasons. It was something trendy to do, since Oprah recommended it. It wasn’t until 2015 when I needed  and turned to God the most, that I re-read it…. and it made more than sense, it made the way to understanding my faith easier.

I was once told God didn’t have “time” to listen to prayers when I prayed for my needs, only when I prayed for the needs of others. I know this is wrong now for I know where to find my support first and foremost in the scripture. Matthew 7:7  says: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” The Shack helped me see that God has time for every prayer. I turned more away from misguided thoughts and more to opening my heart and mind to understanding my relationship with God, through prayer. He wants to hear from me and I from Him.  He is always speaking…

I hope everyone welcomes this book into their lives.  It may be the start to a new understanding…

Slow Down and Reclaim Conversation….

There is no substitute for eye contact. Or for someone else to do your laundry.

“Eye contact is the most powerful path to human connection.” ~Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation

Turkle is on to something and I slowly realize I am making a conscious choice to strive, whenever possible, to make sure all my friendships involve eye-to-eye conversation. Words have far more meaning and connection when there are the feelings of attachment and empathy that can only be achieved by the power of eye contact. Even if it is only via Skpe, the “mirroring” pathways in our brain are engaged and a deeper connection occurs.

Turkle reveals shocking studies. More and more youth in this day and age are accustomed to constant interruptions in conversation due to social media. So much so, the interruptions are not viewed as a bad thing but rather as another form of human connection. These interruptions provide an “out” for things folks want to avoid, and the overwhelming thing people want to avoid is boredom. Boredom is basically a warning sign when you come down to it. It’s  the mind is telling us  we have to pay closer attention to something… anything. At its core, that’s a good thing as it teaches us to take note to what makes us tick and pushes us to make new connections or learn new things. But if boredom is constantly swatted away by the allure of the phone and the online world, how are we to come to know ourselves? And in that, how are we to come to make meaningful conversations with one another?

This world is too fast paced if you ask me. People want instant gratification. I’ve said that numerous times at work.  The “meat” of a story has to be within the first paragraph, or three sentences, lest  you risk losing a reader.  More often than not, people want to be told what to do, not how to do for themselves. Focus is lacking and lulls in conversation are a bad thing. During the point in my life when I was online all the time, I learned that any “lull” in a conversation committed by me that was longer than 3 seconds would spark questions.  It led to more anxiety for me, which wasn’t good when you have an anxiety disorder. I’d worry for a split second that I wasn’t fast enough to reply. Many times I’d have to think before I would type or respond to a question. 99% of the time all I was doing was processing what I just read and was forming my thoughts. It takes me longer than most sometimes due to my Pure O. I think in pictures and metaphors. I absorb things slower.  My “lulls” would  spark questions of if I was multitasking. Who else was I talking to? What else was I doing? What was going on? Well…. nothing. I was thinking. Plain and simple. If you speak to me and it seems like I am not replying fast enough, give me a second. I am just flipping through mind mind and rotating my thoughts into words.  But this digital age has programmed a world where faster is better, and, when people lack the empathy found in face to face conversations, silence can be misread. Turkle mentions this. She writes:

“...people who chronically multitask train their brains to crave multitasking. Those who multitask most frequently don’t get better at it; they just want more of it. This means that conversation, the kind that demands focus, becomes more and more difficult.”  I can’t help but think that those who are constantly on the go, and especially our youth today with their crazy schedules, might expect others to be on the go too. That if they multitask, they expect, or assume, others are as well and are capable of functioning in that environment. Where I respond slower, an expert multitasker may be quicker to a reply. How does the movement from texting, to instant messages, to Facebook, to Twitter feeds, etc., affect people’s ability to slow down, form thoughts, and carry on  conversations, and can it be done without the interruptions? Youth today are experts in juggling multiple forms of social media. Turkle discovered that, for  people in their teens and twenties, the most commonly heard phrase at dinner with friends was “Wait, what?” Everyone is always missing something because they are not slowing down enough to pause, process, think and then respond.

I’d rather see kids looking at each other instead of looking at their phones.

I suppose that is why I love small groups at church.  They are highly focused. It’s why I love dinners at the dining room table with my daughter.  Togetherness breeds connection. A slower pace creates time to think before you speak.

It’s not easy to unplug from it all though. Just last night I was having a hard time with my necessity to  say good night to my best friend so to have my dinner and walk the dog. I kept wanting to flip my computer back open so to be in constant connection. I felt selfish for leaving.   Backing away from the world I was so involved in when I am home is strange for me, especially when it’s part of my job, but it’s giving me a lot more power to be a better person and friend. I’m less stressed now that I am offline more than I am online.  I feel like I have privacy.

Always being connected in the digital world leaves you  never alone and, in order to know yourself the best, you have to be alone sometimes.

Remembering Diagnosis Day

Playbuzz test by Monica Woods claiming to test for OCD. Looks like circles to me.

It’s the wrap up of #OCDWeekOfAction, an initiative of a UK based charity for those with OCD. So I invite everyone who takes those online OCD “tests” that cycle around Facebook to donate to support the mental illness they so quickly discovered they were afflicted with.

I’ve said it once and will say it again… it’s not funny anymore. I’ve pondered if I should get a thicker skin, if I should “lighten” up over these obviously fluff tests likely designed to  phish information from Facebook accounts… but I find I fail.  This is a mental illness I have watched get trivialized repeatedly. So my action, in what small corner of the web I own, is to say, again, please stop it. Stop degrading and spreading false ideas about what OCD is all about. It is not about your eyesight or color standards. It is not about perfectionism and attention to detail.

The tests for OCD suck. They suck because you’re alone in a room being asked a battery of questions, some which make no sense to your racing mind, all while your heart is flat on your shoes. You wonder if you will be leaving that doctor’s office “fixed” and “normal” or will keep on living a life “faking normal.” They are scary and confusing, and since you are not diagnosed yet, you are left with  hours (to days) of waiting as your symptoms get worse because of the anxiety you just went through. Then your results come back and you are staring down bottles of mind-bending, extremely powerful drugs that literally alter your personality.

But instead society has this idea that OCD is the kid to pick on in the “playground” of mental illness. It’s fun to say, easy for celebrities to make into a “designer” illness, and profitable to slap on tee-shirts and coffee mugs.

I wonder if folks who take these online “tests” on Facebook, and then proudly say they are 100% OCD afterward will remember the day of their diagnoses for all their lives. I’d like them to post on the blog in reply and let me know. And if you really do have OCD, post in reply and let me know if you remember the day you were diagnosed. Help to spread knowledge and crush the ignorance.   I remember mine. I came home scared out of my wits, angry as all hell, and for days later was sick as a dog. Since I was terrified back then of letting anyone know I had a mental illness I went on with life and suffered through work with debilitating migraines as the meds tried to work. Then I would sleep every second I could.

I had to be a wife, I had to be a mother to an infant, I had to “fake normal.” I had to try to forget the exact circumstance that woke this sleeping giant in me.

I have Pure O-OCD. I can’t forget as much as I want to and I assure you it was not the moment I took a “test” on Facebook.

But… I can vent to my corner of the world and ask again that OCD not be commercialized or trivialized. Think about the cancer a friend had, or the Alzheimers a parent died of, think of the darkest diagnosis in your life and how it impacted your family and friends, then think of what it would be like if that diagnosis was constantly disrespected. It’s not just disrespectful to the illness, but to the person afflicted.

Take the online GAMES  but when you go to post results be sure to mention that it was a fun way to see if you had quirk, to test your eyesight, or finickiness.  Call it for what it is. This mental illness would have a greater understanding and a lot more support if those who didn’t suffer from OCD helped to spread the word about what it really is.

I suppose I’m never going to lighten up about this. If I have the opportunities take a stand on it,  I will.

How to Build Sexual Tension in Fiction Writing

This is a totally inappropriate image for this blog topic. But it is how I feel today….

I am totally not editing today. I have the attention span of flea hopped up on caffeine, but the motivation of a snail. Not a good combination when you have to push a book out.  I’ve been cleaning instead. I  found this information on sexual tension and thought I’d toss it up on the blog.I learned something from it years ago. Perhaps those trolling the web may find it useful too.

Sexual tension is actions and reactions of your characters to each others chemistry both physical and emotional. It is your characters flirting with the limits of their relationship and the emotions of their partner. It’s where your hero touches your heroine and she trembles. Where he strokes her skin and she melts. Understanding body reflexes and reactions to all the senses is critical in good romance writing. All the senses must be involved to make a good scene. How does your hero smell, what does his feel like, how does the heroine react to his touch? There are twelve steps to consider in creating convincing sexual tension:

Eye to body– This is the fraction it takes for someone to size up the physical attributes of their partner. Instantly we know what attracts us, so your character should to. What do they see in their partner and how to they process it?

Eye to eye— Our attraction is connected to the eye. Only intimate people make direct eye contact. Prolonged eye contact in non-intimate people could be considered aggressive staring. Let the reader know what the character reads behind those eyes.

Voice to voice– In a scene this connects the reader via small talk and introduces a reader to how the characters relate. A hero who is staring at a heroine might walk up her and say he wants to sleep with her outright. That’s a fairly bold move. You’d either shock the reader with this voice-to-voice contact or perhaps the reader expected him to do that by how you built up the sexual tension in the scene. Think about how a character will sound in the moment. Husky? Throaty? Where the words moaned? Manipulations to the voice in sexual tension can speak volumes.

A far more relevant image because snails do not have hands.

Hand to hand–This intimacy is important. Throughout history social intentions were built around gestures of the hand. Look at the handshake what it means. Physically the hand is extremely sensitive by the amount of nerves involved, so be sure to pull in the sense of touch.

Arm to shoulder— This is a breaching of social circles by coming in closer than what is usually acceptable. Invading personal space to find a more intimate connection is a daring. Letting bodies touch crosses a threshold and brings the reader closer to a sexual intent. The character could be leaning in slightly then quickly backing off, or could brush brushing against someone he or she passes by.

Arm to waist–Who doesn’t know what hand on the small of a back means? It is a direct statement of sexual intimacy. It could state a deep interest or reflect disgust. How many times have you seen a woman arch away from contact as this as if to say “hands off!” This form of intimacy and can convey a variety of sexual tension, both good and bad.

Mouth to Mouth–You can count on physical arousal with this one, especially with your male characters, and it will occur or you have done something wrong in the sexual tension. Don’t under estimate the power of a simple kiss. There are several hot spots on the human neck that will automatically arouse. Don’t forget taste here either. The characters are kissing, each has to taste like something so consider, if it works well for the scene, to add that element. Be certain, however, that it doesn’t pull the reader out of scene.

Hand to head–I love this one. This is an intimate portrayal of trust. It’s difficult to not to see the meaning behind someone’s eyes when their hand and is holding your head, cheek, neck…

Hand to body— If your heroine doesn’t trust your hero this is usually the spot where you should break off the tension.

Mouth to breast— By now you may be approaching a sex scene or at least extreme intimate arousal. Here all senses come into play. For a male he is smelling, tasting and feeling all at the same time

Hand to genital–The characters have reached total bonding at this point. Your hero and heroine should be trusting each other enough to want to progress.

Genital to genital–the face to face, full body contact of making love.

Those are the basic to building up to sexual tension—go out and find a character to use them on.

Happy writing!

Reclaiming Conversation.

It’s rare that a book makes me leap out of the tub to post a blog, but just a few pages into this one and I knew I had to. It’s called Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age” by Sherry Turkle.

The art of conversation has died around us. I was never a big conversationalist to begin with but I sure did listen..a lot. I don’t hear many real honest to goodness conversations where people are talking with each other and not at or through each other. In this day and age human empathy and connection has suffered by placing windows and screens in place of eye-to-eye, face-to-face contact.

I spend most of my time in an online world. It’s a part of my job. I interact with countless people on social media that I will never see face to face. For many years I came home and social media was my world too, so much so, the first thing I did when I walked in my door was to make sure the computer was on and the alerts were turned up. But the online world is no substitute for being present before another person, and yet, we all succumb to it. We love the idea of being able to edit a thought before we say it and be as flawless as we can possibly be.

Things have changed for me over years. I started to get involved in small groups with my church.  I am less interested in social media and growing more addicted to God and small groups. I get a high from making connections and hearing the flawed stories of people face-to-face.

It’s 2017 and it took some time and a lot of prayer but I can say I social media is not running my life as it has for the last 9 years. My phone is used to make calls or send a text to one of a handful of people. When in a waiting room full of people looking at their phones, I’m the one looking at them.

I’m “reclaiming” my own art of conversation. That’s why I am going to read this book and post a blog when a thought strikes me. I sure hope this helps me learn a lot more about the conversation before my daughter gets to be the age where she wants/needs a phone. I don’t want her to be one of those tweens who never looks where she is going when she walks or who’s idea of hanging out with friends is sitting around looking at their phones.

Turkle writes: “The very sight of a phone on the landscape leaves us feeling less connected to each other, less invested in each other….Once aware we can begin to rethink our practices. When we do, conversation is there to reclaim. For the failing connections of our digital world, it is the talking cure.

Granted, it’s the digital age, but God made people so people can be known to one another. He did not make us to live alone. He did not create us to love in secret. He did not design us to hide from one another. He gave us empathy for a reason.

I know mine needs polish.

Does yours?

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  • James 1:5
    “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”