I’ve moved. The host group is working on catching up with me, but in the mean time, check out the new site HERE.
Lot’s of great news about the new book coming out THURSDAY!
I’ve moved. The host group is working on catching up with me, but in the mean time, check out the new site HERE.
Lot’s of great news about the new book coming out THURSDAY!
As you can tell, I’ve taken some time off from social media to regroup. that time involved working a lot and studying for school a lot.
They say that one of the best parts of traveling is coming home, if that’s true, it’s the step I’m on now. I’m returning to my passion for writing –one that I’d had to squeeze in when given a chance for those months– to one that can sit at the front of mind and become not only an emotional priority, but a time priority again as well.
If you follow me on twitter, you know I have some big news I can’t wait to share. I mean, I can’t wait so much that I just told you about it kind of, right? I should probably delete that… NOPE! I’m too excited!
The next month is ging to be insane. And, if you’re around, maybe I’ll be dropping little hints here and there. In the meantime, I’m having a ball doing that whole ‘creative girl’ thing again and am so glad to be back with my reader and writer friends in the wider-world than my work and library!
I am very lucky to know Elyssa Patrick. She knows more about Romance while she’s napping than I do when I’m straining my brain. And I am just as lucky to have gotten to read her soon-to-be-released book. To the point where last year I said to someone, You need to buy this book I just finished. It’s great and… Oh, wait. It’s not out yet.
But it will be soon!
Thanks, Bria, for having me blog about one of my most favorite subjects ever to write in romance—kisses!
Now, for those who don’t know me, I can most assuredly say that if there’s two thing I’m very confident in writing, it’s dialogue and kissing scenes.
Why do you ask?
Well, to make my Oprah story short: when I was growing up, I had a horrible speech impediment and was bullied because of it, so much so that they would throw boxes over my head and call me “Bow Wow” because a dog would be easier to understand than me. Oh, middle school children, you can be so cruel. My outcast position continued in high school where I ditched Dante’s Inferno, otherwise known as the cafeteria, and found refuge in the library. I had a few friends and was in clubs, but I mostly never belonged and never ever went to any parties. And I most definitely never had a boyfriend.
I always loved to read and in high school, I started watching classic movies and reading romances. Classic movies developed my ear for snappy dialogue. If the movie happened to be a romantic comedy, I focused on the relationship between the hero and heroine, especially that “first kiss” moment.
For romances I mostly “borrowed” them from my mother’s nightstand and would secretly read them while she was out doing errands or borrow a book from toward the end of her pile. (My reasoning was that if it was at the end then surely she wouldn’t know it was missing and I could return it in a day.) This stealthy habit honed my speed reading skills and, because I couldn’t dog-ear the pages, I would have to memorize page numbers or the scene I was on.
I loved all the romances that I read (mainly historical and all Avon!). The heroines were usually wallflowers and being a very shy sixteen-year-old I loved how these equally shy girls came into her own and how the most desirable man fell for her. I sighed at the grand gesture, loved the black moments, and almost always when the woman threatened to escape for her to actually follow through on this plan to create more drama, lol.
But I especially loved the kisses.
Kisses in the classic movies and the romances I’d read were . . . transforming. It was a definitive Before the Kiss and After the Kiss. When the kiss happened, it changed the hero and heroine.
So when I started to write, I thought of what I’d seen and what I’d read, drawing on those experiences, and also adding what I knew what I wanted to accomplish with a kiss.
I always wanted the kiss to be a sweep away moment. You know what I mean. It’s those moments when all breath leaves your body as his mouth slowly descends to yours, where every fiber of your being in focused on that one moment when lips meet lips, and when you finally—finally—get to find out if he’s as good as you’ve hoped him to be.
Of course there are a lot of frogs out there. And some first kisses aren’t exactly what you imagined them to be. My first kiss actually took place on a stage—as in I was cast in a role and the actor had to kiss me. As you can imagine, I obsessed about this moment and was so paranoid I ate so many mints. And when the time came, it was over and done with in a blink of an eye.
I write kisses that I want to write. And most often when I’m critiquing one of my cps’ books or beta reading for someone else and the kiss feels short, I will write SLOW THIS MOMENT DOWN.
Kisses are powerful. When you kiss someone—even if you are acting with the person—it changes the relationship. You can never go back to not kissing someone.
So, if you’re looking to improve your kissing scenes, here are some things I do. They may or may not work for you:
1. Slow everything down. This is a huge moment for the characters, and, despite what some may argue, kissing matters! You know what that kiss feels like, the type, the feel of the lips . . . I like to make details stand out so that the kiss feels very real.
2. Do not shortchange the kiss. This goes along with #1. In my opinion there is nothing worse when there’s been such a build up between the hero and heroine of this longing as in one character has been deeply in love with the other without his/her knowledge, and then you get to the kiss and it happens in a blink of an eye. Do not build up all the tension and leave your characters—and your readers—high and dry. Reward your characters. Reward yourself. Reward your readers. Even if the kiss is a harsh, fast one—you still make it count.
3. Anchor the kiss in emotion. Whether it be in anger, desire, pent up frustration, longing, etc, I like there for the kisses to have an emotional factor to them.
4. Kissing changes things. And show that—how it changes the relationship, puts things into motion—because these characters can never go back to how they were before. Even if they’re married but separated for x many years, this is the FIRST time that they’ve kissed. So how does that change them? What do they do?
5. The kiss is a lead up to sex . . . or something more (if you don’t write sex scenes in your book). You’re building the foundations of the relationship between the hero and heroine with the kiss. Hopefully you want your characters to have an awesome sex life (even if you close the door on your sex scenes). Every kiss you write should build up to sex or something more or just keep raising the sexual tension.
6. And have fun! If you honestly enjoy writing kissing scenes and take pride in them, it will show in your writing.
Kissing matters. And if you do it right, you’ll create powerful stuff in your story.
And to show you one of my kissing scenes, here’s my second kissing scene from AS YOU WISH, which I’m self-publishing in September. To anchor the scene for you, Portia (the heroine) has just kissed Aubry (the hero) and it didn’t go that well. This is what follows. Please note though that this scene is unedited:
She’d acted rashly and now paid the price. And she couldn’t look at him any longer.
Portia turned around and went to the table where they’d eaten dinner. When there had been an easy camaraderie between them, and she had felt an elusive spark when he’d touched her palm.
She picked up her coat and hugged it to her chest as she sat down in the booth and searched for a pair of headlights. Nothing. There was no salvation in sight. Portia heard footsteps coming toward her. Closing her eyes, she prayed he wouldn’t sit down.
The prayer went unanswered.
Her eyes flew open, and she let out a little squeak as he sat down next to her, pushing her over to make room for his tall, lean body. Her coat was taken from her and thrown to the opposite seat. His hands went to her upper arms and turned her until her back was pressed to the wall, her head against the cold pane of glass.
He leaned over, his hair falling over his shoulders and forehead. He didn’t let go of her to brush his hair back. Without thinking, she did it for him and let the soft, silky fibers of his hair slide through her fingers.
His hands let go of her arms and cupped her face. His thumbs brushed under the hollows of her cheekbones. “I didn’t mean what I said—about your kiss being unpleasant.”
Suddenly, the weights were cut off and she broke the surface, sucking in grateful breaths of air. His thumbs continued to caress her cheeks, then outlined her mouth.
“You have such a wicked mouth. Fuller right here. Bee stung.” He lightly tapped against the middle of her lower lip, almost like he was testing the softness. “You tasted as sweet as honey. You could taste even sweeter.”
His fingers left her mouth and tilted her chin upward. Aubry lowered his head, his lips inches away from hers. His breath fanned over hers, and she shivered in delight. “See, a kiss is not just a kiss. To make it good—really good—anticipation is the key. You don’t go all-out, full throttle as you did. Slow and steady.”
“Slow and steady,” she repeated in a shaky whisper.
He held up one hand and raised his index finger. “You employ the five senses. First sense: smell.” Aubry’s forehead touched hers. “Peonies and peppermint. I can smell your perfume when you shake your head. I can smell it at the base of your throat and behind your earlobes. I want to take your earlobe in my mouth and suck it.”
“Oh,” was all she could manage to get out.
“Next is sight. You know what I see? Your flushed response. Parted lips. A moist, pink tongue. Dark hazel eyes full of need and want. You want my kiss, don’t you, Portia?
“I can feel how you want me.” His finger skated a path down her throat, traced a small circle in the hollow. Her pulse hammered in the side of her throat. “Even here, your heart is beating fast. You’re so soft. Very soft and you feel better than the finest satin. Third sense is hearing. You hear how I want you. How I want to place my mouth over yours. Show you what a kiss really is and can be. How I want you naked under me, where your skin would be pale in the moonlight, and you’d be like hot velvet closing around me.
“But you don’t want a one night stand. I respect that.” His mouth still hovered over hers. Only his hands touched her. “Last are touch and taste. I’ve touched you. Here on your cheeks. Here on your lips. Here on your neck. Only with my fingers. I want to place my mouth on you. Lick you where the sweet meets the spicy. Taste you. Before I do that, I have to show you how to kiss. I could tell you. Give you a step by step instruction.”
“Don’t do that. Show me. Kiss me, Aubry.”
“As you wish.” Aubry’s hand left her throat, cupped her chin. She placed her hands against his chest, felt his heart pounding away. His mouth lowered so slowly, closing the painful few inches between them. Then his lips were finally on hers.
A soft, tender kiss nipped her lower lip gently, and when one kiss ended, another promptly began. He was slow. Steady. His lips moved over hers in an easy rhythm, teaching her how to move in tune with him.
It was dancing. Waltzing in his arms in some grand ballroom, one where he led and she gladly followed. Because she’d never danced like this. She’d never been really kissed until now.
She moved her hands up and around his neck. Surrendered. Let everything else fall away and finally began to live in the moment.
He kissed her again. Devastatingly light. One that promised more; it left her in . . . anticipation. Her fingers caressed the back of his neck and his lips left hers. She whimpered and tightened her hold. She didn’t want it to end so soon.
His knuckles ran down the side of her cheek. His lips trailed a patchwork of kisses along her jawline to her ear. He stopped. “I want to put my mouth on you everywhere. Kiss you where I haven’t touched you yet.”
Oh, yes, she wanted that, too. Desperately. She wanted to touch him. And kiss him from head to toe.
His teeth nipped at her earlobe. Suckled on it. A pinprick of electricity raced through her body, zapping her in delicious shockwaves. He kissed the side of her neck, licked the pulse racing there. Placed his lips at the hollow of her throat, traced a circle with his tongue followed by another soft kiss. Kisses back up to her mouth.
This time his kiss wasn’t soft or tender. It was fire. His lips demanded and urged her mouth to open further. His tongue slipped inside, teasing her. When he retreated, she followed him, tasting him in return.
He cupped her face tenderly, even though his kiss was nothing of the sort. It made her feel delicate and strong all at once.
His kisses made her hear music. Not the Christmas music that played from the speakers. Deep, dark rhythmic pounding, and the sound of chimes and footsteps.
Footsteps? Why did she hear footsteps?
So tell me . . . what do you think matters in kissing?
Elyssa Patrick is a former high school English teacher who left the classroom to write fun, sexy, and emotional contemporary romances. Besides being slightly addicted to chocolate, she loves cupcakes, classic movies, and Shakespeare. She is a member of RWA. Elyssa lives in New York, where she is currently working on her next novel.
To me, the best part of finalling in the Golden Heart was the amazing women I met on our finalist’s loop. I’ve sucked yet another one in to guest blogging. She’s lovely and witty, please welcome Ashlyn Macnamara talking about something we alllll do when reading or watching a good story with (or maybe missing) kissing!
Like most writers, I came to writing through reading—but not, perhaps, in quite the same way. I read, and when I couldn’t get enough of an unfinished series, I turned to reading fanfiction, which led to me writing fanfiction. Eventually it led me to writing my own original characters.
But what, you ask, does that have to do with kissing?
Simple. Like a lot of fanfic writers, I started because of kissing, or more accurately, a lack thereof.
I got my start writing Harry Potter fanfiction, and much of what was being written during what became known as the thee-year summer between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix was romantic in nature. I think it became obvious to fans of the series that the kissing would come along eventually, even if romance wasn’t a focus of the books the way it is in Twilight. Only by book four, some readers were becoming impatient.
By then, it was becoming clear something was going on between Ron and Hermione, even if they’d both rather die than admit it—or Ron would. They didn’t manage a kiss until the final chapters of the final book.
But Harry Potter fans, impatient for the tension to play itself out, envisioned their own scenarios as to how the fateful moment would come about, and they turned those scenarios into scenes and novel-length stories.
Not that the fanfic authors stuck to pairings that were strictly canon. Some paired Harry and Hermione. When Luna Lovegood showed up in the fifth book, people wrote stories featuring her and Harry. Others paired Harry off with Ron—or even his seeming enemy Draco.
I always put Harry with Ginny, because that’s where I thought the series was headed. Other fans, less than enchanted with the final pairings, turned to fanfiction to get their fix of their favorite couples.
What can a writer take away from all this? That readers are voyeurs? Possibly. That we enjoy reading about that kind of thing, even in a series where romance isn’t the main focus? Yeah, I think you can say that. How about this: readers are sensitive to the various tensions between characters (whether or not the author intends romantic tension), and they look for pay-off. They anticipate. They savor it enough to write their own version if they have to.
So throw your readers a bone or two, I say. Give them the tension they crave, if not a full-out, on-screen lip-lock. Kissing doesn’t have to be the focus, but you can’t deny it adds spice.
Ashlyn Macnamara lives in the wilds of suburbia outside of Montreal with her husband and two teenage daughters. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading, and wasting time on the Internet in the guise of doing research.
Her Regency romance A MOST SCANDALOUS PROPOSAL, will debut next February.
Kristen Koster is one of those First Friends of Writing who you know you’re going to keep forever. She’s also got one of the best blogs on Regency Writing around. But today, she’s going to talk about kissing games. Get your bottles ready!
Why is it every generation believes that they’re the first to discover kissing games? Spin the Bottle, Postman, Truth or Dare or even just playing a game of Tag, where the method of tagging is a kiss. These have been around for ages.
I have to admit, I was appalled to find my daughter and her friends playing Truth or Dare at a slumber party at our house two years ago. Oh, not so much that they were playing it… but that they were relying on an app to provide questions and dares. Have we lost all sense of imagination?
The truth is, when you put a bunch of hormonal youth together, you’re gonna get experimentation. It doesn’t matter when or where. Curiosity is gonna get the better of them, especially if there’s a lack of supervision (which leads to things like 7 Minutes in Heaven where anything goes) or possibly even more surprising, adult sanctioned activities that allowed youths to explore their sexual compatibility.
What?! Encouraged sexual exploration? I know Bria likes to keep this PG-13, but wait-a-minute… what on earth am I talking about here? Especially since the time period that I write in was 200 years ago and I know you’re thinking, “Weren’t they tight-laced, prim and proper goody-goody-two-shoes?”
Well, in 19th Century France, young couples would meet at their churches to practice “maraichinage” or what would come to be known as “French Kissing”. Couples would engage in some tongue dueling and their partners changed on a weekly basis. In some regions, this meant kissing behind parasols for some semi-privacy, but in others, the youths were forced to sit on opposite sides of narrow benches. In either case, this was a socially acceptable way to judge a potential spouse’s compatibility, or rather, it was until the clergymen banned the practice on the grounds that it was loveless and done only for the pleasure of kissing. Can you imagine?
In Regency England, things weren’t much different. Parlor games allowed a bit of naughtiness to creep into what we think of an as otherwise staid and proper society. In the game of “Blind Man’s Bluff”, one player sat in a chair and their identity had to be guessed by a blindfolded individual only by touching them. The game of “Guess the Kiss” was similar, only the blindfolded person was kissed and had to identify their kisser. I’ve seen a print possibly also from Le Bon Genre of an unknown game that looks an awful lot like a naughty version of Twister.
I can only imagine that many different cultures throughout time have had their own versions of kissing games as a way to size up their potential mates. There probably haven’t been as many variations on the basic themes as each generation would like to believe they’re responsible for inventing either. But we can hope imagination and common sense don’t become lost to future generations.
Kristen Koster grew up totally left-brained and logical but always enjoyed right-brained and creative activities too. She started reading her mom’s stash of historical romance novels in the early 80s and never really stopped. Reading over 30 novels one summer in college convinced her she could do better. But life had other plans, including the introduction of her own hero to smooch. Twenty years into their HEA (after detours through some graduate work in Economics, a stint in online game design and wrangling two kids into their teenage years), she finally found her way back to writing Regency romance. One day, she might even get a novel published, if she can just stop over-analyzing everything. You can also find her on Twitter at @KristenKoster.
Today another dear friend is stopping by to talk about kissing. With all this kissing going on, we might all need some ChapStick!!!
Welcome the super-fun Abby Mumford to the blog to share some of her favorite kissing scenes
(An Aside: Tomorrow @ValerieFM80 & I announce the contest rules and the PRIZE! Check back.)
What is there to say about kissing? Well, a lot, really, but since I keep that part of my life off the interwebs, I’m going to tackle the act of writing about kissing. As a writer who’s still learning the craft, I’ve made it my goal to read as many kissing scenes as possible. It’s all in the name of research, of course.
There are the super hot, super perfect, super blow your mind scenes, like this one from YOURS TO KEEP by Shannon Stacey (who always writes about kissing with all the passion it deserves (and then some)):
When his face got close enough so she registered his intent, she raised her gaze to his, but it was too late. Before she could react, his lips met hers, his hand still on her back to hold her close, and she closed her eyes.
Practice. That’s all it was. And if her body started tingling and her fingers itched to run through his hair, and her body wanted to melt against his…well, that just boded well for a month of pretending they were into each other, didn’t it?
The jolt of heat that ran like an electrical shock through her body could be an unwelcome complication, but she’d worry about that later…
Then there’s the seemingly more innocent, but still just as potent scene from IT’S IN HIS KISS by Caitie Quinn:
Before I knew what he meant to do, or could argue with him about the pity kiss, his lips brushed mine. And then they took mine. And then I lost track of time… maybe even days…or years.
It wasn’t so much that it made me remember past kisses. It was more like it made me forget every other kiss I’d ever had.
And on the other hand, there’s the kiss that is startling in its starkness from THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater:
Puck unfolds her arms just enough to keep her balance as she leans to me, and when we kiss, she closes her eyes.
She draws back and looks into my face. I have not moved, and she barely has, but the world feels strange beneath me.
The delightful thing about kissing (well, okay, just one of the delightful things) is that each one is specific to the couple. It’s a grand way to learn about the characters, get to know their situations, read into their motivations, and have a helluva lotta fun while doing so.
Bring on more research!
The wonderful Amanda Brice is a friend from over at Romance Divas. She’s a lovely lady, a talented writer, Golden Heart alumnae, and just plain fun (she’ll never live down a certain spin-turn-oops in a San Fran Thai resturant. Not only did she write a fun blog about her own first kisses (and who doesn’t love to hear those stories???) but if you go to the bottom, make sure to check out her book trailer for
Do you remember your first kiss?
I so totally do. Both my first-ever kiss and my first kiss with my husband. Not sure why, but I seem to get urged by others to have that all-important first kiss.
I was 12-going-on-13 when I had my first kiss. I’d been “going out with” Matt (and I put that word in parentheses, because we didn’t really go anywhere) since the junior high Valentine’s Day dance. Mostly we just talked on the phone and sat next to each other at lunch or on the school bus.
Oh, and held hands. I can’t forget that.
Anyway, about a month or so into being boyfriend and girlfriend, our friend John poked his head over the top of the seat on the school bus to ask why he’d never seen us kiss. Of course, a better response than immediately turning a deeper scarlet than the dress I’m wearing today would have been for me to ask why he’d been watching. But that didn’t occur to me at the time.
Instead, my boyfriend Matt said, “We kiss. All the time.” Um, we do?
John said, “Oh yeah?”
So I guess Matt felt the need to live up to his claim, and leaned over and kissed me. Right then and there in front of an entire bus full of 7th and 8th graders.
I wish I could say it was magical, that it left me reeling and I saw hearts and flowers or fireworks or all the clichés. But that would be a lie. To be honest, I don’t remember what I felt. I think I was just so surprised at the time.
Fast forward 12 years. I’d been flirting with Mr. Brice for a few months at that point, after inadvertently spitting red wine on him the very first time I met him (at the Student Bar Association party during law school orientation). We were study buddies for first semester exams, and, well, let’s just say that had we flirted a little less we both probably would’ve had much better grades first semester. (Oops!)
Anyway, I went home to visit my parents over Christmas break, but returned before New Year’s because my old roommate Amy came to visit me. We went to Sedona and the Grand Canyon and all the cool touristy places in Arizona, but on New Year’s Eve we went to the Fiesta Bowl Tostito’s Block Party at Tempe Town Lake to watch the fireworks and enjoy the free Bryan Adams concert.
Yes, I said Bryan Adams.
Anyway, I went with my friend who was visiting, plus one of my law school friends, Alyssa. Oh, and Mr. Brice tagged along. Just before midnight, just after Bryan Adams finished singing “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”, Alyssa started encouraging Mr. Brice to kiss me.
“Kiss her, kiss her, kiss her,” she chanted.
I rolled my eyes. “We’re just friends.
I guess we weren’t really just friends, however, because Mr. Brice listened to Alyssa. And we went on our first official date (a day trip down to Tucson, ending up later that night with yet another kiss – this time in the hot tub) a week later.
We got married two years later.
So both of my most important “first kisses” happened as a result of someone else’s prompting. Weird, huh? Maybe I ought to work that into my books….
Amanda Brice leads a double life. By day, she’s an intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency in the Washington, DC area. In her spare time (when she’s not wrangling an 8-month-old and a terrorist – I mean a two-year-old), she writes young adult fiction. A two-time Golden Heart finalist, Barnes & Noble called her newest release, Pointe of No Return, a “compelling read from an author you need to know.”
As the Month of Kisses continues and we race on to the Kiss / Kiss-off contest Agency Sister @ValerieFM80 & I are having, I may have sucked another Agency Sister into the mix. I’m excited to welcome Sashi Kaufman to the blog!
I can be as swoony as the next person when reading a great smooching scene. But when I write, I’m more likely to write about a kiss gone awkward than one gone awesome. Maybe it’s my own personal history. Or maybe it’s because I teach middle schoolers and write YA. Regardless, I’m charmed by the awkward factor when lips meet, mesh, slop and slide around for the first time.
Learning to kiss, like anything it seems, is not natural. Everyone has to learn at some point and I’m willing to bet that a majority of people learned to kiss by turning to their good friend (regardless of gender) and saying, wanna try it? That’s how it went for me anyway.
My favorite all time learning to kiss scene is this one.
Watts, the tomboy, asks her best friend Keith, about to head out on his date with the super popular diva Amanda Jones, if he can deliver the kiss that kills. Apologies for the synopsis to those of you that screamed OMG as soon as I even mentioned the scene. Like it needs explaining.
The best part of this scene, is that after she tells him where to put his hands and how to turn his head, it turns into this uber hot -I might really love you- make out scene that you’ve been waiting the whole movie for. In addition to being initially awkward, it’s unexpected, and ultimately supremely sexy. Such was not the case for me in my parents’ basement the summer after freshman year. But that’s why I write. So I can upgrade my own reality with just enough of the truth to make it painful. Not scalded flesh painful; awkwardly painful….and charming, of course.
Sashi Kaufman writes contemporary YA with some kissing and lots of awkwardness. Her debut Go West is due out from Carolrhoda Lab sometime in the next year and she is represented by the amazing Lauren Macleod of the Strothman Agency (Clan MacLeod). You can find more of her wit and embarrassing life stories at www.sashikaufman.wordpress.com;
Jeannie Lin kicks of this week’s Month of Kisses with a great view into culture and the kiss!
I remember my first kiss. I think most people do.
I was in high school and my first boyfriend and I had been going steady for over a month. When I first agreed to be his girl, we hugged and I gave him a kiss on the cheek, but that was it. He never tried to kiss me.
Finally one night when he was taking me home, he brought it up, saying that we’ve only had that one little peck. He asked me if it would be okay if he kissed me. My heart was beating real fast and in my head I was saying, “Well, duh. I’ve been waiting for an entire month!” but all I said was yes.
He was really tall and lanky and I’m tiny and he leaned down and I had my first kiss right there on my front step. The whole affair was weird and awkward and really, really wonderful.
Imagine that time when a kiss meant everything. When it wasn’t a starter act, the first step. There was one point in your life when you’d never been kissed. (Or maybe that point is now?) Maybe you’re hoping to be kissed soon and hoping it will be someone special and you’ll remember it forever.
Think of all that anticipation building. And all that fear of what it will mean.
Now take that feeling and multiply it.
Since I write historical romances set in Tang Dynasty China, of course I had to research kissing in Chinese culture. At one time, when Westerners came into broader contact with Chinese culture in the 19th century, they noted that Chinese people were shocked by the sight of couples holding hands or kissing in public. This lead to the misconception that Chinese couples didn’t kiss at all and were sexually repressed.
Given the number of people who today (let alone two centuries ago) are uncomfortable with PDA, is that really a fair conclusion?
Hopefully that old stereotype of sexual repression is starting to fade, but we still see echoes of it in how Asians are portrayed in movies or television. Or how they’re NOT portrayed as three-dimensional people with real desires. Every culture has specific rituals and expectations around romance and courtship. In traditional Chinese culture, and especially back in imperial times, kissing was seen as a very private, very intimate act. As intimate as giving your body to another person.
In Chinese culture, girls can speak about their first kiss as intensely as we would expect to speak about losing our virginity. In fact, it’s common to say “I lost my first kiss.” (我失去了我的初吻)
During my research, I encountered a site about dating, courtship and relationships in China that wasn’t fetishized. While reading a post on LoveLoveChina about losing that first kiss, I came across some quotes that tried to express that feeling of deep intimacy. (http://www.lovelovechina.com/dating/chinese-girls-first-kiss/)
“He wanted to kiss me. I said that we have to wait until after marriage. At that time I didn’t know [about sex]. I was afraid I’d have a baby once I touch him. Every time he wanted to kiss me, I would move my head away.
I planned to let him kiss me on his birthday, but one evening I felt I wanted. We were sitting on the ground, his body leaning against my leg. Suddenly I felt that I want to kiss him very much, so I gave a kiss on his neck.”
“He tried to kiss me, but I instinctively moved back. He got angry and complained that I push him away.“So, tell me what I should do” – I replied. After hearing it, he immediately moved forward and gave me a kiss…
I almost fainted…
All the way back home I couldn’t stop thinking about it… The first kiss was wonderful.”
“At the beginning, I tried to hide and pushed him away. After we kissed, I suddenly felt that I gave all my life to him and he seemed to be responsible…
I clearly remember how scared I was…The feeling was as I am not virgin anymore.”
“First kiss should be beautiful and sweet. However, my first kiss was lost without any feeling of sweetness. It was robbed when I was crying [after I drank alcohol]. When I recall that kiss, I don’t feel any happiness.”
Some of the snarky comments on the post made me angry and sad. They criticized Chinese culture for its lack of sex education and called these girls naïve and stupid for thinking a kiss can make you pregnant. They made fun of women who were twenty years or older before having their first kiss.
Here’s the thing: learning about this nuance of Asian culture – about how precious and risky that first act of kissing can be – didn’t make me think of Chinese people as being repressed or backwards or other. It took a universal concept, the first kiss, and elevated it to something even more special.
I know that not EVERY woman in China has this feeling about kissing. China, like the US, like any culture is in a constant state of evolution, with a wide spectrum of attitudes about love and intimacy.
What these accounts did, in the extreme vulnerability of their emotions, is yield the language to describe a feeling that we’ve all felt, but have lost the ability to recapture as that moment becomes buried under time. As we see kiss after kiss on TV, selling gum, selling toothpaste, selling lip balm. As kisses become a joke and a gimmick and a throwaway. First base.
It reminded me of my own so brief time of innocence, when the sight of others kissing seemed a little scandalous, and the thought of giving away my first kiss meant everything. This is why romance and especially historical romance are so appealing to me in the way that the pages try to embody and elevate and celebrate that first kiss. For the brief space of those pages, I can return to the exhilarating age of innocence when I had never yet been kissed and a kiss meant everything.
A note from Bria:
I knew once I saw the characters for “I lost my first kiss” you’d all want to know exactly the same thing I did! How to write just “kiss” – so I shot Jeannie a note and she sent me back this lovely picture so it would be really clear.
Thanks again Jeannie Lin!
Jeannie Lin grew up fascinated with stories of Western epic fantasy and Eastern martial arts adventures. When her best friend introduced her to romance novels in middle school, the stage was set. Jeannie started writing her first romance while working as a high school science teacher in South Central Los Angeles. After four years of trying to break into publishing with an Asian-set historical, her 2009 Golden Heart Award-winning manuscript, Butterfly Swords, sold to Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her first three Tang Dynasty romances have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and The Dragon and the Pearl was listed among Library Journal’s Best Romances of 2011.
Today’s Kisses Guest is Caitie Quinn. Caitie’s made a study of kisses, or at least her main character has… which leads to a little more than she bargains for. Let’s see if either of them learned anything
It’s going to come as no surprise that I loveeeee me some kissing. Even though my books are sweet (and so my kisses are too) I love the build, the emotions swirly-swirling, the anticipation and nerves and joy and gut-dropping, gut-wrenching excitement of a kiss.
But, there’s one thing that can out angst even the angstiest kiss: The Almost Kiss.
I give you, Exhibit A:
Fanny has just walked in on Henry (who she is working really hard to love so everyone will leave her alone) in bed with someone else. Of course Edmund comes to her, emotions high. And, cue scene!
OMGOSH! The pain, the heart-shredding pain of that. To want that much. To not be able to have it for so many reasons. To back away knowing – knowing – that was most likely the closest thing to intimacy you’ll every share?
But why stop there? Let’s move on to Exhibit B, shall we?
Peter and Oliva from Fringe!
So much baggage, so much temptation!
And then so much panic. How often does kissing lead to panic? Maybe I should have done a study on that instead!
Lastly, Exhibit C:
The ultimate Did They Or Didn’t They Couple. People argued about what was going on for years (until the baby showed up… then we were all like, ok. If you say so.) But no Almost Kiss montage is complete without the incomparable Mulder and Scully…kind of.
And finally, let’s end with something sweet. An ALMOST kiss that turns into a First Kiss. Who can forget the complete heartbreak and growing pains of The Man in the Moon? *sniff*
*goes to get tissues*
Ok, I’m back. Here we go:
Now, luckily for e, I’m scheduled to write a kiss this weekend. They’re both going to shy away from it, knowing it’s too soon (or, in his case, she’s too crazy) but sometimes, no matter how hard you try, that Kiss takes a swipe at Almost and knocks it out of the ring.
I’d LOVE to hear about your favorite Almost Kiss. Tell me why that leashed passion shoots you straight through the heart – Would you rather watch them or read them? For me, it’s a win-win!
If it’s not funny, you can totally blame the weather, or her lack of chocolate, or the formatting, or her cat. Wait, she doesn’t have a cat. Scratch that last one. Check out It’s in His Kiss on Amazon.
Caitie blogs at caitiequinn.wordpress.com, or you can check her out on twitter @CaitieQuinn or email her at Caitie.Quinn (AT) aol.com
Today we have Megan Whitmer on the blog! This girl is a riot. You’re going to be giggling through today’s whole post.
If you know me at all, you know that I love kissing scenes. Timid first kisses, insane deep kisses, fast, slow, sweet, rough—I love them. Whenever I’m stuck, I write a kissing scene. It doesn’t even matter if the scene makes sense for the story—in fact, usually if it’s a scene I’m writing just to keep writing, it typically makes no sense at all. But it keeps me going.
And my most favorite type of kissing scene? The one that almost happens, or as I like to call it, the Near-Miss Kiss.
A boy and girl are sitting on a bench outside at night, spending just a few more minutes together before he has to leave. Shreds of moonlight spill across the yard. He can’t stop looking at her, and he knows she’s noticed. If he’s going to make a move, now’s the time. He brings his hand to her face. She lifts her eyes to his, then leans into him. He runs his thumb across her lower lip, and her fingers curl through the t-shirt he’s wearing. He dips his head closer. She feels his breath against her lips.
AND THEN HE DOESN’T KISS HER.
I LOVE THAT SO MUCH.
For me, the anticipation of a kiss is almost as good as the kiss itself. Sometimes, it’s even better. Angi’s post yesterday showed us that we’d all be better off if a few kisses never happened at all. The trick, of course, is to know when enough is enough. Too many near-misses, and your reader is going to hate you (and I’m going to feel sorry for your characters.)
A couple of my critique partners have pretty strong feelings about the near-misses (Hi Dahlia and Leigh Ann!) so the balance between near-misses and full-on kisses is something I think about a lot. Here are a few rules I have to satisfy my love for the near-miss kiss without making my friends hate me:
Kissing is fun. It’s downright OUTSTANDING. But don’t discount the thrill of making your characters (and readers) wait, at least for a few more pages.
When she’s not writing kissing scenes, Megan spends her time playing dress-up with her two daughters, drinking absurd amounts of Cherry Coke Zero, and wishing someone would pay her to tweet. You can find her online at http://meganwhitmer.blogspot.com or on Twitter at @MeganWhitmer.
I met Angi Black awhile back and she has never let me down when I needed a gigle. This post… well, I hope you’re in a giggle acceptable area when you read it!
Thanks for having me on the blog, Bria!
Kisses. What can you say? They are the ever important step toward the relationship. In books, and often TV and movieland, that first kiss is the seal, the moment they know, the last thing you see before happily ever after.
I love watching a kiss on TV or film. There are so many things going on. The eyes shutter themselves to half lids. The heads tilt. The hands grip tightly on shoulders. The lighting changes. The music swells. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words.
A thousand words? That is why I love writing and reading about those kisses. Every nuance is there for you. You can describe every single detail, every small movement, every near miss, every feeling they feel, all right there in your thousand (or more!) words.
I devote a lot of my books to kisses and the things that follow. Normally they are the perfect kisses followed by burning desire and only thoughts of getting right back to that perfect pair of lips. I love that.
Nothing compares to a great kissing session. Especially those first ones. You kiss for hours and after you get home and you’re in your room listening to the 100 songs that are “your songs” you run a finger over your still swollen lips. They tingle as if he is there, kissing you, only you. You fall asleep and wake up thinking of nothing but those lips and how you can’t wait to not watch TV with him again tonight.
But lately I’ve been thinking. A dangerous pastime. I know. (Yes. I just quoted Beauty and the Beast. Don’t judge me!)
What I don’t see enough of are those bad kisses that come in real life. You know the ones I mean. No? Here’s five examples to remind you of the boys you left behind.
1. Brace Face:
To kiss with braces. Ah, junior high, maybe freshman year. The first boy I ever really kissed had braces. He pretty much tasted like a quarter. I got my braces shortly after that and was terrified by the urban legend of two kids kissing and becoming interlocked. I could not imagine being face to face with him for that long. So we broke up.
In hind’s sight, maybe he was just a bad kisser and needed to brush his teeth more. Lesson learned.
2. The slobberer:
You know the one I mean. After you kiss you feel like you just got mauled by your English Bulldog? Yeah. And if you kiss Slobberman too much you could end of with dreaded Kool-Aid mouth because your lips, chin and part of your cheeks are chapped from his generous love. *Note – Slobbermen are usually mouthbreathers. This may account for the chapping.
I also dated this guy. Once. Once was clearly too much as I’m still scarred from it and think of him every time I see a thirsty dog on a hot summer day with his gums full of sloppy dribble.
3. Tight lips vs. The Lapper:
You are on a date. The guy makes you laugh. It’s the end of the night. He takes you home. Your heads lean in together, as if magnets pulled from an unknown source. Your pulse pounds and your lips touch. You hit something hard and open your eyes to see if you veered off course somehow. His lips are drawn so tight you feel like you’re kissing plastic. He has a look of pain on his face because they are pulled so tight. You try to readjust your face to this angle or that, but no luck, you’re not getting in.
As a girl, you automatically assume it’s you, not that the guy is just inexperienced or a K-hole. Is my breath bad? Does he not like me? Am I doing it wrong?
NO. You are not. It’s him, not you.
An aside on this – it’s worse if after the thin lipped smooch his tongue darts out just a bit. I won’t kiss a frog to find a prince, I’m not kissing you lizard boy!
The opposite is the guy who wants to wrap his tongue around your head when he kisses you. He likes you a lot, obviously. And he wants to prove it by roughly shoving his tongue into your mouth so hard it bruises your own. I firmly believe this guy used to be Slobberman. Some girl probably finally told him, Dude, I don’t need a spit bath, so he overcompensated by shoving his entire mouth in your face to avoid drooling on you.
4. The Pecker:
(Sorry. Wait for a minute while I giggle at the word pecker because I am 12.)
This one doesn’t drool. He isn’t rough with his tongue. No kisses that feel like they came from a Ken doll. No, this one is much worse.
Cue mood lighting and the swell of your favorite love song in your head. The stars are twinkling. He smells of caramel, which is great because that’s the exact color of his eyes. You lean close and so does he. Then peck.
He kisses your lips quickly. Huh, you think, it was only the first…
Another one. Now you’re thinking what the…
Again. Peck, peck, peck. Like fifty small kisses instead of one good smackeroo. He moves from your mouth to your jawline, your neck, and you should be enjoying it, but you can’t because he lifts his head away after each one and comes back in. He’s like a bird getting food from a feeder, except the feeder is your face! You tense, sure at any moment the beak will emerge and a cawing sound will issue from it. AhHHHH! You’re under attack!
No intimacy can be achieved by this. Who even thinks this is a good idea? No. Just no.
5. The back breaker:
This one is the trickiest of all bad kissers because this guy knows how to kiss. He is beautiful and usually taller then you. He wants you and it all seems fine.
He’s kissing you and kissing you and they get a bit more forceful. He leans into you. Over you. He holds you tight so there’s no where to go. Your back bends over his arms he has circled about your waste. You become insta-gymnast in the final pose of presenting to the judges. You bend further. And further.
Are his feet even still on the floor? Is he at a right angle yet? All he needs to do is move those glorious Ryan Lochte arms up to your hair, let you straighten for a minute, and it would be fine, but his arms have molded into some kind of reverse iron seatbelt holding you securely to his pelvis. Maybe he’s afraid you’ll get away. Maybe we should just lay down on the couch. Maybe…oh God let me up! I have a cramp!
The worst kiss of all is the one you forget. You can remember the bad ones, dream about the good ones and write about the perfect moments, but the ones you can’t remember? That’s its own special tragedy.
The moral of the story is this:
“A have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.” That may be the princess motto, but it holds true. If his kiss doesn’t buckle your knees and make your head spin (Even if he does look like Ian Somerhalder) keep kissing. *Note – If he looks like Ian Somerhalder, you should probably kiss him a few times, just to see if you can work out the kinks.
Bottom line – You’ll know a good kiss when it’s worth writing home about.
I am amazingly lucky to be able to tell you that not only is Sara Ramsey’s writing super fun, but so is Sara. She’s a lovely person and a talented writer. I’m so glad to have her here kicking off our first week of writers *waves another thanks to last week’s reviewers*) for the Month of Kisses!
Thanks for inviting me to blog, Bria! I must admit, though, that I deeply regret accepting this challenge. Writing a couple’s first kiss scene stresses me out so much that even writing a blog post about first kisses had me panicking and procrastinating all day. How embarrassing is that?
For romances, whether they are traditional romances or YA, that first kiss is crucial — it’s no wonder they give me ulcers. A first kiss is a declaration. It says, in no uncertain terms, that one or both characters recognize some potential between them, some connection that they want to explore. It usually forces the characters to acknowledge that even though there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles standing between them and happiness, they are helpless to control their attraction to each other. It’s a little piece of fantasy for a reader, and it’s fun to imagine being so swept away by someone that you forget everything else — a rare, magical us-against-the-world feeling that so many of my favorite romances seem to capture.
That first kiss has to serve many functions. In a traditional romance (one with a happy ending for the couple, whether it’s YA or adult), it has to get the reader to care about and cheer for the couple. It has to increase the emotional and sexual tension and convince the reader that this is a story they want to follow. It has to entertain. It has to make the reader feel something — perhaps remembering her own first kiss, or dreaming of a first kiss with a perfect partner. And it has to come at exactly the right point in the book — not too early, or the characters look like they’re crazed by instalust, but not too late, or the reader begins to feel ripped off by the author throwing artificial obstacles in to keep the couple apart.
When a first kiss is well written, it shows the reader something beyond just a bit of passion or exploration. It goes deeper than that, into the hearts of these characters, and reveals the first glimpse of the love that might exist for the two of them if they can overcome whatever external obstacles stand in their way. And while the kiss might not be perfect (comedy gold!), or might get interrupted by overbearing guardians, or might lead directly into something more passionate, that first kiss is an opportunity for us as readers to see whether a couple has some spark that will make us follow their love story all the way to the end of the book.
Is it any wonder that I love reading first kisses, but hate writing them? I’m curious to know your opinions — what makes a first kiss work for you? Are there any first kisses that make you stop reading the book? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
Sara Ramsey reads too many novels, drinks far too much caffeine, pays excessive attention to fashion, and is inordinately proud of her bad taste in music and movies. Her second book in the Muses of Mayfair trilogy, SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES, came out in April 2012. Sara is currently living the hip Regency writer life in San Francisco, California. You can find her online at http://www.sararamsey.com, or on Twitter at @sara_ramsey.
|Ryan Lochte .gif via tumblr|
As a book reviewer, I read my fare share of stories and if there’s one thing I thoroughly enjoy, it’s a good kissing scene. I’m talking about the kind of smooch that gets my heart racing, makes me fan my face and leaves me as breathless as the characters themselves. *sigh*
The who/what/where/when and how of a kiss are important details and sometimes writers miss the mark. As a reader, I want to know exactly what’s happening…where are they? What are they wearing? What’s happening around them? What are they doing with the other parts of their bodies while their lips are engaged? (I’m referring to their hands, so get your mind outta the gutter.) Speaking of hands…if a guy is cupping a girl’s face, are his hands clean? (I have a thing about dirt and I don’t care if Ryan Lochte is moving in with a gold medal kiss, he’s not touching me if he’s dirty. Or smelly. Btw, this scenario is assuming I’m not married with kids or old enough to have been his babysitter.)
I want to know how the characters are feeling when they’re kissing? Are they secretly wishing it was over before it started or have they forgotten their own names because it’s just.that.good? I also think it’s important for the kiss to be creatively realistic because if it’s too far fetched, then the entire scene ends up feeling awkward. What do I mean by creatively realistic? Well, I once had a guy pretend to drop his hat and when he leaned down to pick it up, he kissed me. Another one kissed me after I’d refused to give he and his friend a ride home from a party but I promptly reconsidered based on his boldness. Then there’s my husband, who was the first guy to touch my face when he kissed me (with clean hands of course) and made me forget my name. He also brought me cake which made me want to kiss him that much more. *winks*
Some of the best kissing scenes don’t actually involve kissing. Those make up what I like to call the “near-kiss” – where the characters are so close but get interrupted by something or someone. A good writer can hook me with the promise of a kiss but a smart writer knows I will only be put off for so long. Too much buildup that falls flat or too many “near-kisses” just leave me frustrated and yelling, “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THE THINGS, KISS HER ALREADY!”
Some books have kissing scenes so swoon worthy, I think they deserve an award, so, in the spirit of the 2012 Olympics, here are a few that had gold, silver or bronze medal kissing scenes in them. Your welcome.
Jen can be found at Jenuine Cupcakes where she likes to blog about books, boys (both fictional and real) and cupcakes. You can also find her on twitter @cupcakegirly where she rarely refers to herself in the third person.
Jen this was GREAT. Two fabulous posts in a row for the Month of Kisses!
I thought, we’d end the week with a giveway! Tell us what book or movie would win your Gold Medal of Kisses and win a kindle copy of:
WELCOME TO Cheeky Reads Sabrina! The first guest of a Month of Kisses. I adore Cheeky Reads and am constantly checking out her reviews. Now, let’s here what she has to say about kisses.
While most romance readers love to sigh and fawn over their favorite first kiss scenes like they’re reliving their own sweet first experiences, I want the awkward, real, not-quite-right first kiss between my hero and heroine.
There’s something unexpected, but yet more realistic, about that first kiss not quite living up to the characters’ expectations. It lifts the drama of all that pent up tension and frees the characters from the overwhelming idea that they’ve just got to get it on! Instead, there’s new tension that’s based on more than just the physical and the reader can really see how much of this attraction goes beyond heaving bosoms and a nice pair of arms…um, I mean eyes.
I mean I want them to get it right later. But first, let them to have to work at it, to be surprised by each other and yes, laugh together and at themselves. Let them question their feelings without the story always being so tangled in the “It’s only a physical attraction.” conflict blow off so many authors can too easily fall back on.
There are innumerable great scenes to be made from a first kiss miss and so much that can be done with the emotions that result. Not to mention that a good writer knows that readers shouldn’t always get what they *think* they want or expect. I want that unexpected surprise. When a writer surprises is when that story goes from good to great for me and a first kiss scene is a fantastic place for a writer to really play with surprising the reader.
So next time you sit down to write that first kiss scene, think of surprising your reader. What can you do differently in that scene that lifts it above the norm and makes readers remember it? And maybe, just maybe, write am awesome disaster of a first kiss that leads the characters to a lifetime of practice getting it right!
So, do you like an unexpected or unusual first kiss? How do you feel about those not-so-perfect ones or have you ever even read one of those illusive scenes before? What are your thoughts on this as first a reader, and then as a writer?
Kissy-Kissy Cheeky Girl Sabrina
Cheeky Reads is the Sassy Girl’s Guide to Romance Books, a review and book blog that covers all romance genres. If you’re looking for reviews without spoilers, Cheeky Reads is your site – you wouldn’t want your best friend telling you the storyline details or ending so we don’t either! Visit me at www.cheekyreads.com or stalk me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cheekyreads.