Let’s talk about Sexplanations

Welcome back from the winter holiday! Today’s post will be short-ish, because I only have one goal here: to heartily recommend the work of Dr. Lindsey Doe, host of Sexplanations.

Pulling OutIf you’re already a fan, you’ll know why there’s so much to like about Dr. Doe. If you’re not, just…go. Watch. Read. Fall in love a little. Because this woman is not only fiercely smart, committed to her cause (educating people about sexuality in a healthy, accessible way), and brilliant at using social media to further her aims…she’s also freakin’ adorable in the geekiest way possible, and y’all know I’m a sucker for that.

Aside from great information that any writer who describes sex can use, what I always get from Dr. Doe is a sense of great passion and enthusiasm for her topic. She really, really wants you to know about this stuff. She wants you to enjoy this stuff. She wants you to become okay with enjoying this stuff. Sometimes she’ll start a video by explaining why she held off on addressing that topic, and how she realized she was talking herself out of doing it, so you know she has inhibitions like we all do. But once she gets into discussing the subject, she is deliciously out there about it, and it is awesome.


I think we all feel like talking about sex can be a risk-laden endeavor. The information doesn’t tend to be out there, or at least not in a friendly, informative, non-porn format. We’re never quite sure if some people are safe sounding boards for our questions. When we do talk about it we’re aware it may come with a risk of being shamed or dismissed. So too often it stays in our heads, and festers. Then we get issues. Talking about it is so much better.


Romance writers (at least those of us who “leave the bedroom door open”) have kind of an edge in this area, because we can talk to each other about our characters’ various situations, and that can and often does lead to sharing personal anecdotes. But sometimes we’re stuck with our bafflement just like everybody else, thinking, Am I supposed to be doing a thing here? I am the only one who…? What the hell was THAT and should I be concerned or thrilled? Sex is wonderful, but it is messy and imperfect, and for most of us that translates to “potentially hugely embarrassing.” Dr. Doe acknowledges that feeling but then moves right on past it to the stuff you should know, presented in a way that is as informative as it is hilarious.


The latest Sexplanations video, posted today, is about masturbation, which is also the title of the video. Lindsey Doe is very clear in her descriptions, but it’s far from clinical, because ultimately what she describes is not just about having sex with yourself. It’s about romancing yourself. It’s worth watching even if you think you already know everything you need to about masturbation. Also in this video you get to see the adorable Dr. Doe dry-humping a chair, and if that doesn’t tempt you to go watch it, then what the hell will?

Okay, don’t let it fester. What topics would you like to see addressed on Sexplanations? Maybe we can lure her into Romancelandia for a chat… (Check the videos out before you comment, she has already covered a LOT of things).

By the way, Shari Slade said to leave this here:


(Okay she actually said to use a Divinyls gif, but the only one I could find was sorta freaky so I went with the cat instead).

I first became aware of Dr. Doe via her Tumblr (probably because of Shari Slade, Tumblr goddess), but quickly glommed on to the Sexplanations YouTube channel. She also has a Facebook if that’s your thing. And she’s on Twitter.

Posted in Life & Wonk, Talking Wonkomance, Thinky, Writing Wonkomance | 6 Comments

The Bang’s the Thing

Amber here. I first met Shari at RWA this year and I’ve been sending her dirty pictures ever since. Let this be a cautionary tale against being awesome and like-minded. Then Ruthie invited her to be in Wonkomance, which was kind of like your friend getting transferred into your class. So, please welcome Shari as she stands in front of the classroom and tells us something about herself….

C’mere, let me whisper in your ear.




Okay, that’s enough dirty talk.

I know I’m supposed to love words, especially since I signed up for this writer gig, but I don’t. For me, the fewer the better. Less is more. Cut them all. Blah, blah, blah. I love the right word. The bone-knife word that flays a sentence free of so much gristle.

Mostly, I do not know this word. But when I do, God, it’s like scratching an itch and cracking my back and taking off my bra at the end of a long day all rolled into one.

This is why I love writing flash fiction. The constraint. Story, distilled down to two or three hundred just right words. All meat, no filler.

This is also why I fucking love gifs. Not reaction gifs, though I love them too. The sexy kind. You know, the ones that power tumblr.





Sorry, I descended into dirty talk again. *ahem*

Yes, I like the gifs because they are sexy with the sexiness, but also because they’re the visual equivalent of my just-right-word feeling. Some gif maker has taken a bone-knife and slivered out a capital M moment. Before there was 120 minutes of movie, or 45 minutes of show, now there is just THIS. And THIS is good.

Sometimes I know the source material for a gif, more often I don’t. Recently, a particular gif crossed my dash and I knew instantly from whence it came.

Oh Em Gee, I thought, THIS is the finger-bang from Fear!

I’m not going to lie, Fear is a terrible movie. It’s practically an afterschool special, and not the kind that’s fun to heckle. It’s full of slut-shaming and clunky dialogue. Watching it again last week made me ragey. If you haven’t already seen it there’s almost no reason to subject yourself to the torture.

Almost. It does have two things going for it: Marky Mark’s mid-90s abs and one epic finger-bang. In the movie, Good Girl™ Nicole (Reese Witherspoon) and Bad News Soon-to-be-Stalker Boyfriend David (Marky Mark) canoodle on a roller coaster before everything goes to hell. And I do mean hell, like carving her name into his chest, terrorizing her whole family, and beheading her beloved dog, hell.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the finger-bang.

You’d think Smarmy David would worm his hands between Nicole’s properly resistant virginal thighs, but NO. That is not what happens at all. She takes his hand, presses it between her legs, and *cough* loops her own loop. Right on the roller coaster. Not only is it consensual, she’s in charge. It blew my sixteen year old mind. Burned right into my brain so that seventeen years later I’d be able to flail I know this thing at the sight of a three second (ever-so-slightly NSFW) gif.

Oh, sweet, sweet agency. A just-right word for a just-right moment. The fulcrum for the whole movie.

Girl wants sex.

In my mind, that glorious Top-of-The-Cyclone Orgasm is the end of the movie. The how-dare-you-want-sex punishment that comes after NEVER HAPPENS.

Everything else is gristle, stripped away, until all we have are the perfect three seconds, the right word.

Posted in Formative Wonk, Movies, Thinky | 6 Comments

We Look the Same on the Inside: A Guest Post by Audra North

Today I have the privilege of welcoming back “friend of Wonk” Audra North back with a personal essay on race, reading, writing, and romance. Take it away, Audra!


I’m a mixed-race kid. A hapa, born in the late ‘70s, back when kids like me weren’t really a “thing.” Whatever that means.

My best friend and I are too busy having fun to care that we come from completely different backgrounds

My best friend and I are too busy having fun to care that we come from completely different backgrounds

I got mistaken for pretty much everything, except what I was. Like…adopted. Or Puerto Rican. Or Korean, because, you know, we all look alike.[1] But it was all kind of fine, because I just assumed that everyone had all these cool different traditions in their family, just like I did, and it didn’t matter whether they gave hong bao on Chinese New Year and ate Grandma’s famous fried chicken on the Fourth of July, or if they opened presents on Christmas Eve with one side of the family but opened them on Christmas Day with another.

I thought everyone realized that there were these differences, and that they were cool. That there were these differences, but that the stuff that really matters—the stuff inside—is the same.

My first serious boyfriend was African-American, the son of Kenyan Muslim immigrants. It didn’t occur to me that this was a “Problem.” Because you know what? It wasn’t. To us, to the people who were in it, it wasn’t a problem. For so long (until I was in college, really), I didn’t really think of myself as being Chinese, or being German. I just thought of myself as me, and equal, and capable of the same depth and degree of love as everyone else.

It doesn’t matter your color. Love looks the same. It doesn’t matter your culture. Love feels the same. It doesn’t matter your religion. Love—real love—is the same.

Having said that…lately, I’ve been thinking a lot more about what I read and write, and how single-culture so much of mainstream romance is.  I should clarify that I am not saying that multicultural romance doesn’t exist.  It does, and there are excellent works out there. Just not in the same proportion to the number of mixed relationships I see around me.

The funny thing is, I didn’t actually notice this imbalance for a long time, precisely because I never thought that much about what people looked like. The underlying love always looked the same to me, no matter what its outer packaging. So when I finally realized that I the demography of my life wasn’t actually represented in corresponding rates in mass-market romance, it was a surprise.[2]

And then I started wondering, why don’t more of these stories exist in the mainstream, when love supposedly looks the same inside of everyone? Had I been wrong about it looking the same? Or was it impossible to believe that “Other” romances didn’t belong, despite the melting-pot American culture that we were taught in middle school history to revere and uphold as the ideal Society?

Buddhist monks in the 9th century rocking multiculturalism

Buddhist monks in the 9th century rocking multiculturalism

In the end, after I started reading with a new awareness, I felt like what was missing, for me, was romance about everyday multiculturalism. The kind that lets an Indian woman give love advice to her Venezuelan best friend over coffee. The kind that lets a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman find the best kind of comfort at the end of a hard day at work in the arms of her Black husband. The kind in which no one is a billionaire (or even a mere millionaire), but works as a dental hygienist or an automotive engineer.

The kind that a reader can finish and think, That love looks like the love I give and receive. Those characters deserve all the happiness in the world for the good that they bring to it.

Of course, everyday multiculturalism is not just about race. Yes, often it is represented through skin color.  But in reality, it is about the diversity of all our lives, whether bringing together Black and white, or Irish and French, or a Kenyan-Muslim-American and a hapa in the rural South. It is about romance that reflects the entirety of our lives, which cannot be separated into individual parts.

SIDE NOTE: I get that culture, skin color, sexual orientation, and religion will inform the romantic choices that the characters make, and in that the story—the journey to love—will be different for every character. And readers might not like those choices. That’s okay. Not everyone has to like the same thing—this isn’t what I’m saying. But to deem it invalid…to cast every story featuring a lesbian or a Thai man or a devout Jew into the Bucket of Irrelevance borders on the insane.[3]

Also, here’s a tip: Don’t read the one-star reviews of biracial romances. Just don’t.[4]

I am sure there will be people who read this and think, Oh, she’s hallucinating.  Overreacting.  There’s nothing wrong. There will be others who think, She’s not radical enough!  How dare she not blow things up the way they deserve to be blown up or cover every single possible objection in this one blog post?  And I know that there are so many others who will say this better than I ever could.  Who already have said it better. But my point is that we don’t all have to agree. I’m also not saying I’ve never experienced racism, that I didn’t feel excluded from certain things because of my looks, or that I was cast into a particular mold by others because my dad is a Scary Foreigner.[5] But what I am getting at is that we don’t all have to like the same thing. It is that we should not invalidate, dismiss, or shoot down and stomp on The Other.

Okay. End side note. Where was I? Oh, yeah. The entirety of our lives, and what really matters.

When I was nine years old, I fell in love with a boy named Fidencio when he defended me against fellow fifth-graders who were making fun of me for being younger and smaller than everyone else.  Fidencio was twelve years old, then, and understood what it meant to be the “wrong” age.  And then, I fell out of love with him three years later, when he said something sexual to me that destroyed my view of him as a savior, because I was twelve in the eighth grade and so self-conscious about still being a child amongst my adolescent peers and he was about to turn fifteen in the eighth grade and so self-conscious about being a man amongst his adolescent peers.  But the point is that I didn’t fall in love with him because of his accent or his lovely dark skin or his migrant worker parents. I fell in love with him because he made me feel like I mattered, and it was when he made me stop feeling that way that I fell out of that love.

I want the number of stories like this to grow to representative numbers in the mainstream (well, maybe not the falling out of love part, but the part about someone seeing you as a person who can give and receive love just like everyone else) about the kind of people I know.  The kind of people I am. I want more stories that reach beyond the stereotypes and show the internal workings of the clocks that measure our lives. That show that underneath everything else, our love looks the same.

If you’re interested in reading more examples “everyday multicultural” romance works, check out the following authors: Cecilia Tan, Serena Bell, Alisha Rai, Robin Covington, Heidi Belleau. This is just a short list off the top of my head, and I’d welcome other names and titles in the comments section—for everyone’s benefit!

Audra North fell in love with romance at age thirteen and spent the next twenty years reading as many romance novels as she could.  Even now, after having read over one thousand romance novels, Audra still can’t resist the lure of a happily ever after, and her collection continues to grow.  She lives near Boston with her husband, three young children, and a lot of books.  Her debut contemporary novella, STRANDED IN SANTIAGO, releases in Autumn 2013 from Entangled Publishing.  Visit her website at audranorth.com or find her (way too frequently) on Twitter @AudraNorth.

[1] I’ve heard that some people actually believe this.

[2] And by “surprise,” I mean “disappointment.” But also actually a surprise.

[3] I’m no longer sure whether I’m talking about romance novels or real life. Hmm…

[4] Unless you have a strong stomach and/or are trying to practice your skills of forgiveness.

[5] My dad is one of the least scary people, ever.

Posted in Guest Post, Writing Wonkomance | 14 Comments