Friday, January 20, 2017

Best of the Archives: Eroticism & Evocatism: Two "E's" at Odds

A version of this post was originally published on March 11, 2010


HAH! Got your attention, didn’t I???

Oh my stars, the very thought of Ruthy doing a column on eroticism vs. evocatism should have drawn hordes to the port harbor buyin’ tickets for the fast ferry, all fired up wonderin’ what Seekerville’s got going on today!!!

Two “E’s” at odds, that’s what I’m talkin’ about, baby.

Let’s talk evocative first. Come on, humor me. Save the hotsy-totsy stuff for last,  a typical bait and switch tactic.

Evoking emotion…

I love doing this, or attempting to do this. When you read great novels, very few must detail explicit scenes of war, brutality, sex, deprivation or torture to make you ‘feel’ the protagonist’s experience. Why is that?

Because the author is skilled at evoking the feelings tweaking the five senses. By doing that, the author builds the image in your mind like a well-made tiramisu. On its own, each layer is good but not great. Used together to form a multi-layered dessert, the result is oh-my-goodness-gracious-sakes-to-Betsy wonderful. Too delicious for words. Crème brulee is another example. If anyone told you that burnt caramel covered custard would be to-die-for wonderful, would you have believed them?


But one taste of those melded flavors slipping over the lips, awakening a sleepy palate, teasing a tired tongue and you understand the subtleties of evoking an inborn feeling.

Link to Home on the Range on Amazon

Sex is great. What an amazingly wonderful, totally human gift from God and I’m going out on a limb here and thanking him for it right now because (as my friend Jules examples and believes) passion for love, romance and God are not at odds. God designed us, created us, and gifted us with a wonderful means of loving procreation that we refer to as sex.

Only it’s so much more than that and that’s where the difference lies between the two “E’s”.

Sex just is. And in that simplistic meaning, it’s everywhere, a virtual explosion of sexuality and sensuality that hit mid-sixties and hasn’t abated.

Can you say: BORING!!!!

For the most part.

But romance….


I love it. Breathe it. Drink it in. And when you’ve experienced true romance, true love, true communion of spirits, that “Aw….” moment is magnified beyond belief.

Now lots of people can’t buy into this readily. I get that. I also get that different strokes for different folks is real. One author does not a library make, it takes a village and all that.

But if we flip to the word erotic, the images that come to mind are not the warm, romantic, sensitive and sensual things I look for in a romance. Regardless of how good the author is, if they get too graphic or make sex too common, I’m disillusioned because a good plot line doesn’t need that much gratuity.

The more a writer needs to explain, the less important the explanation and that goes for sex, war, violence, etc. Now I know not everyone will agree with this, and that’s okay. But when I look at the feelings evoked by Harper Lee, I see, taste and feel that Southern community, the bonds of family, the scourge of racism, the heat of the moment, the time, the place.


When I re-read Christy, I see a young woman’s quest for maturity and love grow hand-in-hand without a naked body in sight. Catherine Marshall embraces me with her story, her characters, her grace and hope, totally investing me in Christy and Fairlight, the good doctor and Miss Alice…

I don’t get those same warm fuzzies when I see a billboard for Debbie Does Dallas. Just doesn’t cut it.

Julie wondered out loud if I’d be comparing her work to mine today. Good gracious, no. Love, desire and passion are part of romance, they’re intricately interwoven, they’re a package deal. Without that internal desire to create an external bond, we ladies might never catch us a man…

Menfolk are tricky creatures and when you finally get a moth to hang around your flame, it’s important that the moth be really, truly fired up and fireproof. Julie takes her characters and readers by the heart and throat and invests the reader in their lives by having her heroes and heroines jump off the page with emotion. Ah, to be loved like that! Desired like that! Doesn’t every woman want a man who is strong enough to stand by her but entrenched enough to be that moth to her flame?

Have you seen Lord of the Dance? (Take a moment for a silent, communal "YUM" here for Michael Flatley in a leotard... I'm just sayin'...) The dance where Michael is tempted by the gorgeous strumpet in black as she does her come hither dance for him, wanting to woo him away from the gal in… (of course!!!) white…

And as the raven-haired tart struts her stuff, he realizes that while her moves tempt, his heart is bonded to another, a woman whose pure grace shows from within, the kind that bears the light of his children in her eyes. If Flatley can wordlessly impart that story in three short minutes using nothing but body language, how much easier it should be for us to weave those words into an embracing, evocative story of love and grace.

And as always, I talk too much!!!! Coffee’s on! I nipped some of Sandra’s chocolate velvet yesterday while she was hiking some old prospector’s trail with the dog and I have Tim Horton’s manning the cappuccino bar and supplying us with donuts, tarts, bagels, cream cheese, eggs and ham. The guys and gals at Tim’s totally rock the big Kahuna.

This excerpt is from one of my first Love Inspireds, a great story titled "Waiting Out the Storm"... it got 4 1/2 Stars from Romantic Times (I miss their reviews!) and it's still a reader favorite...

Waiting Out the Storm, a Hatfield/McCoy type romance set in the North Country… There's a criminal history between the two families and that only gets magnified in small towns...

They reached the gate. Craig watched as Sarah maneuvered the hooked handle to allow their exit, then affixed the closures to reconnect the circuit. Free of the fence, Skeeter launched herself at him. He swept her up and planted a kiss on her soft cheek. “You smell good.”

“Aunt Sarah let me use her special lotion. We smell just the same,” the child bragged.

Craig leaned forward until his face brushed Sarah’s hair. He drew a long, slow breath. Stepping back, he smiled at her nonplussed expression. “You both smell wonderful.”

“Thank you.” The child dimpled and squirmed at the compliment. Sarah didn’t, but she didn’t look combative, either. An improvement, perhaps?

“It has a pretty name, too,” Skeeter prattled on. “What was it, Aunt Sarah?” Turning, the child offered her question with no trace of guile.

Sarah blushed. He smiled to see it, watching deeper tones canvas her tawny cheeks once more. Her discomfort made her seem younger. Less secure. Watching her, he decided it wasn’t a feeling she’d had much experience with. “Spill it, Sarah. What’s it called?”

She bit her lip and glanced away, then drew an exasperated breath. Turning back, she met his gaze, reluctant. “Meadow Romance.”

He grinned and softened his expression. “Really?” Surveying her, he stayed silent, allowing the seconds to mount. Her hands tugged the side seams of her jeans as he bent, inhaling deeply. “Perfect.”

“Well.” She stepped back, clasping her hands. “I’ve got work.”

He nodded, still holding Skeeter. “I’ll walk you to the door.”

“It’s right there.” Her look indicated the short distance between them and the house. Her tone said she wanted to be rid of him.

“We can’t let it be said that the prince left the princesses unprotected with dragons about, can we?”

“Oh, no.” Skeeter’s pigtails danced. “The ground could be,” she paused, searching for words. “Fraught with danger. Hidden traps, destined to foil the bravest knight.”

“Arthurian?” He hiked a brow to Sarah, indicating he was pretty certain the first grader hadn’t come up with that line on her own. “I would have expected Three Sisters. Brother Eagle.”

“Legends and fairy tales cross cultural boundaries,” Sarah informed him, her gaze flicking up to his. When it did, he felt a surge of warmth. Delicious. Delightful. Wonderfully surprising.

“Tell me more.”

She made it up the first step, putting her almost at eye level. Looking startled by his sudden proximity, she advanced another stair, lengthening the distance. “I have to go.”

“Of course.” Still smiling, he set Skeeter down. “Thanks for walking with me, girls.”

“We didn’t,” Sarah protested, her brow knit. “We—”

“Yes?” He angled his head, holding her gaze, keeping his look aimed at her.

She was bothered, that was plain enough. Frustrated, maybe? Aggravated, annoyed, perturbed? Absolutely.


A good possibility. But wishing she weren’t. Stepping back, he knew he’d hit the nail on the head but hadn’t a clue what to do about it. Slocums and Macklins were fire and water, oil and vinegar. Not a good mix.

I've been blessed to write a lot of books... and I'm amazed at how the market jumps and dives, but I find there is no big secret to this job... there's just good old-fashioned hard work... Write a great book. Then keep on doing it. With so many options available to today's author, the only thing standing between you and success is... you.

Go get 'em.

Multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne loves her job, she's having the time of her life, and if she's not creating a delightfully fun and poignant new story, she's thinking about doing it... because she loves her job! Find her on facebook at Ruth Logan Herne, visit her website and check her out @Twitter as @RuthLoganHerne.... She loves God, her family, coffee, chocolate, cute kids, puppies and kittens and writing sweet stories that make people laugh... and cry.

As a reminder, comments are closed today so we can focus on writing... and it's mid-January, my friends! ONLY TWO MORE MONTHS OF WINTER!!!! :)