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Stone and Silt
by Harvey Chute

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Kindle Edition published 2013-08-14
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Big Al's Books & Pals 2014 Readers' Choice Awards: Young Adult Nominee

A ruthless murder and a stolen shipment of gold.

At school, sixteen-year-old Nikaia Wales endures the taunts of bullies who call her a “half-breed.” At home, she worries about how her family will react if she reveals her growing feelings for the quiet boy next door.

Those are soon the least of her troubles. Nikaia discovers a hidden cache of gold, and when police find a corpse nearby, her father becomes a suspect. Worse, Elias Doyle is circling, hungry to avenge his brother’s death.

Nikaia desperately searches for clues to save her father. In her quest to find the killer, she learns about the power of family, friendship, and young love....

Author Topic: Promiscuous Heroines  (Read 6008 times)  

Online Usedtoposthere

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #25 on: September 11, 2017, 01:41:07 AM »
What Nic said. I just read a big study the other day. Average # of sexual partners for adult men and women (believe this was the U.S.)--6.5 and 6.0. About the same, and not nearly as high as one might think.

If that's the mean, I'll bet a small number of people with a high number of partners skews it upwards. On the other hand, if it's self-reported, I'll bet it's self-reported low. Which probably puts it about where it is in the study, overall. Somewhere between 5 and 10 partners in a lifetime, and about the same for men and women.

One difference is that women, especially of average or greater attractiveness, who want to have a lot of partners can easily do so, whereas for heterosexual men, they probably have to be wealthy, handsome, famous, or some combo of those in order to have a huge number of partners.

As far as books--I write romance. I've certainly written books where the man and/or woman are having sex with other people at the start of the book, including after they meet each other, but not once they're in any kind of relationship. I've also written several books where the romance started as a one-night thing and then resumed later. My books are mainstream, steamy contemporary romance centered around the relationship, not the sex, and read by a 35-65-y-o female demographic.

I don't really like the term "promiscuous," but I'd say a heroine who's been having sex with multiple casual partners would be a hard sell to my audience. Can't speak to other types of romance audiences. I've certainly written heroines who've had more casual sex in the past, though, and that's gone over fine.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 01:44:10 AM by Usedtoposthere »

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2017, 02:21:10 AM »
My latest UF has a promiscuous heroine in it (it's not published yet). When I asked readers their thoughts on it, I had a couple of 'well, every character needs to have flaws' responses, which got my hackles up. Anyway...


Kaitlyn sleeps with 3 or 4 people in book 1. None of it explicit, on screen, but there's no chance of people misunderstanding and thinking they stopped at a kiss. She also has a regular friend-with-benefits (he's 1 of the 3 or 4). I did have some concern about this, partially with her being bi (and there is a god awful stereotype about bi people sleeping around a lot), and partially because of the whole thing where the H/h are supposed to only have eyes for each other.


As I said it isn't published yet, so we're going to see what reactions to it are. I've stated very publicly that Kaitlyn is that way, I am a bi woman myself, I've been careful with how she's presented and so on and so forth. I'll likely have a launch thread here in a couple of weeks, I'll mention if I see any push back from readers in there.

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Offline Nic

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2017, 02:21:45 AM »
The interesting question also is how much of a "pull" the promiscuous partner really is.

I've written both erotic romance and erotica with promiscuous and virginal or chaste characters, and found that even for male MCs there is a growing audience who like virginal/chaste characters. As I don't write any religious characters, the reasons for that state of things usually are not morals or disdain for sex. My audience prefers the sexually reticent MCs, even if they are male. These characters tend to be the most popular.

The interesting part is that I think that as long as the character who is sexually less experienced is still sexually capable or willing to adapt and learn, they are better received than MCs who sleep around a lot.

@Usedtoposthere

The statistics I cited are from an academic study working with data from all of Europe.

Offline Doglover

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2017, 02:33:12 AM »
My latest UF has a promiscuous heroine in it (it's not published yet). When I asked readers their thoughts on it, I had a couple of 'well, every character needs to have flaws' responses, which got my hackles up.

Why?


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Offline RBN

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2017, 03:19:03 AM »
Why?

Because it's 2017 and some people still think female sexuality is a "flaw."

Offline Doglover

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2017, 03:32:24 AM »
Because it's 2017 and some people still think female sexuality is a "flaw."
Female sexuality isn't a flaw and never has been. Promiscuity is not the same thing at all.


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Offline Steve Vernon

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #31 on: September 11, 2017, 03:39:53 AM »
Well, Laurel Hamilton seems to do all right - although I lost patience with her when her Anita Blake slid into the bang-a-chapter pattern of plotting.

Offline ADDavies

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2017, 04:09:14 AM »
I have a female detective who views sex as no big deal. It's just something she does, when she wants to and if the moment is appropriate (ie, she won't nip into a bathroom stall at work but nor will she be shy about doing it somewhere private).

That's not to say she's bed-hopping. Sex is a small part of the stories, but she simply owns what she does and feels no shame, never "justifies" it. Most of it's "off screen" and back-story anyway. Not sure if that counts.

But it's 2017. Women having their own agency is not something that should be unusual.
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Offline Nic

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #33 on: September 11, 2017, 06:05:08 AM »
I have a female detective who views sex as no big deal. It's just something she does, when she wants to and if the moment is appropriate (ie, she won't nip into a bathroom stall at work but nor will she be shy about doing it somewhere private).

That's not to say she's bed-hopping. Sex is a small part of the stories, but she simply owns what she does and feels no shame, never "justifies" it. Most of it's "off screen" and back-story anyway. Not sure if that counts.

But it's 2017. Women having their own agency is not something that should be unusual.

I think it depends on genre how readers react, on who is the main audience and what the sexual background means in the context of the story.

Offline Colin

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #34 on: September 11, 2017, 06:11:03 AM »
I think it depends on genre how readers react, on who is the main audience and what the sexual background means in the context of the story.

Yep.

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2017, 06:18:03 AM »
I've just launched an urban fantasy series with a FMC who uses her sexual power as her main weapon. She's not overtly promiscuous in the story but she has a history :) No complaints so far. You have a lot more leeway outside of romance because the relationship isn't the main focus.

At least when it comes to sex with vampires, depending on your world, you don't have to worry about diseases or unplanned pregnancies :)

I'm so glad other UF writers answered this, because it seems like within the genre it's pretty accepted. My MC's love interest is the product of a vampire/human union, so pregnancy would be a possibility, but it doesn't happen for my MC anyway.

I write romance and I don't have patience for this crap. My girls sleep around... a lot. Not within the context of the romance, but as a part of who the characters are. I will NEVER write virgin characters because it's a trope that irritates the  p*ss  out of me.

But many readers in the genre have different expectations. They're just not going to get those stories and characters from me.

*applause* :)

Offline kathrynoh

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2017, 07:00:37 AM »
I'm so glad other UF writers answered this, because it seems like within the genre it's pretty accepted. My MC's love interest is the product of a vampire/human union, so pregnancy would be a possibility, but it doesn't happen for my MC anyway.

*applause* :)

I have a human/vampire in my series but he's an anomaly. But then, I do mention that normally most humans impregnated by a vampire die in childbirth so protection would be a good thing :)

Offline Shimmergirl69

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #37 on: September 11, 2017, 07:56:47 AM »
I'm probably not the best person to answer this question because long before I was a writerI spent a lot of time online talking to young ladies about the 'dangers' of promiscuity. It wasn't based on personal experience, but on friends of mine, and even coworkers. That said, I prefer to write about 'chaste' women.

My last couple of characters I've written as celibate (because I know a virgin past a certain age in this society is rare-or at least not broadcast) So celibacy is a little more realistic than virginity. Though one of my characters  in A Love Worth Waiting For, was a virgin.

I believe I might have missed the mark with one of my books Under the Irish Moon, because, although my character didn't sleep with another man, she and her male friend were a little too close for comfort and I believe it may have rubbed a couple of readers the wrong way.

I based that character on the chatter I see online from 20 something's who are sex positive, with different men types. But that is typically not the characters I write nor want to write.

I think promiscuity is subjective, but I think multiple partners for some women over the course of their dating life is 'normal". However, when it comes to romance novels, I think readers want the woman to be as close to chaste as possible.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 08:05:45 AM by Shimmergirl69 »

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Offline Red Riley

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #38 on: September 11, 2017, 08:00:32 AM »
All things in moderation, I always say...
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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2017, 08:42:34 AM »
I have a human/vampire in my series but he's an anomaly. But then, I do mention that normally most humans impregnated by a vampire die in childbirth so protection would be a good thing :)

I have the same thing in my books, but it doesn't come up until the second one. This character's mother managed to avoid that fate because he was born early by C-section.

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2017, 08:52:42 AM »
I've probably gotten four star reviews for not enough sex in my paranormal book.  The genre seems to prefer hot and heavy, rather than restrained and a little steamy. 

My characters are more Victorian (or even a little earlier) in their values, but they have lived a long time.  I just can't picture a 200 year-old virgin.  Doesn't seem very realistic, so I came up with another reason my MC would not be in a situation to get into a romance with anyone for the last several decades.  Seems to work...for most readers. :)

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Offline Nic

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2017, 08:56:32 AM »
I have the same thing in my books, but it doesn't come up until the second one. This character's mother managed to avoid that fate because he was born early by C-section.

Is that a trope taken directly from Twilight fanfiction? I do not see any reason for handling it that way.

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2017, 09:12:14 AM »
Is that a trope taken directly from Twilight fanfiction? I do not see any reason for handling it that way.

When you write about vampires/shifters/fairies/etc., usually you come up with the "rules" first. You can pretty much do whatever you want as long as it's consistent within the book(s). It's not like there is scientific research out there on the undead. You can borrow from what others have done, or do something different or contrary. Like my vampires are allergic to sunlight, but other authors have made it where they can be in the sun. I didn't include any religious symbolism like holy water or crosses, but other authors have. The reasons for handling a thing a particular way are the same as any reason for doing anything in fiction - it serves the plot, or it's just the author's preference.

Offline HopelessFanatic

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #43 on: September 11, 2017, 09:19:10 AM »
In UF, a lot depends on how skewed toward paranormal romance the book is. If there is a heavy romantic subplot (which I believe there is in your series), sticking closer to the "rules" of Romance tend to apply ie once the couple have had some sort of physical or emotional connection, no other sexual partners. It's not as strict of once hero/heroine meet usually.

A character who sleeps around is generally accepted if it happens before the introduction of the romantic sub-plot. For some series, this doesn't even happen in book 1. (Mine tend not to because I prefer slow burn over multiple books and my main characters are not celibate prior. Also my series tend to have minor romantic sub-plots.)

There are exceptions of course, just like there are in paranormal romance. If it's a reverse harem situation or multiple partner end game, obviously there's not fidelity with one person. It really comes down to reader expectations. If readers expect a HEA for two of the characters based on the content of your story, they are more likely to be irritated at a heroine (or even hero) who continues to sleep with other people.

A good example of a bestselling urban fantasy series that handles a less chaste protagonist is Kim Harrison's Hallows series. Her main character has multiple relationships/partners over the course of the series. It works in my opinion because there's no major OTP focus in the series. Especially not in the first several books.

While I haven't read your story specifically, based on your other posts, I think your FMC sleeping around at the beginning won't have a lot of reader backlash, and those that do aren't your target market probably anyway. (You can't please everyone.) My guess is that you would get more back-lash if the FMC continues to sleep around after the romantic sub-plot between characters begins. (So in your case I'd say book 1).

That said, do what you feel is right for the story. Do what is right for the character. Considering the surging popularity of reverse harems in uf and pnr, readers are more accepting it seems.

I personally have no issue with a more promiscuous FMC. I get more annoyed with a promiscuous MMC, especially in story. Back story doesn't bug me.

Offline HopelessFanatic

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #44 on: September 11, 2017, 09:25:21 AM »
My latest UF has a promiscuous heroine in it (it's not published yet). When I asked readers their thoughts on it, I had a couple of 'well, every character needs to have flaws' responses, which got my hackles up. Anyway...


Kaitlyn sleeps with 3 or 4 people in book 1. None of it explicit, on screen, but there's no chance of people misunderstanding and thinking they stopped at a kiss. She also has a regular friend-with-benefits (he's 1 of the 3 or 4). I did have some concern about this, partially with her being bi (and there is a god awful stereotype about bi people sleeping around a lot), and partially because of the whole thing where the H/h are supposed to only have eyes for each other.


As I said it isn't published yet, so we're going to see what reactions to it are. I've stated very publicly that Kaitlyn is that way, I am a bi woman myself, I've been careful with how she's presented and so on and so forth. I'll likely have a launch thread here in a couple of weeks, I'll mention if I see any push back from readers in there.

It sounds like you're going to be handling it very well while still being true to the character. I wouldn't be surprised if you have a similar backlash as Izzy did/does with having a bi female main character, but it hasn't help her back and it won't hold you back either. I for one am looking forward to your new series :)

Offline Nic

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #45 on: September 11, 2017, 09:29:42 AM »
When you write about vampires/shifters/fairies/etc., usually you come up with the "rules" first. You can pretty much do whatever you want as long as it's consistent within the book(s). It's not like there is scientific research out there on the undead. You can borrow from what others have done, or do something different or contrary. Like my vampires are allergic to sunlight, but other authors have made it where they can be in the sun. I didn't include any religious symbolism like holy water or crosses, but other authors have. The reasons for handling a thing a particular way are the same as any reason for doing anything in fiction - it serves the plot, or it's just the author's preference.

Worldbuilding itself is nothing new to me. No need to explain it. I had that question, because what was described appears to be drawn directly off Twilight, rather than any original worldbuilding or actual folklore. I was astonished that multiple authors are using the worldbuilding of another author.

Online Usedtoposthere

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #46 on: September 11, 2017, 09:32:29 AM »
I think promiscuity is subjective, but I think multiple partners for some women over the course of their dating life is 'normal". However, when it comes to romance novels, I think readers want the woman to be as close to chaste as possible.

Last point simply not true. For mainstream romance, I would say they generally have sex within the context of a relationship. If that is chaste, then yes. If you mean that the woman somehow doesn't have sex at all until hero shows up, then no. Once hero and heroine are together in a romance, sleeping with other people is almost always a no, though there are cheating romances out there too I hear. If it's not a romance, rules are different.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 02:04:32 PM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline Dpock

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #47 on: September 11, 2017, 09:56:38 AM »
However, when it comes to romance novels, I think readers want the woman to be as close to chaste as possible.

That's where it gets confusing when researching New Adult and RomCom lists. Most of the high-ranking titles feature a lot of fairly hardcore scenes that read more like erotica.


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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #48 on: September 11, 2017, 10:05:06 AM »
Worldbuilding itself is nothing new to me. No need to explain it. I had that question, because what was described appears to be drawn directly off Twilight, rather than any original worldbuilding or actual folklore. I was astonished that multiple authors are using the worldbuilding of another author.

SM didn't invent that idea. A good portion of vampire conventions originated with Dracula. If you want to keep discussing off-topic, you should probably start a new thread.

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Re: Promiscuous Heroines
« Reply #49 on: September 11, 2017, 10:49:59 AM »
Worldbuilding itself is nothing new to me. No need to explain it. I had that question, because what was described appears to be drawn directly off Twilight, rather than any original worldbuilding or actual folklore. I was astonished that multiple authors are using the worldbuilding of another author.

Fetus/birthing infant killing the mother is a standard though not universal dhampir trope.