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Guest author Shelly Holt

Please welcome author Shelly Holt 

Explicit or descriptive, is less more?

Tasting Fire is not your average paranormal, shape-shifting, romance.  In my story, twenty-thousand years ago, a heat loving bacteria that lives only in hot springs, infected primitive nomads in many parts of the world.  The bacteria when ingested orally allows the infected individual with just the right genetic makeup to add a secondary DNA sequence to their own genetic code.  Over the course of thousands of years this little bug has given rise to the many different legends of shape-shifting that have evolved on nearly every continent. Tasting Fire is the story of how one species in particular, the Pari of central Asia, fought to stay hidden and what happens when they are revealed to the world.

When I sat down to write my first paranormal romance titled Tasting Fire, back in the beginning of the year, I had a lot of plot issues to consider.  Among them was what type of verbiage to use in describing the sexual activity taking place in the story.  As this was my debut novel, I was unsure which way to go.  I needed the love scenes to read realistically and to create those scenes, I needed to be comfortable with the language.

I remember when I sat down to write that first love scene in the book, I was so embarrassed that I even picked up my cats who usually are my constant writing buddies and unceremoniously dumped them in the hallway outside my office and closed the door.  Three hours later, I had on my hard drive what must have been the worst love scene known to man (or woman).  All I can say is thank goodness for rewrites! 

I remember vividly as I sat in front of my computer trying to decide how to write that first scene, I wondered how I should approach it.  My final decision was to write in the same manner as I preferred to read romance novels myself.  When I read an erotic romance, I personally prefer descriptive terms as opposed to more explicit language.  As a reader, I have found to be drawn more into the scene if the language is more descriptive than graphic.  One very strong example of that is the John Norman, Gor saga.  The first Gor novel was written in 1966 and the series has stayed popular ever since.  John Norman would go on to write 32 books in the series.  I don't recall any of the ones I've read having graphic language and yet the books are extraordinarily erotic due to themes of dominant males and submissive females.  Personally, I think they are more erotic due to their lack of graphic terms. I'm a big believer in less is more in literature.

There is one chapter in my own book where I briefly use a very small amount of profanity due to the action in the scene.  There is also a paragraph where one antagonist's thought processes are narrated using again much more explicit language than the rest of the book.  I did that on purpose to show the difference in the way I depicted the blossoming romance between the two main love interests and the misogynistic way this particular villain treated women.

In the end, I was really happy with the way the love scenes turned out, all embarrassment is gone.  Now when I write the sequel to Tasting Fire, my poor kitties will be allowed to stay in the office with me.

My thanks to Bitten by Paranormal Romance for inviting me on today and allowing me the opportunity to share my experiences of writing Tasting Fire with you.


Shape-shifters have always walked the earth. Shrouded in myth and folklore, hiding in the shadows, watching and waiting. Advances in modern science are now about to reveal them to the world. Kai Tenzin is the self appointed leader of the Pari people. He and his kind evolved from the most reclusive predators on earth, the Asian Snow Leopard. They live and hunt in the most fearsome and rugged terrain known to man, the Himalayas. As a young man, Kai left his small village where the mountain touches the heavens, determined to do anything to protect his people. When he is forced to enlist the aid of the beautiful American scientist Dr. Rae Hales, the last thing he expects to find is a woman who will ensnare his heart and endanger them all. Their action-packed adventure will take them around the world to discover the truth behind the legends and reveal the future of humanity.
 comparison.”   Kai looked so happy at that moment.  Rae was so moved by what he had just shared with her that all she could do was reach out and touch his wrist. “Thank you!” she whispered.  Kai nodded at her in acknowledgment, but he was too emotional to even speak.

 Being forced to sleep that close next to Rae had awakened the forty six year old researcher in ways he had thought he had buried deep down in his core.  Vadim laid on his side in the confining tent directly facing the tent wall.  The Russian biologist was trying very hard not to think about Rae's supple breasts just a few inches from him.  He realized to his dismay, the more a man tried not to think about a beautiful woman's tantalizing breasts the more he's going to absolutely obsess about them.  Vadim to his absolute consternation grew rock hard.  He looked down at himself in annoyance and tried to cover up the throbbing evidence with his sleeping bag.  Rae was laying so close to him that his discomfort became apparent fairly quickly.

All women, including Dr. Rae Hales have an inner vixen.  A voice inside of them that decides when and how to respond to a sexual situation.  That voice may also decide to stop an unwanted or ill timed advance dead in its tracks.   A woman's vixen can be a highly confident assistant helping its owner to enjoy a full and satisfying sex life.  Through abuse or neglect it can be a wounded little animal that will never see the light of day.  When Rae noticed Vadim's predicament her vixen decided she had enough.  Rae knew full well she was a fully competent scientist and what had really been behind Vadim's overly critical behavior towards her.  It was simply time for him to pay the piper.

 Rae turned onto her side and lay with her head in her hand directly facing the ruggedly handsome scientist's back.  She kicked off her sleeping bag and seductively poised her long tanned legs.  Several weeks before they had managed to get a video of two snow leopards actually mating in the foothills.  One was a collared female they named Sasha and the male leopard was unknown to the researchers.  She addressed her boss and asked him “do you wanna go over the data we collected on Sasha's mating partner?”  Rae's vixen leaned forward on her own and quite unabashedly whispered in Vadim's ear. “You know it kinda turned me on the first time we watched it!”  The Russian scientist turned over to look at his subordinate in astonishment.  Rae's eyes twinkled in open invitation.  Vadim being only human couldn't help himself and all of that self-control was sent careening down the mountainside in a moment by that twinkle.


My name is Shelly Holt and I live in the middle of the harsh and unforgiving Mojave desert. I write my stories looking out of a window that shows sweeping desert views. Outside is a barren and severe landscape, yet inside my head lives a world filled with exotic shape-shifters come to life, pulled from the pages of myth and legend, ready to entice and seduce any reader brave enough to take them on.






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