Monday, October 26, 2015

Sexual Addiction or Garden-Variety Cheating? By Angelica French

Please welcome my guest, Angelica French!
I have a character in Streetwalker, my heroine’s love interest, who is a cheater. Not really a liar so much as an evader. You know, sin of omission, on the lying front. You see, he can’t help himself. He is a sex addict.

Harlan never had to account for his actions and slept around with impunity--until, that is, Carrie showed up on his doorstep. Literally.

As she worked her way into his affections, he had twinges of guilt about his actions, but he was unable to control his compulsion to scratch his itch.

When Harlan’s backstory emerged, I wanted to do more than the old wandering-eye thing with him. I have done a considerable amount of research on the psychology of sex addiction and have been intrigued with the findings. I am trying very hard to make sure I adhere to the best thinking on whether or not this is an addiction, what the characteristics of the addiction are, and, if an actual addiction, what can be done about it.

Additionally, I’ve read lots of articles on cheating, what causes it, how to spot it, and what can be done about it. Interestingly, counselors think cheating may be as high or higher in women, but it isn’t reported as often. And Carrie does her share of playing around in retaliation for Harlan’s behaviors and because she feels neglected and undervalued. She has big-time self-esteem issues.

Hypersexual Disorder (sexual addiction) is one of those syndromes that psychologists can’t agree on. Is it an
addiction that should have been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, or is it not? Is sexual addiction merely a character flaw as opposed to a psychological condition?

The history of the DSM and what gets included is quite interesting, but a topic for another blog post not this one. For example, the DSM-III included Hypersexual Disorder, but it was removed in subsequent updates due to lack of research data. There are researchers checking this out as we speak. Imagine telling people what your day job is!

It would be a tricky line to research in that there is, and should be, an acceptance of the wide variation of sexual appetites. What is Hypersexual Disorder, anyway? In psychological terms, a syndrome is a disorder that interferes with relationships and life’s activities.

The DSM-V, our guide to mental disorders, is gray on the area of sexual addiction. Nevertheless, there are folks out there, men and women, who engage in risky sexual behaviors with multiple partners who have had the public light shine on them. You read the papers. You know who I’m talking about.

So, let’s just focus on men who cheat on their partners despite the high risk of being found out. Even if the DSM-V is not labeling them, we can in our books.

Harlan cheats on Carrie, both with prostitutes in his bordello and with his company attorney simultaneous to having a relationship, physical and emotional, with Carrie. How does a woman know about his cheating (or suspect) and what should be her response?

The first thing, research says, is not to blame herself if a spouse/significant other is cheating on her. It is common for women to take the fall. Sure, there are some responsibility issues in terms of what home and love are like for her guy, but cheating is a decision HE makes. He could choose another response to a less-than-perfect home situation.

Why people cheat is the topic for another blog, but if you want to write about a cheating partner, not just sexual addiction cheating, here are some signs you can include in your novel:

1)   She isn’t fooled. A deep down part of her knows he’s cheating, but she is in denial until confronted with incontrovertible evidence. Phone messages, phone hangups, discovered sexting, and online tracks are very common ways women find out.
2)   He is either too tired for sex at home (exhausted from the other woman/man) or he gets friskier because he is stimulated by the risk and the freshness of another partner. Bottom line: a sudden change in sexual energy should be noted. However, there can be health reasons for the change, too, so that should be ruled out first.
3)   He has large blocks of unaccounted for time. Now maybe he does have to work a lot of overtime. It happens.
4)   He used to talk about Dianne all the time, now he never mentions her. Maybe he is concealing something he doesn’t want his mate to know. Or maybe she quit the company and he never sees her so he never mentions her. Nice plot line you can use to obfuscate a real affair.

If you want to fix the relationship, here are some strategies for your book:

1)   The cheating relationship has to be over. You cannot repair the rift unless he gives up the affair. Nice plot points are possible if he is trying (as I have Harlan do), but he can’t quite do it yet. Or maybe you have him go cold turkey.
2)   An affair has the potential to fix what was wrong with the original relationship. Each may realize the importance of the relationship and work hard with whatever tools they can find. But, the possibility of backsliding is there. How much self-control does your male character have? Might he return to his old ways? Can she trust him? Lots of plot possibilities here, too.
3)   Healing takes time. Have your heroine take a break, maybe consider having her own affair. Separation allows both parties to examine what is important, why they got together to begin with, and what each wants from a healed future together.
4)   Forgive, but don’t forget. Both parties have to work at a relationship. Have your heroine examine her own behaviors to help mend the marriage. But the affair should remind her to be vigilant and watchful without being paranoid.
5)   Intermediaries can help both parties process issues. It is not easy to find the right help for each person. A plot point can be that search for the right counselor. Your couple may have to “kiss a lot of frogs” in their search for marital assistance.
6)   Realize that infidelity doesn’t end relationships; how couples deal with it is what ends it. Again, a plot point can show the fits and starts of the healing process.

Then again, sometimes the relationship should and must end. No amount of fixing attempts can fix it. That is the often the starting point for highly successful romance novels. Go forth, and let your characters sin.

Sharon Arthur Moore is the author of Streetwalker and the author of culinary mysteries. She is truly living the dream.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Too Busy to Get Into Trouble

Yes, it should be Fearless Friday, but I'm inserting a quick post...just because I can. I haven't posted a Tortuga Thursday post in several weeks. I haven't written a Muse Monday post in several weeks. We're in a transitioning stage between the farm and the RV park, and on top of that I've been dealing with multiple stages on my books. Keeping up with those stages eats up my time.

The Art of Love and Murder re-released under the Amazon Encore label. Such an honor but required a good deal of promo and tracking on my part.

Post-War Dreams released worldwide...again required a great deal of promo and
Latest release

I re-contracted with The Wild Rose Press to redesign a cover for Sleeping with the Lights On. I never liked the cover of my first book and I'm excited to get a new one. Maybe some new life will be breathed into the book.

I had to get first edits done for A Legacy of Love and Murder. This is the third book in the series which I hoped would release this year but that's not going to happen.

And I'm back to working on The Power of Love and Money, the fourth book in the series.

I've got a list of upcoming appearances for book signings. I invite you to come by if you're anywhere in the area...or make a trip!

Monday, October 5, 2015


I always start thinking Christmas about this time of year. My guest Alison Henderson's newest book sounds perfect for the holidays.
Hi, Brenda. Thank you so much for inviting me to join you today to introduce my latest book, Small Town Christmas Tales: Ten Short Holiday Romances.
Romances set in small towns have been all the rage the past few years. Best-selling authors write series after series featuring small town settings from the coastal Pacific Northwest to rural Virginia, and readers snap them up as soon as they hit the shelves. So what is it that attracts us so strongly to stories set in small towns?
I think the biggest factor is a longing for simplicity—simpler times and places. Many of us live in big cities or sprawling suburbs. We’re surrounded by too many cars driven by nameless strangers. In these turbulent times, it’s easy to believe no one has our back. So we’re comforted by the thought of a place where neighbors help neighbors in times of trouble. Where, for better or worse, everybody knows your name.
And small towns are fun—fun to read about and fun to write. I’m a city girl, born and bred. Maybe that’s why I had such a terrific time inventing ten different towns for Small Town Christmas Tales. Each town is in a different state, most of which I’ve lived in or visited. I started with specific memories then gave my imagination full rein to create the kind of picturesque locales we all love.
Small towns are also the perfect places for quirky characters. Even though the stories in this collection are relatively short, they all have memorable secondary characters. In If Wishes Were Fishes, one of members of the knitting club known as The Knit Wits experiments with anise-flavored snickerdoodles, just for fun. Let It Snow features a grandpa who just might be Santa. And the three wise guys in No Room at the Inn could double as extras from The Sopranos.
Small Town Christmas Tales is the perfect antidote for the stress of the holidays. It is currently available in Kindle and paperback form from Amazon, as well as being available for borrow with Kindle Unlimited.
Light the fire, heat the cider, and lose yourself in this collection of ten short holiday romances. Each story is set in a different fictional small town, from coast to coast, Maine to California. Sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, they're sure to warm your heart and put you in a holiday mood.
To give you a little taste, here’s the opening of Mistletoe and Misdemeanors:
This was the last place she expected to spend Christmas. Callie Rayburn glanced around the puke-green cinder block cell in the basement of the Hawthorne Springs, Missouri police station. In jail for Christmas. It figured, given the downward spiral her life had taken during the past twenty-four hours.
A tear slid down the side of her nose. She dashed it away with the back of her hand and snuffled. She didn’t even have a tissue because that jerk Billy Freeman had taken her purse. What kind of town let a pubescent little snot like Billy Freeman wear a badge and carry a gun? It seemed like just last week she’d babysat him and his obnoxious younger brother to earn enough money to buy her dream dress for the senior prom.
Another tear followed the track of the first. If Billy Freeman was old enough to be a police officer, what did that make her? Ancient. Over the hill. Thirty years old with nothing to show for it. Two days ago she’d been living the high life in St. Louis with a job, a cute apartment she couldn’t afford, and a future. Today—zip, nada, bupkis. And now, to tie the whole thing up with a big fluffy bow, she’d been arrested by Billy Freeman for breaking and entering. Un-freaking-believable.
Alison Henderson

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Said I Wouldn't, But I Did

I don't normally blog on Saturday. I don't normally enter contests either, but I did. As a result, the need to blog is to spread the word since this contest requires readers' votes. The main problem with this kind of contest is getting the word out, and that turns it into a shout and beg kind of thing. So, why did I do it? No idea. Southwest of Love and Murder placed second in a contest before it was published. It was the typical contest judged by a panel of judges and editors. My mother-in-law used to say "there is first place and no place." I guess I felt the need to try once more for first place since my second place really doesn't mean much.

The Romance Reviews is where you go to vote. You have to register, but it's free and safe. Your email address will be confidential. It's the only way for them to monitor that you vote only once for a book. There are several categories. Southwest of Love and Murder is in the Romantic Suspense category. Below is the direct link to my book's page. Click on the blue box that says "Action-Adventure/Romantic Suspense/Mystery. Vote Now." I'm up against some tough competition. Thanks!