I am so not a sportsball person.
Sports and I have never gotten along. I was the skinny kid picked last for teams all through school, the girl everyone yelled at for ducking when the ball came towards me, the one who ran to the wrong goal when the ball somehow did end up in my hands. I developed strategies to avoid gym class – hiding in the girls’ restroom, arguing with school administrators over P.E. requirements, you name it.
My antipathy for playing sports naturally extended to watching them. With the salient exceptions of attending the occasional game on a date (because I was there for the guy) or skipping college classes to sit in the bleachers at Cardinals games (because I was there for the beer), I avoided all sports events. And, as you likely gather from this, even when I “watched” one, I didn’t pay attention.
In recent years, I’ve reconnected with old friends on social media. One high school friend from Denver, Marin Untiedt, is active on Twitter, regularly posting about the various sportsings events she’s watching. At one point (maybe more than once) I bitched about all the football tweets in my Timeline and how I wished I could filter them out. She replied, “Hey – you have your girls in chains and I have my sportsball.”
She made a really good point. Because I do tweet regularly from my dirty Tumblr (http://jeffescloset.tumblr.com/), which includes many erotic pictures, a high percentage of them of the BDSM variety. I know that this particular kink is not for everyone and expect those people will simply ignore my tweets of that nature. Marin’s point, that I could ignore her football tweets, was well taken.
Then I attended the Coastal Magic Convention (CMC) in 2015 and became friendly with book blogger and loyal Patriots fan, Jen Twimom. The transitive property of Twitter friendship operated as it does, and Jen and Marin became friends through me, trading tweets about the Patriots and Broncos in the last Super Bowl. For the 2016 CMC, Jen and another book blogger, Liza Brown, persuaded me to stay through Sunday night for a Super Bowl party.
(They may have bribed me with snacks and lemon-drop martinis.)
As the date approached, it became more and more likely that the Broncos would make the Super Bowl. Marin promised that, if that happened, she would make me glittery flashcards, so I could sound like I knew what I was talking about and also a hat in Broncos orange and blue.
This is how I came to be cheering on the sportsings team from my hometown, while at a readers convention in Daytona Beach – wearing a big orange hat with a blue ribbon. I had fun, even!
But the best part is this. As the Broncos won and Marin had also sent me a blingy necklace of orange and blue beads with a glittery Broncos horsehead, I wore that home on the plane the next day.
It was as if I’d walked into a whole new undiscovered world!
All day long, people came up and talked to me about the Broncos and their win. People congratulated me on it. The bell hop at the hotel wanted to talk about the game. The people I sat next to on the plane to Denver, where I was connecting to Albuquerque, gave me high fives. The flight attendant on the plane to Albuquerque wanted to know where I bought my Broncos bling.
And suddenly I understood. For the first time in my entire life, I tasted the joy and camaraderie of a sports event. More, when I got home and saw a meme someone posted to Facebook, about not caring about the Super Bowl, it irritated me. Who were they to rain on our parade? Maybe it’s a silly thing, but we were having FUN in a way that didn’t affect them in the least.
In the course of 24 hours, I’d changed.
This is character transformation.
It might not be a huge change, but it’s a profound one for me. In stories, we often go for huge character transformations – the healing of emotional wounds that allow a person to embrace love and happiness, or a heroine to overcome her fears and seize her destiny. Still, for me to forget the bad associations I had with people yelling at me for sucking at athletics to enjoying the group joy over a win – that’s a significant change.
One that’s arguably added happiness to my life.
The whole progression of reaching this moment is what I call the Transformation Pressure. All of these conversations and interactions led to me viewing the world in a different way. In my writing, I often use sexual interactions as the Transformation Pressure. Sex can be an excellent way of digging into a character’s emotional wounds. More, the intimacy of sex and the various taboos around it that require breaking make for excellent pressures to move a character towards change.
Ultimately, my take is that sex scenes in stories should never be gratuitous. They should always function to move a character from a state of unhappiness and denial into one where they are able to be whole and seize the happiness that awaits them. I’ll be teaching all of this in a month-long course:Sex as a Tool for Character Transformation during March. We’ll talk extensively about Character Transformation, emotional wounds, and how to write effective sex scenes that create change in a character.
It should be almost as fun as winning the Superbowl!
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.
Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequels, The Tears of the Rose and The Talon of the Hawk, have been nominated for The RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of the year in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind in Summer 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.
A HEAVY CROWN
Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.
Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other-that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…