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Writing Steamy Sex Scenes with Em Petrova

Hello, Savvy Authors readers! I’m Em Petrova, and I write heroes who are hardworking—in bed and out! I bet you can guess that I write steamy sex. I’ll tell you, I didn’t start out writing dirty-talking heroes. For some reason, I didn’t think it was okay to write steamy books.

Like most authors, I started as an avid reader. In my teen years, my grandma got me hooked oh Stephen King, and after I’d blown through his entire backlist, I reached for other horror. But in my late teens I discovered romance. I loved the sweeping historicals. I devoured all the Outlander series 20 years before they became a huge hit. What always gripped me was the connection between characters.

While I lingered over the sex scenes—even the tamest ones were hot—I never thought I could implant them into my writing. I held myself back, and I tell ya, it was hard, because my characters always wanted to get it on! They’d build up, have a kiss, and I’d sit in front of my computer aching to write that hot love scene, but somehow not believing I should.

Notice I didn’t say could. I knew I could blow open that bedroom door and let the reader see every single caress, stroke and hungry kiss between my characters. I was only holding back myself, and one day I asked myself why.

I wrote that first sex scene. It was fun and hot and I felt my book was immediately better. In fact, I had a nice shiny contract within the month. Since that moment, I’ve never looked back.

I’m known for dirty-hot heroes, and I like them to live up to it. Writing sex is far more than “insert A into slot B.” The characters have to connect in all ways, emotionally and physically. I wrote from pure instinct, and I still do. But over the years I’ve honed my craft and know what works (and if you take my workshop here at Savvy Authors March 6-26 you will learn too).

Some people believe you need to write erotica to write hot. But there’s a difference between erotica and erotic romance, which is my genre. The main difference is that erotic romance is about the romance and sex plays a big role in their lives. Sex might bring them together in a one-night stand, it could bind them to a marriage that’s struggling and make the characters remember what it is they still love about each other. In erotica, the sex is the journey. The sex opens the characters to fulfillment in their lives, and the story doesn’t need a happily ever after. A happy for now is fine.

Erotic romance is definitely hot, but most contemporary romance is. I know we’ve all read those bodice-rippers where the viral young Scotsman flips up his kilt and takes the wee lassie from the village who’s thrown into his protective arms after their village has been sacked. All sub-genres of romance come in various heat levels. As a writer you dictate how high you turn up the flames. Even as readers, you choose books according to your taste in heat level.

When I’m not writing hunky guys with callused hands and low-slung jeans, I do freelance editing. I work with many authors of all heat levels. I read everything from erotica to Amish romance. I enjoy working with authors within their comfort zone. I’d never ask a sweet romance author to pump up her sex scenes and show us each and ever jerk of the hero’s hips.

Authors need to write within their comfort zone! I can’t stress this enough. I’ve seen some authors hold back and leave the reader—or editor in this case—feeling let down. I’ve seen some sweeter characters attempt sex scenes that would make your momma wash your mouth out with soap just for glancing at the page. Those weren’t always successful scenes, if the author didn’t write within her comfort zone or write true to the story.

What I learned as a fledgling author in this industry was that I needed to remain true to my strengths. That is writing healthy lust between two people—or sometimes three! We all know sex isn’t all about scratching an itch, though. It can be used to heal, even to comfort in times of grief. In my upcoming workshop, I will show variations of sex and we will analyze them from mood to pacing to dirty talk, or lack thereof.

I’m looking forward to a very fun and steam March! I hope you’ll join me here at SavvyAuthors and we can work to improve your sex scenes. Whether you hand your characters ropes and paddles or prefer to barely paint the landscape of a candlelit love scene, this workshop is for you.

[box] Bio:
Em Petrova was raised by hippies in the wilds of Pennsylvania but told her parents at the age of four she wanted to be a gypsy when she grew up. She has a soft spot for babies, puppies and 90s Grunge music and believes in Bigfoot and aliens. She started writing at the age of twelve and prides herself on making her characters larger than life and her sex scenes hotter than hot.

She burst into the world of publishing in 2010 after having five beautiful bambinos and figuring they were old enough to get their own snacks while she pounds away at the keys. In her not-so-spare time, she is fur-mommy to a Labradoodle named Daisy Hasselhoff and works as an editor with USA Today and New York Times bestselling authors.

Find Em Petrova:



[box] New Release… Coming March 13 from Em Petrova

Attorney Geneva Lang has the right pedigree and attended the preferred Ivy League school. Hell, she even has the right last name to become a partner at the Lawrence and Larringer Law Firm. Nothing will stop her from climbing to the top. Well maybe one thing—the older partners would like to see her married. In a modern world, surely a woman doesn’t need a man behind her to be taken seriously?

Now her mother and friends are tossing men at her like confetti. She doesn’t want them shoved down her throat any more than she welcomes the men she works with hitting on her—whether they make six figure salaries or not. Just when she doesn’t think this month could get more annoying, she ends up in a traffic accident.

Liam Hart takes his job seriously. Almost so seriously that he almost didn’t look up from the mangled body of the Lexus and missed the gorgeous woman in a power suit standing in front of him. One look at the woman and he wants to peel off her hose and throw her legs over his shoulders. But first he needs to make her remember she’s a woman—with needs. Lucky for her he knows how.

Despite the fact that she’s falling for a hunk who is great with his hands—in bed and out—everyone believes she’s having a fling. Why is it so hard to believe a woman like her would fall for a blue-collar man? Their opposite lifestyles can’t possibly tear them apart, can they?

99c preorder price




Amazon available March 13


RJ Garside is the wearer of many hats. She's the proud momma of three devilishly adorable little boys. Mature student extraordinaire. By day, she can ...