Friday, November 29, 2013

Guilty Characters

Post by Lily Harlem

Guilt according to Wikipedia - Guilt is an emotion that occurs when a person believes that they have violated a moral standard that they themselves believe in.

Now I feel guilty on a frequent basis, I'd say daily and it's usually for something small. "I should have remembered to send that birthday card" or "I really should have taken my make-up off before bed" or "damn another sweater shrunk in the wash" (I do that a lot!).

So I'm guessing we're all familiar with the daily self loathing - I'm dramatic, I know, but we've all be chatting about guilt on a variety of levels from deeply scarring to more minor irritations and it certainly is an emotive topic. But how about when it comes to the erotic novels we all love to read and write? Where does guilt come into it then?

Mmm, this has me thinking about a character called Hannah that I created with my co-author Natalie Dae. Hannah stars in a book called Anything for Him and, to be honest, the girl is off her trolley! She's obsessed, lust-crazy and has a single-track mind when it comes to getting the man she wants. She goes to extreme lengths from spying through his window in a storm, to chopping her long blonde hair off and dying it black, to being heavily involved in the seedy underworld of a London criminal gang. But does she ever feel guilty?

Only for some things! She panics, sure, she paces and she dabbles on the edge of madness. But I digress, what I'm trying to point out is that guilt is a natural response and it has to be seen in some form in fictional characters because it is such an every day trait, be it if the protagonist does something small or if the individual breaks the law on an enormous scale.

Natalie and I call Anything for Him our Marmite book because readers either adore Hannah and can understand her obsession and dark desires, or they are irritated by the fact that she isn't a sickly sweet heroine who has all her morals intact and feels hideously guilty all the time for the things that are happening. But hey, what is the most real behaviour? How many women who are head-over-heels in love and lust do behave rationally? Is there a female out there who wouldn't lie to protect the man she loves and who hasn't sneaked a peek at someone their crazy about? (Even if it's just to Google their name.)

Guilt, I would say, is an awesome tool for authors but it has to be handled carefully. Too much of it, too little of it, can say a lot about a character, it can also push forward or pull back a plot line and it certainly can get a violent reaction from readers if it's not in line with their moral views and what they'd feel guilty about.

You can read the first chapter of Anything for Him here if you're intrigued to meet Hannah! But certainly playing with a character's levels of guilt can be like playing with fire. Personally, I like the heat!

Lily x

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What, Me Guilty?

by Giselle Renarde

This week, an excerpt from my pretty much completely autobiographical book, Audrey and Lawrence:

“I’m sorry,” Lawrence said, so heartfelt it made me want to scream.
“Don’t,” I stopped him.  “Because the second you say you’re sorry, I’m supposed to say it’s okay.  It’s not okay.”
“I know…”     
You had all this time to tell me!”
            “Oh,” he replied.  “Well, I knew not to tell you by e-mail.”
            “Right.” I percolated, calm before the storm.  “Because if you’d written an e-mail I would have told you to go fuck yourself.  When you give me bad news in person, my love and my hatred get conflated and that fusion turns into sex.  At least you get what came for.”
“I came to see you,” he argued. “This is more than just sex, to me.”
The worst part of was that I believed him.  But I shook my head and muttered, “Whatever,” so not to lose face.  The last thing I wanted in an argument was to seem uncertain.  “Some day you'll break your legs or get pneumonia or something horrible will happen to you and I will laugh my ass off because you deserve it.  And in case you think it's taking me too long to get over all your compounded lies and deceptions, let me tell you: I will never get over them.  And here I have to carry this burden of being the only person in the world who knows what a fucking liar you are.” 
He rolled his eyes.  “I’m not sure how this is a lie, but I’m certain you’ll let me know.”
You are a liar is a general statement,” I enunciated, incensed by his reaction.  In my state of intense upset I was losing grasp of my English.  My words were drowning in my accent, to the point where I wasn’t sure if Lawrence could even understand me anymore.  “You tell lies.  That’s something I know about you that nobody else knows.  Not even you know it, because you delude yourself into believing lies of omission are not really lies when they truly, truly are.  So here I hold this knowledge about your nature and constantly I have to make the decision, do I keep this secret?  Do I tell?  And every day I make the same choice:  I detain this knowledge.  I imprison it, though it’s a burden to me, though it’s the wrong thing to do.”
“It isn’t wrong if it’s for the right...”
“It is wrong!” I cried.  All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. You taught me that!  And here your evil triumphs because I sit idly by.  Just keep breaking those promises, Lawrence.  Keep lying.  See where it gets you.”
His whole body straightened, stiffened.  “Is that a threat?” he asked, raising an eyebrow like he was the innocent.  “You’re going to tell Ruth?"
“I shouldn’t have to,” I said. “You’re the husband, and you did wrong.  It’s your job to set it right.  But of course you’ll never come clean.”
“That’s right.  I won’t.  And you want to know why?”
I couldn’t remember ever feeling such hatred for the man I’d wanted so badly.  “Because you’re a fucking coward is why!  You can’t face the consequences of your actions.  You’re just a little boy who wants everything for himself, but doesn’t want to pay the price.”
He didn’t move from the bed.  He rested with such languor I wanted to punch him in his stupid mouth.  It was like he didn’t give a fuck about what I was saying.   
“My only lies are omissions,” he said self-righteously.  “And those are to spare Ruth a pain she does not need to feel.”
“Who are you to decide what she needs to feel?” I cried.  That was such a patriarchal attitude.  “Just tell the truth for once.”
“Oh, I see.  So, you want me to hurt my family.”  He offered a simple shrug, like it was just that easy.
“I want them to know the truth, Lawrence.  When you respect a person, you tell her the truth.  Do you have so little respect for your own wife?” 
I could tell I’d struck a nerve, but only because he flinched.  His words still flowed out calm, cool, collected.  “Respect doesn’t enter into this conversation.  You know why I won’t tell her?  Because she has enough pain already.  I don’t want to cause her any more.”
“Bull-fucking-shit!” I spat.  I wouldn’t buy that excuse for a nickel.
“And because I love her.”  His expression was the dictionary definition of smug. 
            My throat was already so constricted that my gasp sounded like something struggling to stay alive.  I saw my brain in pixels, vibrating in a frenzy of particle motion until the energy of my whole body started to spin out of control.  A tornado whirled around my head, escaping with my words.  “No you don’t!  You love me!” The tears came pouring out, falling hot on the hands wringing in my lap.  My chest heaved.  “You love me!”  I cried. “You love me!”
Sobs like mocking laughter escaped my lips as they opened wide and contorted, the mask of tragedy.  
With my head hanging low, I bawled. “Why do you hurt me like this?” 
Wrapping distraught arms around my waist, I made a desperate attempt to comfort myself. I must have been mad, taking his shit year in, year out.  Who else would have?  
“Would she have stayed with you if she knew what a horrible, horrible man you are?  Calisse de crisse, I hate you so much!  I hate what you’ve turned me into: this maudit whining little child.  I hate who I am with you.” 
Lawrence knew better than to comfort me.  I would only have lashed out at him.  He got up from the bed and pulled his jeans up.  “I think I should leave now.”
“No! Lawrence, I love you,” I cried, confounded by my quick change in temperament.  
 I love you, I hate you, I love you, I hate you
“Don’t go yet.”   
Stay and share in my misery.  Stay and watch me cry.  Just stay.   
What was wrong with me?  Why did I abuse him and then panic when he chose to leave?
“Why would I stay?” he asked, retrieving his T-shirt from the floor.  “So you can hurl more insults my way? More threats maybe?”  
He was already at the front door when I wrapped my arms around him, like those children who hurl their entire bodies at their parents’ legs when they try to walk into the next room.   
Burying my face in his chest, I whimpered, “You don’t really love her.  You love me.” 
I grasped his core, trying to squeeze a response from him.  He held me, but said nothing, and for a long moment that was enough.  I started wondering why the hell he was with me at all when my behaviour was so wretchedly unpredictable.  Was it my fault, all this arguing?  Or was it his?  My energy was so zapped from the fight I couldn’t recall what it had been about.
“You love me more…?” I begged.  My hopes were high.   
When he didn’t say anything, the upset flooded my veins once again. 
“Fine!” I replied, sullen as a teenager.  Pushing him away, I cried, “Leave!  Go!  What do I care?”   
But I must have cared to some extent, because I picked up a thigh-high boot and hurled it at his head.  The heel made contact with his skull, issuing a knocking noise, and the boot fell back down to the floor.
“Audrey!” Lawrence cried, his jaw hanging open as he reached up to touch the gash across his bald head. 
“What are you going to tell her now?  My mistress threw a boot at my head?  Try to explain that with one of your lies of omission...”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Fuckwit": A Story of Guilt




Short sentences, he thought.  

Long sentences it looks like you’re fucking with her head.  Well,you are anyway, but.  Ghosts would use short sentences, like maybe they don’t have the juice to do a long sentence cause they’re dead. He put his fingers on the plastic planchette and began again.

He jumped up and yelped.  Miss America was at the doorbell and he wasn’t ready for her.  He still needed time to figure the ins and outs, how to pull this off.    

The thought of Melanie’s fingertips only a few inches away, moving together in union, almost like they were fucking together.  Unbelievable.

Keep calm and drive on, that’s what you do.

Just make it believable.

The Quija board was a weird birthday gift from his old aunt.  She was an aging hippie who wore bandanas around her head, like maybe the Grateful Dead were still coming to town.  He barely knew her.  On the card table, set up on a raggy red cloth, the board was clean and almost new from the box.  Someone, the original owner maybe, had written the words “Dixie” in black Sharpie on one corner. The old timey looking printed wood radiated a shunned and lonely feeling as if it had spooked people out a little too often. A feeling he knew himself. 

The doorbell rang again and the shadow of a face moved behind the hall curtain; someone peering in.  He stood up and wiped his hands on his shirt.  He skipped to the door, taking a quick glance down to make sure his fly was zipped.

He fumbled with the knob and knew instantly for a dead certainty he was going to blow this whole thing.  Blow it up bad.

“Hey,” he said “lookie here now, it’s Melanie.”

This afternoon she was wearing Levis cut off almost to her ass and a loose red tennis shirt that hid her golden, way out of his league, cheerleader physique. 

 He had noticed Miss America, as he thought of her, far back in high school and had tried only once to speak to her.  On that occasion he had been shot down in flames. It was just too sad.  Whatever her type was, he seriously was not it.  She set him straight about that.  She was honest that way.  A girl’s idea of being honest.

Two years later, just yesterday it was, he had tried again.  She had been sitting at a table in the student union with biology books spread out.  She and another girl had been talking Some Really Deep Shit about how the line between life and death kept getting moved back and back and back by science. He leaned over, pretending to ignore Miss America and addressed himself to the other girl.  “Ever heard of a Quija board?”

And fucking A - here she was.

After standing there in front of her for way too long it suddenly occurred to him to step aside and let her in.  He made a courtly wave.  “Hey, how they hanging?”

As she brushed by him, her hand moved and the tiniest shower of salt passed over her shoulder.  He shut the door.

“So where do we do it?” she said.

His nerves were so wound up being in her presence, breathing the trail of her sweat scent that everything seemed to carry a double meaning.  “Do it?” he gibbered and she gave him a look.

“I googled it. I want to see it.” 

“See it?”

“Is that it?”  She pointed towards the card table in the dining room.

“Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly.”

She gave him a dismissive look.  “Really?  I’m not staying.  I got stuff.  I just want to see.  Okay?”

Before she was halfway down the hall she had her smart phone out and was thumbing dreamily for messages.  As he took his own chair she was already hunched over the little glass screen and he no longer existed.  He folded his hands on the table and waited to exist again.  As she tapped at her phone he found himself beginning to hate her.

She looked up at the table and then him.  “So?”

“There,” he said.

She snapped a picture of the Quija board with the phone and put it on the table.  “That's just old shit.  Like checkers.”

He felt the moment slipping away from him.  “Here.”  He nudged the planchette to the center of the board.  “What you do is, you put your fingers there,” he pointed to her side of the planchette, “and I go here.”

“This is so like, lame?”

“Do it.”  He put his fingertips on the edge of the planchette.  He kept them there.  “If you’re scared, don’t do it.”

“Shut the fuck up,” she smiled slightly and put her fingers on her side of the planchette.  “So, what happens now?  My head spins around?”

“What happens is the spirits of the departed, they come and move through our fingers together and spell out words, see?”

“Okay.  Let’s go.”

“You have to wait.”

“For what?”

“The spirits to come.  Just keep your fingers on it.  It’s easy.”

They waited.  A minute passed and there was no movement.  The phone gave a little bird whistle and she turned to look.

He was losing the moment.  He was losing her.  She would talk about him and this stupid game on Facebook.

So he moved it.

“Fuck!”  She jerked her fingers from the planchette. “What the fuck?  You did that.”

“I didn’t.”

“You so moved that shit.”

“I swear to Jesus, I didn’t.”

They sat silently and he wondered if he had just called down bad luck on himself.  Now there was nothing.  She put her hands back on the planchette.  He gave it a stealthy nudge.  Her eyes looked down, fixed on the movement like a cat.  Gently he slid, moving slow as a clock hand, trying to stay spooky, willing it to look real.  Not pushing the deal too hard.


He stopped over the O.  Would she buy it?  She sat still, barely breathing.  Finally she whispered “Shit.”

He nudged the planchette feeling her fingers through it, leading her gently, tuned to her touch as he had never been tuned to another human being before. Her pressure; thoughts held silent, feeling the intimacy of her finger tips on the other side of the plastic as he softly escorted her up to the word –


“Fuck me,” she whispered.  She looked up suspiciously.  He kept his eyes on the board and waited.  “You’re doing it, aren’t you?”

“No,” he said.  “Swear to Jesus, no.”

She nodded.  “Yeah.”  Her eyes became red and seemed smaller.  “You’re not.  Holy fuck.”

He tried to nudge it, but her fingers were heavy on her side and he kept still and waited, his fingertips barely grazing the plastic.

“Who’s there?” she whispered.  “Is it you?”

The planchette moved and he almost shrieked.  He felt the urgent pressure from her side and let his fingers scurry along.

“Is it – “



Her yell made him jump and his fingers lifted for the barest instant.  The planchette jittered off the edge of the board under her hands.

A single tear went down her cheek.  He watched open mouthed as it traveled down, down. 

He gently placed the planchette back on the board.  The room around them shrank into the most fragile intimacy. He sensed her anticipation and held off.  If he could pause long enough to let her wilt, she would sink under the pressure and come to him by herself.

“Oh Jesus, fuck,” she whispered softly.

She vibrated with it.  He held back some more, every nerve alive to her being. Then he felt it. Her placid submission to his authority.  His authenticity bore her down, crushing her ability to resist belief.  He savored the vision of her absolute surrender to his will.  This was power.  She had given him power.  And she was still so very beautiful.

 Their hands joined on the planchette and he moved it, here, there, here -



“Hi Grammy.  Are you all right?  Are things nice where you are?”


Slow.  Gentle.  He looked at her eyes, pink with tears which were now streaming freely down her face, hanging at the corners of her lips.

“I’m glad you’re okay, Grammy.”

He moved the plastic, slowly, with infinite patience.


“I love you too. God I miss you every day.”

He wanted to ask.  Who the shit is this Grammy?  Her grandma?  Someone else?  He opened his mouth but it moved again –



“Sometimes I feel like, I don’t know.  Like I’m so ugly.  Like I’m some faked up bitch.  I got to do stuff to get boys to like me better.”



“Suck guys.  You know. Off.”



He was holding his breath, trembling, leaning back imperceptibly to keep the shakes from his fingers.  She was staring at the word and he knew he’d blown it.  He’d gone too far.  Stupid bastard. Stupid, stupid bastard. She’s going to kill my ass for this.  She’ll bust my face and twitter it.

“Nobody likes me, Grammy.  Not really.  Nobody knew me like you. Now you’re gone.”

Nothing happened.  The planchette stayed in middle of the board over the “?”.  She looked up and realized she’d been weeping.  She started to move towards her purse.  As her fingers lifted he knew he had to act.

He moved it to the letter S, not knowing why.  She looked; her eyes blazed with intensity.  He had her again. In his thrall.  Like a snake with a bird.  Like Dracula’s eyeballs. In his power.  Her grief.  He felt a wave of rage wash over him at her cold beauty and stupidity.

“S-?” she said.

She took her hands from the planchette, folded her arms.  “You asshole.”

“I’m not.”  His voice was shaking.

“You are.”

“I’m not!”

“If this is Grammy, prove it.”

“You have to put your hands back.”

 “Listen, fuckwit, if you’re pulling some fucked up shit - ”

He moved and moved.


She stood, instantly obedient and put her hands back on the planchette, looking down eagerly like a puppet on loose strings.

He had wanted to sketch out “Can’t stand you,” to be cruel, to hurt her, but he had been too quick, too sloppy.  And yet she had stood at his command.  Slave like, she had obeyed him.  Perfectly.  Unquestioningly sucked down his words and surrendered to his will because she needed him to lie to her so very badly.  Would do anything for him, anything to please or pleasure him, just to keep the lie alive as long as he did it skillfully.  The thought of her innocent slavishness, stiffened his dick instantly. The wonder of what he had just done to her made him want to tackle her and hold her down to the floor under the male weight of his body. 

But she was still this bitch.  Stupid, guy sucking off bitch.  What he really wanted was - he wanted her gone. 



She looked down dumbly at her tennis shirt.  “No, don’t. Please.”

The dumbass, beautiful bitch who had just called him Fuckwit still didn’t get it.  She was still standing there waiting for the next thing.  The next thing came to him from the tips of his own fingers, without her help, before he knew it, as he dragged her fingers behind his. 


She held her breath.  Her face loosened, lost all energy. She mumbled.

“Yes, Grammy. It’s you.”

Her hands left the planchette and moved to her two buttons and unfastened them.  She pulled the tennis shirt up over her head, looking wide eyed and far away. 

Mechanically, she hung it on the back of the chair.  She looked down, unfastened her Levis, dropped them to her ankles and kicked them off.

His hands rested numbly on the planchette as he watched her, open mouthed at what he had just done.  No – what he had made happen.

Her bra was red like the tennis shirt.  It had thin red plastic spaghetti straps and a tiny cutesy little red bow between the cups.  She pulled down the straps past her elbows, spun the bra around back to front and unlatched the hooks.  She pulled the halves away and her breasts tumbled out.  She wasn’t looking at him.  He wasn’t there.  Her panties were narrow white cotton briefs with cartoon butterflies and another tiny pink bow.  She pulled them down and shook them off her foot.  She had a dark, curly haired landing strip shaved over her pussy next to a black inked Chinese character.

She put her hands back on the planchette; her nude round breasts were pale in the triangle shape of bikini tops.  They dangled down over the board, swaying pendulously as they moved the planchette together.


"I am so, Grammy,” she whispered so low he could barely hear.  Slowly at first from the inside out, her shoulders, then her breasts, then all her body began shaking so violently she staggered.  “. . . good,” she whimpered and suddenly clenched her fists.  “I’m a good girl!” she cried to the air.  “I am!”

“Look, Melanie, I mean like - ”

“Don’t you look at me!” she screamed in his face.  “Don’t you fucking look at me!  Fuckwit!”

He moved the planchette, hard –


She pulled her hair, stuffed it in her mouth and bit down on it.  Her sobs came out in loud animal brays as he sat woodenly, baffled.  Not knowing what to do as the naked girl in the room with him flew to pieces. 


You fuckwit.

Look what you did.

She never did shit to you.  Not really.

She went on screaming at the air and tugging handfuls of her hair.  Some of it was coming off.

He wanted her to stop.  Somehow. But she was right about him.  He could only watch like some Fuckwit to see what she would do when she came back to herself.  If.  He didn’t how to turn it off.  And now her phone was ringing.
You fuckwit.  You evil ass fuckwit.

He looked down at the planchette and it had been moved.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Uncertain guilt...J.P. Bowie

Lisabet's post made me dig deep into my memory of the many years past since I lived with my parents. Does guilt always revolve around parents? Is the fact that perhaps you didn't live up to their expectations enough to make you feel guilt? I really don't know because I have no idea what my parents ever expected of me. It was never discussed, and so when I left home at nineteen and made my way into show business and toured the UK and hardly ever went home again, there was never a shred of guilt to give me pause. I was young and carefree, living my life the way I wanted to live boundaries, no shame, no guilt.

That's not to say that I was out there doing drugs - maybe a little pot now and then. Getting hammered every night? No, couldn't handle it after the first godawful hangover. Having sex at the drop of someone's pants? Well, I was young and eager to explore all the possibilities. Breaking hearts? Ah, maybe one or two...and even today that can bring a twinge of remorse. The look of despair, the hurt expression, the slumped shoulders, I can remember well, and yes, I feel guilty. Of course, those I hurt went on and found someone more worthwhile,so why when I cast my mind back to those times, does it still make me feel ashamed?

Perhaps guilt is just part of the human psyche, something we inherit biologically, some primitive part of our Id that pokes at our brain now and then to make us do better, behave better, curb our tongues, stop us from lashing out, then feeling guilty.

When my parents grew old, and I was still not really part of the family unit, I did feel guilty. Guilty perhaps, for not being more available, for not doing more to ease them into their old age - ridiculous really, because no one can do that - but the fact remains that as the years went by and they had long since passed, those feelings of being remote, somehow outside the family circle have proved to be my burden.

I'm just not sure if it's really guilt, or just simply sorrow.