About Betty Herbert

Betty Herbert is the author of The 52 Seductions, a blog that became a book. Betty lives on the Kent coast with her husband Herbert and her cats, Bob and Elvis.
Author Archive | Betty Herbert

What it’s like to have your book translated into 8 languages

I’ve been promising to do this for ages, and I’ve finally got round to it. For those of you who are interested in such things, this is what it’s like to have your book translated into other languages. Sadly, it involves no globe-trotting on my part.

 

Read full story · Comments { 0 } · Comments Policy

A sex life with teens?

A Sex Life with Teens? | Betty HerbertAuthor: Laura Wilkinson

First off, I’m not talking about teenagers having sex; I’m talking about the parents of teenagers having sex; or not, as is more often the case in my household. For clarity, when I say teen I mean adolescent, which seems to begin at about eleven these days.

I have two ginger sons. When my husband (known as the BigFella; he is tall rather than weighty) and I took the momentous decision to have children we understood there would be some impact on our sex life; we had friends with young children; we’d read the manuals. Naturally, we hoped for good sleepers but knew it was a lottery.

Unlike others we knew, when friskiness was off limits for six months or more, our sex life resumed sharpish after Ginger1’s birth. After a traumatic, fast labour my body snapped back to pre-baby form within a fortnight, and so we made love. After Ginger2’s arrival – this time by C-section – we had sex within a month. We were advised to take it easy; wait six weeks, the doctor said, but I drove after four (unaware that I would not have been insured had there been an accident) and I figured if I could drive I could get laid. Bizarre but true.

Neither of our boys were good sleepers; in fact, they were horrible sleepers. Especially our first, who woke at 2am for a play and a chat before returning to bed (ours) for a couple of hours, after which he was up for the day. While others munched on croissants, I dug into fish and chips; 9am was effectively my lunchtime. An ‘early-riser’ the health visitor said, quaintly, smiling. You could be forgiven for thinking this had an adverse effect on our sex life. It didn’t. It just happened a little earlier in the evening than BC. The little fella went down like a dream at 8pm so we always had a couple of hours to ourselves before we’d fall into a deep and dreamless sleep. And with energetic and helpful grandparents available and willing we managed weekends away periodically: New York, Paris, and, closer to home, London. Luxurious shag-fests with a bit of culture thrown in when we could drag ourselves out of bed. I’d be lying if I said our love making was as vigorous, imaginative and frequent as it had been when we were young and newly in love, but all things considered it was more than satisfactory.

So when did the passion disappear? Quite recently, that’s when. And disappear isn’t the right description – it slipped out the back door, shrunken and apologetic. So quietly we didn’t notice, for a while. No one warns you of the impact of an adolescent in the house on your sex life. If you live in a mansion where a rave could take place in the west wing without those in the east wing knowing anything about it then you will probably think I’m talking gibberish. But, like the majority of the population, we live in a pretty standard three-bedroomed house, where the walls are only marginally thicker and more sound proof than a good quality tea towel. Ginger1 is in his early teens; too young to be out and about having fun (and a sex life of his own) and too old to be tucked up in bed zzzing by 9pm. Teenagers are around. All the time. We often hear him padding around his bedroom after we’ve finished our cocoa and turned out the light. Still a horrible sleeper.

And teens are so aware. And so much more assertive than our generation. Like all teens, now and then, Ginger1 is mortified if his parents are blatantly sexual. On the rare occasion when we go in for a snog against the dishwasher, while ostensibly preparing the evening meal, if caught we are met with a very vocal ‘Yeeeeww!’ As a liberated, metropolitan couple we are open with our children, but we are not without inhibitions. One evening, amorous and desperate after a bottle and a half of Pinot Grigio we gave it a go only to be stopped in our tracks when Ginger1 banged on the wall, asking us to control ourselves. I remember hearing my own parents ‘at it’ at about the same age, lying there, fingers in my ears, desperate for them to finish, but I would never, ever, have asked them to stop.

What about making good use of your fella’s morning glory I hear you cry? Teens have to be dragged out of bed. There’s a four year gap between our boys, so the youngest is still up early-ish. On the rare occasions we wake up before both boys, we have gone in for a quickie, but these are rushed, whispered affairs, with one eye on the bedroom door and where the BigFella keeps his boxers hooked over one ankle in case an emergency leap out of bed is called for. And the grandparents? They are older, and less energetic, and teens are less than keen to spend entire weekends with gramps.

The gap between fumbles widened from weeks to months. ‘When did we last have sex?’ we asked at last. Once we’d noticed its absence, boy did we miss it. We might be middle-aged farts but the thought of hanging up our paddles and chains (I blame Fifty Shades) is too depressing to contemplate. We’re not so ancient to rule out sex altogether – if indeed anyone should do that. Smutty comments and bottom squeezing occurred regularly between my grandparents and though I found it disconcerting as a – you’ve guessed it – teen, by the time I was all grown up it delighted me to think that even after all those years (they’d been married 51 when my grandfather died) they still found one another desirable.

How do the BigFella and I resolve this dilemma? We have dates, mid-week, when the Gingers are at school. Mostly for sex, but also to wine and dine (lunch) and talk without being constantly interrupted or eavesdropped upon. We look forward to these secret liaisons like naughty teenagers and they bring us closer together, most definitely. We’re both freelance and as such we have the freedom (mostly, we do have demands and deadlines like everyone else) to do this, and I appreciate that this is not an option many could do regularly, but it works for us. And we are more than happy to sacrifice a day’s lolly to keep our love active. There’s nothing to beat the sideways glance and grin we give each other when Ginger1 returns home and says: ‘So what have you been up to today?’

About: Laura grew up in a Welsh market town and now lives in Brighton. As well as writing fiction, she works as an editor for literary consultancy, Cornerstones. She has published short stories in magazines, digital media and anthologies. She writes general fiction as Laura Wilkinson and erotic romance as L. C. Wilkinson. Her first hot romance, All of Me, is published by Xcite, an imprint of Accent Press. Currently, she’s working on two novels: one is set against the backdrop of the 1984/85 miners’ strike; the other is a romance following a petulant young woman and a man running from his past. What does all her work have in common? Compelling stories, fascinating characters, and ideas that make you think a little. At least she hopes so! To find out more visit her sites – www.lcwilkinson.com or www.laura-wilkinson.co.uk – for news and freebies. Or follow her on Twitter: @ScorpioScribble . You’ll also find her GoodReads, and she loves to hear from readers and other writers so do get in touch.

 

 

 

 

Read full story · Comments { 5 } · Comments Policy

I’m changing. I hope you’ll come with me.

Betty Herbert | I'm ChangingI’m going to be making a few changes to this blog. Here’s why.

When I started blogging The 52 Seductions, I was completely blown away by the sense of community I found. Yes, I loved seeing the reader stats go up and up, but they were nothing compared to the amazing people I met online, who held my hand when I needed it, laughed at me when I was being ridiculous and trusted me with their own, personal stories.

I remember the day I wrote about our failed attempt at ‘stair sex’, someone (who I really hope is reading this) messaged me on Twitter to basically say, ‘You idiot, here’s how it’s done.’ I loved that. It was like stumbling into a room full of the best kind of people.

But then it all got a bit weird. I got picked up by an agent, and started putting a pitch together for a publisher. At the time I only had 100 followers on Twitter; my blog was a couple of months old. Everyone told me that I needed to get more followers, urgently. I hated that, but I knew it was probably true.

My list grew. It’s never been huge; I never go out seeking random new followers, unlike those scary authors who auto-DM you and seem to exhale fumes of desperation. This is partly because, if you write about sex, you can’t predict who will welcome you and who will disapprove. You can’t just follow strangers. They take offence more often than you’d think. (Still now, by the way, I bet you that my follow-back ratio is way lower than your average bear’s).

But I also felt – still do – that I didn’t care about playing a numbers game.  I wanted to build solid relationships instead. Even so, by the time my book came out, I regularly got told off. Someone messaged me to complain that I never retweeted his tweets like everyone else did. I blocked him; it’s one of the few times I’ve ever done that. Someone else told me off for becoming a ‘brand’. Lots of people messaged me to ask why I wasn’t sharing their blog posts. It made me feel tense and tired. I just couldn’t keep up with reading everyone’s everything. It wasn’t humanly possible.

After The 52 Seductions came out, I felt a bit lost. This all-consuming project was over. I’d loved it a lot  and hated it a bit (it was exhausting), and now I missed it. I didn’t know what to write about next. I didn’t want to start pretending to be an ‘expert’, because I think that’s bollocks, frankly. I wanted to carry on being an enthusiatic amateur.

But despite that, I found my writing becoming more and more generic. I was bored. I felt exposed and inhibited; my friends and family were now following my every word. Nobody wants to have sex with their parents watching.

Oh, and I was pregant by then, too. With antenatal depression, high blood pressure, asthma and seemingly eternal nausea, you won’t be surpised to hear that we didn’t spend much time getting jiggy. As my book came out in each successive country and I was interviewed by journalists, I felt utterly ashamed that I was back in a dry spell.

Look anyway, that’s enough of me whining. I have an exciting new project on the go now (discernment.co.uk) but I still love writing about the stuff I wrote about in The 52 Seductions, and I still love the wonderful people who made it so much fun. I want to spend more time talking about sex and love and everyday life between normal people, with love-handles and bristly legs and glorious incompetence. I also have an ever-expanding loathing of the stupidity of the numbers-above-quality blogging game. I am so, so through with that.

So, I’ve hatched a plan.

From now on, I’m going to blog to subscribers only. Don’t worry, I won’t be charging anything (and I never will, either). But I will be banning family members. Sorry, family. Much as I love you, your attention is making it hard for me to write.

What I’m looking for is a sense of community again. New friends are most welcome, but I’m seeking actual friends rather than people who have stumbled over my site accidentally after searching ‘animal sex’ (I get several of those every day; ditto ‘What is the perfect vagina?’). I just cannot bring myself to care about blog hits generated by those searches.

I want to create a safe space where we can talk about stuff without feeling exposed, where we can confide in each other and have a laugh. I’ll still be using this site as a base for all the things I’m doing (and don’t worry guest-posters, I won’t be taking anything down), but I’d like to try a different model – something more authentic – and I hope you’ll join me.

A little word on funding: I hope you’ll forgive me for adding the occasional click-though affiliate link to my newsletter. Blogging actually costs me a fair amount of money (not to mention the time), and I’d appreciate your forebearance on that issue. I promise to only ever feature thinks I like, and never to hide links as editorial. You are totally at liberty to ignore them. For me, I’d rather use that model than asking for a donation as some bloggers do; that makes me uncomfortable as a reader because I can’t afford to pay, whereas I can comfortably ignore advertising for things I don’t want.

This is a leap of faith for me, but it feels right. Actually, it feels like a relief.

If you’ve found me a bit dull lately: I have too and I’m sorry. I hope you’ll give me another try. I’m calling my newsletter bettymail: to join, click on the orange newsletter tab on the left of your screen. I’ll send out an email once a fortnight; the first one will land on Friday 23rd August. I guess I’d better get on with writing it, eh?

I’m going to leave you with a final thought from the awesome Amanda Palmer, who says it way better than I could:

Thank you. I see you.

I pinched the lovely image accompanying this post from the blog messynessychic.com – click here to see the whole set.

Read full story · Comments { 11 } · Comments Policy

Guest post: Perving by Kath Melandri

Perving by Kath Melandri | Betty HerbertAuthor: Kath Melandri – visit her splendid new blog, The Mostess

Thank you sunshine, so far the summer of 2013 has been brilliant.

As temperatures have risen, good looking blokes have been peeling off layers and showing off their square shoulders, muscly guns covered in intriguing tattoos, thick calves and not forgetting, the biggest show offs with their washboard abs. Then of course there are the chaps who just have a pretty face. To be honest I like looking at all of you.

I think it’s time for women like myself to admit that we perv at men. For the record I don’t think this makes me a pervert. I have no desire to meet these dudes I speak of – I am happily married to a man with a full beard that I love (both him and the beard that is). I don’t even want the guys to know I’m looking, I just enjoy a sneaky peek.

That’s my definition of perving by the way – appreciating attractive people from afar without making them feel uncomfortable. For me it’s a really enjoyable pass time. Maybe men thought they had the monopoly on appreciating the human form, but no… we women like to check you out too.

As I see it, in our fast-paced western society, finding a spare 5  minutes to appreciate a fit chap has got to be good for mental health. From behind the protection of my massive sunglasses, whilst sipping my pricey iced latte, peering at lovely lads is a joy. I feel the need to stress I’m an equal opportunities perv – matters of shape, size, height and occupation can vary according to mood.

Don’t they mind I hear you ask… well I hope not. Honestly I think there’s an unwritten contract that I am part of when it comes to perving – I am drawn to guys with a peacock style of dress or undress so hopefully the quiet attention I give them, is me simply holding up my end of the bargain

This wonderful distraction isn’t a sinister hobby, it really is just my opportunity to celebrate the work of mother nature when it comes to creating men.

So just to confirm, as the humidity rages on with this unpredictable summer, if you see a middle aged woman glancing away as you turn around it was because I was appreciating your arse. Thank you for wearing those shorts, they showed it off a treat.

Read full story · Comments { 0 } · Comments Policy

Guest Post: How Thin These Walls, How Loud My Climax

How Thin These Walls, How Loud My Climax by Jillian Boyd | Betty Herbert

Author: Jillian Boyd. Find her on Twitter or her blog, Lady Laid Bare.

I’ve been in a committed relationship for nearly a year now. It’s really excellent, because I get to wake up to this sexy, clever and geeky dude every morning. Like all my Christmasses decided to morph into one person who loves me and isn’t appalled by me.

The sex is absolutely brilliant. I’m still rather new to sex, so everything about it amazes me. I am utterly fascinated by his erection, for instance. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful, and I’ve been in the Park Güell for God’s sake.

I’ve been blessed with this man, and I like to think he feels the same.

What we haven’t been blessed with is privacy.

When we started dating, I lived in a sharehouse and shared a room with two other girls. Neither of them were very fond of me, and even less fond when they saw my boyfriend’s friendly face appear. I’d occasionally chance it and ask him to stay the night, but it soon transpired that this wasn’t the best solution. For one thing, my roommates had flexible work hours, so there was no telling how much time we had to squeeze in the sex we both desperately craved.

But we managed a couple of times, and I do applaud both of us for doing it in the confines of my one-person bottom bunk in a bunk bed. I even managed to stealthily masturbate myself to orgasm twice, in his arms and in the dark of my room, while the other girls were present.

(I’ve become quite good at the stealth orgasm, I must say.)

 

Eventually, when the jig was up and my landlord told me my other half couldn’t stay the night anymore, we sat down together and came up with a different solution.

Indeed, within weeks, I had given my notice and moved in with him and his parents. It seemed only logical, since I was there pretty much all the time. It gaves us some semblance of privacy, in the sense that we had our own room. But said room, of course, shared a wall with his parents’ room. Swings and roundabouts, and that.

Still, we managed to let our relationship blossom and get to a good place. And then we unexpectedly had to move out.

Now, I could tell you the story about our frantic and extremely tiring search for a flat, but you’d get incredibly depressed, so I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just fast forward, shall we?

As it is now, we’re lodgers with a large devout Christian family. It’s a relatively small house, with thin walls and people walking about all the time. And blimey, they are loud people….

It’s still not an ideal situation for a young couple. But I’ll take what I can get, because all that matters is the moments I spend with my lovely man. Whether they’re spent cuddling on the sofa, having geeky discussions over dinner or making passionate (but quiet, of course) love in our bedroom.

Read full story · Comments { 2 } · Comments Policy

Guest post: Nikki Gemmell on Tenderness in I Take You

Nikki Gemmell I Take You | Betty Herbert

Today’s guest post is from Nikki Gemmell, author of The Bride Stripped Bare trilogy.

(Psst: scroll to the bottom for a chance to win a copy of I Take You)

It’s an uneasy bedfellow for that most leonine of words: masculinity.  It shouldn’t be.  Because the combination of the two qualities can be hugely arresting, especially in an erotic sense.  It’s a word that this modern world seems to have such  short shrift with.  We shouldn’t.  The word is tenderness.

Tenderness was, in fact, the original title of D.H. Lawrence’s depth charge of a novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.  A celebration of that most gentle and generous of words is at its core.  Lady Chatterley, in a seminal moment, explains to her gamekeeper lover, Oliver Mellors, what’s so striking about him; what lifts him above and beyond any other man she has ever known:

“Shall I tell you what you have that other men don’t have, and that will make the future?”

“Tell me then,” he replied.

“It’s the courage of your own tenderness, that’s what it is.”

Her upper class husband, Clifford, has an utter absence of tenderness.  He sits with his coterie of men, in Nottinghamshire’s grim and cold Wragby Hall, philosophising about sex – and in the process deadening it.  Nothing is instinctive, warm, spontaneous; nothing deeply felt.  It is relentlessly interior existence.

The book is about two people awakening in a natural world uncracking from winter’s harshness, through mutual tenderness, from previous sexual experiences that have chipped away at them, dulled them.  Marriage in both cases has been enormously depleting.  Flattening.  And the word is about so much more than mere sex.  It denotes a way of being: instinctive, loving, unafraid.  A courageous way of being, out of the ordinary.

Why do so many men, even in this day and age, feel they have to mask their tenderness?  To me it’s associated with strength, compassion, confidence; the movingly well-rounded male.  And sex anointed by tenderness, well, that’s the best type of all. The word is spiritual, earthy, deeply biological.  It’s what I’m interested in writing about now; a way of sex beyond the Fifty Shades era.  And I’ve turned back to a novel from 1928 to lead me on the path.  What is the most potent quality when it comes to erotica?  To me it’s honesty.  The frisson of connection.  I’m sure Lawrence didn’t set out to shock when he wrote his revolutionary novel, but merely to be scrupulously honest.  And honesty, of course, is the most shocking thing of all.

Lawrence’s Mellors rages against the world of 1920s England because he thinks it’s been leached of all tenderness.  He begs for warm-heartedness, in words utterly relatable in this day and age.  He tells his Connie, despairingly, that he believes in:

“…being warmhearted. I believe especially in being warm-hearted in love, in fucking with a warm heart. I believe if men could fuck with warm hearts, and the women take it warm-heartedly, everything would come all right. It’s all this cold-hearted fucking that is death and idiocy.”

So true.

My just-published novel, I Take You, like Lady Chatterley’s Lover, has the pursuit of tenderness at its core.  It’s an updated version of Lawrence’s novel involving a banker, his wife and the gardener of a beautiful communal garden in London’s Notting Hill, a world of basement extensions, private jets, Chanel suits and ladies who lunch – and a white van man with a big chip on his shoulder who crashes most subversively into it all.  There’s a social and political dimension to the book too, just like Lawrence’s novel.  Mine ends in the summer of the London riots of 2011, with all the jarring disconnects between people of the area coming to a head.

The challenge as a writer was in finding ways to freshen – invigorate – the writing of sex in this post-Fifty Shades era.  We’re flooded, of course, with a brazen new openness, all around us.  Everyone’s seemingly doing it, or thinking it, or reading it – in increasingly bold ways.  Where does it all go from here?  Could it possibly be that this new decadence, effulgence, represents a tipping point of some sort, an inexorable slide into a waning?  What on earth follows?  A flinch into extreme conservatism perhaps, a vast reining back; or a return to a more natural way, with how our bodies look and what we actually do with them.  It remains to be seen, but it’s the latter I’m exploring in I Take You. The book is about finding ways of connecting with another person on a profound rather than superficial level.  Discovering ways of connecting that are invigorating, reviving, rescuing.

Tenderness – the great softening – is key.  What’s one of the most alluring images of a man?  The sight of him cradling a baby.  It goes to the heart of the biological instinct.  That combination of virility yet tenderness is intensely erotic, potent.  As Maya Angelou said, “the quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination.” And of course, in most porn there’s an utter absence of it.  Porn that our young men and even our boys, wedded to their screens, are finding increasingly easy to consume.

We need to nurture tenderness in our men, starting with those boys around us – and how they relate to the world.  Because in adulthood tenderness is a vastly underrated quality, especially when it comes to sex.  As is gentleness, as is generosity.  Teaching our boys the courage of their fledgling tenderness, when young, means they’ll only benefit as adults – as will the women all around them.  As John Ruskin said:  “…the first universal characteristic of all great art is Tenderness, as the second is Truth. I find this more and more every day: an infinitude of tenderness is the chief gift and inheritance of all the truly great men.”  Lawrence was interested in what makes a truly great man, as am I.  Hence, I Take You.

 

Nikki Gemmell’s I Take You, the conclusion to her Bride Stripped Bare trilogy, is out now in paperback.

I have two copies to give away – just follow @52Betty on Twitter and tweet the following message to enter:

‘Win a copy of @nikkigemmell’s fabulous new novel, I Take You: http://bit.ly/13w1AsM #ITakeYou’

Competition closes 7th August 2013 at midnight. Entrants must be over 18 and have a UK postal address. The winner will be drawn at random. No correspondence will be entered into over the result.

Read full story · Comments { 0 } · Comments Policy

Guest Post: Losing Consciousness – RebeccaLowrie.com

Here I am at the wonderful Rebecca Lowrie’s blog, writing about how easy it is to stop engaging with your partner (particularly if you’re prone to checking your phone mid-shag).

Guest Post: Losing Consciousness – RebeccaLowrie.com.

Read full story · Comments { 0 } · Comments Policy