The Power of Partnership: Guest Post by Emmie Mears

Greetings, dear readers! Today we have a guest post from the awesome Emmie Mears, whose debut novel, The Masked Songbird, will be released from Harlequin on July 1. Check out what she has to say, and then be sure to run on over to Amazon and pre-order your digital copy today! 

The Masked Songbird_FC (2)The Power of Partnership

Many parts of life require partnership. We all know the saying about how no one’s an island, yadda yadda, but when you’re in a creative profession, you can often feel like one. In my early days of writing, I wrote like an island. I didn’t seek out critique. I didn’t read craft books. I worked in an extreme version of “write what you know.”

It wasn’t until I started really reaching out to other writers that I was able to kick my writing into the next gear. My lovely host and bosom friend, Kristin, was one of those writers.

When I started querying my first novel, I had high hopes. I thought it was ready. I’d written two and a half books and had been over my first one about fifteen times in four years. I loved my characters and my story, and I was sure I was going to get an agent.

“If you’d brought this to me four years ago, I could have sold it in a hot second.”

Those were the words I heard from a powerhouse agent at my first writing conference in New York. I was shocked, but not crushed. I got a few requests from other agents that day, all of which petered into rejections. A couple months later, a bestselling author contacted me and said she liked my blog so much that she wanted to read my fiction. I sent her the first couple chapters of this book, and crossed my fingers. When she called me to talk about it, I heard the best words I think I’d heard to that point in my career:

“I don’t think this is submission ready.”

Deep down, I’d known that I hadn’t really been editing it; I’d been tinkering. I’d been on my writing island for so long that I’d been writing around in circles without realizing it.

I put that book aside to think. Two months later, I started another book. I finished it six weeks later. That was two years ago. By then, I had a team of fantastic betas and Kristin for a critique partner. In two months, I had it polished up and ready to query.

Kristin graciously agreed to host me today. I couldn’t think of a better place to start this blog tour, because that little book I scribbled out in six weeks was THE MASKED SONGBIRD, which is coming out two weeks from today from Harlequin.

Without partners, I don’t think I would be here right now. Without the feedback of people (some of it hard to hear), my debut wouldn’t yet be happening.

We really aren’t islands; even in creative professions, we need the community of peers who can offer insight and encouragement. While people can go it alone sometimes, having partners who are with you on the same path can help you get to your destination faster.

You can preorder THE MASKED SONGBIRD here (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JD7TWZK)! Released in a box set, you get four great paranormal and urban fantasy books for less than $4!

Follow Emmie on Twitter @EmmieMears or come join her on Facebook!

IMG_7239Emmie Mears was born in Austin, Texas, where the Lone Star state promptly spat her out at the tender age of three months. After a childhood spent mostly in Alaska, Oregon, and Montana, she became a proper vagabond and spent most of her time at university devising ways to leave the country.

Except for an ill-fated space opera she attempted at age nine, most of Emmie’s childhood was spent reading books instead of writing them. Growing up she yearned to see girls in books doing awesome things, and struggled to find stories in her beloved fantasy genre that showed female heroes saving people and hunting things. Mid-way through high school, she decided the best way to see those stories was to write them herself. She now scribbles her way through the fantasy genre, most loving to pen stories about flawed characters and gritty situations lightened with the occasional quirky humor.

Emmie now lives in her eighth US state, still yearning for a return to Scotland. She inhabits a cozy domicile outside DC with two felines who think they’re lions and tigers.

 

Southern Vampire Mysteries vs. True Blood #3

If you recall, over the last couple of weeks Liv Rancourt and I have been having a discussion about the differences between Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries and the HBO series True Blood. The first week, right here on my blog, we talked about our favorite aspects of the show and the books. Last week, over at Liv’s blog, we talked about sweet Sookie, and Liv left you dangling with the question of how Eric’s scion, Pam, fits into this fictional world. So, without further ado, here’s the next bit of our conversation…

LR: …which brings up the subject of Pam. Of all the casting choices Alan Ball made, she’s my least favorite, because the book Pam was more like Alice In Wonderland with fangs. She’s also Sookie’s only vampire friend. What do you think of Pam? Is she a friend to Sookie?

KM: NO. She is not Sookie’s friend. I think I can say that pretty emphatically. I like Pam a lot (I think she’s hilarious, and a friend once told me I look like her, so that gives me a soft spot for her), but she’s definitely Eric’s henchwoman. She repeatedly gets pissed at Eric for putting the pair of them in danger on Sookie’s behalf. She’s definitely an ‘us-versus-the-world’ kind of gal.

I think I like her, though, because she’s kind and loyal underneath her prickly exterior. She’ll complain about helping someone, but she helps them all the same. She helps Jessica from time to time, or at least gives her advice—is Jessica much of a character in the books? Jessica is probably more of a character than Pam herself.

I’m going to redirect, though, to something you mentioned about humor. True Blood has its funny and ridiculous moments, but I think that aspect of the Charlaine Harris novels has really gotten submerged in the HBO-requisite sex and violence of the TV show. I might like the show better if the humor played a larger part, but the greatest part of the humor is making certain characters ridiculous: brother Jason, for instance, or parts of Lafayette’s role.

What role does humor play in the books? How does the darkness that’s so prevalent in the television series fit into the books, or is it entirely an interpretation?

LR: Had to think about this one a while. And then I had to pull out my copy of Living Dead In Dallas. Here’s one of my favorite moments that illustrates the different between the books and the television series. Eric and Sookie are at her house, getting ready to head to a sex party to try to find Lafayette’s killer.

“I have been to orgies,” he offered.

“Why does that not surprise me? What did you wear?”

“The last time I wore an animal hide; but this time I settled for this.” Eric had been wearing a long trench coat. Now he threw it off dramatically, and I could only stand and stare.  Normally Eric was a blue-jeans-and-tee-shirt kind of guy. Tonight, he wore a pink tank top and Lycra leggings. I don’t know where he got them; I didn’t know any company made Lycra leggings in Men’s X-tra Large Tall. They were pink and aqua, like the swirls down the sides of Jason’s truck.

“Wow,” I said, since it was all I could think of to say. “Wow. That’s some outfit.” When you’ve got a big guy wearing Lycra it doesn’t leave a whole lot to the imagination. I resisted the temptation to ask Eric to turn around.

“I don’t believe I could be convincing as a queen,” Eric said, “ but I decided this sent such a mixed signal, almost anything was possible.” He fluttered his eyelashes at me. Eric was definitely enjoying this.

In that scene, they’re talking about going to an orgy, but the emotional tone is more humorous than not. I don’t know if the TV series even tried to put Eric in Lycra leggings. There’s a goofiness about the visual image I get when I read this that undercuts the nasty nature of the subject matter. I find that all of the books, especially the early ones, are painted in Crayola colors, and I think it’s because the reader sees everything through Sookie’s eyes, and she’s an essentially optimistic character.

When they get to the orgy, the descriptions are filtered through her embarrassment at seeing people she’s known for years acting like fools (from her perspective). She finds friends and neighbors – including Tara, her best friend in high school – in a kinky situation, and her underlying compassion for them shows up in the details that make the page. The humor is there because that’s how Sookie sees the world.  The biggest difference between the two formats is that the camera’s eye is so much more objective.  Alan Ball didn’t have to look far to find the darkness, he just had to see it without Sookie’s filters.  (And did they put Eric in blue and pink Lycra?!?)

Okay, so we’ve covered some of our likes and dislikes and the humor thing and some of our ideas about Sookie. Now I gotta ask you, who does she end up with? Ms. Charlaine has said that Sookie will find her HEA with someone. From your perspective, which guy should that be?

If you want to know which sexy man’s team we come out on, you’ll have to tune in next week to Liv’s blog for the final wrap-up of the throw down!

Freudian Friday: Steampunk and Corsets

Today we have an AWESOME guest post by Liv Rancourt, one of my very favorite blog-readers and blog-writers! This is really exciting for me, because I’ve always wanted to see what another writer/reader/viewer might do with the Freudian Friday concept. In case you haven’t noticed, I love the idea of taking fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal genres seriously, and it fills my heart with joy to see another writer looking at the issues that inform the genres we love. Plus, Liv wrote about steampunk, and my very first book (which you will likely never see) is steampunk. I love steampunk. I love the fashion, I love the books, I love everything about it. So take it away, Liv!

Thanks, Kristin, for the chance to sit in on one of your Freudian Friday posts. I really appreciate the opportunity. Now, this is going to be a little different than your usual “martial-arts-expert-knife-wielding-hootchie-mamas and the vampires who love them” kind of post. I’m going to be talking about Steampunk, and more specifically, one fashion choice that I think is curious. Here goes…

Once upon a time, women wore undergarments UNDER their clothes.

I know. Can you believe it?

And then, things changed, as they do. First it was the hint of a slip, and later, maybe, a bit of lace at the décolletage. And then Madonna strapped bullets to her chest, and all bets were off.

Steampunk fabulous.

Fast-forward another twenty years, to a certain subset of the young and trendy who are making their way down city streets dressed in long skirts and bustles and corsets.  They’re wearing goggles and brass buttons, with dangling watch gears as jewelry. It’s Steampunk, darling, an awesome hybrid of Victorian romance and post-apocalyptic grungewear that’s making its way to a city near you.

Did I mention these girls are likely wearing their high-neck, ruffled blouses UNDER their corsets? That is, if they’re wearing a blouse at all. This isn’t your mother’s Mohawk, my dear.

But what IS it? What is Steampunk? It is a literary, design, fashion, and intellectual movement that looks forward by looking back, if you will. Here’s an explanation I pulled off Wikipedia:

Steampunk is a genre which originated during the 1980s and early 1990s and incorporates elements of science fictionfantasyalternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternate history such as Victorian era Britain or “Wild West“-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy.

It carries the  romanticized optimism of a country that conquered the world (Victorian England) or the North American Continent (Wild West steampunk) into our modern times. Some argue that this nostalgic view glosses over poverty, racism, and other social ills (like, say, the suppression of women’s rights).  Maybe it does, but to me it seems a more optimistic worldview than the nihilistic punk attitudes that were the norm when I was a kid in the ‘80s. Instead of saying, “we’re all gonna die,” it says that with a little ingenuity, we can figure our way out of this thing. “The iconic machinery of that age was—and still is—a symbol of strength, hope and ambition. It was powering the Victorians into a bright future.” (The Booktionary, 10/6/10)

For that, I’d strap a few cogs and gears to my belt, you know?

But would I put on a corset? Now that’s a different question. In addition to art, literature, and to an extent, philosophy, Steampunk aficionados also use fashion to express their viewpoint. In the face of modern technology, so much of which is invisible, Steampunk puts the working bits front and center. The pseudo-Victorian waistcoats and cutaway jackets for the men, and bustles and corsets for the women, are all prominently decorated with buckles, gears, and other trinkets. It’s an elaborate, exuberantly stage-y form of dressing that expresses creativity and optimism.

At least on the surface.

Along with glossing over social ills, the genre may also carry forward social and behavioral norms that aren’t so positive. Like, I don’t care how cute an outfit is, if I have to get the vapors when I wear it, no thanks. “All of this fits into a larger framework of the ‘retrosexual’ agenda. This conservative movement appears to have picked up steam (excuse the turn of phrase) within the past few years, and its major tenets are to reclaim strong dichotomous gender roles from times before the current ‘post-feminism’ era, back when ‘men were real men’ and ‘women were ladies.’”  (The Gatehouse, 11/1/10) The roots of Steampunk reflect a culture that grew up before women had the right to vote, and had a generally dependent role in society, and while I doubt many 21st century women would choose to adopt that kind of lifestyle, I worry that there’s an insidious subtext at work here.

“In eras past, as a required fashion staple, corsets were sometimes considered to be the epitome of conservative male oppression of women with their restrictive binding.” (Streetdirectory.com) I’m not talking the naughty black lace things that are sold in adult toy stores. These are real, honest to God corsets, made with heavy fabric, stays, boning and laces. As a kid, my worldview was framed by women burning their bras on the evening news, and to me the corset has always represented restriction and control. When I see young women choosing to wear such a garment, it bothers the old-school feminist in me. The question I have to consider, though, is in terms of the Steampunk movement, who is doing the controlling?

A corset as outerwear is an unmistakable statement. It’s flipping a sartorial bird at something.   “The corset worn outside and used as an article of sexual attraction displays a woman’s pride in her figure, and as it is a counter-cultural choice put up against the tee-shirt and the sports-bra, it becomes a symbol of self-control and uprightness, freely chosen.” (Steampunk Empire, 6/5/11) Who knew?  I mean, there’s certainly more fabric involved than Madonna’s bullet bras. On its own, a corset is fairly discrete, keeping private things private, if you will. But I’ve been thinking about it, and I have the feeling that showing off my figure in a corset would feel a lot more revealing than just about anything else I can imagine wearing.

I might have to try it.

So grab your buckles and bustles and strap on your goggles, ladies and gents. It’s time to look to the future by reimagining the past.  I’d dearly love to find something to feel optimistic about, and if it takes wearing a corset, then lace me in. Do you agree? Do you think the modern incarnation of the corset is a statement of choice and self-control, or is it a throwback to a social system that would be better left to history?

Peace,

Liv

Liv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website (www.livrancourt.com), her blog (www.liv-rancourt.blogspot.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).

If you’re interested in reading more about Steampunk or corsets or both, check out the sites I either quoted or drew from for this post:

Battle of the Sexes: How Steampunk Should Be Informed by Feminism

CorsetInformation.com

Steampunk (Wikipedia)

Steampunk, Spirit of the Time by Mark Hodder

The Corset: A Symbol of Powerful Female Expression

The Future of Steampunk by Paul Jessup

The Old West Brings Steam by Felix Gilman

The Symbolism of Steampunk

What Is Steampunk?

Guest Post: Wedding Politics

Today we have a guest post from the lovely and talented Emmie Mears, whose blog you should check out and who I am delighted to call friend. I’m off recovering from my wedding (which happened last night, if you’re curious), so she kindly offered to step up to the plate and write a guest post for me! It was very and helpful pre-wedding for me, so I hope you can all enjoy her wisdom. Take it away, Emmie…

If you’re anything like me, when you began planning your wedding you pictured planning for this:

Glowy bride, beaming groom, no face-planting in sight…

Chuckle, chuckle, titter, smirk.

It wasn’t long into the planning process that I discovered this fundamental truth that exists in the minds of everyone you invite:

Your wedding belongs to everyone else. So there.

My then-fiance and I went into the process with a few absolutes. We wanted a Very Small Wedding. We did not want a Religious Wedding.

That was about it. Little did I know, but about 47 hours and 32 minutes after the engagement ring slid onto my finger, I found myself ensconced in this:

 Caption: All the purples! Put everyone on Papua New Guinea and build up, build up….wait.]

Let me preface this with the fact that I adore my in-laws and my husband’s entire clan of crazies (I can say that because my clan is crazier). During the months leading up to the wedding, I compiled a list of things I never expected to encounter — and how to fix them.

1. Too Many Chefs In Your Invitation Kitchen

Yikes!

Now. My family is very complicated. My parents divorced when I was two, my mom remarried when I was sixteen, and between those two relationships she had a female partner who I still think of as my second mom. Got all that? Spouse’s parents have been married for thirty years, and they’re a very traditional Roman Catholic family.

So, of course on the invitation we put, “Thomas P., Becky and Pat G., and Nee-Nee are delighted to present Emmie for her resounding nuptials. Oh, and Laura and Pete K. can come too with their son, whom our daughter is marrying.”

Nope.

Spouse and I wanted, very simply, to say this:

With great joy, we invite you to celebrate the wedding of…

Easy, right?

Pahaha. I laugh in your general direction. Apparently, people have been getting married a specific way for ten decades or so, and the wording of the invitation is often chosen to reflect certain customary tapdancing that I’d never heard of.

Wedding Politics: 1, Emmie: 0.

The Fix:
It’s traditionally the bride’s family that lands on the invites as the host, but I’m always one to pooh-pooh traditions if I think they’re silly — and in the case of my family, it certainly was. Our solution was to explain the complications of my family to Spouse’s more traditional family and lead them around to the very neutral option we had concocted.

Casualties:
A few feelings on both sides, but nothing inoperable.

2. You Can’t See One Another Over The Pile Of Money

If only I had this problem in real life…

Weddings are not cheap.

In fact, the average cost of a wedding in my county is over $28,000. That’s about a year’s income for me. Needless to say, Spouse and I didn’t have that lounging around our floor. We planned to get married in 2012, save our tax returns and every other penny we found face up (or hell, face down), and pinch together a jolly wee celebration.

His parents very graciously offered to pay when they heard that plan. We accepted.

We managed this hurdle with a decent amount of success. Most people I know who had non-traditional ideas for their weddings got their funk stomped out of them when they accepted family money to help pay for the shindig. That happens very, very often.

Just think about it. Mom and Dad hate the color green, but it’s your favorite. “Well, honey, don’t you think a nice mauve would be better? I mean, we are paying for it.”

Cringe.

The Fix:
We got lucky. Really, really lucky. They went along with almost everything except the size of our guest list, and since they were paying, we decided to let them have at it. Other people aren’t so fortunate, so here’s what you can do.

Pay for it yourself. This is the easiest way to have 100% control over what happens on your wedding day, but I get that it’s not feasible for everyone so…

Compromise. If you must, must, must accept money from family, you can always compromise. Mom wants a certain centerpiece? Trade her for the wedding favors you’re in love with.

Before you accept the money… You can always have a blunt conversation with whomever is offering the funds. If the money is offered as a gift, you can let them know politely that as a gift, it was unsolicited and didn’t come with strings attached. Tread carefully here, because you don’t want to sound like an ingrate, but if someone offers a gift it’s up to the receiver to decide what to do with it.

Bottom line? Make sure everyone’s on the same page from day one. If someone thinks paying means getting to decide the wedding colors and what stationary to use and what the officiant is going to say at the ceremony, you might want to rethink accepting their money.

3. Do We Put the Artillery Next to the Infantry or the Heavy Cavalry?

And you think THIS looks easy.

You can’t put Aunt Mildred next to Uncle Devon because their divorce was messy enough that it gave their kids PTSD. You shouldn’t put your work friends with your grandparents, and if you put your college roommate at THAT table, she won’t know anyone at all.

Do you have a headache yet?

Figuring out where everyone’s going to sit at the reception isn’t easy. There were times I was tempted to make everyone draw a table number out of a hat when they entered the reception hall and just stand around in my bridal gown to watch the ensuing pyrotechnics. Families and friends can be less than pristine, and if those relationships were all sunshine and roses, we’d all have a merry Christmas.

The Fix:
Enlist a trusted relative who is familiar with all the family drama — one on your side and one on the future spouse’s side. Figure out if you can match up any small, disparate groups. We put my college roommate and her fiance with some of our out-of-town friends, and it worked out great. Everyone had fun, and no one felt left out.

One thing we did to cut down on people feeling…miffed…was that we had a sweetheart’s table. That means a table for JUST the bride and the groom. No one else. We split up some of the bridal party and kept some of them together where we thought they would feel comfortable.

It can still get tricky. My parents are divorced (as I mentioned), and so I had three parents at the wedding. My dad came solo and we put him at the same table as my mom and stepdad (my other mom couldn’t make it), and everything ended up just fine. No broken noses or anything.

Use your best judgment and rely on those two trusted family members. Whatever you do, don’t listen to everyone who wants to vocalize their opinions on this or your head will spin around and explode.

And no one wants that.

4. Remember Your Get-Out-Of-Jail Card.
Ultimately, your wedding day is just that. One day. Your marriage will be a whole different animal. While the wedding day is an awesome opportunity to see all your loved ones and long lost drinking buddies in one spot, it’s very easy to get caught by the Perfectionist Fairy and panic if things aren’t perfect.

Things aren’t going to be perfect, FYI.

So what is the mysterious get-out-of-jail card? It’s this:

Your wedding day is your day. It belongs to you and your betrothed.

That’s it. That fundamental truth in everyone else’s heads? False. Some families freak out about weddings so much, you’d think they’d been invited to help plan Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton rather than come experience the public declaration of your love. There could be some hurt feelings if you remind them that it’s your day, but you want that day to be one that you feel good about. A day where your love was expressed the way you and your fiance best wanted to express it. I’m not saying to hell with your families’ wishes, but…I sort of am.

We had an earthy, homemade sort of ceremony where our friend handfast us. We’re both non-religious. I’m a sort of agnosti-pagan; Spouse is a full on atheist. Spouse’s very Roman Catholic family was nervous about what might happen (especially after our zombie themed holiday cards a couple years ago…), but they all had to admit afterward that our ceremony was beautiful, my blue dress was stunning, and that religious or not, there was no doubt of our love for one another.

Hopefully this survival guide will help you in your wedding endeavors! Go forth and be marry.

(Ba-dum-chhhhh)

Throw-Down: Southern Vampire Mysteries vs. True Blood

Does life suck more in tv- or novel-land?

Bonus blog post! Not only am I posting this from the past, it’s on a day I don’t normally post. How exciting is that?

Awhile back, fellow blogger Liv Rancourt and I got to chatting about the differences between the HBO show True Blood (in which I’m pretty well-steeped) and Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries (all of which Liv has read), and we ended up having a pretty long conversation. One thing led to another, and now we will celebrate the start of True Blood‘s new season and the recent release of Deadlocked with a FOUR-PART SERIES of blog posts discussing the differences between the books and the television show!

Let the throw down begin!

LR: Okay, Kristin, let’s get ‘er done. 😉

You’ve watched all four seasons of True Blood and I’ve read all of the Southern Vampire mysteries. Now it’s time to compare notes. Your recent blog posts suggest that you’re a mite bit tired of ol’ Sookie and her friends. What’s your favorite thing about the show, and what’s not working so well for you now?

KM: My biggest problem with the series sprang to mind first, so I’ll start there! (Sprang… what a weird word.) I’m bothered by the constant escalation of violence: the show has upped the ante so many times that it’s become harder and harder to shock the audience. It’s forced the producers to show really graphic violence, from a vampire king ripping someone’s spine out on national television, to a main character getting shot in the head in horrifying detail. The other side of the coin that I actually like is the realism that comes with this violence. The show writers and producers aren’t afraid to dance around truly appalling issues, like drug use in the poorer areas of the South, abuse, incest, and even just the harsher sides of friendships and love affairs. This unflinching vision of the fictional Bon Temps is probably what keeps me sticking around—in addition to the sexy men, of course. The world and the characters are real and fully imagined.

So I’m going to turn the question right back at you. I’ve only read a couple of the novels, and the twelfth book is coming out in May. Have they “jumped the shark” or are you still enjoying them? What are your gripes and likes?

LR: I think the answer to your question depends on how committed you are to the series. Like, if you’re the kind of person to hang around Ms. Harris’s website and endlessly debate whether Sookie should end up with Eric or Bill, if you use a calendar to track the days till the next book’s release, or if you’re planning a summer vacation to Bons Temps, you’re probably still along for the ride. A more casual fan, though, has likely noticed a change in energy, tone and style, and has maybe become disconnected enough to stop reading. I’m somewhere in between. I’ve spent time on Ms. Harris’s website, though not recently, and I’ve found the last two or three books to be more episodic and darker in tone, and generally a little disappointing.

Some of that darkness is a result of Sookie’s ongoing maturation and integration in the supernatural community. She’s done some things that would have disturbed her younger self and she’s had to find ways to cope with those deeds. On the other hand, especially with this last book, I thought maybe Ms. Charlaine had watched a little too much True Blood while she was writing it –  that the show had influenced the book, and not necessarily in a good way. The more recent books don’t have the frothy funny energy that the older books had, but whether you see a shark in the water depends on how hardcore a fan you are. And while I haven’t pre-ordered the next one yet, I will.

Intrigued? You’ll have to tune in to Liv’s blog next Saturday to learn just where our conversation will go. We’ll talk about Sookie’s Mary-Sueness and how those crazy fanged men in her life use and abuse her.

All I Need to Know About Sex, I Learned from Buffy

Today I’m delighted to play host to the wonderful Emmie Mears! She wrote an awesome post for you all, so let’s get right down to it!

In an America where people think a slap on the wrist and a vehement “don’t do that!” is enough to deter teens from sexperimentation, I have a better route for you, and I learned it from my favorite Slayer and her pals.

The best thing about urban fantasy is how it tells human stories from a supernatural lens. Today we’re going to center the microscope right over the sexy just to make sure you never have sex ever. Ever ever ever.

Bad Oz! Not only is she a werewolf, but she has a tattoo of a bone. How tacky is that?

1. Sleeping with someone isn’t the best way to keep them from clawing people to pieces.

The Sitch
So Oz was the solo werewolf for a whole season until Veruca came along. Never mind that her name is a kind of wart. Never mind also how she slithers around a microphone as if she wishes it were a heavily secured pole in the floor. As if that wasn’t enough to make us cringe, she’s got her eyes on Oz. If you’re anything like me, this little subplot had your head banging on a table or a wall as you watched Oz stick his foot in his mouth and follow it with his leg up to the knee.

When he finds out she’s the werewolf that’s been taking bites out of the general populace, what does he do? Go tell Buffy the Vampire Slayer who could beat some sense (or some silver) into her? Tell his girlfriend of a year who clearly fears Veruca’s wolfy wiles?

Noooope.

Oz locks himself in a cage with Veruca and decides to bone the trouble out of her.

The Lesson
Sleeping with the enemy doesn’t fix relationships. In fact, when your lovely girlfriend happens by to let your out of your cage with coffee and donuts the next morning only to find you in the buff with said enemy, it’s safe to say your relationship is ruined.

And sex is bad.

And you thought your first date ended badly.

2. You might think she’s inviting you over for some ropey hijinks, but she’s just a demon who wants to use your blood to let loose a sea of primordial vampires.

The Sitch
Xander meets Lissa while she’s trying to buy rope, asks her to coffee, and ends up suspended from a big old rack in the school basement while she sticks him with pointy objects to get his blood to open the Seal of Danzalthar.

Oh yeah — she ties him up with the rope he helped her choose.

D’oh.

The Lesson
Even if she says she only wants to use it to suspend her kayak from the ceiling of her garage, if your name is Xander Harris, you should know by now that she’s a demon who wants to kill you. If every woman save one in your dating history is a demon, it’s probably a good idea to look for patterns when you meet someone new.

Besides, sex on the first date leads to bondage and dangling.

You might think too much sex sounds fun....

3. There is such a thing as too much sex.
In the romance novels, all men are stevedores in bed and the women have the endurance of a Kenyan distance runner. You might think no one notices how you and your new honey sneak off to “look over your psych papers,” but you just succeed in making everything awkward for everyone else. Pretty soon they’ll be chopping off their own hair, feeling up walls, and seeing ghosts. For realsies. It’s serious.

The Sitch
Buffy and Riley are flush with the bloom of new lust. Just one little touch makes them go kablooey. And it just so happens that Riley’s frat-military secret ops house has a repressed sexual past — so when they start doin’ it full time, the house gets a little too into it, using it to feed off of their desire until it kills them.

The Lesson
You can sex yourself to death. Sex will be the death of you! It will unleash a jungle in your home! It will kill everyone you love, or at least stab them through the hand with creeper vines!

TEH SEKS IS BAD!

Never have sex.

4. If you have sex with your boyfriend, he will lose his soul and go evil. And he will try to kill you and everyone you love. He’ll also say really mean things to you.

The Sitch
Buffy and Angel started falling in love in season one. In season two, things started to heat up big time. Big drama, big love, big danger — it all added up to one word: RAWR. When Spike and Drusilla’s minions start creating a jigsaw destroyer demon called The Judge and ambush Angel and Buffy in order to get his arm, both Buffy and Angel get a little wet. Ahem.

When he takes her back to his place, it turns from just getting her warm after a dunk in the drink to some serious lovemaking.

All’s peachy until Buffy wakes up alone in Angel’s bed, and Angel himself has gone and gotten a happy — which causes him to lose his soul, turn evil, and get murdery. Talk about a bummer of a first time.

The Lesson
Men are evil. They might seem nice until you go to bed with them, but they won’t be there in the morning, and they might turn into an evil stalker that strings up your best friend’s goldfish and kills perfectly nice computer teachers.

Better to just stay celibate.

Sex is bad.

Move over, abstinence-only education, because if you’re in need of a great new curriculum, look no further! Just get Netflix and stream some Buffy into your classroom.

In all seriousness, I don’t think Joss really hates sex in spite of the pervasive “sex is bad” theme throughout the show. Looking into the crater of Sunnydale, I think all he really meant to say is that sex has consequences, and it’s something best approached with maturity.

Um…maturity. I’ll look into that.