Incorporating your passion with your writing is the best of both worlds. Secrets of a Massage Therapist is a romance, a mystery, and a bit of an instruction manual, all wrapped up in a flaming orange cover. Perhaps a spice container would have been more appropriate, given the spicy nature of this blend of massage and fiction.
Sometimes "write what you know" simply means to use your emotions to write with empathy. In other cases it means to literally use your expertise to lend realism to your writing, especially useful in fiction. In the case of Secrets, it is the best of both worlds.
Not everyone in every professional field has a penchant for creative writing, but those who do may struggle to balance the demands of both endeavors. Combining the two can help satisfy very different yearnings, with a result that blends knowledge and writing. This seems to be the case for the author of Secrets of a Massage Therapist.
Of her personal philosophy, Andy Vogt writes:
" "One of nature's great mysteries is the metamorphosis from a crawling caterpillar, after going through a chrysalis, to a colorful and beautiful butterfly. Fighting its way out of the old form, the butterfly emerges free to explore the world from a completely new perspective, and to flutter through life in joy."
In Secrets of a Massage Therapist Andy draws from many of her actual experiences, but also comes up with a few more from her clearly active imagination.
About the Author
Andy Vogt is a professional massage therapist and a fiction writer. It is no mystery, therefore, that her debut novel should be a spicy romance about a professional massage therapist. Write what you know, and what you write will have the ring of realism to it.
"Every time I see a beautiful butterfly fluttering by, I instantly smile. Just watching that little creature brings joy to my heart. It symbolizes lightheartedness, joy, love, happiness, a free and independent spirit, and most of all, it is a symbol of transformation."
It is this spirit of transformation that often leads the creative writer to transform their expertise into a literary work. Often the work is fiction, perhaps because of the license this genre offers for the very creativity that leads one to write in the first place.
Title: Secrets of a Massage Therapist
Author: Andy Vogt
Page Count: 240
Format: Trade paperback, eBook
Publisher: Bayla Publishing
"Now that's a massage."
I smiled, despite my throbbing wrist.
"You better appreciate it. My carpal tunnel is acting up."
"Sorry about that." Craig said sorry a lot. He glanced up at me. "Why don't you hop up here and give your wrist a break?"
"I don’t know; it’s an old table. It might not hold both of us."
"Let’s find out." He playfully stroked my inner thigh. "Come on, Angie. Don’t be a chicken."
I hesitated, but then climbed gingerly onto the narrow table, and on top of him. I was dressed in only bra and panties, and I felt him push my panties to the side ever so slightly, ready to complete what we had started. Suddenly the table quivered, and my adrenalin surged.
I looked down at Craig. "Uh oh…"
That’s as far as I got before the table collapsed. For a second I was airborne, and then crashed onto the floor, Craig and what used to be my massage table in a heap beneath me.
He laughed hysterically.
"A massage with a bang. You should put that on your flyers."
I was upset. "Damn. Now I have to buy a new table." I added absently, "Hope you’re not hurt."
Oblivious to my concern he pulled at my bra, but I pushed his hand away. "Let’s leave it for another time."
"Babe, it’s just a table."
That was the moment, right there, when I decided that getting involved with Craig, who started out as a client and then became my lover, would be my first and last such adventure. The very next day I purchased a new massage table and established a rule:
Never get romantically involved with a client.
That was seven years ago, and the rule had stood the test of time. Back in the present I pondered how I was such a different person now than when I had first started out as a professional massage therapist. Daydreaming about that long-ago incident passed the time while I filled my tank with gas.
"It's usually not my style to chat up women who are pumping flammables, but if I don't give you my card, I know I'll regret it later."
The voice startled me, and I almost dropped the nozzle, my heart pounding. I hadn't noticed anybody when I pulled in, but one minute I was pumping gas—and daydreaming—the next…
"So here—give me a call. I’d love to take you out to dinner."
I turned and looked into a pair of inquisitive, sparkling eyes. The deep voice and crisp, white business card had just… appeared.
"Oh. Well…I may just do that," is what I said. What are you thinking is what my mind screamed.
"All right, then. I look forward to it."
He turned and walked to his car—a black Mercedes— and drove off, a last reassuring look tossed in my direction. I absently watched as he pulled up behind a convoy of three stretch limos crawling past the gas station. Their appearance was unusual for this sleepy part of town, and I watched as they slowed to a graceful halt at the stop light.
I wonder where they're going?
They turned left at the light, maybe on the way to something exciting in the nearby metro area. I loved the charming, small-town character of my mid-sized city, and I smiled. The Mercedes pulled out and disappeared past the limos, and then the clicking of the nozzle brought me back to the present.
Why in the world had I told him I might call? Here I was, a single and perfectly happy self-employed massage therapist, finally taking charge of my life, without the inevitable soap opera of a relationship. I had the freedom to do the things I wanted, and I surely wanted to keep it that way.
Now this! I shook my head and paid for the gas, the incident nagging. To my great surprise, it stayed on my mind all afternoon, until later when I got home. I slowly peddled my exercise bike while examining the white business card.
Should I? I was tempted…for the first time in a long time. Thinking back to the encounter it suddenly dawned on me that besides his sparkling eyes and deep voice—and the hat he was wearing—I couldn't remember much of anything else about him. Racking my brain for more detail, I was suddenly overcome by a hot flash, and my heart raced.
There was something about that guy.
Unbelievable. How could such a brief encounter throw me off like this?
I peddled faster.
State laws vary to some degree regarding licensing and other requirements for professional massage therapists, but what about once the client is on the table? Touching is unavoidable, but too much touching, in the wrong places, is unallowable. So what is too much touching, and where are the wrong places?
A novice might conclude that the answer to both questions is obvious, but is it really? For example, what if a therapeutic result legitimately requires touching areas normally considered out of bounds? After all, the human body is not a football field, with clearly demarcated end zones and sidelines.
Sometimes a nerve bundle strays into the neutral zone.
So when is too much, too much?
AMTA Rules of Ethics
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is the preeminent professional massage therapy association in America. Under their rules of ethics it states that massage therapists/practitioners shall:
"Refrain from engaging in any sexual conduct or sexual activities involving their clients in the course of a massage therapy session."
What is sexual conduct? As they say, if you can't tell, you're probably doing it wrong. A legal deinition is offered by USLegal.com:
Sexual conduct includes "the insertion, however slight, of any part of the body into the vaginal or anal opening of another." Shafer v. Wilson, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 2452 (6th Cir. Ohio 2010)
While this no doubt falls under the exclusionary vision of the AMTA, it is far too low a bar. The standard for the professional massage therapist concerning what constitutes sexual misconduct must certainly be far higher. Everyone is not the same, so guidelines regarding warning signs must be just that. Heavy breathing can be a sign of relaxation, or excitement. Muscle movement may be therapeutic loosening, or an erotic precursor. To know the difference is the sign of a true professional, one who understands physiology, human behavior, and the application of massage in a purely professional, healing context.
The ethic is a guide and an aspiration, but it requires a professional to fulfill it in the real world.
Every profession has standards regarding what constitutes a professional. The AMTA has its guideines, but being a professional is about performance within those guidelines. As such, the final arbiter is the client, and this judgment can really only come after the fact.
To be sure, the prospective client can read reviews and check credentials before lying down on the table. Being comfortable with the person that will be touching you is important, and due diligence in the era of buyer beware is only sensible. The actual experience will hopefully reinforce this research, and result in an opinion that the masseuse is indeed professional, and reviews to that effect will help build the deserved reputation and standing of the professional.
If the experience seems to cross the line of professional conduct, then a negative review alone may not be sufficient. Depending on the circumstances, immediate termination of the massage should occur, and a report possibly made, at least to the business itself, and possibly to local authorities. Without such action it would be difficult to know if this was the first such reported incident, a simple one time misunderstanding, or a case of serial violation of professional ethics. Especially in this industry, there is no room for such behavior.
Where does one review a particular massage therapist or office? Nearly every professional massage therapist has a Facebook page, or is associated with an office that does. Locate the business page and write a review there. In addition there are numerous other sites such as Angie's List or Google Reviews where you can offer an opinion.
Usually the best place to offer feedback, positive or negative, is the Facebook page or website of the specific business, since that is where other prospective clients will be looking as well. Word of mouth is also important, especially in local markets.
The lifeblood of just about any business is reputation, which is why reviews in today's world are so important. This is a critical component of the self regulating nature of the professional massage therapy industry, so whether the review is positive of negative, the client is doing a service to other prospective clients, and to the industry as a whole, by offering honest reviews.
If that difficult to define line has been crossed, however, the review may need to occur in the local police station.
If your job is to rub unclothed others, the highest ethical standards are not an option. They are a necessity.
Despite the best intentions, erogenous encroachment can occur unintentionally. The therapist doesn't always know that the line is at hand, and being intent on one's job can be distracting. Warning signs may go completely unnoticed.
However, there are cases when the infraction is intentional, and this is a more insidious side to the industry. Unless the offender is moved to voluntarily leave the field, the only recourse is client review and reporting, and it should never come to that.