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.
Write What you Know
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.
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.
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. For example, Marcus.
Marcus is a writer of mystery novels, and in a sense is the imaginary alter ego of the real Andy. When their paths cross it leads to a frenetic romance.
Beyond the simply physical, Marcus and Angie connect on a level that transcends normal relationship stuff. They seem to be meant for each other, yet doubts and uncertainty plague both at times. The very strength of their connection seems too good to be true.
Their physical relationship is jalapeno hot.
Fiction that incorporates the author's area of expertise can both entertain and inform, while bringing an element of believability and realism to the table. In secretes of a Massage Therapist Andy vogt uses her experience as a professional massage therapist to do just that.
If you ever wondered what happens after the rubbing, Secrets just might satisfy your curiosity.
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.
The mysterious and often unorthodox world of a professional massage therapist is the backdrop for this sultry, humorous, and sizzling story of new love. The sexy, funny, and sometimes awkward encounters of professional massage therapist and German import Angie parallel her romance with Marcus, a writer of mystery novels. While working through the twists and turns of this new passion, the pair is tested by dark characters in both of their lives.
Andy Vogt incorporates many of her experiences as a professional massage therapist into Secrets of a Massage Therapist, and includes a few more from her creative imagination.