Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Letting Family and Friends Read Those Sex Scenes

Last year, in this space, an interesting discussion took place on the topic of writing sex scenes. (Fifty Shades of Red) It evolved out of an earlier discussion on the Fifty Shades phenomenon. Many readers agreed that we might be fifty shades of GREEN with envy at the success the author is enjoying, but we would be fifty shades of RED at the thought of our mothers, or sisters, etc. reading explicit sex scenes we might write. I had to admit I was on the side of embarrassment at the thought of one of my sisters reading anything sexually explicit that I had written.

Fast forward a year. Confession and full disclosure time. I wrote a book. It is the book formally known on this blog as ‘the practice novel.’ As a fledgling writer I had no illusions of it ever being published, so the fact that it contained some sex scenes didn’t worry me. But it is being published. (THE VAMPIRE’S PASSION, Soul Mate Publishing, Spring 2014) Of course I’m thrilled. Very thrilled. Of course all my friends and family want to read it. All of it. Even the sex scenes.

My oldest sister, Nancy, didn’t want to wait until it came out—she wanted to read it now. So, with the caveat that it hadn’t been professionally edited, I sent her a PDF copy. Now, Nancy holds a very special place in my heart and in my life, because she has dual roles: sister and godmother—she’s eighteen years older than me. When our mother passed away thirteen years ago Nancy also filled the space of ‘mother’ in many ways. So handing my manuscript over to her was like handing it to my mom, AND my sister.

What was she going to think? At first, all I was worried about was what she’d think of the book, my writing. Nancy is the perfect ‘beta family reader’ because, while she’ll be kind, she will also give it to you straight. I kind of forgot about the sex scenes when I hit the send button. As she lives 1,000 miles away we rarely get to see one another, but recently we were together and she had just finished the book. She gave me one of THOSE looks and said, “We need to talk about your book. Later. Not right now.” (There were a lot of other family members around at the time.) Oh my god—what was she going to say? About the book? About the sex? Yikes!

She was impressed! Not her genre, but thought it was good. She even told our cousin, who does read this genre, that she would LOVE it, and needs to read it! Yes, she was surprised that her ‘little’ sister had written about ‘such’ things, but she conceded that the sex scenes weren’t as graphic as some that are being written these days. Phew! All in all, an excellent outcome.

And a big step for the fledgling writer. I’m ready to let people who aren’t total strangers read my book, including the sex scenes. Well, most people. There may be two or three still on the Don’t Get to Read It list. But, maybe someday…


  1. First off, congrats on the book! I am looking forward to reading it. Second, I know exactly what you mean about the sex scenes. My 83 year old mother is reading my book and "romance" is not her thing - at all. I am sure I will hear about it.

  2. Thank you Kylie!

    As for Mom reading your book, remember my sister's response. You, too, may be surprised. In fact, I'm sure you will be.

  3. Monica,

    As long as we're following Maggie Stiefvater's advice to write the books we want to read, it's all good.

    I still sometimes find myself censoring my writing at the thought of family reading the sex, and have to shut that down. Part of writing romance.


  4. Hello Cathryn! Thank you for stopping by!

    What an interesting way of looking at the two ideas--thank you for pointing that out.

    I'm getting around the 'writing about sex' part in my current WIPs because they're YA, and it's rather freeing to fade to black. But no matter what we write we have to careful about all that self-censoring.


  5. Write what pleases you.