I was a huge Harlequin romance fan growing up where the couple shared a passionate kiss at the end. The more intimate details were left up to the reader’s imagination. That was fine with me because we never talked about sex at my house. My mother wouldn’t even joke about it. Girls had a “lily” and boys had a “ding-a-ling.” That was the extent of my sex education at home other than “Don’t do it.” When I moved on to adult fiction, I found myself blushing and grimacing at the vivid descriptions of sex I found. I didn’t need an imagination. Every minute of intimacy was explained in great detail.
So when I decided to write in the paranormal romance genre, I knew at some point I was going to have to write about sex. Drawing from my Harlequin roots in Where Will You Run?, I had some passionate kissing and then hinted that they were headed off to the bedroom for some love making. I proudly handed it off to my beta readers who read it and promptly handed it back saying unanimously that it needed to be “spicier.”
I knew they were right, but I agonized about it because I am not comfortable writing love scenes. No one wants to read “She slowly unsnapped his tight pants; her lily tingling as she reached inside and wrapped her hand around his ding-a ling.” You see my dilemma. I’m a grown woman, I told myself. I can do this. With that, I started writing the infamous chapter 33. I still left the actual sex part up to the imagination. I don’t want to talk about ding-a-ling sizes. I know people say size doesn’t matter, but you will never find a line in any romance novel that says “She searched around until she found his dainty erection. Secretly she was relieved it was so cute and small.”
When I was done, the beta readers loved it. I did it. I had finally finished a book after trying for so many years. What an accomplishment. I was going to be a published author. I hadn’t given much thought to anything after that. I know it sounds odd, but I only thought about strangers buying my book; people who didn’t know me. I never thought about people close to me reading it. Of course they would want to support me. I don’t why I didn’t see that coming. What I didn’t expect was how incredibly exposed I would feel when my family members and friends started buying it - my niece, my sister-in-laws, cousins and even a girl I knew as a small child in church (that was a whole new level of guilt). People I had to look at and eat meals with. Ew. Suddenly I felt yucky. Naked.
Also from the “I should have seen this coming” file are the creepers I have had to deal with who started stalking me on social network sites. I am happily married thank you very much. Keep your ding-a-lings to yourself. I am not interested.
Now I’m almost finished with my second book, Where Will You Hide? The romantic character relationship from the first book is developing, and the new characters are pushing me waaaaaaay out of my comfort zone. Knowing what I know now, I have to ask myself if I am brave enough to write the story the characters want and what my audience expects or will I take the easy way out?