More on the dilemma of being 'out there' or 'in the arena' as the video last week talked about. When you write for yourself and you are the only one who sees your words, you do not face what I got recently, making it worse-- just before I went to bed. Another review with this time only 2 stars and I would say an angry more than disappointed ex-reader:
Very disappointed, the sample of the story didn't prepare me for all the sexual context in the book. Had an good story line , historical facts , this author seem to thing that loading it down with bedroom seances made it better . If you are looking for a good clean historical novel this is not it! On a positive note St. Cloud was a good addition to the book! His faith in God and his knowledge was refreshing. !I do everything I can to avoid this happening. I do not want that reader and my book to come together. She does not want sex in a book. I don't want her unhappy for reading things she'd rather not see. My blurbs for the books all have the warnings. The words sweet or clean do not appear. I reference the book having a heat level of 4 ♥♥♥♥. There is, however, no way to force someone to read the blurb. I also cannot help them interpret the sample. There are no opening chapters to romances (erotica maybe) that have the hero and heroine jumping in bed; so no sample will ever tell a reader there will or will not be sex. That has to be found in the blurb.
This whole thing is driving me nuts-- not though about readers who don't want sex. This lady only represents the tip of the iceberg of readers who want zero sex, violence and profanity in their books. It is a movement that is hitting back against the easing up of what is possible in mainstream literature. My problem is how do I keep those readers from buying my books? I suppose some of them would like censorship where nobody could read books like mine-- where writers are forced to take out what these readers don't want to see.
Censorship can work. Big publishing houses can be impacted by it. Writers who have to make a living can. Now, with independent writers, it's harder to make the will of a movement felt on all. Writers like me are not going to change what they write. Amazon might be impacted if the pressure builds on them. The censorship movement did have some success with certain best-selling erotica a couple of years ago, but I think it eventually got back out.
I am in the midst of the new one, Aztec Moon, and it has the same level of heat. I do not write what is computer driven by the latest polls for what readers want. When I put my books (this blog also) out there, I am revealing something of myself, my thinking, my belief about life. Because they say never contact a reader or answer a review, I cannot explain to her why the opening sample in that book gave more clues as to what was coming than even the blurb.
I won't post the sample here. Anybody who wants can take a free look [Round the Bend]. The book's first three chapters are reached by clicking on the cover. What I am going to say here is I am beginning to get a feel for what upsets these women readers so much. It's not that there is sex permeating the whole book as the above reviewer implies. Sure there is desire, but where I think the upset came, for this reader, is who is feeling it-- the woman.
The heroine is young, not quite eighteen, and she is just awakening to her own body and to what it feels like to desire a man. Round the Bend is not just about a man jumping a woman's bones (he does try that in the first chapter). The story is her growing in her understanding of what she wants. It's her thoughts, her yearnings more than even actual action. She is headstrong, and it takes a lot for her to realize actions have consequences. I have a feeling the women readers (and it is mostly women) dislike it that the heroine is the aggressor, and he is the more responsible one where it comes to understanding consequences. There are reasons he knows that and she does not. It is her journey to learn it.
Because I do understand how sex can be a powerful force and even one that can be destructive, I have another female character in the book who illustrates the other side of how women can deceive and even damage themselves by misunderstanding what sex is really about-- which means it belongs in responsible, mature relationships where the consequences are fully faced. That's the message the reviewer above missed.
Round the Bend is in a lot of ways the journey of women. Being 71 years old, I am well aware of how most women were taught about sex. They threatened us so much with don't do it that they forgot to tell us how it should be done. They were so afraid of the power of sex that they turned it into something unclean outside of a closed bedroom door-- do not talk about it, watch it, or hear anything about it.
Of course, many women did it anyway and many married pregnant; but they usually wanted to think that they were seduced into it. It was what a good woman did. She got seduced. She didn't do the seducing.
Well (and this happens a lot in my books), this heroine discovers a good woman can feel desire and want a man. Then she worries that she isn't good. She eventually talks to her mother about her sexual desire. When she tells the hero her mother's wisdom, that whitens his face, but it shows the kind of relationship the heroine has with her mother. The mother does all she can to stop her daughter from having sex too young or from being with the wrong man, but she recognizes reality and gives her practical advice (also from the Bible, I might add).
You know, the Bible is a pretty lusty book itself. It actually has one book just about passion and a woman's desire for a man-- Song of Solomon. Worth reading if you have forgotten how heady that book actually is. Now religious teachers have tried to tame it down to suit their fear of healthy sexuality by saying it's talking about a man's love for God; but give me a break! Anybody who reads it knows it speaks of a woman's desire for her lover's body and his for hers. It even discusses oral sex-- of course, in a very poetic way, but the words cannot be mistaken.
What I believe is that healthy sexuality is what more people need to read about. Not in some dry textbook with the biological facts but in a way that inspires an understanding that actions have consequences and that the connection we want with another person is one that goes beyond the physical to include the soul or spirit.
I won't quit writing books like the one that so offended her. I think such books are healthy for readers. I just want to find a way so that a reader like her and I never come across each other.
As I lay in bed after reading that review, I thought putting books out there is a lot like going to a dance where you didn't go with a date. This might be something young people don't experience today, but I remember being in a big hall where the girls sat on one side. The boys on the other. The music started and the boys began to come across to ask girls to dance-- or not.
For this dance, the music starts when the book is out there. The reader is the one who requests a dance, a relationship that lasts as long as the book takes unless the reader wants more dances. What I want to find is a way to not have my books asked to the dance by those who will find a full exploration of life is not their cup of tea. There are plenty of books out there for them, they are called sweet or clean. Those readers should also watch where they read in the Bible. ;)