Thursday, December 20, 2012


Connie stealing and "sexing up" Molly's romance novel on yesterday episode of General Hospital prompted a discussion on Twitter as to whose version you'd rather read.

I chimed in that I could think of nothing more painful than reading love scenes written by an inexperienced teen-ager (at least Connie has several lifetimes to draw from), while others countered that it depended on the teen-ager.

Speaking from experience, I published my first romance novel, The Fictitious Marquis, with AVON when I was 24 years old.  It was a Regency romance, so the sensuality level was low.  At 27, I published my first contemporary, Annie's Wild Ride, which featured this notorious scene on a roller-coaster (I still get fan mail about it).  At 29, I wrote When a Man Loves a Woman... about characters in their early 40s.  Re-reading it now that I'm finally the same age as my characters in preparation for an ebook re-release, I find it a bit embarrassing.  The characters don't sound like 40 year olds.  They sound like 20 year olds trying to pretend they're 40 year olds.  (Read more about my Age of Love dilemma, here.)

And I'm not even talking about the sex scenes.  When it comes to those, I can only imagine how mortified I would have been if I'd somehow managed to trick an editor into publishing any of those before I knew what the heck I was talking about.  (Fortunately, all of my teen-age attempts have been lost to history, as my brother was charged with mailing a box of the notebooks I'd kept in high school from San Francisco to New York and did so in a flimsy paper envelope that fell apart somewhere over the Midwest.)  I can't imagine Molly's opus could be any better.

I can, however, relate to Molly's dilemma of cringing at her mother reading the love scenes she'd written (or had re-written).  I once thought there was nothing worse than the mere thought of your parents reading your sex scenes.  But, then, I had children.

Turns out that's even worse.  I wrote about it on Jewrotica.  Along with my thoughts about why reading romance is important.  Especially for impressionable teen-age girls:

There are multiple reasons why romance novels can be considered “good” literature, but I am primarily interested in this one: When I write my romance novels (sex scenes and all), there is a part of me that hopes they’ll get picked up and read by some girl (or woman) who has been deprived of this information at home. This part of me hopes that my books can be a learning tool for the countless women in this country who have been denied a positive and healthy education regarding their own bodies, choices, and desires.

Though “sex education” is not my only motivation for writing romance novels, I can’t deny that there is both a thrill and a responsibility in writing books that may actually help someone discover or unleash a previously hidden part of themselves. Even if the woman in question decides she wants no part of a sexually adventurous lifestyle, I still think the information needs to be readily available. Sex-positive sex education–no matter its format–can save lives and dispel the shame that cripples us.

Jews, we are told repeatedly, are The People of the Book.  It is our job to be a Light Upon the Nations.  We’re supposed to lead by example, and educate, and illuminate.  We are supposed to Heal the World in whichever way we see fit.

This is mine.

But, notice I said they should read them.  Not write them.

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