Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sex and Violence in my Office

I enjoyed Nicole's post about writing a lesbian love scene on board a plane filled with families, wondering if any of the parents were catching a glimpse of what was on her computer screen as they paraded toddlers to the restroom. I feel her pain, though I'm not writing on an airplane. I'm writing in my own office, and the potentially disapproving "parents" are in my own brain.

Okay, that needs a little explanation. I write the Mortal Path books featuring Maliha Crayne that are R-rated in terms of violence, sex, and language. I've just started working on book 4 of the series, Bloodletting, a meaningful title. We're talking heads flying, other S&S body parts (severed & significant), love scenes between inexhaustible immortals, the gates of Hell, and the list goes on.

But I've just spent the last few months working on Aftermath, a YA proposal, and publishing Honor's Journey, a middle grade historical novel, under the pen name of DB Ayers. Because I was new at writing for young people, I had to grow a censor in my brain - what, no f-words?? Now it's lodged in there quite firmly. When I started work on Bloodletting, I felt like I had an entire PTA hovering over my shoulder gasping at word choices, stages of undress, and the blood dripping down off my monitor. 

It was slowing me down, honestly, and messing with my head. Until I made a discovery one day.

Honor's Journey has a Flesch-Kincaid grade level of 4.0, meaning that according to a popular way of measuring such things, it's at a 4th grade reading level. Just where it should be. Bloodletting will test substantially higher than that, at least if I'm doing my job properly to appeal to my adult audience with vocabulary, etc.

A curious thing, though, that allows me to get around my internal censor: individual sentences from the adult book might still be at the 4th grade reading level or even lower, if you ignore the topic. For example, "He sucked her nipples while she stroked his hard, hot erection," (Uh, I can say that here, right?) tests out at grade 3.7. Seriously. Not that I would ever write such tacky stuff....

Kind of sets the mind free.

Speaking of free, how about a free review copy of Honor's Journey? This isn't a contest! Everyone who requests a free copy will get one, in Kindle, ePub (Nook & other e-readers), PDF, or print format. Print format is only USA, please. Just visit and let me know the format you want.

If you have kids, know someone with kids, or were once a kid, you'll enjoy this exciting adventure. C'mon, you can't pass up this freebie. Promise, no f-words, although the word breasts appears once in the book and it doesn't refer to chicken. Don't you want to know the context? :-)

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