Category Archives: Writing

How a writer spends Winter Break

I used to think being a writer during the winter was kind of glamorous. Wake up, look out at the snow I don’t have to deal with because I was smart enough to find a way to make money that doesn’t even really require me to put on pants, have a smoke and some caffeine, take a bath, and go to work. Drink cocoa until around dinner time, then switch up cocoa for whiskey and Coke. Continue until bedtime. Maybe, occasionally, go to a party and talk writing with other writers, swapping triumphant tales and horror stories about The Craft with others of a similar persuasion.

Surprise! Reality doesn’t work that way.

Over the course of the last semester I’ve found myself waking up far earlier than customary. I usually roll out of bed around 8, hop in the shower, scrub down, dress and run a brush through my hair, and I’m out by 8:30 to make my 9am class. This is how it should be, anyway. Somehow, though, my body stayed on Daylight Savings Time while my mind was looking forward to falling back. Net result: I’m slightly less likely to be up at 5:30 than I am at 8:30, but only slightly. Which SUCKS.

One of the great joys of being a freelance writer is not having a set schedule. As long as the work gets done, HOW and WHEN it gets done are no concern to anyone but me. This is not a problem until I realize that my nice, easy day has suddenly ballooned out to ten hours without my knowledge or consent. My biggest problem is that I have a nasty habit of taking on waaaaaaay too much. Like, three peoples’ worth of way too much.

So, my winter break looks like this:

Wake up when I wake up.

Write a blog.

Go take a bath.

Get dressed.

Write another blog.

Write another blog.

Write another blog.

Take a break.

Peck out 2k words on a WIP.

Take a break.

Write another blog.

Dinner.

Go to open mic poetry (Thursdays. Otherwise, have a GrooveFest/LitFest planning committee meeting.)

Write another blog.

Peck out another 1k IF I feel like it.

Bed.

Wake up…

Sounds thrilling, doesn’t it? But, hey…there’s still the part about not having to wear real clothes if I don’t want to! :D

Which brings me to what to get the writer who has everything for Christmas.

A lot of writers would be thrilled to get a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing, a signed copy of Janet Evanovich’s Secrets of a Best-Selling Author, or the Chicago Manual of Style 15th edition. These are all worthy tomes in their own right, and I would never gainsay them as great gifts for the author in your life.

But you know what this author really wants for Christmas?

Reviews.

That’s it. Nothing big, nothing elaborate, although I asked Santa for a book deal paying “fuck you” money just to cover my bases. (For the uninitiated, that’s having the kind of money where someone tells you to do something and you can look them square in the eye with perfect confidence and say “Fuck you!”)

johnny-cash-finger-2

With just that much authority, may I add…

But seriously, all I want this year are reviews of two of my works. I haven’t seen one since April, and I’m starting to get a wee bit of a complex. I don’t even care if they’re BAD reviews. I’d just really like to hear what some of the people who’ve read my work in the last little bit are thinking about it. Reviews make the world go round for writers, folks. So if you’ve read some of my work lately, please talk about it on Amazon, Twitter, G+, SquitterFace, or Goodreads. I’d love to know if I’m on the right track or if there are things you think I could be doing better. :)

So now you know.

Just in case I don’t get back before (a distinct possibility of late), Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Angie Aaron has a new blog. Check it out!

My friend Angie Aaron is reentering the blogging world with a vengeance! Her new blog, Angie’s Attic, is chock-full of writerly goodness for your reading…and listening…pleasure! To get to Angie’s blog, just click the image below. Happy listening!

PI Christmas

I’ll be back tomorrow, talking about how this writer spends the winter break…and what to get for the author who’s already got everything!

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

A Question of Judgment

Some days, I question my judgment.

Believe it or not, I actually kind of enjoy these days. Think of them as mental floss. When I get several days like this in one week, even if the conclusions I come to make me feel a little weird or a little uncertain, I enjoy them because I know changes are coming. It’s an odd headspace to be in, but there it is.

What got me thinking about this was simple. I printed off a batch of poems to perform tonight at Main Street Books for Open Mic Poetry. Then I went outside to have a cigarette.

About two drags in, a revelation hit me.

See, I’ve spent a lot of time denying the very notion that I am a poet. I’d stutter/stammer something like, “Well, I write poetry…but that doesn’t make me a poet! I know people like David Baxley and Kierce Sevren who do it a hell of a lot better than I could ever hope to!” I even went so far as to argue the point with my Creative Writing professor (God, has it really been almost a year ago? Good thing I’m taking another class from her next semester. Gives me a chance to make amends).

Here’s the funny part, though: This denial didn’t pass my own acid test for the reasons why “aspiring” should never, EVER be a part of a writer’s vocabulary. The test is simple:

1) Did you put in the work?

2) Are you happy with what you produced?

3) Do you feel good about putting your work out in the public eye, and to hell with what they think about it?

If the answers to all of these questions are “Yes,” then you’re not an aspiring anything. You’re doing it. Whether you’re doing it for money is almost beside the point. You put in the work, you get the results, you can legitimately claim to be a ___________.

And yet here I was, holding myself to that same standard. “I’m not a poet because I haven’t published a book of poetry.” “I’m not an artist because I’ve never had a gallery showing.” “I’m not a lyricist because no one’s cut my songs yet.” All of these, by the way, are very much in play for me. I do all of them. When I do them, I put in the time and the work to get them right, to my own satisfaction. Once they’re done, whether anyone else likes them or not, I have no qualms about putting them out there for all to see.

The interesting part is, I could do the exact same thing in reverse with my writing: “Oh, well, I haven’t hit the New York Times Bestseller List yet, so I’m not a REAL writer.” If I heard another writer popping off with that, I’d probably give them a verbal ear-boxing. But here I was doing it to myself. Can we say “hypocrisy,” class?

Or maybe it wasn’t really hypocrisy so much as it was an inability to notice something so in-your-face and clear that it eluded me. It seems like everything really, really important is like that: If an angelic chorus doesn’t appear and start singing/screaming at you that you’re missing something really, really basic, you have to wait for it to club you upside the head before you finally sit up and take notice.

Have you ever had anything like that happen to you? If so, what did you do with it?

Can’t wait to hear your responses!

Ciao for now…I’m off to be a poet for the night! :D

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

The Latest and Greatest!

Now that the little ghouls and goblins have retired their costumes for another year, the last hulls of what used to be whimsical or frightening Jack o’lanterns have found their way into the garbage or the compost heap, and the first blast of winter has hit Southern Utah, things are busier (and crazier) than ever in the Land O’ Sporks! I’ve been promising this update for nearly a week, and things keep going a little (okay, a lot) sideways, but I finally managed to carve out some time to keep y’all up to date. So, here goes:

First, I have been asked to MC an open mic poetry event every Thursday at 7pm at Main Street Books here in Cedar City. This is going to be very exciting, because I’m looking forward to getting to meet a lot of great writers in the area and hearing some excellent poetry! If you’re in the Cedar City area and need something to do on the 7th, 14th, or 21st of November or the 5th, 12th, or 19th of December, come on by and lay down some lines!

Second, I have thrown my hat into the ring for consideration as historian of the Alpha Eta Nu chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. This is going to keep me even busier than my usual frenetic pace, but I think it’s going to be well worth it for the things this chapter has to offer the writing community of Southern Utah University and Cedar City. I’ll keep y’all posted on this as things develop.

Third, “My Antarctica” is slated to drop November 21st, 2013 from Changeling Press! I’ll be posting an excerpt in the Available Works section as soon as it’s cleared by the powers that be, and Tuesday I’ll be starting a contest to win a copy on Release Day. So stay tuned for that!

Fourth, The Gael and the Goddess, my first category-length novel with Changeling, is on track to be wrapped up this weekend and sent off for editing. The contract has already been inked and  Gael is slated for release on January 25th, 2013, so keep watching for more on that as well!

Fifth, and by no means least important, the second anthology for Writing Out Child Abuse is now open for submissions! That will be ongoing until January 15th. For more information and specifications, click here. We’d love to have you! The title of the anthology is Everyday Angels, so if you need a theme or a prompt, maybe that’ll shake something loose.

With finals upon us, NaNoWriMo in full swing, the submissions call for WOCA, and finishing up the semester and my current roster of work, it’s shaping up to be an epic month…but it’s going to be SO worth it! In the meantime, though, I’ve gotta call it a night. Going to be hard to keep up if I don’t get some sleep, right?

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Here We Go Again… An Open Letter to TheKernel.com

It seems porn is big news again, thanks to the Kernel.com. This online tech gossip magazine has added itself to the list of “news” organizations criticizing Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and others of allowing self-published authors to go too far with the content they made available for sale.

Did these people go too far? I don’t know. I have my own opinions about what constitutes objectionable reading material, but I also uphold the view of Voltaire on the subject of freedom of speech:

“I may detest what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

However, I also have my own views on what constitutes censorship and at what point freedom of speech and freedom of the press cross the line. In keeping with this, I sent this letter to Milo Yiannopoulis, editor of theKernel.com:

To: Milo Yiannopoulos, editor, TheKernel.com
In re: How Amazon Cashes In On Kindle Filth
17 Oct 13
Dear Sir:
This sensationalistic tripe that you fatuously call “news” and allowed Jeremy Wilson to post on your website is really nothing of the sort. However, it is a clear, heavy-handed attempt to impose the moral views of a few on the whole by playing to sensationalistic and ludicrously overblown fears about what should and should not be available to consenting adults to purchase with their own money. Worst of all, you and your author have caused direct, measurable harm to a legion of self-published authors whose only transgression was writing erotic stories, as well as e-retailers, on a global scale. In doing so, you have effectively tarred all independent and erotic authors with the same brush.
Many self-published authors’ works have no or little erotic content at all, and erotic is not pornographic. Erotica and pornography are not and have never been the same genre, no matter how hard or loudly mudslingers and thoughtcrime apologists have tried to file them in the same pigeonhole. The differences are readily apparent to anyone with a shred of understanding of what constitutes each genre, an understanding your author clearly lacks and which he should really make an effort to educate himself on before applying such a broad-stroke treatment to authors who dare to portray sexual matters in an honest manner, such as Selena Kitt. Additionally, with every such “story” of this type that comes down the pike and is subsequently picked up by the mainstream media, authors are forced to wonder at what point they can expect their own work to come under fire because they wrote in a scene with consenting adults having sexual intercourse.

There is one point, and one point only, I cannot argue with in this “article.” These books and stories absolutely should not be displayed next to children’s fare. The way many large e-book distributors categorize their wares has been a concern of mine for quite some time. However, this is a failing on the retailer’s part, not on the part of the author or publisher, who has very little to no control over how their books are displayed once they hit the system.

Salacious and lurid material has always been available for those with the will and means to seek it out. Your author seems to believe that pulling items dealing with “objectionable” material will be sufficient to cure the problem. However, this ignores human nature, as well as the fact that neither I (after intensive research through a number of academic databases, I might add) nor anyone else I’ve heard from has seen so much as one credible academic study establishing a causal link between reading such material and acting upon it. Indeed, it appears the opposite is true. Many of these stories allow an outlet for safe exploration of desires that would otherwise be wholly and rightly criminal without actually engaging in such conduct.
While I myself find certain scenarios reprehensible in any medium, I am also an individual of sufficient intelligence and strength of character to do my own due diligence and avoid subjecting myself to such material. For this reason, I have neither watched nor viewed Larssen’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or Nabokov’s Lolita, and I skip portions of the Bible which deal with such matter.
However, this is my own personal moral decision to make, and I do not have the right nor the desire to impose my morality upon others. While people can and should be responsible for their actions in the real world, fictional portrayals conducted between imaginary characters on a page are not, in themselves, criminal acts. Your “article’s” attempts to paint them as such not only wholly misses the point, but it speaks to a highly skewed and biased perspective which is both completely divorced from reality and disinterested in taking steps to correct its own ignorance.
While I personally choose not to read certain titles or types of fiction because they are clearly labeled as to their content, this is my own choice. It is my right, no, my duty as an intelligent representative of Homo Sapiens to follow the ancient dictum, “Caveat Emptor.” If I wind up reading something that exposes me to the type of content I make a point to avoid, this is a result of my own ignorance. It would be crass in the extreme to blame someone else for penning it, the publisher for printing it, or the retailer for selling it.
The bottom line is this: If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Don’t read it. If you must bewail the fact that some people harbor sexual fantasies beyond the mainstream, then by all means do. It’s your soapbox. However, before you do so, consider what harm is likely to come of your actions and what, if any, innocent bystanders could be caught in the crossfire of your moral “crusade.” The right to speak freely only retains its value so long as it is used judiciously. In this case, Mr. Yiannopoulos, you and Mr. Wilson both failed miserably.
– Best,

A male romance author, without apologies
“Because children everywhere deserve to feel safe”
Follow me on Twitter!
For more information on what’s going on, here are some blogs you’ll find of interest:
If you have a blog talking about this and would like a linkback, just leave a comment. :)
Here is a petition urging e-retailers to take a more measured, moderate approach to the issue:
I wish to especially thank Cassandre Dayne, Selena Kitt, and all the other authors who have brought this alarming story to my attention. I strongly urge you not to let trolls and e-retailers dictate what you can and can’t read. Unless, that is, you don’t want to read anything with a more adult plot than Horton Hears A Who, in which case…why are you here, exactly?
Until next time,
Best,
J.S. Wayne

Coming Friday: “Sock It To Me” by J.S. Wayne!

Due to a series of unfortunate events, I’ve been away from the computer again. Between Internet woes, the passing of my uncle, and getting started with school again, along with various personal whosits, it’s been an interesting time. Now I’m looking forward to some nice, uneventful boredom…and I have to add, I’m not the least bit sorry to see this summer gone! Maybe next year will be better.

Still, I’m not here to cry in my beer or throw a pity party. No, today’s a day to celebrate! First, it’s Labor Day, which means another glorious few hours before I have to return to the workaday school schedule. (And believe you me, it’s work!) Second, I got some cover art last week that I’m really excited about. Marteeka Karland did the cover for my latest release, “Sock It To Me,” and I LOVE it!

JSW_SockItToMe_MK

This story was particularly fun because I got to just pretty much go mad for a while. I think it’s a hilarious story with a lot of humor (and, because it’s me, you KNOW there’s going to be snark AND smex involved! ;) ) So if you like Faeries, hot interracial couples, and fun, funky urban fantasy, this one’s for you. :) Mark your calendar for Release Day on the 6th, and be sure to keep watching right here for more goodies, surprises, excerpts, and fun from truly yours!

In the meantime, I’m off. I’m going to be a college kid for a day and kook out on video games for a while! :D

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Coming September 13th! “Sock It To Me,” by J.S. Wayne

This week has had so many ups and downs I’ve felt like I was on a roller coaster. But tonight I got that piece of news every author waits for, dreams of, and busts ass to get to.

My editor with Changeling, Vicki Burklund, told me that my latest novella, “Sock It To Me,” has been accepted from Changeling Press and is scheduled for release on September 13th! This was a fun one to write, because I was working off a totally outlandish prompt that somehow managed to work. Think like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup…peanut butter and chocolate seems like it shouldn’t work, but it does!

I’m not going to say much more for right now, because of “stuff n’ thangs” that have to happen first, but I can leave you with this *unedited* blurb from “Sock It To Me.” I hope y’all enjoy it, and stay tuned for more contests, surprises…and another big announcement coming in the next couple of weeks, if everything goes as I expect. :D

“Make a wish…but be careful what you wish for!”

 

New York City Homicide Detective Michael “Dutch” Grunhauer’s day has been about three times too long already. When he comes home from his second consecutive day on shift, he just wants his bed and a minimum six hours of blissful unconsciousness. But when he sees an intruder moving under his bed, all thoughts of sleep are banished. He drops to the floor, only to learn two things: the seriously ugly creature isn’t human…and it has an accomplice.

A really sexy, really not clothed, really green-haired accomplice, whose drapes and carpet match precisely, and who tells him that because she and her pet got caught looking for lost socks for the unholy offspring of a crocodile and a dingo to eat, she has to grant him one wish. But as with all such wishes, there’s a rather large catch.

You see, Dutch has until sundown three days from now to decide what he wants the lovely and seductive Faerie to give him. Otherwise he, most of the people who share his Upper East Side walkup, and the building itself could cease to exist.

And just in case things weren’t already complicated enough, the only person he can turn to for help will never believe he’s seeing faeries in his apartment…never mind what the Faerie’s presence is doing to his sense of professional boundaries.

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Short But Sweet….

The Spork-Wielding Maniac is dragging ass today, folks! Been a long 36 hours around here, but it’s been SO worth it.

First off, I have a really cool contest to announce! This month, I’m a featured contest author at Coffee Time Romance & More, and I’m running a contest through the month of July. It’s open internationally, and the prizes up for grabs? Well, I think they’re pretty cool, and I hope you do too!

*$25 gift certificate to an online book site (site TBD)

*A FREE copy of “Even Groomsmen Get The Blues!”

All you have to do is go to http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/ContestPage.html#.UdIHlJzKC1c and scroll down until you see my name. Then look to the right and click the link to enter to win! Doesn’t get any easier than that, right? CTR will announce the winner at the end of July, and I’ll get you hooked up with the goodies! :D

Second, Coffee Time Romance & More’s Book Lovers Unite discussion group on G+ will be holding their first Authors’ Roundtable the weekend of the 13th-15th. Here’s the blurb for that:

Coffee Time Romance & More is proud to present what we hope is only the first of many Authors’ Roundtables, featuring authors from across the spectrum of romance publishing. From the light and sweet to the down and dirty, authors like J.S. Wayne will be discussing various topics in the realm of romance and answering all the questions you always wanted to ask about everything from their inspirations for love scenes to plot development to the daily routine of a writer. Be sure to come by the weekend of July 13th-15th for fun, surprises, and the chance to learn new things about some of your favorite established authors and meet exciting new up-and-comers!

So swing by https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/107946037125045030529 and don’t miss the party! :)

Third: I got word today that my financial aid is in the process of final approval, and the last gap in my schedule has been filled. 25 credits coming into the new school year…yeesh! But you know what? If this works, it’s going to be SO worth it…and I’m going to feel like a ninja from Krypton at the end of it all. (Well, after I sleep for about a week…) Looked at my books today, though. Based on some spitball calculations, I can realistically expect to drop between $600 and $800 just on books for the semester. I tell ya, those bad boys ain’t cheap, so pretty please, bounce over to http://changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=2028 and pick up a copy of “Even Groomsmen Get The Blues” so this starving college student can afford them! ;) (And yes, I’m well aware that last sentence was hopelessly ungrammatical. Note to any revisionistas who might be reading this: Cope.)

Let’s see here. Did I forget anything?

Hmm…possibly. I’m sure it’ll hit me at 3am, as such things tend to do. But I think I hit the high points.

I’m off for today, y’all…time for a little R&R. Catch up with y’all soon!

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

 

Becoming Raphael: A Poetic Reply To An American Tragedy

My regular readers know how seldom I publish my poetry here. Tonight, however, the events in Boston and some things I’ve been pondering in my own life led me to scrawl something down. Whether it’s any good, whether it makes sense…hell, whether it’s even worth reading…I leave to the individual reader’s tastes and offices to decide.

Becoming Raphael

 

All humans dream of being the angel

Who bears the flaming sword

Striking down the evildoer

Punishing the guilty with divine vengeance

Teaching those who bring terror to the innocent

How much more dreadful is the terror of the guilty

When Judgment hangs fiery over their heads.

A splash of blood

A scream, a thump

All is silence

The righteous blade sheathed again

Having drunk its fill of guilty blood.

But after, what remains?

“Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord”

And the blood of a thousand

A million guilty souls

Cannot restore one pure soul

To life, to innocence

To a world without fear.

The sword can destroy

But never create

Can kill, but never heal.

The Angel of Divine Wrath fires

The furious, frenzied imagination

He is flashy, mighty, and awesome

But he has his purpose

And thinks nothing of the innocent.

After he takes to wing

Seeking the next villain

In whose blood to quench his steel

Who will hear the innocent cries

Of a child left motherless

Of a father bereft

Whose wings will enfold these

And allow them to weep

The healing, poisoned tears

Of innocence lost

Of the ultimate knowledge

That came from the bitter fruit

Of Eve’s tree?

None of us can be the angel

In being, clad in heavy, clumsy flesh

As we are

But we can be the angel in action

In word, thought, and deed

We can open our arms

To console and comfort

To commiserate and cradle

We can give freely of our hearts

Even when it brings tears

Even when the suffering

Our charges feel becomes as our own, and

Forces us to question our strength

Our fitness for this divine charge.

Not every angel calls forth lightning

Wields the sword that banished our parents

Or spits the sacred Name with angelic contempt

To wrack a guilty planet

No matter how well this race has earned it.

There are angels of compassion

Of mercy, of healing

And the chief of these is Raphael

Whose very name proclaims his function

“God has healed.”

Blessed is he (or she) who holds out a hand

Who stretches out their arms

Who offers a sympathetic ear

Or a shoulder upon which a wounded soul

Can freely shed aching tears

For these are they who, in

Becoming Raphael

Leaving justice and vengeance to Michael’s agents

Grant the innocent and the tormented

Surcease, hope, comfort

And love.

 

 Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

 

Fear of the “E” Word

I read something today so completely insipid and ridiculous it just begged for me to make comment on it. And I did. At some length, and with more than my usual amount of irony. The reason was because apparently a Pennsylvania mayor is upset at a West Ward magazine that profiled a longtime female resident, Kathy Kulig and her husband. She’s restoring an historic home in the area. She’s a scientist, a breed seldom if ever associated with a lack of intelligence.

And she’s an erotic romance author.

Apparently, this one little snippet, coupled with a biting criticism of the inaugural Art Festival in the area, hurled everyone from the city council to the mayor himself into a censorgasm. (Ooooh…bet that’s going to raise a few eyebrows.) After reading the author’s blog post, the story about the aftermath in the local newspaper’s online edition, and then another story in another (presumably larger than neighborhood) paper, and going over the chain of comments, I felt like I needed a bath. Politics is and always has been a slimy business, but things in Easton’s West Ward seem to have gone completely over the top.

(For the record, it appears that the West Word does not maintain an archive on its website, making it impossible to peruse the original article; I was only able to navigate to an issue from April of 2012. If anyone reading this should happen to have a link to the issue featuring Kulig, please post it in the comments and I will revise this article as appropriate, complete with link. My commentary from here forward is based on points of congruence among commentators on the Easton Patch website who did read the original.)

By all accounts from the residents’ comments, the West Ward is smack in the middle of “We don’t go there.” The mental image I got from reading the commentary was kind of like Las Vegas’ East Fremont Street between the “good” *kaff hack kaff* part of Boulder Highway and the Fremont Street Experience, without the single redeeming benefit of having the option of either getting rich or getting mugged when you pull over at the 7-11. (Don’t laugh…I’ve seen both happen within five minutes.) However, this is not to say that decent or intelligent people don’t live there, as evidenced by Kulig and others.  So the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV–hmmm…) and Mayor Sal Panto, Jr. decided the West Ward’s image needed a facelift. Enter the West Word, a community magazine. The stated goal  was to report news of benefit and interest to the residents of the West Ward, focusing on the positive aspects of the community in order to attract families and investors. (To me this is a huge, blindingly red flag. We want investors, so we want to show our best face. Okay, but: Isn’t there something called truth in advertising?)

So the magazine’s staff did exactly what journalists do. They wrote about things going on in town. And this was all fine and good, so long as they toed the “party line,” which was apparently (so the powers that be thought) bought and paid for with a grant from the CACLV. Which is not entirely unreasonable, considering that the CACLV is listed on the West Word as the publisher, but at the same time, one cannot expect journalists not to do what they do, an oversight that anyone with two and a half seconds’ publishing experience would immediately pick up on.

How much of this is a true representation of what happened in this particular case? I confess, not living there or being involved in local politics, I honestly don’t know. I do know that Panto took to the Lehigh Valley Express-Times website to speak out against his critics, political and otherwise. The vitriol on both sides is astounding, with allegations of corruption, bribery, et al (you know, politics) being bantered back and forth, while a third group of people aghast at the high-handed antics of the mayor and the CACLV chimes in from the sidelines, including truly yours. Panto’s objection to the story about Kulig was not her being an erotic romance author, by the way; it was the fact that the word “erotic” was used in a publication that is intended for families.

*record scratch*

This warranted further consideration, to my way of thinking, so I did some digging. Now, here’s where things really get interesting. I took a random sampling of stories from the same papers, sans the West Word, as indicated above, and looked for certain keywords. “Sex” only showed up twice. “Erotic” showed up once, in connection with Mrs. Kulig. However, words such as brothel, rape, violence, assault, murder, death, slaying, drugs, and so on were fairly regular occurrences. All in publications and on television shows that are readily available to children.

Have we really descended so far into the cultural morass that consensual sex, the most beautiful thing human beings can share with each other, is considered more dangerous to expose our children to than murder? What is it about this Puritanical insistence that the human body is dirty and evil, something to be ashamed of and hidden, that it keeps drawing such rabid and committed followers? Do they seriously think that one instance of the word “erotica” in a newspaper equals five, ten, fifty mentions of the words I listed above? (And let us not forget my previous rant about “mommy porn” and all the reasons that ticks me off.)

Okay. Let’s switch focus and turn on the TV for a second.

Flipping through six channels in a four-minute span, I get Two and a Half Men (before Ashton Kutcher gooned it up by taking Charlie Sheen’s place…as if!), two Viagra commercials, one Levitra commercial, one Stayfree ad, and one ad for Mirena. So sleazy sex, having better sex, having safer sex, and that delightful time of the month when most women want no part of sex (understandably), are very much in the public eye. When Mommy and Daddy get home from work and turn on the nightly news or prime-time TV, sitting nestled in the den with their man-cubs close by, these kids are getting an eyeful.

And the objection is that the word “erotic” shouldn’t appear in a family publication, when erectile dysfunction drugs are plastered all over the TV set? Something is seriously squirrelly here.

Now, I’m not saying that parents should bow to the inevitable and start having “The Talk” with little Timmy or Susie at age three. Far from it. Like any responsible erotic romance author, I believe only legal adults above the age of majority in their jurisdiction should be able to access my work, and I certainly don’t want children getting a hold of it. Do I believe for one minute that some thoughtless parent will never, ever, ever leave one of my paperbacks lying around or let their child have their Kindle, never considering what they last read until the kid asks “Mommy (or Daddy), what’s an orgasm?” triggering a blush hot enough to ignite the atmosphere and a frantic scrabble for the reading material in question? Nope. I’m not that naive and I’m not that stupid, but I also give my readers credit for being smart enough to think about consequences and mature enough to own the results of their actions. Bottom line: it’s up to parents to be parents and decide what they think is appropriate for their kids to see, hear, and read, not government at any level or under any guise whatsoever.

However: It seems to me that if you’re even going to hint at censorship, regardless of how well-intentioned it may be, let’s get rid of the news stories about tragedies and violent acts. Let’s stop making rape a spectator sport. Let’s stop discussing drug use on the front page or at the top of the hour. Let’s leave it up to the parents when and how to tell their kids that the real world isn’t always a nice, friendly, fluffy place.

I definitely don’t think kids should be exposed to overtly or graphically sexual visual or textual content. But if I have to choose between my kid seeing two people making love or reading about Jeffrey Dahmer, I’d a whole lot rather this hypothetical child have a sex-positive, inclusive worldview than the dark fascination with mass murderers and serial killers that makes up such a high percentage of current TV programming. Get the scary, bloody, gratuitously violent content off the air and out of the headlines, and then we can talk about chopping the “E” word that so many people seem to be so scared of.

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne