Sex Sells…or so I am Told

My daughter thinks my last blog was appalling being that it insinuated that her mother, at some point in her life, may have (please note past tense) been a sexual being.  Four times, she allotted me, given that I have three children and she so generously threw in a wedding night conjoining.  I understand that no child, even ones of adult age, prefer to envision their parents in a lascivious light.  I get it; I had parents too.  I can recall sitting at the bottom of the steps that lead to my parent’s bedroom late one night, holding my little sister back from interrupting the giggling and who knows what we heard going on up there.  Surely we were too young to know what it really meant, but I do know that it gave me a warm and secure feeling inside.  I thought it was love that we wanted to envision, not the hot sex part.  Silly, naive me.

Then a friend sent me an article about how sex sells.  “You need to promote your book through sex,” she told me.  I reminded her that my Shades of Gray wasn’t about sex.  Sure there are lots of characters having sex throughout my novel; which is how chapter ten got to be a favorite of so many of my readers.  And, of course, there is the constant need to have sex based on Olivia’s ovulation schedule or the insinuation of sex that causes so many students to have children or become pregnant.  This is not enough apparently.  Implications are not sufficient; seemingly I need to be pushing the sex card to sell.

Therefore, hard as I try to resurrect my image due to the confusion over my Shades of Gray for the more erotic Fifty Shades (see my last blog), I am afraid I might just have to go with it if I want my book to ever see a best sellers list.  The fabulously promising reviews just might not be enough.  Even my own friends, who have all pledged their adoration for my Shades, ostensibly have needs.  While planning a local book signing for me I got involved in a long and rather comical string of text messages that virtually had me laughing out loud while in CVS.  (I opted to leave the store when I noticed a woman tugging at her child’s hand in order to keep her from the crazy lady: me.)  One friend asked if I could sign leather riding crops rather than my books.  Another suggested personalized bags for one’s Ben Wa balls as a door prize.  (Lilly Pulitzer designed as I do live in a rather upscale suburb.)  Mind you that same friend had to Wikipedia the spelling of Ben Wa balls and at the same time provided us with the useful information that this sex toy can sometimes be used to treat mild incontinence.  That is when Mary (name changed to protect the innocent) decided that she felt a bout of incontinence cumming on. Mary then rushed off to church to repent.  Terri, our agnostic friend (and another feigning purist) wished she too could turn to church to repent, if only she sensed a little Christian in her.   “Ahhh, a little Christian in me would be nice,” a third fan of Fifty Shades chimed in.  It continued for most the morning proving to me that although my Shades may provide a heartwarming, inspirational bit of prose, the real inspiration for getting some people to read these days is through SEX.  Hot, steamy, fresh out of the red-room-of-pain sex.

So much for happy endings – the kind you find in a novel, not a strip club.  Enough with the gleeful feeling two little girls felt at the thought of their parents being in love.  Who cares if the infertile couple (Olivia and Tom) ever has a baby as long as they have tons of wild sex while trying?  I apologize, dear children, I just may have to go the less ladylike route this time, all for the good of marketing, of course.  Enough with the don’t kiss and tell approach.  I confess….Olivia may have been a naughty little girl and is ready to play bad teacher.

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Gray Confusion

Let’s face it, girls talk.  For the most part though, I believe, that of all the things they might say about me, one of them would not be that I am promiscuous or some sort of sexual wizard.  And what my husband might say I won’t confess, or at least not publicly.   Some days I think it would be fun to be that girl, or any other girl for that matter other than straight-laced, two drink maximum, with the same man (happily) for thirty years, but then I come back to earth and realize that my reality is a pretty darn good place to be.  And then a book came out – a book with a title very close to my own and my life and reputation has changed.  Yes Fifty Shades of Grey has changed the way people look at me in the grocery store, restaurants and airplane.  My own children have had to defend their darling mother’s standing, when in truth I’m quite sure they haven’t any idea how drastically different the two books are – because they will never be allowed to read hers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I too have read two of the three of James’ trilogy (I’m pacing myself) and have taken a few notes along the way, but I am not sure I appreciate the insinuations on all levels.  When I went to the local library to donate my novel and the librarian tried to pocket it until she realized that it wasn’t the shade of gray she was hoping for, I chuckled.  When a woman at the deli counter heard that my novel came out and asked the title I knew immediately from the way she turned the color of the tomatoes and leaned in to whisper in my ear, “You wrote that?” that there was a bit of confusion brewing.  At a parent-teacher conference when the teachers congratulated me on my book I smiled, until one of them asked if I really thought it was appropriate for my thirteen year old to be reading it.  Ah, she too thinks I am Ana rather than Olivia only I profess to be neither.

So, what does one do when her reputation has been abruptly skewed (I said skewed, not screwed)?  Well, I’m not entirely sure.  I suppose I could just sit back and bask in the glory of my new found erotic domain, false as it may be.  I could learn to be a better winker when people look at me perplexed, because they too can’t believe that is what has been going on all this time in my little house in the suburbs.  I could hang a pair of hand cuffs from the rear-view mirror of my mini-van (I don’t really drive one, but it seems to fit the demure image I am trying to resurrect here.)  I could go out and buy some very provocative clothing to accompany my new image?  I’ve always coveted that bombshell bra. Or….and more likely…I could wait patiently for all this sex talk to smolder, because that is, in reality, going happen eventually and hope that those same readers will then be up for a good book that is uplifting in a whole different way.  Besides, Tom and Christian have more in common than you know.

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Shades of Gray by Susanne Jacoby Hale

The sirens blared, but all I heard was the sound of my heart thumping as I ran down the unruly hallways of Malcolm High School. Other teachers were urging straggling students into their classrooms and out of danger. I was on a mission. I’d left my co-teachers with our class and rushed through the halls. I had to know that Benz was safe. I wanted to believe—and so I did—that he had nothing to do with the riot that was tearing through the halls of this New York City high school. I would not rest until I knew that he was not one of the injured students. The thought of Benz being one of the instigators of the uprising, the third that year, ruefully crossed my mind. Please be in your Spanish class today, Benz. …

Teenagers were rushing through the halls screaming uncontrollably. Sirens roared and announcements demanded that the hallways be cleared. Security guards with walkie-talkies ran up and down the halls marshaling students into classrooms. Through the windows that flanked the corridors, one could clearly see down all eight floors to the street where a pool of police cars enclosed the school like a perilous moat.

As I hurried down the Foreign Language hallway, I heard some students screaming to me, but their words rushed around me like flurrying snowflakes melting before they ever contacted my skin. Wrangling my way through the sea of madness, I managed to find Benz’s fourth-period class and banged my tightened fist on the classroom door.

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