Friday, June 06, 2008

Do I need to Re-Post the George Carlin Tribute?

So the book launch party is tomorrow and I'm all in a tizzy, cleaning my funkyass house and wondering what chemical compounds and acts of God my hair will require to not frizz up into a giant brown nest an hour into the evening.

I don't like to shop, but this week I headed straight for the trusty local JCPenney to see if I could find a top to wear for the party. (See, you wear "tops" with your "slacks." And I went to JCPenney because, well, the only other option is the outlet mall, and I simply didn't want to cross the highway because I am LAY-ZEE.) I have been absolutely disgusted with this season's fashion offerings at the REAL mall (the magical indoor one 20 miles away), so I wasn't holding my breath. But to my surprise and delight, I did manage to find two cute shirts.

I liked one so much I put it on the next day without washing it first. (This is a really bad habit of mine.) J came upstairs and wrinkled his nose. "What smells like an old lady?"

I sniffed and identified the origin of the odor immediately. "Oh, it's the JCPenney on my shirt."

I'm washing the shirt today.

Also, now that a few people have read the book, the feedback has begun to trickle back to me, directly or indirectly. And I'm thrilled, over-the-moon humbled and ecstatic to report that most of the feedback has been very positive. But I have also heard:

"It's a little racy."

"I just wish there wasn't so much swearing."

"It's too girly."

Hmmm...racy and foul-mouthed and yet--AND YET--too girly.

Can you guess which comments were made by relatives and which came from the host of a radio show on which Jerry Springer recently appeared?

I haven't thickened my skin enough yet to process these types of reactions beyond the point where it feels like I'm hearing, "You know, your child isn't very bright or attractive." But I'm working on it. My own personal feeling is that when a character is at the end of his or her emotional and/or physical rope, he or she should get a little more leeway when it comes to self-censorship. Ultimately, it always boils down to character, and how willing an author is to let him or her be his or her true self. (And how willing the author is to look in the mirror and say, honestly, "I'm writing the story that I want to write.")

Anyway, instead of 'racy,' I prefer 'earthy' or 'salty.' Salt of the earthy. But I think I've discovered a solution that will make everyone happy. My next book will feature a Mennonite detective with quirky habits like an addiction to Bubble Yum and an affinity for practical jokes. Instead of swearing, he will say things like, "Oh sugar!" or "He's out of his cotton-picking mind if he thinks I'm going to miss choir practice for that!"

Wow, that sounds awful.

In all seriousness, how do you like your books? How much cursing is too much? How racy is too racy? Where are the boundaries of your personal comfort zone? (On the same tangent: what do you think of devices like the ClearPlay DVD Player or the TV Guardian Filter?)

Tomorrow! The official Driving Sideways book launch party! 6-9 pm at 146 Algoma Blvd in Oshkosh. I have it on good authority that there will be cheese.


  1. I don't think you should be too upset by this kind of comments--none of them is a judgment on the writing, just on the reviewer's comfort level with the content.

    Swearing doesn't bother me, and neither does girliness, but certain types of sex scenes creep me out a little. As does any book by James Patterson.

  2. I thinks I are not so well with complex sentencizin' today.

  3. Shucks, I live too far away to make it to your party.
    I have been notified that my book (your book) has shipped! I will check my mail tonight at midnight when I get home.
    Thanks for making me laugh out loud at work!

  4. I am picking up that there book today my dear!

  5. I love this quote! "Oh, it's the JCPenney on my shirt."

    I can totally relate, I bring something home from the store and just before I put it on I contemplate how many people tried on the garment before I brought it home...and that's just about enough to send it to the wash before I wear it!

    As to the comments you are receiving. First, I can't wait to read your book. Second, I know it must be extremely difficult to hear comments about something that you have worked so hard on, given so much of yourself to.....I guess you have to have confidence that you have written what you believe, and what makes the character authentic.

    As to personal preference, racy language doesn't bother me too much. My button is when child abuse it mentioned gratuitously.

  6. Good luck at the party! And the more swearing and sex, the better. I mean at the party, not in the book.

  7. I'm not a huge fan of gratuitous sex in books--if it's part of the plot okay, otherwise I'm a bit of a prude. I thought the amount of sex was just fine for the age and stage of the character. It certainly wasn't an offputting amount or style of sex!

    Just remember that you can't be everything to everybody--and if they don't like it they must not have a sense of humor.

    Have too much fun.

  8. O am I so jealous of you. I'm gonna find your book. I love race.

  9. Oh, have SO much fun at your party. Writing a book is hard deserve it!

  10. Can't wait to hear about the party.

    i'm about 2/3 through the book. It's as great as I knew it would be.

    I love the character development and how you describe the friendships ("you just gotta love her for that...") SO AWESOME!

  11. Um, when I read those comments, I honestly couldn't remember *any* sex in your book, and didn't think the swearing was a problem at all. So clearly, I wasn't offended. : )

  12. "cotton picking"? Hmm...Sounds racist to me.
    Seriously, in the words of the late great Ricky Nelson, "I've learned my lesson well. If you can't please everyone, You better please yourself. La da di da..."
    I'm giving away a copy of Driving Sideways over at my new place on Wednesday.

  13. I like some salt with my sugar, so bring on the curse words! Seriously, if they fit the character, they fit the character and that's the only thing that matters to me. How was your launch?

  14. Pish posh, racy my butt!

    Unless... speaking of butts. Maybe they're referring to the mention of when Leigh's old boyfriend probed hers with his finger.

    Naw, what's racy about that? ;b

  15. For the record, *I* didn't say it was racy for me, I simply said that my mother in law might not appreciate the oral sex references (and the butt thing) as much as the Gilles and Tuckers references.

    I loved every word of it, so there! :)

  16. Ha ha! Too racy, foul-mouthed and too girlie. Everyone's a critic, eh?

  17. Anonymous7:27 PM

    Honestly? I'm on page 218 of your book, which seems to have enough plots for about four books and a Lifetime movie. I suppose that I object to profanity when I think that the author is just throwing it in because it's expected. In your case, I wonder if you felt compelled to fill each chapter with "hip" (for Wisconsin) cultural references and things to look up on I love the cover and bought the book on the strength of Marian Keyes' recommendation. I'm pushing myself to finish it because I don't think that people should post reviews when they haven't read the whole book.