I’m probably the only woman in America who skimmed past the sex scenes in Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s not that I’m a prude. I don’t hide under a pillow when Hannah walks around naked on Girls, or fast forward Sooki having sex with Bill, Eric, or that creepy Warlow on True Blood. Watching a sex scene on TV doesn’t seem as voyeuristic as reading one when the bedroom door stays open in a novel.
After one round of submissions for Worth the Weight with no luck, my agent told me I should spice up my G rated rom-com since Fifty Shades of Grey had amped up the heat in the romance industry.
“No whips and chains.” I said. “Or bondage. I’m definitely not adding bondage.”
My agent laughed and told me no one was asking me to do that. But I should try to add more sizzle than the one kiss at the end of the book.
I went to my next writing workshop at SarahLawrenceCollege’s The Writing Institute and announced, “I have to add sex scenes.”
My writing teacher took one look at my beet red face and said, “I want all of you to go home and write a sex scene and we can share them next class.”
My classmate Ines drove me home that day. “Stop worrying and just go for it,” she said. “You can always tone it down later.”
Some of Ines’ free spirit rubbed off on me. Because next thing I knew, my two main characters Jack and Kate couldn’t keep their hands off each other.
The next day, my husband and I headed to Panera to get some work done. After awhile, I tilted my laptop toward him.
“Read this. I need to make sure I got it right.” I had been working on a sex scene told in the male viewpoint.
My husband’s eyes widened after he read the first sentence. “We’re in Panera!”
“Well, what do you think?” I asked, despite the fact that our conference sized table had been over run by a group of twenty-somethings.
“You got it right,” he said, with a smirk and passed my laptop back as if it were illegal contraband.
Every once in awhile he would laugh and shake his head. “I’m over here working on a power point while my wife is writing porn.”
When it came time to share our sex scenes at my next class, I couldn’t bring myself to read out loud. One of my classmates, a retired English teacher volunteered and I sat there as she read my very explicit sex scene out loud inside Sarah Lawrence’s ivy-covered walls.
“I see you took my advice,” said Ines. “Now I guess we just need to tone it down.”
It was one thing to write sex scenes with the hope of selling the book one day. It was an entirely different thing knowing the book was actually getting published and people I knew were going to read it. I sent my own book club advanced reader copies about a month before my pub date. A few days later I got his text.
Reader: Little Miss Innocent Looking!!!! Wow!
Me: What did you think of the sex scenes?
Reader: They were a little too good. Can’t wait for my husband to get home.
Guess I mastered writing sex scenes after all. But that doesn’t mean everyone’s getting to read them. My father, a retired fire captain and a strong silent type left over from the John Wayne era was lamenting over how there was no way he could ever read this now X-rated version of my book. So, I’m breaking out the Sharpie and giving him a CIA style redacted copy with all the sex scenes blacked out. I may have come a long way in the sex-writing department, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready for my dad to read my uncensored book.
About the author
Eileen Palma has an English degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and has studied Advanced Novel Writing at SarahLawrenceCollege’s The Writing Institute. Her writing has appeared in The Momoir Project, Patricia Dunn’s author blog, Blogging in the Big Apple, PTO Today and on the front page of Our Town. Eileen is also the guest author for the Macaroni Kid Bronxville May Food Allergy Awareness issue.
Eileen’s debut romantic comedy Worth the Weight placed first in the 2012 Tampa Area Romance Authors contest and was one of the Wisconsin Romance Writer’s Fab Five. She is represented by literary agent Eric Ruben of The Ruben Agency. Worth the Weight is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBookstore and will be available on Audible soon.
Eileen lives in Bronxville, NY with her husband, daughter and a scrappy Wire Haired Fox Terrier. Visit her at http://www.eileenpalmaauthor.com.
WORTH THE WEIGHT By Eileen Palma
How much weight is too much for a romance to bear?
When Kate Richards, the effervescent host of television’s KidFit and the author of kid-friendly diet cookbooks, runs into Jack Moskowitz at a dog park, sparks fly. He’s attractive, charming, and single. She has no idea that he’s also the one man who could cost Kate her career–the CEO of Considerable Carriages, a company that profits from childhood obesity.
Jack knows exactly who Kate is, though. She tore his company apart on a nationally syndicated talk show only the day before! Seeing an opportunity, Jack starts digging up dirt on his nemesis, to put her crusade on ice once and for all. But the more time the two spend together, the more his lie—and his feelings for Kate—spiral out of control.
When Jack and Kate try to tip the scales of romance it brings chaos, heartbreak and hilarity and more than a few laps around love’s track.
ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF WORTH THE WEIGHT