Don't Ask Don't Tell

Old book and pen

Last night, (or early this morning, if you want to get technical), I finished reading Cari Quinn’s “No Flowers Required,” the August Brazen release from Entangled Publishing. I devoured the story with the same sort of gusto and intensity I usually reserve for the five-nut brownie at Houston’s. Appropriate, as it turns out, ‘cause just like the brownie, “No Flowers Required” was hot, sweet and oh-so-satisfying. Judging by its rank on USA Today’s bestseller list, I’m not the only reader to think so. But setting aside the sexy hero, the clever dialogue, and the super-steamy love scenes, it was the dedication page that caught my eye. The opening line read, “To my biggest fan, my mom, even though I don’t let her read my books.”

I am so, pathetically, on board with that rule when it comes to my writing. Not as applied to Cari Quinn’s mom – she can read my books if she wants – but to my own mom. Just like CQ, my mom is, hands down, my biggest fan. Considering I’m not published yet, Mom is pretty much my only fan. And she’s insanely supportive of my writing career. She bragged to her bridge buddies whenever I finished a manuscript. She showered me with encouragement every time a rejection letter darkened my mailbox. When Entangled Publishing requested a full manuscript in response to an open submissions call I’d responded to, she babysat my little guy for hours on end so I could submit something, (this century), that actually matched the synopsis I’d pitched. She’s proofed blurbs, corrected query letters and edited opening chapters. But despite several requests, I’ve yet to let her read an entire manuscript.

Why? Umm … because of the sex. I write what I like to read, which means I try to imbue my intimate scenes with the same fun, action-packed … ah … inventiveness I strive for in the work as a whole. Whether I fall short or far exceed that goal, I really don’t want my mom reading it. Mom scoffs at my prudishness, and insists she’s not only read plenty of racy stuff, she’s even had sex a time or two. At this juncture in the discussion, I usually shove my fingers in my ears and chant, “La, la, la, la, la,” at the top of my lungs.

Perhaps not the most mature reaction but, quite honestly, it’s not about maturity, or what my mom has already read or done. It’s about what I know, or, more specifically, what she might realize I know after reading one of my stories, which is stupid, because I’m not writing an autobiography, for God’s sake, and, even if I was, I’m a grown-ass woman. Sadly, I can hit this hang-up with all the logic I want, but it won’t go away. There’s only one thing more painful than imagining my mom reading my stories, and that’s envisioning my father reading them. Thank God he’s dead. Wait … that came out wrong. What I mean is … well … you know what I mean.

A day of reckoning looms on the horizon. If the contract I signed with Entangled unfolds as planned, their Brazen line will release my debut novel in digital format later this year, and then the whole thing spirals out of my control. Mom’s got a Kindle and she knows how to use it. At that point, I’m going to introduce a new rule. I call it, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Admittedly, this policy sucked for Uncle Sam, but I think it might work perfectly for Mom and me.

Got a better policy? Enlighten me!