Being neighborly: when author life and real life collide…

The book I suggested my neighbor read.

Once upon a time I was very secretive about my erotic romance writing career. I refused to reveal my pen name, my book titles, subgenre, or publisher. In fact, I did not tell my former neighbors my pen name until I just before I moved out of state.

Then I decided that it was hard to sell books if you didn’t tell people about them.

Much has changed in two years. I moved to a conservative state in the middle of the Bible Belt and boldly announced at a neighborhood Christmas party (the FIRST time I’d met any of my future new neighbors) that I wrote erotic romance. I learned later that they were all shocked. But they recovered.

But having them know in general what one writes differs from having them read your actual books.


The sex scenes (which is what we’re really talking about here which you’ve probably seen on websites similar to vary in intensity and in the nature of the specific acts in my ten books. Readers can encounter spanking, the use of sex toys – the likes of which you can find out more about on somewhere like KnownMan, exhibitionism, ménage à trois, and anal play and/or sex in my releases.

If someone I know personally says she wants to read my works, I suggest A Scent of Longing, my vampire romance, or Destiny’s Chance, a reincarnation romance, which are two of my least kinky titles. If they can handle those, then they can remove their training wheels and move up to some of the others.

One of my neighbors had expressed an interest in my books. A college instructor, she is very educated and speaks with perfect English. You will never hear a “gonna” or a “fuck” pass her lips. She and I often talk about our work as we walk together for exercise. I’d not seen her in a couple of weeks and when we finally got together for a walk, the conversation went like this:

Neighbor: I read your book.

Me: A Scent of Longing?

Neighbor: No.

Me: Destiny’s Chance?

Neighbor: No. I don’t remember titles. It was the one with the newlyweds.

The book my neighbor actually read. The first Rod and Cane Society domestic discipline novel.

Me: Unexpected Consequences? *Mind racing* [Domestic discipline. The one with the spanking bench!]

Neighbor: That’s it. It was very well written. It opened my eyes.

Me: Thank you. [She read the one with the spanking bench!]

We proceeded to have a very nice conversation about domestic discipline. I know that what I write is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am flattered that she was curious enough to seek out one of my books and that she liked my writing. She didn’t read the least kinky one of the bunch, but she didn’t read the kinkiest either.

I’d posted a little snippet about that conversation on Facebook and someone emailed me and asked me what my MOST kinky titles were. So, in ascending order of kinkiness from least to most, here is a list of my titles:

A Scent of Longing – a rather sweet story, contains basic M/F sex (For the record, don’t let the lack of kink deter you. Every author has her favorite “child” — this one is one of mine).

Wife on the Lam/Coming to Terms – M/F sex, basic domestic discipline OTK hand spanking (Wife on the Lam is my story in the Coming to Terms anthology. There are kinkier stories by other authors in the anthology).

Destiny’s Chance– contains M/F sex and erotic spanking and use of a tawse.

The most erotic of all the Rod and Cane books

Reckless in Moonlight – M/F sex, anal play, light bondage, exhibitionism.

Unexpected Consequences (Rod and Cane 1), – M/F sex, domestic discipline spanking, use of a spanking bench & paddles. This is the book that started the Rod and Cane Society domestic discipline series.

False Pretenses ( Rod and Cane 2) – M/F sex; erotic, domestic discipline and public spanking; and use of spanking implements.

Body Politics (Rod and Cane 3) – M/F sex, domestic discipline spanking and “anal discipline.” This feminist v. dom is another of my favorite children.

Intimate Submission – M/F sex, the use of sex toys, spanking, and anal sex. This is the first erotic romance I ever wrote.

Intimate Submission and Secret Desires are two of my kinkiest titles, available as individual downloads or in the anthology, Spanked!

Disciplinary Measures (Rod and Cane 4) – M/F sex, anal sex, use of sex toys, domestic discipline spanking with a belt. The most erotic of all the Rod and Cane books — although they’re all hot.

Secret Desires – M/F and M/F/M ménage à trois, anal sex, spanking. A sexual smorgasbord!

How one defines kink is purely subjective, of course. Is anal sex more or less kinky than spanking, for instance?

What is interesting to me is that my least kinky book (A Scent of Longing) and my most kinky book (Secret Desires) are the two sales slackers.

I’ve grown so much more open about my work, but the coming out process has been gradual. I still encounter vestiges of embarrassment within myself, but the more open I am, the more comfortable I become. I’m proud of what write.

What was your experience when someone you know read your erotic fiction?

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22 Responses to Being neighborly: when author life and real life collide…

  1. Jaye Peaches says:

    I would love to come out of the closet as a kinky erotic writer to my friends – but mainly because I could then explain what I get up to during the day, instead of appearing lazy 🙂 Some of them do read in this genre but others definitely don’t. It would be good to get honest critical feedback without embarrassment. For the time being I’m incognito. I think if I moved to a new area, I would be more willing to be open. It’s not easy to come out to existing friends – and family.
    I often wonder what is too kinky for some people and not kinky enough for others – anal sex is a good example.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      You’re right. It was easier to move and then come out. All my “existing” friends do know now.

  2. Thank You Cara, this is the second post, I have read in as many days with the coming out type theme. The other has a picture of her real-self posted for the first time.

    Your insight and courage are much appreciated by me as one of my (wip)’s will most likely be promoted in a grand Mass media type of way at years end. I am in the throes of what and how to reveal myself and of course the quandaries of emotion with the net and personal results. Your posts and hers mentioned above have at least given me something positive to think about. *smiles* And btw, I love your barometric look at your titles.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I’m looking forward to your book, Joseph, and seeing how you handle the promotion and publicity. When one bases one’s work at least in part on one’s own experiences, it adds another layer of complexity to coming out.

  3. Renee Rose says:

    You go girl! You’re absolutely right that it’s hard to sell books if you don’t tell people about them. You know, I’m still walking around the edge of the pond, dipping my toes in the water, but I do think eventually I will be totally out about what I write, etc.

    I’m totally proud of you for going for it– your writing is amazing and deserves to be recognized by college professors who don’t say “fuck”. 🙂

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Wow, thank you, Renee. That means a lot to me. I work very hard at what I write — it’s one of the reasons I’m a slow writer. I want the writing to be excellent and I want to continue to grow as a author. Not everyone will appreciate spanking fiction, but I hope they will always appreciate my writing.

  4. Wow, where to begin. First, love this post. I have a question for you – how long have you been at this?

    I love to read posts about authors who have come out. I have not but I’m definitely easier about telling people that I write erotic romance. That’s usually where I stop. If they are curious (after the shock wears off) enough to ask more details, I may go into I write BDSM but I have only said the word ‘spanking’ a handful of times. I have two friends who have read my books. One I know very well (lives back home but we communicate daily – Yay Whatsapp for free instant messaging). She is my biggest supporter, has beta read for me and now just reads everything I write and only asks for more and asks for her own story…

    The other friend is someone I met years ago – 8 years ago I think, maybe 9 now – at a yoga training we did. In a week’s time we became closer than I have with a lot of people I’ve known for years. We still keep in touch. I told her what I was up to, she asked my pen name and has said outright even though she’s not into BDSM, she’s curious about what I write. She’s another one who is only positive.

    I’ve also had friends react in strange strange ways – like as soon as they find out it’s spanking romance where the female is the submissive partner, it’s like I’ve done something awful to womankind. I understand people come from different backgrounds, different experiences, etc… but I have learned that not all people are as openminded as they believe they are. That is sad.

    Overall, I like my pen name, my 2nd life. I came out to my husband which was probably the best thing I’ve ever done for our marriage. And really, that was sort of the point to this whole exercise I think – the whole thing just got bigger from there. I still don’t tell my in laws about what I do but my mom knows. I did have a few minutes of air time on FB under the wrong name once…a lot of damage can happen in the span of literally 5 minutes!! For me right now, this is enough.

  5. Cara Bristol says:

    I’ve been at it four years . I had to go back and look at my contract to see when I sold my first story. I signed the contract for Intimate Submission with Black Velvet Seductions July 23, 2009. It was published in the fall of 2009. It took a couple of years to catch my stride. I had some false starts. Most of what I’ve accomplished has occurred in the last two years.

    You are fortunate that you have two close friends with whom you can share your writing. Those are special friends. The hardest thing for me was telling my husband. I wrote my first book in secret, but when I planned to submit it I had to tell him. What if I sold it? How would I explain the checks that came in the mail? (LOL — I did sell it.). He was a little shocked by the content, I think. But I have his support.

    • I have a similar story with my husband. I wrote my first one in secret and it had 3 offers in 4 days or something so I thought ‘well, maybe better mention something’…all those checks and all 🙂

      A few months later, more shorts sold and I told him ‘well, I write…BDSM…’

      A few months later, ‘well, I write more spanking…stuff…’

      Now the cat’s out of the bag. He asked me a few weeks ago ‘is there anything else you need to tell me?’ and I could honestly say ‘nope, think that’s it…’

      • Cara Bristol says:

        LOL, a classic line, “Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?” Funny to me that you told him about the BDSM before the spanking. For me, it would have been the other way around.

  6. S. J. Maylee says:

    Until a couple weeks ago, only my best friend knew I was writing and trying to get published. After my first accept arrived, I added two more to my in the know list. Yeap, I went crazy, lol, and told my husband and my other best friend. My husband wasn’t surprised, he knows me better than I thought.

    My girlfriend asked why I wrote erotic and I told her the simple truth. I write what I like to read.

    Love your ascending order of kinkiness list. 🙂

  7. houston_switch says:

    It can be hard for readers as well. As a male…its hard to go to a physical store and buy these type of books. Yes, Amazon has helped. How do you answer the question…”read any good books lately?” Or…”honey, what are you reading?” I do a lot of reading very late at night.
    Thanks for the post today….

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Having a Kindle is great. It’s been huge boon to the erotica market, I think. No need to flash those book covers — although from an author’s perspective, it would be great if MY book covers were flashed.

  8. Sue Lyndon says:

    I think it’s wonderful you can share your writing with your neighbors, Cara, and have positive experiences doing so. A few of my friends have read my books and liked them…and one of my friends told me her husband has all my books on his Kindle. LOL it took me a while to be able to look him in the eye. My mother in law has been asking to read my books, but good God I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. The thing is, I’m 99% sure she knows my pen name, she’s just waiting for my “permission” to read my stuff.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      That was my hesitation in telling my former neighbors — I was more worried about how my friends’ husbands would react, if they would read my books. A lot of people are conspicuously silent after they find out the kind of stuff I write.

  9. I love this and I really need to get your books. I’ve struggled with the same issue since I write gay romance. I do have a pseudonym which I rarely tell people unless I’m certain they are interested in the subject. I will tell people I write gay romance, but typically leave it at that. I’m not sure if I’m ready to ‘come out’ as fully as you have, but I hope one day to work up the courage. 🙂

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I think the authors who are the most courageous are those write under their real names to begin with. I do know a few of those. Having a pen name gives one the option of choosing who to tell and when.

      In a perfect world, it wouldn’t matter if one wrote erotic romance, gay romance, bdsm or DD — it would all be accepted.

  10. Great post! Most people who know me in “real life” know I am an author. They seem to assume I write children’s books (perhaps because I’m always toting around my young son?) but I tell them no, I write erotic romance.

    The follow up question is always “Are you published?” After I say yes, I have over 30 titles now, the conversation usually changes to the pragmatics of being a homeschooling SAHM who also works full time from home, writing. Very rarely are people actually interested in what I write. Few even want to know my pen name.

    Once, at a spa, the lady looked up my books right in front of me. Her question was cringeworthy: “Were you…promiscuous as a teenager or something?” I should have said something better, but I just said “Um, no…it’s fiction, not memoir.” *sigh* Makes me wonder what others think who actually use their brain/mouth filters.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      That the woman at the spa would say that is amazing on two counts: first, that she would make that assumption, and second, that she would be rude enough to voice it. Wow.

  11. This is something I’m struggling with as well so it’s good to note I’m not alone and that there are instances where good, productive feedback comes. I sent a few of my Facebook friends (from my real name) the link and told them that I wasn’t necessarily hiding it but just wanted to keep it on the low-low for a while. Someone read it overnight (it’s just the prequel to the series) and when I read my messages the next morning, she’d sent me a message asking if I wrote from my own experiences or if I made it up. Honestly…that pissed me off and weirded me out. I responded by saying that I’m a writer and write what my creativity can conjure up. I also asked her if she thought Stephen King was a sadistic serial killer/torturer in real life and the authorities simply have yet to catch him.

    Again…I was really annoyed and now I really don’t want to tell anyone. Ever.

  12. Cara Bristol says:

    I get that question all the time too, and I use the Stephen King analogy also. I assume it’s only authors who get asked questions about their sex life, and not “ordinary” people.

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