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Monday, October 25, 2010

My first genuinely heartfelt one star review! I have finally arrived as an author!

Tombstone Treasures Book Two: First LoveI have been told this day would come and until then, you're not a real author. So I guess I am now official...and real...if this is what it takes. I don't fault the reviewer for expressing her opinion about my book, First Love, strong as it was. However, I do find it unfortunate that she admitted she did not finish the story, or she might have felt differently at the end. But that aside, this is my "sex scene" that she referred to. Yes, I did tell it her was implied, because in my opinion it was. To me a sex scene describes sex. This doesn't describe sex. Do you agree or disagree? I won't freak out if you have a different opinion, so go ahead and express yourself. :)

Boundaries forgotten, they found comfort in each other's arms, and by the time they finished he was completely exhausted. While their bodies were satiated, the ache that had propelled him toward physical intimacy remained. Only now, there was an added layer of guilt.

Now on to the review. I am withholding the reviewer's name and the site I found it on in order to keep it somewhat anonymous as I know some people will strongly disagree and want to defend my book. Don't worry about me. I'm a big girl. Anyhoo, here it is...

"If you are looking for a clean Christian romance, this is not the book for you. This is EDGY inspirational fiction. I was concerned about accepting this when I realized it was written by an author who writes "edgy inspirational fiction", but was assured there were no sex scenes, mostly implied mess ups and remembering what had happened in the past. That is not what I read.

I think this story line could have been done very tastefully and without crossing the line. Unfortunately, it was not. I stopped reading when it got too graphic for me to be comfortable. There was no character development that I saw, not even a real relationship between the main characters outside of their past sexual relationship and them remembering what they had done and realizing they still wanted to do it. Even that would have been fine if it hadn't been described in about every other paragraph.

I don't understand how an author who is trying to show that it is wrong to be intimate before marriage is willing to describe that intimacy in such detail. Yuck. I cannot recommend this book to anyone."


So there you have it. My first blistering review. For those who are curious I will say this...one of the key elements of the story was that their prior relationship was based on physical intimacy and they didn't know each other very well as people, just from their sexual relationship. So my characterization showed that as she so clearly stated. But it was intentional on my part. I thought the back cover description made it clear that this book wasn't a sweet romance. I'm not sure what else I can do to make things clearer. I am pretty sure she will not read any more of my books. That's okay with me.

18 comments:

Joy Tamsin David said...

I do not think the blurb you posted qualifies as a sex scene. The characters had sex but it did not happen onstage, you cut directly to the emotions afterward.

Shawna Williams said...

Michelle, you know my feelings and my experience. Should I give one star reviews to every Inspirational book that I think runs from real issues and label them Chicken Inspirational fiction to warn others away? Of course not!I try to see the value for the book's intended audience. If I can't then I don't review it.

The blurb shows remorse following their actions, and it does nothing more than state that sex happened.

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

I agree with Joy. I think there are some scenes that only show couples kissing that are a lot worse than that!

XOXO~ Renee

Naomi said...

I agree with Joy. How do we write about the hugeness of Grace if we don't name Sin? (And I'm not talking about anything graphic -- just stated.) I don't think you crossed a line. You made your characters' plight real -- with good taste and class.

Michelle Sutton said...

So I'm not crazy to think that the phrase indicating sex happened was indeed implied? I thought maybe I misled her, but I didn't remember writing any sex scenes so I told her there was stuff implied but not shown. I suppose your comments confirm to me that I am NOT losing my mind. That's good to know...

Michelle Sutton said...

Well check this out! I just saw this brand new fabulous review posted (for the very same book) with my final giveaway for First Love! If you want to enter to win, then here is the link...

http://tarasviewonbooks.blogspot.com/2010/10/first-love-by-michelle-sutton-giveaway.html

barbjan10 said...

No, you're not crazy, Michelle, you qualify your style clearly and succinctly. We each need to claim ownership of what we say and do, just as the critiquer will need to do. I feel most people will assess what they're reading in the manner it is meant. A person with low tolerance for the mention of sex is the person with the problem, not the author. Please continue to do the wonderful job you're doing in showing reality for what it is.
You have supporters lining up to your door to congratulate you, and I'm the first in line.

Hugs & Luv,
Barb Shelton

Shawna Williams said...

Yay! That's more like it. :)

adge said...

I can understand both sides. I think the problem is that when someone is reading a book, they imagine details, and maybe that became the biggest problem, especially for anyone that may not want to think about sexual sins. How did you decide what to and what not to include in this book?

Hott Books - Gina said...

I agree that it's not a 'sex' scene but I also KNOW that I couldn't pass that on to my MIL. While it is implied - it's also more than I'd want to give to a teen. And that may be where the blogger is coming from. I'd give it a low grade on my steam rating BUT I'd note that it may not be appropriate for all readers.
Anyway - I'm glad you've made it to your next step. Congrats!

Michelle Sutton said...

adge asked...How do I decide what to include and what not to include?

It's simple. I write the story I feel God has given me to write. This is it. In this story I wanted to show how difficult it is to refrain when you've been there, done that. And with sexual sin (which is pretty prevalent in the church as a whole) it's doubly hard. In order to show the way the mind works when you've messed up I have to show the mess up. I also wanted to portray that it doesn't always happen just once, then people stop. It often happens more than once. And the guilt just deepens. I think the issue people seem to have is they don't want to show anyone doing the wrong thing. In my books people feel realistic guilt and emotion both good and bad...mostly bad, though, when they fall. If it were not Christian fiction I would no have them showing these things. In secular fiction the consummation of the act is always shown in a positive light. I show that while it seemed like a great idea for all of five seconds, once it happens you can't go back...then you have decisions to make. As far as teens go, there wouldn't be teen pregnancy in the church if more teens saw the negative consequences rather than sex glorified. And yes, Christian teens read secular fiction more than Christian fiction. At least everyone I've ever met has, with few exceptions. But that's just my take on it. We're all members of the body of Christ.

Roxanne said...

This excerpt soooo does not qualify as a "sex scene." So does not. At all. It is very clean, very tasteful, and very short!! And you even say they felt guilty afterward which indicates you are not condoning pre-marital sex at all.

As a conservative homeschooling parent who screens all books her young readers read, I would give this scene a "pass" (versus a fail). :-)

This gal obviously hasn't picked up any secular young adult fiction lately. Even some great Christian authors I admire put in more detail than this.

Be at peace!!

Casey said...

No, that is not a sex scene. If anything it SHOWS that what they are doing is completely wrong. Hence the added layer of guilt feature. Sorry you got a bad review, but you can't please all the people all the time. Unfortunately. Keep on writin', because are you now official. :D

misswrite said...

Okay, I don't comment on these things that much, but what in the world? How can it be a "sex scene" when sex is not described?

"They found comfort in each other's arms" is not a graphic description. It just IS NOT.

Sheesh. I am probably one of the most sheltered people in the world, but this cannot even remotely be described as a detailed description of anything. It's a more literary and tasteful way of simply saying, "They had sex and then he felt guilty about it."

I would challenge anyone who thinks this is graphic to point out the individual words that describe the act. They're just not there. Unless there are other scenes in the book that aren't mentioned here that "describe that intimacy in such detail," I'm just not getting it.

DeAnna Julie Dodson

Michelle Sutton said...

You know I would love to show you guys the before and after section of this post. Do you all want to see that, too so you can see it is SO not detailed? It shows emotions but not actions. Anyone? Post your comments - yes more - or no?

Julia M. Reffner said...

Michelle, I thought your response on Goodreads was very gracious. To me your excerpt DOES NOT sound like its condoning the behavior...or giving it in detail at all. I know it must sting a bit, but I guess to each his own. Maybe the one star will get someone who wouldn't normally want to checking out your novel and being ministered to :)

Tania Johansson said...

Hi, I know this is by now old news, but I just read it and wanted to comment. I do not think the scene was inappropriate. I think you actually did very well with it. I also read in the comments section here that you write the story you feel God gave you to write and I think that is admirable. Well done!

Michelle Sutton said...

Thanks, Tania. Since this book has released I've written a number of others. Apparently no one is shocked anymore, but that's okay with me. Thanks for commenting!

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