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“Oh, it’s something like 50 Shades of Grey.”

This is what my mother told her hairdresser two months ago.

I’m Facebook friends with *Sam, mom’s stylist. Sam read my status updates about my book, and casually asked my mother what it was about. Imagine my embarrassment when my mother catapulted my novel from romance to erotica.

But, why was I so offended? I even took to Facebook and let it be known I’ve never read 50 Shades of Grey.

I write romance, however, it’s a loaded term nowadays. Romance can conjure up images of blooming flowers and frolicking deer, and turning to chapter 12, we’re reading a section with whips, chains and leather.

I respect the fact neither genre is easier to create.

E.L. James didn’t just sit at her computer and say, “let’s dip these people in liquid latex and see what happens.” Just reading the Wikipedia synopsis, I admit, that novel took massive creativity and huge numb-chucks.

In my romance novel, **Off the Record, the characters aren’t bending their bodies into pretzels with rubber masks on their heads, why would they? It wouldn’t go with the story line.

There needs to be a reason behind intimacy.

Yes, I called it intimacy.

Whether we fade to black or show a little skin – or bite a little off – romance novels need to have a physical element, otherwise you just wrote the script for an after school special, my friend. How much is too much, though?

I say, after Shades, as long as there’s a driving force behind it, nothing is off the table.

* Name changed for privacy
**Working title

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