What Do You Say, Dear?

Anyone else remember those books? Illustrated by Maurice Sendak--I loved those etiquette books when I was a kid. The bears, the princess, the bears eating the princess. Politely, of course.

On one of my loops, authors are relating Horror Stories about strangers, friends, family members and strangers backing them into a corner and reading their book aloud. The author's book, not the reader's.

Here's how I avoid it: I don't go to parties and I don't see much of my other-than-immediate-family. . . (unfortunately.)

But even so, a couple of times people have whipped out one of my books and started reading a section--usually a badly written one, or one allllll about sex--aloud. Oh, man, I'm hoping that Susan R. gets published some day just because I can't wait to pull that on her, the goober.

In blogs and on the loops, I've run across a lot of different ways to politely tell people that no, a writer doesn't have to have continous orgies to get the erotic bits in a novel right. And no, I don't base any of my characters on you.

But how do you tell someone to shut up with the reading? The problem is that this sort of offence occurs when there's been some drinking so "Please don't do that" goes right over the head of the idjit reader.

What can you say--other than "if you don't stop reading my book aloud I'm going to pull out my tommy gun and let you have it"? Running from the room with my hands over my ears worked once, but that seems a trifle extreme.**

Heck, even when I didn't write sex I couldn't stand hearing my stuff. I belonged to a critique group and that was the worst part--the guy leading the group read the short stories aloud. (C. Michael Curtis, and I don't think his name was Curtis Michael Curtis, but I never asked) I can't imagine actually doing a reading of my own work. And if I could manage to get up the nerve, I'd probably edit as I read. I'd read a sentence aloud, then reread it using a stronger verb or skipping that dreary adverb.

Anyone? Anyone? Or do you love your own work so much it doesn't bother you to hear it read aloud?


**My brother was the culprit. Everyone knows that only extreme measures work with brothers.


  1. Backing you into a wall by reading your own words back to you? Perhaps a new type of bettery: Misdemeanor Poetry Slam.


    *Is* there a polite way to tell someone you are being attacked, even though they would not care to admit it? I think not. Wish there wee, because that could come in So-o-o-o handy.

  2. I tend to find that looking a person dead in the eye and saying a loud and slightly defensive "Why are you being such a DICK?" will shut some people up.

    Not that I know if it would stop them reading my prose, since (a) I am not available in convenient book form, and (b) I adopted a pen name in order to hide my writing from my family for this PRECISE reason. Four older brothers, after all.

  3. I don’t honestly think there’s much you can do if someone (especially if they’re intoxicated) is intent on making a jackass out of themselves, Kate. You have to remember that you’re not at fault. They’re the idiots for reading the sex scenes aloud at inappropriate times, and you can be sure that most everyone else present knows it, too. Personally, I’d ignore it and walk away. If you don’t allow a person to rile you, it won’t be nearly as much fun for them to try to embarrass you. Eventually they’ll stop.

    As for reading my own work aloud, yeah, I must admit that I enjoy doing it. Not because I love my own words, but because I’m such a ham. LOL I’ve done readings of my non-erotic novels where I used different voices for each character, dramatic stage gestures and exaggerated facial expressions. I had a ball and so did the people in attendance. And whenever I’ve done that kind of laugh-filled reading the sales have been super. Of course, if I tried doing the same with one of my erotic romance books I’d run the risk of being arrested for public indecency. :-0

  4. Anonymous7:32 PM

    must have been jed, poor felow can't help himself, oblivious top social clues right? I hate my own work with such a passion that a second draft is almost too much to bear. so , having somone else read it to me, or having to read it aloud myself, well that would be torturous in the extream (how the heck do you spell that?) if I was you I would say, listen ya dope, if I wanted that back I wouldn't have sold it. leave it at that.

  5. I love the Maurice Sendack books - the illustrations are gorgeous.
    Also Miss Manners has some good etiquette books, if you are into that sort of thing.
    No, no one has started to read my bookl aloud in public. I imagine I'd want to dig a hole and bury myself in it if that did happen with certain books in front of a a certain public....


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