When I’m with my brother or cousins, the people I grew up, I don’t watch the words I use. Frankly, on those occasions I can swear like a drunken sailor on leave. (This is not meant to imply that all sailors get drunk or swear while on leave. This is an unwarranted stereotype. The only reason I’ve used it is because (a) it’s easily understood by the people who read my words; and (b) I have it on good authority that there are no sailors who read my words. They’re too busy getting drunk and swearing.) My brother, cousins, and I learned a variety of swear words early in our lives, were rarely discouraged from using them when we were on our own, and we’re all quite comfortable giving our thoughts and opinions a special swearword-emphasis when the right occasion arises.
There are times when a good swear is indicated. It’s not satisfying to say something like, “Gosh, the darn toilet has backed up and sent poopy everywhere.” Harrell doesn’t speak nearly as colorfully as me, but even he wouldn’t say that. Consequently, when Harrell does release a swear word, it makes a real impact to the people around him. If the darn toilet was sentient and heard him cuss, it would refuse to release its poopy into the wild.
Now, if you were considering inviting me to the Royal Gala but this blog has given you second thoughts, you needn’t worry. I can be polite in social settings. I don’t even say, “Gosh”, to strangers unless I notice they have a plumbing issue.
As it happens, we avoid using Earth-based profanity when we write fiction. For Aly’s Luck, we used alien profanity liberally. It was fun, making up new and non-offensive swear words like “chund”. In our historical romances, even the bad guys rarely curse. People did curse in the good ol’ days, and they used most of the same swears that someone would hear today. That doesn’t seep into our stories, though. No one has ever asked us to censor our words; if they did, I’d color the pages blue with every obscenity I could think of. People haven’t, though. That’s just how we have chosen to write.
This might change in the near future.
I think it’s time to try something different. Tired of waiting for Amazon Vella to get going, we revamped one of our contemporary romances for submission to a different serial fiction app. (Serial fiction, as you’ll recall, are stories told in short installments and intended to be read on cell phones. The installments are released on a regular basis, one or twice or five times a week, with the most popular stories relying heavily on drama and cliffhangers.) This new take on an old story involved a change in perspective – Third Person to First, and that was an interesting experience – as well as an increase in romantic heat and a fresh boldness in the speech of our characters. In this “new” story, some of them speak like I do when I’m with my cousins. Except a couple of them want to have sex with one another.
I think it sounds right for the story. So does Harrell, and so does the editor who contacted us shortly before the Memorial Day holiday. If we like the contract they’re offering, we’re in.
Gosh darn it, I’m excited just thinking about it.
**Note: Jonathan Cooper of Unsplash provided Teddy’s image that’s above. Teddy’s shirt wasn’t blurred in the original photo. Thank you, Jonathan.