Comedy · Novels · Publishing · Saint Flaherty Series · What Boys Are Made Of · Writing

My Mother Is Reading My Book, and This Is Terrifying

My mother is reading What Boys Are Made Of. This is, of course, the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Readers, you might not have ever considered this, but writers, I know you have. Because what’s the only thing worse than having a stranger read your diary?

What Boys Are Made Of Cover Reveal FINAL
Does this look like the sort of book you take home to your mother? Okay, my mother?

Your mom.

Oh god, what have I done.

For convenience’s sake, I’ve made a list of why exactly this is awful.

One: The swearing

My mother, when I was a child, did not swear. Not even a damn. No, she was all darns and goshes and shoots, with the occasional ARGH thrown in for good measure. When I began swearing in middle school with all the gusto a middle schooler swears with, I very carefully made sure to never do so around my mum.

My characters, on the other hand, swear like sailors who have been told that a lovely widow-woman who is searching for a homely salt-of-the-earth sort of husband is coming aboard, and she’d love a man who can splice a line and has a super fugly tattoo anchor and the only thing she requests is “No swearing,” and oh, did we mention she’s rich? And so these sailors have twenty-four hours to get a lifetime of swearing done before they settle down to be respectable gentlemen. That is how my characters swear.

And my mom is reading it.

Two: The characters

I like to say that my characters are neither good nor evil, they’re just people in difficult situations, trying to get by. For other readers of dark literature, this definition swings it just fine.

As my mum would say, “I don’t know why you want to write about awful people.”

Because they’re interesting, Mom, geez. Oh my god, I’m going to my room now.

Er, except that actually is the reason.

My characters, for lack of a better way to put this, are not the sort of people you’d want to bring home to your mother. Or maybe you do, I don’t know your family, but let’s agree that we don’t want to introduce them to my mother. Except, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

And she’s reading it.

Three: The setting

My mother likes to read cozy mysteries, the sort where the lady detective solves the crime with deductive reasoning while wearing two-inch heels and a pearl necklace. These tend to take place in quaint Eastern Seaboard villages or atmospheric English manor houses, and involve about the same amount of violence as a game of Clue.

My books are set in a post-second-civil-war southeast Ohio which is faced with increasing isolation and fragmentation due to having largely been on the losing side (Anti-DC). Specifically, the fictional town of Buchell, set right along the Ohio River, took heavy damage during the final years of the war due to its strategic location near several chemical and munitions factories. Though the war has been over for five years at the beginning of the book, the region is controlled by various cartel leaders whose organizations act as part mafia, part local police force. Travel is facilitated by military convoys, ala Sudan, as the wild grape vines and poison ivy retake the empty highways.

Now, let’s attempt to reconcile these two settings, cozy mystery and war-torn hills. What do we get? A total lack of compatibility?


And yet, my mother is reading it.

Why is this happening?

Because she declared, long ago, that she was reading it no matter how much I protested. Whether I begged her not to, hid my manuscripts, and pleaded that she’d hate it, she smiled and said she’d just buy it once it was in print and read it anyway. And at a certain point, I gave up.

Plus, she read The Foreigner’s Loneliness and loved it and I didn’t think that would happen, and seeing as I’m using that as my litmus test for who will enjoy my book, well, why not? I figured I may as well make her an early reader so that when she finishes book 1, I can hold up book 2, The Mercy of Men, smile winsomely, and say, “Wanna offer feedback?”

Pft, why else would I do this?

Speaking of this series, I’m having a giveaway over at Goodreads for two signed paperback copies of What Boys Are Made Of! Obviously you, my loving followers, are planning to buy a copy in the format of your choice when it comes out, but please share the giveaway on your Facebook page or Twitter feed so that others can have a chance to see it!

So, any of you let your parents read your books? On purpose? How about someone else you never quite wanted to do so, like a boss or a neighbor? Please feel free to share your stories, funny and tragic, below!

Thanks for reading.


32 thoughts on “My Mother Is Reading My Book, and This Is Terrifying

  1. HAHAHAHA!! You know, I’ve had so many people talk about how parents are biased audiences for your work because they love everything you do. And have been in a room where others agreed. I always stare at them like what Full House sitcom-like family did you grow up with? While it’s not a bad thing, most of the people I know are nervous to have their parents read their work. And me, I’m not worried about it. I know my parents will buy it to show it off, but never read it due to lack of personal interest. I write YA, sci-fi fantasy. They don’t read that, lol. So, I’m afraid I’ll never quite share your mortification (BWHAHA), but I understand it. :D. I hope your mom loves it or is at least constructive.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. She has admitted it’s not her thing at all but says the writing is nice, and I think that’s all I can ask for. Although apparently it’s giving her anxiety because she is invested in the characters and doesn’t want bad things to happen them, which is, uh, not going to happen in my books.

      I like the idea of buying to show it off. That seems like the best of both worlds!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. YA scifi fantasy? I’m so following you! And, you know, I don’t think my mum ever read anything I did, but the once, when she called the bit ‘violent’, and that was that. Not quite a judgement, just that it wasn’t for her and she worried and fretted for a bit. Now, of course, it *wasn’t* terribly violent, but she’d happened upon *that one part* – Lol!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course she did. Doesn’t it seem like parents always open things up on the wrong page or show up in time to see the one part in the movie that wasn’t kosher? It’s their job, lol. YAY! Follow me. Thanks! Hope I don’t scare you away ;).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Lol! You clearly know my mum. And timing is part of what makes my mum so great. She’s uncanny – I could tell stories. It was like an Irish comedy club in my house. Lol! No worries, was just on your site reading about the Zonies and suddenly wanting to make pasta. XD

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t have my mother any longer but now I have 2 grown children. I am not published yet but I will tell you that they have severely messed up my editing process. I keep wanting to delete things that will freak out my children, reading it from their mother!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My mother is one of my first readers. She is a writer and ex English teacher. At first it terrified me and my manuscripts would come back littered with red markings. Now I’m grateful she was so thorough. When she suggest something be re-written I evaluate where the suggestion is coming from. I have a good understanding of her as a person and as writer. Sometimes I agree and other I don’t. She always suggest an alternative that I usually reject because it is written in her voice. I don’t however reject the need for change that she may have discovered.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think if I ever start writing anything horror my only defense will be to pretend to my mother that it doesn’t exist.
      “About that book–”
      “What book?”
      “The one you released last month.”
      “What book?”
      “The one–”
      “Oh, is that the time?”

      Liked by 3 people

  4. when your parents read what you’ve written … it’s almost as if you’re keeping a secret from them, and they’ve found out everything that’s gone on in your subconscious. I’ve had this same minor struggle – and actually ended up writing a short story about it!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. LOL. My dad read the very first incarnation of IN SECRET KEPT, um, well over a decade ago. I was cool with that. Now that I’ve rewritten it, I’m not entirely sure I’d want him reading, er, certain parts. I got older, the story got more interesting, and, erm, yeah. As for the new one, MIDNIGHT HOUR…ha…no. I’m writing about thieves and assassins and smugglers and every single one of them is a messed-up wreck of an individual with a list of sins that keeps on going and I LOVE THEM ALL SO MUCH. Not that I’d want to bring any of these people *home* mind. I mean, there’s a redemption arc but I don’t think that overall it would fly. It gets bloody. And twisted. I’m aiming for a dreadpunk vibe. Not entirely sure my parents would get it. 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh man, know the feeling. I can sit there and think to myself that my characters are psychologically cohesive and I’m really proud of it and oh god don’t read that chapter! I dread the day I go to publish any of my later books, because they have sexual scenes. Not all of them, and not very sexual, but, you know. Stuff that’s more than kissing.

      It’s okay if they don’t get it; we are here and we get the need to go dark. And we will love them anyway!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I guess that depends what they have been through. It’s possible one or the other of them could contribute to critique of it, if they have some spicy experiences. Of course that would mean you’d have to know something about them as well you might not want to know!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I used to have similar anxiety about family members’ reading my novels, but a recent comment from my step-mother put things in perspective. She felt embarrassed while reading a (mild) sex scene in one of my books. So, yeah, it’s probably worse for them since the author’s ghost is always sitting right next to them while they read.

    (Thankfully, the ghosts of my loved ones don’t haunt me while I’m writing my stories!)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love this. I’ve considered using a pen name for my work just for this reason, but then I’d feel pretty strange working on a project for months that I didn’t attach my name to or tell people about directly. So, alas, I’ll just go through with the awkwardness. Happy writing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I did think of that, but then I realized I wanted everyone who knows me to buy my book whether it’s discomforting or not, just for the boost. Maybe I’ll pick one up if I ever branch into erotica, though. Talk about things *no one* wants their parents to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Bloody. Hell. What molten nightmare is this? Whoa. I just had to cross myself. Maybe shut your eyes and count till… however long the book is(?), and remember this is (or may be – pardoning the circumstances) the very same woman who passed you through her lady bits. I imagine *more than a little* swearing was involved. Point being if she’s done it herself, she can’t be judgy now she’s holding *your* baby.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My first book/series are classic “golden age” mysteries, which were actually one of the few common interests my mom, dad & I all shared. I do wish Mom could have read those books (though I’m sure her comments would drive me crazy anyhow.) I’ve let my dad read all kinds of things, including vampire-demon-hunters and who knows what. My main concern with him is that he’s very widely read and is a harsh critic of anything derivative. Ouch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My dad refuses to say whether he read my story or not (I rather suspect he did and went O_O) but luckily his comments on stuff are pretty short. He’s a Tom Clancy guy, so anything that doesn’t have nuclear bombs and the POTUS in danger are a bit outside his usual territory.


  10. Sorry I’m a bit late to this thread; I was literally just browsing the web to see if other authors let their parents read their works! My problem is that I’ve written an ‘ever-so-slightly’ raunchy May-to-December story, and the very first paragraph involves the anti-hero snorting cocaine off of a prostitute! The sex scenes get pretty graphic throughout, and there’s a rape flashback too. Do I let my mum read this? Bearing in mind I still live at home with my parents, plus my mum is pretty conservative in her thinking. It makes me really sad that she’ll never read what I’ve written (it is an actual story, not just a sex-fest!), and I know she is genuinely curious about my work, but then I just don’t know if I could handle her reaction.


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