Monday, February 6, 2012

Sexual content? Say what? Register to win a $10 Amazon gift card

When I began plotting the Zoe Mack Mystery Series, I wanted to write a mystery story that was heavy on the romance. My characters are college age, which means this series could easily be a cross-over between young adult and adult. Zoe is 19 and a virgin. She is a Christian and helps her grandmother teach Sunday School. She faces the same temptations of all dating teens, but is determined to save herself until marriage. Zoe and her boyfried, Nate, kiss, but that's as far as it goes. All of my books are clean. I do address sex in that Zoe is abstaining and makes it clear to Nate that she's holding onto her convictions. Maybe some readers would call this book "edgy" because it deals with problems that teenagers face. Zoe is a good role model, one I wouldn't mind hanging out with my teenage daughter if I had one.

Just to show how different perspectives can be, check out the email below from a lady I provided a copy so she could read and review it. She's a nice lady and I have nothing against her. I'm just amazed at our difference in perspective.

Dear K. Dawn,
I finished reading this book today but don’t feel I can endorse it. I’m sorry, but my constituents are conservative and I cannot recommend this to homeschool families, etc. who don’t want such sexual content. It doesn’t seem YA with a MC 19.

And, now on to a different perspective that came from the Women of Faith blog at

Today's Fiction Spotlight is with author K.Dawn Byrd, whose latest release, The Secret of the Love Letters introduces endearing characters that you'll want to see more of. The heroine, Zoe, is 19 and in love and she doesn't let the reader forget it for more than a page or two at a time. Fortunately, there's a whole lot more going on and it all happens at a smart pace. At only 97 pages, there's no time to waste, but enough character development to make us want to see more of the main characters in a next installment.

Genre: Romantic Suspense/Mystery
Profanity: No profanity, gore, or sex (a little more going weak in the knees than was necessary, but then again some readers will probably love that).
Christian Element: Low, but there.
Fun Element: Yes.
Recommended? Yes, boyfriend-obsessed heroine notwithstanding!

The Zoe Mack Series was written for those who like mystery and love romance. Yes, it is a little weak in the knees because I'm a sap for romance and let's face it, teenagers live for the next wink, the next smile, the next kiss from whoever they happen to be in love with. That said, please leave me a comment in response to this post for your chance to win your choice of my books. And, don't forget to check out the reviews that are starting to come in on Amazon.

To register to win a $10 Amazon gift card, leave me a comment. Thanks!


  1. Perspective is a funny thing. I like romance in my books and I think writing as if it doesn't exist is not very realistic anyway. I think writing characters who do love passionately -- but love God and respect those boundaries despite the temptation is a better choice.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Margaret! I believe this book is very realistic in what a teen who is in love would be thinking. She'd long to see her boyfriend again and hang on every compliment. I believe the book is very tastefully done. Zoe enjoys kissing Nate, which is a normal response toward a boyfriend. However, like I said in the post, that's as far as it goes. I was really surprised that someone would state "sexual content" was in the book. I don't see it that way and have asked a couple of other readers who have finished the book and they agree with me.

  3. Sometimes you have to wonder if you've read the same book as everyone else. :) Someone inevitably isn't going to like it. Anyway, I'm trying to drum that in my head, knowing already what I write my grandmother won't like, but I know she'll read it because I wrote it, so I'm bracing myself for whatever she's going to say in disappointment. :(

    And I always find it funny that tastefully done YA is so looked down upon, I mean, do people watch commercials? I remember (long ago when I had tv) an Herbal Essence commercial that was over the top. And billboards and youtube, kids have cell phones with internet, they share. So, if touchy subjects are not addressed by Christians, who's going to be giving kids the bulk of their information???

  4. Melissa:
    I totally agree with everything you said. Christian fiction sugar coats many subjects and in many cases, is not about real life. I don't call myself an "edgy fiction writer," but my books do address some of the decisions young people may have to make. Zoe Mack, my heroine, must determine what is the right thing to do. Of course, she does the right thing because I want her to be a good role model for young people.

  5. Quite simply, when characters reach a certain age
    in a book series, real life changes, as does the
    book content. My husband and I are horrified and
    tv shows that are on during prime time! They say and
    do things that I didn't hear about until I was in
    my 20's! I like a character that stand up for what
    she believes.
    Many thanks, Cindi

  6. How can a teen (especially a 19 yo) be a role model for teens who are in love if she isn't in love? How are they going to learn that it is possible to refrain from going further if they don't have role models? i have read your novel, but from what i read here, it should be great.

  7. I just had my 69th birthday on the 2nd and I can't see anything wrong with the Heroine saving herself for her husband. I know the times have changed and unfortunatly most people don't think this should be an issue. "Everybody is having sex" is the norm today but having a Heroine waiting for marriage is a good thing still and young girls should know this is being done and should be done. If the guy loves you he will honor your request to not have sex before marriage. Thank you for writing books for young girls and keep on writing them.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  8. Hello, Cindi!
    What you said is so true! Older characters do act differently than younger ones. Zoe is 19 in this book and even though she doesn't have much experience at all with guys, I would expect her romance to be a little more heated and that's why I wrote the book the way I did.

  9. Thanks so much, Marianne! Zoe's romance portrays what I would consider to be true life. Teens are going to be tempted and they have to decide if they're going to take a stand and live out their convictions and give in to the heat of the moment. Zoe does spend a night on her aunt's couch with Nate, but nothing happens other than a few kisses and her aunt is at home. Zoe is careful to stop before things get to heated.

  10. Hello, MissKallie! It's nice to meet you. I think the issue with the book was that Zoe Mack's romance is passionate. I like to think that it's kind of like a Julie Lessman book.

  11. It's very interesting how people perceive a book & it's contents. I doubt if you could get two people out of group that would view it the same way. It's the differences that make us interesting, at times.


  12. hi k.dawn. i like how you compare zoe & mack' romance as 'passionate' like that of julie lessman's novels.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  13. I think the whole Christian fiction verses edgy Christian thing is interesting. I'd much rather read something that's true to life than something that runs from heavy topics. The truth is that we've all sinned and even though it's not pretty, God forgives.

    If we don't portray real life in our books, how are teens going to make the right decisions when real life happens to them?

  14. Passion is part of love and romance. I think it's great you have a realistic character who honors God and herself by waiting. I like sugar but too much can be a bad thing... sometimes we have to say "no" and do the right thing. I'm excited to read your book in the near future, it's going on my wish list. :)
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

  15. Wow your book sounds a lot like my book, Tempered Fire - where the h/h are 17 & 20 - they face these same temptations and on top of that struggle is the conflict of daddy letting go of his little girl and not only loving but trusting her beau!

    Good luck and God's blessings with your series! I had fun writing all 4 in my Tempered series.

    pthib07 (that's zero 7) @

  16. Just surfed in and glad I did. enjoyed reading the comments. Please enter mr in the contest. I like reading new authors to me.

  17. Very interesting to say the least. This is why it is a wonderful thing in literature that there are so many tastes and books to satisfy. As the old saying goes you can't please everyone all of the time....

    With YA books I guess there is a fine line however similar to the Harry Potter craze many felt it wasn't appropriate and yet it is translated in a zillion languages, has sold zillions of copies and has brought a zillion kids back to reading books. So is it so bad? Today's young adults are so much more mature in many aspects than in comparison to years ago and are exposed to much more controversial subjects between both film and literature. Heck look at most the music videos! I can't think of a worse influence! It's very funny that a lot of parents allow their kids to watch horror, violent action movies and play these types of video games but when it comes to sex/love they have issues.

    Now as you stated above your characters are college age and this to me makes all the difference in the world because you are now at an age of responsibility and really going solo. I think a younger reader does understand this. I can't imagine a little mystery and a little love story being so bad.

    Well after all that thank you for the giveaway!


  18. I agree with Karen K......I like how you compare Zoe & Mack to Julie Lessman!! Love Julie's books. I think you have the right ideas in writing and will do great. Please count me in the drawing!

  19. Thanks for the comments, Margaret and Jackie! I love Julie's books too. Wouldn't it be wonderful if she wrote a contemporary YA book? I'd love to see how she'd handle the romance.

  20. Looks like a fun read. Sounds great and one my 18 year old daughter would also love.

  21. I wonder if a rating system for books isn't in order - I think teens need realistic fiction to help them deal with issues they face every day - I would buy your book. I'm probably not going to be able to be published in a Christian publishing company because my memoir is more than edgy - it is an honest rendition of abuse I received as a child and my healing journey - it covers a wild life-style, details of the abuse, details of the occult, and then how awesome God was to enter in my life and help me know Him - I know that many conservative Christians would not want to read this - but my target audience are those who are hurting - who have been abused, and I want them to know that I know what they have gone through. I just have to write and pray. My pastor's wife is encouraging me to share the details because she feels that many don't know what it is like and the book would help her and others to minister to people with pasts like mine.

    Thanks for this thought-provoking post.

  22. That's a wonderful post, Heather! Many people fine it very difficult to read about abuse, especially to children. For this reason, it's hard to sell fiction with graphic abuse unless you're writing for the horror market and those readers expect a certain amount of graphic situations. Of course, it doesn't bother some readers because they know it's fiction.

    I've read that you can kill almost anyone in a book, but don't kill the family dog. Readers get very angry about that. I guess the same goes for abuse to certain groups of people. That said, I do believe the book could be of great help to those in the counseling field.

    1. Thank you. I showed a chapter to a friend and she said her son, a psychiatrist, would find it very interesting - I figure, once I get the book written, if an agent takes me on, if he/she suggests toning it down I will. It won't do any good to just sit on my shelf. On the other side, in a class I recently took, my non-Christian class members said my salvation aspect of the story was eye-candy for Christians - geesh, I think I fall in the cracks. Oh well, I'll write the best I can and let God figure out the rest. Have a blessed day.

  23. Haven't read the book, so can't really comment with any knowledge. But you have piqued my interest on the topic of graphic depictions of evil.

    One of my favorite YA novels is Chocolate War (Robert Cormier) and I was drawn to it as a youth because of its realism. While not a happy ending, it made me trust the author for his honesty.

  24. Sounds interesting...would love to read it.I have a 15 year old daughter and I truly hope and prays she waits until her wedding night to have sex.I feel if someone truly loves you they will respect your decision to wait....but sometimes or rather most of the time they don't.I think in todays time people just think sex is just like eating and

  25. I read this book and am not sure why they thought there was sexual content unless you consider the fact that Zoe thought like a normal, healthy teenager girl would (age 19) and K. Dawn made her thoughts realistic instead of PC for Christians. I like it when books show what someone actually thinks and does versus what conservative parents want their kids to think and do.

  26. Thanks for the comment, Michelle. I think that it can be hard to write for the young adult market as authors grow older. I work really hard to get inside the head of a teenage girl when I write young adult. It's not the easiest thing to do when you've not been a teenager for a very long time.

  27. I would love to win this book, sounds like it is a true account of what teenages go through.

  28. Dawn, I'm intrigued. I'm a sappy romantic, too, and I want to read this book. I've been playing around with a teen romance story myself and my girl is a good girl, too. My hero is a good guy, too. Very rare, I know. But when you have three teen sons who are all gentlemen, it makes it more believable for me. Please enter me into your drawing.
    findingbeth at live dot com

  29. I have an 18 yr old daughter and she reads a lot (and reviews also) and if you said a book was written for her age with a 19 yr old that didn't even kiss her boyfriend, she would say yeah right, this book isn't even realistic. All teens struggle with their sexual awakening and what to do about it, and if you think they're going to want to read a book without being realistic, then you're insulting their intelligence and not recognizing their struggle with who they are and their feelings. You don't need to be graphic and shouldn't, but how are you going to help them to do the right thing with their feelings if you don't even acknowledge they have them? I'd love to be entered to win, maybe my daughter would like to buy a copy if I win the gift certificate. Sherri sherri5 at pa dot net

  30. Very well said, Soccerkidsmom! Thanks for the comment.

  31. "A little more going weak in the knees than was necessary, but then again some readers will probably love that ..."

    DAWN!!! WHOO-HOO, I am SOOO there, girl, and good for you!! Give me "weak in the knees" any day over "weak in the romance department"!! You go, girl, and I hope you sell a million!!

    Thanks for the shout-out, Dawn, and a BIG hug to Karen and Jackie -- two of my favorite reader friends -- for their ongoing support!!