First of all, a disclaimer.  If you’re a member of my extended family, my parents would not want you to read this.  This is honesty at its finest.  You have been warned.

I had a good childhood.  I was fortunate to be raised by two loving parents, and I had a big sister that was nice to me as often as any big sister is expected to be.  My parents are Catholic, but I am not a religious person.  I went through First Communion, but when it was time for Confirmation, my parents gave me the choice of being confirmed in the Catholic church, or not.  The only thing I liked about my church was a boy in my CCD class.  He was the only reason that I looked forward to class on Wednesday or to church on Sunday.  Recognizing that this was not a good enough reason to pledge myself to a certain faith, I chose to not go through with Confirmation.  At sixteen, they let me decide whether or not I wanted to go to mass anymore.  I chose not to.

I was also sixteen when I met my first real boyfriend.  We were friends first, and for the first few months we knew each other, our outings consisted of guitar lessons and/or going down to the train yards and talking about life, God, and sometimes the Bible.  He went to a non-denominational church on his own accord, and he invited me to go with him.  I liked the community, and I liked how we could talk about passages in the Bible together, and figure things out.  I learned more about faith from him than I did from sixteen years in the Catholic church.  Catholicism just wasn’t for me.  That being said, I still have faith in God, and regard my relationship with Him as something private between Him and me.

Back to the boyfriend.  He was truly a good man.  He was a little over a year older than me, and we honestly cared about one another.  We officially started dating after his senior prom.  Yes, I went to prom with him as a friend.  We both had that understanding, but I knew I was developing feelings for him, and I thought he might be, too.  After prom, we danced in his living room to More Than Words and he kissed me for the first time.  It was utterly sweet.  I think we spent the rest of the evening with my sister and a friend of hers on the front lawn, talking.  I was a good girl.  (I’m sure that doesn’t come as much of a surprise to many of you.)

We dated for almost three years before we decided to have sex.  Yes, I was nineteen.  Yes, I was unmarried.  I wasn’t even engaged.  We had privately vowed to one another, though, that we would marry someday, and we both believed it.  Again, it was utterly sweet.  If I had it all to do over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

As with most situations of young love, our relationship didn’t withstand the test of time.  We never even made it to an engagement.  We broke up when I was twenty-one.  I was devastated and depressed, and suffered through the lowest point of my life.  The only thing that saved me was a passage from the Bible– the Bible that my boyfriend had given me.  For nights on end, I would repeat parts of Psalm 69 over and over and over again, through tears and desperation.  Did I know to what the psalm was actually referring?  No, because it spoke to me.  It reached me when no one else could.  God did save me, and He did protect me, and eventually, I was able to move on.

I’ve lived my entire adult life associating sex with love.  While many of my friends had a much more open attitude toward sex, I never wavered on my own beliefs.  I’ve never had a one night stand.  I never slept with anyone that I didn’t believe that I loved.  I’m proud of this fact about me.  Does it pose certain limitations on what could be my sex life?  Of course it does, because we all know that love is pretty rare.  I’ve accepted that.  I’m okay with that.  I can sleep with a pretty clear conscience at night.

Fast-forward to 2008, when one day a character named Nate popped into my head.  He was somewhat of a playboy, a man who had a hard time distinguishing the feelings associated with love and lust.  Soon after, a young woman named Emi introduced herself to me.  She was Nate’s friend, and her beliefs and mine were somewhat similar… but she could put down that wall from time to time, and she’d slept with men on occasion that she may not have truly loved.  Lastly, a man named Jack showed up.  His beliefs are mine… he doesn’t want to waste his energy on someone he doesn’t love.  I think it’s a noble quality, and it makes him very sexy, in my eyes.

I wrote a series of women’s fiction novels based on these characters.  The key word here is FICTION.  I did not live these lives… they came from my imagination.  These books are NOT about me.  Is there sex in these books?  Yes.  Is there sex in real-life relationships?  Yes, although some people may not want to admit that.

In the books, to advance Nate’s character, of course he had to partake in sexual relationships.  That was one of his defining qualities.  And as for the other two characters, sex came as a way to develop a relationship based on love and respect.  I don’t hear about many healthy, loving relationships that occur between two people who don’t have sex.  Isn’t that part of the package deal?  I mean, I’m sure there are plenty of couples who don’t engage in it as much as others, and that’s fine.  Maybe they have an arrangement where they don’t have sex at all.  But for most couples, I think sex is an act of passion that brings people closer, and binds them to one another.  It’s a romantic viewpoint, but in a healthy, loving relationship, I do believe this is what happens.

Yes, sometimes procreation happens, and babies are made, but sometimes that’s not the end-result.  Do some people believe that it should always be the goal of sex?  Are these the same people that don’t want to read books about people living fulfilling adult lives, which may or may not involve having sex?

So I wrote some books that contain passionate acts between two willing adults.  Does that make me a bad person?  Someone that my family should be ashamed of?  Because a few of my family members are embarrassed by what I do.  It’s one of the most hurtful things I’ve faced, because these same people were avid viewers of Sex and the City, the Sopranos and the Tudors.  I don’t care that they don’t want to read the books.  I can understand that it might make some people uncomfortable, knowing I wrote them.  But shame?  Really?  Being too embarrassed to discuss them with friends and other family members because they’re afraid of what they’ll think of my upbringing?  Seriously?  Most of these people have known me all of my life.  They know the kind of person I am.

They’ve probably also figured out by now that, at 37, I am not a virgin anymore.  I think it would be stranger if I was a virgin.  That would probably cause more gossip in the family than them knowing that I write about sex sometimes.

So, in an effort to clear the air, I had a great childhood.  My parents did a good job of raising me, a daughter with fairly strict morals.  I grew up with the same vivid imagination I had as a child.  I wrote some books that depict realistic adult relationships, and they contain language that many adults do speak on occasion.  I am not ashamed of what I do.  I don’t believe I will be sent to hell for any of the things I’ve done: from leaving the Catholic church to develop my own beliefs, to having sex out of wedlock to writing some made-up love scenes in books.

So, if you’re my extended family and you’re still reading this… If you like to read books about normal adult relationships and families– and you can stomach a few sex scenes that are not explicit and don’t contain vulgar, descriptive language– then my books might be something you’d be interested in reading.  If that doesn’t interest you, that’s fine.  But at least you now know what I write and you know that my ‘upbringing’ had virtually nothing to do with the stories I tell.

I have nothing to hide, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.