Friday, August 18, 2017

The Elephant in the Bedroom: Can Good Romance Be Clean?

It happens to everyone.

You've found a good book, one that you LOVE, and as you're cruising along through you're just contemplating on the joys of life, that such a book might exist, when-- BAM! Two of the characters start making out. In detail. For about five pages.

Or worse, they actually decide to-ahem-consummate it. On screen. In a way that's detailed enough that it would probably get rated, I don't know, R or something.

This is usually the point when I have to set the book down. I'm done. I will not be reading any more of this. I'm lucky enough that I can only think of a few books that have done this to me (I'm very careful to read reviews on books before I pick them up after a few bad experiences.) And I'm not even looking at the big ones here, such as Game of Thrones or Fifty Shades of Grey (neither of which have I read, and neither of which do I ever desire to read.) Books aimed at young adults- teens, mostly aged fourteen to eighteen- are chock full of this stuff.

But what if it didn't have to be this way? What if you could read books without having to worry about slamming them shut and rinsing your eyeballs off with soap?

First of all: I'm not saying that physical affection (or even sex) is bad.

When I wrote an article on dirty content on my personal blog (you can find the article HERE ), someone commented to ask if this was censorship. After all, they said, teens really do have sex, and if they're smart and know what they're doing, it doesn't have to be a bad thing. They also said that to erase that would be to remove the opportunity for mature discussions of consequences and how to be smart. 

First of all: I, like many of my teammates here at Rebellious Writing, am a Christian, and while that may shape my opinion on this, I know that not all of my readers are. However, we all unite for a common purpose: making clean books that don't need to be put down because of content. So while my religion influences my beliefs, I think I can make a case for today's topic without bringing it in that much. 

And the thing is: I'm not trying to "censor" anyone. I hate the idea of people trying to get me to change my work just because they don't agree with it - for the most part. 

What I am trying to say is this: You can write a good relationship without it having to stoop to porn.

Relationships are about more than physicality. In fact, some people are very averse to physical contact.

There's a test out there which you can take to determine your dominant Love Language. Look it up- it's actually really interesting. There's five love languages: Physical Touch, Gift-Giving, Quality Time, Acts of Service, and Words of Affirmation.

Everybody's love language is different. I, personally, am not fond of people touching me. I'd much rather spend several hours just talking to them, getting to know them, letting them get to know me. That's Quality Time. My mom, on the other hand, loves to clean up things for us, fix things we've broken, and in return, have us do the dishes without being asked and do chores just because we love her. Her love language is Acts of Service, as well as Words of Affirmation, which everyone needs and can't really get along without. A good compliment goes a long way. One of my friends is crazy about giving little things to everyone, and in return, she's always happy to receive presents. My grandmother is the same way. 

So, in short, it's easy enough to make people show love to one another without touch, and especially not touch that requires closed doors and bedrooms. My dad learned a long time ago that my mom is kind of averse to physical contact and so he always asks before doing the littlest things- like holding her hand, for instance, or kissing her cheek. 

While I get that things like mouth kisses and sleeping with someone are different, I'm just trying to point out- it's not the only way to show that two people like each other. 

Teenage sex has consequences, no matter how smart you are.

I'll say it right now: I've never had sex. I've never even kissed someone. So while I'm pretty in the dark about what actually happens, I can tell you that as a teen, things happen when you take that step. 

Things like pregnancy. Abortions. Single parenting. Things like STDs, illnesses, etc. Things like tearing down boundaries and making it harder to say no next time. If your parents find out, there could be consequences from that front too. They may not show up the first time it happens, but as you keep going, something will happen. And I can think of very few (read: no) books that feature these consequences, besides books specifically about teen pregnancy. I've only read one of those, I think, and it was okay, but it dealt only with the pregnancy part, not with what life is like after as a single parent. 

All this to say: if you're going to portray sex between teens, it should have consequences.

In short: you don't have to completely censor this out IF it has consequences, but we'd rather you close the door while you're doing it.

Look around at our followers list. If you're here, it's because you're tired of the smut that gets put into Young Adult literature. You want to be reading things that build you up, not tear you down. You don't want to be reading rated R or higher material (MA or R, for our Australian friends) when you sit down to check out that popular book. It's just not something you want to see.

I'm not asking for it to completely go away, authors, and if you need to have it happen, then fine, although that may turn me off from the book. But please, close the door when it happens. Just as you'd rather your privacy in an intimate setting, your characters would too. They don't want the whole world to see what's happening.

And neither do we.

- Faith Thompson

Friday, August 11, 2017

Reconnaissance Mission: Becoming a Book Scout for Rebellious Writing

Hello fellow rebels!

Our history books seem to portray that rebellions are started when shots are fired. That the only thing of importance are the soldiers that fought the battles, the soldiers that fell, the soldiers that obtained the victories.

What those stuffy textbook writers forget is that without food in their stomachs, clothes on their backs, and information in their minds, the soldiers on the battlefield would be the most useless part of the rebellion instead of the most glorious.

My point is, a rebellion is built not just on armies but also a vast network civilian supporters.

And just like any, this Rebellion is in need of such a network.

While all of us on the #RW team are avid readers of YA fiction, there is only so many books one can read. We are always looking for clean books to recommend, and we also want to warn against bad ones.

So, we would like to invite you, fellow readers, on a reconnaissance (or spying) mission: to be book scouts for Rebellious Writing.

The job of a book scout is to scout out and give us their personal ratings of Young Adult age-range literature, especially for how much swearing, abuse, and lust is present in the work on a 1 to 5 scale. Much like a spy's communication to an army, these simple brief "reviews" would provide a guaranteed spoiler free look to see if a book is clean enough to enjoy without loss of our souls or tempers.

To give you an idea, a 5 star book would be one that:

1. Has no swear words (spelled out or in symbol talk). Words such as crap, suck, screw, etc., are technically vulgar words as well though they are not considered swear words. Since we wish to advocate for clean literature, I personally would include these words as swear words. Phrases that allude to swearing (e.g. he cursed) are acceptable. 
2. If abuse (alcohol, drug, child, or domestic) is in the book, it is shown in a negative light and has clear consequences. We don't wish to recommend books that would glorify that kind of stuff.
3. Has no explicit sexual scenes (including making out), or any impurity beyond mild kissing between a male and a female.

Being a book scout is completely voluntary. You, the scout, set your own terms of involvement. You can make one recommendation, you can make 250 if you so desire. You can do it regularly, you can do it once in a blue moon. The choice is entirely yours. 

These book scout reviews will be published on the Rebellious Writing Goodreads group and will be also published here on the blog as "Book Scout Bulletins".

To submit your book scout reviews, and for other ways to get involved with Rebellious Writing, please visit the "Collaborate" page located in the drop down menu under "Mission" and fill out the Google form. Any questions about the form may be emailed to the team email:

I look forward to seeing what books you readers bring forth to us! 

March well,