To C or Not to C, That is the Question

Guest Blogger-Jolyse Barnett

Hi all! I’m Charly, Rebecca’s assistant. We thought it’d be fun to do a ‘Romance: The Good, the Bad, and the Disastrous’ theme with guest bloggers throughout the summer months. Every Monday and Thursday, we’ll have a guest blogger talk about fun stuff like horrible dates, good dates, etc. Some bloggers will have a contest, and some won’t – it’s totally up to them. If there is a contest, I’ll randomly draw a winner from the post comments, send the winner’s email address to the guest blogger, and they’ll take it from there. Rebecca will jump in and blog when she can. For now, enjoy as we play!


JO_HeadShot1I was in the middle of revisions for my second book in my small town contemporary romance series when I got stuck. I was reworking a section where my hero was in a mood, annoyed with his man part for acting up whenever he thought about the heroine and how it was disrupting his daily routine. You know, the typical hero problem. Anyway, the scene was in the hero’s perspective and he was mulling over the situation when I got to the place where I’d need to write the word he’d use for it. Hmm? I know what I’d call it, but what about him? Would he use the medical term? I hope not. I avoid that word. It’s sort of like the word moist. Ick. That left me with slang. But which term to choose?

As you might’ve guessed by the title of this post, I chose the C word. Yes, that one, the term made popular in erotica and now gone mainstream. Some of you may not blink twice upon seeing it, others may pause and say, oh, okay, depending on who uses it how and where in a particular story, while others may screech to a halt and not finish the book. I get it. Readers have generational and cultural differences that cause them to react differently to the same word. Believe me, I pondered long and hard over the C word before I chose it. (No pun intended here nor anywhere else in this post. Seriously.)

To put my ultimate decision into perspective, here’s Exhibit A: I was reading a book by one of my favorite romantic comedy authors and noticed she used the C word throughout her novel. I was surprised, as it’s not a word I’d seen much anywhere outside erotic romance prior to that story. Had I missed the romance author memo about this newest trend? I did have to admit that I’d also been recently cautioned by my lovely editor to tweak my twenty-something characters’ dialogue to ensure it reflected their ages. If I recall correctly, she wrote something about one of their conversations sounding like they were channeling their grandparents. Ouch. I know I’m not as young as I once was, but I’m not that old either. We’ll label my editor’s feedback as Exhibit B. Then there’s Exhibit C, an email from my publisher sharing marketing stats indicating readers want more descriptive love scenes (i.e, the more graphic, the better).

Those factors led me to more research. I turned first to my twenty-something daughter, away from home, but always available via text. Gotta love technology. Keeps me from missing her to the point I can’t breathe. Since she and I are very busy and very close, I figured she’d know where I was coming from when I got right to the meat of it: You know a lot of guys at med school. Can you ask them what they call their man part? Now, before you think I’m a prude or are wondering why a young woman at med school can’t tolerate reading penis in a text from her mother, understand that I purposely didn’t use the word to avoid tainting my survey results. I’m a professional, you see.

Daughter responded immediately. TMI, Mom. No can do. Sorry.

Maybe I should’ve prefaced my question with more information. Why not? It’s for my book.

I figured, but no. I’m not going to ask my friends that. Love you though.

Love you too, I responded, realizing at that moment that perhaps I’d raised a very old-fashioned-minded girl like me. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it meant I’d have to brave asking someone else for the answer I so desperately sought.

Many authors use social media to ask questions related to their writing quandaries, and I agree it can be a great venue for certain topics, but I hesitated posting a question on my VERY public author page about men’s private parts that some may construe as an invitation to send me pictures or diagrams along with their favorite terms. No, thank you. I wanted the information, but not at the cost of my vision.

I know, I know, my significant other would’ve seemed like the most logical person for me to approach before going to such lengths everywhere else. However, at that late stage in the revisions process, I’d sadly overstayed my welcome with my soulmate in the can-I-ask-you-a-quick-question-about-my-book department. Not to mention he has been known to remind me on occasion that I’m the romance writer in the family, not him. So I sucked up my discomfort, evaluated all the collected data, and inserted that four-letter word into the story, reassuring myself Mom and Dad would forgive me. I was doing my job, staying relevant in a changing world. It’s not like my hero was yelling it in the schoolyard or even thinking it in the presence of others. So there the C word stayed, on page X of my manuscript. I was okay with it. Really.

Until one day a few months later…

My husband was bored (or so he said), and he read my newest release while I was away at a writer’s conference. The morning after I returned home, we were enjoying a breakfast of eggs and bacon in our sunny kitchen as a couple when he asked, “Why’d you use the C word in His Kiss?”

I stopped mid-bite. “I was writing in the guy’s perspective.”

“Guys don’t call it that,” he replied, rolling his eyes.

“Yes, they do.” I set down my fork.

He laughed. “Maybe that’s what women think guys call it or want to call it themselves, but I’d never use that word, and I’m a guy.”

I couldn’t argue with that. “You’re a middle-aged guy. My hero was thirty. He’d use it.”

“Did you ask a thirty-year-old guy?”

I scrunched my nose at him.

“Yeah, I didn’t think so,” he said, knowing me all too well. “I just don’t get why you wouldn’t have him call it a dick.” He smiled over the rim of his coffee mug.

“Oh.” In my quest for the perfect term, I hadn’t given that one much consideration. “Are you sure?” I asked, not one to let things go until I’d analyzed them to death. “I thought about that word, but couldn’t imagine a guy referring to it that way. It’s so…normal, derogatory even. Don’t you guys call each other a dick when you’re ticked off?” I tried not to fret over ticked and whether that word would be used by a thirty-year-old guy.

“Trust me. That’s what guys call it.”

Our sixteen-year-old son walked into the kitchen. “What’re you two talking about?”

“Nothing,” we answered.

A few weeks later, my husband arrived home with a bunch of his golfing buddies, guys we’ve known since we were teens. You know, like family. The topic of my writing came up and they asked about the latest release. I used the opportunity to conduct a follow-up study and asked them what they would call it—to themselves, not anyone else. They all gave the same answer. Every. Single. One.

Now, just because they all agreed with my husband doesn’t make him right. It could’ve been an elaborate set-up, for all I know. None of those friends are thirty either. If they were, I certainly wouldn’t have been bold enough to ask. The guys I do know in their late twenties or early thirties are either my nephews or my nieces’ husbands. Wouldn’t that be a great conversation starter at the annual family picnic? Oh well. I suppose I could ask a friend to survey random guys in the appropriate age range for me, but that seems so grade school.

FYI – I’m writing another book. This one doesn’t include the C word. I’ve graduated to the letter D.


A country girl at heart, contemporary romance author Jolyse Barnett is living her own happily-ever-after in Long Island suburbia with her real-life hero, two incredible children, and furry feline that thinks she’s a dog. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys a fulfilling day job and exploring the world one getaway at a time. Connect with Jolyse and find all her book news at


“I’m here for you Abby. You’re not going to scare me away.”

Was that a catch she heard in his voice? She opened the truck door, plopped onto the leather seat, and promptly burst into tears. Great, he’d totally ruined everything. He was too damned sweet. With her luck, she’d fall for him like she had from that infernal machine. Hard.

~ Quote from One More Sunset


One More Sunset:

HIGH RES ONE MORE SUNSETSome people run for exercise. Others run for fun. Abby Stone spends most days running for her life.

After Abby Stone’s ex-boyfriend shows up at her new hideout and she uses a bottle of wine as an impromptu weapon, calling the police is out of the question. His family has a knack for erasing charges and pesky restraining orders. Desperate, she prays for help. A magical suitcase appears and she’s compelled to play an unsettling game involving a sexy, kind stranger while staying one breath ahead of her stalker.

Dylan Reece has overcome tragedy and enjoys life as a single Key West handyman and fisherman. Yet Abby’s sad, wary eyes hold secrets and a chance for his redemption, if not more…

Will the magic of their love be enough to save them?

Kindle Amazon Nook iBooks


Jolyse Barnett GIVEAWAY PRIZENow it’s your turn! What’s one of your embarrassing moments OR a time when you didn’t follow your gut and later regretted it? Leave a comment for a chance to win…

One lucky commenter of this post will receive a signed paperback of my newest release, One More Sunset, AND a selection of romance books I gathered in New York City at RWA15 (see photo) PLUS bonus swag (some not included in picture—it’s a surprise).

Can’t wait to hear your stories!

*US residents only, with valid mailing address. My apologies to international readers.

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41 thoughts on “To C or Not to C, That is the Question”

  1. Barbara says:

    Hey Jolsye, I was at church and was walking down the aisle and I kept feeling this breeze! My slip and fallen down to my ankles, so that’s why it was a little breezy!! Needless to say, that slip is I. The trash now! You’re right, I think your husband had the guys say what he would call it!

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Oh my. Yeah, I’d agree losing a slip could be embarrassing–at least it wasn’t your underwear. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  2. Diana Tidlund says:

    when I was 21 a group of us went to the beach and got hammer…. we were staying in a hotel…. at 5 am we decided it was ok and would be fun to strip down….and ….run naked up and down the hallways of the hotel knocking on all the doors…last time I ever got hammered like that… lmao….but we had fun

    1. Hi Diana,

      You were young and, dare I say, foolish. 😉 I imagine a number of those hotel guests got quite a surprise when they opened their doors. LOL

  3. Diana Tidlund says:

    as for following my gut or not….. believing my ex-husband the first time he beat me…. I should have left him then because it set me up for 5 years of abuse… I regretted not leaving sooner but at the same time I wouldn’t have changed it because he donated his sperm to the joys of my life…. luckily for all of us he went to jail and signed away his rights later…. second hubby adopted them and weve been together and great for 23 years

    1. I’m so sorry, Diana. You always have such a positive outlook on life in spite of the trials life has thrown you. Hugs!! I’d be interested in your reaction to One More Sunset (if you decide to read it) since it deals a lot with domestic violence.

  4. Shari says:

    When I was a teenager, in mixed company, eating chicken and I said boy is my breast ever juicy. I got teased for months after.

    1. Oh no, Shari! You poor thing. Just so you know, that was my best laugh so far today. Hope you have a happy weekend. We’re getting lots of rain and wind but at least it appears that we’re no longer facing the wrath of Hurricane Joaquin. 🙂

  5. Diane Sallans says:

    After 5 years at my first job after college I decided it was time to look for a change of employer and I contacted a headhunter (standard in computer related jobs). I was sent on several interviews and was offered a job (thru the headhunter) with a major corporation. I liked the setup at another company I had interviewed with a lot better, but the headhunter talked me into taking the other job. After 2 1/2 years there, not getting the training I had been promised, and having to testify against my now manager in a sexual harrassment case, I went and got a job at the company I had liked much better originally. Wish I had listened to my gut and pursued that job the first time!

    1. Aww, that stinks, Diane. So sorry you had to experience that, but thankful you eventually got out of that situation. Good for you, standing up for your rights and not allowing your boss to get away with sexual harassment.

      Hope you have a beautiful autumn!

  6. Samantha says:

    GREAT post. So funny, too. I tend to go with my gut, so thankfully I don’t regret much in terms of not listening to it. My favorite embarrassing moment was when I was young, around seven or so, and playing with my first cousin and best friend. He chased me, I ran away screaming and laughing and tried to impress him by jumping over a fence. I didn’t really jump. More like scramble up, then fall over. The crotch of my jumper caught on the top of the fence and ripped so while I had a somewhat slower descent than I might have otherwise to the ground, my little flower bud panties were fully visible. To a boy. I was mortified and ran home crying. Ha! Good times.

    1. Too funny, Samantha! The fact that you were trying to impress him probably made it all the worse. I had a similar experience as a kid, always running around after church or school in a dress Should’ve listened to my mother and changed into my play clothes first. (Is there such a thing as play clothes anymore? LOL)

  7. Abby says:

    I had just finished a phlebotomy training course, and I was shadowing an anesthesiologist at a surgical center. During the first procedure, the doctor asked if I had problems with needles. I said no, of course, since I had just stuck hundreds of patients over the past two months for my course, and never felt the least bit queasy. So, he proceeds to stick the needle into the patient’s neck for a nerve block procedure, and the next thing I know, I’m lying on the floor with four nurses and the patient’s mother hovering over me. They all tried to reassure me that it was normal, and that every student passes out at some point, and just handed me food and orange juice until I felt okay again, but I was completely mortified. Not exactly the best impression to make!

    1. Well, that’s one way to learn to eat breakfast before work. LOL. Thanks for sharing, Abby! 🙂

  8. Lindsay says:

    Super embarrassing… I was in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend and had sent him a sexy picture one morning before going to class. I was sure to delete the picture immediately from my phone and then went about my day. When I got to class, however, I had overlooked the fact that I have an iPhone and Macbook… and that when I send a text from my phone, it shows up in Messenger on my Macbook. Sure enough, when I opened up my laptop for class, Messenger was opened and right there in all its glory was that picture. I was mortified. My (male) friends sitting next to me sure got an unexpected surprise that day!

    1. Oh my goodness, Lindsey! That is an embarrassing one, and you were trying to be so savvy about it by deleting it right away. I guess that would be a perfect reason NOT to link technology, thinking you’ve deleted the evidence only to have it pop up somewhere else. Oops! Good morning, fellas. 😉

  9. Rhonda Ziglar says:

    My son was three, we were shopping and he had past gas it was so loud that everyone thought it was me. I kept saying it was my son and they would look at me like right.

    1. How dare you blame an innocent little guy. LOL. I believe you, Rhonda. Really, I do. *snorts* 🙂

  10. Cynthia says:

    When I was about eight or nine, I was hiking through a dense tropical forest with some family members and friends. I remember it was so thick my uncle was cutting a path using a machete. During the hike, a bunch of fire ants crawled up my legs and I had to remove my pants. I know I ran around like mad trying to rid myself of them. I probably also screamed though I don’t recall.

    1. I’m sure no one cared about your panties showing, so worried about the fire ants, but for a pre-teen, that can be humiliating. Thankfully you were able to block out most of the trauma. Poor girl. Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Cynthia! 🙂

  11. June M. says:

    When I lost my virginity, a friend’s husband (I had babysat for them for years)walked in and saw me & my boyfriend. Pretty freaking embarrassing especially when you are a teenager.

    1. Hard to top that, June! Teens are easily embarrassed and you were in a vulnerable position. I can’t help but wonder how the friend’s husband reacted…wow. Thanks for feeling comfortable enough to share such a private memory.

  12. Melody says:

    I had a small party at my house. It was my mom, brother, cousin, a friend, my best friend, and her younger brother. We’d gotten a few different types of drinks including a pretty pink bottle of fruity alcohol called Kinky. Throughout the night we were all drinking and having a good time, my best friends little brother went in to make a next round of drinks when I walked in and absentmindedly asked him to give me the kinky stuff! It didn’t help that my best friend walked in at that exact moment, and it became the joke of the night.

    1. And he was her younger brother…you terrible friend, you. JK Isn’t it amazingly cruel of nature that we remember every little nuance of our most embarrassing moments. Thanks so much for commenting and hope you have a terrific weekend. Our weather here is dreary but could’ve been so much worse.

      (Note to self: Find the Kinky alcohol.)

  13. Melissa says:

    I was on a date with a guy my junior year of college. The “freshman 15” had hit me a little late in college, and so my cutest pair of jeans were a little on the tight side. We were hanging out on his couch and when I leaned over to get my wine, I hear a loud “riiiiippppp.” We both just pretended I hadn’t ripped my pants and I went home very early and very embarrassed.

    1. Oh, Melissa, I can feel your embarrassment even now. I wish the guy you’d been with had remarked about how he hates when jeans shrink in the dryer or something compassionate to take the edge of the awkwardness. He wasn’t mean, but silence is almost as bad at times like that.

      Your story triggered another of mine. I suffered that Freshman 15, too, but it was more like 25, and I’ll never forget walking through the quad to the suite where I lived when some rude guy mooed at me. I was the only one out in the quad. Talk about wanting to crawl into a hole and hide all winter…

  14. Kelli says:

    Recently went to my daughter’s chorus concert at the local downtown theatre. Standing outside waiting on my daughter my parents walk up and my mother promptly tells me my new shirt is completely see through. Awesome. Anyway this was too funny. I laughed out loud reading this! To me the dead give away of an authors age is when describing what the characters are wearing.

    1. Oh, Kelli, I can feel your pain. Happy you enjoyed a good laugh and thanks so much for stopping by to share. Your comment about the clothing description spurred a great conversation here at my home. I have a tendency to call men’s dress pants, trousers, and women’s shirts, blouses. My daughter says she’d just say pants and shirt. Thanks for making me even more neurotic about my word choices as I write. LOL <3

      1. Kelli says:

        Ahahaaaa the killer for me us slacks. When describing a single pretty mid 30s going out and looking good saying she has on slacks is just Ughhhh

  15. Michelle Harlan says:

    My most embarrassing moment happened in a grocery store, when my then 4 year old daughter loudly proclaimed to the cashier (who had politely asked if we found everything we needed) that we were there to buy “those diaper things that mommy needs when she pees red”. The cashier was a young male…and I honestly don’t know if his face, or mine, turned redder at that moment. He couldn’t make eye contact & just sort of tossed my receipt at me. Luckily, the lady in line behind me laughed & broke the tension, telling me…”Get used to it honey. God didn’t give them filters.”

    1. Yeah, I’d say that qualifies as an embarrassing moment, Michelle. Poor guy. Poor you. And good for the lady behind you there to save the day. 🙂

  16. Toni Whitmire says:

    I was at work and my blouse bottons came undone and I flashed a male patient .

    1. I bet you made his day, although I’d share your embarrassment being a little on the modest side. 🙂

  17. Lorelei says:

    I’ve worn glasses and contacts (later) most of my life, but one time staying over a family friends house, my glasses broke so I had to endure a few days without them. I could recognize figures and people just by their size and hair color. Well, my friends dad comes in the house and before he speaks I get up to say Hi and hug him bc he’s known me since I was little. Turns out it wasn’t my friends dad, but her uncle, who I didn’t know well. I did wonder why his hair was grayish instead of black. I always expected her dad to enter, so I assumed it was him. I was so embarrassed. I was 15. We laughed about it, but deep down it was embarrassing!

  18. I had a similar incident, Lorelei, only it was as an adult. I was at a huge family reunion for my husband’s side when I almost hugged his single cousin (similar in height and hair coloring to my husband) from behind. Now that would’ve been embarrassing. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing.(BTW, you inspired this post and for that I thank you too.)

    1. Lorelei says:

      Well, I’m glad you wrote about it! It helps readers understand more about the writing process and how a story is put together. Word choices and all. Your title’s so clever,too! I’m tickled I inspired you to write it! I hope to inspire more!

  19. Charly says:

    UPDATE: The giveaway winner is Melody. CONGRATS! Your info has been sent to Jolyse.

  20. Amy says:

    My most embarrassing moment was when I was in the army and deployed to Iraq. I was on tower guard and was not informed that there were giant rat size glue traps to catch mice and rats. Well, I sat on one. And stay there until my shift was over I went to the smoke pit and my friend tried to pull it off. It would not come off. We got a guy to hold on to me while she pulled it finally came off. relieved I sat down on the bench. When I went to stand up I was stuck to the bench. It took seven people want to sit on the bench 2 to giant guys pulled me up. I broke refund the bench, but the seat of my Uniform stayed. I was wearing white heart panties that were on a red background I was mortified

    1. Rebecca Zanetti says:

      That’s awesome. 🙂

    2. That is too funny, yet mortifying, Amy. Thanks for sharing. Thanks even more for serving our country in Iraq. <3