Posts Tagged ‘senior sex’

Mass Marketing

October 19, 2013

The best argument against self-publishing is the simple fact that most writers yearn to write books, not market books.

I’m glad Dr. Whelihan and I went the self-publishing route, and we’ve been amazingly successful getting the word out about  “Kiss and Tell,” but let me assure you that securing media attention and exposure in magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for any book, product or idea these days is very difficult and much more time consuming than people realize.

After a certain number of months thinking about ways to talk to people about the book you’ve written on sexual desire, let’s just say the desire wanes.

I find that half my time is spent just trying to ferret out the correct contact people at media organizations to pitch to. That’s half the battle right there, because there’s no point mailing your product into a black hole. Even with my former newspaper experience, I struggle with this all the time.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that “Kiss and Tell” had finally cracked a national magazine. Yep. The Aug. 26 edition of Publishers Weekly carried not only a description of our book, but also a thumbnail of the cover. Since only a few covers per page were used, I chose to be complimented that we were among those selected.

But how do you break into more of those larger markets/audiences and therefore increased sales? What I’ve had lots of practice at is speaking with 20-50 people about my topic and connecting with them one on one. I love signing books and chatting afterward with audience members, hearing their stories and feeling that bond. I’ve talked to groups as large as 140, but I don’t have a famous name that gathers many more people than that to a venue.

What I need is a TV audience, right?

So . . . speaking of TV audiences . . . a PR firm approached Dr. Whelihan and I about representing us and they happen to have a lot of contacts in broadcast media, which is a good fit for us, since we’ve already done a pretty good job pitching the book to local print media. I’m shocked by how expensive it is to secure their services though—more than a couple thousand dollars a month!

But when I look at how difficult it is to attract anyone’s attention in today’s society, and I look at the competition out there from both professionals and amateurs (and I assess how hard we’ve been working already to do this exact thing), I’m wondering if maybe it isn’t time to bring in some help.

It’s not as if I’ve stopped my own marketing efforts. Far from it. When Miley Cyrus made her ridiculous remarks last week on “The Today Show” about how people over 40 lose interest in sex, one of “Kiss and Tell’s” local fans took to Kathie Lee and Hoda’s website to tell the two morning show hosts to read my book and learn first-hand what women of a certain age were saying about their sex lives.

So I quickly dropped a copy of the book in the mail to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, along with a two-pack of Oral-B Pulsar toothbrushes and a cute note for Hoda and Kathie Lee. (I did the same for Dr. Oz when he visited West Palm three months ago.) My fingers are crossed. But you can’t count on lightning to strike. You can hope, but you have to drop a lot of lines in the water to hook one of these talk show personalities. Everyone is trying to get their attention.

So what do you guys think? Is it worth the gamble to spend money that could boost sales? The PR company loves the idea of pitching sex to Florida’s morning talk shows. They are more accustomed to difficult topics such as stamp collecting (seriously) and are thrilled at the prospect of what they consider an easy sell. I’m thinking there’s a good chance we could justify the investment, but I’m nervous, naturally. Reader input welcome!

Meanwhile, I’m packing for a trip to Austin. I leave in two days and am looking forward to several book signing events, meetings with friends old and new, family time and fall weather.

Color me thrilled.

Choosing a cover

December 20, 2012

Without tips from my blogging friend in West Palm, and working without wifi at my mother’s house in Austin, I’m unable to upload all the choices Maureen and I received from Brion for the book cover of Kiss and Tell. However, I will upload them for everyone to see when I return to Florida.

Some of the covers were too explicit for us, but book designer Brion was trying to push the envelope a little, and get us thinking about the ways that sex can help sell the book. Since Kiss and Tell focuses on sexual desire, obviously you want a cover that is sensual, maybe romantic, even sexy. However, we didn’t want to step into raunchiness, but making that call is very individual. At some point, I realized not everyone could possibly agree on the best cover—and after that it got easier.

The winning design incorporates a close-up photo of a couple, with the man leaning in to kiss the woman’s neck. I found it too reminiscent of a romance novel cover at first, as did a couple of friends. But it was also the clear favorite of Maureen and several of my own friends.

I tended to favor two other designs, one which incorporated the pink, pursed lips that adorn our business cards (love them!) and the other which featured a stylish photo taken in a lush hotel lobby of an anonymous woman’s legs, encased in sexy black heels. The seated woman is wearing a tasteful little black dress, but is shown just from the waist down. Very classy.

I asked for many opinions, as did Maureen. And Brion sent some adjustments and redesigns along the way based on our input. I admit, I changed my mind several times. Finally, a patient of Maureen’s who looked at the covers one day when Maureen put the three finalists up in her gynecology office, said something that changed my thinking.

“I know what the book is about,” she said (she was one of the in-depth interviewees), “so I actually like the woman seated on the sofa in the lobby, because that most accurately reflects the book. But if I didn’t know what the book was about, the cover with the couple kissing is the one I’d pick up and look at.”

And there you go. Anyone who already knows what the book is about—or has listened to a talk by Maureen or I—will likely be intrigued enough to consider buying it . . . and they won’t care what’s on the cover. They’ll know what’s inside and have already decided on its value. But for the cold-call customer, we needed something with a powerful draw.

And so the kissing couple was selected.

I was happy with Brion’s tweak to the cover: It was such an intense close-up that I could see the woman’s pores and I really wanted him to zoom out a little. Once that was done, I was on board and we gave Brion the green light.

Today I visited the branch library near Mom to use their wifi and emailed Brion all the endorsements I collected for the book jacket. I still need to write the cover type, which I seem to be procrastinating about in my usual efficient fashion. Ugh. It’s 100 words, give or take. What is my problem?

All I want for Christmas is the gift of flowing, graceful sentences. Hope Santa is listening!

Kissing and telling … and telling

December 5, 2012

I am thrilled to report that the revision stage of Kiss and Tell is now complete, and the entire manuscript is in the capable hands of Brion Sausser, a book designer in California.

Although I’m sure there will be a proofing process—electronically, I’m guessing—I am proclaiming the writing phase OVER. The final weeks turned into a rather painful process, as I raced to make many of the changes my beta readers suggested. Corralling 455 pages of type is about as fun as it sounds. After wrestling with the words for so many months, the final polish was hampered by just how familiar I was with the material.

That’s the beauty of beta readers. They found rough spots, confusing syntax, missing words, repetitions and more. If I had it to do over, I would have definitely enlisted my beta readers before we hired Tiffany do to the editing work. But you live and learn. This is my first book. If this turns into the biggest regret I have over Kiss and Tell, I can easily live with that.

As publication loomed, Maureen and I circled back around to the book’s title, in order to finalize the subhead. (Maureen is the Wellington gynecologist whose patients filled out our survey on sexual desire and are the characters in Kiss and Tell.) Our working subhead was Sexy Secrets from Behind the Gynecologist’s Door, but we had worried from the start about using the gyno word in the title. It’s an ugly word and it carries an unpleasant visual as well.

So we polled some friends (mostly hers) with some sample subheads, among them Frank Talk From Women about their Sexual Desire, Secrets of Sexual Desire from Women of All Ages and Women of all Ages Tell the Truth about Sexual Desire.

Yes, I realize the distinctions are fine, but titling a book is nothing if not an exercise in squeezing the most and best meaning out of every single word.

Feedback from our public was helpful, but also confusing. Many people voted for the Frank head; just as many said the word was old-fashioned or made them think of a guy’s name instead of women’s desire. Suggestions came in to incorporate words such as “riveting,” “candid,” “explicit” or “raw and unedited.”

After much debate and vote counting, we created four finalists and sent the list back around to our polling group. We asked for votes only, no more suggestions of new titles, since we felt we were closing in on a winner. Of the finalists, Maureen liked Sexy Talk From Women of all Ages about their Desires; I thought it sounded too Cosmo girl. She rightly pointed out that a book’s title should first of all, SELL the book. We waited to see what the votes said.

The winner by a landslide (with 17 votes) was Secrets of Sexual Desire from Women of All Ages. We were very happy with that and Maureen was planning to make an adjustment on our website to that effect.

But then, on Nov. 24, Maureen and I met to have our author photos taken and I asked her to consider yet another change. My riding buddy Ken had reminded me the night before of how intriguing specific numbers can be, and so I asked Maureen what she thought of adjusting the subhead to Secrets of Sexual Desire from Women 15 to 97.

I told her that naming exact ages is more likely to catch people’s attention, as they think “97? 97!” Or “15?” Although I liked the lyricism of the phrase of All Ages, I agreed with Ken’s assessment that 15 to 97 would sell more books.

After all the polling and consideration of outside opinions, Maureen and I knew it was ultimately up to us, so that morning we chatted a bit and then just decided: Yep, we’re gonna use the ages.

So there it is. Kiss and Tell: Secrets of Sexual Desire from Women 15 to 97 is a done deal.

Stay tuned for an update next week on book cover designs. Brion has already sent us 8 samples and we’re debating the merits of erotic vs. sexy vs. serious vs. age appeal, with shades of typography and color choice thrown in to keep it interesting (and complicated).

Hopefully I’ll also be able to narrow down the date the book will be available. It’s going to be early next year, but that’s the best I can do right now. Stay tuned.

Just think, before you know it, Maureen and I will be asking to speak at your community groups and book clubs! Don’t be shy! Get us on your calendars. We kiss and tell.

A pitifully short update

October 27, 2012

My procrastination skills—always formidable—have experienced a recent surge in power. Thus, it has been an entire month since I’ve chronicled progress on Kiss and Tell for you. Which is crazy, because I actually have a boatload of stuff to report.

I have a very minor amount of revision work left (maybe a few hours), and then the finished manuscript is ready to go out to a couple of beta readers, a term I just learned from my copy editor’s website. Beta readers provide a preview for an author of what the public might say about the book, pointing out things that are confusing, repetitive or even missing. Since the book is about 450 pages, agreeing to be a beta reader is no small task.

Fortunately, as I say to anyone who’ll listen, I have the best and most supportive friends anyone could hope to accumulate, and two of them have agreed to the “beta” task. One is an editor and the other a writer (though both can do both), so I’ll be fortunate indeed to see the book from their perspectives.

While they are reading, I’ll turn my attention to creating type for the book’s cover, which includes soliciting cover blurbs from authors I’ve met over the years. Dr. Whelihan and I met last week to discuss hiring a book designer and together we interviewed two candidates on the phone. I’ve since had additional calls with several online organizations who specialize in helping self-published authors bring their books to market. It’s a complicated field: not rocket science or anything, but there are multiple paths you can choose and we want to explore all the options before jumping in.

Although December is a huge month for selling books, it would be a rush for us to pull everything together in time to make a holiday release feasible. And let’s face it, sexual desire is understandably not at the forefront of women’s minds when they’re trying to buy and wrap gifts, arrange holiday dinners and parties, send cards and trim trees. Enough already! As we learned during interviews, sex can feel like one more thing on a to-do list if a woman is feeling overwhelmed by the requirements of daily life.

So right now we’re aiming for a lead-up of Kiss and Tell marketing to dovetail with Valentine’s Day. We’ll get advice from more experts along the way on how to make sure the campaign effectively builds momentum, and though I’m sure we’ll hit some bumps along the way, I’m hopeful we can generate some strategically-timed media excitement to help things along.

Fortunately, I have friends who have been down this road and are willing to lend their advice and expertise. Though the process seems a bit scary to me, they give me confidence that it can be done! Books do get published. It’s not impossible. Even for little old me!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got just a few more revisions to make.

A matter of motivation

September 25, 2012

Whenever I get like this, blogging is the last thing I want to do.

I hate fessing up to my drag-ass spells and it doesn’t matter at all that I realize they are part of the process for any big project—especially one that expects to have a book pop out at the end. I just want to be above them, okay? I want to be such a skilled, motivated, energetic and passionate craftsman that such mundane matters are powerless to trip me up. Is that too much to ask?

Actually, this was worse than just an ordinary drag-ass spell. It was two weeks of nasty self-doubt and an unbidden journey into the whole “what does this all mean?” territory. Since the timeline correlated pretty closely to the completion of my first draft, it was interesting that a girlfriend married to a successful biographer told me he always experiences a dark couple of weeks after he’s done with a book—and before editing and revisions. She likened it to post-partum depression.

Perhaps that’s what I experienced, and I use the past tense because one day last week I woke up and I just felt better. For no good reason. Things just kind of shifted back into a glass-half-full mentality, and I’ve maintained an upswing ever since.

Isn’t it weird how being in that negative spin cycle just feeds on itself? And it’s so crippling. When I’m in the midst of such a spell, I know I should reach out and call a friend or make a run to the grocery store or attend a yoga class, but I’m unable to locate a single molecule of energy to make it happen. I’m lucky to go check the mailbox, much less fix a good, healthy meal. The routines of my normal life suddenly appear impossible to sustain.

Not surprisingly, feeling inadequate in my simple daily routines makes me insecure, and that in turn complicates all the relationships in my life. If a friend forgets to call back, I obsess over all our recent exchanges to discern what I said to make her angry. If an editor doesn’t return an email, I decide I’m the worst freelancer they’ve ever had to deal with. Every event is reflected through this ridiculous prism of negativity. And though my rational mind sees the absurdity of what I’m doing, I can’t figure out how to get back to a better frame of mind. I have no tools to help me crawl out of the abyss—perhaps partly because I don’t often fall in.

Anyway, as I said, my trip to Crap Land is thankfully past. I’m gradually regaining my enthusiasm for various activities, from exercise and cooking to writing and maintaining friendships. I told one friend that perhaps two weeks is my limit for focusing on my shallow, first-world problems and feeling sorry for myself.

This week I’ve completed a package of stories for my former newspaper about women’s friendships that begin in mid-life and I’ve also done all the phone interviews for another piece that will run in October. Today I spent an hour going over editor Tiffany’s notes on the Kiss and Tell manuscript, and that was good medicine. I can see I need to get together with Dr. Mo for a session so we can discuss some of Tiffany’s recommendations and how to best incorporate them into the book.

I’m still trudging to the gym twice a week; I managed to do that even while depressed. But now I’m back in yoga and also actively trying to get back in a regular riding pattern with my biking pals. South Florida’s weather pattern is ridiculously wet right now, however. Multiple rain-outs have occurred and it’s getting annoying. My tires are aired up, the headlight battery is charged and I’m ready to go.

Or not.

Good news and bad news

July 29, 2012

The good news is that my surge to finish the book and deliver the manuscript to the editor by Aug. 13 is on track. I allowed myself a bit of padding when I chose the deadline, hoping I wouldn’t panic too much (which I did anyway for a couple days).

The bad news is that I’m using up a lot of the padding with a complete rewrite of the chapter on the 70s ladies. Up until this chapter, the editing process has been a matter of reading along and feeling pretty OK about the work. I occasionally find bumps and even places where I think, “what the heck happened here?” Which means I stop and rewrite, fix the transitions and modify whatever requires it.

But the 70s chapter was the fifth chapter I wrote and I’ve realized my form changed right after that. This was the final chapter where I told the women’s stories more individually, allowing their voice to proceed more or less uninterrupted as they discussed desire throughout their lifetime. The latter chapters, which I like better, interweave the women’s observations and feature several subjects commenting on the same topic, rather than being isolated in their own life story.

I’m editing the book in order, even though I didn’t write it in order. I figure it’s imperative to read the book sequentially at least once. The fact that I made it to the 70s without any chapter screaming for a rewrite constitutes additional good news. And since the 80s chapter was included in my book proposal as “sample pages,” I know it’s going to require very little editing. The 90s chapter is short, so while it may need sprucing up, the work will be mercifully brief.

Meanwhile, I remain bogged in the 70s. The intro to the column wasn’t engaging at all; just dry statistics and overall percentages of what women told us in the general survey. So I went back and read my raw notes for the chapter and found these women imparted surprising and even shocking things about their sex lives.

One woman said she experienced so much pain with sex (right from the start) that it took two years before she and her boyfriend got all the way to full penetration. She delivered this information with no sign of how dismaying a listener might find this. Another 70s lady had several trysts with a 27-year-old lover just weeks after she was widowed and then began a tempestuous affair with a man three decades her junior. During her 48-year marriage, she took an unknown number of affairs or lovers, likely between 75-100. This information was also delivered absent dramatics; the speaker showed no expectation of her words creating surprise.

Another woman in her 70s had gone for marital counseling in her 50s and was able to speak very eloquently to the things which keep intimacy alive in a relationship when sex is no longer possible. (Her husband’s health issues are the culprit.) Yet another subject says, “I guess I got holy,” when describing how her attendance at a new church has made her disinclined to engage in the affairs of her youth. But the thrice-married woman still struggles with her sexuality: She doesn’t understand why she still has passion if she’s not supposed to do something about it. And she feels trapped by the church’s admonition against sex before marriage, since she has no desire to remarry after her third husband’s death.

Given the exceedingly rich material the 70s ladies shared with me, my chapter just didn’t do them justice. Yesterday I wrote 6 new pages of juicier stuff as a fresh introduction. Then I went through the interviews once more with my trusty colored highlighters, using them to mark comments on common topics. This afternoon it’s back to the grindstone, with the goal of more integration of the women’s stories. I’ll still let them speak at length in places, but the group as a whole needs cohesion. I can see that now.

The clunkiness of this unedited 70s chapter is reassuring in one other way: It means my skills and expertise sharpened as I worked my way further into the book, and I can now bring them to bear on my less polished work. My voice naturally became more sure as I increased my familiarity with the material and came to rely less on recitations of numbers and more on the truths I’ve found at the core of women’s desire.

This was exciting to realize—and it’s what made me sure I had to rewrite the chapter. Before I turn the manuscript over to editor Tiffany, I’m determined it will be the best I can offer.

But dang. Having to redo a whole chapter is the pits. Mumble, mumble, grumble, grumble.

And now I shall STOP procrastinating and get back to it.

Meeting our public

May 30, 2011

Earlier, I promised a report on my first public appearance with Dr. Whelihan to talk about our book. The event took place in mid-May at a private country club in a retirement community, with more than 100 men and women attending. Many in the audience had enjoyed a glass of wine before the talk began, which the Doc tells me tends to dramatically increase the fun factor. I spoke first, for 10 minutes or so, about the concept of the book, and then shared a few stories from the dozens of fascinating interviews I’ve had. And I quickly learned the Doc was right: In spots where I’d hoped for a few chuckles, the crowd erupted in prolonged laughter — something I could get used to, by the way.

And then Dr. Mo got up. Man did the retirees love her. She has a power point slide show she knows backward and forward, and it’s filled with enough humor, information and shock value to keep everyone entertained. The woman sitting in front of me kept turning to her husband throughout Mo’s talk, her face a changing canvas of delight, hilarity and shock at hearing someone say aloud the things the rest of us only think.

In fact, it was a little surprising the Doc didn’t get a standing ovation. If we’d had books to sell that night, I honestly believe every person would have taken one home.

So. That’s a good start, yes? And then, just this past Thursday, we talked with a much smaller group at The Breakers Hotel on Palm Beach. We’re honing the order of how we present things and figuring out how to make the book relevant to various audiences — all of which is sure to pay off when we have something to sell.

Speaking of something to sell, I am doing my best to stay on track with my goal of finishing a chapter a month. Last month was a difficult mark to hit, what with all the stress emanating from my deadbeat tenants in Texas, which probably shaved a few years off my life. Adding to the challenge is the fact that I found the 20s the toughest decade yet to write, what with their whole transformational subtext. But I made my deadline! And Mo liked the work, saying “if this is a bad chapter, we’re in great shape.”

Thus, I have happily turned my attention to the 70-year-olds.

We selected 6 women in this decade to interview, and I already have 5 meetings either set up or completed, which is fortunate since I want to finish the chapter early so I can go on vacation with a clear conscience. My accelerated schedule translates to 2 weeks of research, and 1 week of writing, so I can’t waste any time.

Of the two women in their 70s I’ve interviewed, I’ve already encountered both ends of the spectrum in terms of the number of partners. One has been with more partners than anyone I’ve spoken with so far (50+) and the other was a virgin when she married and has had sex with the same man for 61 years. An amazing variety right off the bat.

Complicating my ability to meet that deadline is a decided lack of cooperation from my Mazda SUV, which has decided it no longer wishes to steer. I tried to back out of my parking space last night to go to a pet sitting gig, and the vehicle won’t turn. And that nasty little undercarriage light comes on. Fortunately, I could walk to the job — it’s that close. But now it’s Memorial Day and my auto shop is closed. Sigh.

As my friend said: Cars are great — except when they aren’t.

Thank goodness I was able to reschedule the book interview I had today for Friday, and am still on course. But tomorrow morning’s hair appointment for a trim? It’s looking like I’ll have to ride my bike to that one. I wonder just how many miles away that is …..?

Meanwhile, for anyone interested, I invite you to visit the website Dr. Mo set up for our book. It’s at www.KissandTellBook.com and has a feature where you can sign up to get an email when the book comes out. Hard to believe — but it seems our dream of publishing a book may actually come true. How cool is that?

90s – done!

February 10, 2011

My book plan for 2011, which I shared here recently, is to write one chapter a month, each one highlighting a decade in the life of women and exploring what influences they most commonly cite as affecting their sexual desire during that period.

Uh oh. Long sentence. I promise not to write such long sentences in the book.

Anyway … I’m happy to say I’m on track.

Well, sort of. Kind of.

I know, I know. You’re thinking I’m lame … but it’s the teenagers’ fault, I swear!

Allow me to explain. After two fascinating teen interviews last month, none of the other young ladies would return calls or texts so that I could schedule face-to-face meetings or even phoners. So I revisited the surveys and pulled out additional candidates, solicited my doctor partner for their phone numbers and then diligently tried contacting the new ones. Also to no avail.

With the month ticking away, and my self-imposed deadline approaching, I made a command decision to switch over to my 90-year-old respondents and see if that went faster.

Voila! You will perhaps not be surprised to learn that women of this advanced age group — if not actually awaiting your phone call — are at least willing to have cordial conversations, and in a couple of cases, were bold enough to allow me to come meet them for in-person chats about their lifetime of desire. (Uh oh. Is that another overly long sentence? I feel sure it is.)

In fairly short order I was able to get an excellent sampling of our most senior ladies. I found that talking to the oldest and youngest survey respondents so close together was as enlightening as I’d hoped. I spoke with six 90something women (of 11 who took our survey) who described a sexual climate that seems light years removed from the one the teens I spoke with inhabit. Most of the senior ladies never received a sex talk from their parents, accepted a marriage proposal from a man they were not intimate with and were virgins on their wedding night.

Their talks with me for the book usually constituted the most detailed sexual conversation they’d had in their life. I was respectful of this and very careful in my language with the ladies, who were paying me the compliment of being vulnerable and candid about a subject their lives didn’t prepare them to share easily. I came away with great admiration for them, along with heartfelt gratitude.

I spent four days last week writing furiously, and as a result had the chapter 90 percent finished by Sunday’s work session with Dr. Mo. I had several NEED DOCTOR’S COMMENTS HERE notations, which we talked through as I took notes. The very next day I incorporated all her comments into the text, which means the chapter is virtually complete. I intentionally left it a bit vague at the very end, so that more definite conclusions can be drawn as the book unfolds.

And now I’m back to the teens. On Sunday, we pulled out yet another batch of young candidates and Dr. Mo dug up their phone numbers (which are not attached to the survey to protect patients’ anonymity). I’ve already done a phoner with one gal from Gainesville and have a face-to-face with another scheduled Saturday morning. They have busy lives, I get it. And I need them worse than they need me, so I must wrestle their slippery schedules and vow to be victorious!

How does this all make me feel? In a word — energized. And I’m happy at how well I seem to be responding to my own deadline. Who knew I’d listen to me?

Of course, this is only Month 2. Sometimes I look way ahead, to all the chapters undone, and all the pieces that have to be pulled together somehow. When I do that, when I take the long view, I feel scared and overwhelmed. So I just pull back, and think about the one chapter, the one next call, the one next interview.

And that — I can do.

(Please note: I did not end with a long sentence!)

Sex, sex, sex

October 24, 2010

Sorry for the sensationaistic headline, but, well, it’s true.

My whole life these days revolves around sex — and not because I’m having any personal experience, but that’s a different post.

The survey results about women’s sexual desire are in and we’ve gleaned some basic statistics. (For instance, we surveyed 27 teenagers, 11 women in their 90s, 771 married women and 95 widows.) But because the survey questions were open-ended and difficult to quantify, as of yet I don’t have the juicy stuff, i.e. how many women mentioned kissing as something that stimulates their desire or what percentage of women say rushing to intercourse is the one thing they wish their partner would NOT do.

I talked to my statistics guru about this today and and he explained the need to turn our qualitative answers into easy-to-read categories. It seems I need expanded spreadsheets for each of our 6 questions.

Soooo. I have more work to do.

But that’s fine! I’m totally energized for the task.

Mostly that’s because I had a highly motivating work session a week ago with Maureen Whelihan, my book partner. (If you knew her, you’d see why; she’s super upbeat.) She loved the intro I’d written, which was lovely to hear, but more importantly, we talked about voice in the book. Our conversation and her comments gave me confidence and in general freed me up creatively.

As a result, I’ve spent the week crafting a chapter tentatively titled “A Day With the Doctor,” where I set the stage for what Dr. Mo’s patients experience on a typical visit. (Hint: She asks her patients if they’re having sex, and if so, is it good?) Plus, this is the chapter where I have inserted all the surprising details about how minimal the training is for gynecologists when it comes to sexuality. A study of medical school curriculum in North America on sexual health showed that 61 percent of schools offer less than 10 hours (!!) of study in this subject.

What? Aren’t they supposed to be experts? No wonder physicians and specifically gynecologists are hesitant to bring up sexuality with their patients! Their education didn’t help them overcome whatever prejudices, hang-ups or fears about sexuality they carried into adulthood. Until the majority of doctors are able to have knowledgeable, non-judgmental conversations about sexual function with their patients, women will continue their frustrating quest for reliable, accessible information in this arena.

OK. Climbing down from my soap box now. Let’s see if I can pull myself back on topic.

Oh yes. Overall the book is progressing very well. Dr. Mo and I agreed to talk on the phone for update meetings every 2 weeks and we set our next work session 4 weeks out. This is very motivating for me and breaks tasks down into manageable bites. I definitely feel more organized and productive.

In related news, I’m approaching the 3-month marker for having the braces on, and I still despise them. I never forget they are there, never find anything to like about them and never fail to be annoyed by them. I am, however, resigned. I had two more bottom teeth banded last week and will be given the dreaded spacers soon to make room for more bands on my upper molars. I’m afraid to ask the dentist how many teeth will be banded before this nightmare ends. I reserve the right to take to my bed for a month if the number tops 10.

But maybe a women writing a book about female sexual desire shouldn’t use expressions such as “take to my bed for a month.”

Note to self: Be sensitive.

Progress on all fronts

September 21, 2010

As the dog days of this Florida summer draw to a close, I’m moving into a whole new phase of my book project. Yes! Data entry is finally complete and chapter writing begins.

But first: An interruption for dental news of the most exciting level. The turbos are already off!

It’s true. The nasty metallic spikes glued to the back of my two front teeth — which were installed to keep my top teeth from scraping the braces off my bottom teeth — are gone. I had thought the turbos and I would be intimate pals for 6 months, but a blessed reprieve occurred. Last week, on a quick trip to the dentist to reattach a loose bracket, Iris asked if I’d like to get the full adjustment the we had scheduled for the following week. A no brainer for me. Anything to speed up the process.

So when the dentist wheeled over, I of course wanted to know exactly when the turbos were coming off, because I had a big-time party to plan for the day those intruders were removed. I might have also indicated that I was not amused by said turbos’ unpleasant influence during the previous six weeks.

To answer my question, the dentist told Iris to check my back teeth with that tracing-paper-like stuff they use to get ink on your teeth — you know what I’m talking about, right? And she does the test on both sides and tells the dentist it looks like my teeth are OK and the turbos can come off. “You’re not just saying that so she’ll quit whining, are you?” asked my jovial dentist.

“Let me assure you,” I broke in, “I have not yet BEGUN to whine to the extent that I’m capable of when it comes to these turbos. I have saved that particular joy for my family and friends — and those intrepid readers who follow my blog.”

Despite my surly attitude, a closer examination by Mr. Dentist revealed that my front teeth have actually moved forward enough ALREADY to avoid the lower teeth, although little rubber “bumpers” were fastened to four bottom teeth for good measure. (The clearance is still too close for comfort; thus the friendly bumpers, which are actually kind of fun to moosh my top teeth against cause they’re bouncy.)

Needless to say, my life took an immediate turn for the better. Iris said the turbos would come off in 30 seconds, but that getting the glue off the back of my teeth would take much longer. She was right; that glue was more like cement. But so what? Turbos were off! I left the dentist elated.

The fretfulness I felt from the awkwardly placed spikes disappeared, the constant soreness of my tongue was gone in 24 hours and the necessity of disentangling food from the turbos after every single bite of food was over. Hallelujah indeed.

Thus, I was able to turn my attention to much more rewarding pursuits and wrapped up the data entry phase. Only a dozen surveys remain to be added to the spreadsheet, and they await missing information from my book partner, Mo. Meanwhile, I’ve gone back into my book proposal to update it with solid information about what we learned from the surveys, replacing the speculative statements I wrote before the numbers were in.

But I don’t want to spend too much time there. I’m itching to get into chapter writing, and interviewing the 6 or 7 women from each decade who will “represent” for their age group. Because we have the largest representation from women in their 40s and 50s, I’m considering doing more interviews from those decades, and perhaps only 3 or 4 from the teens and 90s. There seems to be so much to learn from mid-life women about what does and doesn’t stimulate desire.

More to come about these fascinating women. But first, a short trip to Texas — because I seem to have this thing for states where the summer drags on forever.