The Lines We Do Not Cross

wpid-mind-the-gap-2014-06-23-08-03As readers, we all have those things we just can’t read–those events we come across in books that make us put them down and not pick them up again.

Writers have those, too–those scenes we can’t write. That we don’t want to write, for whatever reason.

Sometimes these lines fluctuate. We inch closer to them, then run away. Sometimes we intentionally cross them, just to challenge ourselves, and then back up, back to the safe place behind the yellow line.

And sometimes, we just can’t cross them.

When I’m writing, there are a lot of these lines. I don’t write sex, for example. I experimented with sex scenes in college (isn’t that was college is for?) but have since decided they aren’t for me. That tends to happen when you’re on the ace/aro spectrum.

I also won’t do graphic violence in any form. Granted, the definition of graphic violence might change depending on the situation, but if there’s a lot of blood, I won’t watch it, read it, or listen to it. I don’t write it, either, because I feel physically ill trying to picture those scenes as I write them.

But the biggest nope? The thing that will make me put down a book, or stop watching a tv show? The thing that will never, ever, EVER show up in one of my books?

Pet death.

I can’t do it.

Hermes approves of any book where the pet lives. The dog in Cherie Priest’s BRIMSTONE is one of them.

Guys, I start crying if I even think about something maybe–possibly–bad happening to Hermes at some undetermined date in the future. He’s a healthy cat, and still fairly young (he turned 9 in July. Okay, so that’s middle aged for a cat, but he doesn’t really act it).

In third grade we had to read AND watch Old Yeller. Imagine thirty eight-year-olds sobbing, and me completely loosing it because six months earlier we’d put down BOTH of the dogs I’d grown up with.

Last week I was at an event and happened to strike up a conversation with the person next to me. I spent twenty minutes listening to the details of her 17 year old cat’s last days, as she died slowly of old age and diabetes, and started crying in the middle of Barnes and Noble and couldn’t stop.

I hate crying in public.

I really like giving my characters pets. Evie has Drac, her cat. In ALL FOR ONE (2018, details soonish), Louise has a horse named Bijoux, and then she sort of adopts/steals another later in the book. In one of my unpublished books, the main character can communicate with animals, and has a Landseer that saves her life on multiple occasions.

I was just reading a book, and it was one I was kind of enjoying. There were plot holes (Swiss cheese has fewer holes, but it was still enjoyable). Until I got to that part.

The main character had a Bad Dude after her. Bad Dude went to her apartment. Finding she wasn’t at home, he eviscerated her six month old kitten and wrote a death threat on the wall in blood.*

(This is something that gets left out of all the reviews I looked at, including the ones with spoilers, just an FYI).

So I’m going to say right here and now, that if you are reading my books, there will be no pet death. Period. Ever. If, in the future, I have to kill an animal for the sake of the plot and can’t find a way around it, I will find a way of labeling the entry for it on my books page.

Maybe you think I’m being over dramatic here. Maybe you’re right. But I have always gotten way more attached to animals than to people. Honestly, I don’t think human beings deserve animals most of the time.


* The book is Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields, by the way. This book has a lot of problems, but this is the one that made me DNF.

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2 thoughts on “The Lines We Do Not Cross”

  1. Yes, we all have different — I can d — I can never do– things. I tend to force my self to speak about those that fall into the never category, but I’m not a writer so neither gets written. Crying is a healthy emotion. Guys tend to learn to not show that side, yet, like anger, crying at appropriate things is good. Now for the sad. I still see my beagle looking at me as I left her at the vets for her last few moments. She had a broken back and was about 12. Even in a young dog back surgery is extremely expensive and seldom successful. (not intended to make you cry, I know what you are saying)

    Hope you had a successful NaNo and a great Thanksgiving.


    1. Oh, that is heartbreaking! I have never been present when any of our dogs were put down or passed away, and I know when it comes time for our cats it will be the hardest thing ever for me.

      Crying can be very cathartic. I wish men showed their emotions in healthier ways–most of the men I know convert things like grief or frustration into anger, and just don’t handle it that well. Toxic masculinity hurts men, too, but at the same time we all have different coping mechanisms.


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