Guest Post & Giveaway: Going Under by S. Walden


Going Under by S. Walden
Contemporary / New Adult
Penny Press (March 17, 2013)


Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a “Fantasy Slut League,” scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls.

Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend’s death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the “unsuspecting girls,” and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret.

This is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains graphic sex and language and a description of sexual violence.


Rage Against the Sex Machine by S. Walden

I do a lot of market research as an indie author. (Because no one else is doing it for me.) I need to know what people are reading, and I need to know why. This knowledge is crucial to my success as a writer. I have to understand how to weave the elements that people like in their fiction with the types of stories I believe in and want to write. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is that I research. A lot. And in my research I’ve discovered an interesting push-back to sex in novels—a “rage against the sex machine” attitude, if you will. And I’m mostly talking about New Adult fiction. Some people seem fed up with it all, dismissing sex as a tired staple. (Because let’s face it: there’s a lot of sex in New Adult fiction. My books are no exception.) So I’ve come up with my own reasons for why people are saying, “Really with the sex already?”

1. The sex is written badly.

I’ve read books with really bad sex in them. We’re talking laughable sex or awkward-sentence sex. Or too-much-freaking-detail sex. This often happens in realistic fiction because writers feel they need to explain EVERYTHING or it’s not “real.” And I’m talking the positioning of limbs, not descriptions of feelings. Those are two separate things. What this ultimately shows is a lack of writing confidence on the part of the author. She’s not trusting her readers to understand what’s being left out, so she tries to give them everything. Here’s an example of a bad sex scene (and I totally made this up):

I place my hand on the back of his neck, and he leans into my face, pressing his lips to my lips. My legs are wrapped around his waist, and his arms are wrapped around my back. I sigh into his mouth as his tongue invades my mouth. He is holding me harder against him as his kiss becomes more urgent. I know I’ll have to give in. But first we disentangle from our embrace so that we can reposition ourselves on the bed where I’m lying on my back with my legs bent, and he’s hovering over me with his arms on either side of my head.

Wow. Okay. Did that completely turn you off of sex forever? If so, I apologize. Now why don’t we take a look at why this paragraph is so incredibly bad?

First off, let’s define good repetition of words versus bad repetition of words. Good repetition adds emphasis. It drives the point home. Bad repetition is when an author doesn’t know what other word to use, so she keeps using the same one. This example highlights bad repetition. Now, I understand that sometimes it’s necessary. I mean, how many different ways can you say “arms” and “legs”? Still, try to space those words out in your description. Now let’s look at the over-explanation of limb positioning. Doesn’t it sound silly to you? If he’s hovering over her in bed, we can infer or assume she’s lying down. Can’t we? And “disentangle” is just a bullshit word. Don’t use it. Ever. The first person POV actually makes this sex scene even worse. I’m not generally a fan of first person POV. It tends to be too immediate for me, and I can’t seem to ground myself when I’m reading it. However, I’ll embrace it if the story is rockin’. The problem here? I feel like I’ve been thrust into bed with these people, and the sex is really bad. I don’t want to have bad sex, thank you very much.

So writing like this can really turn readers off, and then they think to themselves, Can’t I just read a good book?! They’re equating bad book with sex in the book. They need to be equating bad book with bad description of sex. There’s a difference, see? Sex should always add to the story, not be a distraction. Period.

Now here’s an example of a better sex scene. Obviously I’m biased because I wrote it, but I think it’s a’ight. Or at least my editor thought so. It includes what I think is good repetition. You can decide for yourself. This scene is from Honeysuckle Love:

Evan bent down and kissed her stomach. He kissed her hands that stayed locked between her legs. He kissed her inner thighs, moving his hands up and down her outer legs. She relaxed and didn’t resist when he peeled away her hands to leave her completely exposed to him. She shut her eyes tightly, imagining what he thought looking at her. She did not have to imagine for very long. She heard the sharp intake of his breath.

“Jesus Christ,” he whispered. “You are so fucking beautiful.”

The heat moved over her body in one sweeping wave, and she tried to close her legs. He kept them apart.

“I’m going to make you come for me, Clara.”

She shivered then let out a whimper as she felt a kiss there. A light kiss, and then another, and then his tongue, and then the dark box she entered to confess her sins. Warm and velvety and she knew she’d done wrong, but ahhhh, she had to keep doing wrong. It felt good to do it, and she wanted to pay for it. She trembled for wanting it, the punishment. She’d say it over and over, penance so sweet until she settled her debt. Then she was lifted off her knees, embraced by God who drew her up, up, up until she reached the crystal gates that opened to her undoing, and she screamed and cried her exploding pleasure into the vast whiteness.

I actually reworked this scene a lot. Originally, the spiritual analogy was written in present tense, second person POV. So yes, I was talking directly to you. You were experiencing Clara’s, um *coughs* orgasm. And my editor screamed, “No! I can’t! It’s too . . . too intimate! Too immediate! It’s all up in my face!” All right already. Hmm, maybe she’s the person who turned me off of present tense. J

2. Readers think they won’t be taken seriously for their literary choices if said choices include sex.

Okay. I totally get this one. And I was one of those readers long, long ago toting around my James Joyce and scoffing at contemporary literature. Then I had a huge wake-up call when I discovered that contemporary literature was actually really good, and another bigger wake-up call when I realized I wanted to write it! The point is that readers need to recognize that they can have both and that reading both doesn’t diminish or call into question their intellect. For example, I think I’m pretty intelligent, but I’ll sit down and read In Touch from cover to cover if I like the celebrity on the front. Who cares? People are dynamic by nature (usually, anyway), and that means we can listen to some really deep indie music while we’re painting our toenails for the beach. Right? No one will think any less of us because we like a good story that just happens to highlight some pretty awesome sex. (And anyway, you’ve got to remember that the majority of your elite classics over there have sex in them, too.) Sex does not necessarily equal baseness, so readers shouldn’t feel like their intelligence is called into question for liking a book with explicit sex in it.

3. Readers think sex is fluff in a novel. “Writers can do better!” they cry.

Grrrr. Yes. I growled at this one. The HARDEST scenes for me to write are sex scenes. Why? Because I’m showing the ultimate form of intimacy between two individuals, and not only do I need to make my readers believe it and care about it, I need the sex to draw them closer to my characters. Sex is always connected to revelation in my stories. It’s not there just to give you a thrill, though I don’t mind that it gives you a thrill. J The point is that it isn’t fluff in my novels. I take it seriously and always treat it with integrity.

I understand that some people are not going to like sex in a novel because they just don’t want to read it. I can respect that. But for the others who are getting fed up with it, take a breather for a second. Remember that not all sex in novels is bad sex. Don’t dismiss what sex can add to a story. The powerful connections made. The revelations. The character development. Yes, character development. It can happen through sex! And if it’s written well, it can bind you to these characters in ways dialogue between them cannot.



About the Author

S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she's not writing, she's thinking about it.

Find S. Walden Online: 
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


One randomly drawn reader will win (1) eBook copy of Going Under by S. Walden! International. Please follow the Rafflecopter widget directions and terms and conditions. Giveaway ends at 12:01am on 6/10/13.

Please leave a comment telling S. Walden why you want to win GOING UNDER!

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  1. This sounds like my kind of book! I like a good revenge story and Going Under sounds like it has a very good plot. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. I love sex scenes that are well written! lol I can't wait to meet Ryan Foster. He sounds mysterious and sexy. :D

  3. Letitia,

    Thanks so much for featuring me today! Hope your girls like the post and take a chance on Going Under :)

    xo Summer

  4. I love sexy erotica novels more than anything else

  5. Loved the several reviews I have read about the book. Thank you for the giveaway.

  6. Need to win so I can read it on the beach!

  7. What a great post! Going Under sounds like a great book and I've heard many great things about it. I would love to read it!

  8. I read Going Under when it released, it is fantastic! Seriously might be the best book I've read this year so far. If you haven't read it, you must!

  9. I keep reading awesome things about this book! All the excerpts and interviews I've seen have all sounded fantastic! :)

  10. I want to read this bad. Love the story line.

  11. It sounds like an amazing book. It`s on my TBR list :) Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. I definitely wanna read more about fantasy slut league and her orgasm/rape scene. I heard a lot about that from other readers.

  13. I like a good revenge story and this definitely sounds like one!!! I can't wait to read it!! Thanks for the giveaway!!

  14. I've looked forward to reading this book from the first review I read. I would really like to see how this all plays out in the end.

  15. Um...'cause I love books with hot sex in them! Duh!

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  17. I have read a ton of great things about Going Under and can't wait to read it. Unfortunately I have been put in time out for buying too many books lately :( Silly Husband


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