The S Word

Written by Guest Blogger Camille Minichino

Congratulations to contest winners Pauline Baird Jones and Brenda.

Today I welcome my first guest blogger, Camille Minichino. Camille is a retired physicist and the author of three series.  As Camille Minichino, she’s published eight novels in the periodic table mysteries. Her AKAs are Margaret Grace (The Miniature Mysteries) and Ada Madison (The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries).  Check out her Web Site to read the first chapter of The Square Root of Murder, her newest release.

Not only is Camille one of the most prolific authors I know, she’s also the funniest physicist I’ve ever met.  Okay, she’s the only physicist I’ve ever met, but she is a hoot! Check out her post on S*X and find out for yourself.


Author Camille MinichinoMine is not the generation of free-flowing dialogue about S*X. My mother’s idea of S*X education was to warn me: “Stay away from boys!”


Though profanity in two languages was part of my vocabulary from my early years, I never heard the word “S*X,” or any associated with it, like “PREG****” spoken aloud in my home or neighborhood.


I remember a lot of winks, especially at wedding receptions, waiting for the bride and groom to arrive from church. The old ladies would say, “I’ll bet they’re around the corner (wink).” The response: “I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s already (wink).”


For a good part of my life, I associated this prudish reluctance to use the S word with the climate of the nineteen forties and fifties and my immigrant, Catholic neighborhood.


But much later, in the late nineteen nineties, I found the same attitude in a WASPy young woman who was my editor at the time. I remember meeting the blond Ms. JK in her Sixth Avenue, New York City building. She swept into her office, all bright and energetic, wearing the professional version of a little black dress.


Here we are, talking about my fourth book.


“You know, about Gloria and Matt,” she begins.


I nod. My protagonist in the Periodic Table Mysteries, Gloria Lamerino, meets homicide detective Matt Gennaro while doing her amateur sleuth thing, helping the cops in science-related cases.


“They’re attracted to each other, right?” JK adds, hooking a chunk of hair over her ear.


I nod again. In the first book, Gloria gets “twinges” when Matt’s around; in the second book, they hug briefly; in the third book, they neck. Really, only their necks.


(Hey, I wasn’t writing romance. And my very first book was a nonfiction treatise on nuclear waste management, so not a lot of opportunity for S*Xual exploration there.)


“They’re adults, right?” JK says.


“Right,” I say.


“And they’re free. I mean, no commitments, right?”




“Then don’t you think . . . ?” she asks.


I gulp. “You want me to . . .?”




“I should . . .?”


“Move them forward,” she says.


“So they should . . .?” I ask.


“Yes, definitely, they should.”


“Okay,” I say.


And thus in book four, Gloria and Matt move forward to S*X. Behind closed doors, of course.


The Square Root of Murder by Camille MinichinoIt’s now 10 books later, and in my latest, The Square Root of Murder, there’s more moving forward, and now and then the word sex is spelled out.


(OMG, did I really just write that word?)


I need lessons from my gracious host, Cindy Sample, who does better with the S word in her debut than I’ve done in 14 books.


Now that you’ve been duly warned about the PG-13 nature of my first books, if you still want a copy of my latest release, make a comment here, and I’ll draw a name on Friday, July 22.


  1. Liz V. on July 20, 2011 at 7:31 am

    A much older friend once advised me that one benefit of her marriage was an entirely new vocabulary of swear words in Romanian, rather than her parents’ Italian, to use on Boston cab drivers. I didn’t even get a wink.

  2. Camille Minichino on July 20, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Thanks for hosting me, Cindy, and introducing me to your readers.

    Everything looks better in red and white!

    • Cindy on July 20, 2011 at 8:27 am

      Hi Camille, thanks for offering to be my very first guest blogger. Isn’t it amazing what we make our cozy protagonists go through when they’re looking for a little romance. Not quite the Jersey Shore, is it?

      Thanks for your hilarious post and your three wonderful series!

  3. Maddy on July 20, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I think there’s a big difference between reading such things between the privacy of two book covers and having to write about it. Well done. Ten books to reach this pivotal point? Must be ecstatic. : )

  4. Dana on July 20, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Camille, I had no idea you’d developed into such a brazen hussy! 🙂

    Whenever I write anything with s*xual content I always think of ‘what if my mom reads it?’ I still write it, but the thought is always at the back of my mind… I just label my books MA (Mom Appropriate) or NMA (Not Mom Appropriate).

  5. Pat Canterbury on July 20, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Camille: Great post. It’s been a long time since that first Bouchercon panel and I’ve loved your novels since then. My friends were HORRIFIED by the s^x in Every Thursday, but I thought what the hey, they’re in the 30’s. Thanks for liberating the rest of us Catholic girls.
    Pat Canterbury

  6. Michele on July 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Camille, no S*x in nuclear waste management, huh? I loved this! I’m a product of the 1950 and find that even though my characters have sex, it’s not in great detail!

  7. Camille Minichino on July 20, 2011 at 11:30 am

    What great readers you have, Cindy — I can tell they’re all experienced (blush) but discerning readers and writers!

  8. Camille Minichino on July 20, 2011 at 11:30 am

    BTW, it’s not every blog hostess who’d let me talk about S*X this way!

  9. Heather Haven on July 20, 2011 at 11:34 am

    As another good little Italian Catholic girl, I always was more comfortable with sex behind closed doors or fading up to the ceiling, like the movies did in the 50s. I actually took a class in how to write sex scenes. No matter how many I wrote (3 I think), I still felt like a voyeur or intruder. There is a definite art to writing them and the first step is letting go. Maybe after 3 glasses of wine…hmmm…

  10. Jenny Milchman on July 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Camille, I bet your readers will be none the worse for your…forays (and your characters of course will be much better, ha ha). Thanks for the guest post, Camille & Cindy!

  11. Terry Odell on July 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I came of age in the 60’s. Make love, not war was the motto. But I still had trouble writing my first love scene (my romance heroes and heroines definitely earn those scenes, and by the time they get there, it’s more than just a sex scene.) I did wonder about my mother reading them, but then, I’d never even read a romance until she left one behind after a visit. I actually thought I was writing a mystery when I started the book. My mom reads my books, and she did ask if I wrote “those” scenes from first-hand experience or just read about them. My daughters said they like my books except for “those” scenes because I’m not supposed to know about that stuff.

    Cindy read one of my books — I’ll let her deal with how much is on the page.

    Terry’s Place
    Romance with a Twist–of Mystery

    • Camille Minichino on July 20, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      You’re braver than I am, Terry . . . letting your family read and wonder.

  12. Judith Horstman on July 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    OMG — As one Catholic girl to another, I am appalled to admiI just wrote an entire BOOK about S*X. Of course its all about the science of S*X, and not even the Gen***l S*x, it’s about S*X and the BR**N — I mean, Brain, as in:
    The Scientiic American Book of Love, Sex and the Brain: The Neuroscience of How, Why and Who We Love.
    It does contain words such as P***S and a section on how O****M is good for your brain but really, honestly, it’s only R rated. Look for it in December–– unless it gets banned.

  13. Kaye George on July 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I would LOVE a copy of this. Please put my name in the hat. Camille is one of the most versatile writers out there!

  14. Jacqueline Seewald on July 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Hi, Camille and Cindy,

    I get blasted from reviewers occasionally because I write sensual mystery novels, but readers seem to love them. I think it’s okay to have sex scenes in mystery novels as long as the fit the plot and are appropriate to the characters. Tasteful romance and sex scenes ar just fine. In fact, they help to define and develop character. I don’t go for one dimensional sleuths.

    Jacqueline Seewald

    THE TRUTH SLEUTH–request it at your local library

  15. Camille Minichino on July 20, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    That’s the trick, Jacqueline. How many books have you read with an “obligatory” scene after a meeting at the bar . . . seems it’s not enough for the action hero to save LA or stop the assassination of a world leader, he also has to … uh …

  16. Joan Imbeau on July 20, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Camille:

    Looking forward to reading your new series!!

    Hope to see you at the August event.


  17. Pauline Baird Jones on July 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    LOLOL! Fun post and so true. I tried to write sex scenes and decided I preferred them to happen out of my sight in my books. It’s not like people don’t know what goes on. LOL!

  18. Patricia Smith Wood on July 20, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I’ve always loved the “cozy mystery” genre, and, not surprisingly, that is the niche of reader I’m writing for. I entered my book in a writing contest (only the first 20 pages) and the critique I got back was, “Where’s the sex?” I was stunned and wished I knew who the judge was so I could have responded, “Sir (or madam) would you have dared ask that question of Dame Agatha Christie?”

  19. Amber Garza on July 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Loved meeting Camille at the Mystery conference and loved this blog. She’s super funny and very talented. 🙂

  20. Camille Minichino on July 20, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Hi Amber — thanks for the nice words! See you at Left Coast in Sacramento?

  21. Shalanna Collins on July 20, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Never read Henry Miller, eh?

    I actually prefer my books without explicit sex. We draw the curtain discreetly over the scene as the waves crash onto the beach. It’s much more private for the participants and does not reveal any clues like who has tattoos of what on their whatsises. Judges have implied similar stuff to what a previous commenter said. I guess I need to go back and get inspiration. It’s Miller time!

  22. Camille Minichino on July 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Henry Miller, Shalanna? Whew, it’s hot in here.

  23. Margaret Franson on July 20, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Looking forward to your new series, Camille. I think it’s perfectly fine to have s*x in a mystery or thriller, even cozies, if the characters and plot call for it. How explicit really depends on how comfortable the author is with the subject. I do read some romantic suspense authors, also; they tend to go into more detail because it’s expected, I guess. (There is, however, one word that they often use that causes me to cringe–c**k–and I would like to see it disappear.) When all is said and done, however, it is the mystery that is the most important element in any of these books, and a well-written mystery is what keeps us readers coming back for more.

  24. Lelia Taylor on July 21, 2011 at 2:30 am

    When I was 14, I was thrown out of the neighborhood drugstore/lunch counter. We were sitting there having a limeade after school and we got to talking about lollipops for some reason. I said the word “sucker” and the waitress suddenly went into orbit, accusing me of talking dirty and loudly told me to leave. I had no idea what she was going on about and my boyfriend had to explain the “f” word to me later. It was months before I could set foot in there again.

    Lollipops, I swear!

  25. Linda Lovely on July 21, 2011 at 3:55 am

    In my reading, I noticed that too many heroines over 50 seemed to be “sexless”–e.g. evidently having no sex appeal as well as no interest in participating. Thinking this wasn’t true (I happen to know a few people over 50–like most of my friends), I decided to address this grievance in my novel, DEAR KILLER. Of course, sex should be integral to the plot and/or character development, but for heavens sake lets not put all baby boomers in a convent.

  26. Susan Whitfield on July 21, 2011 at 5:59 am

    Camille, I too, have been reluctant to write sex scenes and “move forward”, but I do occasionally like to read a steamy book. I grew up in a prudish neighborhood as well and many folks there still think I’m weird because I kill people…in books, of course. Interesting blog, Camille and Cindy.

    • Camille Minichino on July 21, 2011 at 8:40 am

      To some a murder scene is more acceptable than a sex scene!

  27. Betty Gordon on July 21, 2011 at 6:35 am

    A great ;post. It was fun to trace hesitancy touse the word S*X . Many explosions came later and now….WOW!

  28. Kathy Downs on July 21, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Hi Camille – I must admit I prefer the S*X scenes to occur “off camera”. I have an imagination and like to use it. So describing every little detail just bores my socks off. I loved reading your periodic table mysteries, and am looking forward to the new book.

    • Camille Minichino on July 21, 2011 at 8:41 am

      Fade to black suits me fine, Kathy. I hope you enjoy Sophie as much as Gloria.

  29. Pauline Baird Jones on July 21, 2011 at 9:09 am

    So, been checking out your books. Are your periodic table mysteries available/going to be available in kindle editions??

  30. Camille Minichino on July 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for asking, Pauline. I just got the rights back to THE HYDROGEN MURDER and it will go up as an e-book in November. I’m working on getting rights to the others. I’ve also put up a short story, THE FLUORINE MURDER (#9 in the series) on Kindle.

  31. shirley nienkark on July 21, 2011 at 11:14 am

    It’s OK to give the protagonist a sex life, just don’t ask me to watch. Sex shouldn’t be a spectator sport.

    • Camille Minichino on July 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      Same here, Shirley! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that :=))

  32. Elaine Faber on July 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Enjoyed your blog. In my novels, I like to leave room for the reader’s imagination – but definitely G rated – Nothing wrong with a little suggestion and let the reader fill in the blanks. Too many good writers are moving into explicit s*x scenes . Do they think their readers aren’t intelligent enough to figure out what happens next… they have to spell it out??? In Black Cat’s Legacy, its not just the cats on the back fence that ….you know…then fade to black…

    • Camille Minichino on July 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      I think most readers know what to expect when they pick up a novel. For example, if the cover is hot to the touch . . .

  33. Brenda on July 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I loved your amusing turn of phrase in this post! I am going to have to print it out to reread. I can’t wait to get started on all of your books. Thanks for including me in the chance to win one.

  34. Paisley Kirkpatrick on July 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    You are very entertaining to read in the form of a blog so I can well imagine your books are wonderful to read. I have taken several classes on sex scenes and sexual tension and still find writing them to be a great challenge. Everything around us has changed so much over the years and what is acceptable now certainly wasn’t when I was a teen. Is it better this way? I am not so sure. Maybe the imagination is a better way than to have it all hang out for the reader.

    Very nice to meet you today.

  35. Camille Minichino on July 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Thanks, Brenda!

    And thanks, Cindy, for letting me into your wonderfully populated blog world!

  36. Camille Minichino on July 22, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Thanks for the good words, Paisley (love that name!). I think what’s great is that there is still room for writers who prefer to allow room for imagination. Something for everyone . . .

  37. Peter Green on July 22, 2011 at 8:51 am

    The Square Root of Murder, what a great title, and ample evidence to me that sub-genre writing in one’s professional field can work. As an architect, I’ve seen enough skullduggery, double dealing and professional mischief to create my amateur sleuth, Architect Patrick MacKenna, who lives in the nether world of greedy developers, corrupt bureaucrats, devious office rivals, nosy newshounds and overzealous environmentalists.
    I tend to plunge forward into writing sex scenes in my noir mysteries and then have to pull back to make them more tasteful and suggestive, for fear that’s the reason so many agents pass on my stuff, or that I’ll lose potential readers, the majority of whom are women. But I’m forging ahead with my next project anyway, in which Patrick’s teenaged daughter Erin, on a high school river float trip, witnesses two men burying a body in the woods and is kidnapped by gangsters who make and peddle meth, operate strip clubs and run prostituion rings. And she has a secret with her boyfriend that she can’t tell her father. I know I’m pushing the envelope with a largely YA audience, but I think her pluck and bravery will pull it off.
    Peter Green, Crimes of Design
    Coming, from L & L Dreamspell, 1st Quarter 2012

  38. ann weitzer on July 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Bravo for not spelling everything out and for letting the lovers proceed at their own pace!! Refreshing!

  39. Camille Minichino on July 23, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Best wishes to you, Peter — I hope your writing finds a great readership.

    And thanks Ann — nice to see you here.

  40. Cindy on July 28, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Thank you Camille for the funniest post ever. And the comments are wonderful. Thank you everyone for your contributions.

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