When I'm talking to people in person, I'm usually pretty careful about mentioning that I write erotic romance. That's partly because I can't say it without blushing, and partly because I also write young adult fiction (under a different name) and I'd rather have people who meet me face-to-face know me for the young adult stuff. Unless they're at a romance convention, but that's a different type of situation.
Once a month, a friend of my mother-in-law hosts an "informal networking night" down the street from my home. Friday night I went to that meeting and was talking to two women I hadn't met before. Since we're all there to talk about ourselves and what we do, I told them I was an author.
"Oh, what do you write?" one asked.
"I write novels for teenagers under one name." I slid my YA author business card across the table to her and immediately blushed. "And under a different name, I write adult romance."
"Oh, do you have a card for that, too?"
"I do." I took out one of my Karenna cards. "But when I say adult romance, I mean ADULT. Like, there are X-rated scenes in the books."
She looked at the other woman and both laughed. "I'd like to read those."
And then I mentioned that one of my romances is up for an award; my novel Salad on the Side is a finalist in the fantasy, etc. category of the Bean Pot Contest sponsored by the New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America.
"That's great!" the woman said. "What's the title of that book?"
I hesitated. It had been hard enough telling them that I wrote erotic romance. "Um, well, it's... it's a male-male romance. Gay men."
"You have to give me the title!" the second woman said. "I have a friend who would love that!"
"I think that kind of romance is really popular," the first woman said. "Please tell us the name!"
So I did... I guess that will teach me to make assumptions about how people will react. Not that I'm about to go broadcasting on the streets of my town that I write erotic-- and M/M--romance, but I guess it wouldn't hurt to be a little less afraid to admit it.