Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Vive le Romance Blogger!

Well, as much as I hate to put up a new post, thus moving my lovely cover and release date stuff down, I suppose I must.

So. One quick thing first. I've posted a new recipe at the Overflow blog, if anyone cares, for slow-roasted pork. This is fast becoming my favorite dinner, because not only is it really delicious (and pork is quite inexpensive over here, which is a big plus), the amount of effort I put in to it is about on a par with the amount of effort I put in tracking down the latest Lindsay Lohan gossip. Which would be none. I rub some herbs on a pork roast and put it in the oven, that's it. And it makes the house smell good for ages.

There's a new kerfuffle in town. This post at Dear Author is probably the best overview, but reading Karen S.'s review and the comments (linked to in the DA post) is worth your time as well (if you're interested.)

I'm sure you can all imagine what I think about it. Without commenting on the letter purporting to be from the head of RT Magazine, for various reasons, I just feel the need to say yet again that people have a right to their opinions, that we live in a free society, and that furthermore we live in a capitalist society. Which, contrary to popular belief, means that consumers can demand--and get--what they want. The Czar isn't forcing us to read badly written books because nothing else is available, and the government can't force us to read only reviews put out by certain sources, despite attempts by some people to act in that capacity.

What gets me is, it's like these people think readers never talked to each other before the internet. Yes, the internet makes it easier, and a fantastic community of readers has sprung up that does the genre an amazing amount of good. These blogs provide places for readers to get together and discuss books. They provide a place for authors to communicate with readers in a way we never could before.

The more bloggers like Karen Scott and Sybil and Smart Bitches and the Ja(y)nes and Mrs. Giggles and countless others out there, the better. You know why?

Because they change the public face of romance, that's why.

I'm tired of people thinking of romance writers as morons or shrinking violets, as silly women dictating purple prose to stenographers while eating bon-bons and adjusting their orangeish support hose. I'm tired of people thinking of romance readers as lonely middle-aged fat women with fetishes for babies and assholes (the men, not the, ah, actual...never mind.) I'm tired of people thinking of women who read erotic romance as sex-starved idiots who think with their ladyparts and who'll read anything as long as they have fresh batteries in their Rampant Rabbits.

But you know what? I can write as many books as I possibly can. I get get them all published (please!) and have great success (pretty please!!!) And it won't do shit to change the public perception of romance. You know why? Because only romance readers will read them.

You know what's going to make this genre more accepted? It isn't the dumb slogans ("Have we got a story for you!" Which isn't terrible, but still). It isn't the bullshit "graphical standards" where you can't put boobies or butts on your covers. It isn't "defining romance" to keep those nasty gays or those horrible women who like to use the word "cock" OUT and keep romance where it belongs, safe with baby Jesus.

No. What's going to change the face of romance, and make romance more accepted, are the smart, funny bloggers talking about how much they like reading romance. What's going to change it are the smart, funny bloggers demanding with both their words and their dollars that publishers listen and give them, and all of us, good, solid content. Stories with plots and characters we can relate to. Smart, funny bloggers who attract the attention of people who've never tried romance novels before and think, "Hey, this chick isn't a sad loser with too many cats and a grudge against her ex-husband! This chick is smart! And funny! And cynical and sarcastic and cool! And if she likes these books...maybe there's something there for me, after all."

When Ellora's Cave opened and started putting out ebooks with graphic sex instead of purple prose, but still including a strong romance women could love, they changed the industry. Ebooks? Who ever heard of an ebook?

You know who? Romance bloggers, that's who. You know who started reading ebooks? Romance bloggers. You know who made them popular? I'll give you one guess.

Do I sound like I'm kissing romance bloggers' asses? Yeah? Because I am. Because they deserve to have their asses kissed. Because without them this industry wouldn't be half as interesting or exciting as it is today. Without them we wouldn't be as diverse, we wouldn't be as driven, we wouldn't be anywhere near as much fun.

So long live the romance bloggers, and long live their right to say whatever they like, in whatever way they like. Do you honestly think if nobody writes "This book is shit" on a blog, it means the book isn't shit?

I'm not some weak little girl who can't take it if a reviewer says something bad about my book. I'm an adult, and I do this writing thing professionally, and if I don't want to hear people's honest opinions I should stop.

And so should everyone else who can't take it. And if you feel threatened by bloggers, that's your problem.


Anonymous said...

"I'm tired of people thinking of romance readers as lonely middle-aged fat women with fetishes for babies and assholes (the men, not the, ah, actual...never mind.)"

I don't care who you are, that's funny right there.

This post was so good it felt like I read it twice! ;~)

Seriously, December, great post.

December Quinn said...


Yes, well...sometimes I can't help myself.

And thanks!

BernardL said...

I agree with you. There are far too many genres in the publishing world looked on as an embarrassment, rather than what they are: good, fast moving stories the paying public would rather read than ‘War and Peace’. Many of the famous authors in the accepted prose realms could use a lesson in the importance of romance in a novel. Some write as if romance was some noxious entity they were required to thread into their glorious work of art; when in reality, novels without finely interwoven character romance are unnatural boring pap to the paying public.

Rebecca said...

"This chick is smart! And funny! And cynical and sarcastic and cool! And if she likes these books...maybe there's something there for me, after all."

Absolutely right, December! They are the kind of blogs that make romance seem cool! And sometimes, I do think a bit of "cool" wouldn't hurt the industry.

And that DREADFUL comment about a "string of suicides" is cowardly, twisted, emotional manipulation of the worst kind.

What??! Are romance writers really so pathetic that they'd kill themselves over a bad review? I think NOT!

Gwen said...

Brava, December! I know that blogs have made the romance reading world a much more interesting place for me. Thanks for bothering to post this.

Ann(ie) said...

I don't want to believe that was actually Kathryn Falk.

December Quinn said...

Exactly, Bernard. Which actually gives me a good idea for a post later this week about romance and friendship in books, if you don't mind?

Oh, but romance is all about being a doormat who never has a strong opinion, apparently, Rebecca. All of us who thought it was about anything but cheerleading everyone without regard to quality are just plain wrong!

December Quinn said...

Thank you, Gwen! And thanks for the comment!

Go check Dear Author again, Annie--looks like it was. (And btw, I didn't put you or Bam on the list because niether of you are strictly readers, but writer/readers. Both your blogs are still great.)

pacatrue said...

You have some serious ranting powers. Impressive indeed. Let's develop a ranting scale, shall we? (December thinks, let us not.) I declare 1 to be the complete inability to rant at all. This is the doormat number. Then there's me. I'm about a 5, because, while I have some serious rants within me, I don't like to publish them, because I wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Then there's rant level 10, which is the perfect rant.

But! The ranter has to be careful, because the ranting scale goes to 11, and 11 is the over the top rant, in which the ranter frightens people and makes them scurry away back under their desks, as they search for their "rabbits" to help them think of something, anything, else. I will give you, December, a 9.

Now, don't get mad. PLEASE! Because, well, that would scare me. I just don't want to give you a 10 yet, simply because I want to preserve room for growth.

And you mean romance authors don't wear orangish support hose?! But- but- that's the only reason I read romance blogs! I have an orangish support hose fetish and I thought maybe, well, you know, by talking to romance people, they might tell stories of their umm wearing them and uhh you know stuff. Where's my rabbit? I need a break all of a sudden. And what would a man do with a rabbit anyway? Oh. This is an erotic romance blog. Don't answer that.

I'm actually not sure what support hose are, but I AM sure that if I knew, I'd have a fetish for them. After all, they're orangish.

BernardL said...

By all means, D. I understand your frustration with the way genres are viewed by the so called literature peers. I get a laugh out of reading about some critically acclaimed book no one buys. It must make you want to tear your hair out, when you know even if you sell ten million copies of a book you write in the romance genre, you are thought of as second place to some more acceptable literary author who sells a hundred thousand books. Who is more skilled, an author who can package words into a plot people want to read, or a literary genius who makes all the kingpins of literature gasp in delight, but can’t sell to anyone looking for entertainment. This may not be a legitimate comparison, because I have not read one of your novels ‘yet’ and I have read Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure; but if I had a choice, it would be no contest. Although the prose and some events in Jude are as well written as I had ever read at the time in college, when I finished it, it was the first time I ever wanted to burn a book. :)

Anonymous said...

OMG December! The letter from the lady from the RT... how can she manage to stereotype women working from home (you know, where she says we're all working from a quiet home while those business women are slaving long hours for the betterment of womenkind) and then claim that Karen (that's the reviewer right?) is stereotyping the publishers and romance writers?? Now I know you red my blog, and likely know my opinion of being insulted, but damn I'm insulted. I'm not even a romace author and the idea that any writer should be praising someone just because they got published... no way.

I'm tired of people telling me not to have an opinion, and certainly don't share it just because it might hurt someone else's feelings. I'm not going to spend my life tip toeing around everyone else. I don't expect people to tip toe around me.

Sure cruelty is going too far, snark is a trend lately. But someone should have told this poor author some of these things long before her writings became public.

We do NOT have to support substandard product just because it's a revolutionary or female owned press. My money is every bit as hard earned as everyone else's and I have the right, no, I have the responsibility to buy the product for me, not for anyone else. I have the right to raise my voice.

Ugh, and what is with this accusation that if you don't like a book and you spek out about it that you're just a bitter/unhappy/jealous/ugly natured unpublished wanna be writer? If I had a freakin' dollar for everytime I've heard that spewed in some sort of writers fued or as justification for some writer to not think their work might have been not enjoyed, well hell, I wouldn't need a book deal then.

This BS is exactly why people are my biggest pet peeve.

December Quinn said...

Lol Paca. So from now on, I will post Paca's Ranting Scale (TM) at the top, with the orange support hose rating I think the post should get? And this one is 9 orange support hose. Will that, ah, do it for you? :-)

I agree, Bernard. It comes down to a good story; who's told a good story, and who hasn't? I've never read Jude the Obscure but I can think of a few classics and books I had to read for school that I loathed The Natural springs immediately to mind. What a depressing, depressing book.)

December Quinn said...

You go, Michele! Walk tall, girl!!

Lol I know, I'm sick of all the stereotypes and the "jealous unpublished" shit. I just don't understand why people can't just live and let live, why they need to stick their noses in and tell everyone how they should feel and think about things. Ergh.

BTW, "People are my biggest pet peeve" is a fantastic line. If you're not going to use it I might steal it one of these days.

Bernita said...

Sooo, one simply must not say a particular emperor has no clothes?

Robyn said...

You mean my writing a snarky review could cause someone to commit suicide? I never knew I was that powerful. Maybe I should write a snark on Alec Baldwin.

But I'm supposed to automatically cheerlead for any woman who manages to, you know, do her job, simply because she's a woman?? Screw that. If I am to jump on the "I am woman, hear me roar" bandwagon I'm going to insist that my feminist 'sisters' grow a spine and take criticism without crying, complaining, or threatening to slit their wrists. THEN maybe I'll support them.

And doesn't Dame Cartland have the ugliest little lap dogs you've ever seen?

BernardL said...

'The Natural' qualifies. It is one of the few examples where the movie made from it was much better than the book, and had a super ending. Malamud's ending in 'The Natural' left me wondering why he wrote the book at all. I avoided seeing the movie for a long time just because I had read that awful book. Skip reading Jude unless you need one of the most graphic descriptions of bleeding a pig ever written. :)

Rashenbo said...

I love reading romance stories. I have some of the greatest admiration for them. I just wish I could write those kind of stories... perhaps one day I'll try my hand at it!

Criticism is a fact of life. We face it everywhere. It's unfortunate that the romance industry gets it a little heavier than others, but we all need to cope with it.

Anonymous said...

Steal away darling. My hubby and I both use it all the time LOL

Arin Rhys said...

You know that the only reason that I started looking at romance as something to read more than one or two Christine Feehan books is because of the Smart Bitches' blog? That made me read, review, and want to write romances. It wasn't the cringe worthy titles or covers on the grocery store shelves or because of the Romance Times (I have only just heard of that magazine because of the drama). It was because of intelligent, funny blogs that made romance novels seem accessible and enjoyable to people other than great Aunt Gertrude's bridge club.

December Quinn said...

One must be very careful not to upset the Emperor, Bernita. Very careful indeed.

Lol, I wondered if anyone would mention the Cartland thing, Robyn! And yes. Anyone who says anything "mean"--like that they didn't like something I wrote--will send me into suicidal despair. Which isn't too far from my normal mental state these days, but that's another story. :-)

I agree absolutely, Bernard! I love the movie of The Natural, but the book made me want to put my head in the oven. Why write it, indeed? It's the kind of book where you'd want to read something like Sophie's Choice afterwards to cheer yourself up.

December Quinn said...

I think you should try your hand, Rashenbo. I'd be happy to read it!

Cool, Michele, I just might do that!

Thanks, Erin! See, you're proof of how important these reader bloggers are. I just wish everyone paid attention. :-)

littlebirdblue said...

Reviewers are a vital part of the process of generating discussion about artistic work. True, not all reviewers' 'work' is to every consumer's taste (any more than any piece of art would be, or writing or fashion or movie or...). People follow the reviews of reviewers they find entertaining, or interesting, or insightful, or irritating as hell, or uncannily accurate, or whatever. But the more people who're out there talking about books and engaging in public discussion about them, the more we'll all know about the industry and about individual authors.