Wednesday, March 5, 2008

RWA Encourages Hate Mail

Breaking News:

In the continuing saga of RWA National’s seeming campaign to stamp out (Hah!) the erotic romance genre, several hate-filled and unprofessional letters have been published by the RWA magazine, the Romance Writer’s Report for the past four issues.

These vitriolic letters are not IMHO, the work of professional persons interested in maintaining the aura of respectability of romance authors, but rather prejudiced hate letters aimed at one section of the published authors. Why is the RWA allowing this to be published repeatedly in what is supposed to be a magazine from an organization dedicated to supporting all authors of recognized romance genres? Like it or not, the RWA does recognize erotic romance as a legitimate genre.

I am no longer a member of the RWA for just such an example of the imbalanced nature of the RWA’s “support.” Some of these letters have accused the erotic romance authors of being “sluts” and “prostitutes” for writing “smut” in our eagerness to be published.

There are several things wrong with such accusations, even beyond their very nature as unprofessional attacks on one genre of authors. First, I doubt seriously if the writers of these letters are aware that many famous NY authors are also erotic romance writers who started out in the ebook world, such as Angela Knight, Lora Leigh, and Kate Douglas. Those best-selling authors deserve respect and admiration for their work. Could the letter writers be ones making the same amount of money? Not likely. Money talks. The buying public voted with their wallets.

I do also take exception to the term, “slut” being used to describe me and my sister erotic authors. Many of us are married mothers and grandmothers. Not exactly slut material. I myself am a fat old grandmother who just happens to have a long memory of those heady days when I first fell in love with my husband and my single days before the advent of AIDS. I suggest that any woman who enjoys the pleasures of the bedroom might have such memories. I and my sister authors merely have the skill and imagination to make these memories into stories the readers buy. Skills are learned and earned, unlike talent. I’d like to think I have that as well.

The term “prostitute” amuses me more than anything else. I do indeed sell a service for money, but it’s not illegal and I’m unlikely to get an STD from my keyboard. Anyone who sells a service is not a prostitute. I am alone here in my home office, typing on a keyboard, not walking a sidewalk soliciting sexual favors for money.

It is true that I abandoned my attempts to sell my stories to NY publishing houses, but it was not in the interests of selling sexual stories. In fact, my first sale was a historical set in Egypt that would be considered quite tame by today’s standards. It didn’t sell well, despite several awards from reviewers.

This is in the March RWR:

Here is the letter in its entirety:

As might be expected, I heartily agreed with what Linda Swift Reeder had to say regarding the increasingly graphic direction romance novels are taking. I find it odd that authors who once tried to convince the world that romances weren’t “soft porn” or filled with “purple prose” are now writing the very thing they once so vocally decried. Likewise, words that were once avoided are now liberally sprinkled through the pages. Just last week, I added another of my “auto-buy” authors to my “don’t buy” list because of the constant use of the F-word and other, equally unpleasant language.

Madeline Baker, R6

(sigh) "Soft Porn" and "purple prose"? Oh, PUH-Leeze. I understand this dialogue goes through four issues. If I wanted to write Barbara Cartland style, I'd still be unpublished. Times have changed. The f-word and the "evil C's" are now a part of the common vernacular, and I doubt sincerely that anyone in the throes of passion says, "Oh, baby! Make love to me now!" Uh, last time we did the horizontal tango, I was yelling "F*** me! F*** me hard!" at the top of my lungs.

The readers say with their spending dollars what I write. There are enough genres around that I’ll always be able to write something that sells, if paranormal erotic romance falls out of favor. I don’t think the erotic will ever go away, but who knows? The readers determine these things, I don’t. Do they really think my publishers would accept erotic romance if the stuff wasn’t selling like hotcakes?

Let them clutch their perfect pearls in horror at my language. Don’t read my books if my words offend you so. Your buying dollar determines the market too, prose princess. Bet you have to work harder than I do to not say what I type honestly.

I feel sorry for these women writing these letters. Makes you wonder if they "lay back and think of England" while their husband gets his jollies. How pitiful. No wait. I feel sorrier for their husbands.

1 comment:

Isabella said...

I agree, Lena. It's insulting for me personally to be accused of prostituting myself (with the insinuation that's the only reason I'm published), degenerating my characters (sluts) and thus all women everywhere. I'm not out here saying such heinous things about these people and their fiction, I'm not going to criticize them here. But I appreciate the same courtesty because I know how to professionally and politely conduct myself. Again, I'm offended. And I thought the RWA was supposed to support romance writers no matter where they are in their careers. How can they allow this?

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