A few years ago, my sisters, Mom and I were on our way to a ladies lunch. We were very excited because it wasn't often we could all get together.
In the car, I sat next to my sister-in-law, Kristine. She's a lovely woman, great mom and wonderful wife to my brother. We were having a fun conversation, but somewhere along the line I mentioned her job as a masseuse.
This wonderful woman turned to me and I swear if looks could kill I'd have turned to dust. "Massage therapist!"
The car went silent.
In the blink of an eye (who knew my brain could work that fast?) I went from getting my back up to realizing I'd found a kindred spirit. "I'm sorry, you're right," I said. "Massage therapist."
She apologized for snapping and began to explain, but I told her she didn't have to. I understood perfectly. I can't imagine what kind of remarks she gets because of the stigma behind her chosen profession. For me a 'happy ending' is something I strive toward, for her it's an insult. It irks me. My dear sister-in-law knows her stuff and has saved me from many tension headaches.
I've seen people lift their noses in the air and say, "Romance novels are all the same. You know the guy's gonna get the girl in the end." And that's bad, why? That's what I love about romances. I know, no matter what, I'll get a happy ending.
When did a happy ending become a bad thing?
How many times have I gotten annoyed with people who say I write 'smut' or 'bodice rippers?' I don't care if you write traditional, sweet romances or the most graphic sexy steamy novels out there. None of us write smut because we all have one thing in common. First and foremost, we write romance.
How many times have I bit my tongue when someone says, "Oh, you write those books with Fabio on the cover?" I don't know why this bothers me. Maybe because I don't like having my work dumbed down to some guy a cover.
How many times have I forced a smile when some ignorant guy (sorry guys, but it's ALWAYS a man who asks) says, "Can I read one of your sex scenes?" First of all, there's more to my work than just a sex scene. Secondly, some of my stories don't even have them!
When I read Francesca's blog on Saturday, I couldn't help but chuckle and shake my head. Anyone who says erotic romance authors are less capable writers has never written a sex scene. Do you know how hard it is to write a compelling, intense sex scene? Now try doing it four or five times, each time making it new and fresh. Believe me there's a lot more to it than insert tab 'A' into slot 'B.'
It boggles my mind that we don't get the respect other fiction writers do. Without romance, where would the publishing industry be?
It all comes down to what Dr. King fought against decades ago: Ignorance. Intolerance. Prejudice. The fact that some writers have to hide what they do for fear of losing their job is absurd.
The idea that someone in our own genre, as stated in Lori's blog, belittled a fellow writer because of what she writes is too sad for words. How can we possibly demand respect if we don't respect each other?
It's ironic, because I think an historical is the perfect set-up for a paranormal romance. You can time travel or write in Vlad the Impaler's time and visit with the first and most famous vampire. Revisit a time where myths and legends were born . . . but I'm getting off track.
Sadly, even now as we approach the fortieth anniversary of Dr. King's death, we're still facing prejudice in our lives, in our jobs and even amongst out own peers.
I truly hope one day, whether you're a massage therapist healing the body or a romance writer satisfying the mind, we will all be respected for what we do and never again will we see a sneer or hear a snide chuckle when we say the words, 'happy ending.'