At the Otherworld Diner the next two weeks, we're going to be covering two topics--inspiration and tolerance in the field of romance writing. The issues may seem no more connected than a slice of pie and a hunk of cheese at the outset, but the fact is, January 21st (today) is Martin Luther King, Jr. day here in the US, and Dr. King is a figure of both inspiration and tolerance to many.
I myself am going to talk a little about a smaller issue than the ones Dr. King addressed--tolerance in, or of, the romance genre--and tolerance of people who don't get it. Legends and unfortunate truths abound of the cretins romance authors and readers encounter when they proudly, or hesitantly, fly their romance flags. The great unwashed lurks at malls, at family gatherings, in bookstores, in academia, next door...pretty much everywhere. I'm not saying anyone who isn't a fan of romance is a dirty birdy, but more often than not, they insult what they *think* romance is all about and have insufficient experience with genre itself. Maybe they read a couple books back in the 80's. Maybe they think any literature with sex in it is automatically pornographic. And maybe they're just buttholes.
What do you do when this type of behavior smacks you in the face like a plate of day old spaghetti? How do you respond when someone opens their pie hole for reasons other than inserting pie?
I haven't encountered this prejudice yet beyond family, and by family I mean my MOM who insists on calling single titles "fat, dirty books", even though she reads them obsessively and is proud of the fact I've finally gotten published. I don't know what I'd do if confronted with a socially challenged romance hater, so I'm going to direct you to a series of links where other authors and readers talk about situations they've encountered, respect for genre fiction, and positive responses to difficult questions.
Incidentally, if you've never tried melted cheddar cheese on your apple pie, you're missing out.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--January 29, 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com
http://www.catherineanderson.com/tips.html: Ms. Anderson lists a number of writing tips with the pertinant one under the heading of "Respect".
http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2008/01/respecting-romance.html: Agent Jessica Faust discusses respect for the romance genre, and the comments trail is multitudinous!
http://www.authorsontheweb.com/features/0302-romance/romance-q7.asp: A number of published authors discuss the stigma of writing or reading romance.
http://writingintandem.blogspot.com/2007/07/r-e-s-p-e-c-t-what-doe-it-mean-to.html: Author Pepper Espinoza considers "high culture" versis "low culture".
http://www.stephaniebond.com/PDF%20files/Writers%20Articles/Conversing%20with%20the%20Unconverted.pdf: Author Stephanie Bond gives advice on how to talk to people who don't get romance.
http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2006/06/when-are-you-going-to-write-real-book.html: In an archived column, presumed agent Miss Snark takes on the question, "When are you going to write a real book?"
http://webdesignbylisaramaglia.com/marilynnbyerly/realbooks.html: As does author Marilynn Byerly.
http://www.forewordmagazine.com/articles/shw_article.aspx?articleid=107: Mystery authors get flack, too! Kate Flora discusses why people like mysteries and touches on the "real book" question.
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2007/03/so-whats-wrong-with-romance.html: Author Cindy Holby asks, "What's wrong with romance?"
http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/880000288/post/40013804.html: PW columnists Barbara Vey points out that romance isn't a four letter word.
http://www.lindsaylongford.com/faq.aspx: In her FAQ section, author Lindsay Langford comments that romances are indeed real books.
http://www.booksquare.com/and-you-make-how-much/: Author Jill Monroe takes on some of the invasive questions authors might get asked.
http://www.paularoe.com/goodanswers.html: Author Paula Roe categorizes the various stupid questions a romance author might get asked.
http://www.rwanational.org/cs/rwa_the_image_of_romance/rwr_archives_rwa_the_image_of_romance: If you're an RWA member, you can log into the site and see some of the articles from their "tough question" series.
And last but most interactive, author Sharron McClellan is running a contest for the best comeback: http://angryromancegrrl.blogspot.com/2008/01/got-snark.html