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Foot in Mouth Disease Affecting Fantasy Sector

oh-noes2.jpg
moar funny pictures

There appears to be a viral illness passing through the fantasy sector. Signs of the dreaded Foot in Mouth Disease are evident at two popular online blog stops. Oh Noes! There is Ms. Guran who decided to take the new Harlequin Paranormal blog to task for a) posting under a first name and no last name and b) for being banal about vampires.

This is the same Guran, editor of Juno publishing (whom we have reviewed here both favorably and unfavorably), who said this and this. It appears Guran is suffering chronic FiMD.

Another FiMD case is found at author Holly Lisle’s blog. Ms. Lisle is exploring the viability of a magazine and in her initial post declared that she wasn’t interested in publishing “porn” in a statement about epublishing. This was republished on Karen Scott’s blog and Ms. Lisle defended herself on the basis of being misunderstood (this inability to communicate her message clearly despite being a professional writer must be frustrating).

To further clarify her words, she wrote this today:

I’d think it would be obvious to anyone with a brain that ANY writer who is writing both adult and YA fantasy under her own name is not going to be even remotely interested in including anything that could be categorized as porn, or romantica, in a magazine she’s ALSO putting out under her own name.

Was I insulting porn? Romantica? No.

I was noting that porn/romantica is the ONE type of fiction that you can sell on the internet and know it will go. The stuff sells, and sells very well, and where there’s one big market for it, there’s certainly another. And some of it is very well written. I’m simply not interested, even a little bit, in being that market.

Yes, when money was a nightmare a couple of years ago, I bought a handful of Ellora’s Cave’s offerings with the idea of cooking up a pseudonym and doing a few of them, just to bring in the extra bucks. Some I thought were funny as hell, a few were pretty hot, some I didn’t care for, but in the end, no matter how much money I might have made doing them, I figure you only get so much time-’and so many books to write-’before you die. You better make sure every one you do is one you want to claim.

From this I draw the following conclusions:

  • Holly Lisle thinks porn and romantica are interchangeable
  • She thinks that authors who write for Ellora’s Cave are embarrassed to have that same name attached to other adult novels. (this is probably true for some and not true for others)
  • That writing for EC is something that you only do when you don’t have anything better to claim.
  • Writing romantica is super easy. It can probably be done by the lolcats but they have better things to do. (having read alot of bad romantica, I am guessing that its really not that easy).

Again, I could be misunderstanding her. I’ve been accused of that before. What is the treatment for FiMD? Can we prevent its spread across genre lines (actually there is plenty of FiMD in the romance genre too)? More lolcat pictures perhaps?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

123 Comments

  1. Jaci Burton
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 12:50:41

    Yeah, I typically knock out all of my porn writing on the weekends in between trips to the grocery store, loads of laundry and during commercials while watching Nascar. Piece of cake. Everyone should try it.

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  2. jmc
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 12:59:15

    I suppose Ms. Lisle thinks that romance readers and writers are being thinskinned and defensive. But if an author of literary fiction confided to her that he had bought a bunch of those geeky fantasy novels with the idea of pumping one out in a hurry to make a little of the green, she’d probably be more than a little irritated by all the assumptions he’d made.

    Yes, when money was a nightmare a couple of years ago, I bought a handful of Ellora's Cave's offerings with the idea of cooking up a pseudonym and doing a few of them, just to bring in the extra bucks.

    Attitudes and statements like these just contribute to the impression that e-books as a whole are all about erotic romance (and/or porn — I’m clear on the difference but Lisle doesn’t seem to be).

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  3. Lynne Connolly
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:03:19

    Ok, I write romantica (which is, btw, exclusive to Ellora’s Cave, something Ms Lisle seems unaware of). I also write erotic romance as well as sensual romance (not as hot but still hot).
    Count me as feeling insulted. Not because she equates me with writers of porn, but because she doesn’t know the difference. I know some porn writers and I get the feeling they might be insulted for the same reason.
    It took me years to get it right, and to work up from tentative sex scenes to full-on steam, and I consciously worked towards it.
    As I say to people who claim they always skip the sex scenes in a book – go into any second hand bookstore or UPS, find a book you know has some steamy scenes in it and let it fall open naturally. Nine times out of ten, the spine is cracked at the sex scene. So somebody’s reading them!

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  4. Jane
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:04:19

    I suppose Ms. Lisle thinks that romance readers and writers are being thinskinned and defensive.

    And we are, alot of times, thinskinned and defensive (years of mocking will do that to a group). But, the assumptions/conclusions/tactless statements give a sense of holier than thou attitude. In my opinion, genre fiction is genre fiction regardless of the subcategory which is essentially what you said in the second sentence of your quote.

    and Jaci – I knew you had the good life.

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  5. Jaci Burton
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:19:44

    thanks Jane.

    *tosses feather boa, eats another bonbon*

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  6. Gwen
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:24:04

    That writing for EC is something that you only do when you don't have anything better to claim.

    Oh for heaven’s sake.

    Tell that to Lora Leigh – isn’t she an EC author and stupendously successful mainstream press author? I’d say she has other things to claim.

    What a dumb thing for Lisle to say.

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  7. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:26:16

    I often suffer from FiMD, too. Jane, you might wanna trademark that before medical research decides to grab it and find a ‘cure’. You could make millions. ;-)

    I didn’t pay all that much attention to the posts by Guran. It was getting too explanatory and all lecture-y. I don’t read for enlightenment or lectures. I read for enjoyment.

    The comment HL made, yeah, it came off as a slam against erotic romance, but I’m not going to worry about getting insulted and miffed over it. If she views porn and erotic romance as one and the same, chances are she isn’t going to change her mind. It’s a mindset I’ve run into before and it’s a brick wall I’m tired of hitting my head against. I’ll still explain why I disagree when I see these opinions, but I’m not going to stress over it when I do.

    And Jane, thanks for getting the preview thingy back!

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  8. Gwen
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:29:39

    As I say to people who claim they always skip the sex scenes in a book – go into any second hand bookstore or UPS, find a book you know has some steamy scenes in it and let it fall open naturally. Nine times out of ten, the spine is cracked at the sex scene. So somebody's reading them!

    Lynne – I agree. Sure there are people who read the sex scenes only for puerile reasons. There are piles of other people who read them to get a reading on the characters’ level of intimacy, a view into a character’s phobias and hang-ups.

    Sex is all about power and love – how on earth can an author write a good, in depth romance and NOT include sex, is my question. It isn’t all about lubes, plugs, and positions – though, those are pretty fun details. It has to do with the give and take. A reader can get an incredibly deep view into H/H’s relationship from just one sex scene.

    Grrr. Self-righteous, self-important, self-agrandizing statements like Lisle’s does not do anything to make the situation better.

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  9. Peyton
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:35:54

    *shrug*

    Everything I’ve ever read from Ellora’s Cave has been abysmal so I can’t see denigrating Ms. Lisle for not wanting to attach her name to it.

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  10. kristenmary
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:40:07

    Yes, Jane. More lolcats are in order. :)

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  11. Janine
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:46:25

    From the second link:

    Plus a sizable number of romance readers want the same formula over and over; they don’t want a higher quality.

    Arg!

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  12. Randi Thompson
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 13:54:21

    Hi Peyton,

    Your comment about EC intrigued me, and I was wondering which authors you had tried, there. My first EC aughor was Lora Leigh, and I have to agree with Gwen and say that I think she’s a terrific writer. On the other hand, I started to read Trace’s Psychic by Jory Strong, and I can’t even finish it. But my EC picks are about the same as rummaging around a bookstore. There are some great writers, some decent writers, and some terrible authors. So, possibly, you got a bunch of bad writers all at one time…heh. Anyway, do you mind listing who you’ve read from EC?

    Sincerely,

    Randi

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  13. Gwen
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 14:01:16

    And don’t forget that EC usually has a very generous excerpt for each book. So if you’re reading something from there that sucks, perhaps you’re not taking advantage of the excerpts as much as you should.

    And don’t for a minute think that I’m defending EC. I’ve read some seriously bad dreck from them myself. Crap that was thinly veiled porn, stuff that was so poorly edited/proofread my 8-year old could have written it better, and stuff that was just plain bad. So now I avoid those and am very selective.

    I have also read some fantastic books from EC (Leigh, and several others). Caveat emptor.

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  14. Paula Guran
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 14:09:43

    Fail to see where my foot is in my mouth. Please do let me know? Where does my criticism of the Harlequin blog have anything to do with the interview you link to or your earlier misunderstanding about Juno Books you link? Or, for that matter what Holly Lisle has said?

    I just honestly don’t see why my frustration with a professional Web site’s caliber of writing and set-up has anything to do with what I guess you are referring to — definitions.

    I really don’t get it. We agree. The romance world needs to understand that the rest of the world (not just fantasy) uses the term “paranormal romance” differently because the rest of the world does not define “romance” as it does. Other genres need to make a major effort to understand what “romance” means to romance readers and what “paranormal romance” means in general. Further, discussion of what “urban fantasy” is in this context is needed.

    I’ve been trying to do this. There’s no good term to describe a very popular genre that crosses many genres, that is sometimes HEA-romance and sometimes isn’t. Perhaps we don’t need one — but we do all need to respect and to understand what we mean by the terms now being used.

    I am in the midst of trying to educate the fantasy folk and remedy their ignorance as to the term “paranormal romance”. I wrote about the “Paranormal Paradox” here: http://juno-books.com/paradox.html. Yes, it is throughly misunderstood — to the extent that a semi-professional magazine just called Juno Books a “paranormal romance” line! Something it is not and never has been.

    * * *

    And Janine — what is wrong with saying “a sizable number of romance readers want the same formula over and over; they don't want a higher quality”? The ENTIRE quotation is (it is not well-formatted, so I will supply some guides):

    QUESTION: …but somehow “women’s fiction” is [perceived to be] of a lesser
    quality than that read by men…

    PG: I don’t think that perception exists anymore. Publishers do know that
    more women buy more books than men, so they want to sell to women.

    QUESTION: There is the idea that “romance”, which is read primarily by women,
    is of a lesser literary quality…

    PG:: And it is true. Not *all* romance,
    of course, but a lot of it. Plus a sizable number of romance readers
    want the same formula over and over; they don’t want a higher
    quality. Before someone gets ticked off about me saying those things,
    let me point out that the same could be said of horror during its
    brief boom in the 80s. Most of it, but not all, was poor quality and,
    at the time, the public didn’t seem to mind.

    * * *
    The same could be said of any genre. This is a shock?

    * * *

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  15. Jennifer Estep
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 14:10:23

    Sometimes, I think people get in trouble when they try to explain too much. If she’d just said romantica wasn’t for her and she wasn’t interested in writing it, that would have been fine. No harm, no foul. Everybody has a right to their opinion.

    There are lots of genres and other things out there that aren’t for me. But just because some genre isn’t my favorite thing doesn’t mean I’m going to knock people who do like it — or be silly enough to think I could pound out that kind of book on a weekend. Live and let live.

    And yes, any problem can be solved with more Cheezburger photos! ;-)

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  16. Anna Anon
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 14:23:29

    *shrug*

    Everything I've ever read from Ellora's Cave has been abysmal so I can't see denigrating Ms. Lisle for not wanting to attach her name to it.

    I have three words for you, Lisa Marie Rice. She’s a romantica author and she is absolutely brilliant.

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  17. Jill A
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 14:24:31

    “There is the idea that “romance”, which is read primarily by women,
    is of a lesser literary quality…”

    I think I missed what the interviewer was comparing romance to, unless it’s to “fiction read by men”. And if that is what it means, then I disagree with your response, Paula. I don’t believe the average romance is any worse than, say, the average fantasy (which is my other oft-read genre, so I feel comfortable comparing). And what is with the separation of “women’s fiction” (which here includes romance? I thought it was a separate classification) from everything else as being “fiction read by men”, as if women don’t read all genres?

    As an aside, I would vote for more lolcats to cure anything – lolcats make everything better ^_-

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  18. Karen Scott
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 14:27:01

    I am in the midst of trying to educate the fantasy folk and remedy their ignorance as to the term “paranormal romance”.

    And I’m sure they are all very grateful for your endeavour, and sacrifice, O’Holy One.

    ReplyReply

  19. Jane
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 14:28:36

    I just honestly don't see why my frustration with a professional Web site's caliber of writing and set-up has anything to do with what I guess you are referring to -’ definitions.

    It has nothing to do with definitions. Because you ask, I am happy to elaborate. From your blog post:

    (Clue #1: Anyone not providing a full name or at least a witty nom de Web is hardly to be trusted as a blogger.)

    I’m not sure where those hard and fast rules come from but apparently if Laura posted under say, GothicReader, that would be acceptable? According to the About Us section (which you apparently read since you later mention her position),

    Laura is the Digital Production Coordinator at Harlequin. She reads gothic novels full of haunting calls across the moors, ethereally glowing hellhounds, men haggard and careworn with the weight of two centuries of melancholy, etc. etc. She is a ghost.

    Further, you take Laura to task for writing something banal on the marketing blog. Have you read your blog entries lately? You’ve got covers and review quotes. Are you making some thoughtful and insightful commentary all the time?

    Speaking of definitions, you find that Laura’s definition of vampires don’t meet your own:

    Secondly, I fear you may not be aware of the extremely broad interpretation of the vampire myth…which is one thing I dislike so much about “Laura's” summation. (Turn off that TV!)

    Edited to add: This is the blog for you as editor of Juno press. I find it somewhat distasteful for you to smack at a competitor. It would be like seeing an editor for Avon at AvonRomance make fun of the Berkley author blogs. Maybe my reaction would be different if it were your own personal blog, but it is not. It is the Juno press blog which is clearly a marketing tool.

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  20. Janine
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 14:41:29

    And Janine — what is wrong with saying “a sizable number of romance readers want the same formula over and over; they don't want a higher quality”?

    Ms. Guran, I don’t believe the statement can be proven. Very possibly sales figures show that some number of readers purchase formulaic books that aren’t of a higher quality (though even that would be difficult to prove, since not everyone will agree on what “the same formula” or “a higher quality” means), but that’s not at all the same as wanting those books. A reader who isn’t familiar with review publications has no way to know what is inside a book when she purchases it.

    Additionally, if publishers see that readers are buying the books and are risk-averse as well, and for that reason don’t put out as many risk-taking books, then it becomes very difficult for readers, no matter how much they may want something different, to buy something different.

    And then there is the whole issue of marketing, and bringing books to readers’ attention, and getting the stores to carry them.

    To paraphrase something I believe author Judith Ivory said once on the boards of All About Romance, if the only food supermarkets were selling were bananas, and you really wanted something different but couldn’t find it, wouldn’t you still buy bananas?

    Therefore, in my opinion at least, sales figures are not the most accurate way of gauging what readers actually want.

    I know one of the main reasons I buy so many romances is because I crave uplifting books, and books in other genres (though I’ve enjoyed many of them, too) can at times depress me, and it is very difficult to predict, if you go outside the romance genre, whether or not a book will end on a depressing note. But that doesn’t mean I want formula and poor quality, and I think there are many, many readers who feel the same way I do.

    The same could be said of any genre.

    But it gets said of romance more than of any other genre, doesn’t it?

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  21. Ann Bruce
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 14:54:12

    Yeah, I typically knock out all of my porn writing on the weekends in between trips to the grocery store, loads of laundry and during commercials while watching Nascar. Piece of cake. Everyone should try it.

    Jaci, you should try doing it while your car is idling at intersections.

    a sizable number of romance readers want the same formula over and over; they don't want a higher quality

    Heck, does this mean I can Ctrl C, Ctrl V all the way through my next book? Yay! I no longer have to think about plot or character development anymore.

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  22. Gail Faulkner
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 15:06:21

    Silly me. Writing for EC all this time and doing it the hard way. I had no idea it was the “easy money”. Banging head on desk.

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  23. Jaci Burton
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 15:11:32

    Jaci, you should try doing it while your car is idling at intersections.

    Well hell. Since all this sex writing is a no brainer and all, I should be able to slide in a three book contract with Berkley next time instead of two. Thanks Ann. ;-)

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  24. Laura Elliott
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 15:25:07

    Whew…added my last name so I wouldn’t be confused with that Laura.

    I find this quote from Paula’s rant to be most insulting: I won't even go on the the next paragraph, let alone essays on “works which have helped shape the [paranormal] genre over the years” or “what defines paranormal vs. sci-fi vs. fantasy”. (Yes, “sci-fi”.)

    What’s so wrong with saying sci-fi instead of SF? Should someone be ostracized for that? I think it’s actually more clear than the the SF acronym. SF could be speculative fiction.

    I love science fiction. I’ve read it since my dad first handed me Ender’s Game. I go home from work and put on the SciFi channel. Paula makes it sound like only the uneducated dare to use sci-fi rather than SF.

    I say tomato, you say to-mat-o.

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  25. Jill Myles
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 15:25:28

    I think we all would like to see LOLcat Romantica. Jane, I smell a contest…

    Oh hai! Moar surprize buttsecks?

    Yes plz!!!

    ReplyReply

  26. Robin
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 15:40:53

    I felt the entire tone of Guran’s post was condescending.

    This, for example: Perhaps she coordinates digital production well, but couldn't Harlequin find someone else to write these things?

    I.e. Laura should stick to digital production?

    This: What do I find so terrible about “Laura's” posts and why won't I comment if I take such umbrage? Because I don't have time to tear apart each sentence.

    That second sentence reminds me of the line from MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail when he says that if he spent his days answering all his correspondence he and his secretaries wouldn’t be able to do anything else. In MLK’s case it was a nice assertion of authority, but in Guran’s it didn’t, in part because Laura’s blog post wasn’t directed at Guran or Juno.

    This: Are vampires sexy? Not all vampires are sexy. To ignore this fact is to ignore the basis of any discussion of erotically potent vampires. Even if one needs to be simplistic, one should acknowledge.

    Calling Laura’s POV “simplistic” for example, suggests that she’s a simpleton and Guran is not. However, IMO Laura was simply starting from another premise, the premise that vamps are sexy — which they ARE within the Romance paradigm for many readers. If Guran wants to interrogate that, great. I love those kinds of discussions because they add another perspective to the conversation. But the implication of stupidity on Laura’s part because that’s not where she wanted to start, combined with the other sentences I and several others have highlighted, came across to me as insulting — inexplicably so, in fact, since it seems that someone in Guran’s position wouldn’t be wanting to so overtly alienate any cross over readers who might read both blogs. And also because merely initiating a discussion on whether vamps are sexy would have been something I would have loved to read.

    More and more lately, I’ve been seeing these personal digs being exchanged, NOT from reader bloggers, but from authors, editors, publishers, and the like. Which makes me wonder what the foundation of the objection to “mean girl reviewers and reader-bloggers” really is.

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  27. Randi Thompson
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 15:41:08

    Wait, wait, wait. *clears throat*

    We arnen’t to use Sci-Fi anymore? Why not? What’s wrong with that? SF, for me, mean San Francisco. Since I have just as much Sci-Fi as romance (which comes to several hundred books in each case), I feel pretty ok about using Sci-Fi. Or SciFi. Or SF, should I be so inclined. But, I wasn’t aware that there was some sort of stoopid tag associated with using Sci-Fi….when did that happen? Or am I totally misunderstanding what’s going on here….

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  28. ChoptLiverz
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 15:47:42

    For Randi and Laura: http://www.sfwa.org/misc/skiffy.htm

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  29. Peyton
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 15:52:47

    Randi:

    I can’t say I’m a fan of Lora Leigh. If memory serves (and it’s been years since I’ve read her, with a lot of other books in between) She writes the same exact book over and over and relies entirely too heavily on the concept of being “chosen” which is a concept I most often see in bad vampire fanfic and IMO is a cop-out for a real relationship.

    I did actually see a series recently where the idea of being chosen wasn’t awful, written by Eileen Wilkes, so I can’t actually say I’ve never seen it done well, but the occasions I *have* seen it done well are…well, there’s only the one.

    As for which other writers I’ve read? Honestly I can’t remember off the top of my head, aside from LL, they all bled together into a morass of dissatisfaction. There was quite a few and I’m willing to admit it’s possible that the quality of writing has improved in the 2 years since I vowed never to read anything by EC, or any other epublisher, again.

    Anna Anon:
    I’ll try her. I’m usually happy to be proved wrong.

    back from reading an exerpt at the EC website Honestly, she might be the best plotter since sliced bread, but I caught entirely too many grammar errors, in the little bit I read, to be able to relax my vow.

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  30. Jane
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 15:52:52

    I felt the entire tone of Guran's post was condescending.

    Yes, thank you. That is what I was looking for. I do think that Guran believes her fiction is better, her blog is better, her definition for romance, vampires, the world, is better. Some of Juno books are better than other fantasy out there and some not.

    For example, in response to the infamous Bindel piece, Guran states: “(We think she should read OUR books.)”

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  31. Randi Thompson
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:02:01

    ChoptLiverz; Thanks. I had no idea there was such controversy surrounding that label. With that said though, I have to admit that I do not, indeed, spend any time in SF fandom. It occurs to me that that seems weird, seeing as I spend an inordinate amount of time in Romancelandia, and I read about equal measure of both. I’ll have to think about that some…

    Still, I’ve never heard anyone use Sci-Fi in a derogatory manner. Not that it doesn’t happen, or course, just that I haven’t been on the receiving end. I will probably continue to use Sci-Fi, 1)because that’s how it’s wired in my brain. 2)SF is strictly embedded as San Francisco in my head, and 3) Like most people, I don’t like being told what to do. ;)

    There’s a lot of chatter right now in Romancelandia about labels and tags and subgenres. Is is the same in the SF community?

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  32. ChoptLiverz
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:05:32

    Dear Randi,

    I use Sci-fi. I don’t give really care what anybody thinks. :)

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  33. Randi Thompson
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:09:43

    Peyton,

    If the LL books you read were part of Breeds series, then yes, you have a valid point. I have a couple of those and they didn’t do much for me from a story point of view; though I have to say the sex scenes were hot (for me, not for everyone). I think, (and anyone else here more familar w/ LL than I, by all means pipe up), her writing is worlds better now, (say with the Nauti series). That may be due to maturation, or the fact that the Nauti series is printed, versus the Ebooks.

    Another EC author I am particulary fond of is Joey Hill. I haven’t read any of her Vampire Queen series yet (though they have received fab reviews in the blogosphere), but some of her older stuff (i.e. 2006) I quite liked.

    I’m with ya on Eileen Wilks. Love her.

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  34. Lynne
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:12:58

    I’ve witnessed a few dust-ups on writers’ loops about the various terms for speculative/science fiction, and my reaction has always been a combination of amazement that people would be that irate over something so incredibly trivial (to my way of thinking) and disgust over the rampant snobbery.

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  35. Jill Myles
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:13:30

    Being a long-time romance reader, I am one of those goobers that actually really likes the ‘chosen’ or ‘soulmates’ storyline. Rather than ‘artificially manufacturing’ a relationship, I like that it forces two people together that would otherwise not be, and the dynamic that exists after this unbreakable bond is introduced. I think that is terribly fun.

    For a non-cliche treatment of soulmates and such, I really love the Elfquest comic series (just call me a nerd). In addition to beautiful art and a wonderfully romantic storyline, it dealt with the repercussions of people that were forced to be soulmates and did not want to be – or people that already had a mate and found themselves bonded to another. Superlative stuff. I cannot recommend it enough.

    Oops, I got off track, didn’t I?

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  36. Jane
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:15:56

    Let me second the Joey Hill writing. Pretty phenomenal. I like Anya Bast’s novellas although she’s a bit weak on the fantasy side. MA Everaux? was another EC author I have enjoyed.

    I think the fact that there is bad romantica shows that it is not easy to write because if it was? All of it would be good, right?

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  37. Ann Aguirre
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:20:21

    Peyton, you need to read The Fifth Favor by Shelby Reed. If you can still claim you’ve never read a good EC book after that, then we have much different concepts of sheer artistry.

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  38. Randi Thompson
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:23:30

    Like most storylines, if it’s well written with good character development and engages me on an emotional level, I’m gonna like it. I have no love or hate relationship with the soulmate concept. I’ve seen it done well (see the Crimson City series by Marjorie Liu, Liz Maverick, et al); and not done well (see Jory Strong’s Trace’s Psychic). Conversely, Nora Roberts has an exceptional line-up of HEA storylines that don’t use the soulmates concept at all. Just people in the right place, at the right time, falling in love with each other.

    Is there such a thing as “off-track” here? hahahaha.

    Lynne, I’ve noticed that, as well. Getting snobby about your genre (Sci-Fi, Romance, Chick lit, etc), just because ‘White Dudes’* literature is snubbing their nose at your genre, doesn’t do anyone any good, except possible irritating new readers and turning them off the genre for good.

    *White Dudes casually taken and used from the Smart Bitches.

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  39. Kim
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:32:20

    Gwen

    Regarding your comment that “Sex is all about power and love – how on earth can an author write a good, in depth romance and NOT include sex, is my question.”

    I think a good many Inspirational authors would beg to differ with that statement. I know some in my chapter who write very lovely stories without more than sexual tension. Sex is all well and good, but for me what really does it is hot sexual tension.

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  40. Randi Thompson
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:36:16

    Kim,

    I agree. Patricia Briggs, for example, has no sex in her books, just a lot of sexual tension. I appreciate that coming off the LKH sex-fest. However, I also love me some EC E-rotic (I have never been able to find an X-treme EC book, so have no idea if I’d like it) novels. It all depends on what I’m in the mood for. Do I want hot sex or don’t I. Luckily for everyone here, there’s something for every taste and mood. But in the end, the HEA depends on the emotional relationship of the characters, not just whether they have good sex.

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  41. Jill Myles
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:41:12

    I think December Quinn and Anna J Evans just wrote an X-treme Blaze called DEMON’S TRIAD?

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  42. (Jān)
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:52:51

    It seems to me that if people are condescending about writing erotica they simply wouldn’t be able to write it well. It’s the kind of thing one has to be comfortable about enjoying to be able to write something that’s enjoyable to readers. The same goes for romance, in my opinion.

    Perhaps this is why sex in sf/sci-fi is so often clinical and silly. I have to go back to the 60s authors in my mind for some who could really write some erotic sex, like Philip Jose Farmer.

    The sf/sci-fi question goes back to sci-fi being associated with the pulps and bug-eyed monster movies of the 50s. I think the term is no longer pejorative, though many are still touchy about it. Nowadays I think it’s merely a silly thing to rant on that makes one sound like part of the “in” crowd.

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  43. MaryKate
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:52:54

    Randi Thompson said:

    I agree. Patricia Briggs, for example, has no sex in her books, just a lot of sexual tension.

    Yet. Please let it be yet! I could do w/a little hot Adam-sex in the next Mercy book.

    Or is that just me?

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  44. Paula Guran
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 16:55:13

    Jane — I disagree with you on this in many ways. But it is not worth arguing over. If you feel that I have acted in a non-professional manner. So be it. The posts are gone. If you had said that to start with, I would have at least understood your point.

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  45. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:01:15

    *shrug*

    Everything I've ever read from Ellora's Cave has been abysmal so I can't see denigrating Ms. Lisle for not wanting to attach her name to it

    I have three words for you, Lisa Marie Rice. She's a romantica author and she is absolutely brilliant.

    *G* I got two more… Shelby Reed. ;)

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  46. Jane
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:01:20

    If you disagree with me and believe in your posts, why would you ever delete them?

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  47. Jia
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:01:47

    There's a lot of chatter right now in Romancelandia about labels and tags and subgenres. Is is the same in the SF community?

    No, there the discussion tends to return constantly to “The Death of the Genre”, “Why is the genre shrinking?” and “How can we inject new life in the genre?”

    My answer to the last one would be, “Stop being afraid of our girl cooties getting all over your SF.” The genre isn’t shrinking or dying. It’s just that it’s being marketed as romance, as young adult, etc.

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  48. Jane
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:09:15

    Is urban fantasy not considered to be part of the SF community? Or LKH?

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  49. Rae Lindley
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:18:09

    My answer to the last one would be, “Stop being afraid of our girl cooties getting all over your SF.” The genre isn't shrinking or dying. It's just that it's being marketed as romance, as young adult, etc.

    That’s so true. I’ve been a huge sci-fi fan since I was a wee one and I love my romance (HEA, soulmates and all). The fact that the two genres are merging is a fabulous thing to this reader. Although I like the classics, they do read a bit sterile today compared to how well contemporary writers convey sexual tension and emotion rather than just focusing on the technology and getting from point A to point B.

    Like most things in life, the genre is just growing and changing with the times.

    Is urban fantasy not considered to be part of the SF community? Or LKH?

    I’ve heard SF fans say she should go in horror, erotica or romance and (paranormal) romance fans say she belongs in horror or sci-fi. Locus Magazine, which focuses on speculative books, showcases her so I guess they consider her part of that mold.

    A big part of Locus focuses on urban fantasy as well. I guess that’s why the SF term now tends to mean “Speculative Fiction” to encompass all fantasy, sci-fi and horror works.

    Still, there’s a complaint that fantasy has taken over the bookstore sections. The last time I visited my bookstore I noticed it grew 4 times as large than a few years ago due to the genre busters in urban fantasy. Frankly, I was overjoyed. :-)

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  50. Randi Thompson
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:20:37

    Mary Kate: I agree and disagree. I would like Mercy and Adam to finally get it on. Yet, I don’t feel the need to be in on the action. Having them get intimate off-screen, so to speak, is fine with me.

    Jia-glad you posted. I have read articles here and there over the years about Science Fiction dying. It makes me laugh. How does a genre die? It doesn’t. It might morph into something different, or splinter into sub-genres, but it doesn’t die. Please. I think you’re right and those boy snobs are all atwitter because female protaginists are more common these days, than ever before.

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  51. Jia
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:21:01

    Jane: Depends on who you ask. And it depends on who writes it and what kind. If it’s straight urban fantasy as written by Charles de Lint, Jim Butcher, Simon Green, then yes.

    If it’s urban fantasy as written by LKH, Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, then there’s definite snobbery and exclusion. Because “That’s romance!” Except for the fact that it’s actually not.

    That’s where some of the resentment came from during the SFWA dust-up several months back. There is tension between the old guard who shies away from technology and the new generation who embraces it, yes. But there is also the old guard who has a certain image of what SF is in their heads and refuses to let it grow, adapt, and expand with the changing marketplace and readership.

    So in a way, the SF genre is dying… but only if you have a certain definition of what SF is and should be.

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  52. Nonny
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:24:26

    Jane: Urban fantasy is a fantasy subgenre, so it’s definitely part of the SF community. Here’s the thing, though, there’s a lot of different facets to the “SF community.” You’ve got the fans, SFWA members, and non-SFWA writers. There are actually a good few female writers who have left SFWA after harassment and abuse by the older male contingent of the association because they did such things as… oh, write romantic elements in their novels, or try to promote reading and writing SF/F amongst kids and young adults.

    To the general community, yes, urban fantasy is a part of it. To the SFWA members (not the full organization but unfortunately a vocal minority) who refuse to step into the 21st century — no, it’s not.

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  53. Jill Myles
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:25:27

    I think that UF is sometimes treated like ‘girl-cooties’ stuff. LKH is treated in a very different view than Jim Butcher, but I think Anita Blake has sold circles around Harry Dresden.

    But what do I know? I just write de p0rnz.

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  54. Randi Thompson
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:26:40

    Jane,

    Good question. Personally, I wouldn’t categorize LKH as Sci-Fi or romance. Possible put her in Urban Fantasy or just put her in Fiction. It doesn’t help that the first nine books are completely different than the ones after that. I.e. Her first nine (or 10 or 11 depending on the reader) could be filed under Horror. The rest could be, well, erotica (please, please do not misunderstand me-I am not suggesting it is good erotica, only that the core of the writing is sex).

    Urban Fantasy is confusing to me, as a reader. It doesn’t turn me off, as a consumer, to see that title, it just doesn’t describe what the plot may be. On the good side, I am more likely to pick up an “urban fantasy” book, precisely because I don’t know what type of fiction it’s going to be. Will it be horror? Romance? comedy? all three? hard to tell.

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  55. Jane
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:27:13

    I just ask because Patricia Briggs, who I think writes UF, was number 1 on the mass market list for the NYT. Doesn’t Butcher, though, have romance in his stories? Ned reads him and I am pretty sure he told me that there was the dread romance in it.

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  56. Nonny
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:30:52

    Randi: I’d put the first nine under dark urban fantasy. They aren’t horror, where the main purpose of the story is to frighten the reader. They deal with horrific elements, but they’re basically paranormal mysteries for the first several books. :)

    After that point, yeah, it’s erotica.

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  57. Jody W.
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:33:51

    Oh, Jill Myles, Elfquest can never be off-topic :)

    I have heard people who care about such things equate the term “sci fi” to “bodice ripper” on the scale of genre insults. However, since “sci fi” in and of itself doesn’t have derogatory connotations and “bodice ripper” does, it’s not a great parallel.

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  58. Jia
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:35:45

    I agree with Nonny. Even though my local Borders shelved LKH in the horror section, I’ve never considered them horror novels simply because they’re not scary. (Or rather, not intended to be scary. There are horror novels I don’t particularly find scary.)

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  59. Jill Myles
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:36:23

    I LOVE ELFQUEST!!!

    It is the smexiest comic ever and was the first thing I ever read that involved orgies (all at the tender age of 17).

    I wrote so many, many bad Elfquest fics.

    Jane, you should read it. Or Jia. One of you. *waves hands* Both of you!

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  60. Jane
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:36:33

    So basically no genre wants to claim her?

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  61. Randi Thompson
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:43:01

    Jane,

    Which Butcher series? The Dresden Files have a romantic interlude here and there, but is not, by far, a core of the storyline. My caveat: I haven’t read the last two yet (on my TBR pile). I was not remotely interested in the other series (some fantasy type storyline) so have no idea if he trode down the romance path.

    Nonny: Dark Urban Fantasy. Another sub-genre? Heh. What does that really mean, though? For me, it doesn’t describe anything. Again, that’s not always bad as I have a tendency to grab ‘Urban Fantasy’ because it doesn’t classify anything. But would be file ‘dark urban fantasy’ under fantasy? Sci-Fi? Fiction?

    With that said though, I don’t consider urban fantasy to be a Sci-Fi sub-genre. In my head, urban fantasy is more likely to be modern day fiction, with maybe a tilt to another sub-genre, like fantasy (erik flint, say), horror (Holly Black or LKH), Social Commentary (Neal Stephenson), et al. In my head, Sci-Fi deals with science-type things, as a way to understand and look at what it means to be human. So, a lot of Sci-Fi, for me, is going to be in the future, probably space travel is alive and well, probably with an alien for 20, with some neato gadgets. Science. Fiction.

    As an aside: I find this thread fascinating and I hope publishers are reading it, because what comes to mind is, no two readers are going to have the same explanation for the same genre, and thus, how do you publish and market, appropriately? Someone up thread, I think, mentioned just throwing out all the genres and filing everyting in Fiction. I like that.

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  62. Jia
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:43:04

    Jill: I have read Elfquest. A couple volumes anyway.

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  63. Ann Aguirre
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 17:46:10

    There’s a very sad romance thread running through the Harry Dresden books. I won’t spoil if you haven’t read it, but thus far, Harry’s romantic experiences have not involved anything even close to a HEA. However, if you like melancholy and/or unrequited (thus far) love stories, Jim Butcher has done that exceedingly well.

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  64. Kim
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 18:08:15

    Here here Randi! As you said, there are enough books out there for everyone’s tastes. I don’t read erotica or really anything heavy on sex no matter how it’s billed – a personal, yeah, prudish choice so it is really nice to find authors that tell a great story with sexual tension versus sex.

    My chime in for Jim Butcher and the Dresden series. I love romance but in this case, I enjoy Harry so much, the romance is just really icing. Of course, I’d like Jim to keep writing Harry (please don’t stop!) but if he ever does decide to stop, I’d like Harry to have his love then. I have a hard time thinking of anyone who deserves it more. But, I’m sure there are. :D

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  65. Chicklet
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 18:09:57

    So basically no genre wants to claim her?

    Ha! My snark exactly!

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  66. Keishon
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 18:23:33

    I know this is beside the point but I’d like to get some recs:

    I have three words for you, Lisa Marie Rice. She's a romantica author and she is absolutely brilliant

    *shaking head* Sorry. I wasn’t all that impressed, quite frankly, with Lisa Marie Rice’s first mass market release and yes**raises hand** I do skim sex scenes when the characterization is nowhere to be found. OR read them when there isn’t sh*t else to be read in the book. I’ve enjoyed Anya Bast however I haven’t read anything by her in sometime. I’m always open for rec’s for romantica that is a half-way decent read if anyone care to drop some names. Despite Ms. Lisle’s claims of this genre being easy to write – I can tell you from my experience–it’s not easy and I have the discarded books to prove it (well, not really, they were given to my tech).

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  67. Nonny
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 18:25:19

    Randi: “Dark fantasy” is used to refer to fantasy that’s darker in tone/content/theme than your usual fantasy, but not outright horror. Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels novels are a great example of dark fantasy. :)

    “Urban fantasy” is fantasy that takes place in a contemporary setting; these days, often with vampires, werewolves, or other such creatures.

    So, “dark urban fantasy” would be urban fantasy with a dark theme, tone, or content.

    Yes, I’m a definition whore. :)

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  68. Mireya
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 18:31:39

    Calling herself an “author” there is NO EXCUSE for her ignorance on the difference between porn and erotic romance (romantica being a term trademarked by EC I tend to avoid using it). Basically all she is showing is her complete disregard for any type of fiction that is not what she writes or fancies. I can’t say I am that surprised. This same type of ignorance still runs rampant despite the fact that erotic romance as well as other types of erotic fiction have been discussed ad nauseam online, and there are substantial differences between smut/porn and the different types of erotic fiction. Though things have improved for erotic romance to be recognized as a bona fide subcategory of romance, there is still a lot of prejudice about it… and it is prejudice caused by sheer ignorance of the subcategory. JMHO. I got into romance THANKS to erotic romance. Long live erotic romance!

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  69. Randi Thompson
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 18:32:04

    Nonny:

    oooo, I love the Black Jewels. Did you see there’s a new one coming out? *skips around* I had a harder time getting into her second series. But I didn’t really feel like Black Jewels was “dark”. Wait, maybe I should take that back…I’m going to have to think upon what I consider “Dark” fiction.

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  70. Bev Stephans
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 18:33:48

    The late, great Isaac Asimov said he found it very difficult to write a love story into his Sci-Fi. It was there in his later Foundation books but it was rather stilted. It’s a good thing that I liked the Foundation books for their Sci-Fi and not HEA.

    Some of the earlier EC writers were very good. Jaci Burton, Lora Leigh and Sarah McCarty to name three. Some of the newer ones are very good also (Ann Wesley Hardin, Lauren Dane and N.J. Walters). I think it all comes down to what you are looking for in Romantica. You just can’t please everyone.

    Of the six writers I mentioned above, four of them also write for Samhain, although Lora Leigh has written just one for that publishing house.

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  71. Nonny
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 18:34:59

    Randi: Yes! I’m tapping my foot impatiently for March to roll around. ;)

    And I know what you mean; I didn’t think the books were that dark either until I read a few discussions online and then was like, “Oh…” lol. But then, I’m the chick who’ll re-read the Black Jewels trilogy and George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series for “comfort reading”……. :P

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  72. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 18:38:13

    Deleted by me, ’cause the form isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do.

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  73. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 19:02:43

    This is funny. I just emailed a blurb for my seriously under-read serious novel to the University of Wisconsin’s English Department (they solicited announcements from published alumni), and I mentioned that I also wrote for Ellora’s Cave. The associate professor who answered seemed tickled. Wrote he, “I think some of our alums might enjoy smut!”

    Oh…and if “a sizable number of romance readers want the same formula over and over; they don't want a higher quality”, then that’s what publishers are gonna give ‘em. Name of the game, baby. Most companies aren’t in business to take financial risks. Profit uber alles.

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  74. Tracy
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 19:18:01

    Someone up thread, I think, mentioned just throwing out all the genres and filing everyting in Fiction. I like that.

    I wouldn’t like that because I need my HEA! LOL I want to know going in if the book is going to have the HEA. If I pick up a book that is not romance, I know there is not a guaranteed HEA, but if I really want to read a book with a guaranteed HEA, I know where to go.

    That’s just my opinion!

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  75. Jill Myles
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 19:33:13

    You know, even if you don’t write for EC, you still get the ‘You write romance? I didn’t think you were the kind of person to write dirty books!’ type of thing thrown in your face.

    I mean, sure, my romances ARE dirty, but they give me that look before they know anything about ‘em. ;)

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  76. Nonny
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 20:19:33

    Jill: Of course, because *gasp* don’t you know that romance is nothing more than mindless porn!? *rolls eyes*

    What’s funny is when you then sneak these people a romance… and they love it. *snickers*

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  77. Emily
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 20:48:44

    Good grief! I don’t understand the snark about Holly Lisle’s post. I haven’t read any of her books (so I’m not some raving fangirl) and have never met her, but she’s well respected in the SF community. From what I’ve gathered she’s generous with her time and knowledge.

    Holly Lisle thinks porn and romantica are interchangeable

    So what’s the big deal that she might? I don’t know the fine gradation in the definition, but I only read “regular” romance, which has plenty enough sex for me. Quite frankly I think some mainstream romance is porn. After all, we get blow by blow explicit descriptions of sex acts for pages and pages and pages. I know some women use it to get off or use the fantasies when screwing their husbands. More power to them. Why get excited that someone who doesn’t write in the genre doesn’t know the exact definitions??

    She thinks that authors who write for Ellora's Cave are embarrassed to have that same name attached to other adult novels. (this is probably true for some and not true for others)

    If you write YA books, then I’d for sure think you wouldn’t want your name attached to erotica. Sherwood Smith, who has quite a few YA books under her belt has had a problem with her latest trilogy being classifed as YA. It’s got some mature themes and some people have complained. So if Lisle started writing erotica or romantica, she could have the same problem and have the holy rollers after her if someone misclassifies her books.

    That writing for EC is something that you only do when you don't have anything better to claim.

    Books take a long time to write and a writer lives the book while she does. If romantica isn’t your cuppa, why would you want to “live” it for months on end? I don’t understand your snark.

    Writing romantica is super easy. It can probably be done by the lolcats but they have better things to do. (having read alot of bad romantica, I am guessing that its really not that easy).

    She’s written 20 books, many on the process of writing. If she decided to write porn or erotica or romantica, I’m sure she’d do a pretty decent job. (Haven’t read her, so can’t say if it would be good, by my defintion)

    And, sadly, you left out a very important part of her post, but I guess there wasn’t anything to snark about in it:

    I looked at my career, I decided I'd rather sink my time and effort into another novel on the Tonk than one where the main point is to see how many guys can lick whipped cream off the tied-up heroine before the hero decides he isn't mad anymore and comes in and chases them off so he can bang her. Yeah, that was one of the ones I read while sampling the genre. It was funny. Cute. But it had no theme, no subtext, no deeper meaning. It didn't make me think, it didn't challenge my beliefs, it didn't echo in my mind after I read it. It didn't change the way I looked at the world even a little bit. If I'm not looking for the Why of the world in what I'm writing, or in what I'm reading, I'm wasting my time.

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  78. Robin
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 20:52:05

    Uh, Emily, I don’t think that last quote from Lisle’s blog helps either your argument or Lisle’s. Quite the opposite, in fact.

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  79. Teddypig
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 21:09:46

    If Ellora’s Cave can trademark Romantica… Can I legally own the rest of the terms used by Latin Speaking people?

    Salsa tm Amigos tm and the killer Amor tm

    Give me my bucket! They be stealin’ my bucket!

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  80. Shannon Stacey
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 21:15:00

    Disclosure: I’ve had two releases from Ellora’s Cave, but wasn’t offended by her comment. Giving up being offended by somebody calling my work porn worked wonders for my blood pressure. Also, Holly happens to be a writer I have a great deal of respect for, so I’m less inclined to comment anyway.

    But this part:

    But it had no theme, no subtext, no deeper meaning. It didn't make me think, it didn't challenge my beliefs, it didn't echo in my mind after I read it. It didn't change the way I looked at the world even a little bit. If I'm not looking for the Why of the world in what I'm writing, or in what I'm reading, I'm wasting my time.

    I write books to entertain. If you’ve got a kid down with the flu and a toilet that needs scrubbing and dinner to put on the table, but you just want to get a way for a little, I write that book. (Though not the whipped cream book, which sound rather delicious.)

    I enjoy Holly’s books very much and, as a reader, appreciate the depth she brings to her work when I’m looking to immerse myself, to be challenged.

    But every woman needs some whipped cream in her life now and then.

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  81. Mireya
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 21:36:16

    Frankly, I read for pure escapism, not to get a headache. To each their own, but I am a bit fed up with the implication that just because a reader may prefer escapism over “thinking” material the reader is somewhat inferior or has in some way a lower IQ than they do. I have read her exact same opinion from several other authors that also write the genre she writes, so it does get irksome. If you don’t like something and you want to express your opinion, fine, but show some respect to those that may not share your opinion, will you. Regardless of what you may think, some of us probably have a higher IQ than you do.

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  82. Tracy
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 21:52:22

    Shannon~I agree with what you are saying in comment #80. I read mostly romance. Within the genre there are many different kinds. I’ve read some romances that have made me think, a lot, about something new. I’ve read some that have wrung me out emotionally. After reading those books, I think to myself, “whew, I need something lighter!” and I go for a romantic comedy, that doesn’t make me think too hard, but thoroughly entertains.

    Why do all books have to have the answer to all life’s questions or make someone challenge their beliefs? Why would someone feel they are wasting their time, if they are allowing their brain a rest? I use my brain enough on the days I substitute teach, or when I help my third grader with his Math homework, or when I play a game of Clue Jr. with my five year old. Sometimes, I just want to read a book where I DON’T have to tax my brain! What’s wrong with that?

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  83. Emily
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 22:18:52

    Frankly, I read for pure escapism, not to get a headache. To each their own, but I am a bit fed up with the implication that just because a reader may prefer escapism over “thinking” material the reader is somewhat inferior or has in some way a lower IQ than they do.

    I, too read genre fiction for escape. I don’t read to think, to stretch my mind, or anything else. That’s for work and RL. I’m as shallow a reader as you will find anywhere. If a book does make me think/stretch, it’s a nice extra, but that’s not my primary reason. But if Holly wants to write and read those kinds of books, why be offended? Why consider it a slam against you personally? Really, I don’t get it.

    And I can’t see that she’s putting down anyone. I see nothing in her writing (I’m not a frequenter of her blog) that mentions that people who are escapist readers have a lower IQ. It has to do with different strokes for different folks. That’s all.

    I really don’t know why I’m posting, ’cause I don’t see that anyone’s mind will be changed. Guess I just wanted to interject a different POV.

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  84. Kate Pearce
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 22:57:28

    I don’t mind if Ms Lisle doesn’t like to read my books, (I write for EC, Virgin and Aphrodisia) that’s her choice, but I would appreciate a little more respect from a fellow author.

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  85. Bev Stephans
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 22:59:27

    What does she mean, “Romance doesn’t make you think?” I have read several romances that resonated with me and made me think. I just finished Shiloh Walker’s, “Beautiful Girl” and if that doesnt make you think, I don’t know what does. I read it late at night and after I finished it, I couldn’t sleep because I kept going over it in my mind. It may not be to everyone’s taste but I sure enjoyed it!

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  86. azteclady
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 23:22:55

    BevStephans said

    I just finished Shiloh Walker's, “Beautiful Girl” and if that doesnt make you think, I don't know what does. I read it late at night and after I finished it, I couldn't sleep because I kept going over it in my mind.

    Oh man, yes!!!

    And it’s only one of many romance novels who have taught me something about myself, the people around me, the world. Too sweeping a generalization, which on top feels demeaning of people who only read romance not to think–for whatever the reason, dammit!

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  87. Miki
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 23:59:56

    Oh, there are just way too many tangents in this that I want to comment on!

    Jane said:

    and Jaci – I knew you had the good life.

    It’s those Cabana boys at her Yahoo group. They just spoil her rotten!

    Laura Elliot said (and a few others agreed):

    What's so wrong with saying sci-fi instead of SF? Should someone be ostracized for that? I think it's actually more clear than the the SF acronym. SF could be speculative fiction.

    I love science fiction. I've read it since my dad first handed me Ender's Game. I go home from work and put on the SciFi channel. Paula makes it sound like only the uneducated dare to use sci-fi rather than SF.

    I say tomato, you say to-mat-o.

    This kerfluffel was one of those stunners for me, too, when it first arose on a couple of lists I belong to. There is a very … opinionated … woman on both those lists who has a complete hissy fit whenever someone uses “sci-fi”. She goes into long, drawn-out, stream-of-consciousness explanations about why it’s evil.

    Humbug. Sometimes I use it, just to piss her off. *evil grin*

    Jill Myles said:

    Being a long-time romance reader, I am one of those goobers that actually really likes the ‘chosen' or 'soulmates' storyline. Rather than ‘artificially manufacturing' a relationship, I like that it forces two people together that would otherwise not be, and the dynamic that exists after this unbreakable bond is introduced. I think that is terribly fun.

    Jill, you said this so well! I’ll agree, sometimes it seems overdone. Not everyone has to have “fated mates” in their paranormal or sci-fi stories! But I enjoy them for the same reasons you do.

    Randi Thompson said:

    I have never been able to find an X-treme EC book, so have no idea if I'd like it

    One of my favorite EC books was a sci-fi story from Annalise named “Venus Rising”. It was rated X-treme not for extreme sex, but because of a couple of distasteful things that happen to the hero and heroine.

    MaryKate said:

    Yet. Please let it be yet! I could do w/a little hot Adam-sex in the next Mercy book.

    Or is that just me?

    Oh, MaryKate, it’s not just you. I’m sure my neighbors heard my shriek of frustration when I finished “Iron Kissed”. Sigh. Having said that, the book was a rich and emotional story, and I love her writing, even if she never goes beyond that bedroom door!

    K.Z. Snow said:

    Most companies aren't in business to take financial risks. Profit uber alles.

    OMG! I simply must turn this into one of those mocking anti-motivational posters for my cubicle wall! Hilarious.

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  88. Teddypig
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 00:17:16

    Profit Uber Alles.

    Dead Kennedys remix?

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  89. Ann Bruce
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 00:19:00

    Most companies aren't in business to take financial risks. Profit uber alles.

    You don’t get more old-fashioned, risk-adverse than ExxonMobil (they’re still using SAP R/2 in most regions!!!)…and it made USD$40.6 billion in 2007.

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  90. DS
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 04:27:59

    I wonder if the romantica trademark would stand if EC tried to defend it. Of course if EC doesn’t defend it then it’ll end up like “asprin”.

    Cripe, I should learn to check things out. Ok, Ellora Cave Romantica Publishing is the trademark with no claim to the use of the word publishing. Also they have trademarked Romantica, however, a Spanish company has trademarked Romantica with a symbol/design and Romantica alone has been trademarked by a rose grower and an Italian food company.

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  91. Jules Jones
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 05:11:03

    For a large segment of sf fandom, “sci-fi” is to “sf” as “porn” is to “romance” for a large segment of romance fandom. And for exactly the same reason. It’s a term that has often been used in a derogatory fashion by outsiders when they’re putting down the genre and its readers as formulaic and trashy.

    Me, I think the shibboleth is silly, but I understand why others get offended, so I don’t use the term. In both fandoms. (And yes, I’ve used this explanation in reverse to sf fen who don’t get why romance readers are so insulted when sf fen call romance “porn for women”.)

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  92. Nora Roberts
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 06:32:12

    It’s always a shame when writers in one genre feel obliged or entitled to denigrate, dismiss or deride another area of fiction. Invariably, when Romance is the chosen target the derision aims at ‘formula’ and/or sex. Baffling to me because every genre has its constants, its framework, its basic elements–and it’s all about execution, imo. Readers and writers of Romance are sniffed at as being lazy, complacent, procurers of porn, sexually frustrated, lacking in intelligence–or just pick your insult du jour.

    And it strikes me that genre writers who take shots as Romance take them because they’re angry or unhappy Romance sells so well, and has for a very long time. Because this genre holds a hefty share of the market and claims an loyal and enthusiastic readership over the many spokes of its wheel.

    The fact that a large portion of the loyal and enthusiastic readership in Romance crosses over to other genre sections to browse and buy doesn’t seem to deter them from flinging the insults at their own potential readers.

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  93. Mireya
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 06:35:31

    removed by author.

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  94. Mora
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 06:51:54

    Thanks, JulesJones, for saying exactly what I wanted to.

    The irony in this thread is really fascinating. So many people upset because one writer users a term they don’t like to categorize their genre, and then turning around and saying things like:

    This kerfluffel was one of those stunners for me, too, when it first arose on a couple of lists I belong to. There is a very … opinionated … woman on both those lists who has a complete hissy fit whenever someone uses “sci-fi”. She goes into long, drawn-out, stream-of-consciousness explanations about why it's evil.

    Humbug. Sometimes I use it, just to piss her off. *evil grin*

    Pot? Kettle? Anyone?

    Also, are you really sure you want to make statements like this:

    I, too read genre fiction for escape. I don't read to think, to stretch my mind, or anything else.

    If you’re trying to make the argument that romance isn’t brainless, don’t turn around and imply that it is, for pete’s sake!

    (Just for the record: I don’t think romance is porn OR brainless. Anyone who’s ever read Kinsale, Cast, Gaffney, or any number of other writers, knows better. But some of this conversation is just boggling to me.)

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  95. Sarah McCarty
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 07:41:08

    Good grief! I actually had to go look up who Holly Lisle was because I figured with all this debate she must be some powerful, all knowing authority for her opinion to carry this much comment space. Imagine my surprise to find she’s just a regular person with a genre preference.

    I find it amazing that one person’s subjective opinion as to what to her is worthwhile writing can inspire this much debate. Did she do make her point in a slap down sort of way? It could be interpreted that way, but seriously, even if she did, what does it matter? She’s one person with one point of view on a very broad subject. A tiny drop in the bucket of public opinion. When stepping back and looking at her blog post in regard to the big picture, it’s a totally inconsequential spec in the bottom left hand corner only identifiable with a high powered microscope.

    I guess, in this case, I just don’t see the point in a) giving this point of view that much importance and B) why this pov has generated this much debate.

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  96. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 07:43:51

    But if Holly wants to write and read those kinds of books, why be offended? Why consider it a slam against you personally? Really, I don't get it.

    It’s not her reading or writing choices that bother people, I don’t think.

    Hell, I don’t read westerns or non-fiction, and I doubt too many of those writers would care.

    The problem is that she used the term PORN.

    It’s derogatory. I’m not going to waste my energy feeling insulted over it~I’ve certainly read some erotic romances that qualify as porn in my book, all sex, not plot, how boring. But I’ve also read mainstream romances that fit that bill. I’ve read women’s fic that fit that bill.

    To lump all erotic romances as porn just because of higher sexual content is probably why a lot of people are bothered by her statement.

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  97. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 07:47:45

    I enjoy Holly's books very much and, as a reader, appreciate the depth she brings to her work when I'm looking to immerse myself, to be challenged.

    But every woman needs some whipped cream in her life now and then.

    heh! Ain’t that the truth… I love it.

    Lisle is a fantastic writer. I’ve read her fantasies and her romances and she’s a great story teller. But she’s not whipped cream. And yes, everybody deserves some whipped cream.

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  98. GrowlyCub
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 08:13:42

    It seems to be in genre writers’ (and readers’) nature to elevate themselves by denigrating a genre they see as inferior. SF/Fantasy gets peed on by the literary types, so SF/Fantasy folks pee on romance to make themselves feel better.

    Lisle’s comments clearly fall into the trap of this behavior. Seriously uncool, considering how many romance readers do read widely across many genres. I’ve never read her, but it’s safe to say I won’t now (formulaic fantasy/YA is not my thing to start with, grin). The personality (or lack thereof) of the writer really does make a difference to me and I’m sure I’m not alone.

    If we have pride in our choices and ourselves, we don’t have to do denigrate the choices of others! Obviously, Lisle still has some work to do in that respect.

    Regarding quality at EC, most of the books I purchased from them are not what I’d term good quality. I read one Lora Leigh and had a very strong, very negative reaction to it (you won’t believe how many times I re-wrote this sentence). So to see her as a positive recommendation is rather interesting to me. My internal critic goes, no, NO, don’t read *her*!

    [See, I need to work on my own tendency to 'pee'!] :)

    What strikes me about the EC excerpts is that many are very well picked. Except for 1 or 2 times, I read the excerpt, got very interested in the book, purchased it and then felt like I had fallen victim to an advertisement scam. The excerpts that I am referring to were better written grammatically and better edited than the rest of the book.

    One of the books I couldn’t even finish, because I was laughing so hard in complete and utter disbelief that a) anybody could write this badly and not try to do parody and b) that it got published to start with and not as a parody.

    Not all romance is well-written, not all erotica or erotic romance is well-written (and I have to admit I have a hard time coming up for a definite definition of what distinguishes the latter two), not all SF or Fantasy (horror, thriller, mystery, etc.) is well-written, nor is all ‘literature’.

    I hope Lisle can get over herself. As others have pointed out, a writer ought to respect other writers and their craft, even if she doesn’t agree with their genre choices, but then it seems obvious from her comments that she doesn’t regard ‘porn’ writers as writers so I guess they don’t deserve respect for their work. Back we are to the ‘peeing’ onto others to make yourself feel better.

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  99. Marianne McA
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 08:44:54

    As I say to people who claim they always skip the sex scenes in a book – go into any second hand bookstore or UPS, find a book you know has some steamy scenes in it and let it fall open naturally. Nine times out of ten, the spine is cracked at the sex scene. So somebody's reading them

    Lynne – I’m packing my trusty knapsack and setting off. Seems a bit of a waste of time. Surely you can’t seriously be suggesting that Other People might enjoy different things than me?

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  100. Charlene Teglia
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 08:53:08

    More LOL cats are always good. I Can Has Cheezburger is in my blogroll.

    I’m sad to see another author use “Romantica” and “porn” interchangeably, but really, so many people think regular romances are porn let alone the ones I write that I just kind of roll my eyes and sigh and move on. And I’m with Shan on the whipped cream. More whipped cream!

    I do think what Lisle’s trying to do (create a pro market for new SF authors) is a really good thing, btw, and more power to her. I hope she succeeds.

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  101. Kaz Augustin
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 09:09:15

    Yes, there really was a Huge To-Do about science-fiction vs. SF vs. sci-fi … I think in the 70s. This was a time when science-fiction was trying to find some legitimacy and shrug off the ‘pulp’ tag. I remember a number of writers saying quite stridently that ‘sci-fi’ was an absolutely derogatory term that evoked images of ray guns, phallic spaceships, and so on, and science-fiction had moved waaaay beyond that. (Which it had, especially after the New Wave hit.) It was like the ‘nigger’ word of science-fiction; that would be the best way to explain it.

    Because science-fiction is my first love, I tried to follow suit by sticking to ‘SF’. But, over the years — decades — it really hasn’t been that easy. First, so many people asked me, ‘what does it mean when you say SF?’. Then I lived south of San Francisco, so SF now means San Francisco to me. And, dammit, it’s just so easy to say ‘sci-fi’. People instantly know what you mean. So, while I can understand Ms Guran’s sentiment, I also recognise that the world moves on, and think it’s better to use terms that garner the most comprehension than stick with one that only has clear meaning to a small and select community.

    (I still feel a little ‘ick’ when I say ‘sci-fi’, tbh, because I know, and agree with, the arguments that went into its condemnation, but — hell! — I don’t think the rest of the world does, so I just live with it. This battle has already been lost.)

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  102. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 09:55:10

    azteclady on February 6th, 2008 at 11:22 pm:

    BevStephans said

    I just finished Shiloh Walker's, “Beautiful Girl” and if that doesnt make you think, I don't know what does. I read it late at night and after I finished it, I couldn't sleep because I kept going over it in my mind.

    Oh man, yes!!!

    And it's only one of many romance novels who have taught me something about myself, the people around me, the world. Too sweeping a generalization, which on top feels demeaning of people who only read romance not to think-for whatever the reason, dammit!

    Thank you, ladies!

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  103. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 10:03:02

    I, too read genre fiction for escape. I don't read to think, to stretch my mind, or anything else.

    If you're trying to make the argument that romance isn't brainless, don't turn around and imply that it is, for pete's sake!

    This could just my interpretation, but I didn’t get that the comment implied it was brainless.

    I don’t read to think. I read to relax and unwind. That doesn’t mean that while I’m relaxing and unwinding the book isn’t going to make me think. Books certainly can…but that isn’t why I’m reading it. I spend all day thinking…about a plot problem, a child problem, the problem of what to make for dinner and what to do for promo and what to blog about tomorrow. When I read, I want to enjoy, first and foremost. If a book can make me think, ponder and deliberate…while still being enjoyable, hey, that’s even better. And romance can definitely do that.

    That’s how I interpreted the comment…but that’s just me.

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  104. snarkhunter
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 10:12:45

    I’m big into the concept of redefintion or reclaiming words. So I don’t necessarily think “porn” is a bad thing, though I agree that it’s primary usage is derogatory. I think the prejudice against “sci-fi” is patently absurd, and I will continue to use it with glee, and to defend my usage. (And, yes, I am a fan, and people can bite me if they say I’m not.)

    I don’t think Holly Lisle’s comment was at all appropriate, BUT. I think Jane is taking this line: I'd think it would be obvious to anyone with a brain that ANY writer who is writing both adult and YA fantasy under her own name is not going to be even remotely interested in including anything that could be categorized as porn, or romantica, in a magazine she's ALSO putting out under her own name somewhat out of context.

    She’s not saying that some who writes adult romance would be ashamed to have an EC line under her name. The emphasis is on the YA, not the adult. And a number of authors with YA creds don’t want their “adult” books confused with their YA ones, if only b/c they are more adult. (Meg Cabot, for example, doesn’t encourage her younger readers to read her Patricia Cabot novels, though she knows they do read them.)

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  105. Robin Bayne
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 10:37:57

    Snark, that is how I interpreted her comment also.

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  106. Jules Jones
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 10:49:31

    I’m an sf writer, even if one published by a romance publisher (stop looking at me like that, we’re not all into bashing other genres). And yes, if I wrote a YA piece, I’d probably put it out under another name, for the reason Snarkhunter gives. I’d want different branding to stop the kids unwittingly picking up the non-YA material. It’s a common enough tactic to use different pen names on different writing styles for marketing reasons, often with no secrecy about it being the same person. (Though Iain (M) Banks is perhaps the most extreme example of not-very-secret secret pseudonym.)

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  107. Jane
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 10:52:23

    I might buy the alternative reading of it (not that an alternative reading isn’t legit) if the rest of the post wasn’t so disdainful of the erotic romance market. AND if she meant YA, why not just say YA and exclude adult fiction. The inclusion of that word is very telling and is explained in further detail when she says she doesn’t want her name attached to that type of work.

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  108. azteclady
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 11:42:34

    I can understand a writer who is published in YA or children’s lit not wanting it know by that audience that she also writes super hot, extra graphic, X-rated language erotica or erotic romance under another name. As others have said upthread, it only makes sense–two different audiences altogether.

    However, to me Ms Lisle’s post reads more like a very disdainful (if not scornful), “I don’t want to be known by anyone as someone who writes that kind of stuff.”

    And when that kind of stuff” is shorthand for all the negative connotations that the word porn has, by and large, for most of society, it is difficult not to take it as an insult to both writers and readers of what Ms Lisle is equating with porn.

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  109. Robin
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 12:42:47

    I’ve tried to avoid the debate about Lisle’s posts, in part because IMO the salient points have already been discussed, but I will say that what turned me off about her posts was cumulative, not dependent on one sentence (although that “anyone with a brain” phrase is, IMO, patently insulting and intended to be so). It’s that last paragraph, in which what comes across to me is that “those books” would be somehow no big deal to write. It’s the tone of posts, especially the second. It’s the phrase “want to claim,” which came across to me as more than about the YA split. It’s the accumulation of many things.

    I understand people absolutely loving Lisle’s fiction. I haven’t read it but it’s gotten great reviews from readers I respect and I aim to try it sometime. But in the same way that I don’t want to merge an author’s online comments with her books, I don’t want to engage that process in reverse, either. Some authors write books I love but aggravate the heck out of me when they speak outside the pages of their fiction. Lisle’s online voice tends to aggravate me, although it may very well be that her fiction wouldn’t.

    One more thing: I think it’s a wonderful thing when authors support/coach/promote up and coming writers or writers within their genre — that is, when they serve as teachers as well as writers. BUT, for some of these authors, the teaching/coaching thing is also a *business* (just like, for example, writing for hire), and while that may not diminish their commitment to the work, that work isn’t, IMO, completely selfless, either. In other words, author A may be a talented writer and/or teacher, but that doesn’t mean I won’t dispute or question something she says with which I disagree.

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  110. Jules Jones
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 13:09:23

    I think that each individual thing Lisle says is, by itself, a reasonable point, if you don’t automatically equate “porn” with “trashy rubbish” (which I don’t, and would be willing to believe Lisle doesn’t). As Robin says, it’s the cumulative effect that’s thoroughly irritating. It comes over as condescending and as a claim that erotic romance is hack work churned out quickly to make money.

    Now, that is undoubtedly true of some erotic romance. But that is because it’s true of a portion of any mass market genre. There is a term of art from speculative fiction writing — Extruded Fantasy Product. I’m not happy with people who use the clear and undeniable presence of EFP on large swathes of bookshop shelving to claim that all speculative fiction is hack work churned out quickly to make money, and there is a certain “glasshouses and stones” feeling about an sf&f writer playing the same game with Extruded Romance Product and romance as a genre, erotic or otherwise.

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  111. Jackie L.
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 14:58:27

    Extruded Romance Product–boy have I read me some of them! SF/F not so much, since I only read the ones that hubby tells won’t leave wall dents behind.

    Oh, and in my RFG mode, Beautiful Girl was fabulous. I started it at the hair salon and finished it while waiting for my daughter’s braces to be put on.

    And you guys are right about E books, too. Even though I had to print it out on paper, nobody gave me any flack about what I was reading at all. So I ordered some backlist Ebooks of Shiloh’s and look forward to them. I have clarinet and piano lessons to wait through. . .

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  112. Karen Scott
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 15:36:59

    One of the books I couldn’t even finish, because I was laughing so hard in complete and utter disbelief that a) anybody could write this badly and not try to do parody and b) that it got published to start with and not as a parody.

    You sound like you were Carol-Lynned.:)

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  113. Emily
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 15:48:38

    One definition of pornography from dictionary.com

    Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.

    Yes, I know there’s another, more offensive, definition:

    obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, esp. those having little or no artistic merit.

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  114. Seressia
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 17:06:09

    Well then it’s easy to see the difference between romance and porn.

    Romance is, and has always been, about the emotional journey of the main characters. Even if the HEA is an EHEA (Eventually Happily Ever After) you can put those characters through all sorts of crises–serial killers, plagues, asteroid storms, harems, spiritual and sexual awakenings–as long as you deliver on the emotional commitment.

    My problem has never been sex or lack thereof in a book. My rant has always been about a book being labeled romance that clearly doesn’t have the characters making any sort of emotional declaration/commitment by story’s end.

    Someone’s bound to differ with me though.

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  115. azteclady
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 17:11:04

    Seressia said,

    My problem has never been sex or lack thereof in a book. My rant has always been about a book being labeled romance that clearly doesn't have the characters making any sort of emotional declaration/commitment by story's end.

    My other problem is having a whole genre labeled porn regardless of the emotional journey in it.

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  116. Teddypig
    Feb 07, 2008 @ 18:12:28

    I always thought EFP meant Eddings Fantasy Product!

    Extruded will work though. Poor David, I will never forgive him when I figured out The Mallorean was basically a re-write of The Belgariad.

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  117. Gwen
    Feb 08, 2008 @ 03:03:25

    Isn’t anyone going to quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart here?

    “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [hard-core pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”
    Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964)

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  118. “Pornography by any other name…” « The Not-so-deep Thoughts
    Feb 08, 2008 @ 23:59:29

    [...] and by the time I was through my front door, my blood pressure had increased by several mmHg.  Dear Author recently discussed foot-in-mouth disease striking the fantasy sector, but the problem is not contained to author(s) in that [...]

  119. Holly Lisle
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 08:53:01

    AWESOME! A ten-word offhand remark—the offending quote in its entirety is here… (unless you're doing porn, which is out of the question)–results in all this distress and angst and put-out-ness.

    Clearly I am the most important writer in the world, and my opinions are tantamount to edicts from God.

    Off to rebuild the world in seven days, whistling all the way.

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  120. azteclady
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 21:27:06

    Or… thinking a bit more carefully how to put one’s opinions in order to offend less folks would clearly be a good thing?

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  121. Karen Scott
    Feb 12, 2008 @ 10:56:39

    Clearly I am the most important writer in the world, and my opinions are tantamount to edicts from God.

    Dearie me.

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  122. GrowlyCub
    Feb 12, 2008 @ 14:59:06

    Gotta say post 119 takes the ‘Foot in Mouth’ to new heights. I’d say it’s now the whole leg inserted into that poor orifice!

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  123. Cora
    Apr 11, 2008 @ 23:12:32

    I find it quite amazing that many commenters here complained bitterly about what they considered a misuse of the term “paranormal romance” (and for many non-romance readers “paranormal romance” indeed includes LKH and Charlaine Harris), yet cannot understand why science fiction readers might be upset about using “sci-fi”, a term the science fiction community considers insulting, for the science fiction genre.

    And as a non-American, SF has never meant “San Francisco” to me but always “science fiction”.

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