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Romance Isn’t for Everyone and It Doesn’t Have to Be

leia.jpgThere was a recent post at “Fangs, Fur & Fantasy”, a blog for urban fantasy writers, from a self labeled romance cynic, author Maggie Stiefvater. Ms. Stiefvater is, by her own definition, a urban fantasy writer whose first book is due out in Fall 2008. She attempts to open a dialogue about romances by sharing that her astrological sign may be the reason she doesn’t like predictable formulaic books known as romances. “I’m afraid I’ll pick it up and the Greater Plot will be subverted to the Amazing Love Conflict which will be built on formulaic, predictable lines.” Ironically, one of Stiefvater’s favorite authors is JK Rowling.

Ms. Stiefvater, in the comments, goes on to admit she liked Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight but doesn’t really get the romance genre. Diana Peterfreund correctly noted that to like Meyer’s Twilight and to not appreciate romance is nearly an oxymoron. Twilight, for all its glory, fits squarely within the romance trope, i.e., loner girl, not the best looking gets the hottest guy around who happens to be a vampire. Caught between humanity and eternal life. What to do. Oh, what to do (yeah, like that’s so innovative). But despite liking Twilight, she finds that “the ones called romance seem not to hold my interest.” Because there was no predicting what was going to happen in Twilight was there? Of course it was predictable but how Bella and Edward got together and ultimately how Bella gets turned is the journey which fans want to read. We know the end of the journey, we just don’t know how they get there.

I’ve thought about this subject for four days now and feel sufficiently reasonable to respond. My first reaction was very knee jerk and involved some not so pretty name calling. But we romance fans, beleaugered and marginalized as we are, are quick to the trigger. I’m often leading that hot headed brigade.

It’s absolutely true that romance is formulaic. That’s the definition of genre fiction, that it follows some type of formula. Mysteries are about mysteries and solving crimes. Fantasy is about fantastical worlds and triumphing over bad guys. Science fiction – well, I’ve only read a couple. Romance is about characters falling in love and living – debatebly, happily ever after (or happy for now). Romance is also predictable. Yes, I’ll agree to that as well. Romance will have a story featuring a couple (or sometimes threesome) who meet, overcome internal and external conflict, and then end up together. I actually count on that predictability.

Joseph Campbell penned The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In the book, Campbell opines that every myth is essentially the same. It features the same hero, the same myth cycle and the same ending. Only the execution differs. So yes, romance is asking the same universal question over and over again. How do two people fall in love despite internal or external conflicts? Dr. Frantz of Teach Me Tonight refers to this as “repetition with a difference.”

But the use of “formulaic” and “predictable” is really derogatory because for Maggie Stiefvater and SOME (not all) of the commenters at Fangs, Fur & Fantasy, “formualic and predictable” means that romances very existence on the bookshelves should be questioned. What else can be derived from the “romance cynics” call for genre justification. Prove to me, she essentially says, that romance is a genre of worth. Stiefvater tries to cushion her barbs by saying that it’s her not the romance books.

I kind of skim the first couple pages and start laughing and abandon them. It’s probably a character fault.

I didn’t make any recommendations because frankly, I don’t think it would have been worth my time. The comment thread featured the oft used general complaints that we’ve heard time and again. Does the SFWA put out a “bash the romance genre” handbook?

Janni said that her problems with genre romance include

include the emphasis on stereotypical sorts of guys (they seem to mostly be alpha or at least dominant and, well, just not like the guys I know in real life–strange, since the women are more nuanced); the assumption that men and women are fundamentally different (I know lots of folks disagree on this one, but again, my experiences with guys-as-friends especially don’t mirror this); and that business of the required Happily Ever After

She liked Bet ME but it wasn’t enough to convert her to the genre. That’s fine. The romance genre is not for everyone. No one book is universally accepted and not everyone is going to appreciate the romance genre. However, simply because you don’t like it doesn’t mean that you have to insult the genre nor make inaccurate conclusions.

Satryblade really dislikes the “happy ending” thing because in Defy the Eagle, the ending “was a forced, dishonest ending that spoiled an otherwise entertaining book – and all because the genre demands a happy ending.” I hope Satryblade never read the Eddings books because “everyone who mattered in the book survived the battle.” Seriously, does Eddings ever kill off anyone? The failure of “Defy the Eagle” for the reader isn’t the genre limitation, it’s the author who failed to make the ending honest and believable. The truth is that for every complaint about a romance book that a science fiction or fantasy reader can throw out, we can lob one back at them. There are contrived manufactured endings in every genre, including the literary fiction genre.

BlackHolly states that her romance aversion developed from a stack of Silouettes and Harlequins that her father found in the trash. They “suck”ed. She acknowledges that maybe the reason that they were found in the trash were because of the quality or lack thereof of the prose. I generally don’t throw away my keeper books.

Brimfire makes the comment that, if published, s/he would “cry”!!! (my exclamations) to be put on the romance shelf. Brimfire, if you aren’t writing a romance and you are shelved there, that would make me cry too. But Brimfire doesn’t want to be there because s/he “shuns any book that has a half naked man on the cover.” BUT “At the same time, I really feel cheated if I read a book that doesn’t have a romance in it. Weird, I know. And, so far at least, everything I’ve written has a romance in it.” Listen Brimfire, do you know what the difference between the romance writer’s print run and the fantasy writer’s print run is? How about the size of the romance readership? Would you rather be in front of 10 readers or 90?

everflame saysI don’t think you need to worry about being convinced the genre is amazing. Romance (as a genre) fullfills a need for some people. It’s all about fantasizing (because really, isn’t that what we’re participating in any time we read any book?). Some people are drawn to some fantasies, other people are drawn to others. There’s some very interesting research about romance novels and their appeal that I could probably dig up (specifically regarding middle-class white women) if you’re interested on a social level.”

Because there is something wrong with us romance readers, even us non white romance readers. SOMETHING TERRIBLY WRONG. Okay, sorry, the hyperbole is infectious.

amy34 stated that she was frustrated with the genre because the ones that she has read has ” insufficient plot and not-very-believable characters.” No examples were provided but you can’t say an entire GENRE of books contains no plot and unbelievable characters. That generalization is just ignorant of the body of work that comprises the romance genre. I don’t like books, romance or otherwise, with insufficient plots and unbelievable characters.

Diana Peterfeund, Keri Arthur, Jill Myles, Jordan Summers, Patrice Michelle, Vernieda and a couple others stood up for the genre and as a genre reader, I really, really appreciate that. It makes me want to hustle out and buy some of their books because if they are going to support me, as a reader of the genre, I should support their writing endeavors, no?

There is no question that romance needs its critics. I believe that healthy discourse and criticism within the genre will make it healthier and more vibrant. However, the criticism of an entire genre, the requirement of justification of the genre’s worth is demeaning to the authors of the genre (some of whom are actually members of the FFF community) and demeaning to its’ readers. The women who read romances are smart and vibrant. Some are married. Some are divorced. Some are single. We are so widely varied in age, occupation, economics, and even race that to make any assumption about us is fraught with danger. There is no one identifying characteristic of this readership other than we love books and we buy them.

I think Maggie Stiefvater’s biggest problem is that her book in the Fall of 2008 has got to rock. It has to be non formulaic. Totally unpredictable. It has got to be better than every romance book ever written, doesn’t it? I’ll certainly be reading it to find out.

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

99 Comments

  1. sherry thomas
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 15:52:18

    Brimfire makes the comment that, if published, s/he would “cry”!!! (my exclamations) to be put on the romance shelf. Brimfire, if you aren't writing a romance and you are shelved there, that would make me cry too.

    That made me roar w/ laughter.

    Fantasy writers should not point fingers at the romance genre. Fantasy has as strong a formula. I’ve yet to hear about a fantasy book in which the quest failed or the dark side prevailed forever. I mean, hello?

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  2. Kalen Hughes
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 15:53:11

    There’s always something a little odd when authors of one type of genre fiction throw rocks at those of another. ALL genre fiction has tropes, formulas, predictability. That’s why it’s freaken GENRE fiction. Don't even get me started on the staleness/sameness of “urban fantasy”. *roll eyes* I don't think I've seen anything original in that little shallow of the genre pool since de Lint, 15/20-something years ago (yep, this little romance writer grew up reading sci-fi/fantasy, and my parents and godparents are friends with quite a few of the “names” in that genre, so I'm well indoctrinated).

    Stiefvater so lives in a glass house (even if she doesn't realize it, and few of the sci-fi writers I know do). Lobbing rocks around is unwise to say the least . . . she's just asking for a nit-picky study of the “formulas” in her own book.

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  3. Kalen Hughes
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 15:55:47

    I've yet to hear about a fantasy book in which the quest failed or the dark side prevailed forever. I mean, hello?

    Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books come to mind. Total ass-hat anti-hero. It’s been so long since I read them that I can’t remember just how far he wandered from the trope, but I do remember that everyone was in an uproar about them, and that I couldn’t get through the series . . .

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  4. Holly
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 15:56:18

    Very interesting. Do you read Fantasy, Jane? How about mystery? I read all genre’s. I prefer romance, but depending on my mood, I’ll read whatever’s handy and catches my fancy.

    Having said that…

    People who make blanket statements about anything immediately end up on my “naughty” list. Yes, there are bad romances. But there are equally bad books from other genres, too. Is she saying that ALL other books, no matter what genre (with the exception of romance, naturally) are perfectly written with no plot holes or weak characters or whatever?

    Yes, I think we end up with a lot of cheesy covers, but we wouldn’t have that old adage floating around if there weren’t some truth to it, would we?

    You know, the “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”.

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  5. Jane
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 16:02:35

    I read some fantasy and some mysteries although police procedure books are my favorite. I buy only by recommendation in those other genres while I’ll take chances with a new romance author.

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  6. Bonnie
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 16:08:03

    It’s funny that they’re so demeaning of us Romance lovers when a fair amount of us got into reading Romance through a SF/F gateway. I started seeking out Romance when I started wanting more than just romantic elements in the SF/F I was reading. I’m sure that the opposite dynamic is true as well. Romance readers who are discovering SF/F through the huge influx of Paranormal and Fantasy Romances. Eradicating one genre will ultimately reduce the readership of the other.

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  7. TeddyPig
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 16:10:56

    Thomas Covenant!

    Oh my, those were “the read” way back when.
    I just thought they were so eeeeeeh.
    I felt that way about most of the Dune series too.

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  8. Keri Arthur
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 16:20:46

    I love Thomas Covenant–he was a frustrating character, yes, but the books were totally different compared to what else was out at the time.

    And I think that’s what some people forget. All genres have formulas, all genres have their ‘requirements’, and romance is no better and no worse than any other genre out there. It just sells more, which makes it easier to pick on (tall poppy syndrome)

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  9. Jane
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 16:22:40

    Ned read all those Dune books. All I remember is that it had to do with worm, spice and the torture of men.

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  10. Kalen Hughes
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 16:27:26

    I felt that way about most of the Dune series too.

    Rule one for Dune: Never read past book one. LOL! Dune was brilliant, the others . . . not so much (and god help you if you got all the way to God Emperor, or even beyond *shudder*).

    Lots of sci-fi/fantasy series run into trouble, esp when the plot of the book contradicts previous facts of the “world”. Like in one of McCaffery's later books where the main character is horribly wounded and permanently maimed . . . but we already know the dragons can travel through time, so why can't they go back in time and save him, as has been done for other characters in past books? We never know. This whole facet of the world as it has been built is never addressed in the book. Drove me nuts and put the nail in the coffin of that series for me as a reader.

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  11. Francois
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 16:41:54

    I kinda liked the Mordant’s Need books. Though the only thing I really remember (and this may even be from another Stephen Donaldson series!) is a heroic sci-fi character arriving in the middle of the medieval action and romancing someone’s unappreciated daughter. Which just goes to show you where my interest really lies.

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  12. Kathryn S
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 16:52:11

    I belong to Fangs Fur and Fey and I didn’t respond to that post. No matter what I might have said, I can’t change minds that are open to change. So, I bit my tongue and went on writing my romantic urban fantasy. The strength of our genre speaks for itself when you have authors who aren’t romance being shelved there just for the sales.

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  13. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 16:53:53

    I don’t want to get into another argument on the validity of romance books.

    We read them because we like romance and we like HEA. What is wrong with liking a HEA? There’s enough depressing crap in the world. I don’t need to read about it. I read for entertainment, not enlightenment.

    There's some very interesting research about romance novels and their appeal that I could probably dig up (specifically regarding middle-class white women) if you're interested on a social level.”

    Oh, please. This had better not be another knock that the typical romance reader is white, middleclassed and probably unsatisfied with her life and looking for escape.

    Might be true for some. Not for all. I’m white, I’m middle-classed… and guess what, I’m also educated, I’m a trained professional in my field, I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart and we have three wonderful kids. Reading isn’t escape for me. It’s entertainment. The same as going to the movies. And … gasp… it’s also the same reason I read fantasy and sci fi. Entertainment.

    I seriously don’t get the reason why so many people outside the genre feel the need to throw in some comment on the ‘typical’ romance reader. What does it matter if we’re white, if we’re green, if we’re middle class, near poverty level or as rich as Roarke? And seriously, having met a ton of romance readers in the past few years, the only thing most of them have in common is the fact the vast majority are female.

    If people need to read for escapism, hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m sure some people do but why is that such a big deal? Can all the glorified non-romance people claim that they are involved in wonderful marriages, that they are educated, involved in lovely careers and lovely relationships? Uh… I think not.

    Romance readers are people, which means we are going to have the same issues in life as any other group of people…. including the readers of sci fi and fantasy. We’ll read for fun, we’ll read for entertainment, we’ll read for escapism. And guess what… the ‘typical’ romance reader is a lot more opened minded, I’d imagine, because we also tend to read outside our genre.

    Which means some of those 10 readers that Jane mentioned are probably actually romance readers that wandered through the store and saw something interesting on the sci fi shelf. We’re not afraid to try something different for the most part.

    Closed minded people…man, don’t you love them?

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  14. Carrie Lofty
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 17:03:27

    Kalen, that is a most excellent Dune rule. One I shall be enforcing for my children.

    As for the romance bashing… is it a street cred thing? Like they’re proper sci-fi if they bash romance? Because there has to be an explanation for dissing a massive hoarde of potential readers!

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  15. Ann Aguirre
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 17:57:32

    I think it’s pretty tempting to retaliate, but I’ve seen so many of those posts over the years that I kind of don’t care anymore. I’m not trying to win converts; I’m not a romance missionary. There are a heck of a lot of romance readers out there, and I’m hoping to pull readers from both romance and SF. I don’t discriminate.

    As for me, I prefer to have a little romance or a romance subplot in anything I read because I think it amps up the tension. I like a layered read, and that’s one of the layers I enjoy. If other people prefer literary endings, where everyone dies, and winds up narrating the book from a fluffy white cloud, more power to them.

    Still, you won’t find me posting about how I just don’t understand the appeal of literary novels written about 19th c. farming communities with bleak Ethan Frome style endings. Nor will I be asking for recommendations to change my mind, when I know darn well I have no intention of reading what I already know I don’t like.

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  16. Jill Myles
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 18:04:13

    I blame myself for the route that the topic took, because a few weeks back I posted on the fact that I’m not keen on boy wizards in fantasy.

    But I was a little surprised at how people reacted to the romance topic. I’m all for a debate, and I know everyone doesn’t agree with the subject matter, but some of it was kinda offensive, and I consider myself pretty open minded.

    So I don’t know what to think. But I have to say that I did love this post. And if loving romance makes me wrong, then I don’t want to be right. ;)

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  17. Patrice Michelle
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 18:36:55

    I really enjoy the Fangs, Fur & Fey community, because we have some of the most interesting discussions. I like seeing the different views from authors from many genres on a various subjects. As for this topic, I thought the debate was interesting and enlightening , even if some of the comments were a bit extreme. As romance writers, it’s our job to explain our readers’ views as well as our own about the romance genre. I won’t ever give up on that endeavor. Maybe in the process, I’ll convince a few to give it a try. ;)

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  18. Vernieda
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 18:37:35

    Half the time, I think the science fiction/fantasy genre feels the need to bash the romance genre because they get bashed by the literary genre, honestly. It’s like passing on the disdain, you know? “Well, we don’t have cred in the eyes of the literary establishment but we have way more cred than those romance folks!” Or something.

    And I say that as someone who considers herself a fantasy reader, though I do and will read anything that looks remotely interesting. I can’t stand the thought of missing out on a good book, no matter the genre, so I do take a lot of risks in my book hunting. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with sticking to one genre and only one genre because there’s not. Life’s short and there’s a lot of books out there. You have to pick and choose, and for some, dedicated genre reading is one way. But that doesn’t make it right to blanket dismiss an entire genre as worthless.

    Jill – But the thing about your post re: disliking boy wizards was that it read to me more as a discussion of the sorts of things we don’t like to read about in books (reader preferences) versus “I think boy wizards are dumb and predictable and I laugh at them.” I realize that’s more a difference in tone and maybe that’s not a fair distinction to make but these nuances make a difference. I love the Harry Potter series, frex, despite all its numerous flaws, but I didn’t feel insulted or belittled by your statements. And I think that makes a world of difference.

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  19. Jeaniene Frost
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 18:43:24

    Fangs Fur and Fey is a community with over 60 author members and over 500 registered watchers, so obviously, there’s going to be very diverse opinions. I am a romance author, and proud to be so. I am also a member of the community. Did some of the comments make me shake my head and wonder at the skewed perception people have? Yes, they did. But I didn't feel it was appropriate to tell them how wrong or narrow-minded they were that, for example, they wouldn't buy a book with a bare-chested man on the cover, or that romance seemed too ‘formulaic' to them. No, because that's someone's personal opinion, and as the saying goes, I might not like what someone has to say, but I'll defend to the death their right to say it.

    I was also one of the people who responded with suggestions of different types of romance novels to try. If someone said to me, “Hey, I really like action movies, but I want to try romance movies as well, even though I usually get bored with them. Got any suggestions?”, then I'd recommend some action-filled romance movies instead of, say, You've Got Mail, even though *I* might have liked that. I would not have argued with them, or asked if they were really trying to say that all romance movies shouldn't be made. I believe, as many romance readers do, that if more romance critics actually read romance books, they'd see it's a diverse and multifaceted genre with just as high-quality stories as anything else between two covers. As a romance fan, I always want more people to explore this genre, be their tastes more traditional, or ‘formulaic', non-’formulaic', or cross-genre paranormal.

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  20. Ann Bruce
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 19:08:16

    Blood…pressure…too…high.

    It took a few minutes, but I’m okay now.

    So many ways to pick apart their “arguments,” but I just don’t have time to do that right now because the readers here probably have the counter-arguments down pat.

    But one thing that really annoys me:

    There's some very interesting research about romance novels and their appeal that I could probably dig up (specifically regarding middle-class white women) if you're interested on a social level.

    Shaking my head and off to buy some Burberry to make me feel better.

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  21. Melissa Marr
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 19:39:51

    I started Fangs, Fur, & Fey, so I feel compelled to reply here.

    When I started the comm, I invited both romance & SFF writers to join. I invited YA & adult. Later, as we grew I invited graphic novel & manga authors. Why? Because I love all of those & it seemed like a good idea for their to be cross-over discussion. (And, in a lesser way b/c my book declared both SFF & Romance & is shelved in adult in the UK & YA in the US.)

    In such a place, there are folks who lean more SFF & others who tilt toward romance. What your comments are missing out on is the larger context wherein vampire stories &, more recently, wizard stories were held up to the same “I don’t like x & y, so show me what I’m missing.” If you look at the originating post, you’ll see that Maggie asked, “So please, FFF readers and romance lovers, answer my two questions: 1) Why do you like romances? What mind set do I need to sit down and enjoy one? What do you not like about them? 2) As a romance cynic, can you recommend one or two that’ll convince me the genre is amazing and that there are dozens of great paranormal books that I’m missing out on?” This is not an anti-romance attitude. Maggie admits that she’s not been into romance, but wants to “get it.” The discussion–as discussion do–veered into several directions. Some people made comments that were offensive. These were rebutted. . . as was the case when the topic was vampires and when it was wizards.

    This is NOT a comm where folks are anti-romance, but some readers did post in their subjective opinion that aspect were not for them just as they did in other such discussions about fantasy. That contextual element is very important, imo. This is not a place where all readers reader the same genre. Conflicting opinions arise. (Even were it all single genre, conflicting opinions would arise, as the HEA discussions in the romance blogosphere prove.)

    Now, personally, I find flaws in the logic of both the anti-wizard & the anti-romance camps or the idea that we must pick one (thus my starting of the comm in the first place). The suggestion that all vamp stories are “cliche ridden” or, even, to be honest the divisions in the romance readers camps that suggest all romance books must have a set sort of ending or that “urban fantasy” is a “fad” or that . . . It all seems narrow to me. But the fact is that people have strong opinions. Those strong opinions that were anti-any-genre (or subgenre) were rebutted in the discussions at FFF. This, to me, seems the right answer. I’m of the mindset that open discussion that allows all voices is healthy & should exist. Far better to post it out there (or say it aloud) than let it fester in private where it is fed by other likeminded people.

    So, in my long winded way, what I’m trying to say is that in the context of the sort of discussions that exist there, this is FAR from a romance bashing. If you hop over & look at the sidebar, you’ll see that texts that are more romance & more SFF are represented. If you look at the archives, you’ll see that the “why read ___” is not a anti-romance event but typical of a comm with somewhat bipolar readership.

    If you look at ALL the comments & the prior threads, you’ll see people offering suggestions & offering objections. You’ll see strong voices–kinda like over here. ;) What you won’t see is the moderators censoring views.

    Melissa Marr

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  22. Nora Roberts
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 19:41:27

    It’s old. It’s tired. It’s sweeping gneralizations to take shots at an entire genre. I don’t see any point in wasting the time and the energy to try to point out what makes Romance as a genre work, what constitutes it appeal to massive amounts of readers. Not to those who’ve made up their made to snicker and denigrate.

    Especially when those snickering and denigrating also write genre fiction.

    I like SF/F. And some of it sucks. Some of it’s brilliant. Most of it falls between. But I sure as hell wouldn’t take pot shots at another area of fiction, or the people who read it and write it.

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  23. Tracy
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 20:12:31

    I do not like reading SF/F. Nothing wrong with the GENRE (yep, it’s a genre) but I just don’t like it. BUT, I wouldn’t give my opinion on what does or doesn’t work in SF/F because I don’t read it!!

    This quote really gets to me though, “There's some very interesting research about romance novels and their appeal that I could probably dig up (specifically regarding middle-class white women) if you're interested on a social level.”

    ARGH! Well, I’m white, middle-class and I’m even a stay-at-home mom~that probably adds another dimension to their little assumption ;) But I am also college educated, HAPPILY married for 12 years and have 2 children.

    Ditto everything Shiloh said~she said it much better than I and why repeat it all? :D

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  24. Tracy
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 20:44:03

    oh, and I just wanted to add that I totally agree with this statement that Jane made:

    it's the author who failed to make the ending honest and believable. The truth is that for every complaint about a romance book that a science fiction or fantasy reader can throw out, we can lob one back at them. There are contrived manufactured endings in every genre, including the literary fiction genre.

    Absolutely!! If the ending is bad and seems forced that is the fault of the author, not the genre.

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  25. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 21:16:43

    If you look at the originating post, you'll see that Maggie asked, “So please, FFF readers and romance lovers, answer my two questions: 1) Why do you like romances? What mind set do I need to sit down and enjoy one? What do you not like about them? 2) As a romance cynic, can you recommend one or two that'll convince me the genre is amazing and that there are dozens of great paranormal books that I'm missing out on?” This is not an anti-romance attitude.

    Yes, she asked for recommendations, but it’s kind of the entire ‘tone’ so to speak, of the post was that… try to convince me, but it ain’t gonna work…

    However, it wasn’t really her post that was rubbing me the wrong way.

    It was the general commentary about the predictability of romance, the formula of romance, digs at the required HEA. So what if it’s required? Romance readers like that HEA. Is there anything wrong with that?

    SF & F are genres as well, just like romance, just like mystery. They have a formula. It may not have some of the requirements that apply to romance, but they do have one. Yet I don’t see SF & F getting slammed the way I see romance getting slammed.

    And… yes… the comment

    There's some very interesting research about romance novels and their appeal that I could probably dig up (specifically regarding middle-class white women) if you're interested on a social level.

    Spare me. Because I’d be willing to be such research would be done by people with the same bias against romance, which means they really aren’t looking romance readers as a whole, but at what they perceive to be the ‘typical’ reader.

    The only thing ‘typical’ is that we’re mostly female and we like to read.

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  26. Maggie Stiefvater
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 21:20:59

    Hey! (waves white flag). Seriously, I was not trying to take down romance as a genre. As someone pointed out, I write fantasy. I think I can count on one hand the number of times that someone has not snorted through their fingers when they learned that was what I write. I’m in no position to snigger. Being a genre writer means that people who don’t read the genre are usually going to judge you by stereotypes.

    And yes, I’ll admit it. I was raised by a family that didn’t read romances and the phrase “bodice-ripper” was thrown around more than once. I read a few cast off romances from a friend of the family and found the characters lackluster and the plot pretty shallow — I guess, like Holly, I should’ve figured that a book that was thrown away wasn’t exactly the epitome of the genre.

    But seriously, my post on FFF was an appeal. Yes, I’m a genre idiot, it said (or I like to think it said). I am not a romance reader. Every romance I’ve read is because it was a crossover in one of my other genres. Please, oh romance lovers, what do you love, why do you love it, and gimme some titles PLEASE.

    If someone told me they weren’t familiar with fantasy and wasn’t it all like Tolkien with little elves and GAWD how can I live with myself writing fantasy, I don’t think I’d be offended (Well, not after I’d smacked them once or twice). I’d like to think I’d carefully correct their idiotic way of thinking and direct them to some of my favorites. Because I’m picky and the truth is that there’s a lot of crappola on the Fantasy shelf. I figured the same applied to romance, and wanted to judge the genre from the greats, not from some cast offs from the 70s.

    Anyway. This is beginning to sound a bit defensive. Okay, a lot defensive. But now I’m paranoid . . . y’all are gonna pick up my novel and blast it, aren’t you! :D Actually, I’m rather fond of the kissy bits.

    And I’m secretly hoping you DO think my novel rocks. :D

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  27. Rebecca
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 21:37:00

    Everflame might consider reading the recent Pamela Regis book on the romance novel and then visiting the teach me tonight site for further current academic thought and study of romance.

    Studies can be delineated to say anything.

    I read sci fi. I read mysteries. I read romance. And of those three, the genre I’ve seen attacked like this the most often is romance. I find it ridiculous.

    No one attacks me for reading mysteries. No one attacks me for reading sci fi.

    But try , just try, reading a book about love and an hea and all hell breaks loose!

    It’s a strange world.

    Tomorrow I’m going to the bookstore to buy another genre romance just to support the cause.

    So there.

    needer needer needer.

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  28. Patrice Michelle
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 22:19:05

    But try , just try, reading a book about love and an hea and all hell breaks loose!

    And what’s interesting about this is that falling in love is the one common denominator we can all understand and appreciate, no matter our background.

    As I stated on FFF, a romantic subplot is in just about every movie out there today, be it action adventure, mystery, horror, drama..there’s always a boy wants girl, boy gets girl at the end of the movie. So for every person who says they don’t like romance, if they cheered for that guy to get his girl at the end (even silently), then yep, they’ve just enjoyed a romance. :)

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  29. Kaz Augustin
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 22:35:07

    No one attacks me for reading mysteries. No one attacks me for reading sci fi.

    But try , just try, reading a book about love and an hea and all hell breaks loose!

    Rebecca brings up a very important point. Like her, I don’t get dissed when reading my sci-fi or even my radical political/economic texts. But put a romance in my hands and suddenly it’s duck season at dawn. I mean, WTF?

    Maggie S, your post on this blog comes across as quite sane, but I don’t buy the innocence. Deep down, it’s my belief that you knew romance was an easy mark so you took it. The comments at the beginning of your post do not indicate someone who is truly curious but, instead, someone with an agenda and a tacked-on CYA “please don’t shoot me, I really want to understand you ::blink:: ::blink::” ending. Personally, I’ll be marking your book against King Rat’s criteria to see the fit. At least that’s one person prepared to stand by his words.

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  30. Angelle
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 22:38:12

    It makes very little sense to criticize another genre unless you’re incredibly well-read and analytical about the one you’re about to bash / critique, etc.

    There’s a lot of cross-over readers (I for one read all genres equally more or less), and it makes no sense to piss them off by saying “A lot of stuff you read suck!”

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  31. Maggie Stiefvater
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 22:45:18

    King Rat’s rant is awesome! And I’m afraid you’re just going to have to buy the innocent Bambi Eyes on my part – why the heck would I attack 54% of the reading population on a public forum? I don’t go in for the whole character assassination thing . . . um, especially mine.

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  32. Jane
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 22:49:56

    Melissa Marr – I’ve been reading the FFF journal for a long time and there have been more than one post about romance sucking. This is just the first one that I’ve chosen to comment on. I’m not sure what you are referring to in terms of “moderating” voices. I’m not asking anyone to moderate their voice. But if someone is going to make cracks at the romance genre, I’m not just going to sit on my hands and mutter under my breath.

    Maggie Stiefvater – I appreciate your sentiment here, but I guess I’m with Kaz and that is the majority of your comments in the cited post were derogatory toward the romance genre. You don’t get romances. You find them laughable, predictable and formulaic. Those terms don’t really make me believe that you are generally interested in reading and appreciating the genre.

    As for your book, maybe this is a brilliant marketing scheme. After all, your name is now embedded in my mind and I’ll definitely be looking out for the book in 2008.

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  33. Maggie Stiefvater
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 22:57:22

    Man, it beats a book-burning – get the romance writers mad at you! ;)

    Maybe this is an elaborate scheme on your part too . . . now I’m reading back posts on a romance book blog at midnight.

    And yeah, I’ll admit it freely – I really did start out as a heckler. But I’m not afraid to admit also that I was in the romance section of the bookstore for the first time in . . . uh . . . ever and I actually left with Nalini Singh in my bag.

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  34. Gennita Low
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 23:11:49

    QUOTE “There's some very interesting research about romance novels and their appeal that I could probably dig up (specifically regarding middle-class white women) if you're interested on a social level.”

    Argggh. I am a non-white (Chinese Malaysian, in fact), blue-collar, college-educated ROOFER and I read romance. Take that and shove it up your interesting research’s unmentionables.

    QUOTE: “Janni said that her problems with genre romance include

    the emphasis on stereotypical sorts of guys (they seem to mostly be alpha or at least dominant and, well, just not like the guys I know in real life-strange, since the women are more nuanced); …”

    This made me cackle for ten minutes. Reading fantasy/scifi with the alien with pointy-ears, vampires without souls, boy wizards, were-something or Messianic figures with super powers doesn’t make me scratch my head and go, “Gee, the guys I know in real life sure aren’t like THESE CHARACTERS. These guys are unbelievable!”

    And can I chime in about the covers with the women wielding a sword wearing practically nothing, with size EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE frontal melons? No? Too mean? Okay.

    I apologize. Everyone is politely refuting those few dismissive posts and I shouldn’t be stamping my foot and sticking out my tongue. I’ve always enjoyed reading different genres, including sci-fi and fantasy, and found in each, absorbing, interesting, multi-faceted books to read.

    It’s strange to me why writers would mock or look down at another genre. I don’t read much horror because I don’t enjoy it, but I certainly don’t say that the entire genre is so predictable because it’s all about scaring and grossing out the reader. It seems that it’s perfectly okay to write about every human emotion available except that of romantic love. Oh nos! They ended up happily together? Why, that is just so unbelievable, compared to death and destruction.

    Done venting.

    Want to read the research I can probably dig up (from the theses section in a varsity library) on science fiction and their appeal (specifically regarding white, nerdy, middle class males)? ;-P

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  35. Holly
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 23:18:44

    Want to read the research I can probably dig up (from the theses section in a varsity library) on science fiction and their appeal (specifically regarding white, nerdy, middle class males)?

    That cracked me up, seriously. I literally LOL’d.

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  36. Heather
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 23:22:02

    Fascinating spin control.

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  37. Ann Aguirre
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 23:47:20

    The tone of the post I read didn’t invite romance readers to come and share the books they love. Reading is a deeply personal experience, so why would romance readers want to step into a hostile environment to be mocked for being moved by what someone else perceives as laughable? That post only offered folks who share a mutual disdain for the genre to take free jabs. And that’s fine. Just don’t try to smear chocolate on a turd and call it candy, please.

    I don’t care what strangers make of my reading choices, whether I’ve got a book by Sartre, Singh or Saberhagen in my hands. I find certain statements in this thread disingenuous. To be sure, I respect people’s right to hold whatever opinions they will, but I can’t respect wholesale generalizations on any topic.

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  38. Ann Bruce
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 23:56:24

    Yes, she asked for recommendations, but it's kind of the entire ‘tone' so to speak, of the post was that… try to convince me, but it ain't gonna work…

    To me, it came across as I want people to tell me I’m right. I think Maggie had a good idea that there are readers of FFF who agree with her and she wanted to be supported for her opinion. She wasn’t even looking for recommendations.

    BTW, I’m a Scorpio, non-Caucasian, university educated, mid-twenties, in a happy relationship, in the upper-middle income bracket, and I read 70% romance.

    I love the guaranteed HEA, I love the alpha heroes, and the cheesy covers provide me with hours of cover snark amusement. And, yes, I will admit Harlequin Presents somehow always makes their way into my basket when I go grocery shopping. Secret babies, women secretly in love with their bosses, mistaken identities, bring ‘em on! Sometimes you need a little fluff after 12 hours of working in the real world.

    And the other 30%? Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Paul Dini, Jeph Loeb, Stuart Woods, JA Konrath, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Stephen King, Robert Jordan, Hugh Laurie (do the readers here know he wrote a book?), PK Dick, Bruce Timm, Mike Mignola, Michael Ondaatje, William Gibson, Alexandre Dumas, and the list goes on.

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  39. Melissa Marr
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 00:05:53

    Jane,

    Plenty of us over there read & write romance (myself included). I’m sorry if you’ve felt that there were “romance sucks” posts. I don’t recall that there has been such a thing–and I’ve just been over there scanning to see. I could’ve missed something, but I’m not seeing it.

    I can’t actually read every single comment in there. (This thread, frex, happened while I was in NY for work.) If people do say such things, others refute them. If they need us to intervene, my email is out there easily found for comm members & readers and if called upon I (or Jeaniene, who replied here earlier) will step in. Thus far, comm authors refute, and we move on.

    That what I meant about not moderating, incidentally. We open the comm to comments from anybody. Those are not moderated; everyone is free to speak. Most of the people who do are readers. When they say something offensive, comm members tend to rebut it.

    This same thing has happened about fantasy texts 4 times in the past 7-8 weeks as well. FFF is not about bashing romance writers. This same sort of tone arises in the fantasy threads.

    (http://community.livejournal.com/fangs_fur_fey/167715.html
    http://community.livejournal.com/fangs_fur_fey/154621.html)
    There are others on vampires & on werewolves. Comments were offensive. (“Personally, I hate vampires and, unless it’s been written by a friend, I won’t pick up any book that features vampires.” and “I agree with the comment re: beautiful angsty vamps (basically emo boys/girls with fangs) and Wolfman style weres. They’ve become cliches which are gaggingly overused . . .”) People rebutted & discussed.

    What I see is that in the same window, there is one thread (the one you cite) on romance.

    RE: “But if someone is going to make cracks at the romance genre, I'm not just going to sit on my hands and mutter under my breath.”

    No disagreement here, but I would want the balance expressed as I doubt that everyone over here reads the comm. Context matters. There are 4 threads on the readers’ negative reactions to fantasy & 1 on romance in the past 7-8 weeks. Does that make the comments abt romance or fantasy okay? No, but a few voices do not speak for everyone (most esp SFWA, of which we are not a branch).

    Melissa Marr

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  40. Ann Bruce
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 00:15:48

    OMG. I need sleep.

    “write” should be “right”

    And I forgot the “after” between “fluff” and “12″

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  41. Robin
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 00:40:09

    And yeah, I'll admit it freely – I really did start out as a heckler.

    Right or wrong, good or bad, I think there’s a perception that people who read and/or write genre fiction — who know first hand that dismissive stereotypes are derisively inaccurate — won’t inflict on other genre readers and authors that same derisive stereotyping. When, of course, the reality doesn’t usually line up with that expectation. As a Ph.D. (English) J.D., I’m always frustrated when Romance readers dismiss literary fiction, for example. Maybe there is a little of that desire to inch toward the center by shoving someone else further into the margin; I don’t know.

    But let’s face it; genres are paradigms, and those who enjoy various genres are reading from inside the paradigm. And if you don’t really want to understand or shift paradigms to read another genre, no volume of excellent recommendations will change the opinion of a reluctant reader. I have a list of beautifully crafted Romances I share with people who are genuinely interested in the genre, and they include Judith Ivory’s Black Silk, Laura Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart, Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome To Temptation, Patricia Gaffney’s To Have and To Hold, Jo Goodman’s My Reckless Heart and A Season To Be Sinful, Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Aint She Sweet, and Loretta Chase’s Miss Wonderful and Mr. Impossible. But if you — and I mean that in a general sense — aren’t really looking to make a sincere paradigm shift in reading a new genre, I doubt you’ll really be able to appreciate what the Romance genre has to offer.

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  42. December Quinn/Stacia Kane
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 01:45:40

    I belong to Fangs Fur and Fey and I didn't respond to that post. No matter what I might have said, I can't change minds that are open to change. So, I bit my tongue and went on writing my romantic urban fantasy. The strength of our genre speaks for itself when you have authors who aren't romance being shelved there just for the sales.

    Me, too, Kathryn, but thanks to the time difference I didn’t see the post until it already had 100 comments anyway. I figured there wasn’t much point in stepping in then. *shrug*

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  43. Jackie
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 06:09:47

    It's old. It's tired. It's sweeping gneralizations to take shots at an entire genre. I don't see any point in wasting the time and the energy to try to point out what makes Romance as a genre work, what constitutes it appeal to massive amounts of readers. Not to those who've made up their made to snicker and denigrate.

    Especially when those snickering and denigrating also write genre fiction.

    I like SF/F. And some of it sucks. Some of it's brilliant. Most of it falls between. But I sure as hell wouldn't take pot shots at another area of fiction, or the people who read it and write it.

    I bow before the wisdom of La Nora.

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  44. Jennifer McKenzie
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 07:08:21

    *shrugs* I’m a philistine. I say “I know what I like” and read it. This has been going on for years and romance writers have laughed all the way to the bank.

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  45. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 07:30:29

    Want to read the research I can probably dig up (from the theses section in a varsity library) on science fiction and their appeal (specifically regarding white, nerdy, middle class males)? ;-P

    Man, Gennita… if you were a guy, and I wasn’t already madly in love with the DH… I think I’d be falling in love.

    :D

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  46. Nora Roberts
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 07:44:12

    ~I kind of skim the first couple pages and start laughing and abandon them. It's probably a character fault. ~

    Maggie, this is a dig–a very deliberate one. You really can’t expect to say you find a genre laughable and have people believe you didn’t mean to take a slap.

    You write Fantasy (I enjoy Fantasy), and claim that you’re often snickered at because of your genre choice. So, imo, you should know better than to do the same to another area of fiction.

    I can never understand why some writers feel they need to score points by putting down other genres, the writers and the readers of it.

    It’s not the same, as was commented here, as having a thread on FFF about some posters not getting or liking wizards, for instance. That’s one element of one subset of the SF/F. It’s not being snide about the entire genre.

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  47. Diana
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 08:26:30

    I’m a member of FFF and was paraphrased in Jane’s original post.

    I think Maggie was honestly looking for recommendations, and all of my exchanges with her have been in the spirit of true curiosity. She admits her previous bias, and that maybe it even led to an acceptability of certain phrasing that she now sees as unintentionally dismissive. (For the record, I recommended Nalini Singh to her. Singh is also an FFF member.)

    I’m not a romance novel missionary, though I am a defender. I would not have even commented on the post on FFF (because it’s not my job to defend romance to every yahoo who decides to bash it on the internet) had it not been for the mention of Twilight, because I *do* see it as important to point out to people that they are reading romances even if they don’t call it that. (Talk to Little Brown’s publicity dept. and they’ll come out and say their intention was ALWAYS to publicize Twilight “as a romance.” And no, Edward could not be more Alpha.) More than once, I’ve been at a cocktail party where someone will sniff and say something demeaning about romance novels. I always ask what it is they LIKE to read. More than once, the answer has been “Nora Roberts.” But they don’t realize that’s romance, because in their heads, it’s not romance unless it’s a historical with Fabio half naked on the cover. They think THAT is what defines romance, not the actual content of the book. there are romances that aren’t shelved in romance. There are romances with adirondack chairs on the cover.

    The only other point I wanted to make is that I think “blackholly’s” quote was taken out of context in this post. She’s talking about something that happened in her childhood. That’s the LJ screenname for Holly Black, the NYT bestselling author of Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside. Valiant was one of the best books I read the year it came out, and it’s most DEFINITELY a romance AS WELL as an urban fantasy. I’ve recommended it to all my romance-writing friends and acquaintances. She is actually VERY interested in romance and we’ve had discussions about RWA, etc.

    I know this comment may be taken in the “can’t we all just get along” vein, but perhaps that’s because I think my upcoming urban fantasies are romances, too. WAY more than my chick lits, which was what got me recognition in RWA, and were called (no doubt to Jane’s dismay) “romantic” and “romance” respectively by Booklist and Pub Weekly. The UFs are much more traditionally “romance” plot.

    PS: (I can’t shut up once I’ve started!) Kalen, I have that same rule about Dune!

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  48. Maggie Stiefvater
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 08:36:17

    Nora, I appreciate that your feelings were hurt by my comment of helpless laughing, but you have to realize that that’s a default setting for me. It happens to me when I read a lot of fantasy too. I would give examples of particularly laughable examples of my own genre but I don’t believe calling out individual books is a very nice thing to do.

    What I don’t understand is how riled up everyone is over a handful of people’s comments – because when it comes down to it, that’s all we are, a handful of writers and readers in a huge population of writers and readers. And yet somehow this single post with its associated comments achieved mammoth stature by all the ensuing moaning from romance writers.

    I used to play the bagpipes competitively, all through college I was all about wearing the kilt and kicking ass and taking names. I can’t tell you how many times people would walk right up to me while I was holding my pipes and say, “You play the bagpipes? I hate the bagpipes.”

    And you know what I said, every single time? “You probably heard them played badly. A lot of people don’t know how to tune them. Try the Victoria Police Pipe Band – they have some rockin’ CDs out there.”

    And I got e-mails from people who had met me and been converted; they now had a stack of Victoria Police Pipe Band, 78th Frasers, Battlefield Band, Seven Nations, etc. So if you love your genre, don’t piss and moan over your detractors. Just convert and move onto the next heathen.

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  49. Jane
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 08:39:28

    Melissa Marr – I’m not sure what your point is. Is it that Fangs, Fur and Fantasy is full of intolerant genre bashers and if a reader just sticks around, she’ll have the opportunity to feel slighted and demeaned, no matter what the genre is or sub genre is?

    And even if your community is self policing as you suggest, why shouldn’t a romance blog talk about this important topic? The original post wasn’t about the Fangs, Fur and Fantasy blog, it was about one topic written by Maggie Stiefvater, an author. An author in a genre that has risen to prominence on the wallets of romance readers. The defense of the community, particularly as you have written it (hey, we bash everyone) doesn’t seem to fit here.

    There was no suggestion that the FFF community was bad or that one person spoke for the entire members of the community, although, I think a casual reader might look at the sidebar and think, huh, how can these people support this type of derision toward the very readers that buy their books. I was also pretty clear that we romance readers had our defenders in that thread and that I was appreciative of it.

    But I’ll address the moderation point a bit. I don’t moderate comments but neither will I post on this site something akin to Maggie Stiefvater’s post because even if it did open up dialogue it would be insult to the readers of the blog who love romance.
    What is the point of an author promotional blog like FFF but to sell books? If it had some other purpose than author promotion, there would be more than authors who were contributors to the blog entries. I think that any business person would question the wisdom of posting a blog entry which takes intentional swipes at an entire genre of readers who are responsible for the growth of urban fantasy.

    Yes, of course, there is free speech and the right thereof. But there is also consequences for free speech. We’ve seen more than one fledgling author here in the romance genre crater their reputations online, all under the guise of “free speech.” Free speech is a misnomer. There’s nothing free about it.

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  50. Nora Roberts
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 08:59:14

    Maggie, you didn’t hurt my feelings. Not at all. I simply found your comments insulting toward an entire genre of fiction. And very deliberately so. It’s the sort of thing that baffles and offends me, but doesn’t hurt my feelings.

    If you really can’t understand why readers and writers of Romance got riled up, I can’t explain it any better.

    The writers and readers you offend by smirking at their choice of profession or reading entertainment are the very ones who may (and do) cross from Romance to SF/F in the bookstore. The very ones who may support and appreciate your work.

    You’re a writer, so you know the impact of words. If you’d genuinely wanted some suggestions on Romance novels, you could certainly have asked for them without taking the swipes.

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  51. Nora Roberts
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:01:39

    ~And yet somehow this single post with its associated comments achieved mammoth stature by all the ensuing moaning from romance writers.~

    Ensuing moaning. Also sniping.

    If you didn’t want comments and attention from your post, why post at all–and in a way designed to stir people up?

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  52. Patrice Michelle
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:06:50

    More than once, the answer has been “Nora Roberts.” But they don't realize that's romance, because in their heads, it's not romance unless it's a historical with Fabio half naked on the cover.

    I had this same thing happen to me when I was talking to a group of girlfriends. When I mentioned that romance was over 50% of the selling market they seemed surprised. So I asked, “Who do you see on the top ten spots most often?” They said, “Well, there’s Nora Roberts and then listed other authors they’d seen. When I said, “Nora’s books are romances,” the response I got was…”Really? I thought they were mysteries.”

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  53. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:25:35

    Maggie… I’m not trying to attack you, pick on you, insult your views, or anything. I just want to offer some advice.

    Your comments are insulting readers. Even if you think romance blows, hey, you can feel that way.

    But whatever you’re doing, whether it’s damage control, or just explaining your view points, every time you comment, you manage to insult readers.

    Those readers are the ones that might be buying your books. Romance readers tend to genre hop. A lot. Not all. But a decent amount. They also hate it when they feel their genre is being insulted by a writer. Insulted readers rarely go out of their way to buy a book…even if it’s one they thought they might like.

    I stopped reading several authors just because I didn’t like their attitude online.

    You said

    What I don't understand is how riled up everyone is over a handful of people's comments

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you do write? Correct? You understand the importance of words. And practically each post here, and your original one, was a backhanded slap to romance readers.

    Look, I read across the board. I know the stereotypes that go with all these genres being discussed, romance, sci fi, and fantasy. Romance readers… hey that means we’re overweight, undereducated women that are miserable with their love lives. Sci fi… enter the stereotypical version of a trekkie fan, the overweight, acne scarred geeky man still living in his parents basement.

    I imagine that image irks you as much as this irked romance readers and writers… I kind of skim the first couple pages and start laughing and abandon them. It's probably a character fault.

    The character fault isn’t that you can’t read past the first few pages without laughing. You’re entitled to that opinion. The character fault I’m seeing here is that you don’t even realize that you’re making it sound like anybody that reads or writes romance is laughable.

    I’d recommend you just drop this. You can’t seem to respond without shoving your foot in your mouth… whether you realize it or not.

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  54. romblogreader
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:25:59

    “What I don't understand is how riled up everyone is over a handful of people's comments”

    I don’t know about everyone else, but what got me was a) The dismissive tone of the initial post. You sort of asked for suggestions, but the tone said “Don’t hate me for thinking romance sucks, even though I don’t understand it or read it. Come prove me wrong,” rather than a simple “I’ve never understood the appeal of romance, could some of you who enjoy it explain that, and maybe recommend some of the better examples of the genre”? The latter is the content, but the former was pretty clearly the tone. If you’re honestly going to tell me you didn’t mean that to be the tone, I’m going to think you’re either disingenuous or have a serious lack of control of the words you write, which is a handicap that you, as a soon to be published writer might want to examine. But I think it was the first.

    b) The fact that, in the beginning, most of the responses were along the lines of “Oh, I think romance is dumb too, even though I’ve read one, ever,” with a lot of circular, back-patting snobbery perpetuating the same myths about romance that we, as romance readers, hear thrown around all the time.

    c) The fact that, as romance readers, we are *often* subjected to people not just insulting the genre we love, but insulting our intelligence and taste for enjoying it, to a degree and with a smug, open rudeness that pretty much all of us would agree we don’t get for any other genre of entertainment.

    d) The fact that you, as an author of a genre with its own cliches and limitations that as someone else has pointed out, *rose to prominence on the wallets of romance lovers* not only feel that way about romance, but go ahead and post those not-so-thinnly veiled insult in a way that, once again, doesn’t just trash romance, but acts like it’s fine to trash romance. It’s one thing to dislike romance, another to trash it, but way too often, it’s done with a tone of “I don’t mean to be rude, sweetie, but that book you’re reading is trash.” When the insulter clearly meant to be rude, meant to insult the genre, but thinks it’s okay to bash something they don’t understand because they think it’s easy target.

    While I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you were honestly curious about the appeal of romance (which makes sense, if you intend to make a living as an author of a genre with a whole lot of crossover audience) the way in which you went about asking for info about that appeal (and the me-toos in your comments) came across, to the majority of us romance readers, as smug, self-righteous, insulting and superior.

    The fact that the commenters who agree with you might not think it came off that way is one thing, but the fact that a lot of the very people who you were supposedly talking to in that post (and the very people who buy the majority of books these days) were insulted (though we certainly are used to it by now) are getting riled up because you insulted the genre we love and still don’t seem to get why that would bug us or that you were rude in the first place.

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  55. Gennita Low
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:26:58

    Now we’ve reached the “stop moaning and pissing over your detractors, whiny romance author,” stage of the dialogue.

    ;-P

    Shiloh, I don’t know what’s come over me. Usually I just drink my coffee and watch MST3K. You guys are such a bad influence on my usual reticence.

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  56. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:43:05

    Shiloh, I don't know what's come over me. Usually I just drink my coffee and watch MST3K. You guys are such a bad influence on my usual reticence.

    Shame on you!

    And FYI, I really didn’t need to post here, but I wanted to see if the gravatar thingy is working.

    ReplyReply

  57. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:43:51

    and daggone… it’s not working. I don’t think gravatar likes me.

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  58. Melissa Marr
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:45:38

    Dear Jane,

    I posted because of the tone I perceived in “some of whom are actually members of the [Fangs, Fur, and Fey] community.” Perhaps I misheard the tonal emphasis on “actually.” The defense of the comm was b/c it wasn’t just Maggie’s comment that was under discussion. At no point was I suggesting that there was anything wrong with your blog (or any other blog) addressing what was said there–merely providing more details that I thought were important for context.

    RE: “If it had some other purpose than author promotion, there would be more than authors who were contributors to the blog entries.”

    This is not the sole purpose of the comm. It has evolved to focus on promotion as well. However, posting access includes seeing locked members-only posts on publishing topics. Therefore not every reader can have posting access.

    The blog was not started “to sell books.” I started it a year ago with two other authors–none of us were even on the shelves then. Two of those authors still aren’t on the shelves yet. It wasn’t a promo thing; it was begun as a space “to discuss urban fantasy and paranormal romance, lore, writing, world-building, et al.” That’s the precise phrase I wrote when I invited the first other authors I knew to join us. It was set up as a place to meet authors & eventually readers.

    It’s evolved, but it was & still remains a place to talk about things related to the various sorts of books we write and read. It’s a discussion space for all of the aforementioned topics, & strong–sometimes troubling–opinions do crop up.

    I’m sorry if you feel that anything I have said implied that your blog should NOT discuss what was said in ours. Totally not my point or my belief. I was merely trying to provide what I thought were useful details.

    Melissa

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  59. romblogreader
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:46:07

    Melissa:

    “If you look at the originating post, you'll see that Maggie asked, “So please, FFF readers and romance lovers, answer my two questions:”

    The questions aren’t what we have a problem with. If you look at the originating post, you’ll see that Maggie also said,

    “No seriously. I’ve never really been able to read them – though I know a lot of folks do. I kind of skim the first couple pages and start laughing and abandon them.”

    and

    “suddenly I’m tempted to pick up books with well-built guys painted on the front covers. But I just . . . can’t. I’m afraid I’ll pick it up and the Greater Plot will be subverted to the Amazing Love Conflict which will be built on formulaic, predictable lines.”

    Both of which *are* insulting and closed minded. It’s one thing to be ignorant of romance and to admit that ignorance and seek information. It’s another thing entirely to feel it’s appropriate to openly insult a genre you know little about and to do it in a public forum with your own author-hat firmly on your head. If she’d made these dismissive comments in a friends locked post in her own journal, that would be one thing. But she clearly felt perfectly comfortable standing up as an author of genre fiction and insulting another genre.

    I’m not in her head, I don’t know why she felt it was appropriate to do that. Part of that has to do with her, part of that, I seriously suspect, is that time and again, readers, genre readers and non-readers alike think it’s *okay* to trash romance in a way they’d never do with another genre they don’t enjoy or understand.

    And it’s that tone of “it’s okay to trash romance, because those books are stupid, badly written trash” that, I think, resonated so strongly with us. Not that she was ignorant or sought to remedy that ignorance. That part’s fine. It’s the fact that once again, we’ve got a round of “It’s okay to bash romance, look at what an easy target it is.” Followed by a round of “Oh gee, we didn’t mean to be insulting, don’t get your panties in a knot, ladies,” when clearly, the initial post – in addition to seeking advice – was insulting, whether she meant it to be or not.

    And calling her out on that doesn’t make us hysterical assholes. Defensive, maybe, but with good reason.

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  60. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:49:04

    Exactly!

    The questions aren't what we have a problem with. If you look at the originating post, you'll see that Maggie also said,

    “No seriously. I've never really been able to read them – though I know a lot of folks do. I kind of skim the first couple pages and start laughing and abandon them.”

    and

    “suddenly I'm tempted to pick up books with well-built guys painted on the front covers. But I just . . . can't. I'm afraid I'll pick it up and the Greater Plot will be subverted to the Amazing Love Conflict which will be built on formulaic, predictable lines.”

    Both of which *are* insulting and closed minded

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  61. Nora Roberts
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 09:53:17

    Gennita, the pissing and moaning remark was kind of the capper for me. It’s hard to have a dialogue with someone just bound and determined to insult you.

    I didn’t realize this was her first book. I’m more inclined to cut a new writer a break, but she’s pretty much hit the limit for me.

    ReplyReply

  62. Belinda
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 11:00:52

    “I appreciate that your feelings were hurt” is not a particularly effective way to convince people you aren’t trying to be arrogant and condescending.

    ReplyReply

  63. Tracy
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 11:09:43

    These quotes had me laughing my head off (in a good way!):

    Want to read the research I can probably dig up (from the theses section in a varsity library) on science fiction and their appeal (specifically regarding white, nerdy, middle class males)? ;-P

    Thank you so much!! My hubby likes SF and he is a white, nerdy, middle-class male! whoot!! He’d agree! However, just b/c my hubby fits the “stereotype” doesn’t mean all SF readers are like him. Ms. Low~I’ve never read one of your books, but for that comment alone, I’m off to the library to find one!!

    and this one:

    That post only offered folks who share a mutual disdain for the genre to take free jabs. And that's fine. Just don't try to smear chocolate on a turd and call it candy, please.

    Thank you!! too true, too true!! Backpeddling makes me crazy and you called a spade a spade (or a turd a turd?) ;)

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  64. Debra
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 11:11:58

    As a romance reader who typically crosses into the Sci/Fantasy genre and a few other genres, to find a good read, I would have to agree with everything that was said here by the other ladies.

    You didnt want recommendations, or you would have flat out asked for them. Instead you put up insulting remarks that you knew would you get attention. But was it the type of attention you wanted? I might have strolled through my Borders and picked up your book to buy, or might have read a review of it here or there and picked up, but I wont now. I will remember your name, so will the rest of us, but not for the reason you want us to.

    Every time an author makes an ass of themselves I have to wonder, did we not learn anything from the last one that committed career suicide, or looked like a complete jackass from here to Timbuktu?

    You guys just never learn lol.

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  65. Ann Bruce
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 11:31:02

    I'd recommend you just drop this. You can't seem to respond without shoving your foot in your mouth… whether you realize it or not.

    Oh, Shiloh, will you run away with me?

    ReplyReply

  66. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 11:59:36

    Oh, Shiloh, will you run away with me?

    Nope. Only one I’d run away with… if she was a guy and if I didn’t already have a guy is Gennita. She had me @

    Want to read the research I can probably dig up (from the theses section in a varsity library) on science fiction and their appeal (specifically regarding white, nerdy, middle class males)? ;-P

    ;-) But I appreciate that might hurt your feelings.

    I’m sorry, I’m rotten, I couldn’t resist.

    ReplyReply

  67. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 12:00:15

    and oh goodie… now my avatar is working.

    folks, that is the baby bratlet. tiny pic, yeah, but isn’t she cute?

    ReplyReply

  68. Ann Bruce
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 12:05:38

    But I appreciate that might hurt your feelings.

    *sniff, sniff*

    I must turn to a romance novel now because my real-life love life is in shambles.

    (Yeah, the BF is laughing as he reads over my shoulder.)

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  69. Catherine
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 13:22:42

    I read a lot and very quickly. To keep up with my crack addiction (as my husband calls it) I have to branch off into different genres often. That being said, the one I enjoy the most overall is Romance.

    I don’t care how that author says she meant her comments now that she’s seen how much she pissed off potential readers. What matters is that I was insulted. I’ll be damned if I’ll read something by an author that is so careless with her words. If she is so quick to judge me because of what I read (don’t lie I know you laugh in your mind when you see a romance reader) then I won’t waste my money on her. If this was promotional hype to get people to buy her book it didn’t work with me. I guess I’ll be adding her to my do not buy list.

    Also, that comment about the typical reader

    There's some very interesting research about romance novels and their appeal that I could probably dig up (specifically regarding middle-class white women) if you're interested on a social level.

    That just pisses me off. Yes I’m white, I’m married and have a baby, but I’m only in my twenties. I’m not unfulfilled. I’m educated and have certifications and a degree. I work in Information Technology and I’m damn good at my job. Even though it wasn’t said out right I know that it was implied that they are unfulfilled in the bedroom so they read to escape in fantasies. I don’t. I like reading about how two people overcome obstacles to be together. I enjoy the sex yes, but it’s not how I get my kicks. If I want that I go and jump my husband. There are no problems with my life and my sex life. I resent the implication that there is.

    That was longer then I meant it to be. Sorry! I got into rant mode and couldn’t stop.

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  70. Catherine
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 13:25:37

    Does it make me sound geeky that I get a crazy thrill everytime I see an author I read commenting here? (cough Nora Roberts cough) My husband laughs at me when I’m like, “OMG she comments at a place that I like to lurk at!”

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  71. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 13:30:54

    My husband laughs at me when I'm like, “OMG she comments at a place that I like to lurk at!”

    If it does, color me a geek, too. ;)

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  72. MaryK
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 13:39:55

    “I've never read one of your books, but for that comment alone, I'm off to the library to find one!!”

    Over the last week, I’ve added three authors to my “must try her books” list based on their responses to controversial topics.

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  73. Jackie L.
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 14:28:30

    Ok, white, middle-aged, physician, here. Not looking for a life, got one thanks. Married for not quite 30 years–oh yeah, to the same guy. Three charming and alarming children. Own my own business. Majored in literature in college before med school. I would like to see a few other people pull that one off. Just sayin’. I read cross genres–romance, mysteries, SF (but I am not a fan of just plain old fantasy, unless of course it is well written). Because I am a doctor, I get more sh*t for reading romance, than if I were a bank teller, for instance.

    But SFF is just another genre to me. A shorthand way of saying, expect space aliens, interstellar travel, some little wizard kid (who I adore, BTW).
    So I see it as someone in a glass house throwing stones when one genre writer puts down another genre.

    You can bet your bippy I’ll be waiting for the first Stiefvater book in 2008, and it had better be as good as say, Lois McMaster Bujold. I’ll cut you some slack, it won’t have to be up to Ursula K. Leguin status.

    Because I read books that make you giggle, you dissed somebody who buys over 100 books a year, in a lot of genres, including yours. Me, I’m just a reader, but I take my slights seriously. A lot of crap comes my way, whatever I read, but the vast majority is because of my romance reading.

    Be nice to readers, we ultimately pay your salary.

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  74. John Levitt
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 15:57:23

    I’m an urban fantasy author, member of F,F & F. I didn’t comment on the romance thread, because I know better.

    I thought at first the romance authors were being a bit oversensitive. After all, the most common question I get when I tell people I write fantasy is “why?”

    But then I realized that what really got to the romance writers was that they were being put down by other writers. And I think that’s a valid reason to get annoyed. We should be supporting our fellow authors, whether they’re in our genre or not. If you hate a book, fine, but there’s no reason to post about it. That goes double for genre. If you don’t care for romance that’s your prerogative, but there’s not much point in trashing people who do, nor the authors who write it.

    My book contains a semi-magical dog. Talk about glass houses.

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  75. Sandra Schwab
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 16:09:13

    There's some very interesting research about romance novels and their appeal that I could probably dig up (specifically regarding middle-class white women) if you're interested on a social level.”

    That must be Radway’s oh-so-wonderful Reading the Romance, one of the worst academic studies ever written. Radway is always dragged up in cases such as this!

    Because there is something wrong with us romance readers, even us non white romance readers. SOMETHING TERRIBLY WRONG

    Yes, dear, there is. It’s *takes dramtically deep breath* feminist intellectuals against romance writers and readers. And, sadly, “[o]ur segregation by class, occupation, and race, once again, works against us” (Radway 1987, p. 18). (Isn’t it sad to find out that so many people one knows suffer from literary schizophrenia?) According to several other studies, romance novels have the same effects as drugs, valium, and thus keep women under the yoke of patriarchy and offer them a false escape from powerlessness, meaninglessness, lack of self-esteem and identity (marvellous, isn’t it?), even worse, “[t]he user must constantly increase the dosage of the drug in order to alleviate problems aggravated by the drug itself” (Modleski 57) (and sometimes you do wonder what sort of drugs the authors of these studies were on…).

    In short, we are all hopeless cases. And us romance writers? Gosh, they probably reserve a special place in hell for us! (Right next door to genre authors who think it’s okay to look down their noses at other genres.)

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  76. Jessica Inclan
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 16:29:51

    How did I miss this one! Wow. I think there has been a like conversation on this topic before, and I know I’ve thrown in some of the comments I get from my colleagues–I teach at the college level–when they find out “what” I write. Of course, they are all busy writing their mysteries, but “those” are better, for some reason.

    This is an old conversation and sad how people group up on one side of the equation or another. Books are books. “Words, words, words” as Hamlet says when asked what he is reading.

    Jessica

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  77. RfP
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 17:27:11

    It's *takes dramtically deep breath* feminist intellectuals against romance writers and readers.

    Ugh. I consider myself a feminist intellectual romance reader, and there’s absolutely no dissonance between those attributes.

    Any reasonable person reading the Radway study should be able to see its weaknesses. There’s been work since that’s much more coherent (and contradicts Radway in almost all regards), but naturally the 23-year-old Radway study is the most fun to bring up in these debates.

    Some aspects of the Radway study read as if she came up with a provocative hypothesis, then cherry-picked facts to fit. Hmm…. Funny how that resembles the recent NPR story on why women read more than men.

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  78. Bev(BB)
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 18:09:57

    I would give examples of particularly laughable examples of my own genre but I don't believe calling out individual books is a very nice thing to do.

    Good god, So now we have to worry about hurting the book’s feelings?

    And what about when we like it? Can we mention the individual title then?

    Okay, I couldn’t help myself. Blame it on being offline for so long and coming back to this. Lordy. Unbelieveable.

    But really, that’s the entire problem, short and simple. If you’ll notice, in the very short post she posted over at FFF, she didn’t post any titles of any of the multitudes of romances that she’s “laughed” at. So, how are we to suggest ones to her taste? How are we to be helpful and, um, defend the genre?

    This is the falacy that always occurs whenever anyone uses this type of general attack. They don’t want to deal in specifics. Be it titles, plot or genre information.

    Now, say I’m selling Ms. whatever-her-name is short and she really, truly has given the romance genre a try and hasn’t found any books that hit the right spots for her and just can’t remember the titles. She could still give more descriptions. And maybe she did in the comments over on the other blog so that people would actually have something to work with. I didn’t dig deeper there.

    But without that information there isn’t any to answer the two questions she asked oh so ingenuously in the post . . . without getting caught in the “oh, but I don’t like that type of book, anyway” loop.

    What does that prove but that we’re having to dance to someone else’s tune? Cynical? Hah. You ain’t seen a Romance Cynic before meeting me if you think I’m going to willingly play that game for anyone. And I love romances. ;)

    If someone truly, honestly, sincerely wants to know what romances are about and what makes them tick for us then they need to either open their mind to the concept of them in the first place or open themself to tell us what they like about the ones they have read. Because if they haven’t liked anything at all about any of them, why in the world are they wanting to read more?!?

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  79. Bev’s Books » Blog Archive » An interesting week to finally get back online
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 19:26:04

    [...] then I get on today and run across an interesting discussion over on Dear Author from yesterday about someone dissing romances. Those types of discussions always fascinate me. Not [...]

  80. Jennifer McKenzie
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 19:58:11

    We should be supporting our fellow authors, whether they're in our genre or not. If you hate a book, fine, but there's no reason to post about it. That goes double for genre. If you don't care for romance that's your prerogative, but there's not much point in trashing people who do, nor the authors who write it.

    Thank you for seeing the point, John.

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  81. Michelle
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 20:04:10

    Hey waving at Jackie L, Biochem major, Philosophy minor then med school. I have had a lot of nice conversations with patients about books. They are always good icebreakers. Always fun to enter a room and see them reading a Nora or J.D. Robb. One interesting thing is usually if someone is reading a mystery, or general fiction they lay the book aside face up; while if it is a romance book they will lay it face down or stuff it back in their purse.

    Anyway some of my thoughts:
    Very poor backpeddling. Either stick to your guns and go out blazing or express abject groveling apologies.
    Also most romance readers have loooong memories and are very vocal. Piss us off at your peril.

    Lastly must go look up John Levitt’s book. I am a sucker for magical dogs or cats.

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  82. Genre Wars, Point of View and Execution « Trivial Pursuits
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 20:04:12

    [...] I fell in love with Gennita Low’s comment at Dear Author. Want to read the research I can probably dig up (from the theses section in a varsity library) on [...]

  83. Jackie L.
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 20:22:00

    Michelle, I see the same thing all the time too. Most of my patients bring Christian literature to read, they want to convert me. They’re so cute.

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  84. Jane
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 21:51:41

    I think romblogreader should have penned my post as she sums up perfectly how I felt. To John Levitt, I agree with what you said except for this:

    “If you hate a book, fine, but there's no reason to post about it.”

    I think it would have been fine if Maggie Stiefvater had said, I read x book and it really didn’t work for me. Individual criticism is fine, and even important, it’s the swipe at the genre that is discomfiting.

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  85. Gennita Low
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 22:12:24

    Ha, you know I’m a hopeless Dear Author addict when, after having driven 400 miles to Charleston, SC, for a workshop, instead of plopping into bed and resting, I’m HERE. But hey, it’s not everyday when I’m being romanced by a romance author ;-). Shiloh, you can have me any time, baby.

    Nora: Next big signing, I’m going stand by you, OJ heckler style, except my hat will I say “I love romance people.” And when you turn to frown at me, I’ll turn the cap over and it will say, “Esp. Nora Roberts.” Ha. Shameless, I know. But lady, every time you charge out like a roaring tigress for me and my genre, my heart goes pitter-pat.

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  86. brwngem
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 22:29:00

    The constant bashing of the genre and those who read is really boring to me at this point. I love when someone asks me, “You read that trash?” you know, with the sneer and all. The ones who feel that way have probably never read single title and they give off this vibe that maybe I should be ordering my books in plain paper packaging. PUHLEEEZE!

    I proudly flaunt the covers on the subway. Yes that's me on the 2 train propped against the door with my eyes glued to the pages . I refuse to cover the title in shame! No I don't adjust the book when it's getting to the steamy part. If you're shoulder reading (I SAW you) then enjoy!

    I read for ENTERTAINMENT. Like those of you who can't wait for the next episode of Grey's Anatomy or Desperate Housewives… this is my escapism. I also happen to read other genre's just as avidly (I'm a complete Dresden whore!) I'm also a minority, have a degree in English Lit. , vote, pay my taxes, raise my four children, and go to work every day. Romantic fiction isn't a dummied down version of fiction. The writers that give us these wonderful worlds don't just dump words on a page. In many cases a great deal of research goes into them. And to them I say THANK YOU!!!

    So whenever I get asked that question, or any variation of it I calmly reply, “Yep, sure do. How's that Tolstoy working out?”

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  87. Bev(BB)
    Sep 21, 2007 @ 22:29:30

    This made me cackle for ten minutes. Reading fantasy/scifi with the alien with pointy-ears, vampires without souls, boy wizards, were-something or Messianic figures with super powers doesn't make me scratch my head and go, “Gee, the guys I know in real life sure aren't like THESE CHARACTERS. These guys are unbelievable!”

    And can I chime in about the covers with the women wielding a sword wearing practically nothing, with size EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE frontal melons? No? Too mean? Okay.

    Wonder if anyone has ever done any research into the appeal of books about neurotic detectives withs tragics pasts who spend their time catching people who murder others ? ? ? That might be an interesting population to stereotype . . . frightening but intriguing all the same. ;p

    We won’t even go near horror or suspense. Or those action adventure junkies. Oye.

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  88. Sandra Schwab
    Sep 22, 2007 @ 02:42:55

    Ugh. I consider myself a feminist intellectual romance reader, and there's absolutely no dissonance between those attributes.

    RfP, I hope it’s clear that much of my earlier post was ironic; after all, I don’t only read and write romance, but also teach at university (and cover of my latest release is always up on my office door). As I said, I consider Radway’s book on romance one of the worst academic studies ever written. Not only doesn’t she have any clue about the genre, she also doesn’t have any clue about how to conduct a questionnaire study. And Reading the Romance is basically that.

    What I find so annoying about many of these academic studies as well as about posts like Stiefvater’s, is that people who don’t read and thus don’t know the genre still feel qualified to make judgements about it. At the recent Feminism and Popular Culture Conference in Newcastle I nearly had a fit when one of the presenters of the chick lit panel compared chick lit novels to romance aka THE Mills&Boon novel and Barbara Cartland (!!!). Later on, she admitted that she hadn’t read a romance novel, but had the “instinctive feeling” that a) romance heroines are all terribly weak creatures because of b) the omniscient narrator in romance.

    “There is no omniscient narrator in romance,” I said (growled)

    “Oh yes, there is,” she said.

    “No, there isn’t.”

    “Yes, there is. I’ve read this study and I’ve got this instinctive feeling –”

    “THERE IS NO OMNISCIENT NARRATOR IN ROMANCE! I happen to be on the romance panel, I read and write romance, and there is no omniscient narrator in romance!”

    I think she finally got my point…. *roll eyes*

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  89. Karen Scott
    Sep 22, 2007 @ 03:16:37

    But seriously, my post on FFF was an appeal. Yes, I'm a genre idiot, it said (or I like to think it said). I am not a romance reader. Every romance I've read is because it was a crossover in one of my other genres. Please, oh romance lovers, what do you love, why do you love it, and gimme some titles PLEASE.

    You gotta love the attempt at back-tracking, that’s what I live for whenever these mudslings at the romance genre take place. Three words for you Mags, stable, door, and horse.

    Incidentally, the use of smileys never fails to rub me the wrong way, especially when used by somebody who’s trying to defend themselves after sticking their foot in a steaming pile of horse shit.

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  90. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 22, 2007 @ 07:54:29

    Ha, you know I'm a hopeless Dear Author addict when, after having driven 400 miles to Charleston, SC, for a workshop, instead of plopping into bed and resting, I'm HERE.

    Oh, I can top that. Last night was my 6 year old son’s first sleepover/birthday party. And yet, I’m here instead of escaping to a tub of bubbles with a huge, bottomless glass whine (now that my house is mine again and who cares that it’s only 9am?)

    But hey, it's not everyday when I'm being romanced by a romance author ;-). Shiloh, you can have me any time, baby

    Gennita, ;) Don’t tempt me. You know how desperate and needy us white, middle-classed romance types are.

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  91. Bev(BB)
    Sep 22, 2007 @ 10:21:17

    What I find so annoying about many of these academic studies as well as about posts like Stiefvater's, is that people who don't read and thus don't know the genre still feel qualified to make judgements about it.

    Always. Invariably. And what I’ve observed over the years is how striking it is that most people who make these types of statements truly have no idea what a romance novel actually is. I mean what’s “inside” one. Literally. It’s like it’s worse than that they’re not even sure if there are words in there. In a lot of ways it goes much farther than stereotyping. Sometimes the comments are so far out of touch as to be completely nonsensical and don’t even upset me any more.

    Sometimes, too, I wonder if it has to do with the depth and breath of the genre. Some romance readers honestly don’t haven any concept of what is published as “romance” nowadays. Why should we expect non-converts to?

    ReplyReply

  92. Stephanie
    Sep 22, 2007 @ 10:29:15

    “But seriously, my post on FFF was an appeal. Yes, I'm a genre idiot . . .”

    Ms. Stiefvater needs to drop the word “genre” and add an “n” to the article of the last statement. Then she’d have a very accurate self-portrait.

    But seriously, I got the unfortunate impression from her original post that she was feeling a bit full of herself, perhaps because of her impending publication, so she pranced over to the FFF community to take a few pot shots at a genre that she thought would be an easy mark and impress the folks there with how “witty” and snarky she could be. If all she had been after was recs, she could have found a more diplomatic way to request them.

    It boggles the mind that someone who supposedly makes her living by the written word could have no idea of how she comes across to readers–in this case, smug, condescending, and obnoxious. If she’s as clueless in her professional writing as she is in her personal correspondence . . . well, that doesn’t augur well for her career.

    Besides being rude, her post was also short-sighted. As others have pointed out, romance readers do branch out and read other genres. I know I do–in fact, I went the other way by starting out reading mostly fantasy, then crossing over into mystery and romance, via Christie, Sayers, and the Grand Georgette. Antagonizing a potential readership as Ms. Stiefvater has done seems rather . . . dumb.

    Great site, by the way. I’ve lurked for a long time, but I always enjoy the discussions and reviews.

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  93. Tracy
    Sep 22, 2007 @ 10:44:49

    Gennita, ;) Don't tempt me. You know how desperate and needy us white, middle-classed romance types are.

    Can’t.stop.laughing. Thank you Shiloh, that was great!

    ReplyReply

  94. RfP
    Sep 22, 2007 @ 14:08:23

    Ugh. I consider myself a feminist intellectual romance reader, and there's absolutely no dissonance between those attributes.

    RfP, I hope it's clear that much of my earlier post was ironic; after all, I don't only read and write romance, but also teach at university (and cover of my latest release is always up on my office door).

    Yes, sorry: my “Ugh” was not directed at you! It was more a grunt in agreement with you.

    ReplyReply

  95. Ann Bruce
    Sep 22, 2007 @ 17:19:34

    Speaking of addictions…

    Some Americans are giving up friends and sex for the Internet

    I think DA is contributing to this problem.

    ReplyReply

  96. The Hysterical Reader | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Oct 02, 2007 @ 07:24:33

    [...] its associated comments achieved mammoth stature by all the ensuing moaning from romance writers. Dear Author “Hit a nerve, has this subject? ” “Oh dear, am I being a hysterical young lady? Do [...]

  97. Diana Peterfreund Blog | The Gut Punch Moment
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 00:09:25

    [...] Stiefvater, who once made waves online with her “I just don’t get romance” post and then a year later sold a big fat [...]

  98. Gale Laure
    Dec 26, 2009 @ 13:28:59

    As an author, I would like to say that the world is a big place. There is room for all of us. There is room for people who like romance, mystery, suspense and any other genre. We must all respect that we are all not alike. We were made to be a little bit different.

    There is even room for people who do not like books at all. Can you imagine? Lol

    Of course, all of this is just my opinion. Personally, I enjoy a little romance in my life. But I write romance, mystery, thriller and suspense. I write these genres because I enjoy these genres.

    I hope we all remember it is a big wide world out there.

    GL

    ReplyReply

  99. An interesting week to finally get back online
    Apr 04, 2010 @ 13:27:29

    [...] then I get on today and run across an interesting discussion over on Dear Author from yesterday about someone dissing romances. Those types of discussions always fascinate me. Not [...]

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