R-E-S-P-E-C-T

A few months ago I was in my town’s public library. I picked up a flyer announcing a book fair, featuring authors signing their books, storytelling for kids, and other activities. I scanned the list of authors and their book topics and discovered not one romance author listed, although there were authors of books on dogs, planning weddings, and some other pretty obscure topics. I bellied up to the counter to check out my book, brandishing the flyer to the librarian. “No romance.” She looked up and said, “Excuse me?” I said, “You don’t have any romance authors scheduled for the book fair.” She looked down her nose (well, sort of – I may have imagined that part) and said, “Oh, I don’t read that stuff.” First, was I asking her what she read? Second, how condescending is that? I may have even been checking out a romance, and the library sure is full of them. So I looked down my nose at her (and believe me, if you’ve seen my nose that’s some feat) and said, “Too bad. I write that stuff.” With a smug smile on my lips I watched Miss Thang get all flustered. “You do?” she squeaked. “You should talk to the coordinator about participating in the book fair.” I told her I’d do it next year, since my books weren’t published yet. Then I walked away with my head held high.

If we expect romance as a genre to get some serious respect, we need to seriously respect it ourselves. So the next time someone scoffs or smirks when you tell them you write romance, get fierce and let ‘em have it right between the eyes. (Wait until I tell that librarian I also write erotic romance!)

10 comments:

Nicole North said...

LOL! OMG what a great post, Carol! I would've loved to have seen that exchange. You did super letting her have it. I haven't had any experiences like that. When I do, I'll remember your advice!

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Great come back, Carol! We'd recently had a discussion similar to this at a chapter meeting and I took a romance book to my perm appointment about a week later. My hairdresser--a friend--asked what I was reading and I showed her the cover. "Oh, you read that smut?" I said, "It's not smut, it's a story about love. What's more important than that?"

I don't know if I made much impact on her, and it wasn't as satisfying as your's sounded, but I spoke up. :)

Liane Gentry Skye said...

Carol, you GO girl! My latest rant came when a writer from a writer's social network asked me not to display our cover art publicly as it "objectified men".

My rant about it is soooo long-winded that I'm going to have to finish my rant on my own blog LOL.

(Sliding away singing....Stand by Your Genre, and tell the world you love it....)

I know. Big groan. :D

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Way to go, Carol! Two days ago, someone was talking to me about writing romance. He was trying to connect with me somehow and mentioned, "I was named after a sleazy character in a romance novel." Unfortunately, I had no comment to that. I'm still learning....

Lexi said...

Go, Carol!

I'm trying to learn all about the ways to react to stupid comments so I'll be prepared when I start hearing them.

You're right, though. We have to respect ourselves and our work before we can ask anyone else to respect it.

Pet said...

Recently on a trip North we went out of our way to see a writer friend. She's a literary writer who gets published but her sales are nothing to brag about. She couldn't understand why I'd tied myself to a genre like romance. I explained to her that the publishers were very receptive to romance, a now expanding field what with ChickLit and Romantic Elements. I told her sales were often through the roof and it's an odd NYT bestseller list that doesn't have a romance writer or two on it.

I might have convinced her to leave the literary field and go into romance. But I don't know, she'd have a hard time giving up those unhappy endings.

My librarians are very romance oriented and I'm betting they'll stock in Carol E.'s HIs.

Cheers,
Pet.

Writer & Cat said...

Nobody disses romance to me! Uh, it's because I'm a hermit who never GOES anywhere but I did enjoy everyone's stories:)

Amber, maybe that dude WAS named after a sleazy character in a romance novel -- the ex boyfriend, the villian, the comic relief...

*heh*

Jody W.

Theresa S. said...

I have been known to ask, "So which are you avoiding, love or sex? Or both?" That usually stops them cold.

I also love La Crusie's line about this -- Love is the greatest force for good in the universe. How can anyone have a problem with that?

Personally, I think it's all just shrouded misogyny....

Theresa

Nicole North said...

Oh what great comebacks, Theresa!! I will HAVE to use those at some point. :)
Nicole

ShawnaMoore said...

Hi, Carol!

I agree, we have to take every opportunity to get the positive word out about romance fiction. We're proud of what we write :)

Shawna