Smut, Porn, Erotica (and I love RWA)

May 28, 2007 | Karin's Blog | 29 comments

Are those fighting words?
Maybe.
For some.

Is there a difference between erotic romance and straight romance? Yes, there is. Do I know what it is? No. Not exactly. Do I write erotic suspense? I think so, it’s what my contract says I have to write for my contemps. But reviews say it’s just steamy suspense. So who knows? Frankly, I don’t care. It takes too much time, and too much energy to think about it. Am I a bad author because I don’t pick up the sword and defend my genre? Some may say, yes. I say, I don’t care what you think. I pick my battles and this is one I don’t chose to engage in.

When people ask me what I write I say erotic suspense and sexy historicals. But here is a little sampling of what the general populace’s perception is of what I write.
True story:

Hubby and I are out to dinner a few weeks ago with a few other older family members. One of them casually asks, “So, when are you going to stop writing the smutty books?”
I sipped my margarita and said, “As soon as they stop paying me the big bucks.”
End of conversation.

Many writers who write my genre would have instantly bristled, took up arms, and defended what they write. Mostly because they would have felt insulted and felt the need to explain that just because it’s erotica doesn’t make it smut, and so on and so forth and blah blah blah.

I have no time, no patience, and certainly no desire to explain myself to anyone. You see. I’m a big girl. I know what I write won’t appeal to everyone, and I’m okay with that. I don’t need anyone to go off and defend me. Everyone on this earth is entitled to their own opinion.

Now as far as RWA goes, I LOVE RWA!!!! Are they perfect? Nope, but I love the organization, and how they have brought 9,000 romance writers together under one umbrella, and I love National conference and I love how they really, really try to keep nearly 9,000 women happy. HAH! The day that feat is accomplished we can all go home!

Anyway RWA is talking about changing the categories for the RITA. How many of you even know what the RITA is? How many of you care? I have honestly not given the contest much consideration. When asked to judge this year I balked at the seven books I had to read then judge. No thanks. I really don’t have the time.

Besides, I think it’s too flawed to be accurate. Peers read their peer’s work and judge it. Guess what? There are a lot of authors out there who have made enemies. Do you honestly think if one of the combatants gets the nasty author’s book she’s going to give it a fair shake? Hell no. Now if this particular author is a big enough bitch and word gets around, how many of you think the book will get high enough marks to final? I highly doubt it would. Romance publishing is a very small world.

Women hold grudges, and women react emotionally. Women like to get even. Yeah yeah yeah, we’d all like to think we’re better than that, but we all know there are some very small, pea-brained people out there. It’s a fact of life. There are those types of people who go to blogs and make snarky little comments because they know someone they want to get a dig at visits regularly. There are those who just have no class or subtly at all and throw the shit out there, stir it up, then stand back and watch the cat fight. Then there are those people who suck up to those types so as not to feel the brunt of their wrath. Gee, I’m so proud. Do you see what I’m talking about?

Isn’t it sad, that books cannot be judged for the stories they are but by the nature of the author who wrote it? Or if you get some squeamish reader who doesn’t like to read hot steamy over-the-top loves scenes and who has the option to send it back because they are offended or, ‘er uncomfortable with the material, doesn’t because she is too lazy.

For me the solution is simple. No names on the entries. So instead of sending in a book to be judged, print it out or send it electronically like the Golden Heart entrants do. I think names should not be optional. Total anonymity.

Now, will I enter the RITA next year? Maybe. And here’s why I will consider it. It will introduce my name to a reader or two, and most importantly, if I should by some fluke final? A RITA final means something to Sue Grimshaw. And aside from the fact Sue is a most decent person, she gets us romance writers. Really gets us. She is a huge advocate for romance. And it’s always nice to be recognized by someone who gets us. All of us. Hmm, maybe there should be a Sue Grimshaw award. The lady has made romance a staple in Borders/Waldenbooks.

She doesn’t sit up in an ivory tower, she comes to us. She gets down into the trenches rolls up her sleeves and does her job. She does not discriminate. She pays attention to the facts. I wish more women would take her cue, and just be a stand-up professional.

Okay this blog did not start out as a testament to Sue, but what the hell. She’s a great gal who happens to be great for my biz.

I guess my bottom line is, I am tired of the drama. I’m tired of being told I have to defend my genre. I’m tired of feeling bad if I don’t. I’m tired of hearing about the perceived or real discrimination in RWA and/or the world at large against erotic romance writers.
I am most sad to see women, my own gender, out for the blood of other women. No wonder I was a tomboy growing up.

Is it me? Or do you feel the unrest too?

K*

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29 Comments

  1. Cele

    Personally I like your answer, why should you have to defend.

    And women can hold terribly long grudges. Why take that on?

  2. Tawny

    I agree on all your points. Its sad to watch the “us against them” nature these discussions boil down to. And the nastiness that ensues. Its starting to boil over on the PAN proposal as well, and most people haven’t even read that yet.

  3. Karin

    Thanks, Cele. It sure nipped that conversation in the bud. I’ve had acquaintances introduce me to their friends as ‘that smut writer I told you about.’ Of course then the acquaintance wants me to help them get published. I have a great line for that too. “Then I guess you need to get your ass in the chair and start writing.”

  4. Karin

    Tawny, I’m either not signed up for the PAN loop or no mail. But I can ony imagine what’s going on over there.

  5. B.E. Sanderson

    Good for you. You don’t have to defend a damn thing. I loved your answer, btw.

    I’m not privy to the in-fighting, so I couldn’t tell you if it’s any worse. I’m just saddened to hear that some people are still stuck in the middle-school mindset. Sheesh.

  6. LaDonna

    Karin, I like keeping it real too. I was a tomboy growing up, and probably still have a little of that gal inside. Pissiness never appealed to me…it’s toxic. I don’t follow a crowd, just do my thang! So, yep I notice the unrest. I’m a woman, and still can’t figure the quagmire out.

  7. Lee

    I’m one who rarely feels the need to defend anything I do, to anybody, including what I write. Why would I have too? I like it, and I don’t care if anybody else does, accept of course an agent.
    True in justices of the world, I’ll defend. But getting all riled up over a genre, well, I’ve got better things to do. As you said, you’ll write what you do as long as you get paid. As long as the books sell, you’ll get paid. And erotica doesn’t show any signs of being a flash in the pan. It’s hot and in demand, not only by the public, but the publishers. Its a money maker. If RWA isn’t recognzing it now, they will someday, simply because its to big to ignore.
    Women are notorious for stiring up shit. (I don’t like putting down my own sex) but it can’t be denied. And when they do, they want everybody on board with them.
    My advise to anybody in this industry, sit back, hold on tight, and enjoy the ride as you laugh all the way to the bank. And does it really matter if its a recognized genre? A good book, is just that, a good book. As erotica tips the sales scales, RWA will bend. And if they don’t, what difference will it make in any authors life. You’ll still sell, and the check will still come in the mail.
    As my daddy says, Opinions are like ass holes, everybody has one.

  8. Hubby

    “There are those types of people who go to blogs and make snarky little comments because they know someone they want to get a dig at visits regularly”

    Those are the people who have no lives and begrudge others their success. They are so unhappy with themselves and their little lives that they can’t help but lash out at everyone else.

    Some obtain a position of some power and totally throw themselves into it. Perfect example: The Little League coach, grown adult, who shows up for the kids game in a full baseball uniform. He is an authority on the game, no else knows what they are doing and he lives for those seven innings. Really quite sad when you think about it.

  9. Karin

    B.E. you aren’t missing much by missing the goings-ons.

    However, I do applaud the ladies who are taking the high road on this matter and fighting hard and honest for what they so passionately believe. Many good points are being made…but I still…I guess for me it just comes down to I don’t care what people think of my genre. My feeling is, those who turn a deaf ear are never going to be swayed over, so why bother? Why demand respect from people who don’t give a crap? It just seems like an exercise in futility to me, and the more feelings that get hurt, the bigger the grudge, and at the end of the day does it affect sales? Nope. Coz, New York loves the hot stuff and so do a lot of readers. Readers drive the market, not RWA, the RITA categories or writers who scoff at the genre.

  10. Karin

    LaDonna. “keeping it real.” Words we should all live by.

    lol, Lee, hubby says the same things about assholes. But you are right about RWA eventually having to not only take notice of the erotic romance genre, but give it some respect. It is *so* not going away.

  11. Karin

    Hubster, wasn’t there a coach like that in PONY league? LOL the one who screamed and yelled at his kid when our kid struck him out? Or was that hissy fit the time his kid was blocking the base and our kid slid into him, knocking him on his ass, and said coach nearly blew his cup off he was so pissed because his kid dropped the ball and our kid was safe. Or was it when he pissed himself when our kid then proceeded to steal all around to home, or was he really pissed coz his kid sat there and cried like a baby? And is this the same coach who trolls the local baseball blogs and message boards and stirs up shit by putting down other coaches, their teams and the league directors, becoz, oh, he was banned from coaching and from stepping onto any field? Is that the guy?

    Wow, and I thought it was just us chicks who did crap like that.

  12. Karin

    Okay, not trying to brag about my kid’s baseball prowess, but the above mentioned game was pathetic. It was also the beginning of the end for that coach. It was a sad day to watch a grown man lose control every time hubby out-coached him and our son out-played his kid. He just could not handle it. And the boys were all of 10 or 11. The guy literally had a meltdown on the sidelines. To this day the guy cannot let it go.

  13. Donna Kowalczyk

    Karin, your post was incredible, I don’t think I could agree more. I grew up a complete tomboy, hate malls even to this day…LOL I am proud to write erotica and couldn’t care less what it’s called; honestly couldn’t give a rat’s ass. I believe exactly what you believe, I’m never going to change someone’s mind who’s set in there ways, so why give myself a migraine trying? I’ve got better things to do. I just started in this genre, sold a short erotica to the Wild Rose Press, and I’m thrilled it’s doing so well (on their bestseller’s list!). In fact, I just sold them a second one and can’t wait to write a third (although I have to work on Love Heals All first ).

    Lee, your daddy is smart man…LOL Love that saying.

  14. J. Carson Black

    I think your answer was perfect. Sometimes the only thing people DO respect, is money. Sad, but true.

    You know the drill: just keep writing what you’re writing, and let other people sort out what to call it.

  15. LaDonna

    LOL, Lee. I wrote the asshole comment too, but deleted it cause my reply got too long. Seeing it up there made my day. Funny and so true! Love that line.

  16. Lee

    I love that saying too. And daddy says it all the time…I think eventually RWA will bend…I’m a member, and rarely read romance, not because I don’t like them, I’m a big thick historic reading girl..But I’m still a member of RWA, because it has so many good programs. I love the conferences, and chapter meetings. My writing wouldn’t be what it is, without their education. What I’ve learned is so valueable and the friends I’ve made, priceless. The writing process is the same, no matter the genre. Maybe those authors will make a difference, maybe not. Time will tell.
    Last week Karin told me Officer Lopez needed to come out. She came out to play and just won’t go home.

  17. Karin

    Donna, I always pegged you as a level-headed sort. 😉

    and congrats on your bestseller status!

    Jake, sad but true about the $ issue. I like it just as well as the next person, but you’re right, for some people that is how they determine worth.

  18. Karin

    LaDonna! Never delete!

    Lee, I think RWA will come around too, in their own good time…

  19. spyscribbler

    Your answer kicked ass, Karin! This may be a totally unpopular thing to say, but the people who diss erotica? Doesn’t bother me a bit.

    What does bother me–when I’m not in a nice, patient mood, LOL–is erotica authors insisting that they don’t write erotica, and do it in a tone to suggest that romantica is better than erotica, or erotic romance is okay, but erotica is … *insert picture of finger pushing up nose snottily*.

    Just my pet peeve. Really, who cares???

    Sex is sex. Whether you’re mainstream and you’ve got one sex scene, or hard-core erotica with fifty, we’re all writing sex. Call it what you like, but … it’s sex! Maybe it has romance, maybe it has meaning and emotional power, but … it’s sex!

  20. Karin

    Spy, I had to laugh at your “when I’m in a nice patient mood”, comment. Thanks to the margarita I was drinking I was. But sometimes…
    and you are so right, baby. Sex is sex and it makes the world go around and without it, none of us would be here now would we? Well, a few us would be…but c’mon, it’s a very cool thing.

  21. Debbie

    It doesn’t matter what the work/recreational venue is, some people are just plain unhappy and a tad nasty. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the teacher’s room or the RWA conference or your kid’s basketball/hockey/baseball game. Sometimes their only sense of self comes from making others feel small. It’s beyond pissing me off when someone does it to me personally, it makes me feel bad for them now. It is a sad commentary that people snark others on a blog or judge a contest so the “right” book wins, not necessarily the one written well. But it’s the way of the world now–isn’t it? I’m with you, Karin. Who has time to worry about that crap?

    And as far as smut/porn/erotica. Doesn’t really matter what they call it. A well written story rife with conflict and emotion is still a damn good read–and hot sex to boot–well it sounds like a winning combination to me!

  22. Karin

    Debbie, it is so much the way of the world these days. An you’re right a great story is a great story. Sex or not.

  23. Amie Stuart

    I’m afraid the latest buggaboo just irriates the crap out of me (the PAN one). I’m sorta sad to see some of the contest changes and I’ll write when I get my RWR and go to Nationals, but the whole PAN thing bugs me.

    Anyway….I think with words like smut you have to own it. What really hacks me off are folks who don’t know what erotica is and think they do, but i guess it’s a tomatoe tomahtoe thing huh?

  24. Karin

    Holy hell, Amie! I woke up this am and my mailbox was flooded with all this PAN BS. WTF? Leave well enough alone for crying out loud.

    Amie, I’m not sure *I* know exactly what erotica is. I wish someone would come up with a definition and I could say, “Yep, that’s me.”

  25. Edie

    Good post, Karin. I’ve been seeing the many posts on the RWAorg loop, and today I’ve just been deleting them. It’s too much. They’re rehashing the same thing, over and over.

  26. Karin

    me too, Edie, me too

  27. spyscribbler

    LOL … I need to get on that list. Just to read what they’re saying.

    The instant I read the PRO proposal, I had to laugh, knowing it would never pass. For one, I would qualify, LOL. And it’s very important to the powers that be, evidently, that we have this ridiculous leveling system. It’s the only weird thing about RWA.

    For me, I mostly do RWA for the friends. The workshops are nice, but … I was writing before RWA, and I’ll be writing after RWA. I just like hanging out with like-minded people!

  28. spyscribbler

    (PAN, I meant, LOL.)

  29. Karin

    Spy, trust me, it is just being hashed and rehashed, and while there are some really solid ideas, it all just boggles my mind. I have been in delete mode for almost 48 hours now.

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