Thursday, May 1, 2008

“To porn or not to porn, that is the question…”

Okay. After three great blogs by eloquent authors of high-class, sexy ROMANCE, what more is there to say on the subject?

Hmmm. How about that I don’t particularly object to the word porn? After all, one woman’s porn is another woman’s romance. It’s just a word. Sticks and stones, remember? Except that words can and do hurt, of course. But when your fifteen year-old son introduces you to his buddies by saying, “this is my mom, she writes porn,” the word quickly loses any sting. My kid is bragging, you understand. He’s horribly proud of my success, even while not wanting to read a word of my “chick books.”

My books range from slightly steamy to heavily erotic. I’m in a position to be open about that. My husband’s career is safe, my sons are too old to care and young enough to be impressed when they see a book with mom’s name on it. I could care less what my neighbors think, and my relatives gave up on me a long time ago. So what you see is what you get. If you buy an Ellora’s Cave “Quickie,” you’re gonna get a lot of sex and not much plot. That’s the nature of the beast. The name alone should tip you off. On the other hand, if you buy my Cerridwen Press book, you get a fairly complex paranormal romance with a smidgen of sex. And that’s how it’s labeled. Take the hint—all of the books are rated by their publishers. And if you’re still not sure, I’ve happily answered emails of the people who have asked. I want the readers to be happy—I’m never going to steer someone to read a book that will make them uncomfortable. But hot doesn’t mean poorly written. I agonize over each and every sentence of a Quickie as much as I do one of my “Spicy” cowboy stories for the Wild Rose Press.

E-publishing lends itself to hotter, more explicit literature. People like buying their super sexy stuff on-line. No disapproving sales clerk shaking a finger, and a lot of towns don’t have a store that will even carry the really steamy stories. As the song (click here to see a video that will make you laugh your ass off, if you have a sense of humor about this sort of thing) says, “The internet is for porn.” That’s a fact of life. In the world of e-books, hotter sells better. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m in this business to hopefully make a living some day.

So I write what the market demands. Does that make me pornographer? Depends on your definition. Does that make me a slut? My husband only wishes. And yeah, I get a little crabby when people start calling me names. Doesn't everyone?

I call myself a romance author, and tell people I write very steamy books. I refuse to write anything that degrades women or men, or is just sex for sex’s sake. Even in my quickies, you’re going to find an HEA, limited though it may be due to space. Humans (or vampires, werewolves, gargoyles, etc.) are sexual creatures, and sex IS a big part of romance. I have no problem taking you behind the bedroom doors. If you don’t care for that in a story, I have some lovely friends who write sweet romances, and I’ll be happy to send you to their web sites. I'm not being snarky here. There are great books out there, no matter what your preference, and I think people should read, and write, what they enjoy. The bookshelves, real and virtual, are big enough for all of us.

19 comments:

  1. "hot doesn’t mean poorly written"...as I mentioned in a comment yesterday, our work often gets labeled "trash" by people who've never read a romance (erotic or sweet or anything in between). But the truth is that some of the hottest books out there today are so well written I kept help a smidge of jealousy at the writer's talent.

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  2. You said "I think people should read, and write, what they enjoy. "

    I couldn't agree more. I think folks need to focus on what they enjoy. By making a huge fuss over erotic romance, they are doing themselves a disservice. As a reader, I am not going to want to read an author who has indulged in public shaming of other authors I read. It makes me feel bad and icky and yucky and all those other things no one wants to feel.

    So I pay attention to who is saying what. I read a lot of blogs. And I write down the names of people for two reasons. Want to read and want to avoid.

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  3. OMG...I HAD to laugh about your son!!! I have a 22 yr. old son who loves to introduce me as..this is my mom, she writes PORN." I always playfully smack him while his friends grin shamelessly!!! He even called from college late one night and said..hey mom! Some of the girls want to read your PORN. Where can they get it???? Okaaaay. Holy SMOKES!!!!

    Some of the most beautifully crafted books I've ever read are erotica. Just because it's erotic doesn't mean it's poorly written and that's a fact. Like you, I write hot and hotter. That suits my temperment just fine. A little variety, ya know?

    Terrific post, Cindy!
    Hugs!

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  4. patti shenbergerMay 1, 2008 at 12:25 PM

    Cindy, great post! Your writing is obviously selling well so keep it up. And of course teenage boys are more easily impressed with sex than are girls. My son's friends all like to skim through the pages of my books looking for the sex scenes!!!!

    Patti Shenberger

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  5. Isn't it strange that some readers will condemn erotica versus sweet romance while they would never think of condemning mystery versus action because there isn't enough guns shooting.
    Well said, Cindy. I am glad the market on the Internet has room for us all, whether we write HOT or NOT.
    Charlene

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  6. Great post, Cindy. I couldn't agree more. It all comes down to comfort level. Whether you're a reader or a writer, go with what makes you happy. If you read something that's too steamy for your taste, don't put a label on it warn the world of the depraved mind of the writer. Simply, put it down and find something else to read...

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  7. Anonymous, I'm duly warned! No trashing other authors...but seriously, I don't see any point in that. It can only be read as either sour grapes or snobbery, and I'd hate to display either of those. Teri, you're so right. I might not have ever gravitated to erotic romance if I hadn't read some beautifully written ones. And Regina, sounds like our sons are cut from the same cloth. Patti, once your son is deployed, I guarantee sending him your books will make him popular on the base. And Charlene, anyone denigrating romance only needs to read one of your books to know how good the writing can be.

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  8. Don't kids say the darnedest things? My 16-yr old is like that. Whenever he finds out a girl in his class likes to read, he tells her about my 'smut' or 'porn' books!

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  9. Excellent post, Cindy! My stuff is circulating in a jail...quite popular. Heh. You never know where your books will show up.

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  10. My son calls it smut...:) He's 22.

    Very well said Cindy...:)

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  11. thanks everyone--nice to know my kid isn't the only crazy one.

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  12. well done, Cindy. I don't care for erotic books but that's me. I know my author friends are super writers. Having said that, porn to me is hurtful, usually to a woman or girl. It's degrading. None of your books are like that so you are not writing porn!Your characters enjoy sex in all its manifestations. They like a lot. Good for them. Most people wish!

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  13. Hey Cindy, I know right where you;re coming from. My kids are a lot older than yours and they wear my label of "The porn queen of the Hill Country" like a badge. But seriously, there is a big difference bwteen porn and erotic romance. Porn is nothing but Part A goes into Part B---and mauybe C and D. There is no emotion, no relationship between the people involved. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Erotic romance writers, no matter how graphic their work, always have a basic story. Two people you can identify with (or 3 or 4 or 5!) There is an aspect f craft to the work. Otherwise it's just my high school sexual hygiene manual upgraded for older folks. I have always had a personal belief that people who beat up authors who write about sex do so because they're afraid of it. Anyone want to comment on that?

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  14. Hi Cindy!

    Wonderful post. I couldn't agree with what you said more. I have no problem with people knowing I write erotic romance. In fact, two of my biggest fans are my mother and my 84 year-old grandfather. LOL

    And like you I have no problem with the word 'porn'. I've jokingly said it myself, that I write porny stories. My husband loves to tell his friends what I do. My girls are both too young to understand (8 & 4), but I have no problem with them knowing when they're a little older. My teenaged nieces know and think it's funny...LOL

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  15. Great post, Cindy! I've never called my writing porn, but I've called it smut.

    I live in a small town with one bookstore. I know the owner very well. She won't carry my books. That's certainly her right, but I do have fans in town. Maybe I'd have more if my books were easier to buy.

    Lynn

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  16. EXCELLENT post, Cindy!! Romance by and large has over half of the entire fiction market, and a fair and increasing amount of that is NOT "sweet." To each his own, of course, but if readers aren't too uptight to want hot and spicy, why should the writers be?

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  17. Great words! I suppose when I started publishing, I was a little coy about admitting what I wrote. I could see faces change from interest to startled at 'erotic' then confused at 'male/male'. I think that last step is a step too far for some readers! LOL

    But everything everyone says here is true - writing will stand or fall according to a combination of its merits and the needs/desires of the readers. Nothing more, nothing less in the long run. If people like it, they'll ask for it, and authors will write it - that applies to spicy to not-spicy. I think the growth in ebook sales is the evidence of that.

    You can't - long-term - force people to read something or NOT to read a genre, so I'm worried that people get so hot under the collar about it. I admit I think it sad if stockists refuse books because of how *they* or a section of their readers feel (embarrassed? scared? disinterested?) - all types can co-exist, IMO, and it's up to the reader to choose. So long as there's nothing abusive or violently provocative in the fiction - and I think the industry polices itself pretty well, with much the same 'NOT ACCEPTABLE' list everywhere.

    Great discussion! And I'll admit here that I'm much more confident about describing what I write nowadays, despite the looks! LOL After all, it's hypocritical to do otherwise!
    Clare London :)

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  18. Excellent point. Maybe I can make Scott switch careers... hmm.

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