Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bereft of a Catchy Title

I was going to post about Glacier National Park, and Going-To-The-Sun Road up to Logan Pass, and how the snow is still crusty and deep there, despite the yellow wildflowers growing three-quarters of the way up the sides of mountains. About how weirdly home-like the town of Kalispell felt (waves to Becca) to this New York-born and bred northeasterner, and how, as we were leaving the hotel on our way to airport at 6 AM two days ago, I found myself humming "Sunday Morning Coming Down," (the Kris Kristofferson version).

But today I got an email from Phaze offering me a contract for my novella, "To Have and Have Not."

I've sold short fiction and nonfiction before, but this is my first romantic fiction sale, and my first sale under the name "Selah March," so I'm pretty excited. Very excited, actually.

My husband, who has been...reasonably patient...will be VERY pleased.

The novella will be released late in the year, in all likelihood. I'll try to get a blurb up in the next day or two.

I'm thinking...maybe...steak for dinner.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Second Verse, Same as the First

I knew the very second I embarked on our family's full frontal assault on the state of Montana, those cunning vixens on the RWA BoD would pull a fast one. Not that the whole "definition of romance" thing comes as a surprise--that's been simmering for some time now. But one must really take a moment to enjoy the irresistibly bold flavor of this dish they're attempting to serve us. No pussy-whipped little Cobb or Caesar salad is this month's special, ...no, indeed.

"Would you like your charred-to-a-lifeless-and-smoldering-crisp hunk-o'-cow-flesh with or without a parsley garnish?

What's that you say? Medium rare? Sorry, no can do. Poultry or seafood? No, sorry, if you'll check your menu, you'll see those choices are not listed.

VEGETARIAN?? Ewwwwwwwwww. You must write for EC."

Some folks seem to think we should be thankful we're being given a choice at all--the choice between a definition of romance as being between "a man and a woman" and "two people." I suppose they're the same folks who think gay people should shut up the right to marry and just be grateful they're not being rounded up and jailed for breaking sodomy laws.

I've said it before and I'll say it again--the folks the BoD are listening to don't give a rat's ass that publishers are starting lines specifically for erotica, that threesomes and moresomes are hot and getting hotter, and that sales of gay and lesbian romance are on the rise. What they want is to be able to look the president of their local PTA/Junior League/Ladies' Auxiliary in the eye and tell her they write romance, and not flinch because of whatever that president, in her ignorant, ill-informed, tight-assedness, might assume about the genre.

These are not businesspeople. They are hobbyists, who are more concerned about image than financial success. Woe unto them when they begin actively getting in the way of people who are here to earn a buck--and that would include the publishers the organization was in part set up to court.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

How the West was...okay, not WON so much as fought over by three hungry, cranky children like the last slightly stale chocolate glazed croissant...

Posting from the wilds of northwestern Montana, just a few miles from snow-capped mountains, where black bears and grizzlies and big cats roam. Five of us trapped in a small hotel room--two of us under the age of ten--sharing a bathroom and a complimentary Continental breakfast tray and fighting over the temp control on the air conditioner. There's no quiet spot to escape for writing, or even just sitting and thinking. I can check my email in ten and fifteen minute bursts on the hotel computer, but can't concentrate long enough to read or critique a full chapter for a friend. Maybe if I sneak down after midnight...

Tomorrow we hike Glacier Park, home of all the aforementioned carnivorous beasties. I am determined to approach the day with a positive attitude, and NOT end up doing time for manslaughtering my own kin and dumping their bodies in the lake. Orange jumpsuit, side-seam pockets, not a good look, as Barb keeps reminding me.

Prayers and good wishes gratefully accepted...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Devil in the Details

It's been brought to my attention by the intelligent, stunning (seriously, check out that picture) and obviously insighful KarenS that the font I've been using is too small to be comfortably read. Because I use AOL (yes, I know...I KNOW...I deserve to be horsewhipped... but at least I'm in good company) I'm apparently seeing it as much larger than it's actually appearing. Karen suggests I switch to Arial, but I've got this THING about sans serif fonts...and she thinks SHE'S anal... So instead of switching, I've tried simply increasing the size from "normal" to "large."

Does it work for you, Karen?

Never let anyone suggest I'm unresponsive to the needs of others.

(Unless you're my husband, stumbling in from a 2 AM jam session with "the boys," smelling of sweat, smoke and cheap beer. Then you can go so far as an open accusation--"YOU ARE UNRESPONSIVE." Go ahead. See if I bother to roll over long enough to deny it.)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

This is why I have my mail delivered...

'Twould seem the RWA National BoD has had their 'come to Jesus' moment regarding the Graphical Standards debacle, but I'm skeptical. They've only agreed to suspend the standards temporarily, and to form an ad hoc committee to further study the issue.

Lee Goldberg is of the opinion, stated in the comments section of one of today's Smart Bitches posts, that no standards whatsoever should be applied, and that by applying any at all, the organization leaves itself wide open for ridicule by other writers' groups.

Funny. I thought respect was what we were courting in the first place. But maybe not the respect of other writers. Maybe what the BoD and their supporters in this endeavor were looking for was the respect of...I dunno...their parish priests? Their PTA presidents? The nosy biddy down the street who heard one of them wrote romance and spread it around town, so now every time the poor, persecuted author walks into the Post Office, people turn and stare?

Whomever's good opinion they were courting, the BoD and those who so vehemently backed them up in this fiasco traded the respect of quite a few of their peers to get it. And that's kind of sad, huh?

As for the noted inspirational author who immediately jumped on her 'shame, shame for getting all outraged over a perceived infringement upon your rights, you naughty, ill-behaved wenches' horse... pppbbbbffffttt. I agree with Candy and Sarah. We'll see who squeals loudest if and when the organization to which she pays dues arbitrarily places some classic Christian imagery on a list and limits her ability to promote HER work.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

One Lump, or Two?

"We don't like THOSE covers. They're NASTY, with the naked bodies, all NAKED, and NUDE. It's SMUT, that's what it is. And if we, as an organization, take a stand against it, the publishers will have to...will have to...will...have to..."

Uh huh.

The economy is in the toilet, the publishing industry is about to be flushed like a big wad of Charmin, but I have no doubt every Tom, Dick and Carrie in the marketing departments of Manhattan will scurry to cover all the exposed boobies and suggested bits o' man-meat, just as soon as they hear those nice ladies over at RWA have decided to clean up the Image of Romance. Who cares if the more graphic covers sell more books? After all, we're talking about the mission statement for an entire genre, here. Money in the bank is nothing compared to the sensibilities of women who want to be able to proclaim that they WRITE ROMANCE, DAMMIT...and not have to endure the snickers of people who assume they mean bodice-ripping girlie-porn.

You know? I'd love it if the ignorant jackasses who continually brand us with that bullshit would disappear, too. But I'm not convinced changing the covers of books will make it happen. And I'm not willing to throw up roadblocks to promotion--making it harder for myself and my sister authors to earn a buck--on an experiment.

So what I said yesterday in regards to whiney volunteers holds true today, as well. Kitchen's too toasty? You knew going in. There's the door, and it swings on a tight spring, so watch your ass on the way out.

As for the publishers? Those folks who truly believe they can get them to change their covers are welcome to try. But I suspect they'll be pissing straight into the wind, because publishing doesn't need the RWA, but the RWA sure does need publishing. To them, the RWA is a convenience. All the authors in one spot, for quick pitch appointments. The serious ones might actually send a manuscript to follow up. And the RWA has all those nice programs to teach the basics, so the query letters come in nicely parsed, and the slush-pile manuscripts are perfectly formatted...and there are THOUSANDS of them to feed the shredders at the end of every quarter. I understand it makes some pretty cool lining for a litter pan.

Without the RWA, editors and agents might not get to eat as many mushy chicken dinners at various conference award ceremonies. They might have to work a WEE bit harder to find that one-in-a-million manuscript. But without publishing? The RWA becomes nothing more than a big old tea-party, with a seriously steep cover charge.

And the debate rages on, between those who would dictate to the market, and those who understand that the market rules, no matter whose sensibilities get crushed in the process. Eventually, the pendulum will swing the other way, and graphic covers will no longer sell as well...or it won't. Time will tell. But for now, all the gnashing of teeth in the world won't change the fact that sex is selling, and the publishers are in the business of selling it. Stand in their way and they will simply step around you.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Little Botulism With Your Delicate, Flaky Crust?

In the aftermath of the initial explosion of the Graphical Standards controversy(scroll down to the first brilliant post of the day), I've heard it said on a few lists that we should give the Board of Directors of the RWA a break, because after all, they're all volunteers.

As I said in a comment on
Shannon's blog--when I spend ten bucks on an apple pie at a bake sale to support my kids' Little League team, I know the pie was baked by volunteers.


Tara Taylor Quinn and the rest of the BoD lead what they continue to insist is a professional organization devoted to the support and encouragement of the careers of nine thousand-plus professional writers. But the level of communication coming out of the BoD does NOT intimate "professional" by any stretch of the imagination. It screams "amateur hour" in the loudest possible terms, and now all the other, REAL professional writers' organizations are laughing at us. Because we look like just what we are--a bunch of clueless, ditzy dames with identity issues, led around by the nose by a faction a lot more concerned with their image as "nice ladies" than with market realities. (Market reality: SEX IS SELLING BETTER THAN EVER BEFORE. If you don't/can't/won't write it, that's fine, but stand in the way of those who do at your peril. We have as much right to be in this organization as you do, until the definition of Romance is altered to exclude us. And we intend to fight tooth and nail to see that it doesn't happen.)

But what is especially galling to me is all the talk of what the stress of the current controversy is doing to certain members of the BoD, personally. How it's giving them aches and pains. How they get nothing but misery from these positions, save for a few good friendships.

May I recommend a nicely aged Kraft American to go with that Whine in a Box?

They knew the kitchen had the potential to get plenty toasty. The door is that'away when and if they can't stand the heat. My God, can you imagine a man, in the same position as the leader of a huge organization composed largely of other men making the same complaints??

Now I'll be accused of lacking compassion. I'll be accused of being a raging feminist (guilty as charged), and wanting to be like a man, and wanting everyone ELSE to be like men, and yada yada yada blah blah blah.

But you know what? There IS a standard of professionalism in communication between the Board of Directors/President and the members of an organization this large.

And it's gender-neutral.

And this? This...thing that happened yesterday?

This ain't it.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Just call me Chip

As I mentioned in my follow-up comments to my Guest Bitchery on the Smart Bitches site, I'm a HUGE RWA slut. A member of no less than five chapters--six if they allow us smut-writers to join--and a supporter of the stated mission of the organization right down to my toes. But I have to say I'm not liking the vibe that's coming out of the sitting administration much.

While I understand the need to craft a definition of romance in order to protect the integrity of the organization, I have a serious problem with using the crafting of that definition to exclude authors based on distaste for what they write.

And if the stated definition of romance is "a central love story [with] an emotionally satisfying ending"--a quote from the RWA website--then dammit, that's what we're writing. If our stories also happen to include buggery between humans and triple-dicked, four-tailed aliens riding seven-headed Hydras in a weightless atmosphere on the far side of Planet SuckItHarderBaby, then SO BE IT.

But as any good Republican will tell you, the market rules. If my story* about a human buggering or being buggered by a triple-dicked, four-tailed alien riding a seven-headed Hydra in a weightless atmosphere on the far side of Planet SuckItHarderBaby doesn't sell, I'm SOL. And that's the way it should be.

Right now, the market is clamoring for more of the coochie, the cock, the squish and wriggle and thump of a good, hard ride between its protagonists. Nearly every publisher is stepping up to feed the hunger. Those of us writing the stories will continue to sell them, with or without the support and guidance of the RWA. And with or without what WE could BRING to the RWA party--money, mostly, to be blunt.

But some will say they don't want our money. As I mentioned in my inaugural post, there are folks who'd say I'm no better than a whore for writing and trying to sell sexy stories for cash. Maybe some will say our money's tainted, and they don't want it, especially if it comes with the price of having to sit with us, eat with us, talk to us, walk the halls with us.

Maybe. And maybe I'm being melodramatic and peevish and adolescent, with a totally unnecessary chip on my shoulder, as
Kate (she's so damned smart!) suggested. Maybe I need to back off and simmer down and let the grown-ups figure this out in their own, good, sweet time.

I guess we'll see.

*I'm not really writing this book. At least, not this month.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I Love Trouble

So, a couple weeks ago, I won a contest over at Smart Bitches and part of the prize was a chance at "Guest Bitchery."

But chances are, if you're reading THIS, you've already read THAT. At some point in the next few hours or day or so, I'll have more to say on the subject. Likely something along the lines of "this Red State versus Blue State/Traditional Values versus Tolerance and Diversity rift is really getting out of hand when authors writing in a sub-genre that's making money hand over fist can't get a foot in the door of an organization supposedly devoted to supporting and encouraging blah blah blah..."

You get the idea. I'm incensed. So are a lot of other people, but about half of them are incensed at ME and my cohorts for writing the stuff in the first place, calling it romance, out-selling the sweet, traditional stuff (which, I swear, I have nothing against) and then doing our damnedest to get a seat at the banquet table RIGHT NEXT TO THEM.




More later, when the caffeine wears off.