Romance Author Shaming

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Ain’t it pretty?

When I was offered the contract for my novel, I sat on the news for a bit. Sure, my beta readers and my best friend knew immediately, but I held back from my parents. After a few weeks, I was dying inside, plus if I let it slip I had a book out and mom caught it, it doesn’t matter that I’m in my mid-thirties, that piece of wood that was used to beat my ass as a kid would likely make a return appearance.

The first words out of my mouth were, “But you can’t read it.” (She read it anyway. And loved it. So yay.)

The first words out of my stepdad’s mouth were: “You wrote smut, didn’t you?”

There’s no real way to explain the intricate details in the difference between the erotica and romance genres to a very right-wing conservative Christian man. I shrugged and said, “Yup.”

I admit, when I talk to people, a lot of times they hear I wrote a book, eyes go wide with amazement, almost reverence. Then when they ask what it’s about, and I say it’s a romance, eyes return to normal and I get a wave of the hand. “Pish-posh, romance isn’t real writing.”

Oh, but it is. Here’s the thing, you can “romance shame” me and my wonderful author friends all you want, but the truth is this: we work no less hard, and go through no fewer steps than someone who writes any other genre. We have to come up with a plot, believable and likeable characters, a story arc that’s not trite and makes sense, a climax, an ending that doesn’t leave a reader feeling wanting or ready to kill us… that that’s all before the stress of dealing with beta reviews, massive edits, finding a publisher, massive edits (yes, again), and the publicity. (Note, that is a gross oversimplification—there’s really much more to it than that.)

So I’m going to say it again: We romance writers work just as hard as any other writer. Sometimes even more so because we’re expected to turn our four to six books a year to keep ourselves relevant and current. Let me tell you, it’s not an easy thing to do.

Romance is not one-size-fits-all,either. There’s all kinds of romance out there. There’s romance that makes you think. There’s romance that makes you hot. Romance that makes you jealous the guy is not real and in your bed. Romance that’s more sexual attraction and less spiritual/emotional attraction.

Here’s the truth: I have no shame in what I write. None. I wrote a m/m romance, and I’m pretty damn proud of it. Are there some things I wish I could go back and do differently? Yes. (I don’t know a writer who would tell you they are 100 percent satisfied with every word in a piece. If that person really does exist, I’d like to pick that person’s brain for a few minutes.) But in the end, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m proud of achieving my dream of finally being an author.

Even if it is just romance.

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