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Defending my Honor

I’m climbing on my soap box, so look out!

I’m not usually a prickly person. I can roll with the punches on most things, but here lately I’ve been confronted several times with a person unknowingly insulting me, nay, all romance writers and readers, and it doesn’t sit well with me.

I get it. Many people think romance books are a bunch of crap, a waste of time, something “dumb” people read and write. Yeah, I’m well aware I’m unlikely to change the minds of folks who lean towards romance bashing. But, even as I admit to somewhat accepting people thinking I’m a dumb, crappy wirter, I can’t help but be justifiably angry about it at the same time.  Let’s see what you think.

Case one:

It’s a lovely, albeit cold, day as I pull alongside my son as he exits the bus. My cute as a button 6th grader heaves his bookbag into the car and slides in. For once, he doesn’t ask if we can go get something to eat. Shocking! But instead turns to me and says, “Mom, a teacher who teaches 7th or 8th grade came up to me today and asked if my mom was the person who wrote those trashy romance books.” My mouth drops open. “Reallllly?” I say.  He nods. I continue, “So what did you say?” He shrugs. “I told her you didn’t write those. You wrote Superromances.” Okay, I smiled at that. But, really? Degrade what I do to MY child? I get that she wasn’t trying to be insulting. But how would she like it if I asked if she were the teacher who taught that stupid ass language arts class?” Hmmmm…maybe I should try that.

Case number two (later in the week)…

I’m perusing Facebook, something I do when I want to avoid landry or a scene that’s not working. I land on my sweet cousin’s status where she’s revealing how much she is enjoying reading again. She states she was never a big reader, but ever since reading her cousin’s books, she’s been reading like crazy. Several people comment asking who her cousin is. She says it’s Liz Talley and tells them how good my books are…like any good family member. Then…da, da, dum….someone leaves this comment – “Yeah my mom read her books. Can’t believe she reads that smut. I make fun of her all the time.” Yeah. Said that to my cousin. Wonder if he thought about her being “friends” with me? Dumb a-. Okay, no more calling people names. Even if they call what I write SMUT! So I calmly respond back, something along the lines of don’t judge a book by it’s cover, I’m proud of what I write and maybe his mom should loan him one of my books. His response? He said “I could say what I want, but I wouldn’t let my daddy read my books.” Yeah. My dad’s too immature for my smutty books. He doesn’t know what S-E-X is.

So, yeah, I’m defensive here lately about people casting judgment on what I do. I’ve decided if anyone tosses ugly comments my way, even in a teasing way, I’m going to nicely (and with humor) correct them on their archaic and judgemental beliefs about the romance genre.

What about you? How do you handle people who look down on you for what you write or read?


25 Responses

  1. I’m a reader and I don’t care what anyone says. I love reading romance in many different sub-genres. I’m going to the RT Booklovers convention in a few weeks so I can meet all of the awesome authors who write the books I love. I don’t care if someone doesn’t approve of my reading choices. Everyone has opinions. Yours is the only one that matters. 🙂

  2. ok. that teacher, approaching your son in that manner, at a school, phrasing her question in a way that other kids could then tease him as the teacher did-SO NOT FREAKING COOL. However. Awesome response that he gave–even if unintentional! LOL

    the rest of it, unfortunately is crap that romance authors have to deal with. it sucks, but such is part of the profession.

  3. You are so right, Stacie. We do have to value our own opinion. And that sounds like so much fun. I’ve not been to RT yet and I’m really wanting to go. Guess I won’t make this year, but maybe I can make the following. I hear it is a blast!

    Yeah, Keri, he did good with that response. His expression was like “Is she crazy asking me that?” He’s a pretty cool kid and seemed insulted for me. I know she wasn’t trying to be insulting…but she was.

  4. First off Hugs Liz! I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from telling the teacher just what I thought about her. It’s one thing to say something about me to me or an adult, but when you mess with my kids…yeah, not a good thing.

    Not that it changes people’s minds who don’t want to change, but when I tell them that romance is the largest if not one of the largest sellers out there it usually makes them stop.

    The one thing I hate is when I’m reading a book (on a plane, etc…) and people give you the look. Like you must be too stupid to read anything else. When I really want to scream out, it’s words, really great words, strung together with other words to make amazing sentences. There’s plot’s that are tied up in the end, with twist and yep there’s love.

  5. I’m so sorry you’re having a round of “slap the romance writer,” Liz! I figure those folks are akin to reviewers who revel in scathing criticism. A rather sad lot who CHOOSE to remain ignorant on the facts of genre fiction. Screw ’em.

  6. A couple of years ago, I did a blog for the 007s called Flame On about this subject. One of my commenters (a friend and romance writer) told how she nailed some guy with statistics about the frequency of sexual encounters with a mate or significant other and subsequent sexual satisfaction of both parties of romance readers. She also quoted facts many of us know outlining the advanced education (PhDs, anyone?) on romance readers. Then told him smart men read romance to find out what women want!

    That blog site is gone now, but I will never forget my friend’s in-your-face, cracked-me-up reposte.

  7. Yeah, Vicki, I hate getting those looks too. You want to say something, like I HAVE a college degree and CHOOSE to read this over something that will make me depressed for days, but manage to hold your tongue. Maybe I shouldn’t.

    Geri- you are so right. Some choose the remain ignorant and I can’t help them with that.

    Right you are, Gwyn. I need to memorize those facts so I can spout them off. I usually tell men who ask about my trashy romances that if their wives will read them, they’ll have more sex. Then they immediately ask how they can get my book. LOL. That’s a pretty good comeback, I think. 🙂

    And why is “trashy” always the adjective placed in front of “romance”?

  8. Oh, Wow! I can’t believe she did that!! I’m sorry, but I think I would be calling for a parent teacher conference on that one, principal included. Good grief! Think what you want, do what you want, but don’t step over the line and throw your beliefs on or at my kids! You’ve got me steaming!! LOL

    Love your son’s answer!!
    Big hugs, girl!!
    (“Aren’t you the teacher who taught that stupid ass language arts class?”) I’m rolling!! 🙂

  9. Wow agree with everyone, can’t believe that a teacher said that to your son. That was so uncalled for. I love his response too.

    Hubby gives me a hard time all the time about my “smut” as he calls it but he sure doesn’t mind me reading them 🙂



    I am so angry that I keep hitting wrong buttons and posting before I’m done!

    You should have a nice, quiet little talk with this teacher. Why? Because her actions were totally inappropriate. Her wording was inappropriate.

    I was talking to a gal at the pool on Monday. She said (proudly” I don’t read romance” But after a couple of minutes, I find out she’s read every thing that Nora Roberts has ever written! It’s like people are EMBARRASSED to admit they read romance.

    Now, I make it a point to tell everyone that I not only write romance but I read it. Love it. I tell them why I love it. Before the conversation is done, they are always agreeing with me!

    Please talk to this teacher…that hag!

  11. As a retired teacher of 35 years I strongly feel that that teacher should be reported to the principal for making that kind of remark to your son. She needs to learn that those kind of comments should never be made to children.
    This is a hot button for me because I had to console more than one student for something another teacher said to a child and do it with diplomacy.

  12. Yes…I would definitely be having a sit down with that teacher and the principal. So uncalled for.

    But LOVE your son’s response. Don’t you love the pride and respect our kids so often give us, even unknowingly? (yes, sometimes you have to look readlly hard for it, but it’s there 🙂

    I’ve not had to deal with comments from people too much yet, but I do work with all guys and they know what I write. One of them teases me quite a bit about the “trashy’ books I write. I’ve schooled him on the subject, but we have a teasing each other type of relationship, so he continues (plus, I don’t think he really believes what I’ve said on the subject or gets that it really bothers me). Last week I was not feeling well and the subject came up. When he gave his typical jab, I totally snapped. I think he was taken aback a little, and maybe realized I was serious, but I suspect he’ll continue to tease. I dread the day, though, when I have to deal with this from total strangers or people in my life that I don’t have a comfortable relationship with.

    I’ve thought of coming up with standard responses that point out the facts, such as the comment listed earlier, but haven’t done that yet. I probably should, though, or I’ll some day be feeling bad and snap at the wrong person, and that won’t win me any sales 🙂

    Go talk to that teacher!!!

  13. I knew it would get your dander up, gals. I would go talk to the teacher, but my son doesn’t remember who it is. He said he didn’t know her. I asked several times, “Are you sure she said ‘trashy’?” and he said “yes.” But then he did say she said something to the effect that she wanted to talk to me…


    I think if she does, no matter what it’s regarding, that I will tell her I didn’t appreciate her using that word to describe my work.

    But you make a good point. I talked to my son afterwards about people saying derrogatory things about what I do. I assured him that I write stories about people falling in love and that I hope one day he will read my stories. I also talked to him about handling when people (including friends) ask him about what I write.

    Jeez, I COULD write anything. I CHOOSE to write romance. I feel good about that.

  14. Bless you hon. I would have been temped to give the teacher a piece of my mind. On the whole, I don’t let what others think bother me at this point. I am old and crotchety and you can’t do much else to me.
    That was really rude by the facebook person. We rise above it and know we are so much better than some people.
    I love what we do. That is all.

  15. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Keri Ford and Leah Hodge, NeedALittleRomance. NeedALittleRomance said: Ugh. a TEACHER(!!) asked a 6th grader if it was his mom who wrote those "trashy romance books" http://bit.ly/h4F9ed […]

  16. There is so much ignorance about what we do and prejudice is ignorance in motion. I’ve had multiple people ask me what paranormal romance is and when I explain that my books are about ghosts, demons, and shape-shifters they express shock that such a genre even exists. Cuz paranormal is such a tiny little niche. Nobody’s ever heard of Twilight. *snort*

    The conversations that really crack me up are when people tell me “I don’t read that romance stuff, but I really liked your book.” So proud of themselves for being above romance. I always want to say, “Sorry, honey, you just enjoyed ‘that romance stuff’. You’re one of us now.”

  17. What’s wrong with romance anyway? Isn’t love what makes everything worthwhile? Her personal preference on books isn’t the issue, though, that’s subjective and fine. (Of course we know she doesn’t know what’s she’s missing, right?) What’s not okay are comments to your child that are hurtful or said in a disrespectful manner about his parent. Trashy? Seriously? Will she run down other parents professions to their kids? How sad is this? That’s wrong on so many levels. Enjoy being a published author Liz, something many dream of becoming but few achieve! Hopefully the principal will offer guidance to the ill-mannered instructor. Teacher’s should be a safe place for kids. I’m sorry your son encountered someone like this. He sounds very sweet and proud of you! The teacher with the sharp tongue could learn a thing or two from him.

  18. Jeannene- there’s something to be said for being old and crotchety. 🙂 free passes in our opinions and all that.

    Vivi- funny how people read romance but don’t know it.

  19. Thank you, Marian. Well said. He is proud of me. Both my boys are. In fact they can’t wait until they are old enough to read my books. Though I’m not sure I’m ready for that… Or ever will be. Lol.

  20. AARGH!!!! *beats breast in fury at those stories.*

    I can’t BELIEVE a teacher–a Middle School teacher no less–would be so utterly insensitive as to belittle a child’s mother in front of the child….and out of sheer stupid snobbery. I don’t care WHAT the parent’s profession is. (And you ought to mention it to the principal at the school….chances are that teacher is doing damage all over the place.)

    Sigh. sigh. sigh.

    As for the general disrespect for romance: no one talks this way about mystery writers, or sci fi writers….it’s a form of sexism mixed with dull-witted American Puritanism. People who mock romances without reading them are scared of sex or scared of strong emotion, and you KNOW that means their lives are emotionally skimpy. Wouldn’t trade places with them for anything.

  21. Sorry to drop in late, Liz! I loved your son’s response to that ill-informed teacher.

    It still irks me when people who have *never* read a romance feel so qualified to judge the books, the authors and the readers.

  22. Elisa- you are so right. I wouldn’t trade places with them even if I could get size D boobs and a tighter butt. Though I would be tempted since my size Bs are starting to point to my toes, and we won’t talk about my butt. Yeah, Jake handled it well. I did tell him today that what she’d done was wrong and that she’d made many romance writers peeved. He said, “I actually think she wants to be like you, Mom. At least that’s how she acted.”

    Vanessa – never late when you’re on Australian time. Is that what it’s called? Thanks for dropping in:)

  23. I love romances 🙂 especially when they are written by someone as talented as you and my all time favorite (d.m.) You are such a polished, intelligent person that I’m sure that teacher would turn all shades of green….maybe that’s the problem she already is green with envy. Shakespeare was one of the first romance authors (Midsummer, Much Ado, etc.) Tough company you keep Liz Talley!!!

  24. Thanks, Ms. Debbie. I have a friend in you. Jeez, now I’m singing Randy Newman. 🙂

    Thanks for the support.

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