Monday, March 06, 2006

Writing Questions

If you've had a romance novel published, you've heard that question, at least once. Maybe at a party, a family gathering, at a work-sponsored event. You can't predict when, exactly, somebody will pop The Question. You won't know who will ask it, either, but sure as your novel is for sale on bookstore shelves, somebody will matter-of-factly want to know "So, when're ya gonna write a real book?"

Like most romance authors, I've given a lot of thought to appropriate responses. Y'know...pleasant, yet 'put-them-in-their-place things' like "Romance novels are real books!" or "Gee...cover, plus typed pages, plus price tag, equals real book, right?" Wouldn't it be great to say the things we're forced to bite back: "Do you always ask assinine questions, or did they put something weird in the onion dip?" and " don't look like a social misfit...."

So there we stand, blinking, thin-lipped smiles firmly in place as we rack our brains for ways to defend the genre. (That others put us in this position is, in and of itself, odd; I've never heard anyone ask a trash collector when he plans to get into a good clean line of work. or inquire of a gigalo when he plans to get a real job.)

It's especially tough when The Question comes from some vanity-press-published bum who considers it his duty to educate all breathing humans in areas of his expertise (and naturally, in his mind, he knows everything). Admit it, you've met him somewhere, sometime: "My stories are HIGH CONCEPT," he gloats, nose in the air, trying to bend that self-satisfied smirk into something akin to sympathatic proof how very sorry he feels for poor li'l Romance Writer you. He shrugs, because in his swollen mind, there's no hope for you. "I simply cannot," he adds on an exasperated sigh, "write LITTLE stories...."

You pray he won't notice as your eyes narrow and your face turns a shade redder. Maybe he won't associate your sudden lisp to the fat tongue you've developed, biting back what you'd like to tell him. Then again, what can you say to a boob like that?

So instead you stand there, considering your options:

List all the justifiable reasons you write romance novels?
Ignore the arrogant (unpublished haha!) gasbag?
Kick him in the shin, and when he bends to rub the sore spot, add a quick knee to his pointy, girly chin?

Fun (and tempting) as that last idea would be, here's what I plan to do next time some social clod asks The Question:

First, I'll summon a Jack Nicholson expression...eyebrows arched and eyes the 'look' he wore in the courtroom scene with Tom Cruise. "You can't handle 'a real book'!" I'll snarl.

Now I ask you, won't that be romantic!

Well, that's it for today's post. Tune in again soon, when I plan to hop on my soapbox to discuss contests, conferences, balancing a job and writing, what to do when your editor has a baby....

Visit ( and check out my brand new listing. If you register for a Leading Edge workshop (and mention that you read about it here on my Blog), you're eligible for a 10% discount!

See you again soon. Post your comments and questions. Vent, if you prefer! As always, take care...

...and treat yourself like Company today! Loree