Saturday, May 24, 2008

Affaire de Coeur Magazine, Hmmm--veinglory

Edited to add: does anyone know what happened to the romance industry satire blog Cum Hither, formerly here?

The May/June issue of Affaire de Coeur has its usual share of bad type-setting (words covered by pictures, articles that start on page 44 and finish on 43) and the requisite family snapshot for a cover. This issue is also relatively light on advertising, and on content, perhaps because in most issues the content is written by the advertisers. Of the ten pages of non-review material in this issue two are taken up by an article written by one Pamela Ackerson.

In this article we are told: "..the [romance] industry has been losing readers... [who have] blinded themselves as to why they are losing sales." So what is it that is killing romance, which we are told is "synonymous with being courted, or being wooed."?

Well, apparently the problem with modern romance (a.k.a. "garbage", "uneducated trash" etc) is a new version of the horsemen of the apocalypse: 1) head-hopping 2) an insufficiency of castles, earthquakes, royalty, witch-hunts and "Native American lifestyle" stories, 3) slang and colloquial language in narration or dialogue and 4) referring to male or female anatomy using any noun beginning with the letter 'C'.

Now I am not fond of head-hopping and would happily have a little witch-hunt on that subject. But other readers weaned on the 80's hopper-ama romance writing style are less perturbed by this vice, and so I say live and let live. Also, I see this from an excerpt of Ackerson's book: Home of the Braves.

"One minute she was reeling in the luxury of the soft bed and the next, she was staring at an extremely handsome and virile looking Indian. As she watched his face, she could see a look of complete astonishment that had quickly turned to anger.

Standing Deer was quite perturbed. He was just getting ready to eat his morning meal when out of the blue heavens this white woman appeared. All of a sudden, there she was. This white woman had long wavy hair with curls cascading down from her shoulders to her waist, like a waterfall. The sun made it sparkle like the rays of sunshine through the clouds and sky. There were so many streaks of colors in it that he wasn't sure what color to call it. It appeared to have all the colors of autumn leaves one saw in the mountains just before the winter snows."

Maybe this term 'head-hopping' doesn't mean what I thought. Oh well. I have also never had a problem with romance set in a modern castle-free environment with people whose hair is less than kaleidoscopic. If a character, or even a narrator, has a colloquial voice then that is cool with me too. And, yes, I am fond of 'cock'. You heard it here first. Finally although some women like to limit their role to being a woo-ee, I do not think the options of any and all persons in a romance is are limited to such a passive role.

Then I came across this little gem: "Steamy romance should be sizzling, cannot wait for the better half to come home and enjoy each other."

[Insert delay while I struggle to parse that sentence] [Meaning and implications sink in] Waiting for the better half to come home, huh. Is that barefoot, or are slippers allowed? No, never mind. I get the point. Some romance writers are pure as the driven Native American lust and have "a multitude of vocabulary", others use "trashy language" and describe "tasteless sex" using the "base, tasteless words mentioned above describing a sexual scene" which "should not be categorised as romance" etc, etc, etc.

Who, you might ask is this authoritative industry expert imparting this advice? She is a multi-published author, no less. Well, she had two romance novels "published" by 1st World Library (Standard Publishing Package $1899) both with Amazon sales ranks over 3,000,000.

This article is just one author's opinion. I get that. And this blog post is just mine--which I am not obliging anyone to pay money to enjoy. Frankly, I'm going to keep reading and writing writing romance books that include the word "cock", thank you. Not to mention romances with sex in hallways, women who woo men and other such garbage. Oh, and I am going to stop subscribing to Affaire de Coeur.


kirsten saell said...

Now I am not fond of head-hopping and would happily have a little witch-hunt on that subject.

Let me get my pitchfork, Emily! What? Live and let live? Sigh. Well, as long as I don't have to read it.

Have to say I have a soft spot for all of those four-letter words that begin with "c". Can't get much more succinct, IMO.

Um, and where exactly is she getting her figures from, in regard to Romance's bailing readership? I thought the big R was the one genre you could count on these days...

The more I see words like "multipublished" applied to authors of self- or vanity-published books, the more I think those authors need their own word. This is not to say self-pubbed books can't be totally blammo--but there is a difference between making it through an arduous submissions process at a real live publisher, and paying a couple grand to have your name on a cover. Especially when authors start making assertions about an industry from its fringes...

veinglory said...

To be fair the one throwing in a somewhat sarcastic reference ot 'multi-published' is me. The byline is just her name and photo. The desire for Natire American better halves is expressed primarily from a readers point of view. But the assertions of dwindling readership seemed to have more of an 'industry authority' tone to them. And, well, I was feeling snarky.

Countdown to the 'how dare you mean blogger can't-write-herself girl' (with reference to whatever typo made it into this post) accusations starts now.

kirsten saell said...

hehe, I love the typos in your posts, Emily. Reminds me you're human.

All right, so the snark was on your part, but it does rankle a bit when people hold themselves up as experts and then you find out all their qualifications are self-bestowed.

veinglory said...

I make some effort to make sense. But in terms of published work, that's why God created editors. (And probably why mine hate me).

Jules Jones said...

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Ah well. I'll remember that I should refrain from snarking before I've had my second mug of tea, and go back to reading the royalty statement that arrived last night.

Mary Winter said...

No, and I wish I knew what happened to that blog too. Glad to see you're back. I went to look you up on Thurs, I believe, and I got a page cannot be found. Was hoping it was just an internet glitch.

*hugs your blog*

Anonymous said...

Ms. Veinglory,

It seems you have a grievance with the article I wrote for Affair de Coeur. You can attack me all you want, personally, I don’t care. However, please be a little more accurate with your attacks. I would prefer that you get the record straight. This one Pamela Ackerson had my first short story published at the age of 16. My first book was with a conventional publisher (Sunstar), which merged with 1st World Library as a POD. When the book first came out 6 years ago, for the first 6 months the book sales rank with Barnes and Noble was in the 30,000’s. My second book was published through 1st World Library, was a POD, and I paid much more than the 1900 dollars you claimed I paid. That book did not sell well from the very beginning and it was edited by an excellent editor, which brings you to my exact point … bad editing can ruin a story.

Let me give you two examples of books I have recently read.

Now, I apologize if I offended you. Especially if you are the author who wrote the book where the main characters had sexual relations a week after they met, she sucked his dick and he sucked her cunt which he found himself to be pleasantly surprised because she smelled and tasted like freshly shucked oysters. ::Gack:: Sorry, but that scene made me gag. It makes me look at oysters in a completely different way now. I used to love oysters. Sigh.

Or possibly, did I offend you because you were the author who had her characters meet in the first chapter, having sexual intercourse in a dark hallway with a man she doesn’t know, sucking his dick, doggy style sex while losing her virginity, and then meeting him 2 chapters later and having oral sex in the living room. In my humble opinion, that is not romance either.

I do not profess to be an expert. At 51 years old, I have read every imaginable book available. If I want to read erotica, then I read erotica romance. Some erotica have been written with better taste than some contemporary and historical romances I have read in the last 45 years since I have started reading See Jane Run. So, dis me all you want. I stand by my opinion. Cunts that taste and smell like freshly shucked oysters … doggy style sex with someone you have no idea what he looks like, who he is, etc. is not romance.

Pamela Ackerson

veinglory said...

You paid far more than $1900? I find that instructive.

I don't have a "grievance" with that article, I just did not like it, did not agree with it and felt you did imply a broader authority than you possess. Every reader has their tastes but there were some very sweeping statements in that article.