Can of worms

can-o-wormsThere’s a big thread going at Dear Author about how RWA shouldn’t hate the erotic. I expressed the idea that it’s wrong for people who don’t want to judge inspirational romances to have to (when they haven’t signed up for them), just as conservative readers shouldn’t have to judge strong sexual content, should they prefer not to. I’m totally on board with that. I don’t think anyone should have read something they find objectionable. (I do wonder, however, if the folks who refuse to read sex ever read murder mysteries, and if so, why is murder okay, but sex is not? That’s a different post.)

My proposed solution was a box indicating a book contains one or the other, though I suppose it’s theoretically possible it could be both. (I’d sort of like to read that one. And any non-Christian inspie, too. I’d be intrigued with a Judaic romance or a Wiccan one. I’ve just had my fill of traditional Christian values.) Note: that’s not a condemnation of anyone else’s beliefs or way of life.

It’s only reflection of my personal taste. So how come when I say I’d rather not read an inspie entered in the historical category it becomes a lack of respect for all Christians? Now I’ll grant you my initial tone was flip, but I’m pretty much that way on all topics. I very seldom get all-the-way-down-to-the-bone serious about anything (and I tend to think people who are 100% earnest are a bit tiresome). But that’s neither here, nor there.

The reason I’ve brought this to my blog is: I’m paying for the bandwidth, so I feel free to ramble here. And this is the thing–it’s very hard to have this discussion because so many people seem to internalize “does not want to read inspies” as “hates / condemns all Christians.” Personally, I cannot make the leap, myself. I’ve never heard an erotic romance author say, “You just hate all the people who have sex because you’re not allowed to!” Now there have been other bits of silliness there, like, “you’re just jealous” or “you’re too stodgy to appreciate my genius” but those are different criticisms, I think.

I’m thinking in particular about one objection I read to erotic content on an RWA loop. Unfortunately, I can’t share it with you, but if I could (and I changed all the hate-language to a religious counterpoint), I would be lynched, no question. And yet it’s okay to say the opposite in reverse? Since when does not wanting to read a book equate to religious persecution? That might even make sense, if Christianity were still a minor religion. I could understand the cry of persecution, if the Wiccans were rallying behind it. But this kneejerk yell of prejudice puzzles me.

I am not interested in reading a book that sets forth certain values as the definite ideal. I am not interested in a book that tells me how I should approach my spirituality (and I was never good at coloring in the lines either). That doesn’t mean I don’t wish everyone else well who has found joy and peace in organized religion. Me, I have too many questions. Too many things don’t make sense. The rules that are set forth, many of them, seem designed to enrich the church’s power base, not improve my soul. It seemed predicated on fear of punishment, which is not the way I want to live. I would rather do good and be kind because I want to, not because I fear burning in eternal flames. I don’t enjoy people who believe their way is the only way, and if I am being completely candid, I have never had a Buddhist come knocking at my door to interrupt my workday and harangue me on the state of my soul. That said, I recognize those “bad encounters” I’ve had with organized [Christian] religion don’t encompass the full picture.

And I think every person should pursue the path that makes them happy, and it harm none. That doesn’t make me Wiccan. I am what I am, and I’m not going to find my faith depicted in a book. I would rather read about other things and let my faith be private. Why is that so wrong?

Posted in books

50 Responses to Can of worms

  1. It’s not wrong and you’re right. I read those comments too, on the RWA loop and well, I don’t write erotica, but man, I was more than slighlty annoyed at the condescending tone, etc. I personally, don’t understand what all the hoopla is. Really, some like it hot, some NOT. Some love the sweet, some love the nasty…there’s no right or wrong here, we’re all people with vastly different tastes…..why not let them all have a chance to shine?

    good topic, Ann (hows the injured limb?)

  2. Ann Aguirre says:

    You probably know that specific comment I’m thinking about too. If I changed all the language, it would be hideously offensive. But I put forth that it’s already hideously offense.

    I’m happy to let people read what they wish and live as they wish.

  3. Larissa says:

    Personally, I didn’t see what you said as offensive, but then, I’m used to people telling me I write trash. Heck telling me I AM trash. That’s fine. They don’t have to read my trashy-nothing-but-sex-and-violence books.

    Which is why I would REALLY like those checkboxes.

    My nine RITA books this year? ALL but ONE was home and hearth/sweet. And the one that wasn’t wasn’t what *I* would call hot. I’m definitely not the audience for that, don’t normally read it (though I do love some Supers authors,) so I think judges who DO prefer those kinds of books should have gotten them. It’s much more fair to authors who pay good money to have their books judged.

    I think I judged them fairly, but given the option, next year I would like to check the “Send me the filthiest books” box. *g*

    • Ann in transit says:

      Aw, who would say that, Larissa? You’re an amazing writer & a great person.

      That said, I totally agree it would be more fair to put books in the hands of people who are more likely to judge on a standard criteria. I mean, I have very little experience with sweet books, but I love Pamela Morsi and LaVyrle Spencer. So in order to get a 9 from me, a sweet book needs to be Morsi / Spencer good. Is that fair? I dunno but that’s my guidepost.

      • Larissa says:

        Aw, thanks, Ann! But yeah, I’ve gotten some DOOZY emails and reviews!

        And yes — I’m not overly familiar with the sweeter books or inspies. The sweetest I usually go is SEP!

    • Barb Ferrer says:

      Heh. Larissa, you need to be on whatever list I’m on, with respect to judging, because I always seem to get the books that no one else wants to judge. *g*

      Six books and not a single hearth and home among them this year– not that I minded, but still, it’s kind of funny.

      • Larissa says:

        Barb, sheesh — what’s up with that? I don’t mind reading the homey books, but it would have been nice to get them in a mix of books for variety! :)

      • Barb Ferrer says:

        Yeah, normally I’ve gotten a pretty decent mix and actually, I did this year as well– it was just sort of an unexpected mix. Some GLBT, mystery, YA, paranormal. About the only ones that actually really fit within the parameters of the categories I signed up to judge were the YA and one of the GLBT. The others… the categories were sort of fluid.

        Like I said… interesting.

      • Ann Aguirre says:

        I was confused at how many categories I got. I ranked them last and like 6/9 of my books were categories. The others were two historical and that inspie pretending to be historical.

        I had marked contemp & RS as my top choices and I got none of those. Did they read my preferences at all?

      • Barb Ferrer says:

        That’s wild, Ann– I wonder what happened. I know that with mine, they all technically fit the categories I checked off– My breakdown was 4 Mainstream, 1Single Title and 1 YA and those were my three preferred categories– thing was, I had a straight mystery in the Mainstream and a paranormal that also, fairly, could go in mainstream. The Single Title was better suited for Rom Suspense…

        It was just odd.

  4. Cora Zane says:

    I’ve accepted that you just can’t blend those two genres (ha!), and a lot of the times that includes the people who write them. I’m not saying that’s 100% truth all the time, so folks can save their stake and matches.

    My concern isn’t that someone doesn’t want to read my work – which is mostly erotic romance or straight up erotica – however, I will say that if I fork out $30.00 + to enter a RWA contest, I do not want someone who doesn’t like erotica judging my submission for that contest. How is that even fair to the writer?

    I also think there needs to be a half and half mix of judges on contest panels overall since it’s come to my attention with some contests that the winners are primarily chosen within genres favorited by the majority of judges on the panel. If there are mostly inspy folks judging, an inspy author/book is going to win. If mostly erotic favoring judges are on tap, an erotica is going to win.

    How that benefits writers is lost on me, especially since you’re pitting books against one another that probably wouldn’t even be shelved in the same area of a bookstore.

    • Ann in transit says:

      You know – that’s a good point, Cora. Maybe we should be looking at the composition of the judges, too.

  5. c2 says:

    I didn’t see anything offensive. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned kneejerk responses. People see certain words and their brains explode or something.

    I totally agree about the sexy books vs murder mysteries, btw…in case you decide to do a post about that sometime. :wink:

  6. Lauren says:

    That entire kefuffle on the loop you’re discussing happened right when I signed on. I was horrified by what I perceived to be the person’s shallow faith more than the things being said about erotic and her total lack of tact and kindness. She wasn’t the only one, by the way, in fact, through that discussion I lost all my respect for an author I’d admired greatly for years.

    Ignorance is easy, sadly.

    I believe quite strongly that judges shouldn’t have to read what they don’t like. I don’t care, frankly, why a judge doesn’t want to read a certain genre. And I agree that the RITA judging should include an opt out for genres the judge doesn’t like – be that whatever.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      No, she wasn’t the only one, Lauren. But her comments were the most shocking, especially when I consider reversing them.

      I agree that judges should have more control over what they get & it sucks they have to pay to send something back.

      • Lauren says:

        Oh definitely they were. There was some shock but I waited for total outrage and never saw any.

        And yes, the paying to send things back situation was ridiculous. It was the same for those who entered and were disqualified over an undefinied rule change too.

  7. Lorelie says:

    You are going to H-E-Double Hockeysticks for not wanting to read Inspies!!!

    (Be sure to save me a seat.)

  8. Barb Ferrer says:

    Okay, now I’m wracking my brain trying to remember what comment on what loop it might have been.

    Of course, I’ve gone digest on so many of them simply because teh Stoopit makes me froth and spit and causes my hair to catch fire and frankly, who has time?

    I love my organization, but sometimes, I just want to shake it really, really hard.

  9. Kat says:

    I volunteer to be reader judge at the Aussie R*BY awards, and before we’re sent books we fill in a form stating our preferences. It’s quite broad (categories y/n, erotic y/n, sweet y/n, etc.) so maybe that’s a better approach–then certain groups won’t feel like they’re being treated differently, although it’ll probably have a higher admin overhead.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      Kat, I think that might be the way to go, but I am not sure with the higher admin if it would fly. Which makes me feel squidgy about the award, like it’s a token gesture, and not worth doing properly.

      • Kat says:

        The R*BYs use paper, but surely RWA could automate the process for the RITAs? (They could outsource the work for a pittance.) Even if you get the odd mismatch, it’ll still be better than the current system.

  10. Carrie Lofty says:

    I still think Jade Lee shoulda entered her Tantric Tigress books in the inspy category. They’re religious! *heads explode*

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      I do wonder how it would go over if inspie started getting non-traditional religions in the category.

      • Larissa says:

        You know, there used to be an editor at Red Sage who was actively seeking erotic inspirationals. She was an inspy author who edited erotic romances, and she seemed to think that the two could be blended because, after all, Christians have sex, and within the confines of their relationships and bedrooms, it gets very erotic, so why can’t books be written where religion plays a big role but readers still get the steam?

        I, for one, would LOVE to read an erotic inspirational. The thing is tho…I’d bet only a publisher known for publishing erotic romances would publish it.

      • Ann Aguirre says:

        I think you’re right about this. But it would be worth reading.

  11. I’m a Catholic (Christian), I attend Church on a regular basis. (Maybe a little bit too regularly.) and I do not read Inspirational Romance. Nor, do I have a desire to. I’ve read one to date and that was strictly by accident. Does that make me less than a Christian? Do I really care if someone thinks it does? Not really.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      Emma, I always wondered about all the rules. Doesn’t God have better things to do than worry about whether I dance, drink wine, or cut my hair? (I was raised Southern Baptist). And if he doesn’t maybe that explains the state of the world.

      • Le sigh. I think man (purposely) misinterprets a lot of things as God’s will or word. Like manifest destiny, slavery, and the slaughtering of indigenous nations.

        Each of those things was done in the Father’s name and each of them broke multiple commandments. How can the people who did them explain them away? The same way a preacher who beats his wife and children does. The same way a priest who rapes a child does. They twist God to suit their own agendas.

        A lot of people who push their religion on people don’t realize what a disservice they are doing. Seriously, instead of saying you are a Christian, why not SHOW people you are a Christian by the way you act.

      • Ann Aguirre says:

        I so hear this, Emma.

        But I have trouble with any absolute message. That I have to do X or Y in addition to Z and it doesn’t matter what else I do.

      • To be perfectly honest I have a problem with that too. The way some people make God sound makes Him seem uncaring and absolute. As if He created us just to suit His ego and I doubt that’s the case. He has angels. Who are perfect and unmessy unlike humans, if He solely wanted adoration He could have looked to them.

    • Oh yeah. And I write erotic romance.

  12. Every year we have a kerfluffle about the RITAs and maybe we should. I don’t get too het up about them because as a black author writing books with black heroines I know I have no chance of winning a RITA, so I don’t fret about it.

    I read your comment Ann and it wasn’t at all offensive, and I even agree: If I had to read an inspy I’d probably dig my eyeball out with a grapefruit spoon. My books are decidedly on the hot side, or at least the ones I’ve done lately are.

    Interestingly enough, I just wrote one with a Muslim heroine and I’ve discussed it with a lot of Muslimahs especially as it pertains to sexual content. As we know premarital sex is forbidden in Islam (and pretty much every religion that I know of). I told them that if I could leave sex out, but no one would publish it, except maybe as an inspy. Of course, I didn’t know then that inspies were limited to Christians.

    Bottom line is, I’ve got far too many issues with RWA to ever join. Frankly, I don’t see how it would be beneficial. My local chapter totally rocks though, so if I ever come up with the scratch I might join, but I would never enter a book for a RITA. The biases are pretty evident.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      Roslyn, I would be really curious to see how a Muslim inspie would do in the RITAs. You can’t say the book is about the importance of faith and then cross out all the other religions. That flies in the face of the whole tolerance idea. I wonder how many judges would read it and how many would say it challenged their world view and so could not be read for the heretic notions.

  13. katiebabs says:

    You know how those who look down upon romance only think of it as smutty sex? Well may be some at RWA think the same with Erotica and fee it should be left out because of the sensuality level.

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      But actually I’m just suggesting equal treatment in the judging. The two categories are apples & oranges and really can’t be compared in that respect.

      Plus erotic romance & erotica are different animals.

  14. Amie Stuart says:

    Your comment about what was said on a private loop (whatever it was bec. I have no idea but I can immagine) is why I quit the RWA loops ages ago and blogged yesterday about letting my RWA memebership lapse/not giving a rat’s ass abotu the Ritas or belonging because, honestly, I’ve never been one of the cool kids and I never will be so I’ll keep my 105.00 and go shopping kthxbye!

    But before I go, I have to say something pretty much off topic (I love yous don’t count as off topic LOL)

    I would rather do good and be kind because I want to, not because I fear burning in eternal flames.

    My step-mom believes the more work she does for her church, the better her chances of going to heaven–to the extent they ignore their children and grandchildren. #step-momfail!

  15. jennygirl says:

    I don’t like to read inspies either, and no I don’t think they should be in the historical category. Have inspie awards with different categories.
    I agree with you, when it comes to religion you can’t say anything, but religion can say anything it wants. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.
    Recovering Catholic myself, so maybe I’ll see you in the Devil’s Den? :lol:

    • Ann Aguirre says:

      Hehe, could be. That´s the thing that bugs me most, I think.

      The double-standard. I hate when people feel free to slap with an open-hand, but if you rephrased their comments, boy would the fur fly.

  16. Yvonne says:

    Reading the blog (and as you say, you pay for the bandwith, so’s you can ramble on at will :grin:)

    I must say that I agree wholeheartedly – and not simply because I follow the crowd or what have you.

    I have Christian friends and I have ofttimes found myself on the “outside” due to some views I hold (though one of them does allow how those views are my own, we agree to disagree and respect each other for that while another will give the cold shoulder and, in her own way, think she doesn’t).

    I also agree that faith is that – faith and your own and nobody else’s business but your own.

    I have a tendency to read a lot – cross genre, cross-faith, cross-a lot of things – and if I choose not to continue reading author x it’s not that I think that said author is doing a bad job it’s just that I choose to not read said author for whatever reason at the time and move on from there.

    The authors I’ve been known to stick with are the ones who tell a good story, have great characters, and who don’t always follow the “norms” – if the author does all that – or a combination thereof – I’ll continue reading the author (and they don’t always correlate to my own beliefs and/or views).

    I also have a tendency to think that if a person doesn’t read something simply because the subject matter may be different from their own views or read something because they can then say “See? Backs up what I’ve always said/felt/viewed.” they miss out on a lot.

    But that’s just my own bit of rambling and I can well respect if someone else’s views differ from my own.

  17. ZenMom says:


    I’m here because I’ve just finished “Grimspace”. Loved it. Wanted more. So, in ordering “Wanderlust” from Amazon, I stmbled onto your blog.

    I’d thought to just drop a note to say Thanks for the great read.

    But then I read a few of your posts. Including this lovely, insightful gem.

    Now I’m a subscriber. :) Looking forward to reading more from you. Here and in your books.


  18. Marie Harte says:

    I just read your post at Dear Author and the subsequent replies. I’m with you on this one, Ann. Can I get an “Amen”? haha
    I also know which post you referred to about religious persecution on the PAN loop. A WTF moment, for sure.
    I’m a Roman Catholic who writes erotic romance. I don’t think love and sex are mutually exclusive. And while I don’t read inspy’s, and the few I’ve read didn’t float my boat, I don’t denigrate inspy writers, not the way I’ve seen too many religious folks slam ER.
    Nothing wrong with your flippant tone at Dear Author, though I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t get the Jebus comment until you referenced it. *hanging head* And I’m a Simpsons fan! Well, this has become a long post, but I wanted to tell you I completely agree with you. And for the record, if there are going to be RITA categories, I think there should be an erotic romance category as well. And the opt out/opt in box for judges should be mandatory on judge forms.
    My two cents. ;) Marie

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