First off — my thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the storms in the American south last night. The videos I’ve seen are frightening for the power of the tornadoes and how they just whip through neighborhood after neighborhood destroying lives in their wake. Stay safe everyone. For the rest of us, donate to the Red Cross (here’s a link to the American Red Cross and here’s one to the Canadian Red Cross) to help those in need.
The other storm is the a$$hattery of a television station in Pennsylvania who “outed” an English teacher for being a published author with Ellora’s Cave. (Parents: English Teacher Writes Racy Novels) You’ve probably heard about it all around the blogging and twittospheres, and I’ve been ranting about it on FB as well. The short story is Judy Mays has been a teacher for more than 25 years. She does not use her books as required reading, and in fact, most of her students didn’t know her off-hours past time since she writes using a pseudonym. (I refuse to use Judy’s real name here–she chose to use a pseudonym, I’ll honor that.) But a couple small-minded ferrets, um, people, have decided that an English teacher who WRITES (OMG an English teacher who writes? Whoda thunk it!) should be pilloried for writing about LOVE and ROMANCE. Did they try to present an unbiased view and interview any other parents and students who weren’t upset by it? Nope. Just two small-minded mothers and their son who was Judy’s student–who by the way said she was a good teacher but now HE felt strange knowing what she wrote. To make matters worse, it then got picked up by ABC.com who didn’t change a damned word to update the story. (As I’m writing this, another article has gone up on a different site called the Daily Item, and one of the women complaining is cited as saying: “But the erotica, she said, “is unethical, totally unacceptable. Period. It just sort of sickens and saddens me to know everybody’s sort of looking at this like, hey, this is OK.” *Head/desk*)
As a writer, I’m often asked why I use a pseudonym instead of my real name. Yeah, here’s just a single reason. It’s also why some authors don’t like putting a headshot of themselves up on their website. You notice I don’t have one here? Although I do use one on FB and Twitter — which I’ve often wondered about just how safe it is to do that. But we’re told by marketing experts that we should personalize ourselves to our readers. Even if they’re sometimes creepy guys (or women) who stalk us on FB or elsewhere. Yes, I do know several authors who have picked up stalkers along the way. It’s why I refer to my family by nicknames (Gizmo Guy and Curly and Guitar Hero) instead of using their real names. Now the press has taken that away from Judy, by splashing her real name and her face all over the world. Knowing some of the nutjobs out there, I feel sorry for the poor lady and her family.
The day before yesterday I had dinner with a friend who is a reader, not a writer, and she mentioned how she has to defend her choice in reading material to one of her friends who deems her a bad person for daring to read erotic romances–to the point of cutting their friendship. It makes me shake my head because it’s not the first time I’ve heard that. Heck, in a conversation with my own sister, when I mentioned I was writing for Carina which is part of Harlequin, she equated Harlequin and Nora Roberts with porn. Talk about a WTF moment. And she didn’t even know at that point what I write, simply that I wrote romance. Yes, I write about love and romance, about two people (or occasionally three) in a committed relationship or going into a committed relationship hooking up. Do I do all that stuff in real life? Whose business is it what happens outside of my bedroom? All right–I’ve never had a menage and have no plans to ever have one but I have talked to people who are in committed polyamorous relationships and you know what? If someone wants to have one, as long as it’s all consensual–go for it because, guess what, it’s NONE OF MY BUSINESS what they do behind closed doors. If I write about them it’s because I have something called an imagination. And really, why do people get so upset about love and sex but not about murder mysteries or thrillers? To me, the whole concept about being horrified that people may actually have *gasp* sex *gasp* is bizarre.
One of my tweets yesterday, and on FB as well, mentioned that if Judy wrote about serial killers a la Allison Brennan, I doubt they’d be worried about her “eyeing” their children as potential murder material. If she wrote spy thrillers would they accuse her of being a spy? If she wrote about terrorists would they point a finger at her and yell Al Qaeda?
Actually I, and many of my writer friends, have often joked about hoping the FBI or CIA or NSA don’t follow our on-line searches considering that in the interest of writing credible fiction,we often do searches on bomb making or untraceable poisons or the process of refining or smuggling cocaine. Because readers demand that our fiction be realistic. So yeah, you’d be surprised (or maybe not) just what I’ve learned how to do while writing my Hauberk series and other stories I’ve written. Does that mean you should shun me or lock me away as being unsuitable? Not for being a writer, I hope.
Anyway, back to Judy. As is typical with the romance community, both readers and writers have banded together to show Judy their support. Someone started a “We Support Judy Mays” page on Facebook. Also over on Facebook, people were leaving comments on WNEPs FB page, but last night, the Asshats, I mean, powers that be at WNEP removed every damned one supporting Ms. Mays. Smart Bitches and Dear Author have both blogged about it, along with numerous other of my fellow writers who have written cogent blog posts much better than mine, including this one by Alexy Saltekoff. Take the time to read the comments on the main WNEP article, as well as these others — some are written by Judy’s current and past students who support her too.