- Romance and Feminism – A post from romance author Emma Barry about how the genre of romance isn’t feminist itself, but reading it and discussing it can be a feminist act.
What I’m saying is that romance makes a feminist move but then (often) blunts this by supporting a mildly more equal vision of the status quo. Janet calls this the “core of preservation”–and it isn’t very feminist.
But in response, I would say I’m not particularly interested in figuring out if any given novel (or genre) is feminist or not but rather in describing how a given novel (or genre) does gender. What does it say about masculinity? Femininity? How does the novel propose relationships should or do work? Etc. And I think that discussion is feminist.
- The Last Taboo: What One Writer Earns – Cara McKenna talks about how much she earns from writing in a post devoid of sensationalism or “One True Way” prescriptivism. I enjoyed it as a non-author.
I’ve been thinking about all of this because toward the end of 2014, I met what I’d always imagined was a ridiculous, pie-in-the-sky professional goal—a dream more than a goal, really. I set this goal when I sold my first book, just over five years ago. I was infatuated with writing, and I told myself that I would feel satisfied and proud and legitimized forever if I could manage just this: to one day make as much money in one calendar year of writing as I’d made as my salary when I stopped being a full-time graphic designer. And this past year, I did it. With a couple thousand dollars to spare.
I say a dream more than a goal because I tend to classify dreams as things you pray for, and goals as things you accomplish through effort and discipline. Goals can be largely controlled. Goals are things like, “I will write 250,000 new words this year,” or, “I will self-publish that manuscript.” Dreams, by contrast, are things you hope will happen, likely through a combination of hard work and good fortune—and you can’t control the latter. I now consider how much I make to be somewhat beyond my control. The market’s just about impossible to predict, as is the performance of any given book
- Tamara Mataya on diversity in romance covers and stories – Another frustrating obstacle to better representation in romance: a lack of diverse stock photography.
Because we’re choosing from images that already exist, and not finding models and directing a photo shoot, we have to choose from what’s already there. Sometimes what we’re looking for simply doesn’t exist, so we’re forced to go with an image that has the right FEEL of the book, even when the characters do not match their descriptions in the book.
One of the main characters in Taken by Storm is Polynesian through her mother’s side. I had no idea how hard it would be to find someone who represented my character in a picture for the cover. We searched a few sites. Oh, there were Polynesian women, but most were in grass skirts on a sunny beach — definitely not what I wanted for a book about a flash flood. Complicating the search was looking for a Polynesian woman and a Caucasian man, in a romantic pose. That combination proved too specific to find something suitable. I love my cover, but we ended up going with one that has the right FEEL for the story, not one where the models resemble the characters.
That made me sad, not just for my character, but for all the women and men out there who rarely see themselves represented on the covers of books.
- A Year Without a Duke – Historical romance author Genevieve Turner is doing a project I think a lot of you will find interesting. Every week she’s going to post a historical that’s neither set in Europe nor featuring European characters on adventures abroad. Sounds pretty relevant to our interests.
What Is This All About?
Hi! I’m Genevieve! I write historical romance. (You can find out more about me and my books here.) But before I wrote historical romance, I read it. And pretty much only it.
Near the end of 2014, after reading many, many posts bemoaning the state of historical romance (and bemoaning it myself), I decided to set a reading challenge for myself. No Regencies, no Victorians, no books set in historical England at all. I’d purposefully seek out historicals that were outside the box.
And then I thought, “Why not try to get others involved?” And A Year Without a Duke was born.
- Things We Can Do Better in 2015 – Bibliodaze has a list of suggestions for booklandia discussions that I think most of us would be on board with.
The book world had highs and lows in 2014. While it’s wonderful to celebrate the great moments of the past year, it is also important to learn from our mistakes. The world of literature and book blogging has had some serious stumbles. Here is a list of things we think that could be done better in the coming year.
- Let’s make 2015 the year of the T – Finally, m/m author Aleksandr Voinov suggests we make this year one where trans* romance gets more attention and trans* readers and writers are made welcome in the community.
I still think we’re moving forward. I’m optimistic like that, and I’ve been around social media since the early noughties, and in publishing about the same amount of time, plus some, and since 2009 I’ve played the game of the commercial author – getting questioned and panty-policed by some trans* phobes and damn near run out of the genre – but all the talking we’re doing does help. People are realising that deliberate mis-use of pronouns is nasty business. Trans* and genderfluid authors are more often given the benefit of the doubt.
As we remove legitimacy from people who try to police our genitals, our hormone status, and call people “straight cis women” who are often queers who keep a low profile or haven’t come out, we are creating and contributing to a safe space where people can come out as queer (whichever flavour) and don’t get subjected to humiliating cross-examination about how and with whom we get our rocks off in bed.