Friday, October 27, 2006

Anyone Can Do It...

One of my local radio station morning shows has decided they are going to write a romance novel. The premise is that they, along with contributions from the listening audience, will write a page a day and that the finished product will be published and the proceeds go to Toys for Tots. You can read the story here.

I’m hoping there is some sort of explanation for this on the radio that I missed. Perhaps that there is an e-publisher working with Toys for Tots that is guaranteeing to publish the books from various radio stations and donate the sales. Or that they’re auctioning off printed copies of the ‘book’ somewhere. I’m really not sure. I just hope they aren’t doing this expecting the book to just sell the old fashioned way. Every editor in NYC would laugh this off their desk and it certainly wouldn’t be published in time for Toys For Tots to make money this Christmas. Or next Christmas for that matter.

All I do know is that it annoys me. It shouldn’t. It’s for charity. But it does. Not enough to keep me up at night, but everytime I hear them talk about it on the radio, I wince. Maybe it is because as romance writers, we are always fighting the stigma of quick read trash that is EASY to write. So easy a couple DJs and some radio listeners can do it. Then publish it. No problem.

Yeah. Ok. So I’ll just run out and write a story and publish it so I can donate the money to Toys For Tots too, if its that easy. Heck, I’ll sell three! And if they can do my job so easily, maybe I can run out and run the radio station for a while. Easy as pie.

I won’t go into the story itself except to say that I find it to be a little choppy, it head hops, moves too quickly, they tell instead of show and the heroine keeps referring to the hero as her prince. (suppressing gag reflex) All as to be expected from novice writers, really. It takes a lot of work to write well enough for publication, a fact they seem oblivious to. (As an aside, if they do manage to really get this published, I'm going to have kittens.)

But I have to ask - why a romance? Why not write a mystery? Or a war drama? Why not a coming of age tale of a young boy coping with the stigma of his family’s harrowed past?? Why did they choose a romance novel? Just brings me back to the stigma. Cause its easy. Sure. I’m sorry I can’t suppress my bitterness about this. I guess it has just brought to the surface in my mind every person that has said they’re writing romance so they can get published, get an agent, then write a real book. Cause everyone knows romance novels are formulaic. Cheap. Trashy. They don’t offer any real messages or contribute to literature as a whole. It’s just housewife entertainment.

...Deep breath...Ok. I’ll stop now. I’m writing this blog as a substitute for actually contacting the radio station itself. I want to write them and explain to them where their story has gone awry. Give them some pointers. Make sure this goes out into the world as a reasonably well written piece of romantic fiction that represents the genre well. But I won’t. I don’t want them to say – well, who are you to tell us what we’ve done is bad? Have you published anything??

Not exactly. Doesn't mean I don't have an opinion or know something about the biz. But I still don't want to answer the question.

Anyway...despite what people might say or think about the romance community (sidenote - did you hear about the political race in Texas where a female candidate is accused of being a pornographer by her opponent for writing a romance novel in 1990?) I still am proud to be a part of it. What about the romance writing industry (whether you're a writer or a reader) makes you proud?



Problem Child said...

Your turn up on the soap box. And yes, I think you should write them a letter.

I'd say I'd join you with the whole kittens thing, but my head will have exploded...

Linda Winstead Jones said...

OK, I read this, then I read The Book. My brain tingled a litle -- not in a good way -- and I had to go get a cup of coffee and take a moment to wrap my brain around the whole thing. It's just too early for this.

I'm sure their hearts are in the right places, but honestly, at a page a day the first draft won't be finished for a year. The way this business works, they might have a little advance money for Toys for Tots by 2009. Well, if it was publishable, which it's not. Unless they have some small press standing by that's willing to print copies for charity.

Kittens? No, I'm with PC on the head exploding thing.

I might need a little extra money for Christmas. I know, maybe I'll get a part time job as a DJ!


Lori Borrill said...

Well, I read the first several paragraphs, got bored, became distracted by the structure problems then came back here.

Honestly, I wouldn't try to educate these folks at all. Let them educate themselves by discovering on their own just how difficult it is to create something that looks easy. Like I do when I try to make something HGTV aired in a 10 minute segment. Looked easy. Reality corrected that notion for me.

It's a shame you can't suggest they send the query to Miss Snark. I'd love for them to read her response on the air.

Kathy said...

Oh that's priceless, lori! Ms. Snark would probably have a field day here.

I've still got the picture of you and kittens in my head. Ack!

IMHO, I think they are doing this for a few laughs. Just like I think the guy running for office in Texas is trying to use the hoopla over that book and the author as a campaign ploy. Do you think either of these mentioned above are doing this for shock value? For ways to connect with an audience familiar with love, relationships, and hardships, etc? Or do you think that society has gone from one extreme to another. For instance, TV and movies are allowing foul language, nude scenes, extreme R rated sexual scenes, and encouraging that kind of thing to our youth, yet people are being arrested for downloading risque material off the internet.

Like serials on radio of long ago, I think this is only about trying to keep listeners coming back on a day to day basis. Radio is entertainment without thought. Those of us who are serious about what we do, know better.


Instigator said...

I agree with PC, you should write that letter.

This makes my blood boil. Of course, there might be some poetic justice when they find out just how difficult it really is to get a romance published and have to admit their stupidity on air.


Patricia W. said...

Let them try! The more I try, the more I discover I have to learn. Writing anything saleable is pretty tough, even if you're a pretty decent writer.

Smarty Pants said...

You know what, Kathy? If they were simply doing it as a serial sort of thing to keep people listening, it might not bother me as much. No, that's a lie. At least this is an attempt at charity. If they were just doing it for fun, I'd still say it was under the assumption that anyone could do it. I don't know.

Sorry about the kittens. I figured it was a nicer way of saying what I really meant to say, which is inappropriate for the blog.


Smarty Pants said...

Well, I sent an email to the DJ asking how they planned to get it published. We'll see what he says...


sheryl m said...

I didn't bother reading what they wrote, simply because if they were serious about the topic, then they would have not majored in radio broadcasting....wait that is wrong of me to say. Anywho, Maybe an editor should pop the station management a nice little letter...what they are doing to those legitimately striving to pursue this career is almost a type of slander......

Smarty Pants said...

Well, I got a response from the DJ. It makes me feel a little better. I think the choice of a romance novel was really just inconsequential - apparently a listener's suggestion. Here's what he wrote :

I appreciate your insight. I am in no way shape or form an actual writer. However we intend to use a publish on demand type service. I know that's probably looked down upon in the professional writing world, but again I don't even think I qualify for amateur status. To us this was a different way to draw attention to Toys for Tots and hopefully a descent way to raise money for them later on......we don't plan on having the book done until next
year and I have a couple people proof reading it for major mistakes. But the average listener of my show will not notice the small mistakes or will at least over look them ( I hope ) due to the fact that it is our first try at this.. The idea's for the book come directly from the listeners of the show. The only chapter that will be my own creation will be the last one, and no one will know what's in it till they buy it.....I don't know how well this will work, but there is a ton of interest right now so who knows.....I can only hope we'll make some money for the kids....and have a little fun in the process.....Thanks and God Bless.....Mojo

Jill James said...

It sounds like their hearts are in the right place at least.