a very odd (but not bad) day

First, I wrote a lot of words. A whole lot. More, I think, than I have ever written in one day before. Gone a gusher would not be too much said.

How many words and more information on this I cannot provide, as my superstitious Italian self will not allow me to put such things out there for the Evil Eye to jinx. But it was good.

Then Laura Vivanco, an academic in Great Britain whose area of specialization is the study of the socio-cultural and literary context of the romance novel, wrote a long post at Teach Me Tonight called “A Case Study on Genre: Rosina Lippi’s Tied to the Tracks and The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square in which she takes both novels under her microscope and comes up with a couple dozen very interesting observations. I was surprised and happy, because hey, I am a recovering academic and I spent my adult life from age 27 to 47 immersed in it up to my neck, and I know what effort went into it.  So a public thanks to Laura, and an acknowledgment: I know my two most recent novels are not exactly romance, or romantic comedy, or anything else, for that matter. I know that I don’t fit into any genre. That fact has made things pretty difficult for me, marketing wise. Laura’s solution:

If I had to choose a label for these novels, I’d make up a new one. I think they’re contemporary romantic emotional-mystery fiction.

Which she admits needs to be shorter. So if somebody could (1) come up with a catchy term that gets the same idea across and (2) magically insert that term into the group consciousness, that would be really helpful. I’d be thrilled. I actually quite like emotional-mystery, though I fear it won’t catch on.

Finally (and this is the real oddity). Paperback Writer has a post up about the one-sentence story website that I wrote about last week, and she links back here. Nothing odd about that, the normal tip of the hat to another weblog author who has pointed you in an interesting direction. What is odd, however, is that Lynn’s post was picked up — I still find it hard to believe this — by Andrew Sullivan on his Daily Dish weblog.

I have great respect and admiration for Paperback Writer, but Andrew Sullivan? Yikes. Rather than go into a long explanation of why I stay away from everything having to do with Andrew Sullivan, I point you to Mickey Kaus at Slate, who managed to sum up my feelings about A.S. concisely:

Andrew Sullivan has decided to give out a Nancy Grace Award. Criteria (suggested by Sullivan’s readers) include “a nauseating level of absolutist self-righteousness,” an “unflappable self-assurance that [the nominee’s] outrage represents the true moral high ground on any issue” despite a propensity to “flip flop”–and a habit of “excessive personal attacks.” [Emphasis added]… You mean like righteously bullying anyone who fails to support a war in Iraq, then turning around and righteously attacking the people who are prosecuting it? … Can you think of any nominees? I’m stumped. source

I hope S.L. gets a ton of traffic due to the link, but it did take me aback. The only parallel I can think of would be if Laura Bush or (even worse) Ann Coulter announced publically that Tied to the Tracks was her favorite all time novel. Nightmare material.

5 Replies to “a very odd (but not bad) day”

  1. You should never let your politics get in the way of your novels.  After all, a sale is a sale no matter how it’s generated.

  2. In theory you’re right. But I’m not selling widgets, and so it’s harder to stay objective. Now, I have many acquaintances who are very conservative in their politics and I get along with them just fine. In those cases, it’s possible to leave politics aside and dwell on common interests.

    With people like Sullivan all I know of him is his politics and his way of presenting his politics. Maybe it would be the better business move to nod and smile and thank the guy, but that feels wrong to me. I can’t just put ethical questions and grave concerns aside for financial gain and advantage.

    If I were selling widgets, I wouldn’t know who bought them and I wouldn’t care. That’s not the case here.



  3. Ahhh but you are selling widgets, and in fact, your market is very slim.  In this case, you only have one organization that you even sell to (that I know of) and that is Bantam.  Now Bantam takes what you sell them, reprints it and attempts to convince others to purchase this product.  The more they sell, the more of your products they want to buy, and your market goes up accordingly.  However, you still only have one real customer.
    Now if you do something that hamstrings your customer, i.e. make your ethical questions and grave concerns known and that alienates their customers, you will suffer in the long run.  I can’t tell you what to do, nor do I want to.  You’re probably far more intelligent than I in this respect.  I just don’t think it wise to make statements that can hurt you in the long run, when it can be easily avoided.
    After all…  are you in the business to write novels or to sell the novels that you write?

  4. After all…  are you in the business to write novels or to sell the novels that you write?

    I write. The only selling I do (or should have to do) is to the publisher. Once Bantam owns the right to publish the book, they also have the responsibility for marketing and selling it. They get a much bigger piece of the pie than I do, just because they are supposedly doing that stuff.

    There are authors whose political leanings are 180 degrees opposed to my own, but I love their work. Thats the way I prefer to approach things, and if it means I lose some sales, then so be it.




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