Don’t be diminished by destructive criticism.
I’m changing things up a bit after taking in all the blog posts I’ve written over the past year. Today, I’m talking about romance.
I’m a romance writer, and I’m proud to be a romance writer, considering romance is the number one bestselling genre of all time. Romance readers are the most voracious readers, the most loyal fans. I read romance, but at the same time, I see the stigma attached to being a romance writer and reader. Society has deemed romance somehow unsuitable. Nora Roberts, who is without question the queen of romance and who’s never written a book I haven’t loved, talked in a recent article about how romance is scorned by literary types everywhere. They say that this genre, largely written by women for women, causes the women who read it to have unrealistic expectations. Yes, this was in an actual article written by someone referred to as an industry expert.
I hate to tell the person who wrote this article, women are pretty frickin’ smart. We kind of know the difference between reality and fiction. How many of you who watch The Walking Dead believe that zombies exist and soon will populate the earth? Or how many read a murder mystery and then go out and plan the perfect crime? Sorry, that was kind of tongue in cheek, but I couldn’t resist. The article I mentioned was a pure example of destructive criticism. Remember, you can’t change critics. They’re everywhere, flooding social media, and some of these people have an agenda to make you feel bad. These highly critical destructive people don’t see equality. They see a see-saw, with them on one side and you on the other. When they see you’re a little bit above them, they’re going to slap you down.
They may be thinking, you’ve got a nicer job, you’re richer, you’re selling more books and have more fans, you’re thinner, or you’re slightly elevated in some way, and what happens is one of two things: They’ll either elevate themselves by bragging about how important they are, or they’ll strike out directly to diminish you. They want you to feel bad about yourself so they can feel elevated. Here’s the issue: You can feel bad only if you let their comments in. Seriously, if someone were to say your skin was purple, you’d laugh at them because the idea’s so ridiculous—but when they strike to the core of what you are…man, it hurts. It’s hard not to let it in, because those kinds of demeaning comments are something we as a society are still trying to break free from. You know those who try to make you feel less than and ashamed for who you are, for what you do? They do so because it makes them feel important.
It may surprise you, or it may not, but I’ve lost count of the number of men and women who have referred to what I write as bodice rippers. Yes, to my face! They say that because I’m just a romance writer, my career is nothing to take serious. The first time, this was said with laughter as if I was supposed to be ashamed of what I write, but nothing could be further from the truth. I’m so proud of what I do, of what I write. I don’t even know what a bodice ripper is or why anything I write would be treated with such disdain. I’m very proud of everything I’ve written, all my books and series. These are the kind of books I love to read, the kind of books I’m proud to share with my kids. We’re not talking erotica, because there’s a big difference between romance and erotica: In romance, the central plot and the emphasis is on love, finding it, recognizing it, and keeping it, and there’s a “happily ever after”—or, as I write it, a “happily for now.” My stories are about families that love through thick and thin, families that stick together.
With Erotica sex plays a major role in the story. Women’s fiction is about the female journey, and the heroine is the central focus of the story, yet romance there’s a stigma attached to this, and I have no idea who created it. Worse, this stigma is something that seems to be taught to our kids in school. Teachers say there’s something wrong with romance because it’s not appropriate reading material. Whoever came up with this? Romance is never on the prescribed reading list. Really? I recently met with two of my teenage kids’ English teachers and listened to both their views, their opinions. Both are stuck on their perspectives of literature, on their lists of must-reads for students, which range from Romeo and Juliet to To Kill a Mockingbird.
Now some of you may say, what’s wrong with that? Nothing, if a kid wants to read those works, but consider teens are already struggling to fit in. Their tidal waves of hormones may have them crying one minute, filled with drama the next, and everything in between as they struggle with their identities, with the idea that they already know everything, with peer pressure, with curiosity… Then add in the stresses of home and school, all the different demands of teachers who spend more hours in a day with a student than their parents do and who sometimes leave a bigger impact, for good or bad. Teachers often have their own idiosyncrasies, as well, and then there are students who struggle with social status, sexual orientation… Shall I go on?
Teachers want students to read Romeo and Juliet, a play about two stupid, stupid teenagers making the worst decisions and then killing themselves at the end, and this is somehow deemed okay because it’s not romance. It’s a tragedy, plain and simple, and great reading for our overdramatic teens. That was my sarcasm coming out, in case you missed that. Remember, romances are the kind of books where there’s either a happily for now or a happily ever after, but somehow this isn’t okay for school reading. I don’t know, but I’d rather have my kids reading positive and uplifting books, the kind of books they want to read. My son recently shared with me one of the books he was required to read, which included a gay sex scene, but of course this was okay with the teachers simply because it wasn’t labeled as a romance. Was there any kind of feel-good theme? No, the book left me kind of depressed, and I thought, Teenagers are being asked to read this? There was no happily ever after.
My daughter, who has unabashedly read almost all my books, fell in love with the Friessen Legacy series, this family I created. She’s read some of the books two or three times, but she won’t read the Saved series or Walk the Right Road, saying they’re too “dark and suspenseful” for her (yes, her words). Then she told me she can’t tell any of her teachers she reads my romance books, and she’s been left with the stigma that because I’m a romance writer, the books I’ve written are not real books. This is after five years of me telling each teacher that she reads what she loves, not what they want her to read—which is how it should be for everyone. No one should ever make you feel bad for reading romance. Here’s another fact that some of you may be unaware of: Men also read romance. It’s not a genre read by women only, and I’ve lost count of the number of emails I’ve received from men who reached out just to tell me how they loved my books. Thank you to each and every one of you who has emailed, as it really does mean a lot.
If you’re a crime fiction writer, a horror writer, or a suspense and mystery writer, society has somehow deemed this socially acceptable. Would it surprise you to hear that Vanished was a 2016 Readers’ Favorite award winner in suspense? When I tell people I’m a romance writer, and suspense is a subgenre for me, I get this weird look, like the approval I had seconds before is now gone.
This goes to one of the very basic principles I teach my kids: Be proud of who you are. No one has the right to tell you how to think or how to feel or to make you feel less than them, so don’t give them the power. The only way anything people say about you can be true is if you agree. I for one do not agree with any of the naysayers or so-called industry experts who criticize romance. Romance rocks! Who was that brilliant artist who said All you need is love? Because it really is all you need.
For those of you who prefer to wait for the box set collection. It's now available exclusively through my eBookstore--THE FRIESSENS: BOOKS 15-18 AND TWO BONUS SHORT STORIES BOXED SET! Visit my store here for 25% off this purchase--just enter code X21LEESWZ7 at checkout to apply the discount. Set includes:
IT WAS ALWAYS YOU: She never realized until she lost him that he was the only man she’d ever love.
THE FIRST TIME I SAW YOU: Like his parents Andy and Laura Friessen, Gabriel knows what it means to face an impossible situation. What he doesn’t realize when he puts up an ad looking for a roommate, he never expects to meet a down on her luck gorgeous single mom with a meddling family, a crazy ex-boyfriend, and enough chemistry between them to heat a county.
WELCOME TO MY ARMS: What was supposed to be a simple rescue by a stranger turns into so much more.
WELCOME TO BOSTON (Bonus short story): Either this would be the biggest mistake of her life or it could turn out to be the best decision Paige ever made. After all, who accepts an invitation from a man they hardly know to travel across the country to get to know them better, from a note? Will this turn out to be a mistake that Paige will regret and have her walking into something that she can't control? Or will this be a chance for love that Paige and Morgan are both looking for?
I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU: It was the hottest night of sex he’d ever had. Jeremy Friessen had heard the whispers that he was just like his father with his looks, his bad ass attitude and arrogance, and he’d never forget the night he’d spent with his best friend’s sister until she up and left one day just three years ago.
GROUND RULES (Bonus short story): With their wedding less than a week away, Jeremy and Tiffy discover they’re not on the same page when it comes to raising their son and dealing with the challenges that come their way. In true Friessen fashion, when Jeremy tries to establish ground rules, he soon learns that Tiffy isn’t the kind of woman anyone can tell what to do, and his strong personality could have her calling off the wedding and walking the other way.
99cents through tomorrow only--2013 Readers' Favorite award-winner in Romantic Suspense, LOST AND FOUND.
A hit and run. A deserted country road. A parent's worst nightmare.
"Great read! This book is filled with such suspense it is hard to put down. Don't be surprised if you are up until the wee hours trying to finish it...I'm hooked!" ★★★★★ Kindle Customer
Book 2 in the Walk the Right Road series is on sale through January 29th only at Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play and Smashwords.
Please, please! Always check the retailer's price before downloading, as there are still a few instances happening where a retailer in a specific country is slow in changing over to the sale price!
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FREE SHORT WITH PURCHASE
For those who purchased I'LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, you can claim your free short story, GROUND RULES, by sending your proof of purchase to LorhainneEckhart.LE@gmail.com and write in the subject line: Ground Rules short story. Or, if you are like me and deleted it, send the first 3 words of I'LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, Chapter 10 to LorhainneEckhart.LE@gmail.com, and again write: Ground Rules short story in the subject line and your FREE short story will land in your inbox. Again, this FREE short is only for those who purchased I'LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU.