oh, just can it

There's the usual carrying on about IMMORALITY of the sex and how people judging the Big Contest should get to send back smutty books.

Dear Contest Judge [changed because Shelli is right, also edited because I'm just rude and now that I've ranted I can stop being rude],

No. Sorry. Please. Stop with the morality arguments. I've got a full set of morals too and some--just SOME, mind you--Godly Folk offend them every day. I'm polite most of the time, but you're getting on my last nerve with this.

Listen, you probably like sex, but behind closed doors, right? Well, I happen to like God, but behind closed doors, too. I'm majorly squicked out by people who try to tell me about their God and oh, baby how good He makes them feel and how He'll take care of them forever. Put it away, I want to tell them. Ewww.**

My basic response is keep the glad tiding for your prayers--which are between you and your god and the people in your congregation. I'm glad you've found something you love but stop waving that thing around in public.

But okay, so you've written a book and I have to judge it. Fine, I can take all that I just wrote above put it aside, and I will read that book. And I will be fair.

Except dudes, listen. Some of the inspies I've read are great but others cross lines for me. . . You know those inspies where someone prays for a particular outcome, rather than, say, for maybe the strength to face something horrendous? Well. When the character stumbles across the money because she prayed? I'm as put off by it as you'd be by a foursome involving sex and a small pony. (It's bad plotting, deus ex machina isn't a good device., okay? Even in an inspie.) But worse, it's a bad attempt to manipulate emotion on my part, as obvious as any boffing scene is an attempt to manipulate the sexual response. It can go way too far for those of us who don't think continuous glad tidings should be a public event.

Here's why I'm offended. I just judged a bunch of inspies. Not my cup of tea, as you can see. But it never occurred to me that I should be ready to toss them back into a pile on the basis of MORALITY. Bad writing, maybe, but that's not an option when you're a judge. Anyway, do you see what I mean?
Let me put it this way.....more and more I get the equivalent paths here.

Religious activity is to inspies
Sex is to the erotic romance.

Writers use those as tools to excite and pull in the reader. What if those don't do it for you? Tough. But don't cry morality because that's just not in the scorecard you've been handed as a judge.

Listen. No one hates sex or God, but there can be so much of a good thing and it can be so strong that it’ll put off all but the most hard-core adherents. Okay, so you're squicked by the threesome or the woman who tries to get everyone to pray every time anything goes wrong, but here's where you act like a grown up and actually judge the book.

Does the God or the Sex make characters thinner than cardboard and warp the plot so it's nothing but shouting to the rafters. That's not a matter of morality, that's bad writing--or at least it's not really romance. **** Got it? Good. Now read your contest books and stop feeling so damned blessed superior. We're all in the love business together.

Dismounting from her high horse to go write delicate smut,
** and I must point out that I have some basis for my squickitude: How many people have died because people insist Their God is Best? Millions. Countless numbers. How many have died because of hot sex? Some, I suppose. But it's no contest. And I think we can agree that genocide is far more obscene than boffing.Since my work with refugees, the connection between My God Is THE One and genocide does really make a click in my brain and cause actual nausea.

****Which makes me wonder if maybe the erotica (vs erotic romance) writers should enter their stuff into categories like mainstream with elements category. Although probably they'd get cut based on the "mainstream" bit.


  1. I can't help thinking that having members refusing to judge a book because it offends them does not make RWA look like a more professional writer's organization. Writers typically being the ones to fight things like censorship. Just saying.

  2. Anonymous11:09 AM

    I have read both sides of the "should erotica has its own category in the RITA" argument.

    For "professionals", the answer should be NO. WHY? Because the sex is use to advance the plot, reflect growth and change in a character. It's about the plot, not the sex.

    However, it seems that "some" people can't see the plot for the sex. Sex="dirty stuff". Prayer="good stuff"

    Sad, but true. An erotica will never win a category of RITA as it is currently structured. Maybe a book with some sensual scenes will fair well, but an erotica from EC? Can't see it happening.

    I see a day when erotica will have it's own RITA category. Don't you?

  3. FWIW I entered MWRE.

    I'm majorly squicked out by people who try to tell me about their God and oh, baby how good He makes them feel and how He'll take care of them forever.

    ZOMG I'm laughing but you know....the religious deux ex machina you pointed out really hits the (squick) spot--for the record, organized religion freaks me out about as bad as some jduges probably freak out over BDSM and 3somes. I'm raising my vibrator to you Kate!

    Word verification: CUNDU *snicker*

  4. I do get that it's distasteful, really I do. And I think people should get to opt out of at least one category of the RITAs. After all, they're volunteers. I don't want anyone to have to judge a type of book they don't like.

    But I'm sick of all the cries of immorality and the inability of PROFESSIONALS (as Charlene puts it) to put their preferences aside if they have to. That's all. New year, same old shit.

  5. and I think you're right, Cyndi. Sometimes I think Erotica should have its own category.

    Sometimes I think, like Mainstream, pure erotica shouldn't even be in the RWA categories, because dude. ROMANCE. But not often because I don't know where else those books could enter contests and I love those writers and I'm all for the,"we're inclusive not exclusive lalallalala."

    Other times I think there should just be one big huge category labeled RITA WORTHY with about thirty winners--every single book thrown into the same pot.

    Judges would have to swear (on the book of their choice) that they'll use a strict set of standards (TBD) and try their very hardest to leave their personal preferences/prejudices out. If they can't manage it, they can't judge. And they can't enter either. Because see above: PROFESSIONAL.

    Mostly I like that big pot idea because I'm really curious to know what'll float to the top.

  6. Okay, I'm on the loop following this whole debate and have to say that it is NOT all members of the RWA. So the "Dear Outraged Members of RWA" part makes me uncomfortable. It's 2-3 people who write inspirationa who made comments, which sounded a bit judgmental, though I'm sure they didn't even realize how much. But I saw at least double the amount of people defending us than questioning our morals.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Hey I'm a card-carrying member and I love RWA. and oh, okay. Maybe I should remove the organization because it's a good point. Who needs that sort of intolerant image for an organization that you care about?

    In fact the point was getting my own high-horsiness out of the way. Ranting then moving on. Or not moving on. Dang..

    Public image is always a big problem with any sort of rant and I keep forgetting that. Which is why I won't ever be a best-selling author. Too bad.

    HEY, speaking of good behavior! If you want to see an author behaving WELL, check out Susan Grant a couple of threads down.

  9. And I think people should get to opt out of at least one category of the RITAs. After all, they're volunteers. I don't want anyone to have to judge a type of book they don't like.

    I totally agree, Kate. At the same time, though, it seems to me like folks who are disturbed by "on-the-page" sex scenes would really have to opt out of EVERY category except inspirational. After all, plenty of books that are not labeled as erotic romance (and that you and I probably wouldn't consider erotic romance) have very steamy on-the-page sexual encounters in them. Even if there were an erotic category, it wouldn't solve the problem of some judges having to read sex scenes they might find offensive.

    Add to that the fact that a good proportion of the people opting out of reading categories where there "might be" on-screen sex would be the folks entering the inspirational category, and you have a real conundrum. Because if the ONLY category you can read with relative assurance of not getting a graphic sex scene is inspiration, and you're not allowed to judge the category you entered...well, you can see the problem!

    I will also add that I volunteered to judge historical, regency, and single title contemporary. To my surprise, of the seven books I received for judging, TWO are inspirationals. Now, I am not OPPOSED to inspirational per se, but it's not a type of book I would normally pick up and read for pleasure, so I'm probably not the best person to judge books in that category on their merits.

    So what I wonder is...why when there is a category SPECIFICALLY for inspirationals would an author of one choose to run it in any category BUT inspirational? Wouldn't you think you would have a better chance of drawing a slate of judges who LIKE the kind of book you write if you entered it in inspirational, as opposed to running in a broader category where you're likely to draw judges who...um...not to put too bold a face on it, but, judges who like SEX in their romances?

  10. so you think the answer is to have separate contests maybe? The inspies judged by fellow inspie writers, hystericals judged by people who'd know the facts of the time periods.

    Hmmmmm. That might be the answer. Although talk about cliques.

    It's already a small enough world. . . yikes.

  11. >>so you think the answer is to have separate contests maybe?

    There already ARE separate contests...they're chapter contests. The Inspie chapter...and Passionate Ink.

  12. me me me tell me

    email me the author name please oh please I missed before the edit

    ::innocent blink::

  13. Amie, oh, duh.

    Well, then make RWA do the work on 'em, and make them more hugely big. Ta da!

  14. Just. Word. Listen, I'm sorry that merely looking at erotic romance makes the jesus inside you wither and die. It does make me happy my interior jesus is made of sterner stuff though.

    I do agree that there should be a box to check if you don't want to read a certain kind of book - just for preference sake, it's difficult to judge a book in a genre you don't like.

    But chest beating and hair pulling and all that stuff about morals being assaulted simply by seeing the words on the page strike me as silly and frankly, I can't get past the suspension of disbelief.

    My books are romances. They don't have "romantic elements" they have romance. And even my books with menages are romances and it hurts me beyond speech to hear someone I adore say that a menage is infidelity - infidelity is SECRET, it is betrayal, it is not a relationship of three people.

    The structure of an erotic romance is different than a non-erotic romance. This makes it incredibly difficult to judge them in the same category. That's really it for me.

  15. I think every contest I have judged has a box for you to check.

    I would argue if you can't review books that have sex in them you can't review romance - period end of story.

    Of course I would say I don't think threesomes involving god have any business in romance contests either and that there shouldn't be categories for inspys but that is prolly a whole other post and this isn't my blog anyway.

    Really really though RWA, RITAs and whatev are what they are... this is nothing new and I have links and rants about this on my blog from 2005 so it doesn't really seem like much has changed.

    Maybe that is the point... they don't wanna.

  16. >>Maybe that is the point... they don't wanna.


  17. so you think the answer is to have separate contests maybe? The inspies judged by fellow inspie writers, hystericals judged by people who'd know the facts of the time periods.

    I'm not sure there's ANY answer that's going to resolve even a majority of the disputes, to be honest. I will say that I think the entire concept of categories for the RITAs should probably be revisited. So should the rules for determining who qualifies as a "published" writer (this one gets my goat all the time).

    The problems with the RITA are not going to be resolved until RWA is willing to meet the issues head-on. At this point, all they do is deflect and defer until next year. And the year after that. And the year after that.


  18. THey'll just keep on with what amounts to smoke and mirrors....and a hand out for our dues payment.

  19. Hi Kate,
    This is very funny. What I don't understand is why they don't go back to the old way of doing it--you judge a category rather than a random set of books.

    Since I got kicked out of general membership I can't judge anything but I'm with you on the god thing. If I'm going to peek in on a three-way, I want two chicks and a guy, not a guy, a girl and Jesus.

    Rob Preece
    Publisher, www.BooksForABuck.com

  20. Jackie, you might have gotten overflow from the inspy category because they needed somebody to judge it and not enough people checked its box.

  21. I might have thought that, too, Jody, but the score sheet clearly indicates that one of them is running in historical and the other in single title contemporary.


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