I had a good rant all set.

For God's sake, people, I was going to say. You're willing to talk til you're blue in the face (yet another race, heh) ranting about authors, books, but when it comes to the actual READING THE DAMN BOOKS, you have nothing to say? It isn't about reading is it? It's about striking poses and carrying on with self-righteous indignation. Soapboxes and high horses--but when it comes to the books, you don't actually give a damn. You don't want to deal with anything but boring old nonsense.

But then Karen pointed out the obvious.
Now you know that the only problem with this is that readers won't want to guess, just in case they're wrong... People hate feeling stupid in public.

Ah. Oh, right. Sometimes I forget that feeling stupid in public isn't a common condition and that people actually try to avoid it.

Well, okay I just hope you read those anyway. I might do this again, if I ever get any more books. I had fun.

Just one more thing. How come you writers didn't want to take part? Karen, do you know the answer to that one? I only had TWO people say they were willing. It was supposed to be fun and creative, not trotting out the old chestnuts about race. I want new and more interesting chestnuts.

Okay, enough ranting. I haven't even had coffee yet, so I'll have to go back and fix most of the grumpiness and missspellings later. As usual I reserve the right to tinker with the blog.

The Answers!
BOOK ONE: The author Bobbie Cole. She's white, the characters in the selection are white and straight. The book is called Leaving Mama. Want to read more? It's over at Samhain.

BOOK TWO: Ann Christopher, the author, is black, the characters in the selection are black (well, we don't know about the Johnsons) and I didn't ask you about orientation because by then I decided it was not the question of the day (they're mostly straight). Just About Sex is an RT Top Pick by the way. Harlequin Kimani imprint. Go buy it and have fun.

BOOK THREE: I cheated. That's an unpubbed many-times rejected one of mine. What can I say? No one else would play. It's a manuscript that contains every romance cliche ever invented, only they're plausible to a degree (I say they are). Janey is white. Rachel has a black grandmother on her father's side.


  1. Another part of it, I think, is that people are very sensitive to matters of race.

    I came to this discussion late, and I don't read romance anyway (not said with disdain: I don't read much of anything these days) but I thought the experiment interesting.

    Thing is, as I was going through it, I thought about each of my responses to see whether or not it was based on some sort of stereotype. I didn't want my assumptions about the characters to be based on a racist stereotype.

    I don't know what the original argument was about, but for me, this was an interesting and eye-opening exercise. If you don't mind a suggestion, maybe try it again, and give it longer to run? Give people a couple of days to respond?

  2. I'm color blind.


  3. Stephen! Stephen COLBERT IS VISITING my blog. I knew that whole thing about France was a ruse.

    Dean, isn't it interesting examining one's own responses?

    Racism? Not racism? Because of a long ago incident, I have this whole response when I meet young black men who have a particular look.

    My first instinctive response is fear and distaste. Lasts maybe a milisecond.

    Then I go into overcompensation for that response. Then it's jesus what a jerk I am for the whole set of responses. I'm talking maybe two seconds, less now. The whole thing is on autoresponse so I barely notice. Still there though.

    I no longer worry much because it's tiny and because I've honed my nonentity appearance to the point where I'm just about invisible. I know no one notices.

  4. I thought they were both great and a good example of how the subject of race in is moot. I thought that was the example you were trying to make.

    So, I really couldn't tell either or, but that I wanted to buy both because I thought they were fabulous hooks. And I was dangling on the line.

  5. To be honest, and this is going to sound terrible coming from someone who writes ebooks, but:

    Long excerpts in a very narrow format on a computer screen are extremely difficult for me to read. I read the first one, but the length of the second completely put me off.

    And when I have a lot of things to do or could be doing rather than forcing myself to read something that makes my eye skip around like a ferret on crack's might, I will do something else.

    Shallow, but there you have it.

  6. *bwwahhaa! Ferret on crack! That is sooo good.

  7. Sara,
    you should click over to Ann Christopher's page and see if it works there.

    (If it doesn't you ought to tell her. There are few people on the planet nicer than AC.)

    Ferret on crack. I like that.

    Hey, I notice NONE OF YOU mentioned the third example. Maybe there was a reason it was rejected by everyone and her sister? Not a tantrum, really.I wrote it years and years ago.

  8. I thought it was a great experiment, but I confess to being a total wuss when it came to posting my guesses. :-) 1: I wasn't sure, couldn't tell. 2: I guessed black characters purely based on the names. 3: I guessed mixed characters because that would have been a cute trick! *lol*

    Interestingly, I found the second excerpt to be most, for lack of a better term, "neutral" in style and thus the most comfortable to read. I can recall only two stories where I wondered if the authors were black - one was a Harlequin Temptation, the other was in an anthology. They were both DNFs, simply because I had a hard time with the narrative and/or dialogue. But then I also avoid Scottish brogues and Cockney accents. And I find it almost impossible to get through a novel set in Australia if I feel the dialogue doesn't accurately represent how I think we talk, whether or not the author herself is Aussie. To cast the net further, until recently I avoided books set in the military because they seemed to have a different ... cadence.

    Having said this, I subscribed to various Harlequin lines for years and enjoyed a lot of books - who knows what race or nationality the authors were! I might have noticed if a character had been described as black ... or not. As a reader, I don't usually pay attention to the H/H's physical descriptions. I just imagine them the way I want to. :-)

    While reading the different blog discussions going on, I've been trying to do some self-examination on my own reading prejudices ... despite the fact that I'm a commenting wuss.

  9. The format on Ann Christopher's page works better for me, yes. Obviously I can't be objective about what I would have guessed because I know the answer now, but it was easier to read.

  10. I missed it. I've been snowed. Are you going to do this again?

  11. Kate, it was a nice idea, but there were too many potential pitfalls. If a white person had guessed that the first book was written by a black woman, some people may have seen it as stereo-typing.

    Yeah, and people really hate looking stupid in public too.

  12. It was a set up, like when a woman asks her BF if she looks fat. There is no good answer. Guessing if the author was black or white would instantly label you a racist because you would then be actively judging the work on a race profiling basis. If you guessed correctly it just meant you were a realy skilled racist. Howard Stern should use this idea on his show. It would be perfect material for him.

    People didn't "Not answer" because they didn't want to look stupid. They didn't answer because they didn't want to get sucked into looking racist in a catch-22 Sta-9 "When did you stop beating your wide." kind of question.

    That makes them pretty damned smart.

  13. "When did you stop beating your wife."

  14. I still thought the guy had some damn balls rushing into the office saying No, his dick really WAS big.

    That is a freakin hook.

  15. I'm not a bit sensitive to race, just didn't realize my window of opportunity to post had closed - sorry, Kate!

    Did wonder if Dean thought the author was a 28-yr-old, white, bisexual pothead or if it was the character until I realized I'd specifically mentioned that Jilly was 28 - lol.

    Kate, they're right - next time just give more time for people to read and post. Man, I wish I knew how to word it to post about reverse discrimination - BTDT with editors, agents, and readers. I'm a white author who can't sell a black character - even had 'the call' and was told I didn't sound white, which...lost me the sale.

    It's a shame that for all our global feelings of wanting unity and no segregation that we turn a blind eye when we have the chance to do something about it. I'd be lying if I said the shelving problem didn't bother me, because it affects ALL of us to some extent, none more than the authors whose books are in limbo. I want what's best for them, but even they can't agree on what's to be done...and, too, they're ham-stringed to an extent.

    Good blog - just sorry I'm late to the party.


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