Fill-in-the-blanks, is it?

NaNo-2015-Participant-BannerFor those who have been following the Laura Harner story, you will no doubt have seen the disgraceful excuse for reporting that is the Washington Post article on the topic.

The reporter (and I cringe to use that term for this man) clearly knows nothing about the romance industry or the people who write in it.

The phrase “boddice-ripper” is one I haven’t heard in decades and could quite happily never hear again.  I have read hundreds, if not thousands of romance novels over the years and you know what – I have never, not even once, in all those books ever read a story where the heroine’s boddice is ripped from her. It is an archaic phrase that has no place in the modern world.

As for the fill-in-the-blanks comment – it only goes to show that he has never opened a romance novel in his life.

I remember a romance novel I read some years ago, one of Jude Deveraux’s,  where the heroine is a romance writer.  The book is Remembrance and that heroine sums up the the way the romance industry is viewed very well indeed.  The sad thing is that book was first published in 1994, yet today the quote below (and all the narrator’s other comments on the industry) still holds true.

“…romances and their writers are ridiculed, hissed and generally spat upon.”

I for one think it is long past the time it stopped. We put our hearts and souls into our stories and we research our books down to the smallest of details.  As Jude’s heroine said in Remembrance, (paraphrasing here) our readers – contrary to whatever moronic journalists may think – are smart. They read, a lot, and if we get it wrong, we will hear about it.

Tomorrow I start my annual NaNoWriMo project.  I have been putting things together for months for this story, and here are just a few of the things I have researched/been researching in my efforts to make my Mermen & Magic series stand out from all the other wonderfully original stories out there.

The Twilight Zone – not the TV show, but the Mesopelagic zone that is the largely unexplored depth of the ocean.

The number of newly discovered sea creatures which are cataloged each year.  A lot more than you might think, and certainly more than I ever imagined.

The gestation times of various sea creatures.  Mermen and mermaids are, obviously, half fish.  I consider it stands to reason that they may not have the normal human gestation period.  I eventually decided on the period of six months, which can nicely add to the drama when the father-to-be is not aware his partner is a mermaid and is quite capable of doing the maths.

The various different locations where the mythical city of Atlantis is thought to be.  There are certainly quite a number of very plausible theories for various locations.

The mermaid legends and where and when they originated.

The number, location, and habitation of various islands located on the route between Atlantis (where I envisage it in my stories) and the south coast of England.

The sea currents for the same area of water.

The speeds of various sea creatures to determine who long it would take to swim from Atlantis to England, taking into account the aforementioned currents.

The time it takes for various substances to decay under the ocean.  Thankfully I write fantasy and the gods can at least help a little in that regard.  😉

Names of my characters that have been around for a long time, namely the Atlantean Pantheon.  It is an entirely made-up set of gods and goddesses, which means I need to give them names that are not already used in others (I can’t name the goddess of love Aphrodite for example) but also can’t be too modern since they were named long ago.

And this doesn’t even include the meticulous note-taking that is required by any writer of any genre to keep track of the things we make up – everything from the colour of a character’s eyes to the entire history of fictional races.

We take the time to make every detail of our stories as perfect as they can be.  We research for hours.  We compile notes on everything you can possibly imagine.  Then we put everything together to bring our worlds to our readers.

We breathe life into our characters, making them people who can be related to, who can be loved or hated, cheered or shouted out.

We use words on a page to create stories that people enjoy reading.  We try to bring some happiness into the lives of others.

So, tell me Mr Moyer, how much research did you do for your article that did nothing except re-hash a story that had been written by another publication, and take pot-shots at an industry which has been scornfully derided for decades?   How many people do you think you have pleased with your story (besides whoever monitors the hit counts on the site)?

I would like to see Moyer and all these other narrow-minded, scornful genre-snobs try to write a romance.  See how far you get filling in those blanks.  If Chris Moyer were to write a few romances and publish them (under another name and without using his position at the Washington post of course) he would realise just how hard it is to do what we do.  Maybe then he wouldn’t be quite so quick to casually mock us.

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