Michelle's Pillow Talk
Author Michelle M Pillow's take on important events. *cough* Yeah, that's it.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I'm not one for talking politics, but...

If you missed the hubbub about romance novels in the Texas news lately, here's a quick recap:

A recent article, "Comptroller hopeful takes novel approach
", reports Democrat Fred Head is speaking out against his competitor, Republican Agriculture Commissioner, Susan Combs, for writing a romance novel. The book, A PERFECT MATCH, was published back in 1990 (publisher now defunct). He calls her a pornographer for it.

I'm really not one to talk politics in a public setting, but thought this was a relevant event to who I am and what I do. Romance writing always had a certain amount of persecution to it. You have those people who think romance writers and pornographer are the same. But I refuse to be ashamed of what I do for a living. I love people falling in love. What shame is there in that?

If you ask me, they're the ones with the problem--all fixated on the sex part to the point they can't read past it. Did they miss the falling in love? The message of overcoming oneself and the insurmountable odds most of these romance couples face? Did they miss the message of hope, of good triumphing evil, of good people having good things happen to them? Even if it's a sweet, calm romance, did they miss the evolution of the characters, of inner growth? How they overcame themselves and their past, their hangups? Or maybe they missed the simple pleasure of just reading a good book for the sake of a good book, and allowing those feelings of love and warmth to invade them. Sure, the themes and stories are different, that makes for good fiction, but for the most part the message is the same.

I do call romance novels 'good books' as I do all genre fictions. Not all things have to take a stance and change the world. Sometimes, it's nice just to leave the world and get a break. Reality is always here when we need it.

As for the offended, um, how exactly do they think they got here? I think the world would be a wonderful place if everyone felt the level of true, undying, selfless love a lot of romance novel couples feel--and if they had half the great sex. More couples would probably stay together as well.

Am I saying Romance Novels are the way to save the world? No, of course not, but they can't hurt it. According to RWA romance accounts for 1.2$ billion in sales each year, 54.9% of all mass-market fiction sold, 39.3% of all fiction sold. 64.6 Million Americans have read at least 1 romance novel in the past year.

For more blogging about this topic, or to read some of the letters people have written to Mr Head about this, go to:
Jolie Mathis
Jennifer Archer
MJ Pearson

And, if this, or the other blogs inspires you to speak your mind to the Democratic Party, you can do so HERE!
posted by Michelle Pillow @ 6:22 AM  

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  • At 7:36 AM, Blogger Jeana said…

    I've seen this on other loops and i just can't believe someone could think that way in the 21st century. It was the equivalent of a Harlequin book. Although i've had friends call those soft porn as well. I just don't see it. But then again when i read a book I read one For the relationship and the HEA not for the sex. it's just an added bonus. lol

  • At 9:07 AM, Blogger Jaymi said…


    I still can't formulate a reasonable response to this. It just doesn't make sense and I don't get it. Category romance = porn. HOW?!?!?

    However, I'm not a happy! My new motto: I'm a Texan and I vote

  • At 9:36 AM, Blogger Jennifer said…

    Thanks for the link to the Democratic Party. I'm headed there now!

  • At 9:39 AM, Blogger Michelle Pillow said…


    I wanted to let you know about an issue in Texas that affects all
    romance writers and readers.

    The Democratic candidate for Texas State Comptroller, Fred Head, is
    waging a negative campaign against his opponent, who wrote one
    romance novel in 1990. He's calling her novel and pretty much all
    romance novels pornography.

    You can check out his website at http://www.votefred head.com/ and
    see the specific allegations against romance at http://www.votefred
    head.com/ susan.html He's also posted the "pornographic" pages there.

    My local chapters have contacted National to ask for a response and
    we are trying to rally romance writers in Texas to speak out. It's
    not a political issue. It's someone trying to further his career by
    denigrating romance novels and making insulting ignorant claims about
    them. I've contacted Fred Head, his opponent, the DNC, and RWA
    National, and I'm waiting for responses from all but Head's opponent.
    She was supportive of the genre. If you know anyone in Texas, please
    encourage them to write to Head and demand an apology. Or if you want
    to write to Fred Head and let him know that he's offended you, his
    email is fredhead @ goquest.com (no spaces).

    Shane Bolks/Shana Galen

  • At 10:20 AM, Blogger Sela Carsen said…

    Some people are such eejits. And he thinks the good people of Texas should actually VOTE for him?? *snort*

  • At 3:06 PM, Blogger Becka said…

    My DH has actually said that he HATES what I write with an emphatic HATE. He says it embarrasses him, and that he believes I write porn.

    However, he's told me that it's one of the only things in my life that makes me really happy and that I should continue to do it.

    What the hell kind of mixed message is that?? I don't even write the super duper hot stuff. So I have to struggle with this at home as well. DH and I never talk about my books, how they're doing, royalties or anything like that.

    But he can kiss my butt if he thinks I'm going to give up writing, DH or no. That fact that I love romance has no bearing on our love/sex life, since I've loved romance since I was a 12 y/o girl. So DH can just get over himself. LOL


  • At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Saffire said…

    For anyone who wishes to email Mr Fred Head... um... sounds vaguely like a porn star doesn't he... and express their displeasure over calling a KISMET romance pornographic. ...(KISMET? !! That's about as tame as you can get!) his email is:


    Be polite, respectful and to the point. Explain that Kismet was never pornographic. Good grief.


  • At 4:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think everyone is missing the bigger picture, Susan Combs wrote a book with sex and then Susan Combs took a public position during debate on a sex education (ABSENCE ONLY) bill while she served as a State Representative. The point, Susan Combs is a hypocrite.

    Fred Head is clearly stating the facts.

    Please debate how you can write a book of this nature and then took a public position of sex education (ABSENCE ONLY) bill. Can't have it both ways.

  • At 9:54 AM, Blogger Michelle Pillow said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 11:03 AM, Blogger Michelle Pillow said…

    reposting with links :)
    Debate? Okay.

    I don't think stressing abstinence to children and writing books with sex marketed for consenting adults is hypocritical. If she wrote the book and then handed it to minors, then you'd have a case. But the plain fact is, Romance novels are not for children. She was an adult writing for other adults. To assume all romance writers are hypocrites if they want their children to abstain is ridiculous. What about people who read romances, should they stop if they have kids so that they may teach their kids to abstain? If you say yes, I expect those same people to stop watching sex, violence, murder, drugs, anything risqué on TV including the news. I expect them to never read ANY literature that may contain such items,including the paper, let alone write it. I expect them to never swear, drink, smoke, VOTE or do anything not appropriate for a child. And, then we'll have nothing but a bunch of kids running around.

    I'm not a Texan. I'm not in the vote. The people of Texas can decide how they wish. I say don't vote for either of them. I don't know Susan. I'm not taking up her cause. I don't know Fred. He may be the better qualified---I really don't care who wins. BUT I resent the ignorant position Mr. Head has taken. IMO, almost anyone taking a political stand will highly exaggerate the facts to benefit them, as was in this case. Romance novels do NOT equal pornography. Sure, there are certain genres of this business that are more risqué than others--but the focus is romance, happily ever afters and falling in love. And they are FOR ADULTS. If they were for kids, they'd be next to Winnie the Pooh.

    I'm not starting a letter writing campaign. I leave that decision up to the individual person. Everyone has to take the position that's right to them.

    And before you use the romance readers are *insert choice derogatory word here* debate, let me state some the facts according to RWA (which is in TX, BTW)

    From the RWA Website:
    Marital Status of Romance Readers --- 50% Married, 37% Single, 8% Widowed, 4% divorced, 1% separated
    Education Level of Romance Readers --- 42% Bachelor's degree or higher, 27% have college degrees, 15% have post-graduate work or degrees, 7% have associate degrees, 17% have attended some college or trade school, 23% have HS diplomas.

    And that's the end of my debate.

  • At 11:05 AM, Blogger Michelle Pillow said…

    BTW, someone tracked where the comments were coming from, lol.

    This is a weak, see through attempt at political campaigning--notice where all the links go to. They really should hit facts, not candidate election websites.

  • At 12:34 PM, Blogger Jessica Trapp said…

    Hooray on your post! WTG, Michelle! "Concerned citizen" certainly made the blog rounds.

    I posted my answer to his "debate" here at my rant on the subject: http://romanceunleashed.com/blog/?p=471#comments

    All the best,
    Jessica Trapp

  • At 4:46 PM, Blogger Michelle Pillow said…

    Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments. :)


  • At 6:09 AM, Blogger Michelle Pillow said…

    If you're curious, I've been told Susan Combs won -- may she serve the people of Texas well.

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