Good Morning Today Show Folks

Howdy! If you saw me or Jane from Dear Author, Marcella White Campbell, or Kassia Krozser on the Today Show and are checking out our sites as a result, welcome! Nice to meet you!

As is the standard in tv, where there’s piles and piles of tape but the audience sees about seven or eight inches of it, our segment was probably pretty quick. But we were talking then and are here now to say that the stereotype of romance readers is wrong. Romance readers are smart, erudite, clever, and tired of being dismissed as undersexed, overweight frustrated women. I hope that our enthusiasm and love of romance came across. If you like romance novels as much as we do, we’re glad you’re here.

ETA: There is a link to the video online if you’d like to see it for yourself. My comments after I watched it for the first time are below – click the “more more more” for, well, more more more.

I just saw the Today Show segment in pacific time – I’m not sure why so much airtime was devoted to Sex & The City, though it probably is the most current and stylish representation of the romantic happy ending that’s familiar to folks outside the romance genre group. But Nora kicked ass, and if you saw those two ladies looking up at Patrick Dempsey and George Clooney, that was indeed Lisa Kleypas and Barbara Caridad Ferrer.

It just occurred to me that people who attend this conference might be more likely to have bubble-thought dreams of meeting Kleypas and Ferrer than Clooney or Dempsey. But anyway.

I was on and while I couldn’t hear what I said (I was in the lobby bar having begged a hotel employee to turn up one of the bar televisions) I think it was the part wherein I compared romance novels to really good sex. So let me tell you some of what everyone else said because they were much more awesome than I could possibly describe.

Jane started out by identifying herself and her profession (attorney, general mastermind of organization) and said that she reads romance because of the assurance of a happy ending, and that they all end in happiness and redemption. She was also the origin of the idea that the stereotypical romance reader is a myth – and that we are the typical romance reader.

Kassia Krozser was kickass. She talked about her favorite books, and about the powerful experiences found in romance novels. Marcella White Campbell’s interview was so good that I nearly had to sit down on the floor to keep myself from jumping up and down and doing a happy dance. She said that there’s something in romance for everyone, and between the beginning and the happy ending, there can be comedy, drama, fear, hope, triumph and that’s why she continually goes back to her favorite books: they stand up to rereadings and they never get old.

When I was about to go over for my turn, someone over my shoulder (I don’t remember who, I’m sorry) said something along the lines of, “When is someone going to say something about the sex?” So I said, “I will.”

So when I was asked, like the others, “Why do you read romance novels,” the answer I gave was that there’s no shortage of unhappiness in the news right now, that it’s so easy to become overwhelmed with bad news, and romance novels guarantee a happy ending, that every thing will work out ok. When asked to elaborate as to why I like the happy ending, why I like romance novels so much, I said, “Well, romance novels are like really good sex.”

And there you have the soundbite.

I’m bummed out that Jane, Kassia, and Marcella’s comments weren’t included because they were so very excellent. But the RWA Conference on the whole looked incredible – and the shots of the literacy signing, which raised nearly $60k, were impressive. Romance fans, I think, came across as excited, stylish women who are devoted to reading and to romance. It’s a slight change on the fumpy unsatisfied housewife theme, and I like the subtext of the updated reference to romance readers, brought about by the billions of dollars sold and the millions of books sold as well. I hope the update continues so that romance readers are more accurately represented for who we are, and how diverse and amazing our readership is. Happiness is never chic, but I think the perception of romance readers has once again improved.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Nicole says:

    Very nice segment.  I can now stop my recording of 4 hours of Today show.  :-)

  2. 2
    Bonnie says:

    I saw the segment and really enjoyed it.  I don’t know what Jane looks like, but I recognized Sarah right off.  Really fun piece.

  3. 3
    moonlissa says:

    I had to leave the house (damn work!), but I am Tivoing!

  4. 4

    Sarah, you looked great on camera for your 10 seconds of national fame! Maybe it was 8 seconds? I thought the segment went well.

    I would have liked if less airtime was spent with Sex in the City clips, and more time was spent with questions addressed to authors and/or readers.  Or in addition to using those Sex in the City clips, the reporter could have been more direct with her point by stating the direct correlation between popular and acceptable TV show and movies and the similar characters and contexts that make up written romance, the latter of which is often looked down upon.  If that was her point. LOL Maybe I overanalyzed the reporter’s usage of the Sex in the City clips?

  5. 5
    Strategerie says:

    Romance readers (and authors!) come from all walks of life. At the same time, they have a couple of things in common: They love the places they can go in the pages of a book. They also love a happy ending. What’s so bad about a happy ending, huh?

    Congratulations, Sarah and everyone, on a triumphant morning!

    -S

  6. 6
    Tandis says:

    For those interested, here is the link to the Today Show clip:

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25966976#25966976

    Sarah – you looked great! LOL, loved how they shortened the website name ;-)

  7. 7

    AWESOME segment! It’s about time the media actually considers romance readers human beings!

  8. 8

    Hey, thanks for the link Tandis! We don’t get the Today show over here, so I was actually going to comment to ask if it was up online anywhere.

  9. 9
    rebyj says:

    *waves at the newbies*

    Sarah now you guys are known at Today, when your book is released maybe we’ll see a longer segment with both of you!!

  10. 10
    Cat Marsters says:

    Romance readers are smart, erudite, clever, and tired of being dismissed as undersexed, overweight frustrated women.

    Absolutely.  I happen to know of at least two members of the Romantic Novelists Association who are also members of Mensa, the high IQ society.  Plus myself.  How many readers are also members?

    Maybe we should poll the Bitchery for IQs!

    Didn’t see the segment—do you know if it’ll go online, for those of use outside the USA?

  11. 11
    Cat Marsters says:

    Oh yeah, I’m so clever I didn’t see the link up there!  Looks great, Sarah.  An actual positive report—with the studio presenters actually jealous!

  12. 12

    You looked great on film! As soon as it was over, I also stopped my TiVo!  LOL

    I hated the Sex in the City clips. Why? Romance is so much more than sex, clothes and marrying a rich guy, which is what those clips implied.

    But Nora… 21 books EVERY FREAKING MINUTE!! WOW. You go, girl.

  13. 13
    Emmy says:

    Thanks for posting the link. Today isn’t on here yet, and I didn’t really want to watch 4 hours to find one 3 minute clip, lolz.

    Yay for Sarah…watched it twice before I figured out who Jane was…and omg, but Beverly Jenkins reads a good book.

  14. 14
    Lovecow2000 says:

    I enjoyed how they bowdlerized the name of the site to avoid the “smart bitches” part. 

    Otherwise great clip!

  15. 15

    Cat, I happen to be a Mensa member too. I have to check out the RNA – where are you located?

  16. 16
    J Davis says:

    The segment was pretty good- even if it was a bit heavy on the Sex in the City clips. I enjoyed how they portrayed the business side of the romance genre. Also, not too much mention of the ‘books as an escape for lonely people’ angle.

    I guess I’m still hoping that one day they’ll just talk about the validity of the genre and skip the ‘lonely heart’ angle all together.

    I wonder how many mensa people we have too- it’d be great to find out! * waves mensa papers*  woot woot!

  17. 17
    Vivian says:

    Loved the clip :) Sarah, you looked fantastic and I laughed so much.  I do like the fact that they’re talking about romance in the news, but I was hoping for more than just a few quick soundbites from you and everyone.  In some aspects they just reaffirmed what people think about romance.  Thanks for telling us what you all said in full.

    WTF is up with the Sex and the City, which I consider more toward chick lit than romance.  But whatever, I’ve convinced some of my friends to start reading romance because I told them how much better book are than those movies, which are cutesy; personally I find books more substantial.

    Again, thank you for the wonderful clip!

  18. 18
    Leah says:

    I was a little disappointed that the clip was so short…I was looking for long in-depth interviews.  I have never seen Sex and the City, so those clips did seem like an annoying distraction.  But the RWA conference looked fun—I have already told DH I want to try to go to the next one.  It did kind of bug me when Natalie Morales (?) said, at the end, “well, now we know what we should be doing in our spare time,” as if writing a romance is something you can just knock off without thinking about it, rather than hard work that requires time, effort and discipline.  But maybe I’m just being crabby today!

  19. 19

    That was a fabulous piece, even with too much SITC.  Still it is very sad that they shorted the website reference.

  20. 20
    Tea says:

    undersexed, overweight frustrated women

    Dude, what happens if you totally FIT the stereotype?

  21. 21
    KJsGrrl says:

    I happened to luck out because our local station doesnt show all 4 hours of the today show.  I thought I may have missed it if it aired in the early morning portion.  But when they finally showed the 10am hour here, there you were!  I thought too much time was spent on S&TC;.

    BTW I tried to check out Nora’s shoes in the clips they showed of her!  LOL

  22. 22
    Teresa says:

    Ah, that’s what’s great about the internet – I didn’t have to actually watch the Today show – I could just wait for the segment to show up as a video clip.

    I too am confused as to why SO MUCH time was spent on SatC, not that I mind looking at Chris Noth (yummy), but still….

    Anyway – Sarah, you were great :) Wish I could have seen your whole segment as well as those of Jane, Kassia and Marcella. Oh well. At least overall the piece was largely positive without too many snide asides.

  23. 23
    Stephanie says:

    Sarah, you are so ridiculously cute. :)

    There’s nothing wrong with reading romance novels whether you are in Mensa, a brain surgeon, or actually an ‘undersexed, overweight frustrated’ woman. The point is, if Nora Roberts is selling 21 books a minute, it can’t only be to bored, frustrated housewives, can it?

    The fact that there’s a large segment of us (yes, including me, although I’m not in Mensa) who frequent the Smart Bitches who happen to be really smart bitches on paper as well as in actual interactions is nice, but honestly, it appears to me that EVERYONE is buying romance novels. Which is YAY for everyone.

  24. 24

    Well, here’s my two cents (which I even posted on a Yahoo Group this morning – I’m adding a few more observations here)…

    I don’t feel that they’ve done much to beat the stereotype. Nothing was said except that these hordes of women buy romance novels and “it’s like really good sex”. The way they filmed it they made these ladies look like ravenous beasts waiting for their sustenance. It was ridiculous. Nothing was said about the writing itself, how there are so many talented authors…there was not even mention of any authors other than Nora Roberts. It seemed like more of a publicity stunt for her than anything else, and the Today Show didn’t talk about different genres of romance – e.g., how now you have mixed-genre books with strong sci-fi and paranormal elements, all the wonderful new categories of the evolved romance, how historicals are well researched and all the research that goes into them, etc. Basically that these books are REAL books which require much work to craft by serious authors, etc, etc. And on another topic, they focused only on women: how about making it more interesting and talking about the successful male romance writers such as Leigh Greenwood, for example? Or male and female writing pairs such as Andrea Edwards? The e-books and print debacle?

    I do understand that time is limited for a clip but they could have done a much better job in bringing public perception of the romance industry out of the gutter. The close ups of the cheesy covers with clinging Eves and barechested Adams didn’t help, I’m sure. The stereotype that romance books are all pages filled with vapid words and silly notions – well, I still think it shines through from the video I saw. A lot they could have talked about and chose not to. I want this stereotype destroyed, not perpetrated. Surely, knowing of some great talent that exists out there, we should expect better as writers and demand it.

    Angela

  25. 25
    Jessa Slade says:

    I thought it was pretty typical of how the media portrays romance, its writers and readers. On the other hand, the excitement, the popularity and the money also came through. And romance is about sex, fantasy, hot guys, and the HEA, so I don’t mind that aspect.

    I enjoyed how they bowdlerized the name of the site to avoid the “smart bitches” part.

    Yeah, I was wondering how they were going to handle that. They couldn’t even get their facts straight so I suppose we shouldn’t ask for too much journalistic excellence.

  26. 26

    Jessica,

    I agree about the theme of romance. However, people know that already and believe that’s what romance books are all about. How about those books that tackle controversial subjects? Those that contain research? And the writing skill? Nobody mentioned that. There are romance books which tackle more than the six pack and well endowed male form. Take authors like Karen White, for example. We have authors with literary skills. Talking about the sexiness of the books is fine, but let’s not ignore everything else. My thoughts though, maybe it’s just me.

  27. 27
    RfP says:

    not too much mention of the ‘books as an escape for lonely people’ angle.

    I think the usual message was clear throughout.  It’s fantasy; it’s exaggerated; it’s a Valium against harsh reality; it’s how you get through the wait until your own Prince Charming arrives.  They just found a passive-aggressive way to get the stereotype jab in there, so the (female) presenter wouldn’t look like a bitch: “We’re NOT saying these are lonely, hopeless women….”

    I’m not usually one to get upset about the genre versus literary fiction wars, etc; but I thought this was pretty annoying and played back all the usual stereotypes.  OTOH the one *good* thing is, it’s more upbeat and mainstream than usual, simply because they interviewed younger women in an active setting—chosen to play into the Sex and the City film’s success and get the segment a larger audience.  Don’t disavow chick lit; it’s the chic’est, most media-friendly part of the genre.

    It’s also less flat-out weird than the amateur documentary from the RT convention.  That remains the tin standard!

  28. 28
    willaful says:

    I completely agree with Angela. I found it really disappointing, though I appreciate how fun it must have been just to have the chance to do it and be seen.

  29. 29

    Rft – you made some great points. Incidentally on lit vs. commercial fiction I just wrote a blog based on a recent experience. It’s at http://angelaguillaume.blogspot.com – I would appreciate all your insights about this.

    Angela

  30. 30

    Willaful – agree with you about the fun. I wish I could have been there and am planning to attend the ‘09 conference in DC :-).

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