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I write novels for teens and adults. Visit me here & on my website http://www.jenniferarcher.net

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fred Head, Or: Where Is Fred's Head, Anyway?

In the gutter, methinks... In the political race for Texas State Comptroller, Democrat Fred Head is running against Republican Susan Combs. Ms. Combs wrote and published a romance novel entitled THE PERFECT MATCH in 1990 and Mr. Head is labeling her a pornographer because of it. This one you have to see to believe. Here's Mr. Head up his tight...ahem...Mr. Head's website with the book cover and snippets of text he selected to display from the novel.

Now...I'm a Texan, and I'm a democrat. But I'm also a romance novelist. And I detest sleaze campaigns. This truly galls me and, though I'm not usually one to get into things, this morning, I sent the following letter to Fred Head.

Dear Mr. Head,

I am a Texas Democrat and a novelist. Though I currently write mainstream fiction, I wrote three romance novels in the past. For you to make your opponent's romance novel A PERFECT MATCH an issue in this campaign is sleazy politics, in my opinion. For the first time in years, I am considering casting my vote for a Republican. Why? Labeling an entire piece of work "pornographic" based only on snippets of text pulled from the book is ignorant and unfair, and I cannot in good conscience vote for a candidate who makes claims based on imcomplete information and misguided assumption. Have you read your opponent's book from cover-to-cover? Have you ever read ANY romance novel? If so, how many? I have read hundreds, and though I have not read A PERFECT MATCH in its entirety, I do know that pornography denigrates love and degrades human beings, while books in the romance genre are typically uplifting stories about the power of love. Sex may be an _expression of that love, but sex within a loving relationship is not degrading. According to Romance Writers of America (RWA), an organization of over 9,000 members, "in a romance, the main plot concerns two people falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. The conflict in the book centers on the love story. The climax in the book resolves the love story." RWA goes on to explain that, "romance novels are based on the idea of an innate emotional justice -- the notion that good people in the world are rewarded and evil people are punished. In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded emotional justice and unconditional love." In my writing of romance novels and vast romance reading experience, I find this definition to be true. Does this sound like pornography to you?

This summer, the Romance Writers of America held their annual conference in Atlanta. At the "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing that took place during the event and was open to the public, romance authors autographed and sold their novels, donated free of charge by their publishers, and raised sixty-four thousand dollars for literacy. Through RWA, romance authors and publishers have now passed the half-million mark in overall giving to literacy. Do we sound like "pornographers" who should apologize for what we do? Or do we sound like good, concerned citizens? "Professional, creative artists," as RWA states, who "contribute to constructive action in culture."

Mr. Head, as a Texas Democrat, I ask that you admit you jumped to the conclusion that romance novels were pornography on an assumption. Stop this type of smear campaigning against your opponent and stick to the relevant issues. You might also apologize to the many romance readers and writers you have offended by alleging they read and write porn. In case you didn't know, Romance Fiction accounts for $1.2 billion in sales each year, 54.9% of all popular mass market fiction sold, and 33.9% of all fiction sold. Our state and country need smart Democrats in office again. Please be one of them.


Jennifer Archer

Well, I guess I better get busy writing my "pornography." I'm under deadline...

Happy Reading,



Cindy Miles said...


WAY TO GO!!! Woo-hoo! THAT is a letter meant to be FRAMED! I don't think anyone could have said it any better. THANK YOU for standing up for all romance readers and writers alike!!! BRAVO!!!!!! You have nailed the mark--and probably the nail on Fred's prudish electoral coffin--if he doesn't reclaim his ignorant remarks!

Cindy, PROUD to be a romance writer!

Jennifer said...

Thanks, Cindy. In the scheme of things, it probably won't do much good, but it made ME feel better! :-)

Desperate Writer said...

Brilliant, Jenny! And I'm not just saying that as a Texas Republican, I'm saying that as a writer! ;)

Seriously, what an idiot. He does have his head up his you-know-what if he thinks the majority of voters will fall for this stupid tactic.

Most people can differentiate porn and legitimate fiction, or else the sales figures wouldn't reflect they way they do. And he, or whoever wrote his copy, certainly revealed their ignorance on the subject of how books are published.

I'm glad you wrote the letter; sometimes we just HAVE to speak out, and you never know who will be listening.

Colleen Thompson said...

This is fabulous, Jennifer!

I sent Mr. Head my own (less eloquent) irate-o-gram earlier about this. I'm a Texas and I vote.

Hope he's paying attention.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Jennifer! Check out my Ballad of Fred 'n' Sue at http://blog.myspace.com/mjpearson

Jill Monroe said...

Please let us know if he responds. Good luck on that deadline!

Michelle Pillow said...

Good for you!

Wow, all he found to pull excerpts from was two and a half pages? *coughing and sliding book collection and manuscripts under chair*

Jennifer said...

Thanks, everyone, for posting. Hey, anonymous...I LOVE that ballad! Very funny! I tried to post on your blog but couldn't without an account.

MJ Pearson said...

Thanks, Jennifer! And sorry, I didn't mean to be anonymous--I posted when I meant to preview, before I got my name in.

Take care,
MJ (another proud romance writer!)

Patricia W. said...

Couldn't have said it better. Can't wait to see Mr. Head's response to the deluge he must be receiving.

Heather Harper said...

Amen. :)

Anonymous said...

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

Michelle Pillow said...

Wow, Anon really made the rounds last night, lol.

I already stated my response to her debate request on my blog.

Jennifer said...

Sorry, anonymous. We will have to agree to disagree. The thing is, Fred Head ISN'T just stating the facts. He calls the book "pornography." That's what I take issue with. I doubt he's even read the book, just the few love scenes within it. The "fact" is that romance novels are love stories, not stories that degrade human beings and denigrate sex within a loving relationship. Also, sex education is aimed at minors, not consenting adults.

PattiF said...

Great response to Fred Head! He is definitely grasping at anything to get elected by playing the pornographic card.
Btw, with RWA based in Houston and the conference scheduled for Dallas next year, plus the RT convention coming to Houston, I wonder how Texans would feel if they all pulled out? Can we say... lost revenue for Texas?
I wonder if Fred has ever read a book since he can't spell?