That’s Entertainment–Or It Should Be

Wow, the last few weeks have been anything but calm for the industry. We have the continuing saga of the RWA/Courtney Milan debacle. Social media, which my mother calls the worst thing ever to be invented, has seen some of the woke scolds doing their best to dance on the graves of some of the biggest names in SFF. All this and we are only two weeks into the new year. Let’s hope this is not a portent of the year to come.

I’m not going to spend much time on the controversies. There’s been enough written a bout them already. But if you want to see how the MSM is handling the RWA situation, check out the updated article over at CNN. To say it does some hand-wavium to avoid any real research into what’s been going on is putting it mildly. The sad thing in all this is, like what we saw with SFWA a few years ago, RWA is going to be lessened by this controversy and the way it’s been handled. When any organization allows a few folks who know how to leverage social media to set policy, to drive off long-time members and fans, you have a problem.

As for the social media idiocy, there have been a cadre of woke scolds creeping out of the shadows to diss Isaac Asimov for daring to put his arm around a woman years before his death. An action the woman in question said was consensual. Others have been doing their best to drag Mike Resnick, one of the nicest men I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, through the mud over comments he made decades ago. They do this just days after Mike’s passing. They don’t give a fuck about his family and friends. Nothing matters to these folks except their own “feelz” and they don’t care if their attacks are well-founded or not.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of these so-called paragons of virtue trying to apply today’s standards–sorry, their standards today–to words written or actions taken years, possibly decades or centuries ago. None of our histories would bear up under this standard, including their own.

There are days when I wonder why anyone would go into this profession. If you aren’t in with the clique of the month, you open yourselves up to attack. I have no doubt there will be folks from a certain website who will attack me for this post simply because I refuse to condemn Mike Resnick. Others will condemn me because I’m not siding with Courtney Milan. So I might as well give them more ammo because I’m tired of them attacking folks simply because they can. Worse, they feel they can with impunity.

As fiction writers, our job is, first and foremost, to entertain.

Read that again: to entertain.

The majority of readers buy novels as a means of escaping their lives for a few minutes or a few hours at a time. They want a story that will stoke their imaginations. One that will take them to faraway places and give them characters they want to meet or be like.

Sure, there can be a message in the prose, but the message comes second. It needs to be skillfully woven into your words in such a way it doesn’t beat the reader over the head. Most readers buy a novel because being preached to is the last thing they want.

They read historical fiction not to see it made into today’s world and mores transported to a long distant time. In fact, avid historical fiction readers will call you on historical inaccuracies. That includes language, dress, tech, economy, everything.

Because of this, good historical fiction writers do their homework. Just like any other good novelist. They know their genre. They know the time period they are writing about. They don’t take shortcuts. Just because you don’t like the way women are treated or they way things are done in a book, don’t assume it is because the writer is a misogynist or worse. Perhaps they simply did their homework.

To me, all this (from Milan et al to the social media woke scolds) is nothing but children behaving badly. If they held jobs in the “real world”, this sort of behavior would lead to one of several consequences. The first, the less severe, would be seeing them place on probation for a period of time, giving them a chance to correct their behavior. The second would be demotion and a reduction in pay and benefits. The third would be termination.

Unfortunately, we don’t have that option as readers or as fellow writers. But we do have one way to make our voices heard. . . our wallets. These woke scolds have gone on campaigns, telling readers not to buy anything written by white authors or male authors or Christian authors or conservative authors. Pick your “other”. So here’s my call. Use your dollars to support those authors whose work you enjoy. If they politics or social media antics get to the point that you can no longer enjoy their writing, then don’t buy their work. But don’t judge a book based solely on who wrote it, what their race, nationality, political leanings, religion, sexual preference or orientation or anything else happen to be. Judge on how much you enjoy the book.

Speaking of books, I need to get back to work on the final edits on Risen from Ashes. Until later!


  1. It has a feeling of deja vu all over again, in that we have a few people dictating to readers (and each other) what sort of things they ought to read, enjoy, and say. Except now that the gatekeepers are so much weaker, readers (and writers) can just opt out of the Tweet-storms and buy fun stories from other sources.

    One almost gets a sense of a small group of people on social media standing on a train track yelling “Stop” at the accelerating freight [indie] train. [With apologies to W. F. Buckley]

    1. The louder they are, the closer to the end they likely (hopefully) are. It’s just all the damage they can do lashing out at everyone that hurts the rest of us.

    2. Yep. And note who some of those jumping into the fray are. . . the same ones who were screeching the loudest during the SFWA kerfuffle. And look at how well their actions have served them. They may have “won” the Hugos, but the dollars are going to authors like Larry Corriea instead of those “woke” authors who hate on him so much.

      1. On Sunday, at the book store, I skimmed the blurb of what I suspect will be this year’s Hugo and Nebula winner (novel category). I don’t think it will get many sales. Think Roots meets The Giver, but with a lot more lecturing and feminist Wokeness.

        1. For some “strange” reason, I don’t want to know the author/title of that book. 😉

  2. I refuse to be on Twitter, FecesBook is bad enough. What pisses me off is these people revising history to belittle past giants in the field after their deaths. It’s horrible enough when they do it to the living that can attempt to defend themselves. But to publicly piss on the graves of the dead? Let’s just say that I’m not a very good Christian, because the things I would like to see happen aren’t what Christ taught us. I need to go talk to my priest now.

    1. I hate Twitter. Use it only to link the blogs to. Fb is used only because it is still the only solidly used platform by most folks. I wish we could go away with all of it most days.

  3. Quick request for everyone. If you share my opinion here — or even if you don’t — give the post some like and share it to FB and Twitter, if you have an account there. There are icons at the end of the post to help make it easy to do. Thanks.

  4. Horrors Of Horrors!

    Isaac Asimov Made Sexist Jokes About Women’s Breasts!!! [Sarcastic Grin]

    Apparently, he joked that a female author could sing longer than him because she had four lungs.

    Oh to make matters worse for the scolds, he said it in front of her and she laughed. 😀

    1. OMG. Asimov did some genuinely bad, and some genuinely iffy, things during his life. Tons of things for which he should have been slapped, sure. Possibly even things for which he should have been arrested or sued, at some point in the world of hard drinking sf cons and young naive fans.

      But joking about lung capacity, or female buxomness being related to lung capacity? That is nothing upsetting. And “four lungs” moved it nicely into skiffy territory, making it funnier and less sexual.

      (And he wrote songs, and was the proper vintage to have learned some Jewish cantorial technique by osmosis; so he could probably hold a note for a decently long time, even if his voice were nothing special. But I’m not old enough to tell you from having heard him sing.)

  5. Oh, I was going to say something possibly unhelpful or at least tangential about judging the past by the present and that’s that it doesn’t mean you can’t judge the past by the past. In the matter of people’s behavior, what they felt was funny, or what they thought was a normal, fun, or *liberated* way to behave, you can still judge it by it’s own time.

    Someone pointed out that Azimov knew what the word “no” meant. I couldn’t say at all how true or untrue that is, but if we were judging by today that wouldn’t be enough. During a rowdy, shock-the-prudes age, it was very good behavior.

    As for news reporting, it seems to be about filling up space or getting clicks and not about researching the truth of anything that happens. It’s enough to get people’s opinions and report on those. And most people, when they see a story and if they read it or just the headline, simply assume that there is tome there-there.

    1. Two things. You are being too kind to the media. It’s more than just getting clicks and not about researching, only reporting on opinions. They will only report, at least positively, on those opinions that meet their current metric. Note how the story about RWA doesn’t discuss anything really except how Milan’s followers rallied to her defense. There is nothing really in the story about how Milan took exception to a small portion of a preview of a book and decided to go on her vitriol filled diatribe against the author, labeling said author a racist.

      Second, I long for the days when women knew how to say “no” and mean it. Knew how to stand up for themselves without becoming screaming harpies and didn’t always play the victim card.

      1. “Note how the story about RWA doesn’t discuss anything really except how Milan’s followers rallied to her defense.”

        What amuses me the most is that Milan and her flying monkeys think they won something. All they’ve done is drag the RWA and themselves through the manure pile.

        On a more strategic than tactical level, is it just me or are most of these associations in the publishing realm a bit sketchy? They have a convention, they have a “prestigious award”, they have a very high-minded “Statement Of Purpose” on their web site… but ONE (1) SJW starts shit and the whole thing comes apart like a sand castle.

        RWA has been behaving like an organization run out of somebody’s desk drawer as a sideline. As if they have no money, no staff and the people making the decisions are too busy at their real jobs to pay attention.

        While we’re on the subject of sketchy behavior, where’s the statement from the SFWA in support of Mike Resnick’s family, Jerry Pournell’s family and Isaac Asimov’s family. Or John W. Campbell, for that matter. It’s nowhere to be seen.

        An association that won’t defend its own members from abusive Tweet-mobs isn’t worth the paper its charter is written on.

      2. I long for the days when women would stand up for themselves, as well. And not rely on men to stand up for them because people wouldn’t listen to women. I also long for men who will encourage women to speak up for themselves, rather than take up the fight on behalf of said women, who are unable or unwilling to speak up for themselves.

  6. Looks like they’ve killed the RWA. Next step is the gutting, which interestingly enough, they seem confident enough to do in full view of everyone. My guess is that the “wearing it as a skin suit” is not going to work as well it often has before.

    1. Gee, will the sane form (and carefully reject the Known Insane..) a new thing… say.. American Romance Writers? (ARW) or some such? Writers of America: Romance? (WAR!)

              1. (that was the next line of the song, i remember listening to my parents’ 8-track of it….)

    2. Nope, and the publishers backing the coup will find a fallout from all the authors who found themselves under the boot heels of the woke crowd.

      1. And the publishers of woke romance will declare publicly not too far in the future that, just as they went through with westerns, the readers no longer want romances. Never their faults don’t you see, always has to be some other reason given that they themselves are perfect.
        Side note, good solid traditional westerns never died, nor did a demand for them, just not the crap trad pub started foisting off on readers.

        1. Exactly, Uncle Lar. And, in the meantime, Westerns are finding their resurgence in indie publishing and romance will continue to grow there.

        2. Not at all going to name any names but Romance might loose the publishers without much of anyone noticing. When professional authors suddenly find that 20 or 30 novels and best seller status means that they inexplicably aren’t offered the next contract, they keep working, they hire professional cover art and keep working. And who’s going to tell the difference?

          I honestly don’t know what the thinking is. That an author reached a plateau and it makes more sense to try to go with someone who might Go Big? Or Big-ER? Who knows.

          But chances are that readers won’t even notice.

          1. Same thing in all genres right now. They treat writers like lottery tickets. Those of us not favored for big promo are supposed to hit on our own. If we don’t they’re discarding us and buying another lottery ticket.
            People like me will go on. I hope the youngsters — now being discarded after 2 books, tops — also go on.
            I think what this will create is somewhere between anger and sneering disdain at traditional publishers among pro authors.
            I predict within five years — and I usually predict these on the high side — the trads will be running after the indies hat in hand.
            I think we all know what my response will be. I had reason to feel loyalty, but they’ve shredded that to hell and gone.
            They’re on their own. I won’t be hurting.

            1. I’ve often thought that if one of my books hit big … no, I wouldn’t take any interest in being recruited by Establishment Publishing. Given enough of an income from what I write, I’d carry on being an indy writer, because I would ultimately control the whole big shebang. I could afford to commission bespoke art for the covers, pay for substantive and line editing (instead of the work-arounds and indulgent friends whom I currently depend upon) hire a professional publicist, and a specialty lawyer to negotiate contracts. I would hire these specialists, they would work for me and for me only. They would have my best economic interests at heart, not that of the publishing company which would condescend to offer me some crumbs and the cold comfort of being thought worthy of their regard.

              1. I might under the right circumstances. A traditional book or two could increase exposure and make it worth it to have a loss-leader or two to support the indie books. The trouble is that I think enough of the indie crowd views the trad publishers as the magic fairies who will suddenly turn them into Richard Castle that I doubt the “right circumstances” would ever be forthcoming.

                1. This indy writer doesn’t.
                  Castle, with a huge NY penthouse? Yeah… no.
                  A trad-published book, over and above a wild success as an indy? Nope.

  7. Hum… this makes me want to go buy and read some Mike Resnick! And Azimov! And your books, Amanda! Oh and write something that annoys them. I’m with Winona Ryder, I don’t do social media. Use a real website and actually own your IP instead of giving any power to FB, etc. Sure, maybe less hits initially, but you have complete control of your marketing message. If you can write a novel, webflow or the like is not too complicated to use. Gone are the days of needing a software developer. Trust me, that’s what I do for a living and have for over twenty years.

    Besides people giving them the time of day, the problem with these precious, woke tweeters is their anonymity. It simple cowardice. One should have the right to know your accuser when it impacts your life and prosperity. It would be interesting to map these users regionally and figure out who they really are! Are they even real people acting as individuals or part of an organization with a social agenda? One wonders.

    1. To be honest, I suck at promotion. So my use of social media is limited at best. I do have a website besides this one and am in the process of redirecting it along the lines you just suggested. It’s funny because I wrote a quick post about how the blog was going to change before coming back to read the comments here. I prefer using a blog for promo because you can give the reader more. My only problem is finding enough hours in the day to do it all.

  8. After reading of the shenanigans with the RWA, and how a small group of militants took it upon themselves to wage jihad against writers and editors whose opinions they didn’t like, or whose’ books they found to be “problematic” – I am just darned glad that I never felt the need to join any association other than the Texas Authors’ Guild – where, to the best of my knowledge, none of the other members really seem to give tuppence about opinions and “problematics”.
    I am also glad beyond words that the western genre is of no interest to the ostentatiously militant woke, and we can scribble our adventures set on the American frontier in peace and quiet, undistributed by the shrieking of the militantly woke.
    And also that I own my own website, own the Teeny Publishing Bidness, and am otherwise retired, so there is darned little that the ostentatiously militant woke can do to me. I’ll snicker, all the way to the bank.

    1. I belonged to RWA some years ago. It was a great organization then. I no longer recommend it, and won’t until I see the leadership once again taking control and not letting the vocal minority–any vocal minority–run things.

  9. I have no doubt there will be folks from a certain website who will attack me for this post simply because I refuse to condemn Mike Resnick.

    If you don’t join them in grave-dancing, or at least stand by in silence, you make them look pretty dang petty and…well, small. Recognizing the guy as a human, and his family as real people.

    1. People watching instead of participating are bound to notice just how unbalanced and irrational people are. Sort of like being sober at a kegger and being the only one who really remembers just how repulsive some drunk people can get.

      And then you see them in school the next day.

    2. I can’t stand these people. It’s all passive-aggressive this, and “you should feel oppressed” that, and telling other people how to feel and never being told off. Oh, yes, Jaym with no reputation, take the opportunity of someone’s death to reveal that you conspired against them — and then reveal that your grand feminist sf plan was to whine to men and make them do all the white knighting work! That’s a level below “mean girl.”

      I was never simpatico with Resnick; but he was a solid citizen and a good artist, and he helped lots of people in the field. He may have had faults and failings, but overall his memory seems to be a blessing.

      Meanwhile, what in the heck do people like Jaym do to justify their existences? They wake up nasty in the morning, and go to bed mean and unfulfilled.

      There’s no shame in being lonesome or sad, or not being far along in your career and feeling painful envy. But there’s no pride or joy in being a professional Karen. You won’t die happy, and you won’t get a good hearing at the Last Judgment. If you haven’t given others mercy, you’ll have a hard time taking it at any time in your life when you need it.

      The good news is that this Jaym person must be younger than Mr. Resnick, and probably has time to change and to learn kindness.

  10. I read a lot of genres, romance included. But I’ve been reading far less romance because what’s currently being churned out just doesn’t appeal to me. There is the occasional exception which has made following some of the genre blogs worthwhile in order to find them, but boy am I sick to death of the political agitators who basically take a if you’re not for me you’re against me and offering any alternate opinion is perceived as some kind of ism or micro aggression and you’re shamed into silence. Milan has for years been very vocal in the community. Her reason to be is to ferret out issues and promote her own agenda and delegitimize anything that doesn’t fit her worldview. And I honestly think she gets off on the attention and power she gets from stirring the pot. I’ve noticed she and several members of her clique identify themselves as neuroatypical. How, I ask myself. Is this something like Asperger’s that can be diagnosed? Or is code for I think I’m smarter than everyone else? I don’t need to agree with a writer’s worldview to enjoy their book, but some of these people have been so radical and ugly in their public tantrums I’ll never pick up one of their books again

    1. “I’ve noticed she and several members of her clique identify themselves as neuroatypical.”

      In some SJW circles it has become fashionable to tout an Asperger’s/autism diagnosis as street cred. One more victim card to play. They use it whenever their behavior crosses the line from merely objectionable histrionics to actionable abuse. “Oh, how can you accuse me of being abusive, you insensitive clod! I’m Neuroatypical!!!”

      Social blindness may excuse a faux pas in polite company, such as failing to acknowledge your hostess’s nice centerpiece at Thanksgiving.

      It does not excuse labeling a fellow author and association member racist over a 20 year old book sample, and getting her dropped from publishing contracts. That’s more than a bowshot beyond the pale.

      1. Courtney Milan is more likely to be a narcissist than on the autistic spectrum.

        She has never shown any signs of having difficulty “reading the room.” She shows every sign of being a “mean girl” with a love for petty cliques and harassment.

        1. I’ve read stuff lately that suggested that women “on the spectrum” don’t always have any trouble at all reading other people.

          Just thought I’d throw that random bit out there.

          1. There’s also the stuff that I didn’t see anywhere until after I recognized it in my kids (not spectrum, because we can all function fine, but a lot of the coping stuff is handy) where females are just better at faking normal enough to function:

            It is amazing how much of the stuff I see on mommy-sites for “emotional IQ” is really obviously based on stuff from “spectrum” counseling sites. (Been reading those since before I was married– after I noticed that ‘spectrum’ covered most of my Navy technician geek group)

        2. Well, that still means she’s neuroatypical. It’s just that you have to remember that not all neuroatypicality is morally neutral.

          Side note: what do you call someone with narcissism who does their best to not be a narcissist?

    2. “If you’re not for me, you’re against everyone I claim to be championing.”

      If it were just “if you’re not for me, you’re against me” it would hardly be worth more than an eye roll.

      Because here’s the thing; disagreement is seldom over proper sentiments, but about actions. And if what people are doing is damaging or toxic it doesn’t matter what they claim about their cause or their goals.

      For example, the other day someone mentioned that publishers were pulling out of the RWA national conference, which I understand is huge, both the conference and that publishers are pulling out.

      Who’s hurt by that? New authors, those learning, and any authors who are in any way marginalized who would benefit most by going and who would benefit most by having that rare access to publishers. Maybe they don’t have mentors in the field or friend in their communities who can show them the ropes or support for their ambitions. That’s who’s hurt by this upset and the fallout from it.

      People who aren’t helping others shouldn’t get to claim that they are. And more, they should never ever get to claim that anyone who opposed them *because* they opposed them, are against anything or anyone else other that them and their damaging behavior.

    3. Back in the day, a fairly highly functioning autistic wrote a satirical website, institute for the study of neurotypical disorder. Might also have been a bit of venting, and an argument about some of the arbitrariness of the criteria for classifying someone as dysfunctional.

      More recently, neurodivergent came into vogue as a way of trying to fold all of the neurological issues into LGBT. Not just autism, but bipolar, and I think some other things that are very different from autism. Obsessive compulsive, PTSD, etc. Complete nonsense; the different illnesses need distinct types of treatment, in some cases radically different. And if one argues homosexuality as an illness, the ‘treatment’ that the LGBT activists claim as necessary is not one that is always good for someone with one of the illnesses.

      So, three possibilities for the usage of neuroatypical. a) license for bad behavior b) some political point c) look at me, I’m so special social signalling. Note that this self ‘diagnosis’ is a tribal marker in some circles, hence a behavior someone of normal social function would mimic if those were their circles.

      There are some very seriously mentally ill people who use the diagnosis as a talking point with everyone they meet. There are some very seriously mentally ill people who don’t talk about it, and spend their worries trying to fix things. Then you have the people who are maybe not naturally ill, but don’t take care of themselves, find ‘ill’ a positional good, and are happy to take advantage of all the ways our society has accommodated the mentally ill. (Spoilers: might well not have a happy ending.)

      This matter? Shows an intelligence in the decision making over a long period of time. If that is really purely driven by illness, the people in question need to be locked up. Yes, I said something different on a previous occasion. 1. I don’t buy the ‘pure mental illness’ model for this. 2. I’m not yet persuaded I see something that is obviously a serious criminal matter. 3. I do think we need to change our handling of the mentally ill and the criminal, but I really don’t like this as a case to base those changes on.

      I don’t have the impression that whispering campaigns are particularly often a strong skillset among autistics. As for calling out people, and lynch mobs, how often do loud autistics judge the receptiveness of their audience that well? If one somehow put together a receptive audience, wouldn’t they pretty quickly start after a target that they can’t afford to take, and get shut down?

      More generally, if you have a compulsive bomb maker, you lock them up away from explosives. If the behavior isn’t one that society can and should tolerate, ill or evil is not that huge a difference.

      1. Over ten years ago, I went through an hours long series of tests that resulted in me diagnosed as having Asperger syndrome.

        The usefulness of these tests (to me) was to allow me to Social Security disability payments.

        Note: It was suggested that I get these tests by a State Of Illinois employment worker. She noticed the problems that I had in seeking & getting work and thought I might have this problem.

        Generally speaking, I don’t talk much about this because while it explains some of my problems dealing with people, I don’t want to use it to excuse me being an asshole.

        IE I have a problem but it doesn’t excuse me for being an asshole. I attempt to avoid being one but feel that I’d be a worse one if I used it as an excuse.

    4. The “neuroatypical” thing seems to be a sort of backwards recognition that the boxes don’t work– that is, it’s a patch on the everyone-can-be-categorized-very-accurately theory.

      The bad behavior frequently associated with it seems to be more a matter of the culture that causes the boxes theory, rather than a thing that needs justifying.

  11. Well said, and I can’t help but wonder how many prospective authors are looking at what is going on and going, “Oh HELL no. I’m done with writing.”

  12. I get this feeling that all of these “people” that are causing these problems realize that they actually have no skills or talents in the writing profession. They might have the technical ability, but none of the true skill that turns words on a page into even the simplest of poetry that makes people think they spent their $5 well. And, they have reached this point in their life where they know that “being in the kitchen” is perhaps the best they can hope for.

    But, they were promised so much…and they can’t get it, ever.

    Since they can’t have it, clearly they have to tear everybody and everyone else down.

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