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I'm from South Carolina and it's a football rivalry state.  Here, you're either a Gamecock or a Tiger.  You may not have attended either school, but you're still one or the other. (I attended law school at the University of South Carolina, so it's a legit alma mater for me. And BTW, like Darius Rucker says, our USC was a school before California was a state.) In SC, team loyalty is a matter of tradition, heritage and culture.  Both teams have had good years and bad years, but fans stay loyal.  Clemson has had many more good years and by far holds the edge in the rivalry football game - especially lately - but forget that whole National Championship thing.  You know what matters?  It matters who wins the Carolina-Clemson game.

The Gamecocks have been in a rebuilding period since Steve Spurrier walked away from the team mid-season several years ago.  But they hired Coach Will Muschamp and he's done an amazing job.  It's Year 2 of the Muschamp era and the Gamecocks are #2 in the SEC East - instead of dead last as was predicted pre-season, and they'll end with a winning record and go bowling.  They're 7-3 now, Wofford is ahead which will have the Cocks 8-3 going into the last game of the season -- the "Palmetto Bowl" - the BIG one - the Carolina-Clemson game.  No one outside of the state thinks we can beat Clemson this year, but Gamecock fans believe.  And win or lose, the Gamecocks will proceed with the motto that Muschamp brought -- "So what?  Now what?"

I read a blog  from "The State" newspaper, and it's the first time I'd heard of the motto.  It seems the team has adopted it and the players live it now.  I've just decided to adopt it too.  What better saying to guide your life?  Whether you won or lost, yesterday is in the past. We can't change yesterday.  We can relive it, and allow the mistakes of the past to define the future or we can say, "so what."  If it was, then it was and no amount of self-torture will change it.  It happened.  So what?

The thing we can change is what we'll do today, and how we'll approach tomorrow.  We can choose to recognize that today is ours to conquer and tomorrow is ours to prepare for.  We can wake up saying, "now what?"

On a writing level, this means that I can look at Amazon and see that my books haven't taken off yet.  Kindle Unlimited folks - love y'all - have been reading, but not enough customers have been buying.  I could wallow in that, and cry over that.  I could toss up my hands and stop writing altogether, or I can say, "So What? Now What?" I chose the latter.  I've dropped the price of a few of my books to .99 cents, hoping that it will spur some folks to join a duck lady in the journey over the top of forever.  The books that are currently .99 cents are:  Brotherly Love, Seducing The Billionaire, and Tempting Duty.

Maybe you haven't read one of my books before.  So What?  Now what - you can do is pick up one of my .99 cent specials and give crazy love a try.  And here in Casa de Duck my youngest son and I (the football fans in the family) will await the Carolina-Clemson game, saying So What if Carolina lost last year. It's Now What time!

Entertainment Weekly says that the "happily ever after" genre is taking on Trump by joining the resistance.  I'm distressed to learn that some of my colleagues are repeating the mistake made by the entertainment industry. Like actors, actresses and comedians, writers are free to have political opinions.  Among friends and family, or at a political gathering held by folks of a particular leaning, expressing political opinion is perfectly acceptable.  Conning your audience into buying one thing and selling them another is a lie and liars deserve to lose.

The article notes that Lauren Billings, who writes with Christina Hobbs as Christina Lauren, responded to readers who reject mixing romance with politics by saying, "we share our opinions in our books in every word we write."  If that's true, before you ever buy one of their books, you should consider that these writers aren't channeling their characters, they're not telling you the story you bought, they're feeding you their personal beliefs and ideology.  Is that what they marketed?  Is that what readers bought?  No, it's not.  With all due respect to Ms. Billings, Ms. Hobbs and every other romance author on the planet, readers don't give a darling damn about what you think or feel or believe.

Readers buy romance to crawl inside the heads and hearts and souls of the hero and heroine.  A good writer often pens thoughts she'd never have and describes acts she'd never perform.  How does the writer do that if "every word she writes" contains her opinions?  She can't.  An author feeding her opinions through the mouths of her characters is telling her story - not the tale the readers bought.  A writer who gives in to ego to that extent echos the errors of entertainers.  There is a reason that movie theaters are empty.  Romance writers who feed readers stories with political overtones are herding romance to a place where shelves stay full.

The EW piece commits the same mistake made by reporters, prognosticators, actors and entertainers.  It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why Americans back President Trump.  The President is neither anti-gay nor anti-woman and neither are the hordes of Americans who voted for him.  Many Trump supporters aren't particularly conservative.  What unites ALL Trump supporters is not a political party.  In fact, it is the exact opposite of a political anything.  Trump supporters are tired of politicians, labels and political correctness.  America voted Trump into office to elect a businessman who would run the government like a company.  Some businessmen want to make and sell a better car or a better thermostat.  Trump wants to make and sell a better America - not better for Democrats or Republicans, or for liberals or conservatives - but better for the vast majority whose lives and beliefs mix a little from all of those things to create the most unique thing on Earth:  an American.

Writers should disclaim and denounce the EW article and everything it contains and advocates.   I disclaim it and I surely denounce it. Romance writers should write  because they want to tell stories where people face obstacles, triumph over tragedy and end up happily ever after.  Those stories should be the character's stories, told through the eyes and the hearts and the minds of the characters, not the authors.  A writer who sells a love story but delivers something else has betrayed her readers. That writer will not inspire that reader to do anything but avoid her work in the future.

Life is full of problems and despair and the Great Duck knows - it's far too full of politics these days.  Anyone who wants to experience any of those things can turn on a number of 24-hour news channels.  People don't go to a movie to hear an actor mouth lines filled with political drivel.  People don't turn on a comic's special or late night program to hear him talk abut how much he hates Trump.  And people don't read a romance novel to RESIST anything.  Romance is about indulging senses and emotions. It's about love and triumph and living through a roller coaster ride that ends at a happy forever.

People don't read romance to get some writer's take on politics or her opinion on the President.   So, the EW piece has it wrong  - it's not the romance authors who should join the resistance movement.  Romance readers should RESIST any writer whose product description or blurb describes a love story but tells a thinly-veiled political allegory.   So, how to RESIST being deceived by a writer, especially one you enjoyed before?  Here's how - RCW - return, complain and warn.

Whether you bought it in Kindle or in Paper, return any book you were conned into buying.  Complain to the seller.  Email Amazon or Apple or Barnes and Noble or your neighborhood bookstore.  Email the big publisher.  Explain that you were the victim of a bait and switch that you feel was a deceptive act by the writer, the publisher and the seller.  Explain that you expect a clear warning about any romance novel containing political opinion, references or overtones. And warn your fellow readers by posting a review on the seller's website, but don't stop there.  Follow up by tweeting and posting on any board or forum where you interact with other readers.

Are authors, actors, comedians, singers or athletes allowed to be political?  Absolutely.  They can write a political book, give a speech at a rally or appear on an opinion talk show.  But they must learn to separate their politics from their work because the audience is not paying to support their politics.

Politics is politics and romance is romance. Any author's effort to combine the two should be met with reader resistance. Resist with your purse, your email, your reviews, your boards or forums, and your Facebook and Twitter. Unless there is a clear posted warning that the books contains a political point of view, all readers should be able to buy and enjoy romance novels by all writers.  Any writer who believes otherwise can be taught that they are wrong and it is the readers' job to administer the lesson.  Money talks and reviews and social media make fine megaphones.

Somehow, somewhere SOMETHING gave birth to the myth that the far left of the political spectrum is the cool place. If you’re in the middle or on the right, then you’re either stupid or evil. It’s a nonsensical, vapid myth, but the far left has preached it so long that many are as indoctrinated as Scientologists. They don’t associate with or listen to non-lefties. If you’re caught being reasonable, you’ll be disconnected. And that’s the true evil.

Hollywood has long disconnected moderates and conservatives. Actors who dare hold views similar to most Americans hide them to blend in so that they can continue to work. It’s a whopper-sized hypocrisy to profess to be open and giving and yet be closed to listening, sharing or considering other opinions. The rabid left exists in a hyperbaric echo-chamber. Thank God, I thought, that writers are stronger and freer than the actors imprisoned in their own make-believe world.

At least, I believed that until recently. I saw General John Kelly’s amazingly brave appearance at yesterday’s press conference.  A father whose career was sending other young people into harm’s way, who saw too many of them return in caskets, watched his own son choose that path.  Then he got the sad news he’d had to deliver to other parents. Yet, he was courageous enough to speak about his experience to explain why a soldier’s comfort, like a soldier’s world, is very different from the lives and realities of those of us who have never served.  I cried a little as I watched, and listened and I saw how much respect General Kelly has earned on so many levels.

I logged onto Twitter (@quackingalone) and saw that #JohnKelly was trending.  I wandered over and was shocked to see the rabid left there having a contest to see who could do the best job at denigrating a man brave enough to share his personal tragedy, and courageous enough to admit that he’d had to personally lead other American heroes to their deaths. Who could watch and not be moved as he shared his own tragedy to explain a soldier’s comfort to America?  I posted this Tweet:  “#GeneralJohnKelly – today you proved that patriot doesn’t mean pushover and that courage takes many forms. #JohnKelly”

Yesterday I logged onto my Twitter account to see that I’d been unfollowed by a huge number of OTHER AUTHORS.  So, I learned that I was, sadly, wrong. Like actors, those authors take the money of mainstream America, but they disconnect anyone who has another view, who sees another reality. These writers want you to enter the worlds they create, to fall in love or laugh or cry while their characters do – but they don’t want mainstreamers to know that secretly, they’re laughing at us and looking down at us. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be secret any longer. Anyone can check out an author on Twitter BEFORE clicking the buy button.

If you’re a reader who is tired of being shown that you matter less and are less deserving of respect because you don’t drink the left-handed Kool-Aid, then maybe you should vote with your wallet.  Before you buy a book, log onto the writer’s Twitter account and see who he or she follows. Does it include people with views similar to yours? A writer should be following a wide, expansive and diverse community of folks.  It should include people across the political spectrum. The group should be defined by who is interesting, not by who is a rabid leftie. If you don’t see people in that group who believe like you do, then you should reconsider that purchase.

Those who believe that everyone is entitled to respect shouldn’t tolerate disrespect and condescension from people we give our money to. Don’t support anyone who wants to sell you something but would never listen to you or consider your thoughts.  If we don’t use the power of the purse to insist that freedom is as grounded in listening and sharing as it is in talking and pontificating, we’ll lose it forever. Our soldiers, sailors and marines and especially our Gold Star families who’ve paid the ultimate price deserve better. Freedom isn’t free and respect is a two-way street.  Check before you buy.

Husband slash webmaster here.

Quacking Alone is having some difficulties with e-mail contact forms as of the moment, so we deeply apologize for any problems this may cause any of you out there who want to contact me or Mary Anne.

I am working on the issues. We will hopefully have everything working correctly soon. I also apologize for stomping on my wife's update.

Angry Old Fat Man

UPDATE:

E-mail forms are working as of May 23, 2017 8:50 AM. However, you will have to type in a subject line for the e-mail form instead of having it default to something meaningful. Sorry. Mea maxima culpa.

I've been AWOL here, and apologize for that. I've been given the glorious freedom to work from home for my law practice, and I find that I work a lot more hours. That's good for the office bottom line, but bad for my non-legal scribbling. Did anyone miss me? (Don't answer that.) When I've found time to write, I've been plugging away at Vlad's story, from my Forever Series that starts with "A Faerie Fated Forever." It's meant that the blog has been neglected though -- which isn't good. Can someone add a couple more hours in a day?

Because I do try to keep up with literary happenings, a recent piece in the Guardian caught my eye. It's writing tips from acclaimed novelist/creative writing instructor, Colum McCann, titled, "So You Want To Be A Writer? Essential Tips for Aspiring Novelists. Likely, it caught my attention because one of his first tips is that "there are no rules. Or, if there are any rules, they are only there to be broken. Embrace these contradictions."  I'm a rule-breaker from way back, so I settled in for a read.

McCann says "to hell" with grammar, formality, plot and structure - but only after you've learned them so well that you can walk through your work "with your eyes closed."  He points out that the great ones will make their own rules, only to break them  and unmake them.

He says that a writer's first line should "reach in and twist your heart backward," and it should be active, "plunging your reader into something urgent."  And what should that first line be about?  What kind of book should you write?   ...continue reading "Writing Rules Are Made To Be Broken"

Mad Daddy here.

I do Facebook, mostly for extended family contact. But sometimes I see things that get me riled, because of how truly ignorant they are.

Now in this case, I'm not talking "ignorant" as in a euphemism for some sort of bigotry or other name-calling from a "progressive". I'm talking truly, utterly ignorant, as in the person in question doesn't really know what they're saying or asking for.

...continue reading "Know What You’re Asking For, Before You Get It"

CBS News posted a piece discussing why romance generates derision along with sales. Romance is 30% of the overall literary market and is a Billion - with a "B"- dollar a year industry, largely created by women for women. And the women in this piece do a great job of explaining why. CBS talked with all these folks: Professor by day/ Romance writer by night Mary Bly (Eloisa James), Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches) and Romance best-seller Beverly Jenkins. Their comments are experienced and astute.

My favorite is Mary Bly's note at the end - I've long maintained that the whole portrayal of "ripped bodices" and romance novels as demeaning women is wrong. They're all about female empowerment. In every romance, by the time the HEA arrives, the woman is in charge.

Check out this video as it's well worth your time.

Romance - the "Rodney Dangerfield" of Genres