Monday, September 5, 2011

If It's Good Enough For Films, It's Good Enough For Books!

Recently I found myself appalled by the stuff that's making it onto the book market. There are certain things I don't want to read. I'm not speaking of genre--we all have our preferences--I'm speaking of language. For many years I stuck closely to Harlequin Mills & Book Modern Romance because I knew when I picked up one of those romance novels, I was assured a clean read. I loved the sexual tension, banter, emotion, characters etc and I knew I could relax and simply enjoy because I felt assured I wouldn't encounter my absolute pet hates--the use of the F word or having to read blasphemies. I can't stomach the use of my Lord's name as a curse word!

So you can imagine my shock when I happen across not one--but two! HMB romances which used Jesus' name in this way. Needless to say, it ruined two stories I'd been enjoying and I instantly stopped reading the novels. I can't bring myself to purchase any of the new stories for fear of the same thing happening.

That said, I've been looking at the indie stuff at Amazon and was amazed by some of this stuff--and not in a good way. Thankfully, as I read the reviews of one particular book I was about to purchase, I noticed a couple of readers complained about the over use of the F word. These reviews saved me wasting my money.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against authors who feel they lack the necessary vocab to express themselves or their characters; I just don't want to read that sort of stuff. I am aware some authors cater to the market and I'm sure these books sell by the ton.

But there are still a few of us who like clean reads. I'm not jumping on a soapbox to blabber on about flooding the market with bland books. I won't buy them either! Cos I like my books sizzling, emotional and feel-good. What I am saying is: please, oh, please can we find a way to give books a rating?

As I inspect my DVD shelf, I see BBFC ratings on every single one!

When you look at any DVD case you’ll see a rating symbol on the front and back of the case. This is the film’s classification or rating. In the UK films are rated by The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). And in America it’s The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Film classification gives viewers a guide to the age requirement of the viewer and an idea of the film’s content. Why can't we have something like this on our books? And, like DVDs, give a reason for the rating.

I grabbed a few random DVDs from my shelf and had a look. Here is what I found:

Knight And Day {(12) Contains moderate violence and one use of strong language}
What Happens In Vegas {(12) Contains moderate sex references and language}
Cougar Town {(15) Contains frequent moderate & crude sex references}
Dream Girls {(12) Contains one use of strong language and hard drug references}
Something's Gotta Give {(12) Contains infrequent strong language and moderate sex references}
The Lake House {(12) Contains mild language and accident scene}
Red {(12) Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over}
Two Can Play that Game {(15) Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over}

I can keep going, but I'm sure you get the idea. The fact is, I can read the DVDs' blurbs, look at the ratings, and decide whether I wish to go ahead and purchase/watch these films.

I then look at my bookshelf and grab a novel. I read the blurb and it looks like a fantastic story. I can't wait to snuggle down and start reading! I want to get lost in this story and it does not disappoint. Then bam!! Without any warning, I'm knocked sideways by something I consider to be offensive. Had that book a rating/warning I would've been able to decide whether I wanted to read it or not.

I'm not asking writers to change what they write, I'm simply asking for the opportunity to buy or leave books based an informed choice. I feel we seriously need to have books rated. If it's good enough for films, why, pray tell, isn't it good enough for books!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Do You Want Writing Romance Question Forum To Return?

I've noticed I'm getting a lot of hits on the WRQ Forum post. I wonder whether this is out of curiosity, or because writers are genuinely interested in this forum.

I started the forum because I had a brainwave and thought it would be something every aspiring writer would be interesting in, but it didn't go down as well as I'd hoped.

We had some fabulous authors, editors and agents on the board to answer questions and more amazing authors, editors and agents scheduled. I ended up shelving the forum because only the same few writers bothered to participate and it was stealing way too much of my time.

I am, however, willing to get the forum up and running again if enough writers are interested in participating.

Please note, I've made every effort to keep the board private. Meaning the various forums are password protected. Therefore, everyone who joins must let me know--via private message on the board--which forums they are interested in joining and I will forward the relevant passwords.

This must be done in good time to allow you to be added and your passwords sent.

In the past a few members would join, don't bother to read the instructions, then complain when they couldn't get into the forums. This boggled my mind--what part of This Is Important Information You Need To Know translated as Please Ignore Then Bellyache!

If you are interested in having the chance to talk directly to your favourite authors, editors and agents. To have the opportunity to ask them everything you wanted to know about the world of writing, I urge you to leave a comment letting me know. If enough writers are interested, I'll start that baby up again! :)