Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Readers (and Non-Readers) Say the Darnedest Things

As a working author of romantic suspense novels, I'm often amazed, flabbergasted, name-your-own synonym with the things friends, relatives, and total strangers say to me in a misguided attempt at flattery. Some of them are hurtful, but many cause intestinal distortions as I struggle to keep a straight face. Anyway, in the name of public education, I thought I'd share some of my very favorites.

1. (From older, male family member laboring under delusion I write porn): "I'd read your books, but since my prostrate operation, I can't really enjoy that sort of thing any longer."

2. (From medical assistant at an office where I'm a patient): "I loved your new book. I just *adore* reading trash."

3. (From mother-in-law): "You know, an *acquaintance* of mine -- I certainly won't call her a friend any longer -- told me in the church parking lot that "either your daughter-in-law and son have a wonderful sex life or she has a great imagination."

4. (From a reader letter): "Do you think you could please stop using words like 'nausea' and 'vomit'? I have a weak stomach."

5. (From a customer at a book signing): "Could you please sign this book? I know you didn't write it, but it's one I'd rather buy."

6. (From a gold-chain dripping pseudo-stud at book signing, as girlfriend frantically attempts to drag him away): "I have some -- ah-- sexual techniques I promise would make your next book a bestseller. Want to hear about --" (Girlfriend, in amazing adrenalin surge, drags Psuedo-Stud clear)

7. (From overall-clad man at book signing, speaking to young son while pointing directly in my face from across the table): "No, ma'am. I didn't come to buy a book. I just came to show my son. (To ogling boy-child): "This, son, is a real, live arthur."

Okay, my memory cells are running on low power. Anyone have others to share?


Alfie said...

Cool, Colleen. I know I have some of these. (Inane and absolutely stupid things people have said.) I'll have to think of them.


Tracey Lyons said...

Those are so funny and yet, sadly, I know I'v heard a few good ones in my day. Of course my husband always tells people that he's the hero in all the books and the love scenes are well rehearsed!

Tracey said...

LOL, Colleen. Personally, I love the one that too many people have said to me over the years--many who should know better. It goes like this: "When are you going to write a REAL book?"

Allison Brennan said...

ROFLOL . . . something I can look forward to, eh???

Bronwyn Jameson said...

LOL, Colleen. Great post. Although maybe I shouldn't have read it today -- I am speaking to a local service club about romance writing and HOPING I don't hear too many trash vs real book type comments!

Alfie said...

I thought of one--a hurtful one--which is one reason I couldn't think of one immediately when I read this. I've learned to forget most of them as soon as they are said because I'm sure hurting isn't the intent, but they often do. (And I hope my sister-in-law never finds this site, needless to say.) I always gave my books to my sister-in-laws and sisters at Christmas. As I gave one of them hers, she said, "Oh, shameless self-promotion time again, huh?" Guess who quit THAT practice.


Colleen Thompson said...

Ouch, Alfie! Why is it that family members are usually the ones most likely to find -- and use -- our Achilles tendons?

Allison, I hope you'll find that forewarned is forearmed. Most of the time, I find these comments hilarious. As wonderful as RWA is, it sometimes teaches us to take ourselves too seriously. A militant response does a lot less to "educate" the person making the idiotic statement (presuming they're educable, or even worth the effort) than a tongue-in-cheek answer. For example, when my m-i-l angrily reported the woman saying the either my DH and I had a great sex life or I had a great imagination, I responded by saying, "I'll never tell which it is, but either one's a gift, don't you think?"

Okay, she didn't speak to me again for two weeks, but my husband and I still laugh about it. And isn't laughter more fun than indignation?

Terry Z McDermid said...

I've heard a variation of those, too.

Just had a new one happen this week at school -- I'm chalking it up to not thinking things through due to being very young. Due to in-building meetings, I had a student teacher and sub in my room at the same time. While we were eating lunch, another teacher mentioned my writing. The sub asked if I had ever published anything.

I modestly nodded, 'yes.' The sub responded, "Wow!"

My student teacher then said, "I know. I was shocked, too!"

I'm still trying to figure out what she meant -- maybe, that, well, kindergarten teachers can only print?

gailbarrett said...

These didn't occur at a book signing but my mother once told me that she thought romance novels were "trite" (and boy, did that hurt!). I also had a woman ask if I had to write the whole book -- she thought that I would just write the start and then the publisher would fill in the rest because they are all the same!!!! (And wouldn't that make our lives easy:))) Fortunately, I didn't say anything too nasty to her because she has promised to buy my first book and come to my booksigning:) And my mother has actually passed out some of my bookmarks and told people about my book. So there is always hope.....

Deborah Matthews said...

At a booksigning a teenage boy asked if there was anything to help him with girls. The Anderson rep quickly answered no. I've been spared the hurtful.

Shelley Bradley said...

I've heard many of these, too. Along with some of my colorful cousins (20-something guys) telling me sales would be better if I cut out the man and substituted a horse instead. Ewww!

Then there was the booksigning I did a few years ago, where a nice-looking man started asking me about writing. It was a slow day at the mall, so we chatted. He finally said that, while he saw from my ring that I was married, he wanted to know if I was happily married. Um, yeah.

My favorite, however, is from, of all people a bookseller!!!! When my first book came out, she asked me if the ideas were mine or if the publisher told me what to write (or even wrote it for me). To say I was stunned speechless is an understatement, especially when she hastily added that she just assumed so, since all books by my former publisher were the same and none ever sold well in her store. Grrr!

Colleen Thompson said...

Wow! That bookseller takes the cake!

Some people clearly don't think about the impact of their words before opening their mouths.