Announcement, Smut & Activism

Hide Your Wallets: Romancing the Runoff

Don’t actually hide your wallets, because there is some excellent smut coming soon to an auction block near you, as long as you have an internet connection.

We’re super excited about Romancing the Runoff because…

  • All proceeds benefit organizations doing amazing work protecting voting rights and democracy in Georgia
  • Look at all this cool stuff!

In all seriousness, if you have a smut lover in your life (even if that smut lover is you), there are some amazing items available, including signed books, annotated books, various arts and crafts, or the opportunity to have your favorite author name a character after you. And if you’re a writer, tons of the biggest names in romance are offering book critiques.

You can start looking through and tracking items here (you’ll have to make an account). Bidding opens Wednesday, Nov 18.

Smut & Activism

Taking Care of Yourself

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that the past few weeks have been a little more…gloomy and tense than usual. 

I think what we have here is the doom trifecta: the weather is getting a bit dismal, our personal lives are being really disrupted by everything going on, and on the global stage we’re looking at some pretty serious social and political deterioration. It’s pretty easy to feel like things are bad, getting worse, and might never be okay ever again. Is anyone else with me here? Are we all feeling kind of low-grade awful right now? 

This is what’s difficult: we can’t change the weather. Although many of us are in denial about it, we can’t really change the fact that Covid cases are rising and that we may very well be in for a lonely and isolated holiday season. And if you’ve already voted, donated and/or volunteered, and talked to indecisive friends and family about their voting options, you’ve done what you can do on the global stage. In the grand scheme of things, it can be really jarring and depressing to realize how powerless we really are, and how little control we have over our future and the trajectory of our lives. 

The difficult truth here is that we have always been powerless and we have never been in control. You can make all the best choices, hedge your bets, pad your buffer, and pay your taxes early–and you still can’t ensure that you’ll be free from everything falling apart. This has ALWAYS been true, even prior to 2020. But a lot of us have been able to believe that we had a lot more control than was entirely accurate, and now we’re sitting here looking at all the cold drizzle while we try to make a bat costume out of old towels while wondering what the point is, really, since chances are pretty good the whole United States is going to get sucked into a hurricornadoquake in a few weeks anyway.

Here’s the thing: when I was little and I learned that the dinosaurs went extinct in a catastrophic event that wiped out life on the planet, I thought they really meant all life. I thought they meant it was the end of everything, rocks and dust, and that if it happened to the dinosaurs it could very well happen to us, and that was not okay at all. There were many nights of lost sleep over this. Well, that and the sharks I knew for a fact were waiting under the covers at the foot of my bed. When my son learned about dinosaurs, I realized that what had been so terrifying as a child was only partially true. Yes, things ended really dramatically and terribly for a lot of dinosaurs, but we still have chickens! And crocodiles. We have hermit crabs and little bitty floater plankton globbies and we have coelacanths. So not everything died–only the things that simply couldn’t survive. Some creatures were built for resilience and some weren’t. Some of the smallest, most insignificant and powerless beings were the ones that paved the way for life as we now know it. Not so insignificant after all!

If you’ve had things fall apart, even a little, you already have a head start in Surviving 101. You know how to hold on, keep your head on straight. You’re looking at what you can do and completely letting go of the things you can’t control. You’re focusing on the basics: sleep, food, and stability. And you’re purposefully making a list of the things that make you feel calm and good, and doing them. (Also, you know you need to stop scrolling and start doing breathing exercises. You know this.) If it’s too hard, you know how to ask for help. And if you haven’t had things fall apart, that’s AWESOME, because you’re going to learn how to survive like you’re in Everything is Awful Bootcamp!! You’ll discover skills you never knew you had! You’ll finally learn how to cook dried beans and save money!! BAM.

For us at the Smut Report, we’ve chosen to get back to basics. We read what feels good to read, and we don’t read things that are meh or bleh. We don’t care about our NetGalley stats, we’ve chosen to let go of social media pushes, and we have no agenda. We just want to read romance novels for the pure joy of it. It feels good, and it makes us kinder and better people. Our zingers and quips will be ready and waiting when things are steady and chill again.

Curate your life so it looks the way you want to feel and then just let it be. It’ll be okay, my little hermit crab. 

Smut & Activism

Persisting

Yesterday, the news of the passing of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rocked us. 

While the passing of a renowned and respected jurist might normally be an occasion for solemnity and reflection, the real fear that so many – women in particular – have been expressing in personal conversations or on social media is more telling about the state of our governance than about RBG’s work. She was a fierce soldier for the rights of many – especially of women – and her work on the Supreme Court reflects that. 

But our fear about the future is not about what RBG, an 87 year old woman who had been fighting for her life and health for years, might have done to protect us. Our fear stems from the knowledge that we – women in particular – do not always feel safe, and the safety we do have might be taken away from us now that one of our fiercest advocates in a position of power might be replaced by an individual who actively seeks to take away those safeties. 

In this case, we don’t feel we can sit back and accept our fates, so we have decided to act. Part of our dedication to smut is the way romance stories often center female desire and sexuality and sexual health in ways not often seen in other genres – so it’s not such a stretch for us to want to see similar levels of sexual freedom and safety protected out here in the real world. 

What you can do: It’s too early to say what will happen with RBG’s now vacant seat. We are currently swinging between cautious optimism that there won’t be time to push a new justice through and debilitating pessimism because Mitch McConnell is the worst, but, unfortunately, very good at his job. One small first step you can take is contacting your senators and urging them to wait to hold any votes on a new justice until after inauguration day. Holly might have emailed Senator Cornyn quoting Senator Cornyn about the importance of waiting for the will of the people to be made clear before appointing a Supreme Court justice in an election year. (Here’s a form you can use to send them an email, set up by the Southern Poverty Law Center. If you prefer to call your Senator, you can go here or call 1-701-484-0521 for a short script and to be automatically connected to your Senator’s office.) 

Volunteers are needed all over the place during elections and beyond. Please also be aware that governance begins in our smaller municipalities, which is where state resources are distributed, so it’s also important to know about the races in your state and local elections and to vote and volunteer down ballot. From the big elections to the smallest local elections, campaigns are looking for volunteers to whip votes for candidates. Voter registration drives need volunteers who can sign up new voters. Elections need election judges and other volunteers to ensure that things run smoothly and that voting rights are protected. Information about how to volunteer in these ways can get super specific, so here’s an article that discusses many ways you can volunteer. And if you’re in a blue district, you can always adopt a Senator. Holly, as a Texas resident, is partial to MJ Hegar, but if long shots are not your thing, you could throw some support behind Mark Kelly in Arizona

But more importantly, and we cannot stress this enough, we encourage you to vote. We’ve compiled some resources below to help you accomplish this if you have questions or need assistance knowing what to do in order to ensure your vote counts (which it ALWAYS does). 

Bottom line: 2020 sucks bigtime, but we’re not going to sit down and take it. 

Some voting stuff:

Elections are handled on a state-by-state basis, so it’s important to get the correct information and deadlines for your state. These are reliable resources that provide information for every state. We also encourage you to look at your state’s Board of Elections page, which is where you can find mail-in ballot tracking information if your state is allowing for mail-in voting. It is also likely the page where you can find information about volunteering to be an election judge if you are willing and able to do so. You do not have to be an attorney to volunteer or to help protect voting rights in other ways.

Voting requirements information by state: https://www.usvotefoundation.org/vote/eoddomestic.htm

Check your registration status (sometimes it gets deleted without voter knowledge): https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/ (vote.org also has tons of information about voting in general, so poke around if you have questions)

Vote by mail requirements and deadlines by state: https://represent.us/how-to-vote-2020/

User-friendly how to vote guide by Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/how-to-vote/?itid=lk_inline_manual_12

Voting Rights information and organizations consolidated by the American Bar Association (includes some information for how to volunteer for non-lawyers): https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/voting-rights/how-to-help-protect-our-elections-and-get-out-the-vote/

Article with additional information about voting in the 2020 election in general: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/what-matters-how-to-make-sure-your-2020-mail-in-vote-is-counted/ar-BB17ZNq2

Announcement, Smut & Activism

Smut is Political

We at The Smut Report are opposed to racism in all its forms, including pervasive systemic racism. And we want to state this out loud because it is our responsibility to speak out.

We feel compelled to state this outright in view of the ongoing protests in the US after the horrific murder of George Floyd (and Breonna Taylor) (and Ahmaud Arbery) (and and and). Black lives matter, and we recognize that we are part of the culture that has ignored and minimized Black voices for decades and centuries. Beyond that, we had planned to recognize and celebrate Pride Month in June, highlighting other marginalized voices. 

Because of the situation we currently find ourselves in, we want to be explicit: Smut is Political. And therefore, the work we do is also political. It’s easy to declare that some things – like romance books – shouldn’t be political, but that’s a viewpoint of the privileged.

When we say politics, we don’t mean voting (though you should definitely vote!), but rather the fact that smut can reinforce narratives about what stories are worth telling, what stories are worth listening to – and by extension, which people deserve happily ever afters and which lives have value. 

Smut might provide an avenue for escapist fantasy, but smut has historically and also continues to:

  • Glorify the military-industrial complex by valorizing hyper-alpha heroes with guns
  • Gloss over an economic slump, massive civil unrest, state violence, and repressive laws in the years following the Napoleonic Wars and during the Gilded Age
  • Paint ruthless businessmen as the most desirable romantic partners
  • Portray the Ideal Town in the United States as lily-white and straight and Christian and homogenous 

This doesn’t mean that we’re never going to read another military or cop hero, or another Regency romance, or another billionaire romance, or another romance set in Anytown, USA. But when we read these stories, we read them with the understanding of both why we’re reading them (sometimes fantasy is satisfying and fun) and what they represent. And we recognize that, while we might read these stories, we also want to read books that tell other, less well represented stories. Everyone deserves a happily ever after; we all deserve to have our love stories told with dignity and respect. We want to see the communities and diversity of our world reflected in the stories we read, as beautiful and messy and complicated on the page as they are in real life. 

We will therefore continue to read and promote stories by marginalized voices and about marginalized people. We will do our best to highlight problematic content – and problematic erasures – in the books we read. We will continue to educate ourselves so we can be better allies in this ongoing struggle. 

Right now, as we look forward to Pride Month and back to the systemic racism and violence perpetrated against Black citizens that has culminated in our current upheaval, we as persons of privilege are hyper-aware of our responsibility to acknowledge and amplify marginalized voices. But our responsibility doesn’t end when quiet normalcy returns. Amplification of marginalized voices is an ongoing responsibility, and one which we will continue to take seriously. We have been linking to various resources to promote allyship on our social media pages – especially our Twitter page – so if you would like more information about what you can do to be a good ally, we encourage you to head over there.

In addition, we encourage you to head over to these sites that promote Black authors and Black romance:

Girl, Have You Read…?

Black Chick Lit

WOC In Romance

Announcement, Smut & Activism, Smut Reporting

Macmillan, eBooks, and the library embargo

Update: March 17, 2020

Today Macmillan walked back its library embargo, announcing that it would return to the pricing model that was in effect on October 31st, 2019. Further, in view of the current coronavirus pandemic, it plans to reduce ebook prices for libraries so they are able to purchase more ebooks while we’re practicing social distancing. 

In view of this change, we will resume requesting galley copies of or accepting review requests for releases from Macmillan imprints. Primarily these are St. Martin’s Press and Entangled Publishing. Should the situation change again, we will reevaluate our position at that time.

The full announcement is here.


We are big library users. We love libraries. (Erin started dating her husband at the library.) 

When we first started reading smut, libraries were our go-to place to feed our burgeoning addiction. At the public library that we used, the romance section was large and full of bodice rippers (it was the 90s!). 

Some library patrons  are lucky enough to still have robust romance sections full of paperbacks, but we’ve noticed that romance novels in particular are increasingly available to borrow as eBooks, while their physical shelf space is shrinking. 

Libraries fuel our habit, and we consume much more media because let’s be honest, there’s no way we could afford to purchase the number of books we read each year. 

That brings us to the point of our post: eBooks, accessibility, and publishing house Macmillan. 

The waiting list for Jen DeLuca’s new release
Continue reading “Macmillan, eBooks, and the library embargo”