So, there I was...checking e-mail, when I saw a message from a dear friend, Helen Madden. Now, I've known Helen for years, first on ERWA and then on EPIC lists. She's a great lady, a great writer and is always there to help out, in a pinch. So, it was a major surprise to me to get a letter asking me what she should do about someone misrepresenting what EPIC is on a forum for a book event. She'd already posted her own reply to it, saying that the woman's interpretation is incorrect, but she was truly at a loss.
Without reposting what this cowardly individual -- who posts on the forum without giving ANY contact information off the forum, I might note -- actually said, I'll give you the gist of it. She represents EPIC as an "erotic writers' group" that is depraved, producing pornography and should be boycotted, should we attend any function in her area. She's also thrown any number of veiled threats and personal attacks on the individuals and EPIC as a whole. I won't repeat my thought process on this person's character, but you can guess by the fact that she heavily quotes Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson in her tirades...but notably not the Bible.
I'm caught between a couple of emotions here. One is admittedly exasperation with people who are so zealous in their beliefs that they don't use common sense in looking at what an organization is or is not. This reminds me of the rant I read about the Harry Potter books, making correlations that not even someone with a heavy religious background could have made, because they just DON'T exist.
On that note, it's clear enough to anyone who is not so afflicted with blinders, that EPIC is not an organization of "erotic" authors. EPIC is not ERWA, EAA, RWA's Passionate Pen Chapter or any other erotic organization. EPIC is, in fact, The Electronically Published Internet Connection, a professional organization, consisting of e-published and print-published authors and industry professionals. We're a worldwide organization, currently in our 10th year, which (at this moment) boasts 636 members in upwards of 9 countries around the globe. We accept writers and publishers of every genre of fiction and non-fiction.
What EPIC does NOT do is skewer or exclude someone for what they write or do not write. We don't show a bias, based on religion, political affiliation, genre, sex, age, sexual orientation or any other label one might use. Neither do we allow any person or group to be maligned in such a fashion on our lists. I find it incomprehensible that anyone feels the need to attack such a force of unity, support, purpose and fellowship, on the basis that there must be something wrong with a group that is not intolerant by nature.
Neither is is true that EPIC "produces pornography." EPIC is not a publisher. The only things EPIC "publishes" or "produces" are free guides to publishing, marketing and internet usage (specifically designed to aid teachers in the classroom). There is nothing pornographic in an article about making your own web site or formatting to guidelines.
Neither is EPIC out to promote the erotic authors and publisher-members, to anyone's detriment, least of all...children, as the poster accuses. When we hold our EPICon every year, we have an e-Fiesta, designed to bring in readers. It is designed as a family-friendly event. We have snacks and bubbles for the kids, coloring sheets, etc. The promo at the event is required to be PG-13 or below. We have never had a problem with inappropriate materials being passed at e-Fiesta. If we can pull that off, with more than 200 promo items being sent for e-Fiesta per year, we can certainly do the same for someone else's event. In fact, sensual and erotic authors make a habit of asking if the venue is open to erotic, before sending anything to an event.
The EPPIE, the award EPIC runs every year, for e-books, has 23 categories, only 5 of which are erotic in nature. This isn't unheard of, in any awards. The Dream Realm, for instance, which has a total of 7 categories, all of which are SF/F/H based, has a category of erotic work in their contest. The Prism, for SF/F/H romance books, also contains 7 categories, one of which is erotic. Percentage-wise, the contests are not far removed in their erotic content. I cannot, in good conscience, agree with the rant of the individual, that ANY of these organizations are "hiding behind the other genres in an effort to disguise the filth they pander." (paraphrased) We are inclusive, and we don't hide that. Neither are we focused on one genre, as she accuses.
For anyone that accuses that I "shamelessly" accept and promote pornography, may I direct you to the post I made on the difference between erotic and porn?
Someone asked me whether or not I was concerned about bad press for EPIC out of this, being EPIC president and all. I'll post my reply here.
Bring it on. I will be more than happy to counter this and teach them the solid truth of smear campaigns in the 21st Century. It's going to backfire, because I have the internet working in my favor, and I'll bet money on the fact that I disseminate the truth of what EPIC is and is not, while we continue to look like the professional organization we are.
Here's what they clearly don't get. You get Robertson involved (or someone of his status) and what happens? It gets national media. National media contacts the EPIC board and finds that Robertson and friends are maligning a professional organization of writers for no good reason, if the organization she touts would actually back her in this, to begin with. Enough said. Yes, there will be a few right-wing religious papers that will tar and feather us, but I'd bet I could get a NY Times article or Washington Post article, with the truth about EPIC, spread a hell of a lot further than they can get theirs. We might even get a Tonight Show top ten joke about it. Who does that hurt? Not us, that's for sure. It's all free advertising for us and e-books, as long as they spell the name right. It's a lousy way to get exposure, but there is no way that I will back down and slink away when faced with such an attack.