Dear Mr. Head,

I am an American, a member of the United Methodist Church, a Texan, a mother of two school-aged children, and a bestselling and award-winning Romance Novelist. Never, until today, have I been more upset and perturbed by a person of your so-called integrity implying that what I do professionally is “pornographic.” I’m appalled by your ignorance, by your cheap shot at Ms. Combs (whom I do not know and have never met), and by someone of your stature calling a multi-million dollar business about romance, monogamy and happily-ever-afters, pornographic. Sensuality levels differ with each and every book, and from my own viewing of the cover of Ms. Combs’ book, and the blurb you provided and displayed on your website, ( ) I suggest you check your prescr1ption for a new set of glasses. Two people fully clothed and embracing in front of an airplane implies romance, not pornography. Or do you, in fact, think all romance is pornographic?

As for taking pages out of context and using them to make your “porno” point, well, I’m so stunned by this behavior I’m speechless. I suppose you’re not aware that many fiction novelists use various levels of sensuality in their books, including such bestsellers as Ken Follet, James Patterson, Clive Cussler (whose leading protagonist, Dirk Pitt, has never, to my knowledge, had a monogamous sexual relationship), and Dean Koontz — who, as it happens, used to write romances under the name Leigh Nichols. Do you read fiction at all, Mr. Head? The Pulitzer Prize winning Lonesome Dove, by the fabulous Larry McMurtry, had its share of sensuality and sexual situations as well. Would you also classify McMurtry’s masterpiece as porn? By your terms, I suspect you would — if you were running against the author for the position of Texas State Comptroller.

Perhaps you need a fast lesson in what romance novels really are, and how much your voting public enjoys and reads them regularly. I suggest you check out these statistics from the Romance Writers of America — — (which happens to be headquartered in Houston) for some clarification:

*Statistics were compiled by RWA from Ipsos BookTrends, Book Industry Study Group and American Bookseller Association reports, and from tallies in Ingram’s catalogue of all book releases.

Romance generated $1.2 billion in sales in 2004.

There were 2,285 romance titles released in 2004.

Romance fiction comprises 54.9% of all popular paperback fiction sold in North America.

Romance fiction comprises 39.3% of all popular fiction sold. (Different from above, this figure includes not just paperbacks, but hardcovers and trade-sized paperbacks as well.)

To compare:

Mystery/Detective/Suspense is 29.6% of popular fiction sales

General Fiction is 12.9% of popular fiction sales

Science Fiction/Fantasy is 6.4% of popular fiction sales

Religious, occult, westerns, male adventure, general history, adult and movie tie-ins was 11.8% of popular fiction sales

Mr. Head, there is a vast number of romance novelists who live in this great state, who pay taxes and vote as mothers and working professionals. I always vote. You’ve insulted each and every one of us. You should be ashamed of yourself, and know this: you will not now, nor will you EVER, receive a vote from me, whether you run for the local school board or President of the United States. I intend to pass on this information, and your website address, to every romance novelist, aspiring novelist, and publishing professional I know so they can get the word out as well. You are a disgrace.