creating business cards while it storms :)
Well in our culture, with people putting up enemy lists every time any celebrity dares to speak their mind, I'd say it's pretty obvious that to put politics into the books or talk about your beliefs can infuriate some enough that they won't buy your books or if they did and found a political agenda in them with which they disagreed, they'd throw them back.
So does that make the answer to the question easy? Keep your mouth shut? Especially if you are a woman and everybody knows women don't have political sense. Look how long it took for them to get a right to vote. In Oregon that would be 1912. The year my mother was born was the first year her mother could have voted in any federal election. Wyoming women were given the vote in their state in 1870, When they went into the Union in 1890, they famously said they'd not go if they could not take their women.
There are assorted reasons given for why Wyoming men were so adamant but many think it was the pioneer lifestyle where women were so important and strong-- where women often did a man's work. If so, how to explain Oregon?
Whatever the reasoning, the thinking of many for not letting women vote was they would only do what their husbands said, that women didn't have minds that could think politically and hence should not be allowed to vote. Silly creatures. Since women hadn't always even been allowed to own land, I guess they were used to being held down. Some today still think politics is an inappropriate subject for a woman-- hence since most romances are written by women, it's not for them either.
Alas I recognize that they might be right about politics not being popular and losing readers when an author or book expresses strong views. However, I grew up hearing politics discussed and without fistfights. To me politics isn't just about government but about all interactions between humans which means business, community, family, the arts, etc. How boring a book would be to ignore a lot of the essence of why things happen as they do. If we write a story about a community today, can we ignore the dynamics within it?
Yes, we can write pablum and sweeten our stories to ignore the reality of the times through which people live. I've done stories with very little political thinking in them-- where I have characters caught up in their own dilemma to the point they can't really get beyond to anything more until it's been solved. If you are struggling to survive, politics aren't high on your list of important issues-- unless, of course, politics is what got you there.
I've also taken a rodeo story like Luck of the Draw and inserted into it some of the issues of 1974 which involved the Vietnam War. I used some of the arguments I heard in my own family during those years and I think it added meat to the story. Will it offend some readers? Possibly. Just as Moon Dust being about our educational system, sexual abuse, and extreme right ideology probably has cost it readers. To be honest, if I had to write formula type stories, I'd not want to write fiction at all. I like encompassing the problems we face with a love story and in my stories-- some outside danger.
and bookmarks hopefully to find places to leave and give to friends
As for speaking my mind politically as a citizen, I will always do that. I have grandchildren and care about the world in which they are growing up, the world where they will build their own lives. I have to speak up.