“[Christie Craig] Writes About States of Arousal” Cries the Texas DOT

Barbara Vey -- August 24th, 2011


Christie Craig

Christie Craig

Obviously, the Texas Department of Transportation doesn’t like to think of their state in any kind of arousal when it comes to Christie Craig.  The delightfully, kind and thoughtful Christie (who resides in Houston) apparently “messed” with the wrong state when she titled her new book Don’t Mess with Texas (which goes on sale today).

The TxDot has officially filed a lawsuit over their trademark motto (which is an anti-litter campaign) against the author, the publisher (Hachette Book Group) and Barnes and Noble.

According to the Houston Press: 

“The book,” TxDOT’s suit says, “contains numerous graphic references to sexual acts, states of sexual arousal, etc.” Selling it at Barnes & Noble, which sells many TxDOT materials with the slogan, would cause irreparable harm, the agency says.

(I love this part of the Houston Press article.)  “States of sexual arousal” apparently include, according to the search-inside function at Amazon, such pornographic sentences as”She glanced down at his sex, still standing completely erect.”

And here’s the ensuing sex scene:

“As soon as the condom was in place, he rolled her completely on her back and was on top of her. Keeping his weight on his elbows, he adjusted his weight until things down south lined up. She felt the cool tips of the condom at her center. Closing her eyes, she pressed her head back in the pillow and waited for him to enter her.

“No. Open those baby blues. I want to see you when I first enter you.”

She did as requested and he pushed inside. Slow, easy. Even wet with want, his fit was tight, hitting nerve endings she didn’t know she had.

Pleasure exploded inside her and her entire body shook with sweet spasms of release.”

Wow!!  Thanks Houston Press for telling us why we all should be buying the book!  Christie Craig is a terrific writer who describes her writing as “sexy, suspenseful and seriously funny.”  I’d have to agree after getting hooked on Divorced, Desperate and Dating.

Apparently the TX DOT has won a similar case before.

Talk about frivolous lawsuits.  I’ve heard “Don’t Mess With Texas” used in a lot worse ways including a segment that Stephen Colbert did when I recently saw his show in New York.  No lawsuit there.  I would definitely think that the TX DOT should have a few more important things on their minds right now and you can read some of the suggestions from commenters at the Houston Press page.

TX DOT you made a big mistake in coming after a beloved author like Christie Craig who doesn’t have one mean bone in her body.  I contacted Christie, but as I suspected she’s not able to make a comment at this time with the pending lawsuit.

Bottom Line:  I only want to buy the book more now, so thanks TX DOT for all the publicity.  And I’m sure many others will also buy the book… just to mess with Texas.

123 thoughts on ““[Christie Craig] Writes About States of Arousal” Cries the Texas DOT

  1. Debbie Kaufman

    OMGoodness! The only “irreparable harm” here is to the reputation of the TX DOT! Seriously, people? The only problem I see here is the TX DOT littering up the court system with such an idiotic lawsuit. Am I to take away from this that Texas has a prudish, narrow-minded bent, one so contrary to their wonderful history and reputation?

    As an inspirational writer, I may not put sex scenes in my books, but I will go down like the Alamo defenders for Christie’s right to use that title and write her funny, sexy, books.

    How about we all “Mess With Texas” by buying Christie’s new book? It’s out today an I’m heading to Barnes and Noble to buy it! Bet that’s not what the TX DOT hoped for when they started this fight. Oh, and emails to the Governor’s office wouldn’t hurt either. TX DOT, DON’T Mess with Romance Writers!

    This little Texas DOT two-step mis-step has me running out to buy the book from Barnes and Noble as soon as I submit this comment.

  2. Rhonda Helms

    This makes me want to buy 5 copies of her book in support of her just because it’s pretty much one of the dumbest reasons for a lawsuit I’ve ever heard in my life. Heaven forbid anyone associate Texas with something halfway entertaining and possibly sexypants. Oh, the horror!

  3. Jenna Black

    I’m encouraging everyone I know to run out and buy Christie’s book. (I already did, myself.) The best revenge is definitely a big boost in her sales. Christie is a fabulous writer and a genuinely nice person, and I hate to see her release day being tainted by this idiocy.

  4. Ann Macela

    As a native Texan now living in the North, I am disgusted and appalled by the DoT action. At the same time, I have to laugh at them for such a useless, money-wasting lawsuit. What were they thinking? Wonder if there were any women in on that decision.

    I’m hoping we’ll see Christie’s book at the TOP of the NYT and USA Today lists. And I’m doing what I can to see it there.

    Yea, Christie!!!!!

  5. Marilyn AKA Playground Monitor

    Christie spoke at our RWA meeting a few years ago. I cannot believe the frivolity of this lawsuit. This is why the courts are clogged up and it takes ages to try a REAL case.

    I think I’ll be buying a copy of her new book on my way to work today. I live right by a Books-a-Million.

    Marilyn ~shaking her head in dismay~

  6. Jaye Garland

    Just ordered 5 copies from B&N this morning and already got my confirmation they’re scheduled to ship. Woot! I’m also going out later today to buy, yet another copy, of each of her current titles because Christi is my NWHRWA chapter mate. Go Christie!!!

    BTW, if no one has already mentioned this, she’s also pubbed in YA by St. Martin’s Press under CC Hunter.

  7. Grace Burrowes

    What I cannot fathom is that in twenty other similar situations, Texas sent out a warning letter. They did not get a bunch of pleadings all prepared and signed, then file them the day the publication launched amid much press coverage. This is NOT about Texas exercising a legitimate right to protect its intellectual property, but rather, about advancing somebody’s idea of what appropriate literary taste is.

    And the publishing industry is one of where resorting to litigation is still largely frowned upon, and ladies and gentleman try to settle their differences amicably. Shame upon Texas. I will buy the book, I will not be doing any more sightseeing in Texas.

    In case anybody would like to comment:


    or Texas Attorney General
    PO Box 12548
    Austin, TX 78711

    1. Jaye Garland

      Grace, I’m sorry you feel that way about the state of Texas. Please remember that the whole state did not file this frivilous suit against Christi, but just one man/department head who’s weilding more authority than is right. The rest of us are just as bewildered about this as you are.

  8. Debra Glass

    This book looks delightful. Perhaps Christie could use the “parody” defense as far as the trademarked DOT thing goes. I hope she sells a million and the prudes in TX learn to get over themselves.

  9. Angie Fox

    That’s the rub – you can’t defend a trademark against just one person or group. Everybody uses Don’t Mess With Texas, from Newsweek magazine to Rock the Vote to numerous independent, unlicensed makers of clothing and belt buckles and even earrings. It’s become a saying, like What Happens in Vegas.

    TDot actually says in their press release that because Christie’s book contains elements of a romance novel, it will cause “irreparable harm.” From a romance novel.

    I hope this ridiculous lawsuit launches Christie’s book straight onto the New York Times list.

    1. Diane Stacy

      I couldn’t agree more. I am defintely buying at least one copy and will tell everyone I know to support Christie! Christie, Here’s to you being #1 on the NYT list!

    2. Stephanie Scott

      I was wondering about this. I think it’s totally ridiculous, but since the motto is trademarked, does that mean no one else can make money off it? Or are they picking and choosing their battles? Not a big deal if someone makes a bumper sticker with the logo but if an author writes a sexy book suddenly it’s a problem?

  10. joysann

    I always thought Texans LIKED being thought sexy. Hmm. Maybe some don’t. And I’m wondering, where do baby Texans come from? Romance must be part of some lives there. I’m off to buy a couple of Christie’s books, and will donate one to the local library, where it will be available to hundreds who will be caught by the cute and clever title. Best to you, Christie!

  11. Jackie Rod

    It’s sad to see Texas upset over an expression almost as old as time. The next thing you know someone will be suing over the copyright of “a stitch in time, saves nine.”
    All romance writers should take note of this lawsuit, when writing about those sexy Texas heroes. We would not want to step on anyone’s “boots.”

  12. Christine T.

    Barbara: thanks for adding the “Houston Press” page link. I’ve been reading the comments and they seem to lean heavily on ‘frivolous’ (apparently a lot of Texans are quite bitter about the state of their roads) with some defending the copyright issue. Out of curiosity, do writers (or publishers) check for copyright issues when coming up with a title? It wouldn’t be the first thing that crossed my mind.

  13. Beth Pattillo

    I’m pretty sure people in Texas have sex, because I was born there. So where’s the irreparable harm? I hope Christie gets lots and lots of publicity (and book sales) from this and then I hope the complaint is dismissed as frivolous.

    1. Stephanie Scott

      Of course they have sex, but you have to watch yourself if you want to talk publicly or heaven forbid, teach about it… West Texas in general is not to be messed with when it comes to conservative politics!

  14. Carla Swafford

    Amazing. If you Google DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS, of course, you find out that TX DOT believes it’s a trademark, but I’ve seen it on a lot of stuff that has probably never been okayed with TX DOT. (Think gift shops.) And I remember hearing that phrase for many more years than they’ve been claiming it. Interesting. This will be interesting on how it plays out – freedom of expression, press and such. I like Christie and I hate this for her.

    1. Christine T.

      I’m obviously ignorant about how copyright works (and how you obtain it for something like a slogan) but it still amazes me that TxDOT managed to copyright “don’t mess with Texas” for its anti-littering campaign. It’s just so much in the public vernacular as a common phrase and has been for so many years.

  15. Dianna Love

    It is sad to see money spent on lawsuits when, according to so many comments by Texans on the articles, the state needs every penny spent for the roads (which might also mean more jobs…). I’ve enjoyed Christie’s books since the first one I read and that was in a contest before she sold. The news article seemed more of an attack on the book by misrepresenting the content when Christie has always written fun, sexy, romantic stories. What’s wrong with that? So many great comments made today and thanks to Barbara for sharing this.

    I’m headed out to buy several copies in addition to the one I normally get and will pick up a couple extra for local libraries, too – good suggestion. Let’s help Christie and our libraries at the same time.

  16. Shanon Grey

    So, now the Texas DOT is policing the arts! Someone had to read it to find it offensive. Hah! Caught you! Are you kidding? This is a joke. But, as they say, “Just spell the name right.” Christie will certainly get the well deserved publicity and readers from Texas DOT’s actions. The scary thought is that they are spending the state’s money pursuing lawsuits of this sort. Hey, Texas, you might want to think this through–you are neglecting taking care of much needed work in order to do this. Me, I’m going right out and buy the book!

  17. Marilyn Baron

    It’s a shame that the Texas DOT is trashing this book. Hopefully, it will only serve to boost sales for Christie. It smacks of censorship to me. Unbelievable.

  18. Bertrice Small

    WOW! I am sooo envious, Christie! Great PR for both you and the book.
    I love the state of Texas and its wonderful folks, but boy did their
    DOT get it wrong. What planet do you civil servants come from, huh?

    And I thought getting banned from South Africa 30 years ago was cool.
    This is waaaaay better. Hope you sell out your printing, girlfriend!

  19. Heidi

    Ug, this is beyond ridiculous. Just to clear up a few things, though, the phrase is _trademarked_, not copyrighted. Indeed, the phrase “What happens here, stays here” is trademarked by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and there was a lawsuit a few years over a woman selling risque clothing items with the similar slogan “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

    The issue is whether use of the trademark will cause market confusion. It likely wouldn’t be a good idea for a romance publisher to title a book “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” because it could theoretically cause confusion among consumers (they might think the book is about Vegas tourism). However, while most people readily associate “What happens here, stays here” with Vegas tourism, I doubt more than a handful of people first think of the Texas DoT when they hear the phrase “Don’t mess with Texas.” In short, if I were in a bookstore and saw Ms. Craig’s book, I wouldn’t be shocked to discover it wasn’t filled with maps.

  20. Christine @ Book Cents Lit

    I am both embarrassed and appalled by TxDOT’s (and the attorney wielding his “little” pen) bold move to censor what people should and shouldn’t read. This isn’t about trademark infringement. It’s blatant censorship. There are literally thousands of books on the market with titles that use play on words and popular phrases, which are trademarked. However, you don’t see any of those people getting sued. Nor do you see the likes of J. Leno, D. Letterman, J. Stewart, D. Imus, and many other comedians being sued, because they would just make the lawsuit fodder for their shows and make the plaintiff look far worse. Unfortunately, TxDot singles out Christie as an author and is counting on Hachette’s (or any publisher’s) aversion to litigation in order to force Christie/Hachette to pull the book and for B&N to stop selling it. Notice TxDot didn’t sue Amazon (what’s wrong boys… your pen not THAT big?).

    My husband, who is an attorney and publishes The Write Lawyer blog mentioned this case to me this morning after I had read Barbara’s post. Even before I had a chance to start my rant, he said he was going to write about this.

    Christie, I hope your sales skyrocket. You may be taking one for the team, but the team will not abandon you. We are rallying and supporting you all the way!!! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go so I can go order 10 copies to give away as gifts!

    Everyone, please tweet, blog, buzz, write, call and let your voice be heard!


  21. Diane Kelly

    As a former assistant attorney general for the State of Texas, I am especially appalled by this obvious waste of the taxpayers’ funds. So many people who cause real harm go scott free, yet the state is going to pursue this frivolous matter? This is ridiculous. The State needs to reconsider its priorities.

  22. Missy Taylor

    Oh yeah I am so buying this book. And I will share this story and try to get others even my family that lives in Texas ;) Craziness!

  23. Cassondra Murray

    Barbara, thank you for letting all of us know about this.

    Dianna Love emailed me to give me a heads up, and when I read her note, I thought, “That cannot be real.” How sad that it is real, and how sad that Texas would spend its citizens’ hard-earned money on something so frivolous.

    And even sadder because Texas is home to Romance Writers of America’s offices, and that RWA holds its annual conference in Dallas every few years.

    Texas doesn’t bat an eye at taking money from all of us Romance Writers, knowing full well that a large percentage of us include *gasp* sex in our books—-to the tune of thousands of dollars spent on hotel, food, and whatever taxes the state collects from that, each time we travel there to the conference. Why no. They smile sweetly, say welcome to Texas, take our money and then say, “y’all come back real soon now.” And I’m betting Texas is happy to take sales tax on all those romance novels sold at Texas bookstores. How hypocritical. They’re not embarrassed at all to be associated with romance in those situations. Yet they’ve singled out one of their own authors, and with the wording in their law suit, given a slap in the face to romance as a genre.

    What an unfortunate position for a state to take. And what an unfortunate choice for the DOT to paint such an ugly picture of Texas in the national media.

  24. Katherine Bone

    As Marilyn said, Christie Craig spoke at one of our monthly writer’s meetings a while back. She’s a fantastic speaker, motivator, and writer, who doesn’t deserve the negative press.

    I’m a Texan, born and bred in Texas. I have lots of things that say “Don’t Mess With Texas”. I’ve never heard TxDot complain about the use of their slogan before. The fact that this is being taken through legal avenues speaks volumes for our legal system when the economy is pinching pennies and I find it appauling.

    Everybody go out and buy Christie’s book, Don’t Mess With Texas!!!

  25. Tiffany James

    This is ridiculous! It’s just one more attack on the romance fiction genre. So many commenters before me have made wonderful points. I probably would have gotten Christie’s book from the library, but as Katherine suggested, I’ll be buying it to show my support!

  26. Sia Huff

    Add me to the list. I’ve not read Christie before, but it sounds like a wonderful book. B&N, here I come. Hopefully, she’ll get a lot more new fans out of this chaos.

  27. Cynthia Eden

    I’ll definitely be buying a copy!! I don’t know if she remembers this, but Christie was actually one of the first folks I met at my very first RT convention. She was kind, sweet, and so funny–a total classy lady. I wish her huge sales!

  28. Susan in AZ

    Congratulations, Barbara, on another winner in your Blog! I laughed out loud at the inanity. Please keep up the fun.

    By the way, I will also buy an e-book of this title, based on the fun excerpt you provided.

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  30. Lindsay

    I caught this article and comments just now, 9/5/11. For fun I went to Amazon to see what the books ranking was- Mass Market Paper-4,545 and Kindle was even higher-734.
    Fantastic now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to get a Kindle copy of the book

  31. Pingback: Court Won’t Stop Author from Messing with Texas « The Write Lawyer

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