Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Clarified, rewritten version of Breaking My Own Rules post...

After reading Barb N's comment on the original post I put up for today, I rewrote that post with quotes from her comment.

I won’t be quoting or singing some author’s praises today. Why not? Because I’m reading a series of books that is disappointing to me and I don’t want to trash an author’s work. For the purposes of clarity we’ll call her Author D for disappointment.

First of all, do you agree with that sentiment - not trashing an author’s work? I do. And I don’t. And I do.

I do because I want to be respectful and err on the side of goodness. I don’t because if word of mouth sells books, then shouldn’t word of mouth kill bad books? And I do because what’s bad writing for me maybe just what you needed.

So why am I reading a whole series of books if they are disappointing me? Because I started reading them unfortunately and there is a character couple that I love.

And why don’t I like the series? A number of reasons; Author D sells them as romance genre but there isn’t an HEA after each book; she needs a better editor (as opposed to a yes person who lets her ramble on for 6, 7 or 800 pages, half of which I don’t read); because I don’t trust Author D.

Isn’t that a weird statement - I don’t trust this author? I never really thought in terms of that before. But now 7 books later and this author has shown that she is capable of doing truly horrible things to these characters I love and I don’t trust her to overcome her damn ego and produce an HEA for them.

Are there authors you don’t trust in this way? You don’t have to name names.

Barb N commented:

“I'll name names-- like Stephanie Plum, who after 16? 17? how many? books, is still waffling back and forth between the same two guys.”

When I originally wrote this post I debated putting an Evanovich disclaimer in. I knew I would get this. I love the Plum series. Can’t wait until June to read Smoking Seventeen.

Here’s why Evanovich is different than Author D - because she doesn’t set up the same level of EXPECTATION so I’m not DISAPPOINTED. Evanovich doesn’t claim that the Plum series are romance novels. She calls them sexy mysteries. Which they are. And she wrote a book called How I Write that tells very candidly the formula she uses for writing them (though she doesn’t call it a formula). She starts by finding a crime. Mystery series.

She also deliberately doesn’t arc her characters. Although I think it could be argued that Ranger arcs. I sit down to a Plum book and I know I’m going to read a funny story with lots of sexual innuendo and outrageous stunts like a million cars exploding. I have no EXPECTATIONS beyond that. So I’m not DISAPPOINTED.

Now I’m going to say something really controversial. Anyone who’s read all the Plum books and thinks Stephanie hasn’t chosen a man is not paying attention. In sixteen books there is only one book that doesn’t end with Stephanie and Joe. That is the book that ends with Stephanie in a pile of bodies with Sally Sweet. Get a clue. Stephanie has chosen to be a cupcake. She just hasn’t made it official or given up her babe moments. That’s okay with me. And unless there is a major announcement on Evanovich’s part about an upcoming decision, anyone EXPECTING Stephanie to make it official is going to be DISAPPOINTED.

So why does Author D think she’s above the rules of her chosen genre? If she wants to write romance one of the rules is - cough up an HEA at the end of the book. In a series that would mean at the end of each book.

Barb N says:

“You know, I'm OK with a HFN (happy for now) as opposed to a HEA (happily ever after). Fortune Quilt which I just finished last week, has an HFN ending, and it was good.”

I’m okay with an HFN also unless I’m reading something sold as a romance novel, in which case I’ve been lead to expect an HEA. I loved the Fortune Quilt. I was very surprised when I looked up the genre and it was ‘contemporary romance.’ I always thought most of Lani’s books were women’s fiction. I’m still not disappointed in that book but I’m glad I didn’t read it EXPECTING a romance novel.

I once read a different author, who I’ve stopped reading for similar reasons, JUSTIFY no HEA in a romance novel. She didn’t write HEA’s because not everyone gets a happy ending. Duh. But guess what? That’s reality and reality is non-fiction. If I wanted reality I’d read non-fiction.

What about you? How important is an HEA to you? Do you pay attention to whether a book is categorized correctly or not?

Over in Julieland, in a post called 'Seasonal Variety', the card today is about disappointment. Author D disappointed me and now I don’t trust her. She made beautiful characters whom I love and then she has so far refused them the HEA I have a right to expect since she’s calling the books romance novels.

So until she’s written that final book in the series and I know for certain she has given my favorite characters their due, you won’t see Author D’s books, or name, mentioned here.

Now if you want to e-mail me ( I’ll be glad to give you her name and discuss her with you.

Barb N thanks for the comment that helped me further clarify my thoughts!


  1. This was BARB N’s original comment:
    “You know, I'm OK with a HFN (happy for now) as opposed to a HEA (happily ever after). Fortune Quilt which I just finished last week, has a HFN ending, and it was good. But I can't stand it when there's little or no resolution at all, which sounds like what you're talking about here. I'll name names-- like Stephanie Plum, who after 16? 17? how many? books, is still waffling back and forth between the same two guys. No thank you. I quit reading after 7 or 8, I think. It's possible to write a series where each book ends with a resolution, but enough is left hanging that you can't wait for the next book-- Harry Potter is the first example that comes to mind. Each book was satisfying on its own, but we couldn't wait for them to come out. There we were standing in line at midnight on the publication date of the next one. I admire you for hanging with your series, I would have quit reading long ago. “

    This was my original response:
    “Barb - Your comment has inspired me to rewrite part of this blog and I'm going to do that with a quote from your comment.”

  2. I have no problem with no HEA. I know it's standard to the genre, but I read a lot of thrillers, suspense, and horror, too, so it doesn't phase me. However, I'm with you on not trashing books on the blog. I don't do it. In fact, I don't trash them in writing at all. I might tell a friend if they asked, but that's the extent of it. This is mainly out of respect for the author. Even if I didn't like the book, I still respect the amount of work that undoubtedly went into it.

  3. I MUST have that HEA! I read non-fiction too, so there is no expectation there, it is real life. In fiction I REQUIRE all things to end (fictionally) perfect!

    When you first approached me about this authour, I was shocked to realize that the trust issue was EXACTLY what I felt as well. (And I will be e-mailing you about my "out there" theory tonight.)

    Great post, and wow, yeah wasn't THAT card timely?!

  4. always glad to be of help... :-)

    I hadn't really thought about it, but I guess I don't pay attention to the genre that much. I just want a satisfying ending, no matter what the genre. that doesn't necessarily have to be a happy ending (although most of the books I *love* have happy endings), just one that leaves you feeling like the book formed a complete arc. I'm not willing to forgive Evanovich for not arcing her characters even if she says she plans it that way-- I guess I need character development (hadn't really thought about that either) and a sense of closure, even if there are issues left unresolved for the next book in the series.

    I guess I will have to e-mail you to find out who this other author is!

  5. I know EXACTLY what/who you are talking about. I'll direct message you on Twitter and see if I'm right :0)

  6. I don't do twitter. send me an e-mail

  7. I just stumbled upon your blog (by way of Betty's), and I gotta say. I think *I* know which author you're talking about. ;) Her ego is infamous, especially if you're a member of Smartbitches. :P Of course, I still read her books, hoping and praying that this is just a "phase". Because really, I love the characters. *sigh*

    I require an HEA too. I don't GET authors who don't give them. Especially in the romance genre.

  8. Jen -

    I swear what's so hard for them to understand. If you're going to sell me a book and call it a romance, then write me an HEA. Period, end of story.

    And it breaks your heart that those particular characters don't get one.

    I read smartbitches sometimes but I've never read anything about her. I'll have to go check it out.

  9. I think every ending has to suit its story. Sometimes a happy ending is the right ending. So though I love HEA, if it feels wrong, I'll be a bit put off. (Like... the ending of Knocked Up? They shouldn't have ended up together, no chemistry!)

    In this case, J,J,J just emailed me the series, and I have to, alas, disagree. I don't think that series is romance, and the author doesn't present them as such. In fact, that's why I've never read them--because I always assumed they wouldn't end happily!! :-( If they've been shelved under Romance at B&N, the category manager has been toying with your emotions!! (At Indigo-Chapters they're in Fiction). ;-)

  10. Oh and I do agree with the trust issue in general, though. I think authors set up certain expectations with their readers, they create certain worlds. If they violate those worlds, or those expectations - major trust issue. This has happened with me with movies too.

    My brother and I once watched a movie marketed (on the box) as a comedy and halfway through the man started beating his wife. My brother and I were freaked out.

  11. In 1992 RWA gave her the Rita Award for the first book in the series. To me that says romance novel.