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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Readers Speak!

So, as you can tell, a few of us Lady Scribes spent part of the last week at the Romantic Times Booklover's Convention.  We had a blast!  I love spending time with my author friends and meeting new ones.  But one of the best parts of RT is meeting readers.

Romance readers are my people.  They share my obsessions.  They talk about characters as if they real, just like I do.  They always have a book they are reading, and usually on their person, in some way.  They believe in working hard, playing hard and loving hard.  They believe in confronting your demons and in a Happily Ever After.  They read a lot of books and they like to talk about them.  Let me repeat: My People.

I took part in a couple of really fun events at RT.  With Ava Stone, Tammy Falkner, Claudia Dain, Sabrina Jeffries, Kieran Kramer, Vicky Dreiling, Anne Lethbridge and Nicky Pentilla I participated in Lady Lavinia's Bridal Shower, in which we played games to commemorate the nuptials of Lady Lavinia and the Earl of Hawt.

Here's a pic of the tables at the bridal shower, and the crowd.



I also planned and played Regency Feud with Sabrina Jeffries, Claudia Dain, Ava Stone and Tammy Falkner, which was great fun.  I don't have pics of that one, but I hope Jane Charles does, because I'd love some!

And I did a panel, sort of a Readers Town Hall Meeting, in which readers got to speak up and tell authors like Cherry Adair, Isabelle Drake, Cindy Holby, Beth Ciotta, Kieran Kramer, Sabrina Jeffries and I what they like in Romance and what they don't.  It was a really interesting discussion, frank but not mean, and thought provoking.  And I thought that I would bring you the same sort of forum today.  (Partly because the authors had brought questions too, but we didn't get to them!)

So, what do you have to say about Romance in general?  Things you love?  Things you'd change?  And here are my questions for you:  Do you HAVE to have an epilogue at the end of a story?  What makes you pick up a new author?  And what do you wish your favorite authors would do more of?  Less of?

It's your chance to speak up!


38 comments:

  1. Although, after all the dust ups yesterday online, I should have asked if you think the Historical Romance is dead!

    Duh.

    No!

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  2. I would LOVE to hear these opinions, especially since I didn't make it to the Town Hall meeting at RT where y'all talked about it. I hope lots of people come to share.

    And no, Deb, I don't think historical romance is dead...even though I've heard that it is at least five or six times in the last decade or so. I hope it never dies, because it is what initially drew me to read romance, and it is what keeps me reading it.

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    1. I have to say, I've heard the historical is dead at least 3 times since I've been writing them. This was the first time I'd heard someone say it SHOULD die, though.

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    2. Yeah, that's just all kinds of head-scratch-ery.

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    3. Seriously - what the heck was she thinking? "I'm tired of this genre so it should go away?" There are lots of genres I don't care for, but I just leave them to the readers that do!

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    4. I got more than 130 responses from readers about that post. Essentially the historical readers said they would quit reading if the genre died. Fyi many had never heard of DA.

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  3. Epilog: are ending to the story. I love knowing that the story had a period put at the end. New Author: The cover picture is the first draw then the back cover, does it make me want to read the book, Inside synopsis gives me a small peek at the book. If I an still gun shy, take out my smart phone,go to amazon a lot of time they let you read some of the book.MORE OR LESS: When I have to wait a year for the second book in a series. Makes me have to re read the first one to remember the characters. Might just forget about it. It gets me when they have a little peek then make me wait a year to get the book. If you have a sneak peek you have the whole book written, bring it out maybe in 6 months while I might remember the jest of the book. HISTORICAL ROMANCE DEAD: Nope just harder to find at places like Target and Wally World, have to go to B&N And BAM.

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    1. Thanks so much for answering, Alice!

      Good point about length of time between series books. That does make it harder to stay invested.

      You know, sub genres always do ebb and flow. And I think that is fine. But I think Historical is one that will always have a place in Romance readers hearts.

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  4. I'm new to historical romance fiction but have loved Jane Austen for over 20 years so to me, it's only a natural segue. I enjoy epilogues just because, by the end of a novel, I love the author's writing so much I want more. I would love to see more over 35 heroines like Monica Burns & Amara Royce are exploring. Regarding new authors, I follow Twitter & I'm also a librarian so I read reviews ALL THE TIME. I don't necessarily trust the reviews either, I'll read a sample downloaded onto my Nook from B & N or if I just like the story idea, I'll pick it up despite reviews. Once I find authors I love, I just automatically read their latest (while trying to read the backlist, too!). I love the stories, the characters, and the writing. The description of The Love List has prompted me to read it--my first Deb Marlowe novel. :)

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    1. Welcome to Lady Scribes--and to Historical Romance, Maria! I think you are right, there are lots of new avenues to explore in Historicals. And thanks so much for picking up The Love List! I hope you love it!

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    2. Maria-

      interesting to read your comment about reviews. I also don't trust most of the reviews out there and depend a lot on my friend's recommendations. One of my favorite books by Deb is her first one, Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss. If you love witty dialogue, you will love that book.

      Angelina

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    3. Aww, thanks Angelina! I loved writing Sophie and Charles.

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  5. I do not believe Historical Romance is dead. Genres go through cycles, and last year it was harder to sell historicals, but as Shauna Summers from Random House said, Regency is bread and butter. It will always be around.

    I found yesterday's discussion unhelpful. Jane, who started it, wanted historicals to change, but when pressed, couldn't say what she wanted changed.

    I tweeted.

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    1. Hi Ella--I hope Shauna is right because I love Regency! Personally, I'd also love to see a wider spread of historical backgrounds. I always dreamed of writing an American Historical, when I was younger. Maybe I still will!

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  6. Deb,

    Clearly I don't think romance is dead! What makes me interested in a new author is first-the blurb and second-a sampling of the writing. Oh, and a recommendation helps.

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    1. Yes, a rec from someone who shares your taste is the best! Makes me rub my hands in anticipation...

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  7. I don't have to have an epilogue if the story ends in a good manner. I recently read a Paranormal Romance where the author had a fight scene with the hero dying as the end of their story. Then a epilogue a few months later to show everything worked out. Umm, no. Killed the whole story for me, which had been great until that.

    BTW, Paranormal is dead as well. And not just the vamps. Been hearing it from agents for two years now. Whatever, I still buy paranormals and regencies and other stuff.

    Recommendations, cover, blurb and first chapter will get me to consider buying a new author. The last component is price. There are several new authors I would have tried if their publishers wouldn't have had their ebooks priced at $12 and up. I don't even pay that price for my auto-buy authors.

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    1. Oh, that would be hard to swallow, Beth. The hero dying at the end is not what a romance reader is expecting!

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  8. Historical Romance is not dead. It has certainly evolved from the book of the 1970's where the heroine as a pitiful creature and needed a man to come rescue her. Although we have the HEA and marriage is the usual ending, I say what's wrong with that? It's the journey along the way that has changed for the better. We deal with PTSD in many books now; we have main characters who have handicaps and issues that authors are now writing about, all within the constraints of the social structure of Regency/Georgian/Victorian society. How have we not evolved! It's not all about the ballgowns and the dinners! Great discussion as usual!

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    1. I agree, Nancy! Someone who thinks all Historicals are the same is not reading very widely!

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    2. Whoops, I hit enter and didn't mean to...Also, I agree that it takes skill to write a different book within the constraints of history and its social issues--and there are a lot of skilled authors out there.

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  9. I love historical romance and will promote it any chance I get. What draws me to new authors a lot of times is the cover of the book. I have found new authors that I now love because I saw a striking cover which made me curious enough to read what it is about and ask friends about that author. I don't like books that focus overly much on the mistress or go into details of heroes past relationships. That is my big pet peeve in historical romance

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    1. I'm so glad to hear you say this. I don't like that either, so I tend to shy away from it in my writing. But I've often wondered if I was sugarcoating things too much. :)

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    2. Thanks for sharing, regencygirl01! We spent a good deal of time in the panel talking about covers, and which were the author's favorites and which were the readers. It was fun!

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  10. So glad to hear Historical Romance isn't dead as I'm trying to get published.:) I don't normally buy a book because of it's cover, but that said, I do dislike covers that only show a man's bare chest.

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    1. So nice to see you here, Angelina! Will you share what sort are your favorite covers?

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  11. I certainly hope historical romance isn't dead, but even if it were I would still read and write it. It was actually all I read up until a few years ago. It'll always be favorite genre.

    I love epilogues! It shows the happily-ever-afters and wraps up any loose ends. Are they necessary? No. But I love them.

    And like everyone else, cover, blurb, first few pages draw me in. I've found several new favorite authors in the last year or so. I'm looking forward to finding more. Great blog, Deb! I'm loving these answers!

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    1. Hey Suzie! I knew you were still in love with Historicals--and love that you write unusual settings. I actually recommended your Valkyrie's Vengeance last week at RT, when I was swooning over Ragnor Lothbrok with another Vikings fan. :-)

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  12. Great discussion, Deb! Very cool to hear reader's opinions on romance.

    *I* always liked epilogues because you get a chance to glimpse into the future and make sure that everyone is still all right.

    An ugly cover would not draw me to an author I hadn't read before. I know it's what's inside the cover that counts, but I need to be grabbed with something pretty to begin with. (That said... my favorite book has a horrible cover. If the author wasn't already an auto-buy for me, I might not have purchased it.)

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    1. The reason I mentioned the epilogues is because once someone told me she loved my book, but marked down my review because I didn't have an epilogue. For that particular book I couldn't have added one--I was out of word count! :-)

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  13. Very interesting responses today! I really like epilogues. If it's a book I love, I'm not ready to say goodbye to the characters. An epilogue lets me see them in the future and it eases the separation anxiety. ;D

    I almost always discover new authors from recommendations. There are times, however, when a book just calls to me. It must be the cover, but for some reason I keep coming back to it or I can't walk away. Then I'll start reading the first page and if I want to go to the next, I'll usually get the book. If I don't finish the page, I put it back on the shelf. With ebooks, I almost always get free samples first unless it's an author I know I'll enjoy.

    I don't see the logic in a call to allow a sub-genre to die. What is the suggestion, that the only sales are pity sales? I don't read historical romance because I'm trying to keep it alive. I buy it because I love it. In fact, I don't know any readers who would spend their hard earned money on books just to be nice to a sub-genre. It was interesting to me that the 'new authors' mentioned in yesterday's brouhaha--all who I think are talented writers--were from about 4 years ago. I didn't see any NEW historical romance authors mentioned, so it's hard for me to put much stock in the statement that there's nothing new under the sun being written.

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    1. The idea of separation anxiety makes me smile. Sometimes I feel that way about the characters I'm writing. :-)

      Ah, interesting observation--I hadn't caught that!

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  14. I wish I'd been there to here was the readers' opinions on what they like/don't like; that would have been fascinating to me. And oh goodness, there are a host of questions here that I can spend days talking about. Okay, first...new author...when I first began reading romance (a young teen), I insisted on remaining 'loyal' to the one author I was reading. At the time it was Jude Devereaux. But I was a voracious reader and finished ALL of her work in like two weeks...so then I had to move on. Which was the best thing to happen to me because I discovered Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood. So now, I've learned to venture outside of my author 'comfort' zone and focus on what sounds like a good story. And for me, good romance is romance that makes me cry because then I know at the end I'll inevitably be smiling...hence my love for the genre!

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    1. I am in complete sympathy, Christi. I love the big emotion in my reads too. And I always shoot for it when I'm writing.

      You would have loved to have been in that room with Jude Deveraux and Julie Garwood!

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  15. I’m so delighted that all of you great authors got a chance to get together and have some good old-fashioned fun.

    To answer some of your questions:

    1. No, an epilogue isn’t really necessary. Mostly, they are a fun addition to let the reader know if a baby has been born, etc.

    2. I like to try a new author if after I read a synopsis about their novel and it appeals to me, why not? I would never turn down a good book simply because the author is new to me. If I was that close-minded, I would never grow.

    3. I love it when authors add humor to their novels. I also wish more were written about governesses, moors, huge desolate mansions and a mystery involved. I know I may step on some toes here and I don’t mean to insult anyone, but I would like to see less novels devoting so much of the story to spies. That is just something I do not enjoy. So, forgive me?

    4. In general, just doing what you always do in writing your magnificent novels to entertain your readers is what it is all about. I thank you so much for all you give me!!

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    1. Hi Connie, Thanks so much for sharing! I agree--I love to have a mystery or adventure element in with a big romance. That's what I write, and it's wonderful to have the length and freedom to do it the way I wish now.

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  16. I'm really bad about reading outside of my comfort zone. BUT a beautiful cover followed by a great blurb can win me over. I've tried several authors that way, and they ended up in my keeper pile. :)

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  17. Always, it seems, the cover does it for me first. Then the blurb. Would have loved to have sat in on that meeting with readers, Deb! What fun!

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