Nov 27 2007
Dear Ms. Ashworth:
Thank you for the prank you pulled on AAR this past holiday weekend which just last year was a place you vowed never to read again or post at again. At first, I was all worried that you were serious when you went after a reader complaining about your books being wallpaper historicals. But when I got to the end of the first page of posts and you were all “I don’t belong here anymore” and “I won’t post on these boards again“, I knew you were just pulling our legs and that your posts were one big joke.
I admit to falling for your serious tone initially. I was foolishly worried that you were once again trying to belittle a reader who had a few, seeming innocuous comments about your writing. I felt sure that you remembered how poorly the past attempts went at trying to make the small things seem . . . well, small until a big old author spotlight shone on them.
Remember when readers were outraged about you changing your widow into a virgin widow and how you thought that was so small and minor that you were compelled to write a huge editorial for AAR to point out how wrong, wrong, wrong those readers were? And then when some readers were unhappy with the grammar and punctuation in Duke of Scandal, you felt compelled to write an open letter to readers who were so silly as to want grammatically correct books? “An author can write a sentence any way she wants to, dangling modifiers included. I find it extremely insensitive the way some of these discussions progress.” is I think what you said.
And remember how both times you promised that you weren’t going to participate in AAR boards anymore because people didn’t understand the points you were trying to make? And you made the big exit only to come back the next time your books were mentioned on the boards?
When you did this a third time over the historical accuracy issue, I realized that no one would do the same thing over and over and over so this was really just a big joke on all the readers at AAR. Possibly it could have been that you felt bad for Cornwell and perhaps wanted to take the light off of her. Personally, I would have pointed it to Jacquelyn Frank’s rant against Romantic Time’s editing staff for “ruining” her ode to her fans.
Unfortunately, the article I wrote was sliced and diced, and rather poorly at that, and so the true point and feeling of it was obliterated. It was meant to be a major ass-kissing, slurpy, lovey-dovey homage to all of you. Honestly, I had put all my heart and humor into it, not realizing there was a 500 word limit (and after all, how does one limit their love for their readers to 500 words??) and it was reduced without a final consult with me. Am I angry? Oh yeah. It sounds awkward and dorky, with references to things no longer there. Will it kill me? No. But that isn’t the point. The point is I was trying to do something nice that I knew you all would get to see and now it’s kinda ruined for us both.
Cornwell’s “they don’t call it the VAST Right Wing Conspiracy for nothing” complaints could have provided us giggles for well into another week. But you could have been taking one for the writing team and falling on your sword with your “goodbye cruel world” (my words, not yours) posts.
I like, particularly, how you employed most of the nonsensical arguments that authors like to toss out there in belittling the opinions of readers.
I don’t have any other complaints. and I sell lots and lots.
TDI was my best selling book to date, and I’ve received more reader mail on this book than all my others combined. Not one reader commented on the history, but every single reader who wrote me personally commented on the characters, even some on the opera angle.
This is how I translated this phrase (before I realized it was a joke): Those readers who choose not to comment on the characters or the opera aspect are not very smart because the opera and the characters is important. Not minor historical details because if minor historical details were important readers would email me about it and I wouldn’t go all “you’re pedantic” on their asses like I am doing now.
I am secure in my writing and have a very thick skin.
The grade and review didn’t bother me (after so many books, an author usually develops *very* thick skin), but I knew there would be some fallout over the story. There always is. . . .But what made me laugh (and I mean literally laugh) when the fallout began over historical inaccuracies in TDI was when readers complained that the “champagne flute wasn’t invented yet” and “women didn’t use cosmetic brushes in 1870.” It was truly a head-scratching, WTF? moment for me. I worked very hard to create a believable romance, with accurate historical detail and the most believable dialogue possible considering the time period and storyline –" and yes, I took some creative license with a heroine-opera-singer-who’s-secretly-an-earl’s-sister-but-nobody-knows-who-she-is, kind of thing. But I never expected to frustrate readers because I had the hero drinking from a champagne flute instead of a glass in chapter one. The point is, I would never think of checking something like this.
Translation: So what that I have historical inaccuracies? These details are minor. The fact that a reader choose to provide these as examples in a thread that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with historical accuracy in romance books shows that some people have nothing better to do than walk around with a red pen unfairly attacking authors in a very disruptive way. I choose to ignore the fact that the entire conversation about historical accuracy was amply defended on both sides. I also choose to ignore that the gravamen of the complaint by the one reader was that the book did not work for her.
We all have our personal quirks and hot button issues. I generally won’t read lawyer stories. Robin has this thing about grammar. Jayne hates the faux Scottish dialect.
Because you don’t understand me, I am going to go away because you don’t share the same love for the romance genre that I do.
This used to be my favorite place to “hang out” as a reader and writer of romances, but clearly, as a “wallpaper historical writer” I don’t belong here anymore. I won’t post on these boards again. . . . I guess the fact that I (and every author) can’t please everybody is a reason not to post here anymore. No matter how well I’ve tried to explain myself (about this and other things I’ve written — Beware the Virgin Widow! Smile ), someone finds an argument with it. I simply cannot explain myself without someone arguing my approach, research, explanation, or writing abilities. I’m sure part of that is the nature of the boards, but there are a lot of readers who are just not happy with the romance genre at all anymore.
Translation: Despite the fact that I promised at least once before, if not more, never to come to AAR again, this time I really, really mean it because all you readers who are critical of the genre don’t love it in the right way, in the positive – “If you haven’t got anything to say, don’t say it” sort of way. I actually believe that I can please everyone and if I can’t please you, you don’t deserve my company.
You are probably right, Ms. Ashworth. Those fans at AAR who study the romance genre, who are passionate about it, don’t love it the way you love it. I suspect that the historical accuracy brigade is probably a tool of the Pentagon. Along with the cabal of readers who want good grammar and non virgin widows.