Very Odd

I just saw a blog post by author Roz Denny Fox, and I wanted to share it here.

Unless an author has done something horribly incorrect and offensive in a book, I don’t think it’s appropriate to contact them and tell them you didn’t like it. However, I know many people do just that.

This is a different thing, though. It’s just really, really odd! I’m completely stumped that a reader couldn’t understand the concept of fiction!

…I received a letter from a reader who had gotten a copy of one of my fairly old back-list books at a library book sale. She wrote a two page letter saying how unhappy she was because my story, set in her state, wasn’t in any town she or any of her friends had ever heard of, and she’d been a resident all her life…

…I wrote back thanking her for taking the time to write to me, and for enjoying the story. Then I said the town was fictional. I assumed this would be the end of it. But she wrote back, again disappointed. She wondered why I would put such real-sounding people, with very real careers, in a town that didn’t exist. If I wrote fiction, she said, none of the book ought to feel real…

Goodreads Choice Awards 2015

Goodreads Choice Awards

Every year throws up a truly bizarre selection of books. I do like some, but so often they don’t even fit the category they’re nominated in (that’s what happens when you open up nominations to all and sundry!).

And as ever, Goodreads refuses to acknowledge romance, the most popular genre in publishing, and only gives it one award. Because erotic paranormal fiction is *totally* meant to be in the same category as Amish romance!

On the other hand, fantasy is always given half a gazillion award categories. It’s pure snobbery.

Additionally, the awards exclude books published in November and December. I have no idea why you’d have a “best of” before the year is done. That’s why Hollywood awards don’t happen until the following year.

Amongst this year’s “romance” finalists is the (widely-ridiculed) Fifty Shades of Grey rewrite. I saw the list and knew I couldn’t vote. The only book I might vote for, I haven’t read yet! Last year, Diana ‘I hate romance and don’t write that trash!’ Gabaldon won the romance category for her historical fiction.

If you want to vote, you can HERE (as long as you have a Goodreads account).

Me? I’m in the process of compiling my own “Best Of 2015” list instead.

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

UPDATE: An article with more information.

I’m not going to explain this. I’m just going to post it.

However, I will say that in every article about it there are men underneath, joking about this attack. So glad they think viciously assaulting teenage girls is a joke…

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

A 28-year-old British man, Richard Brittain, most notable for his 2006 victory on the quiz show Countdown, tracked down a Scottish teenager who’d written a negative review of his self-published novel and shattered a bottle of wine on the back of her head. The aspiring author pleaded guilty to the 2014 assault in a Scottish court Monday, the Mirror reported.

Brittain, incensed at the one-star review, apparently tracked down Paige Rolland’s Facebook page, discovering that she lived in Scotland and worked at an Asda supermarket. He allegedly travelled 500 miles from London and found her at the store, crouching to stock a low shelf of cereal boxes. He hit her from behind with a full bottle of wine, leaving her unconscious and with a gash on her head.

According to the Daily Mail, this isn’t even the first time Brittain has been accused of stalking a woman online. The perfect princess of his novel, Ella Tundra, was apparently based on a woman he targeted, a creepy courtship he described in a blog post called “The Benevolent Stalker.”

Paige Rolland was brutally attacked after leaving a bad review of Richard Brittain's book online.

A teenager was hunted down and attacked by a crazed wannabe author after she left a bad review of his book online.

Paige Rolland, 18, was smashed over the head with a wine bottle by failed writer Richard Brittain in a brutal assault.

Brittain travelled 500 miles from his home in England to the supermarket where Rolland worked in Scotland to confront her after she criticised his book “The World Rose” online.

Stalker Brittain, 28, used social media to discover where she worked, before creeping up on her and smashing a wine bottle over her head, knocking her out.

A romance with a man and a… very large dog?

There has been a trend recently for romance covers with a man and a dog – and no woman.

I’ve heard from more than one reader that they don’t like to see attractive women with “their” heroes on book covers (which sort of smacks of misogyny!), but I’ve got to say, I find the man-and-dog covers a little… creepy.

Honestly, book covers like these make me think of some sort of cross-species, bestiality romance!

 Chasing Victory (The Winters Sisters) by Joanne Jaytanie Payton's Pursuit (The Winters Sisters) by Joanne Jaytanie

Soul Scars (Dog Haven Sanctuary Romance, #2) by Tamsan GibbIrresistible Force (K-9 Rescue, #1) by D.D. Ayres

Contacting Me


I’ve posted a bunch of things about this, but I’m going to say it again.

Authors: I know I have followers who never like or comment here, but who read. And that’s great.

However, then I get authors who contact me for reviews, and others who contact me to ask something else related to books, but the problem is that I don’t see the messages until weeks later.

I said something similar in my last post. I’ve been overseas, had people contact me to ask if they can meet for coffee in Paris or somewhere, and I haven’t seen the messages until weeks after I returned home!

If you want a review or just have a question, you can contact me through Goodreads (I do say there that I’m not accepting review books at the moment, but it isn’t always the case), or by leaving a comment on one of my three blogs (HERE, HERE and HERE), or by getting to me through one of my two Pinterest accounts (just comment under any picture). If you want to be more private, just ask, and I’m pretty much okay with giving my email address to anyone.

Facebook is a write-off for me. I’ve just unfriended a whole lot of people I’ve known for twenty-five years because they were all supporting the “istandwithrussia” hashtag (it’s mostly Obama haters, but hating Obama doesn’t mean you have to support Putin, the modern-day Hitler!). It was the last straw for me. Seeing people I liked, supporting Vladimir Putin, knowing I was Ukrainian… I actually cried, and I almost never cry – not even when I dislocated my knee and broke my arm at exactly the same time!

I don’t visit Facebook anymore. I’ve logged my mother’s computer onto my account so SHE can access news from family and mutual friends. If someone “likes” your post, it’s almost always my mother, not me.

I’m SO lucky I actually saw the Facebook message from the cat-rescuer who took our gorgeous, pregnant stray cat!

I’m in the process of unlinking my Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts from my other accounts. I deleted my Tumblr account on Friday night.

Whatever you do, do NOT be offended if you don’t hear back from me. The only times I don’t reply are when I’ve not seen your message!

Reasonable expectations of authors.

A lot of readers say they never start a book series until the final book is written, but the only times I’ve done that have been by accident, when I discovered a series later that other people did.

There are plenty of series, such as those by J.D. Robb and Robyn Carr, that you’d never experience if you waited until the end.

Sylvia Day Crossfire Series Books 1-4

However, then there are those series that were meant to be a certain length from the outset, and the author struggles to deliver.

Books take a lot of work, much more than most people give authors credit for. However, I think there’s a point you reach where it’s reasonable to be annoyed with an author when they drag their feet.

I am deeply in love with Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, even though it’s not only not my usual sort of thing, but also has at least one subpar book to it. It was supposed to be a trilogy, but then Day dragged it out, and now it’s supposed to be concluded in five books.

Except – we still don’t have book five!

Day has had a busy year. She was here in Canberra for the convention in March, and then all over Australia on a book tour after that. As soon as she got back to America (I follow her Instagram) she was making appearances on television shows all over the country. Then there were more conferences and conventions to attend.

However, a brief glance at any reviews or discussion forums for this series reveal almost all her fans are frustrated, bordering on angry, or they’ve just given up entirely.

How long is it reasonable to expect your readers to wait for a promised book? Is it okay that the fifth book in this series was originally supposed to be released months ago, but as of October 2015 still doesn’t have a release date set? Worse, it was promised for 2015, and now even the release year has been revoked!

My guess is mid-2016 if we’re lucky, and by then a whole lot of fans will have jumped ship.

Of course Day isn’t the only author to put their readers through this, but this is the one I care about at the moment.

Fiction genres, and especially romance genres, are fickle and change fast. While I hate comparisons being made between Crossfire and Fifty Shades (because I love one and despise the other), they are from the same recent trend. It seems though that the trend is heading right on out of fashion.

Grey by E.L. JAMES2

The Fifty Shades movie was widely panned (and I can’t blame people with that awful cast!), and it seemed to spell the beginning of the end for the angsty-kinky-billionaire-romance fad. E.L. James’ attempt to rewrite her Fifty series from Christian’s perspective was not well-received.

Life and Death Twilight Reimagined (Twilight #5) by Stephenie Meyer

People are looking for something new. This is going out of fashion as surely as teenage vampires did; just look at how well Stephenie Meyer’s attempt last week to revive her flagging Twilight franchise went.

If we don’t get the final Crossfire book soon, Day will have missed the boat.

I can’t tell authors what to do with their lives, but when you’ve crafted a hugely popular series, I promise you, readers would rather have the next book than see you doing yet another publicity tour!

The Week: 21st – 27th September

Sunset Gowrie Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Spring 25th September 2015 Sky Clouds Grey Pink Nature.

Friday sunset in Canberra *

Strange Sky Canberra Australia 21st September 2015 Sonya Heaney Christopher Heaney Clouds Sunset Nature 2

Canberra’s sky doing something bizarre at sunset on Monday evening.


My father took this picture at the state border when coming back from checking if another possum had moved into my grandmother’s house. I want to know how he took it, because that sure looks to me like he took it while driving! Enlarge it, and I bet you’ll agree he lied when he told me he stopped the car (remember, in Australia the driver is on the right of the car)!

I’ve hardly read anything for a couple of weeks – I’m worried about this blog!

I seem to have gone off historical romance a bit (after reading hardly anything BUT that!), but maybe I’m just reading the wrong books…

This week sounds like a string of bad news!

Cat 3 Queanbeyan Australia Sonya Heaney 19th September 2015

Even though the RSPCA was rude, unhelpful, suspicious, and tried to fob me off onto other organisations because they’re not actually interested in helping animals, I’ve found somewhere for our gorgeous, HUGELY pregnant stray cat, and she’ll go there on Monday. I desperately want to keep her, but I don’t know how people who travel manage to have pets! We’re going to be in Ukraine and Italy, and at the Gold Coast and in Melbourne in the next seven months. Not ideal for a cat, but I don’t know how I can let her go!

I love her so much, and even if she’s sound asleep, she wakes up and follows you from room to room if you move, like a very, VERY loyal dog, but even sweeter! You get in BIG trouble if you don’t talk to her and pet her the whole time, and she hates being on her own for even a moment. (That’s my mother and me in the background. Our cat insisted on sitting with us for lunch – on her own chair – and she’s at the table, while we’ve been shoved over onto the side!)

26thseptember2015Russian occupiers in Ukraine during the week tearing down the houses of native Crimean Tatars, and raising Russian, terrorist and SYRIAN flags in occupied regions of the east.

Russian occupiers in Ukraine during the week, tearing down the houses of native Crimean Tatars, and raising Russian, terrorist and SYRIAN flags in occupied regions of the east.

DanielaDaniela's murderer.

I said a few months ago that someone I grew up with was murdered by her boyfriend (look how gorgeous she was).

This week, he was charged with the additional offences of raping her both before and after her death. It makes me feel sick.

It is because of things like this, and like the man who punched a woman at the football in Western Australia on Friday night that I have ZERO tolerance for anyone who claims they’re not a feminist.

The Hobbit’s 78th Birthday

Today, the 21st of September, is the 78th anniversary of the publication of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.1937. FIRST EDITION

No more of these…?

Category Romance. No more home renovation. No more ageing parents going into homes. No more bakers. No more etc. etc. etc.

Could we stop putting this scene in every romance… Please? 🙂

Romance Cover Art

It’s in the Hairstyles!

Historical Romance Fashions and Hairstyles Versus the Reality Victorian Era Portrait Book Cover

Shana Galen on why she loves historicals

The Rogue You Know (Covent Garden Cubs #2) by Shana Galen

My review of Amish Redemption (Brides of Amish Country #13) by Patricia Davids

Amish Redemption (Brides of Amish Country #13) by Patricia Davids

Could we stop putting this scene in every romance… Please? :)

Romance Cover Art

This picture is totally irrelevant. I just thought it was sort of funny.

If you read a lot in any genre the similarities start popping up. However, there’s one – across every romance subgenre – that is so common it’s now getting a giggle out of me each time.

Authors! Please cut this one. It usually comes at about the three-quarter mark, when the hero and heroine are in a crisis. The hero’s running off somewhere, all worried about the heroine, and the scene I’m talking about unfolds:

He couldn’t let this happen. He wouldn’t let the woman he loved run away.

Wait a minute! Loved? Where did that come from?

But as soon as he thought it, he realised it was true.

He loved her.

Maybe a few years ago it wasn’t so common, but now I swear, it’s in 99.9% of the books I read. I guess you can tell authors are reading each other’s books!

No more of these…?

Category Romance. No more home renovation. No more ageing parents going into homes. No more bakers. No more etc. etc. etc.

People who follow romance writers’ (rather than readers’) boards and blogs might have noticed at the moment there’s a message being put out there by publishers, for authors:

No more home renovation. No more ageing parents going into homes. No more bakers. No more etc. etc. etc.

This is especially the case with category romance publishers (Mills and Boon and Harlequin), and my initial reaction was THANK GOD.

Not that I dislike all books with these themes, but reading category romance has become a lot like Groundhog Day recently! The same book being put out over and over again, and as someone who receives a lot of category romance review books, this request couldn’t have come soon enough.

Here’s my theory why these themes just won’t go away, and why authors are missing the mark a little bit:

They’re writing their characters as the wrong ages!

What is the average age for your romance heroines and heroes these days? Say, twenty-seven or twenty-eight for a heroine and about thirty for a hero?

Now, how old would that make their parents? And how many parents of that age are going into nursing homes? VERY FEW!

Home renovation themes for characters these ages? Sure, but not in the way authors are writing it. People in their twenties aren’t looking to retire to the country to run a bed and breakfast. They’re moving to the cities and looking for a fancy apartment they can afford, or a place close to the city centre for easy access to restaurants and theatres and things. They’re getting going on an adventure, not slowing down and backing away from it.

And the baking – well, there’s only so much a person can read about cupcakes before you start to feel like you’re actually gaining weight reading about it! Sure, lots of younger women bake, but it seems to be one of the few hobbies authors are giving their young women characters (alongside quilting – another stereotypically “older” hobby).

People write from life experience, and if you’re at a certain stage in your life – say the parents going into homes, and retiring and renovating a home in the country, and baking for the grandkids sort of stage – of course it’s going to bleed into your writing, even if the characters you’re writing are three decades younger.

I think publishers wouldn’t be overwhelmed with this type of manuscript if more authors put a bit more thought into what life is really like when you’re twenty-eight!