Tag: Ponderings

The Smell of Desperation.

Posted October 12, 2011 by Holly in Discussions | 12 Comments

I recently read a contemporary romance novel where the heroine was 30 and desperate to get married. When I say desperate, I mean desperate enough to pay a matchmaker $1500 to set her up with her one true love. Only the matchmaker died, so her grandson had taken over the business. And naturally the grandson had an ulterior motive and no experience (and of course they fell in love in the end, because this was a romance novel), and was basically just bilking her out of the money. In other contemporary romance novels I’ve read, heroines have been so desperate that they’re willing to trap an man with pregnancy so he’ll marry her, or rape a man to get at baby.

My question is: Who are these women and do they really exist?

I’m skeptical, I admit. It’s not that I don’t think there are women out there who desperately want to get married or have a family. But with technology today, there are so many avenues to explore. I don’t understand why a woman would have to tie a man up and rape him to get pregnant. She could go to a local sperm bank and get the same results with a lot less hassle. If a woman wants to get married enough, tricking a man into having sex so she’ll get pregnant is silly. Especially with online dating sites and etc. If you’re going to marry a man, why not marry one who actually wants to marry you?

I think my biggest problem with these tropes is how it makes us, as women, look on the whole. A woman who is so naive she’ll shell out $1500 just for a chance at love? At 30 years old? Or one who will trap a man into marriage by getting pregnant on purpose, or worse, tying him up and raping him so she can get pregnant to have the baby she so desperately needs? These women make the rest of us look bad. Very bad.

Maybe I’m just being judgmental, but I’d like to see more strong, independent women in romance novels. Ones who don’t need a man to have a baby, or a baby to get a man. Where are the 30-somethings who have careers and are comfortable with themselves? Maybe they want a man in their life, but they aren’t so desperate they’ll resort to drastic measures to get one.

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Charity Starts…On the World Wide Web?

Posted March 6, 2009 by Holly in Discussions | 42 Comments

With the economy being what it is, we’ve seen an increasing number of authors asking for help from their readers. The reasons are many and varied: because of the death of a loved one, because of a spouse losing a job or just because they’ve fallen on hard times.

I can’t decide how I feel about this. On the one hand, I truly feel for these people and the millions of others the world over who have been effected by this recession. Five months ago I lost my job. I worked for a mortgage company and, as I’m sure you can imagine, things within my company became very unstable. I was one of the last employees to be let go and since then it has been a constant struggle. I’m very blessed that my husband’s job is secure (for now), but I was a main contributor to our household income. Not having that extra has really hurt us. We’ve made budget cuts, gotten rid of some excess and we’re doing the best we can.

As the economy continues to tank, more and more of us are struggling to pay bills, buy groceries and keep a roof over our heads. It’s frustrating and scary to not know if you’ll be able to keep the heat on, or your mortgage current. Believe me, I understand the pressures associated with not knowing what to do next. I think it’s wonderful that those who are in a position to do so are helping those who are struggling. I would hate to see anyone lose their home or be unable to feed their children. I hope people who are in a position to offer help can and do.

But should these authors ask us, as readers/fans/bloggers, to help them to keep theirs?

Because on the other hand, I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable visiting the blog of a favorite author and seeing him/her begging for money. I really do understand that sometimes you don’t have a choice – that all other options have been exhausted and so you set your pride aside and do what needs to be done. But is taking your problems online the answer?

Or maybe it’s the fact that they’re asking that bothers me? Because if I see another author asking on behalf of someone s/he knows, I don’t have a problem with that. I also don’t have a problem with authors raising money for worthy causes (such as Brenda Novak’s diabetes auction or Colleen Gleason asking for donations for CF). I think what I’m uncomfortable with is authors asking for money for personal reasons.

I guess I’m not sure where I stand on the issue. I *do* understand. I was a single mom for many years and it’s a very horrible, scary feeling to not know if you’re going to be able to feed your children or keep a roof over their heads. On the other hand, I’m mildly uncomfortable that authors whose books I enjoy reading are now asking me for money outside of their book sales.

What about you? Do you have an opinion one way or the other? Do you think in this economy anythings goes, or does it bother you when you see authors asking for donations for personal reasons?

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Posted October 2, 2008 by Holly in Discussions | 27 Comments

Yesterday we had a discussion via Twitter about Happy for Now vs. Happily Ever After. As a romance reader, I’ve long professed my love of HEAs. I think most of us expect an HEA, no? Why else would we read romance.

But I’ve noticed an increase in dissatisfaction with the normal “marriage and baby” HEA. Or maybe I’ve just been spending too much time w/ Jen (heh). So I posed the question on Twitter:

Talking about HEA’s today. Are they necessary, or you ok w/o one? So far: Romance = HEA; Other genres = doesn’t matter. Your thoughts?

From there we had a lively discussion about whether or not we require a HEA in our books, whether they be part of a series or standalone. Then general consensus was that, yes, we need a HEA. But it made me wonder, what defines HEA? Marriage and baby? Or is being committed/engaged enough? Is an engagement/commitment considered a HFN? Or is HFN just the hope that things will continue?

I believe the answer to all the questions above are subjective. It completely depends on the story, characters and author whether marriage is required, or implied commitment is enough. Some examples I used:

Against the HEA: A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux – I would have liked this book better, had more respect for the author, if she hadn’t written an HEA for this book. I feel like both the hero and heroine were cheated by the throwaway ending Deveraux gave us.

For the HEA: Eve and Roarke from J.D. Robb’s In Death series. I don’t think anything less than the full HEA w/marriage would have worked for this couple. We really needed that full commitment from Eve, I think, to know she was truly serious about Roarke. I think we would have doubted her level of commitment otherwise. I realize this is part of an ongoing series, but even if it hadn’t been (JDR mentioned in an interview once that she’d only planned to write them as a trilogy! I’m so glad she continued on), I still would have required marriage to make the end believable.

Besides the above mentioned, there are many novels I feel require an HEA to make me happy. I’ve never been shy about sharing that I need my stories wrapped up with a nice, neat little bow.
There are times when I’ll accept a HFN, however. Even prefer it, if I’m being honest. I think I’ve become a bit jaded, but too often lately I find myself rolling my eyes that every single couple marries and has a baby and all of a sudden lives happily ever after.

We also discussed how we hate it when a couple gets a HEA in the beginning of a series and then loses it later. Again I used Jude Deveraux as an example: Her Forever trilogy. The h/h got a HEA in book one, lost it in book 2 and never really got it back in book 3. It was very frustrating.

On the other hand, there have been a couple times when a we see a couple from early in the series struggling with something in a later book and I kind of enjoy that. Not that their HEA is compromised, but they’re struggling with some real life conflict.

Again, it’s subjective. I’m curious how the rest of you feel.

Do you require an HEA for each romance novel you read? What about other genres? If you do, what do you consider an HEA? Marriage and baby? Or is commitment/engagement enough for you? Do you find, like me, that there are exceptions to every rule? Or are you pretty set in your beliefs for how a romance should end?

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Borders Book Stores May Be Sold?

Posted March 21, 2008 by Holly in News | 9 Comments

From CNBC.com:

By DAVID RUNK updated 1:48 p.m. PT, Thurs., March. 20, 2008

DETROIT – Borders could become the latest victim of the credit squeeze, announcing Thursday that it may put itself up for sale. Rival Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, saw fourth-quarter profits drop 9 percent as the industry struggles with intense competition from discounters.

Shares in Borders tumbled more than 39 percent as the nation’s second-largest bookseller said it was considering options including the sale of the company or certain divisions, and that it had lined up $42.5 million in financing to help it keep running through the year.

“It’s a crunch of three C’s_ credit, capital and consumer spending,” said Dan Ansell, a partner at Greenberg Traurig LLP and chairman of its real estate operations division.

Despite its earnings slide, Barnes & Noble boosted its dividends and surprised Wall Street with predictions of a profitable first quarter. Analysts said the nation’s largest book seller would be the most likely suitor for Borders.

Both big bookstore chains have deepened discounts for their members, as shoppers are even more focused on low prices for discretionary items as they pay higher gas and food costs.

But analyst Michael Norris at market research firm Simba Information said customers are increasingly turning to wholesale clubs and other discounters like Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for books and other merchandise.

“This is going to be a really tough year” for booksellers, Norris said.

Stacy had originally posted this on her blog, and since I still can’t comment there, I’m posting it here instead.

Do you visit the bookstores, or buy online?
Which do you do more of?
Do you shop at Borders, or the other place instead?

I have to wonder how much eBook sales are affecting the decline in sales at major book stores. Personally, I buy 90% of my books in eFormat, because my only other option is Wal-Mart (as I’ve mentioned before, I’m an hour away from a Borders/Barnes) and not only is their selection limited, but I’m somewhat morally opposed to buying all my books from there.

If I’m in the area, or out shopping with friends, my preferred chain is Borders. I think the ambiance is better, and the customer service is far better than that of my Barnes.

Regardless, I think online ordering and eBook sales are having the biggest impact. I think Borders would do better to start offering eBook sales through their website (no idea if this is even possible, or it’s already in the works) or, even better, books through their website. They’ve partnered with Amazon to order books online, but unlike Barnes, they don’t offer sales/shipping direct through their site.


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Updated: What Happened To….(Now with Links)

Posted February 29, 2008 by Holly in Discussions | 10 Comments

A number of years ago, I was given a copy of The Return of Eden McCall by Judith Duncan. I remember reading it in a matter of hours and thinking, “That was amazing” when it was finished. The thing is, I’m pretty sure this was the first romance novel I ever read, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Over the years, I’ve read and re-read this book so often the covers are falling off. I still read it every now and again.

A couple of years ago, when I started to read mainly romance, I looked her up on Amazon and found several other novels that were connected to this one. I searched for them (They featured Eden’s brothers, Tanner and Chase) but couldn’t find a copy that wasn’t super expensive (they’re out of print). But the other day, I found both an a used book store. Imagine my surprise.

Anyway, I read them the other day (reviews to follow..maybe) and really enjoyed them. But then I got to wondering, what happened to Judith Duncan? From the research I’ve done, it doesn’t look like she’s published a book since the mid-90’s. Since I haven’t read her entire backlist, it could be that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I can’t help but wonder. She published quite a few novels with Silhouette and Harlequin and then just disappeared.

The same thing happened to another I enjoyed in the past. Jeane Renick. I have a book by her (I believe I got it the same time I got the Judith Duncan books) called Always and I love it. It’s another one I pull out every now and again and re-read it. She hasn’t had anything published since the mid-90’s, either (not that I can tell anyway).

I’d love to find out more about these authors if anyone knows. And maybe we can help you find some, too. Is there an author you adored that seems to have disappeared into thin air? Did you find a book at a UBS and want more by that author, but can’t find any? Let’s try to help each other out..

Update: I found two websites that track down missing authors. This one seems to be the most promising. But this one isn’t bad either.

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