Monday, July 16, 2012

Calling Readers: How Loyal Are You?


I leave for the RWA conference in a week and a day. That means packing and pitching and trying not to panic. I'll admit, I'm behind. Not sure how that happened. I was doing great until this past weekend. I don't know where it went. I mean, it was right here and then I blinked and POOF!

But enough about that. Today is not about writing. It's about reading. And before anyone thinks I'm getting totally ahead of myself, this blog is not about me. Well, not exactly. Today I want to tap into our reader brains.

All of us have our favorite authors, many of whom we've been following for years. Decades in some cases. There are those we wish were still writing (LaVyrle Spencer, anyone?) and those who somehow lost us along the way.

Prior to 2006 when I accidentally fell through the rabbit hole into Romancelandia, I'd been reading Romance novels for a little over 20 years paying no attention to publishers. My loyalty lay with the writers. Names like Jo Beverly, Mary Balogh, Johanna Lindsey, Dorothy Garlock, and Judith McNaught. Spencer and Woodiwiss should go without saying.

Several of these authors are still turning out best sellers but I can't help but wonder, does it get old? After 20 or 30 or 40 novels, does a writer long to do something totally different? And if she did venture in a brand new direction, would you go with her? As a reader, do you prefer your favorites stay with the tried and true, or are you happy to try something new, knowing they won't let you down?

To keep the question focused, I'm not talking about leaving Romance behind, but simply telling a love story in a different time or setting. Is there a type of story you wouldn't read no matter what? How far does your loyalty stretch?

30 comments:

Maureen said...

I'll follow Jennie Crusie to paranormal to mystery... But if she wrote inspirational, I'd never touch her again.

I have my limits.

I really enjoy Jennifer Ashley, but I've never read her paranormals. Always intend to, but time...as you say, it flees so fast! I read her historicals, her mysteries, her early fantasy...someday I'll find the time! I hope!

Now, off to work on revisions for a story I'm likely gonna pitch! Oh, and list making, and packing and cleaning my car since I'll be doing the airport shuttle...

quantum said...

Good luck with the 'packing, and pitching' .... that could be a rock and roll song!

As a reader I find that certain voices resonate and I will try almost anything written by those authors.

Like Chance, I find that biblical quotes as a source of guidance tend to jar, but recently read a Tracie Peterson 'Inspirational Western' and liked it. It would have been even better without the 'inspirational' LOL

Marnee Bailey said...

There's nothing that I refuse outright. But I don't usually read inspirational or straight science fiction.

There aren't a lot of autobuys for me anymore, honestly. I don't know why that is. I used to have a bunch. Now, I don't know if it's that I've been writing but I'm all over the place.

I don't think it's a matter of not following where they go, but I usually only give them two strikes. If I get to the second disappointment, I don't give them a chance for a third. At least not without a lot of great buzz and good reviews.

TerriOsburn said...

We seem to have a consensus against Inspiration. On a pirate ship. Who'd a seen that coming? I think Hellie has read some Inspirationals and liked them. It would depend on the level of preaching but my knee jerk reaction is that I wouldn't go there either.

I've love Nora Roberts for years but had no desire to read her paranormals. My sister did and loved them, but paras just aren't for me.

Do you ever get annoyed if it feels like an author is jumping on the bandwagon of whatever genre seems to be hot at the moment? I mean, she has to make a living so why not write to market if you can? But then it depends on the quality of what they put out regardless of genre.

Marnee Bailey said...

Honestly, I sometimes think that author's don't so much jump on a bandwagon as see the opportunity in a new genre. They read what others are doing and see a niche to fill. None of us write in a vacuum and I think there's a chance they just go, "you know what'd be cool?" and follow it down the rabbit hole.

TerriOsburn said...

That's a good point, Marn. The nature of a writer is so take inspiration from everything around them and if the "what if?" question pops for them in a different genre, then they should get to chase that lead.

Janga said...

I think some of you might be surprised if you read the right Inspys. Like every other subgenre, there are some really bad ones. In the case of Inspys, that means books that are little more than religious tracts thinly disguised as fiction. BUT there are also some wonderful Inspy storytellers who create strong characters and powerful stories without any sermonizing involved.

I have followed some of my autobuys into different genres and even more into a different subgenre. Quite a few of the women's fiction authors I read regularly began as romance writers. I've read Emilie Richards, for example, as a romance writer, an author of cozy mysteries, and a women's fiction author. I read Robyn Carr's historicals before I read her contemporaries, and I followed Mary Jo Putney from historicals to contemporaries to fantasies to YA and loved them all. I read Christina Dodd's historicals, romantic suspense, and paranormals, and my Lisa Kleypas keepers include historicals and contemporaries. I even tried vampire books by Nora Roberts,Teresa Medeiros, and Syrie James. About the only thing that turns me away from an autobuy author is a series of books that don't work for me. I usually give a writer three DNFs or WIHRs (wish I hadn't read) before crossing her/him off my list or, more rarely, a truly egregious political or social offense. Oh, and I don't read former romance writers who dis the genre that nurtured them.

TerriOsburn said...

You are truly devoted, Janga. And I'm sure there are Inspirationals out there that are great reads. Reading the blurbs for the GH finalists in that category temps me to give them a try, I'll say that.

I've never heard the "wish I hadn't read" before and am fortunate I don't have many that fall into that category. And I read so few books now, not many DNFs either. But I'm less tolerant than you in that when I do come across one, I'm not likely to give that author another try. At least not if the DNF is the first book I've ever read from then.

If I'm already a fan, then yes, there are more chances.

MsHellion said...

If it's the right author, I'd read just about anything. Though I have to "amen" Janga's disgust at a truly egregious political/social offense, and biting the hand that fed you for so long.

I would probably do Ispy over Science Fiction most times, but both of them are usually on my "no thanks" lists. Still, I have read some really good Ispys (as well as some really bad); and I've read the occasional great Science Fictiony novel. Hell, I even read THE HOBBIT over the weekend and enjoyed that--and I told Deerhunter I thought Tolkien was a complete bore and that's why I was never going to read it. Just goes to show that prepubescent unfortunate-eyebrowed child of pop was right: Never Say Never.

TerriOsburn said...

I've never read any science fiction. Do I lose my nerd card for admitting that?

PJ said...

I credit Christina Dodd with my willingness to follow an author into another sub-genre. A devoted fan of her historical romances, I was more than a little skeptical when she announced back in 2003 that she was writing a romantic suspense series (Lost Texas Hearts) but I dutifully bought the first book when it was published, loved it and never looked back. I've since followed her, and other favorite authors, through historical, romantic suspense, contemporary, paranormal and into the future. Good writing is good writing and my favorite authors have rarely let me down.

I don't count anything out until I've given it a try. While I don't read a lot of inspirationals, I just finished one (for a review) that I enjoyed a lot.

MsHellion said...

Terri, I wasn't aware you ever had a nerd card. You don't geek out about stuff like the rest of us do. *LOL* Except maybe the occasional Camaro...which is not really geeky, as you know. That's more...a man card or something.

TerriOsburn said...

I know genre hopping happened before and I find it interesting that for a long time most authors would use a different name and then not bank on their established readership but start over. As if letting readers used to one name know about the other would somehow be an issue. Good to see that's not really the case anymore.

Not that anyone could keep a secret on the internet. :)

I was a late-coming to the talent that is Lisa Kleypas so I actually started with her contemporaries. Then I went back and read some Historicals and wondered where I'd been all those years. Huh.

PJ said...

Terri, I had a real concern about Lisa's decision to write contemporary. I was so in love with her historical voice. I bought SUGAR DADDY when it released but waited six months before reading it. I was so afraid I'd be disappointed. I know. Crazy thought! I loved it!

TerriOsburn said...

Did you just give me a man card?!?!

TerriOsburn said...

Sorry, that last one was for Hellie. LOL!

I LOVED Sugar Daddy. Though I was totally in love with Hardy *swoon* Lisa still managed to make me fall for Gage. That's major talent right there.

Janga said...

You know I think Nora was genre hopping before we knew that's what she was doing. Way back with her categories, some are straight contemporaries, some are romantic suspense, some include paranormal elements. She even did a time travel duo. She really was a pioneer in so many ways.

TerriOsburn said...

So true. I started with her Romantic Suspense then went to the straight contemporaries, many of which had magical elements to them. Never thought twice about it. Maybe Nora is a genre unto herself. :)

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

I give every writer a chance at least 1x when they try something new. If it's an author I love. For instance I love Lisa Kleypas in both contemps and historicals. Same with Victoria Dahl.

I have read inspirationals, but tend to like the ones that are light on "message" and not too preachy. A good story is a good story. It's why I do enjoy many of Debbie Macomber books. But some are preachier than others.

For the most part though, I'm an equal opportunity reader and definitely will try my fav authors for anything they try.

Sin said...

I don't like bandwagon jumping. I don't like inspirationals. I'm not much of a fan of Wild Wild West. Or Westerns in general.

And I'm getting to the point I don't like vampires anymore. Writers are beating that horse to death.

TerriOsburn said...

You're a dream reader, Scape. I used to be like that but not so much now. I have so little time to read that a book has to sound like something good to me, regardless of the author. But I still have my autobuys, the list has just shrunk considerably.

Sin - The demons and angels seem to be overtaking the vampires. That's a good sign.

Maureen said...

Not sure that is a good sign...but per norm, they will overdo that and we'll all sigh with relief when the demons and angels are moving on... Anything beat to death tends toward unappealing. I hope!

I remember hearing Charles deLint speak about writers and he said most have a 'failure' about every third book... The more you write, the more you're gonna stumble, whether it's with a genre jump or exactly where you've been writing!

I've put books down but not crossed an author off my list, assuming it was just one of those books. I've thrown one book and scratched that author off my fav list.

We all have different tolerance levels!

P. Kirby said...

Despite my part-time occupation as church secretary--yes, don't laugh--I wouldn't touch an inspirational with a ten foot pole.

I read science fiction (currently writing a romantic SF), but only the lighter stuff, what folks call space operas (a la Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.). Hard science fiction, the stuff of ideas and no characterization, is on my no-read list.

I just started reading Lisa Kleypas's Rainshadow Road, on your recommendation in fact, I think. I like it waaay better than the one historical novel (of hers) that I read.

But I read all kinds of novels. With the exception of inspys and hard SF, I'll usually try anything. (Most of my reads come from the library, making it easier to be adventurous.)

TerriOsburn said...

Yes we do, Chance. But an established fav always gets more chances than a newbie. Which is terrible for my writer karma, I suppose.

Pat - Happy to hear you like it. Yes, I love that book and raved about it here. There's a loose but solid rhythm to Lisa's prose in these ones. It's substantial without being heavy. Neat trick that.

irisheyes said...

I was going to list off a host of genres I'm just not into and then a book I read in that genre popped into my head. LOL I've read just about all of them but when push comes to shove I pretty much stay away from Science Fiction, Paranormals, and hard core Romantic Suspense (by hard core I mean those books where the crimes are gruesome and the villains are extremely creepy and very detailed). I like my Romantic Suspense light and with a little humor thrown in.

I've followed beloved authors into other genres and have not been disappointed. Lisa Kleypas being my number one example. Nora's another one - I glommed her backlist and hardly noticed the little touches of magic that she threw into her books. I enjoyed the story and writing so much I forgot I didn't read books with magic in them. LOL

I think like a lot of others have said I'll try anything once but if it's a DNF I'm hard pressed to go back for more. The one thing that really makes a huge difference for me these days is my monstrous TBR pile. When I have so many books I can't wait to dive into sitting there waiting for me I'm not likely to venture into an area that hasn't caught my eye before now.

TerriOsburn said...

I used to read a lot of RS but I think a lot of them cross into thriller these days. I'm not as open to being creeped out as I used to be and I definitely don't like to be scared!

But I was the same way with Nora's books. Though I have no problem with magic. Witchcraft, ESP, psychics and the occasional ghost I can handle.

This is good to hear that most of you would go with the flow should your favorite author change course. Provided she did it well, all would be good.

fsbuchler said...

I am loving readin al the posts and responses here, Terri. As has been previously said it all depends on the quality of the writer and writing. I have followed Andrea Kane, judith McNaught,Lisa Kleypas and others out of Historicals because they have done it well. I also love to read many different genres so it is not such a leap for me to change gears if an author wants to. As I said, it just has to remain up to the same level I'd expected in their previous writing.

Now, will someone please tell me why Judith McNaught stopped writing?

TerriOsburn said...

That might be why I'd have a harder time, Flora. I don't read a lot of genres so if the author ventures too far, I'm less likely to go with her. But for some, I'd give them a try.

TerriOsburn said...

And I have no idea about McNaught. She was the first writer I really started collecting and I always say reading her books got me through HS with some semblance of sanity.

fsbuchler said...

She was a favorite of mine, too, Terri. I've asked several people why she is not writing anymore, but I have never heard why.