Laurie's News & Views

March 17, 1996 - Issue #2

In this issue of Laurie's News & Views, I am going to touch on many subjects. I will provide answers to queries of broad interest, update you on the surveys you have responded to, and ask another survey question or two. Additionally, snippets discussed elsewhere on-line will be open for discussion on this site, and I will attempt to peel another leaf on our tasty romance artichoke. Finally, I'll provide you with an "interesting" site on the Web.

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DIANA GABALDON UPDATE:
Several of you have contacted me for the release date of Diana Gabaldon's upcoming Drums of August. Diana herself says:

"Drums of Autumn is due out this August (not the other way around )--always assuming that I finish _writing_ it Real Soon now. I think I have about two weeks' work left on it, but hard to tell. I haven't been to bed before 4 AM in months. For people who Can't Wait, though, there are excerpts from the book, posted both on CompuServe (in the libraries of the Literary Forum and Writers Forum) and on AOL (Fiction Library). The publisher tells me they're planning to re-issue the entire Outlander series, with redesigned covers, beginning in June, as something of a preparation for the hardcover release of Drums of August. Hope your readers will all enjoy it!"

RELEASE DATE FOR JUDITH MCNAUGHT:
Several of you have contacted me as well for the release date of Judith McNaught's upcoming release(s). I cannot verify a release date because, after 3 dates have come and gone, no one knows for sure. However, I am told that we can look forward to a new book by Judith in May or June.

ROMANCE READERS' ASSOCIATION:
Several of you have requested membership information about this wonderful group (I know it's wonderful because I belong). I have responded to several e-mails requesting additional information. If you would like a template of the membership form, as well as the snail-mail, e-mail, fax number and phone number to RRA Headquarters, click here.

SURVEY RESPONSES:
I have received dozens of responses to the survey questions I posed in the premiere issue of Laurie's News & Views. Thanks to all who responded, including two of the contributors to The Romance Reader. To Leslie and Andrea - 'fess up!

1) Do you sneak a peek? The overwhelming response to this question is an unqualified yes. There, doesn't it make you feel better to know you're not alone in this? Here is what one of our desperate respondents had to say:

"Hi, my name is Angela and, well. . . I am a cheater. I started very young and have yet to break the habit. My friends and family beg me to get help but I don't really think that I have a problem. I start off well enough but only get about 3 chapters into a book and began feeling the craving. Oh, I can starve it off for another chapter or two but them my fingers are just out of my control. I sneak while I'm sure no one is looking or I escape into the bathroom.

"I have tried to hide my habit from everyone but have been getting caught. Your site has given me hope. Perhaps I am not the only reader with this habit. My husband still says that I need help but, well, maybe he doesn't need to know that I still haven't kicked the habit." -- Angela Els

Although cheaters out-voted non-cheaters 4-to-1, the non-cheaters are perhaps more vehement, and certainly less apologetic. Listen to these respondents:

"Absolutely not! I have never read the end of a book and I would kill anyone who would remotely try to tell me an ending of a book that I haven't read yet. However, I have occasionally skim through chapters if they are slow or boring." -- Sharon Wiegert

"Never. In fact if I read I accidentally read a spoiler on AOL or RRA I will put the book at the bottom of my TBR pile & by the time I get to it I've usually forgotten what the spoiler was :) I hate knowing the ending." -- Laurie Shallah

2) Do you read more than one book at a time? The answers to this question were more mixed, with "yes" votes winning by a slight margin. Some readers only read more than one book at a time if they are of different genres. Others read more than one at a time when they get bored with the first. From fellow Romance Reader contributor Dede Anderson comes this response:

". . . if the book is really good I just keep going until I finish, but if it's not, sometimes I will start another one. . . And quite often if I put it down, I'll never pick it up again. An author has to grab me by about page 30 or it's sayonara, baby."

3) Does a romance have to end Happily Ever After (HEA)? "Yes" votes out-weighed "No" votes by nearly 3-to-1 on this question. Most readers of romance read romance because we know there will be a happy ending. While most of us read other types of fiction as well, we favor the romance because it's a sure thing.

According to reader and romance writer Cathie Linz, "Hi Laurie! I'm out here on the internet :) and saw your question -- my answer as both a reader and writer is that yes yes yes, a romance does have to have a happy ending. Otherwise it is simply fiction and not a romance novel.

"A resounding and unqualified 'Yes!' is the only answer to the question, 'Does a romance have to end happily ever after?' They are all I read for that very reason. If I wanted real life, I wouldn't waste my money on a novel." -- Cheri Johnson

"I'd just like to say yes to the question regarding happily-ever-after endings on Romance novels. In good books, I get very attached to the characters, and I believe I would be extremely disappointed if they did not end up together. Although getting together (eventually) is often predictable, I read to escape problems of my own life and to enjoy some fun. I would hate to be disappointed in my favorite entertainment!" -- Katie Hunter

On the flip-side, a very few readers disagreed. One reader stated:

Although a happy ending to a well written and wonderful story is nice, I don't think one is required. Since most romance books do have an HEA ending, I think a book where things may turn out differently is a nice surprise. So many books follow the same general story line that a certain unexpected twist or turn can be refreshing. Books that make you cry are a very cathartic experience. Life is not always happy. Finally, some books are so poorly written that a reader could care less by the end of the book whether or not the ending is happy or sad." -- Terrie Skala

NEW SURVEY QUESTION:
Though I'm sure we've all responded to questions about favorite books, it's time to do it again -- although with a twist. Let's assume we're on a desert island. We are our favorite heroine, stranded with our favorite hero. Who are we, who is he, and which books were we able to save when the ship went down at sea?

It's only fair that I answer this myself, so here goes: I am Princess Alessandra from Julie Garwood's Castles, my hero is Alexander Ridgely, the Duke of Ashbourne, from Julia Quinn's Splendid. The books I managed to save are too numerous to list here -- there are 29. For those who would like my list of all-time keepers, I'll be glad to e-mail them to you, in return for your list.

HOW IS A ROMANCE LIKE AN ARTICHOKE?

Favorite Funnies - While some readers wanted to voice their agreement with the initial listing of:

  • Bewitching by Jill Barnett
  • Basket of Wishes by Rebecca Paisley
  • The Vicar's Daughter by Deborah Simmons
  • Splendid by Julia Quinn,

Others weighed in with their additions:
From Angela Els The Gift by Julie Garwood
From Laurie Shallah
  • Knight of a Trillion Stars by Dara Joy
  • What the Lady Wants by Jennifer Crusie
  • One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
  • Once Upon a Pirate by Nancy Block
  • The Bride Wore Spurs by Sharon Ihle
  • From Wylinda Ashley A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
    From author Cathie Linz
  • Heartstrings by Rebecca Paisley
  • Courting Miss Hattie by Pamela Morsi
  • What the Lady Wants by Jennifer Crusie
  • Food for Thought - Fellow Romance Reader contributor Cathy Sova e-mailed me this morsel:

    In response to your question "How is a romance like an artichoke?" I have several thoughts to share -- A bad artichoke and a bad romance will both make you sick. Both artichokes and romance novels have a love 'em or hate 'em following. Artichokes are mass-grown, and I swear some of these novels are mass-produced. Artichokes are good for you, and so are romance novels!

    THE TWO-HANKY READ - It's time to peel off and savor another tasty leaf from our artichoke. We love stories that make us laugh. We also love stories that make us cry. Some books manage to do both. For most of us, a story that brings tears to the eye is one we consider a keeper. Crying is cathartic, but the best romances do not end with sadness. Instead, they are poignant, filled with hope and we love them.

    We watch our heroes and heroines in battle with the enemy, the elements, each other, and themselves. What transforms these battles into remarkable romances is how they are fought and won. The battles cannot be too easily won - where's the drama in that? But neither must they seem unsurmountable -- readers may give up before the war is won. The author must choreograph the story such that the reader remains engaged and eager to reach the conclusion, even though there is darkness and pathos along the way.

    We can tell if an author has reached us deeply in the way we describe books to others. If a book makes me cry at least once, it's an automatic keeper. Some of us rate books by tissues, "That was a 2-tissue read" or, "I used a whole box of tissues when I read that book". Others turn to favorite weepers when in need of a good cry (I personally watch Terms of Endearment every so often just to cry).

    Let's start a list of Two-Hanky Favorites. To start off this list, here are my entries. Remember, some books can make you laugh and cry, so don't be surprised if our list includes some favorite funnies.

    • Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
    • Velvet Bond by Catherine Archer
    • Basket of Wishes by Rebecca Paisley
    • The Warlord by Elizabeth Elliott
    • Too Deep for Tears by Katherine Lynn Davis
    • All We Hold Dear by Katherine Lynn Davis
    • A Taste of Heaven by Alexis Harrington
    • Bewitching by Jill Barnett
    • Once an Angel by Teresa Medeiros
    • Pearl Stallion by Rae Muir
    • Fire in the Heart by Katherine Sutcliffe
    • Dream Fever by Katherine Sutcliffe

    A NICE PLACE TO VISIT, BUT I WOULDN'T WANT TO LIVE THERE:

    As someone who reviews books to rate them in terms of heart and sensual content, occasionally I come across some "silly sex" -- a phrase or term that is meant to be sensual but instead is simply silly. (See my review of Knights to see an example.)

    Subscribers to the RRA-L newsgroup shared with me some silly sex phrases and also led me to a site on the web devoted to love scenes from romance novels. This site is the brainchild of John Ferri. He calls the site Ferri Tales. The url for his site is: http://www.epix.net/~jlferri/index.html.

    Why did I put this under the heading "A Nice Place to Visit, But. . .?" This site is written by a man and is, IMHO, for men. Although interesting to visit, I cannot imagine multiple visits unless the site was changed and a woman's perspective was added. In fact, I e-mailed Mr. Ferri and asked whether the site was meant to be viewed by both sexes or if it were there for "men and their throbbing manhoods" (which, BTW, is a favorite silly sex phrase). He responded that his wife is a fan of romantic fiction and he is a fan of romantic love scenes.

    Okay -- I'll give him that. Still, as I was looking at the pictures of disembodied breasts under the "breast" page on his site, I wondered whether lovers of romantic fiction would enjoy looking at pictures of the disembodied "manroot", "throbbing manhood" or "purple tulip"? I don't think so!

    Check out Ferri Tales (or is it tails?), and report back to me. And, if you have some silly sex phrases you'd like to share, please e-mail me on those as well. I'll do an article devoted to Silly Sex in an upcoming issue.

    TTFN, as Tigger said to Winnie the Pooh,
    Laurie Likes Books

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