Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Not Her Cup of Tea...

"I just finished reading your book (Signs in the Blood) which I won at the ______ library when you were there and really enjoyed it until I read the following sentence..........(Deleted to avoid spoiler).....that was totally disgusting and ruined the whole book for was so appalling that I felt like I should let you know..................."

There's a useful phrase people use in talking about books -- 'not my cup of tea.'  No book pleases everyone but I kinda hate it that the lady who wrote this email to me found a sentence 'disgusting. ' Makes me feel a little sleazy.

On the other hand, I do ask people to let me know what they think and I shouldn't be surprised if the thoughts are sometimes negative.  Different folks enjoy different types of fiction, even different types of mysteries. And different folks have different tolerance levels -- we've already talked here about the danger of killing a (fictional) cat or dog. 

I replied to this lady, explaining briefly my reason for the disgusting sentence. Probably we both feel better now.

And on the same day I received the following:

"I was lucky enough to win a copy of Signs In The Blood at the Virtual Bcon last year.  I liked it enough to get the rest of the series and have spent this week reading them.  They are all very good, Old Wounds is my absolute favorite as it has a lot of me in it.  ...(Sentence deleted to avoid a spoiler.)

I have stayed up till nearly midnight this whole week reading and now hopefully will be back to my normal sleeping schedule.
Thank you so much for the reading pleasure you have given me!"

So now I don't feel so sleazy anymore.  It all balances out.
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Martin said...

So relieved to hear that you're not feeling sleazy anymore,although I can appreciate how you must have felt after you'd read the email.

I'm fascinated by tolerance levels, by-the-way. People will always surprise, don't you think?

Pat in east TN said...

Wow, after reading all your books, and loving them all, I never imagined someone would write and say they didn't, but everyone is different, and to each his own. I'm glad you received the second email to boost your spirits.

Sleazy? Boy o boy, that sure has me wondering .....

Subby said...

I can read a book and get right into it; become a part of it. Some writers can do that to ya. Other books I'll put back on the shelf, having barely scratched the first page. The most important part is in the writer's ability to hold the reader's interest. If a book is good, I say so; and if bad, like-wise. Simple as that. I'm not one to give a full report on it ( never did like doing reports in school, either ). And tho' I may read a review from time to time, I affect my own judgement upon said book...not the reviewer's.

Jean Baardsen said...

When you become an author, you really put yourself out there. Love your Spring pictures! That farm must be your own version of heaven.

Vicki Lane said...

Re people surprising --Absolutely, Martin! I generally warn people that my books are not 'cozies' (mysteries in which nothing very bad happens -- even the murder is generally bloodless and the victim someone nobody liked anyway)despite the idyllic rural setting and the inclusion of quilts and gardens and dogs.

P. 340, Pat. Just 30 pages from the end.

Well, Subby -- I held her interest for quite a while. But then I grossed her out, as we said in my youth. C'est la vie.

True enough, Jean, it comes with the territory!

NCmountainwoman said...

It would never occur to me to write an author with a negative criticism. And it's a sad reader who allows a single sentence to "ruin" the whole book.

I know sleazy when I see it, and Vicki, you ain't sleazy.

Miss_Yves said...

I should be very curious to know which is this (deleted)"disgusting sentence !"

Funny picture , indeed!

Stella Jones said...

I understand Vicki. I have passages in my stories which are a bit controversial but I like to think that the characters I write about are whole people. They are people who do have naughty thoughts sometimes and do do evil deeds occasionally otherwise they wouldn't be human. I think if that reader felt sensitive about it, she would be better to keep to Mills and Boon and other safe publishers. I have not yet read one of your books. I would dearly love to read the first one. I doubt if I would find anything in it to comment on although you have now intrigued us on here. Whatever could you have written to cause such an outpouring? Do tell!
Blessings, Star

Tess Kincaid said...

I'm always amazed at those who feel the need to vent their particular dislikes, whether it be books or blogs. I say there's lots out there, so just move on to something you like. Why stay around and gouge the author?

Unknown said...

well, I must read your books, but still working my way through a shelf of "to reads" picked up at sales, etc.. I see nothing wrong with her expressing her opinion, but find it curious that she thought you might need to know. I started posting my own reads on my blog because friends (across the country) ask what I'm reading and I like to keep track for my own reference later. When I don't enjoy a read I'll say so, but if the book is really not to my reading enjoyment, I don't finish it.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I have been racking my brain trying to think of a single scene in any of your books that I would even remotely view as "sleazy." Can't come up with - but, it gives me the perfect excuse to read them all again.

Some folks don't seem to get the fact that some books are, as you say, just not going to be everyone's cup of tea. Once I was able to allow myself that knowledge, I'm now able to put down a book I'm not enjoying and just move on. This became harder to do when I started meeting some writers who I like lots and really wanted to like their work. I've learned that most of them are just like you and realize some books are just not gonna stir everyone every time.

Tammy said...

Hi Vicki,
Try not to feel too sleazy. ;-) Everyone DOES have different tolerance levels, and even I myself am often surprised by a sentence or two in a book (not being specific towards any book now) that hijacks my sensibilities. It happens. I've read so much over the years that seldom do I put a book down that may have offended my thoughts though---unless it's just totally off the charts all the way through. There have been books that I will just toss in the giveaway pile because "I don't have to read this crap". However the book has to be pretty bad to do that. If I find sections that bother me unduly in an otherwise good book, I'm not adverse to skipping a few paragraphs--my choice, and it seldom changes the story for me. It's always shocking to have negative feedback, but she evidently thought 'you should know', and now you do, and it sounds like you handled it very well. Getting a positive feedback during the same time frame was an excellent remedy.
p.s. And I'm sure getting restless for "The Day of Small Things"! AND the next Elizabeth book....

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks, Mountainwoman! As a matter of fact, I probably said something along the lines of "Let me know what you think of it" when I signed the book for her. She wasn't out of line in writing me and I just felt bad that I'd made her feel bad -- if you know what I mean.

Miss Yves -- It may not be so disgusting in French but in LA MONTAGNE DE SECRETS it's in Part XI, on page 316, the paragraph beginning: J'ai reussi a me remonter (Can't do those little marks.)

Star, I can't say more without ruining the story for those who haven't read it. Sorry :-(

As I said above, Willow, I often invite my readers to tell me what they think. So I'm okay with hearing it, even if it's negative.

Well, MN Pat, the lady in question was only 30 pages from the end of the book -- I wonder if she finished it.

Hi, Kaye -- great post over at your place about Pat Conroy!

Have to admit, Tammy, that nice email really took the sting out!

Paul C said...

Over the years I heard several parental complaints over a passage in a novel or play. Too bad the passage was taken out of context.

R. Burnett Baker said...

Well, sleaze is in the eye of the beholder and is its own reward

I just wish I had more money and time for it!! :)

Friko said...

it was very understanding of you to write back to "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" (as she would be called here), and explain the reason for the sentence she objected to. It goes for writers as much as anybody else, you can't please all of the people all of the time, so go with the compliments, not the complaints.

Victoria said...

Wow, that lady must have very, very delicate sensibilities. I just re-read all of your books a couple of weeks ago; I can't recall one disgusting sentence!

After being married to cop for 34 years, and working as a Probabion Officer for many years, I know sleaze when I see it. Vicki, you couldn't be sleazy even if you tried to be!

Vicki Lane said...

Hi Paul, thanks for stopping by1 Alas, in this case I don't believe she took it out of context. She said she was enjoying the book up to this (almost at the end)point.

But, yes, people are often incensed by a single sentence when they haven't read the work. A shame.

Sleaze is its own reward -- shouldn't that be a bumpersticker, Rick? Or a tee shirt?

"Disgusted in Tunbridge Wells" -- love it, Friko! I shall start a file with that title.

Thanks, Victoria -- I think it was, indeed, a case of delicate sensibilities.

Lisa said...

Just remember to follow your heart and to listen to your own muse. One man's music is another man's noise. One woman's literary truth is another person's filth.

Whatever it is that you wrote to distress that poor woman had to be said because your muse led you that way.


Kat van Rooyen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat van Rooyen said...

Oh, you sleazy thing, you! LOL
Sad that she could think anything that you've written was "sleazy." You are certainly NOT!

I have to chime in on the positive side and say that not one word of your books offend me, or make me feel put off from reading. In fact, I think they have only gotten better and better -- my favorite of my all-time favorite series is IN A DARK SEASON. I thought the writing was nothing less than BRILLIANT, Vicki!

I have a real ache to read your next book(s) as your characters are very real to me and they matter a lot. I know, I need to get a life, but truly, Elizabeth is my friend! (though she doesn't email or write as much as I wish she would! LOL)


PS sorry about deleting this before, but I wanted to edit something and had to do that and repaste.

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks, Lisa and Quilter Bear! As Popeye used to say 'I yam what I yam' and a few discouraging words aren't going to change things.

And many thanks, QB, for the 'seal of approval!'

Sonja E said...

I love your stories. I bugged the library until I found every one of your books. Can't wait ti read the latest.

Tipper said...

Well I for sure agree with the second email-the characters from your books are so real-I find myself thinking about them all these months after I read the books. And the stories themselves are many things-but disgusting just isn't one of them!