While I was away …

I lurked regularly on Twitter and kept a list of “if I ever blog again” random thoughts. In no particular order:

  1. Fred Astaire could indeed sing. He may not have had range, but he had mad interpretation skillz.
  2. I would rather stick a fork in my eye than finish a Kristen Ashley book. I would rather stick two forks in my eye than tell a reviewer she shouldn’t review a Kristen Ashley book. Or two KA books. Or five KA books.
  3. Hey author, for the thousandth time, your free book is not free because my time is not infinite, and I don’t give a rat’s ass about where it lands on an Amazon Kindle list, so no, I’m not downloading it and I’m not RTing you.
  4. If you compliment an author for having done her research, be sure she really has done her research.
  5. If you’re wondering about a plot point that involves an era with an entire bookcase (let alone a wing) of the Library of Congress/ British Library devoted to it, you probably don’t want to seek the relevant knowledge on Twitter. And if someone gives you a definitive answer to a complex question in 140 characters, it’s almost certainly wrong.
  6. If you write historical romance and can’t think of a book that features a black character as the hero and/or heroine, you need to read more. Or read more reviews. Or read more RITA and RT nominations. Or all of the above.
  7. Bollywood reflects the larger India to the same degree that Hollywood reflects the larger USA.
  8. There was a time when being “into” Bollywood movies was “edgy.” That time has passed. Your dog has been alive longer. So has your cat.

In the interest of being useful rather than just ranty, I’m going to provide my own response to #5 and put up some references on British India in an upcoming post. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to have info about, let me know in the comments.

Go Harbaughs!

28 thoughts on “While I was away …

  1. 1. I’m really glad you’re back!
    2. I downloaded a KA sample. Suffice it to say, I don’t get the KA phenomenon AT ALL. But to each their own.
    3. Why do people in general ask easily Google-able research questions on Twitter? Not only are you not going to get an in-depth answer, but, a lot of the time, the questions are so pedestrian that they make the person asking look dumb. Crack a book, use a search engine…that’s what they’re there for!
    4. I’m still really glad you’re back!

    • Thank you!

      I see people on Twitter asking for answers to complex questions all the time. I’m as lazy as the next person (lazier, actually), but this seems really counter-productive if you want good answers to your questions.

  2. random rants that might get me the stink eye but I don’t much care –

    1) what’s the point in getting into heated arguments with strangers online? You almost never change their mind. Is there something one needs to prove to him/her? I never will understand it and no one has to explain it to me. It’s their life/time to waste, not mine
    2) Really despise folks who are constant braggarts
    3) I agree with Sulekha – why ask questions on Twitter that you can easily find yourself? That’s why I have the choice to ignore them
    4) Glad I don’t follow the *whole in crowd* who enjoys all of the same authors/books
    5) I just needed a list that had five things on it that’s all

    • But, but, Someone Is Wrong On The Internet!!!! I must correct them!

      My hiatus has really helped with that. If I backslide, you need to smack me. ;) And I agree on the humblebragging. If people want to read your book, it’s because they’ve heard good things about it from their trust network. It’s fine to RT some of your reviews, but all of them? Or every day? I don’t need daily updates like that and neither do most readers.

  3. It’s very useful to know what bugs the daylights out of people. :D Thank you.
    I’m looking forward to the British India post.

    • You are not one of the offenders, believe me!

      You know, it’s funny, because I’ve been complaining about author promotion (blogger promotion goes in there too, to be honest). But I RT good reviews and awards and all those things when they happen to authors I follow. There are plenty of authors in my tweet stream, but they’re people who I talk to regularly (when we’re both on) as *people.*

      As in so many things, it’s the minority that stand out and that we complain about.

      • Yes, when they only promo, they don’t seem like real human beings. There are a couple of people I continue to follow on Twitter, hoping they’ll do something more than promotion so I can see them as real people and potential friends. In a crankier mood, I want to set a rule that says ten promo tweets in a row and you’re off my list. :/ Because I have a low number of followers, tweets like that really stand out and sometimes overwhelm my tweet stream.

        • I’ve mostly pruned the heavy promo-tweeters. I have two types left: one is the type that primarily tweets promo, but only does it when there is something new to report. The other is the type that RTs and does promo for friends, but also has a lot of non-promo tweets that I enjoy.

  4. Re #1, I am now transferring some of my old Verve CD collections to my iPod–featuring some Astaire singing AND the sound of his tap-dancing feet. I think range is really over-rated as a sign of good singing today (not that range is bad, but it isn’t all).

    Re #2, I was totally guilty one day of some ill-considered tweeting along similar lines. (and maybe you are even sub-blogging about me!) I learned how hard it is in a Tweet to distinguish between a) expressing frustration that “everyone” is talking about books you don’t want to read and thus some sites are not as good at helping you discover books right now; and b) criticizing other people’s reading choices and suggesting they shouldn’t talk about/review certain books. I meant a) but said something much more like b) and was very sorry about that later. But it led to a long and interesting e-mail exchange with someone, so it wasn’t all bad.

    I’m so glad you are back but I’m afraid we’ll lose you permanently if there’s too much rant-provoking. I look forward to some India posts too.

    • Oh, I saw that discussion, but it wasn’t just that. I agonized over the same thing for quite a while, but then I realized that the best thing we can do, as bloggers, reviewers, and readers, is to have our online conversation accurately reflect what we are reading, the good and the bad. It’s the most honest way to do it.

      It’s absolutely worthwhile, in my opinion, to talk about what it means that we like these kinds of books (and your blog posts are a critical contribution to that). But muzzling, whether self-imposed or externally imposed, would be against everything we believe in. But I know I’m preaching to the choir here. :)

    • <3 Fred's singing! Range-smange! He put so much charm and personality into his singing, I love to listen to him.

  5. Oh Sunita I have missed you so!!

    I will admit to having a couple of KA books on my TBR and I do intend to give them a try. I am being a total book whore at the moment – I have 3 books on the go – something I very rarely do. I opened Reaper’s Property last night, partly because I wanted something where I didn’t have to think too much and partly out of curiosity re what all the fuss was about. I’m finding it very easy to read and engaging but the jury’s out on whether it will satisfy longer term – the “hero” has a few heroic characteristics but he also is an asshole and a criminal and I have a bias away from both of those, so… I read a book recently where one of the main characters was a dole bludger and that put me off so an actual criminal might be too much no matter how engaging the story.

    As to reviews and blogging, I think we bloggers review what we read and I don’t believe any blog, particularly an amateur one, no matter how popular, has an obligation to any particular person or group to review/not review particular books. I said that on Twitter too I think. I know if I force myself to read a book I’m not interested in just because I think I *should* read it, it is almost always a failure and life’s too short for that. I have over a thousand books on my TBR so book discovery isn’t a problem for me really! LOL (@Liz – I knew what you meant).

    I am probably guilty of occasionally asking stupid questions on Twitter when I could just as easily look it up myself. But, part of the reason I ask is that I’m after a link/resource from a trusted person rather than what I might stumble across myself. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

    I have a fascination with British India so I too am looking forward to it. Almost my entire “knowledge” comes from The Far Pavillions, Shadows of the Moon and Duke of Shadows however – we have discussed some of this before but I find the country and the time period so interesting, I’m always happy to learn more. I wonder if it’s because I’m a colonial too?

    • I didn’t mean the kinds of questions you (and I and others) ask as readers, or curious members of the community. That kind of asking and answering is one of the great things about being online. When I was off Twitter there were so many times when I wanted to crowdsource opinions about something.

      No, what set off that gripe was an author asking a question about British history that would have been difficult to answer in a term paper, never mind on Twitter. It was one of those “it depends” or “it’s complicated” questions, and the author was clearly asking in order to address something in her manuscript. The answer she got was technically correct but whether or not it was the “right” answer for what she was trying to do is a whole different question.

      And thanks, it’s good to talk to you again!

  6. 1. Yes, definitely agree. His interpretation of Night and Day makes me shiver.
    2. LOL. I can’t even navigate Ashley’s website to even get a look at any of her books, so all that work for something I have little interest in killed any smidge of interest. And I spend most of my book-discussing time on Goodreads or AAR, so the direction of some book blogs have never affected me.
    4. That’s why I hardly ever ask researc questions on Twitter.
    6. I shouldn’t have to be forced to reading those books. /sarcasm

    And yes please on British India posts. It’s a pretty lengthy topic to study, even when I zero in on a particular year (1919, in my case), and I despise the thought of writing a white-washed and generic version of the setting.

    • It’s such a huge topic, since the British arrived in India at the beginning of the 18thC and left in the middle of the 20thC. I saw a tweet that talked about the British conquering India in 1858. Uh, no.

      #6 was kind of shocking to me. Lovely person, meant sincerely, but oh my goodness.

  7. Something I have really struggled with regarding the KA phenomenon (it is not unique to her, but she is a very good example of it) is readers and reviewers I respect seemingly being willing to lower their expectations for her books. People are absolutely entitled to read, enjoy, review any book they want, with whatever characters and tropes they like. But when the technical flaws in her work are so widely acknowledged – spelling, grammar, editing and so on – I find it hard to understand how the books can still be so strongly recommended by people who would previously find all those things a turn off. Perhaps I wouldn’t mind so much if it was restricted to KA’s books. Perhaps she is just THAT GOOD a storyteller to trump everything else. But it seems to me part of a wider phenomenon that intelligent, well-informed, critical reader became resigned to these things in 2012.

    • I think it is both storytelling that is different from everything else out there and resignation to the new publishing landscape, and they reinforce each other. It’s not just self-published stuff that is different now. I’m reading a book right now that is put out by a respected NY house and I am amazed at the types of flaws I’m seeing. The writing is full of similes and overused phrases, there are shortcuts in characterizations, and in general the book needs another draft after some heavy red pencil has been applied. I think that if you’ve seen this kind of product a lot from traditional houses, it affects how you treat self-pubbed work that is flawed but in some ways innovative.

  8. I’m glad that you’re blogging again and do hope it lasts.

    I’ve been debating about joining Twitter for over 2 years — but I can’t even keep up with the blogs I read. I’m really afraid if join Twitter, that will be hours and hours more sucked away (all on fun and interesting stuff, but not stuff directly germane to what I have to do in the here & now). I so rarely comment for that reason as well, trying to work out a thoughtful response takes time (and a thoughtful comment in only 140 characters, not possible for me). So I read, lurk and admire everyone else’s comments. Still these days I feel that I’m missing about half the discussion because I’m not on Twitter, so maybe I should take to lurking/following on Twitter.

    1. Agree about Fred Astaire — Costco once had a sale of all his movies made with Ginger Rogers and I bought both box sets.

    2. KA — have only tried one downloaded excerpt, but couldn’t stand it. And the reviews have not convinced me to try again–but I’m perfectly fine with people reviewing and recomending her. After all there are other authors that reviewers have raved about that have worked for me. And I find the romance enthusiasms go in cycles for me–they are times when all the books being talked about are ones that interest me and then there are dry spells when I find little of interest. So I just start reading through my TBR pile or switch genres or do other things.

    Doing historical research: I just want to say that not only is Google your friend, but so are research librarians. They are absolutely excellent people to know, especially if you are not such certain about the quality of your online sources. And interlibrary loan / document delivery is absolutely great. I’m always surprised that people doing research on historical subjects for their books, don’t do what they tell you do in first-year university–consult the reference desk.

    Looking forward to the posts about British India.

    • Thank you!

      Twitter is wonderful if you can establish a disciplined approach to it, deadly if you can’t. I’m hoping I’ve managed the former this time, because if I regress to the latter I’ll be back where I started. It helps to know what my weak points are, though.

      Great point on research librarians. They can be wonderful resources, and you don’t know how good or bad your ILL is if you don’t try. I think that much of the problem stems from the expectation that lots of time spent on research doesn’t get you many more readers. But that’s a topic for another post. ;)

  9. Welcome back Sunita! I am really looking forward to your post(s) on British India – fascinating history that has so many implications for what is happening in that region today.

    I often think that I am missing out on so much by not being on twitter, but whenever I look at the things some of the people I follow on Facebook post, I really wonder whether it’s worth having another distraction in my life. There are enough of them already.

    • I’m not on Facebook. I don’t know how people manage to be on both. Facebook never worked for me, but Twitter was instantly fun. But for other people it’s the exact opposite. And I know I miss things by not being on Facebook, but one of the things I learned on hiatus was that I’m *always* going to miss something.

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