Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is what character would you like to be in someone else’s novel and why? Come on over and find out why I picked Lessa!
First off, some exciting news!! For all of you who have loved Louisa Gallie’s amazing cover for THE TIDES OF BÁRA (book #3 in my Sorcerous Moons fantasy romance series), you can now get *stuff* with the image from Society 6!!! I know I’m going to be doing some shopping!!
So… I’ve been brewing a bit of a rant. But it has nothing to do with politics!
I read this book that I really hated. This was particularly disappointing because it was very well written – at least the beginning was. I had high hopes for it to be a top pick. However, the bulk of the book didn’t live up to the truly stellar beginning (which happens) nor did I think it lived up to the considerable hype (which certainly happens a lot). None of this, however, is why I hated it.
I hated it because the author went to extremes to make the story brutally heartbreaking.
Now, I’m going to caveat that, while I am a big fan of happy endings, this is not what bothered me. I’m okay with a tragic ending. I went into this book expecting a tragic – even brutally heartbreaking – ending, because I’d been warned. Even if I hadn’t hear people talking about how it broke their hearts, I would have known at the beginning because it’s clearly telegraphed. There’s even a kind of warning quote in the frontispiece that essentially says that the story will be painful because it’s the truth.
(I’m going to some lengths here not to identify the book, because that’s not my purpose here.)
So, the logic of the story is this: the ending is over-the-top tragic, with a profound betrayal. There’s insult added to injury. And then it’s excused in a way by this warning, by saying “Oh yes, this is really painful because it’s true.”
I call complete and utter bullshit on this.
Truth has nothing to do with pain.
And that ending is painful, not because it illuminates some universal truth, but because the author WANTED it to be brutally painful. It was so contrived to be heartbreaking that it made me truly angry. In romance we often talk about the unearned happy ending – when the story fails to convince the reader that the couple have a real chance at happiness. I found this tragic ending to be unearned. In Romeo and Juliet, the ending is believably tragic because of the cascade of disasters and errors. In this book… I didn’t believe the main character would go to the lengths they did. The explanation that’s tossed about is that the person is a sociopath.
Well… okay. But if the only explanation to justify that result is to describe the person as not being a normal human being, then this is hardly a truth. It’s a monstrous characterization. And the pain is nothing inherent or true – it’s simply plastered on to elicit this emotional reaction.
In brewing this rant, I planned to address the relevance of the idea that the truth hurts – so I looked up the origin of the quote. I fully expected it to be from the Bible or Shakespeare.
Not so much!
In fact, PEOPLE, THIS QUOTE DOESN’T EXIST!
At first I couldn’t believe it, so I got a couple of research-fiend friends (Thank you Kelly Robson and Erin Hartshorn!) to look, too, and they couldn’t find it either. Erin found a French version (il n’y a que la vérité qui blesse – it’s only the truth that wounds) that’s attributed as a proverb, but it’s not from the biblical Proverbs. We couldn’t find “The truth hurts” anywhere except in internet memes.
Which – do I have to say this? – don’t count as citable quotations or as universal truths.
So, let’s all get over this idea that the truth is painful, okay? You want to explore pain and betrayal, sociopathic behavior, power and the way it corrupts – sure, do that! I’m interested in those themes, too, which is in part why I wanted to read this book. But I take offense at the idea of presenting a painful story and justifying doing so as “true” to something.
Pain is no more true than pleasure. Sorrow no more true than joy.
And a tragic ending isn’t more valuable than a happy one.
Enough with this already
We have a cover for The Tides of Bára!!
It’s so incredibly beautiful, I literally gasped out loud when I saw it. The incredibly talented Louisa Gallie knocked this one out of the park.
Want to see it?
Yeah, you know you do….
The carrier pigeons delivered my ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of THE EDGE OF THE BLADE yesterday!! Email my assistant, Carien at Carien at home dot nl (suck up spaces, replace words with punctuation symbols – you know the drill), if you’d like to get on the list. We just need you to review it somewhere, please and thank you, or my publisher yells at me. (Okay, they don’t yell at me, but they sigh at me and make these little squinchy faces.) You can also find preorder links HERE, if you want to skip the (implicit) obligation and go straight for the gold.
Either way… EEEEE!! Can’t wait for you all to read Jepp’s book!
The other day someone on one of my author loops asked about a workshop she saw advertised that promised to teach participants how to increase their numbers of newsletter subscribers. It was being taught by a guy who also teaches workshops (and sells books) on how to maximize Facebook ads. This author mentioned that the workshop cost $600 and she wondered if it was worth it.
She noted a few things about this guy, which I’m going to list for you here:
- He’s an author, selling this marketing technique on that authority, yet hasn’t seemed to have written much in years.
- But he promised that participants would make that money back in profits.
- She feels a lot of pressure to improve her newsletter subscribership because “everybody” says that’s key.
Here are some things to think about:
- For any person selling writing advice – be it ‘how to write a bestseller’ to ‘how to make tons of book profits via Facebook ads’ to whatever – look at how THEY are making their money. This guy is clearly making his money off of writers, not off of books. If his marketing technique worked so amazingly well, wouldn’t he be doing that? Same for people who purport to teach how to write a bestseller. If they know, they’d be writing them, or all of their clients would be. Just saying.
- OF COURSE every one of these guys promises this! It’s one of those “guarantees” that sounds great and means NOTHING. If you don’t make back that money, whose fault is it? Why yours, naturally! It’s not their fault if you didn’t implement the information correctly. Meanwhile they have your $600 and you have no recourse.
- When the “everybody” who’s telling you something is key are the people who are selling the information on how to do it, take a step back and examine their motivation.
All of this comes down to that there a lot of people out there selling shovels to miners.
This is what happens in a gold rush. Yes, there is gold out there, and a lot of miners are finding gold in them thar hills. There is nothing wrong with being a miner and going for the gold. Nor is there anything wrong with the shovel salesmen. Miners need shovels.
By this she’s referring to the fact that San Francisco grew up as a supply camp for the gold rush miners. Much like Denver, the city was first a supply camp, then grew up as more and more people made their livings around the ones digging the gold out of the ground.
The metaphor here should be clear: writers are the primary sources, digging words out of the mines to make stories. The people who sell us the shovels to do this – from software, to agents, to editors, to Amazon, to marketers, and so forth – they all depend on us for their living. We need them, sure – but they need us more. Without us, they have no one to sell their shovels to, no primary source of income.
History, however, remembers who?
The streets of San Francisco are named after the shovel salesmen, not the miners.
That tells you who makes most of the money, keeps it, and uses it to become wealthy.
All this is by way of saying, be aware that these people are out there. I’m not saying don’t buy shovels – we need shovels! – but I am saying, be wary of the person wanting to sell you the Super Duper Extra-Durable Supramatic Shovel. Especially if that person is telling you that the Super Duper Extra-Durable Supramatic Shovel is key and all miners agree you have to have one.
Especially if that person used to be a miner and is now making their living selling Super Duper Extra-Durable Supramatic Shovels.
I’m over at Here Be Magic, talking about falling dominoes and hosting a little giveaway. Stop on by!