Snarkling Clean

Snarkling Clean- because you don't have to cuss to make fun of stuff. Two dedicated readers discuss romance novels- from what made us weep with joy to what made us want to poke pencils through our eyeballs.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

In Praise of Readers

There's a post over on Romancing the Blog that kind of irritated me. The poster is complaining about slasher-bloggers; nasty reviewers. I've read this complaint more times than I have fingers and toes on which to count. Yes, some reviewers are nasty and go way too far. Apparently. I don't know which slashers she's accusing, since she won't name them, and I can only think of a few sites that have gone overboard, and that's only with one or two authors. She seems to want all reviewers to be, using her word, Pollyannas. To focus on the positive, and only give negatives if they are couched in the tenderest apologies. Buddha on a nine dollar cracker, have you heard of the concept of free speech? I for one am tired of hearing how snarky readers who post a bad review are responsible for bad sales, bad feelings, and the demise of civilization as we know it.

The comments section brought up some very interesting points. Amazon reviews were cited as major nastiness pits, but I find that somewhat laughable. I humbly beg your pardon if you post reviews there, but to me, Amazon is not a discussion board. It's a bookstore. Reviews there are the equivalent of some poor schmoe lurking outside Barnes and Noble who jumps on you when you come out. "Did you buy That Book by This Author? You did? Well let me tell you what I thought..." I would not be interested in that person's opinion- I'd want to get away as fast as I could before I was infected. As for nasties that only post anonymously: why would I care about the opinion of someone who wasn't brave enough to give me her name, or smart enough to give me a fake one?

I must point out that some authors have charged that their private lives and characters have been maligned, and that is just wrong. I can find all kinds of things wrong with a book without thinking the author is a miscreant. Conversely, I can absolutely love a book without thinking the author is a shining angel. The ripping of a book is free speech. The ripping of an author is the act of a cowardly bully.

That said, I have to agree with a good number of commenters who both praised reader blogs and defended their right to snark, nasty or not. Some quotes: (BTW, some do not have blogs or links. Please see the comments section of the RtB post for the ones who do.)

Tara Marie: "Where’s the turning point between snarkisism and mean-spirited snarkisism? Who determines what qualifies as “ethical literary criticism”? Can ethical literary criticism ever be snarky or are we to believe that only glowing positive and tepid negative reviews qualify as ethical?"

Robin: "I get a little nervous, though, when talk starts about how so-called slasher bloggers only “want attention,” though, because it seems to me the real anxiety on the part of some authors might be that those bloggers are taking attention away from both the author and the so-called cheerleader bloggers. Because no one accuses a blogger who writes a A+++++++++ “best book evah” review of seeking attention. If a so-called slashing review can take away attention from an author’s book, well, is that only a reflection of the review, or of the book, as well? Or at least of the Romance culture?"

Yes, I chimed in as well: "Any snarkiness comes out of my natural smartass personality. Some will find it funny, and others will find it juvenile and annoying. That’s fine. Any book reviews I do (and there really aren’t many) are not intended to be literary discussions. It’s just me, talking with my girlfriends over coffee at the kitchen table about the latest thing I read. Am I going to bring up the wonderful, tender moments that made me catch my breath? You bet. Do I gush over wonderful characterization or plot? Of course. Am I going to call out WTH? when I read something I find incomprehensible? Yep. Will I tell readers about the thud as I threw the hated thing against the wall? Yes, I will."

Karen Scott: "I see a lot of hand slapping and tut-tutting, but when was the last time anybody gave props to the readers out there who are buying your books and talking about them?"

And the best for last, from Jane: "But readers should be able to converse with other readers, no matter the tone, if they want to. The online community of readers is so bright, vibrant and interesting, that it seems natural to want to share our thoughts with each other. The old form was email loops and listservs which graduated to public message boards and forums which now has evolved to blogs and comments. Personally, I love the blogs, the different flavors, from the positive to the negative. All this chatter means that we love this genre. We love it and we are grateful to the authors who make it alive."

Well spoken. Yes, I snark; but romance is the genre I bathe in. If I did not adore it I would not work up enough enthusiasm to post about it. So I give a big shout out to reader blogs, snarky or sunshiny. The romance world wouldn't spin without you, and it sure wouldn't be as much fun. Keep writing.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bow, Peasants

I have finally found myself. And all through my peculiar title. I am:

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Most Serene Highness Lady Robyn the Prickly of Buzzcock Lepshire
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

ACLU, Bite Me

Missie and I are going to be as busy as the rest of you this week, with family and baking and kids home from school. We're taking a bit of a blog vacation, and we'll be back December 29 with fresh cover snark to ring in the New Year. I can't believe it will soon be 2007. Remember when we all wanted riot guns for the sure societal meltdown after Y2K? And let me tell you, the Holiday iceberg has struck our ship, and she is leaking money all over the darn place. It's like:

Huge big-box bargain store who will go to Machiavellian lengths to ensure they won't pay their employees more than $7.00 an hour even though they will rake in an obscene amount of money: 1

Struggling parents who are trying to teach the kids about the true spirit of Christmas but still be the cool mom and dad who manage to give the insanely expensive (insert MUST HAVE OR WILL DIE object here) so the child's peers will not laugh, ridicule, heap scorn upon, or throw darts at said child: 0

And notice I just said the forbidden word. Christmas. Yes, frightened wussy airport and township lawyers, I said CHRISTMAS. Loudly. Proudly. I'm going even further-

A Christmas Tree! Flagrantly displayed! HA!

The PC police will not silence me. They cannot stop me. I will say, and say again, Merry Christmas.



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Got. To. Have.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Heather. Without you I wouldn't have found it.

My Christmas present.

Who wouldn't squeeeeee with delight upon opening this Christmas morning?

The Fish-n-Flush toilet tank aquarium.

My most personal, intimate needs taken care of while being viewed by a dozen tiny eyes. The sweet little fishies- oh, the sights they'll see!

This gift will be perfect- I've always had a secret crush on the Plastic Diver Guy.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Help Me Out Here

I have a confession to make. Yes, I can hear you all whining, "Gad. Not another one."

But it really isn't a biggie: I have no sense of smell. Never have had one. I apparently had a few infections as a baby which 'burned out' part of my olfactory. I can't smell bread baking, or flowers, or candles. But then again I can't smell body odor or diapers or barf, so it hasn't been too bad. Except when my mom got great pleasure out of telling people that I didn't smell very good.

But it leaves me with a bit of a problem when writing. People are generally scent-conscious. I've read that a single smell can trigger memories and emotions from decades ago, which must be incredibly powerful for those who have experienced it. My eyes may start to water if my unbathed dog gets too close, but that's about the extent of it for me. I have to drag my husband through the perfume department, forcing him to smell me, right there in public, to see which scent he likes. He'll be the only one smelling it, anyway, so he may as well pick it out. So I don't include much about odor in my descriptions. I have to rely on what has been written or said by others.

Except there's not much there. A hint of cologne, or the stench of a decomposing body; that's about it. As I look on in wonder at you non-smell-challenged people, I have to ask why more writers don't make the sense of smell more important to their characters. There are BIG cliches in Romancelandia, as you might guess.

The hero always 'identifies' the heroine by catching her scent. Her scent. Like she has one, and one alone. Every woman I know has one or two good bottles of perfume for special evenings, and two or three Avon/Walgreen's bottles for everyday. Not to mention the small samples that seem to accompany every gift bag at any ladies' meeting. Fer crying out loud, I can't even smell and I have five sitting on my dressing table right now! My question is this- don't women smell different on any given day? Or smell more like a combination of all the scented crap they've poured on their skin? Soap- floral. Shampoo- citrus. Deodorant- Powder Fresh. Body lotion- Vanilla. Spray anything else on top of that and I wonder if the heroine's identifying 'scent' is a lot worse than she intended.

But heroes? Whether it's historical or contemporary, men seem to have just four choices. Sandalwood, leather, horses, and sweat. Sometimes the sweat is called, "man." I will be honest and tell you I don't even know what sandalwood is. Is it wood? Were these guys cutting down trees or something? If leather truly has a distinctive odor, wouldn't that make him smell like a couch or a car, too? I personally don't know anyone who yearns to take a deep cleansing sniff in a barn; even animal lovers will admit that beasts, while noble and admirable and lovable, stink. And sweat. Man. I thought that was what wives and girlfriends complained about while forcing their honeys to go change shirts.

So you people who smell better than I do (*rimshot*) give me some feedback. What are these authors leaving out? How many smells do you encounter in a day, and how does it affect you?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Message from Vince

Hey, y'all. I'm Vince Gill, and I want to tell you about a special lady friend of mine. Spe-shul, if you catch my meaning. Missie.

She's having a birthday today, and her wonderful, gracious, generous friend Robyn asked me to put together a little sumpin'-sumpin' for her. Now, when Robyn had a birthday, Missie posted pics of a baby scared of an old wrinkly lady with no teeth. That's not Robyn's way. To show once and for all that Robyn really is the nice one, here are some presents for our birthday girl.

This feller is supposed to make her swoon. All that hot Latin blood or somesuch nonsense. I'm a total white guy; I wouldn't know.

Criminy! This guy's got a sword! Missie's not into that kind of stuff, is she?

I dunno, this guy looks like he's been working in a coal mine. Robyn, are you sure Missie's excited by facial hair and sweat?

Ah, that's more like it. He's even in a tie. Although he does sorta look like he's waiting for her at the Motel 6.

This here feller done went into the motel pool with his skivvies on. At least he's not skinny-dippin', cause I know Missie don't like that stuff.


Why, this one's old enough to be her Daddy! Shameful!

Don't tell me. She likes movies about Gladiators.

Well, Happy Birthday Missie- you Sick Twisted Freak!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Every So Often You Do Something Right

Even though Christmas is still a few weeks away, we're starting to hear those Year In Review reports. From the government to entertainment to retail sales, we'll be treated to long lists of who had hits and who had misses, who married and who broke up, who had babies and who died. In short, who won, and who lost.

For this year, I think I can safely say I won.

No, not a book contract or a new house or a promotion for hubby, but something that counts a little more. My daughter was talking to her dad and her brother as I was cooking dinner last night and I heard this:

"Dad, I just know I'm not going to be one of those girls who lets guys treat her like crap. I want more, because I've seen how you treat mom."

Slam. Dunk.

I stirred and heated and poured while blinking the tears out of my eyes, listening to my man tell his children his responsibilities to them, and to me, knowing that none of what he said was a surprise because they've seen it lived before them from the moment they were born.

I know that my daughter is going to demand that she be treated like a lady, and won't settle for less. No boy is going to abuse her, mentally or emotionally or physically, trash talk her, use the B-word as an endearment, or use guilt or threats to get her to do something she doesn't want to do. She knows she is worth more than a guy who sits at the curb and honks, expecting her to come running. She knows she is worth more than a boy who will pull out the old "if you love me you will" argument. She knows, because her father has never treated me that way.

I know that my son is respectful to women, and will never think it is his right to get physical because his date may wear a mini-skirt. He knows that it will be his responsibility to get his date home before her curfew, not to convince her to disobey and leave her to face the music. He knows that it is dishonorable to call any woman a name that reduces her to the status of an object. He knows he must treat the woman in his life as a precious treasure. He knows, because his father treats me that way.

In spite of money that's always too short and bills that are always too long, jobs you don't like and houses you aren't fond of, and all the myriad things that can go wrong in a day, you still win. I have. I married "up." And I'm supremely grateful for it.