Saturday, January 31, 2015

Put Your Stank On It. . .

Hello Glorious Readers. . .

We're about four weeks into the reading year and I hope you've been keeping up with your reading progress?  You know, if you're ever in a bind and need a suggestion for reading material or just a cheerleader to be in your corner, Mello & June are here for YOU!

Before I delve into this weekend's post, I want to tell you how excited we are for next weekend's blog post.  It will mark the first of the month and you already know how we do--AAMBC will be in the house strong, so you do not want to miss out on some great African-American authors.  They are definitely going to bring the heat to spice up things for your special Valentines, so please do not miss it!

I spoke to you last weekend about the importance of writing reviews, but also the down side to writing a review when it doesn't reflect a positive light.  But, and I do mean to tread lightly here, that should not stop you from writing them.  It's important to leave an impression, not only for the author, but for the reading community.  Any book lover will tell you how they feel about a book and we want to hear from you, so don't forget that.

And while we're on the subject of books, I've been reading and speaking with people about a new trend that appears to be happening in the literary world.  I'm not exactly sure how long this particular trend has been going on, but it's becoming more and more prevalent.  What is this trend I speak of?  Hmm, how about labeling books.  Ok, before you get your pages all torn, wait for it, 'cause you know I'm going somewhere with this!

All books fall into some type of category which in our world is considered genres.  There are a multitude of genres to choose from, i.e., Erotica, Romance, Action, Non-Fiction, Biographies, LGBT (for those who don't know stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Suspense, Psychological Thrillers, History, Murder Mysteries, etc.  You get the general idea.  Again, there are loads of genres.  The thing is as a reader, you usually read what you're drawn to. For me, I'm a memoir type of gal, a little bit of action, true crime, horror, southern theme, legal thrillers, murder and suspense and some sci-fi.  I don't usually read romance--it just isn't my thing, but that's ok, I like what I like, just as you are the same with what you like.

I've noticed from many of you who do take writing your reviews seriously that some have been complaining about profanity in books or it wasn't Christian-based enough and will rate a book poorly based on those things.  I'm all about being honest with how you feel regarding a book, but I'm not so sure I agree with this rating a book poorly because it contained some things you didn't necessarily like.  Trust me, I know there is a very fine line here.  I have rated books poorly when I find overkill of a particular theme in a book.  For example, I read a few books that mention race a great deal.  I've read some horrific stories dealing with race, however, there are some authors who deal with the subject rather tastefully, and some, well...they just seem to deal with it entirely too much to the point it becomes insulting.

If I'm reading about slavery, I most certainly expect to find a great deal of circumstances and situations wherein there will be words that I find offensive, but I expect that because of the content of what the book is about.  That usually will not bother me too much because it is dealing with a time period when things were a bit different than they are now, although sometimes I wonder?  If I were to select a romance novel, I expect there are going to be some steamy love scenes and some authors are excellent at bringing that point home.  Would I rate the story poorly because it had sex in it?  Absolutely not, but I've read reviews where some readers will do just that.  

When you select a romance novel, what exactly did you expect to find in it?  That would be like selecting a murder mystery and rating the book with two stars because a character was murdered.  Aaah, it's a murder mystery, of course someone is going to die.  But here's where I have my issue.  Some authors have been criticized for the type of story they've written to the point they find themselves having to put warning labels so they don't get bad reviews.

I remember going to the library and selecting books based on genre, and when you opened the book and began to read, it was what it was.  Sure, you may find a character who uses profanity or there may be some love scenes in the story, but there wasn't any damn warning labels telling you this book may be offensive to you.  There's something seriously wrong with this picture.

Ok, so let me get this straight.  You may find some cuss words or too much sex or it wasn't religious enough for you, now we're forced to write warning labels on our books so the reader knows ahead of time what they're getting.  Some authors have even taken an extra step to do two versions of their books.  The sweet version and the get down to the nitty gritty version. Umm, excuse me, but explain to me why I need to do this again 'cause I'm not following?

Whatever happened to finding a book that interests you based on the cover or the synopsis and begin reading and that was that?  Some of our reading audience have become so persistent with their negative reviews based on things they felt shouldn't have been put in it and have caused the authors to take a step back and say, perhaps I should remove this or that or perhaps put a warning on the book so that I'm in the free and clear.  I suppose with a warning label you are reading at your own risk, but for real though?  That just boggles my mind.  Now we got to warn our readers before we put our work out.

You noticed I said some authors will put warning labels on their books or offer their readers variations of their story.  At no time did I ever say I do this, and I don't think I will.  I was highly criticized for Mello & June because June's language was extremely colorful and the three love scenes were pretty damn spicy if I do say so myself, which I do.  I never put a warning label on the book.  What I found interesting is that many who read my book had issues with the descriptive love scenes, but turned around and hailed Fifty Shades of Grey. Hmmph, my novel was a story, not over 20 chapters of pure sex.  Go figure?  Mello & June is an Erotica, that should be warning enough.  I'm not faulting my comrades for doing this, but I just think it's terrible that some of us feel we have to, to keep readers from rating their books low based on too much sex, not Christian-based or the use of profanity.  I don't apologize for what my characters tell me to do.  When they come to me and advise how I should write them, that's exactly what I do and I'm never changing my process, in fact I can't.  My creativity doesn't work like that.  

It just boggles my mind that many authors feel they have to put a warning label on their books.  It's a shame really. Whatever happened to the days when you selected a book and as I said, it was what it was.  Sure, you may not like everything that happened, but that, to me, isn't reason enough to rate a book badly because of that.  If the writing sucked, that's a good reason.  If the ending sucked, oh hell yeah, that's a great reason.  If there was a great deal of overkill of whatever, you can state that in your review, but I wouldn't rate the book low because of it.  Like I said, folks, writing reviews are tricky and of course, no one can tell you how you should write one.  I'm simply stating you need to take other factors into account before you start writing things that really isn't helpful to the reading audience.  

I'm tickled that we authors have to put our stank on it in order to keep people from rating our books low.  Wow, I tell ya, the more I see, the more I take my time.  

Until next time, Happy Reading and check those warning labels carefully.  Wow!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Books are like Life. . .
You don't know what's going to happen,
Until you go through it!