Thursday, August 6, 2009

You Live And You Learn...

My, Oh, My! Choices, choices!

When you write romance, you have a huge variety of possible characters and situations to pick from. Romance is not necessarily just "one boy-one girl" anymore. You can write about m/f, or about m/f/m, or m/m/f, or f/f,
or even m/m/m/m/f/m/f/f! *whew*

And for each and every type of story, there are readers who love or hate each type. That is one reason why many authors try to explore all the possibilities.

For example, my debut book, Out of Her Dreams, was a sensual (erotic) romance between a woman and a man. The bedroom door was wide open, but fans seemed to adore it! I received dozens of rave e-mails telling me how much folks loved it. I got several top notch book reviews for it. I assumed it would be the same with my second book.

Now, Hallie's Cats came out on July 31, 2009, and I didn't hear a single word about how readers felt about the book. And that was an ominous sign to me. Hallie's Cats is a shape shifter menage. In a world where people can be both cat and human, and mores and morals are shaped by a different set of physical rules, I had my heroine fall in love with two gorgeous brothers. But in their world, females shape shifters normally took more than one mate because it was acceptable. You must remember that every world has it's own rules of conduct.

I got an e-mail this morning from a fan who adored OOHD, but detested Hallie's Cats. She was very disappointed that I hadn't written a "normal" romance again, m/f. I actually expected that something of the sort had happened. Not all readers can accept a menage situation. I know, because once upon a time, before I sold my first book, I felt pretty much the same.

But then I began to read other books, and realized that not all romance is heterosexual, nor is it all "one boy-one girl". In the real world, there are realities that we do not all agree with, nor do we have to approve of them. But we accept the fact that others may not feel the same way about things as we do. In a fiction novel about romance, we have the choice to buy or walk on by.

But in a way, it upsets me to think that my readers may have been offended because they expected something entirely different from my second book, and bought it sight unseen simply because they wanted to read more from me. I was flattered that my reader loved OOHD, and dismayed that she seemed to think less of me for writing a different type of romance novel than she expected. So I wrote back to her to assure her than I did have other m/f romances in the pipeline (like Dictated by Fate) and that I would make certain that all my books that contained alternative lifestyles like m/f/m were more clearly marked as such.

So, if you are a reader who loved my first book, and absolutely hated my second book, please remember that we write for many readers, and that we do love our fans. Perhaps another reader hated OOHD but loves Hallie's Cats. And I will definitely write tons of m/f romances, so don't give up on me, okay?

Fran Lee


  1. I love all the choices out there and read most. I must say I've shied away from f/f, because I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be with it. I suppose some day I'll try it just to "see" if it's something I can handle.

    Every individual will have their likes and dislikes. Please don't take it personally. You have to write what's in your heart. Be true to yourself and your fans will follow!

    You rock woman!

  2. If an author's voice attracts me I'll read anything they write. I'm lookin for a good story and if the plot entertains me and I feel an emotional connection to the characters, I will enjoy it!

    I'm with Amber,be true to yourself! Your stories rock;-)

  3. Fran, I'm sure many authors have this, it's the reason some use pseudonyms. I had a fan tell me the same thing after reading my second book which is a menage story. She bought the third book, a m/f romance, and liked me all over again.

    You communicated with your fan, they'll love you for that and will read your next book. You're a heck of a writer!

  4. I appreciate your comments, ladies. Thanks so much!

  5. I love all the choices we are being offered. My greatest nightmare would be to live in a world where we voluntarily hobble our fantasies and our imaginations. Or worse dilute and homogenize them until everyone/no one is happy. The medium of romance/erotica is he one area women are allowed unfettered expression. Let's not hand it back to a few timid souls who don't like it. I haven't been a writer for very long but I can as a painter if you always follow the pack your creative vision will be dull.
    XXOO Kat

  6. Okay, my off-the-cuff theory is that the print publishers conditioned readers to expect the same from an author in each book by requiring that authors write under two different names if they wanted to branch out and do something different.

    It's nice that epublishers let us experiment more. I, too, would find it upsetting to alienate a fan, but I'd also never buy a book without reading the blurb first.

    Besides, I think sticking to one "template" for too long can be damaging to a creative mind. We need to explore or we'll go stagnate.

  7. Thanks, Kat and Lyla! Good input here. It does seem that readers don't understand that their favorite authors often branch out.

  8. Thoughtful post, Fran. I actually write several genres under my pen name and just hope, hope, hope readers will take the time to read the blurb before buying. Like you, I'd hate to think faithful readers would ever be disappointed in a genre/book I've written. Better safe than sorry. Fact is, most writers really like trying a variety of things. Writing in a little box is soooo dreary.

  9. The bottom line here for readers is: read the blurb on the back cover. No two books will be the same, and authors write in many genres. If in doubt about the book, read the excerpt(s) that are listed.
    Authors love readers, and want them to be happy with what they're reading, so make sure the book will be something that entices you and you as a reader will enjoy!

  10. Thanks, Regina and Marianne! I agree! We all want happy readers, but readers should always make certain that a book suits their needs before buying. You can't always assume that your favorite writer is going to keep writing one certain type of book. But most of us are always open to reader e-mail me!

  11. Oh Geesh Fran...Now I feel bad that I didn't write you sooner. I read OHD and loved it, wrote you and have since gotten my sweet signed cover (thanks by the way). My aforementioned affection compelled me to purchase HC. I didn't connect with the characters in the same way as OHD, however, I still really enjoyed it. I find that I connect more with a writer's particular style (yes this applies to you) more than with a story line or character (although sometimes both happen). I love your style of writing so you don't have to worry losing this reader in Texas. I am excited that I don't have to wait long for your next publication. Congrats by the way it looks like a good one! Chin up you are doing a great job.

  12. "So, if you are a reader who loved my first book, and absolutely hated my second book, please remember that we write for many readers, and that we do love our fans."

    I've learned the hard way that the best way for a writer to make their "fans" happy is to not write for them or anyone else. If a writer writes for herself - opens up and shares what really feeds her passion - it shows. And it doesn't matter if it's a f/f situation, a m/f/m situation or an affair between a main character and a rusty tin can.

    I don't read reviews anymore and I try not to listen to what anybody else thinks or says about what I'm writing. There are enough people out there who are willing to sacrifice their passion in order to sell, sell, sell. The world doesn't need one more adding to the trash heap.

    If it arouses you, if it makes YOU feel, you're doing everything you can possibly do for your fans. No one has the right to ask for anything more than that from a writer.

  13. Hi Fran, I love shapeshifter romance stories and menage, and already have Hallie's Cats on my wish list.

  14. Thanks, everyone, for your great comments! I'm glad you got the cover flat in good shape, Shannon! I really wanted to say thanks to everyone who bought OOHD.

    And Blayne, when I wrote my first book, I wrote out of my own passion and my love of the characters. Hallie's Cats was a fun write, but I really never expected it to be accepted, since it was a tongue-in-cheek jab at hot sex and a short format. No great passion on my part was involved. Just fun. :)

    OOHD was a work of love. Hallie's Cats was a totally different tack for me, but I loved writing it because it was funny and quirky.

    My next book, coming from Resplendence Publishing on August 25, was another work of love for me.

    And I don't think of it as selling out to my readers...I think of it as giving the people who like my books more things to like. I have loads of m/f books that I wrote long ago, and I want to focus on getting them published.

    And if I do write more paranormals and shape shifters, I will most likely love writing those, too. But some of us are in this business ( is a business) to help pay the bills, and it can't just be a matter of pleasing myself. I don't buy my books. My readers do, dear. And I feel that my readers are important enough to cater to. :)

  15. Fran,
    I read the blurb for Hallies Cats, and although I do love menages and shifters, it just didnt "catch" my eye. Now...does that mean I wont continue to read your books...absolutely not!!! I adored OOHD! Do I expect you to repeat that story, no way! It wouldnt do justice to the greatness that OOHD was. Will I continue to pick up your novels...thats a big HELL YEAH!! Now that all this controversy has come up going to have to read Hallies cats, see...all publicity is good publicity!

  16. You know that writing the blurb is often far harder than writing the story! You have to condense the entire book into a blurb 300 words long. I thought the blurb for HC was not quite right, but once you submit it, they don't like it when you ask them to change it. LOL!


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