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Friday, September 17, 2010

Why You Might Not Like My Book

Will I slap my mojo if I say that I worry about True Believers?

It's like a redheaded stepchild. Firstly, it's science fiction. If ever there was a stigma to romance, just add SF to it and see people bolt from the ranks like they were on fire.

Secondly, the romance isn't overt.

And thirdly, it's long. At 95k, it's not as long as most SF and fantasy novels, but it's still long. Worse yet, it's not as long as it should be. I could easily have added another 10k just to fully immerse the reader into the alien cultures.

But I worry too for personal reasons. This is my first book. Not the first book that was published. My first book ever. I put it away when I became interested in apocalyptic fiction and didn't think about it again until Carina Press put the word out that they'd like to see some SF.

Is True Believers good enough? Well, someone at Carina thought so. When I heard they were interested in acquiring SF, I reopened the file to this manuscript, my red-headed child. Did she have a right to breathe life? Was she good enough to interest and intrigue? There was only one way to find out.

True Believers was written as an introduction into the world of the Nephilim, a race of beings shrouded in mystery and scorn.

So add one more strike against TB. I used biblical 'bad guys' as not-so-bad guys.

Great. Now the Church will be mad at me too.

But I have hope the readers are out there. There are several good SFR review sites available. If they're reviewing science fiction romance, that means people somewhere are reading it.

There's Heather Massey's The Galaxy Express and Charlie's The Smart Girls Sci Fi Blog. Tia Nevitt is the one who introduced me to both of them and she's neck deep in what goes on in genre publishing. And there's also Bitten By Paranormal Romance that Jackie Burris recommended I add to my reader.

I've relied on all these blogs to let me know what's new and where to spend my money. Brick and mortar stores are few and far between where I live, so I don't have the luxury of physically browsing shelves anymore. I tend to rely on reviewers a lot more than I used to.

With so many worthwhile review sites, I'd like to think there's a growing cadre of SFR fans out there. I hope they find me. And I hope they think True Believers is worthy of the label: Science Fiction Romance.

A question to readers who review: Is it just me or do you think the rise of digital is strengthening the influence of genre reviewers? I did two reviews recently on Goodreads and I was surprised that me-who-is-nobody actually had running conversations with strangers who read and commented on the reviews.

I don't review often so it took me off guard--pleasantly so. Do people often respond to your reviews?


Jennifer Shirk said...

I JUST joined Goodreads and still trying to learn the ins and outs of it. But I think that's kinda cool that it's really become a place where you can truly discuss books. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: I really like it. Unlike professional review sites, these are just plain folks saying what they think.

Most reviews I've read are actually quite articulate and not mean or insulting.

I just found you on Goodreads. Off to send you an invitation. :)

Liz Fichera said...

I think digital publishing is busting the doors off a lot of things, including genre book reviewers. Which is cool. I also think avid readers are hungry for books that are not cookie-cutter. Yours sounds like it doesn't fit into the usual mold and that itself intrigues me to read it.

Ted Cross said...

That's so funny, I just wrote a post yesterday about covers like this! I walked into a B&N yesterday and was shocked at seeing a whole shelf in the Fantasy section that I can only call Romantasy. They really need to do something about all this similar cover art.

Maria Zannini said...


Ref: cookie cutter
I think this is true. How many times have we heard naysayers grousing about romance, calling it formulaic?

Let's be honest, isn't all genre formulaic? That's what make it genre.

But formulaic is different than cookie cutter. You can still use the window dressing that identifies it as genre without rehashing the same story lines.

Twilight is a good example. Just when you think you can't read another vampire story, this one blows everything out of the water.

Who was it that said, it's not your grandmother's romance any more?

Maria Zannini said...

Ted: The bottom line: sex sells.

As for the commonality of covers, a lot of it is due to entire companies that do nothing but create stock art.

While you might find the covers 'romantasy', it is also the sort of cover that sells, and that's the bottom line to publishers.

I like romantic covers. Especially if it's SF or fantasy because it tells me that there is a relationship in between the battles and the adventure.

My favorite classics like Dune and the Pern series put the love relationship between the main characters high in importance. These were the books that made me realize that romance fiction understands the reader a lot more than its given credit.

Krista D. Ball said...

Ok, I'm going to be honest.

I haven't had good experiences with SFR thus far. Generally, the science is laughable (and, if I'm laughing - she who banned science talk from the dinner table- it's really bad). The relationships predictable and cheesy.

I like the concept. Space opera and/or soft science fiction, along with guns, drugs, and sex. See, this should work. And I struggle to find books where I think it does.

I'm not a huge hard SF reader. Hell, I like Star Trek books. I'm not Robert J Sawyer over here or anything. But I do want the science to make sense and the romance to make sense within the setting. Sometimes, I think I have read books where none of the editors and writers have read actual science fiction and, thus, have no idea what they are doing.

ok, I'm done. :p

With that said, I'll have to buy Marie's book next month :p

/steps off soapbox and hands to the next person

Maria Zannini said...


Well, Krista, I'll try not to disappoint. I did so much research on the Nephilim, sentient artificial intelligence and theoretical communication systems I ought to get a Ph.D for my efforts.


Krista D. Ball said...

If you researched, I'm willing to read. I think I've been reading too many books where the research was done on Wikipedia and no where else. It's making me moody.


Sherri said...

As the mom of 3...count 'em, what do you have against red-heads? LOL

I'll read anything you put out Maria. Love Romance. Love SF. Am beyond thrilled when the two come together well!

That being said, I'm like Krista in that it has to make sense.

Meghan Schuessler said...

I haven't done book reviews before, but I was thinking about adding a few to my blog (once I start blogging again - hopefully soon). I just won an ARC of "Enemy Within" by Marcella Burnard that I'm going to read asap and try to post a review the day it comes out. I'm very interested in reading your story and I'll defnitely write a review of it on my blog if you'd like. (Don't get *too* excited, my blog only as 30 followers at the moment LOL.)

Maria Zannini said...


I KNEW you'd bring that up. LOL!

I have nothing against redheads. My book is a redhead. :)

The phrase usually refers to the fact that redheads are more picked on by virtue of their uniqueness.

You know I think your redheaded boys are adorable!

Maria Zannini said...

Meghan, I've found Goodreads is a better place to reach more people. I'm told Library Thing is good too, but I've never tried them. I'm stretched out thin enough as it is.

But I like Goodreads. Very nice people there. It feels like a real community.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I don't review books on line very often, and I've never read an SF romance, though I read a lot of SF. I look forward to yours.

Sherri said...

REF: The phrase usually refers to the fact that redheads are more picked on by virtue of their uniqueness.

I knew that, LOL, I just had to give you a bad time.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: Thanks, hon!

I've been reading SFR long before it even had a real name. The early stuff was far fetched, but it still scratched an itch.

Hopefully, mine won't produce involuntary eye rolls. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: Troublemaker. ;)

Sherri said...

Gotta live up to those horns :)

Maria Zannini said...

Sherri: And you probably sharpen them at night too.

Dru said...

You know I'm looking forward to reading your book. It will be my first romantic science fiction book and again, as I said, I love that cover.

Maria Zannini said...

Thank you, Dru!

Meghan Schuessler said...

re: Goodreads - I have heard a lot about that site, but I haven't checked it out yet. Guess I will have to remedy that situation! :)

Maria Zannini said...

Meghan: I can recommend Goodreads. I was looking for a reader site that wasn't too pushy and more importantly, that was easy to navigate.

Facebook was traumatizing enough. :)

Linda Leszczuk said...

Forgive the really late comment - I'm a bit behind. Personally, I'm looking forward to loving your book.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: You're not late. You're making an entrance. :)

Renee Miller said...

Nice to see that resurrecting old manuscripts can be successful. I've recently dusted off two that I figured wouldn't go anywhere.

I love Goodreads. Welcome to the dark side. have you checked out OFW? They let me run things in there sometimes. It's fun. You could add a lot in the nuthouse that is my favorite group.

Ellie said...

I'm late, too! Personally, I love the idea of mixing sci-fi and romance. Why not?! When it comes to marketing your book, it is sci-fi that just happens to have a romance element.

Anonymous said...

SFR is still a very small market, but there is a lot of growing enthusiasm among writers and readers. Another place for SFR reviews and news is the SFR Brigade.

At RWA National I still heard a lot of A&Es saying they weren't interested in the genre, but a few were willing to look at it.

I definetly heard them saying that bloggers are becoming really important in marketing romance novels.

You probably know I love SFR and I'm really looking forward to reading True Belivers!

Maria Zannini said...

Renee: It wasn't so much resurrected as reminded.

After I finished TB, I was getting discouraged at how quickly the SF reader pond was evaporating. In the past year though SFR readership was gaining strength.

Huzzah! A home at last.

Maria Zannini said...

Ellie: That's how I looked at it. In the early days, I kept hiding the romance element so it wouldn't scare off SF editors. But now I can let it come out of the closet. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Charlie: Darn it! I keep forgetting about the Brigade. I read it all the time too.

I was reading SFR back when it was totally clueless about the science, but I devoured it anyway just to get a sense of a science fiction world.

I think science = boring to some people, but it doesn't have to be dull. Was the science in Star Trek, Serenity or Babylon 5 dull?

That's what I was going for.