Me, My Soapbox, a Rant…and a Reader Question

*Warning – Long winded, potentially spoilery whine session about to commence in three…two…one…

question-markA couple of years ago, just after I had finished and made public the character guide for Christine Feehan‘s Ghostwalkers series, I was sent a couple of messages. You see, I had been a bit confused because in the course of the book Mind Game, there is a character named Todd Aikens. A while later, there is a Trace Aikens. No explanation, just Todd in one part, Trace in the next. My assumption was that there had been a mix up and the error had perhaps not been caught by those who were editing (anyone remember the whole Kaden Bishop with an E, who became Kaden Montague, who later became Kadan with an A “Bishop” Montague?). I was informed that it was not an error, that Trace and Todd Aikens were two separate characters who happened to be brothers. I thanked the person who pointed it out, as I do appreciate it when others let me know things I missed (although there is never any mention of them being brothers anywhere in any of the books). But, the second message I received was not quite as helpful. Basically, what the messenger said was that it was irresponsible for me to make public something like the Ghostwalkers guide if I had not double-checked all of my facts, and it was rude of me to suggest that an author like Christine Feehan would be so careless as to make a mistake like getting a character’s name wrong (uh, again, three versions of Kadan?). The last line of the message always stuck with me, as the writer closed with…

     Best-selling authors do not make mistakes like that!

Obviously, they have never read Lora Leigh.

Another day, another character guide in the works, this time for Lora Leigh’s Breeds series. I love the Breeds, they are my ultimate guilty pleasure. I know exactly what I am getting in a Breed story, and I am totally ok with that. But when I read for a guide, I read not for enjoyment, but for facts, details and descriptions. Up until this point, I have dealt with a few errors, a few changes – things like Sherra’s eyes change color three times over the course of the first few books, Dane’s hair and eyes have changed color a few times – little things that you might not pick up unless you are looking for them like I am. A typo here or there over the course of a book is annoying, but not the end of the world.

And then I hit Mercury’s War.

Good lord, I don’t even know where to start. A couple of random things from Mercury’s War…

  • captured Genetics council scientist Beldon Amburg is now Jeffery Amburg. Unless Jonas has two scientists in his basement dungeon?
  • there is a two paragraph section that details the pain Taber caused when he betrayed Sanctuary. Wait, when Taber what? Oh, you meant Tamber. Right idea, very wrong character.
  • but the worst thing is that Mercury’s entire back-story was changed. In previous books he was the 6 foot 6 Breed with the strongest senses, the one closest to his animal, raised without a pride. In his own story, he was Alpha of his pride, his animal has been drugged and pushed so far away his senses are little more than that of a human, and he shrunk 2 inches.

At what point do the careless mistakes start to take away from the pleasures of reading the books?  I haven’t gotten there yet, but I do know that I am becoming less forgiving for mistakes that are cropping up, and much more appreciative of the authors who manage to make writing a huge, detailed series look so easy. If it is my responsibility to make sure that all of my details that I post on this blog are correct, is it not the author’s duty to make sure that a book is as free of errors as possible?

I have chickened out on writing this post a couple of times, since I really don’t like to be negative about the authors that I enjoy. But I realized I was not alone in my concern when Cassandra sent over a Reader Question.  She said…

          I was wondering if you might be interested in posting a question on the Breeds series. I am still reading and it was once one of my favorite series, but I have not thoroughly enjoyed a book in the series since Lion’s Heat. The plots seem so convoluted lately and characters not nearly as interesting. I know stuff happens sometimes, but I still cannot get over the left-out scene in Navarro’s Promise. Part of the reason I would like a discussion is because I honestly I am sure I understand the most recent story arc. It seems like some antagonists reappear and disappear without explanation (I am thinking here specifically of Patrick, I think). Other authors, like Nalini Singh and Kresley Cole, have very complicated and interwoven plots, but I am rarely confused or frustrated the way I have been lately with the Breeds series. This new story arc set in New Mexico just seemed to come out of no where and I am mostly lost in what direction the series might be going.

I went to send an answer about my take on the current New-Mexico story arc, and then I realized that…I was lost, too. Cassandra also sent a link to a passage Lora has upped about her upcoming novella, found HERE. I read it once, then again, and then again…and still no clue what the blue hell it is about.

Have you lost faith yet in the Breeds, or are you like me and still holding on? Does creative liberty over-ride continuity? Do the mistakes and changes in backstory put you off, or can you go with the flow? And have you gotten a handle on where the current New Mexico story arc is going, ’cause all I have gotten so far is that Amber needs…something, from…someone. Maybe.

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24 thoughts on “Me, My Soapbox, a Rant…and a Reader Question

  1. Even if the series I’m reading is just a fun “filler” read, I want the author to try and have their facts straight. It’s the world they’ve created. If I’m making the effort to read it I want the author to try and make the story match up.

    Nothing knocks me out of a good story like the characters name suddenly changing, or whole back stories or plot arc suddenly changing.

    • If you are like me, I usually think that I spazzed out for a minute and must have read something wrong. It really does take you out of the story for a bit.

  2. I haven’t read the Breeds series, but lack of continuity does bother me since, although I forget character names, I have a tendency to pick up on those small things like changing hair/eye color or inconsistent backstory. It’s actually one of the problems I had with BDB and stopped reading the series.

    • I think a lot of people have that same complaint about BDB – especially by the time Vishous’s book came around. Changing his whole mating thing did not go over well with the die-hard fans.

  3. I can only shake my head in disbelief that someone wrote to you saying ‘Bestselling authors do not make mistakes like that.’ Please – give me a break! LOL An author is just a human person like everybody else, who can, does, and will make mistakes just like any one of us.
    I am editing a book right now that is part of a series and it has some timeline flaws in it that I’m correcting.
    In regards to that new Lora Leigh novella called the Devil’s Due, I just read that synopsis yesterday, and boy, did I have to read that slowly. That sound’s like ‘too involved’ of a storyline (with all those new characters, etc.) for just being a novella.
    I was also not happy with ‘Navarro’s Promise’ about that missing scene in the paperback (yes, I got it from her website and printed it out, but it’s still not printed ‘inside’ of the book where it’s supposed to be). I also have trouble following some of her plot lines (or non-complete sub-plots).
    It IS the author’s job to get details correct and plot lines, but it is also part of the editor’s job too.
    I still love the Breed series, but I know what type of book I’m getting too. Only when this series (sadly) comes to a final end, will I have a final opinion of how (or if) all of the plot and sub-plot lines work out.

    • That is a good point – for you to catch timeline flaws and continuity issues in the book you are editing, you would have to be familiar with the series as a whole. Do you make notes for yourself to keep things straight?
      As an editor, how badly did you wish you could give that synopsis a going over? I wanted to re-type the darn thing myself to see if I could fix it a bit.

      • Oh my goodness, did I ever want to ‘fix’ that long and convoluted synopsis of Lora Leigh’s upcoming novella, ‘The Devil’s Due’. It needed to be shortened and more focused on the main couple.

        The novella that I’m currently editing it is book 2, and I edited book 1 (there will be four novella’s in all). They overlap in timeline, so it’s a job to keep details straight. I do make a style guide/sheet for every book that I edit now {which comes in most handy for series} (I didn’t do this for the first few books that I edited, and I sure wish I would have). When the editing if finished, I do also send this style guide to the author. It’s not as elaborate as a ‘book bible’ {which is recommended for authors to make for series} nor is it a spreadsheet, but it definitely comes in handy (and I don’t charge extra for doing it).

        What Kresley Cole says she does for her series is great.

      • That has to be helpful if you include your research over for the author, too. I don’t know how some authors could do without one.

  4. Christine Feehan used to be one of my favorite authors, but I have stopped reading her. The Ghostwalkers just got too involved, I could kept everything straight. I love the Drake Sisters, but the spin-off series has been too emotionally rocky for me. And the Dark series…wow I know some series go up and down, but Zacarias’ book (Dark Predator) was horrible. I liked nothing, so for now I am done with her.

    With Lora Leigh, I know that the early books were written with a different publisher (that is the explanation for the timeline problems, the series does not start off in the futrue), but it still frustrating that the whole series does not flow together. I am not ready to give up on the Breeds yet, which goes to show how much I enjoyed the middle part of the series, but I am getting close.

    I hate Styx’s Storm (the main female char was such a bigoted whiner), I never could into Navarro’s Promise (changing the mating heat to suit the story is getting old and not entirely believable, I could never believe that this supposedly uncontrollable thing is suddenly rigidly controlled by Navarro), and I just don’t know where to start with this new story arc.

    I could not fully enjoy the newer ones because I keep being thrown out of the story wondering what was going on. There was no lead up to this story arc, I know now that it a search for people that could provide a cure for Amber, but that came out slowly and confusingly. For the last book, Stygian’s Honor, if I had not read the ending of the book when I was about a quarter of the way through, I don’t think I could have finished because I would be so confused. (I often read the ending when I first start a book, it freaks most readers out, but it works for me.)

    • I was so unbelievably psyched for Zach’s book it was a little on the pathetic side. I drove 2 hours to the biggest city around, rented a hotel room, hit the bookstore to buy Dark Predator on release day. All for that horrible book. Talk about a let-down.

      The funniest thing is that when I started the guide, I started a running timeline, too. Now, that is screwed up. Dates in one book change for the next book, or the math just doesn’t add up at all. It will be fun to see if I can make any sense of it at all when I am finished, or just have to scrap the whole thing.

      I have a habit of flipping open to a random page or two when I am reading, but I am really trying to stop that since I for whatever reason usually hit the page that gives everything away, like that a character died or something.

      • I cannot remember where I read this, but I know that Lora Leigh freely admits that the timeline on the Breed series is out of whack. The later books are supposedly set in the “near future”, I think it is supposed to be about 50 years from present. However, I think Wolfe’s Hope actually has a date of 1998 listed at the beginning, which given other information in the series just is not possible.

      • You know, I thought I had totally lost it when I was going over my timeline. I think it is the wolf breed books that are oddly done, so I am going to try and adjust them to fit into the main timeline. If it works, that is.

  5. Wow! I applaud you for even taking on the Ghostwalker character guide. About a year ago I emailed Christine Feehan and asked if she was going to do character profiles to help readers understand the various teams and how they intersect. Her response was it was in development. Clearly we are still waiting. The inconsistencies do bother me but it hasn’t reached a point where I have given up on a series. I just think the authors need to do a better job of keeping good notes on their characters and referencing back when writing future books.

    • The Ghostwalkers one was a biggie, but I think that the Psy/Changeling one has been the most work (Or the Immortals After Dark, probably a tie). They were so so detailed, but they were fun, too.

      I remember when she said there was to be a Ghostwalkers guide – I do think they put one together for the Dark series, though? I would like to try one one day – maybe after the huge ones I have planned are finished (Breeds and Dark Hunter).

      Even if they could keep just the basic physical descriptions straight, I would be happy. They are just little things, but they can get annoying.

  6. This isn’t the first time I’ve brought up those two particular authors also; Whoever thinks that authors do not make errors is living in la la land. But some make more than others. Lora Leigh is the biggest one I can think of. Like you, my guilty pleasure is the Breeds so I will still read the books whenever and I mean WHENEVER she decides to write about them again; I think, from what I’ve seen so far it’s going to be few and far between. I have definitely given up on Christine Feehan and also on C L Wilson. Too much drama for me. There are so many other good authors out there to discover and ones I’ve already discovered. I’m not a demanding sort of person, I just want accurate info. If you can do only one book a year or every two years, say so and I will wait patiently but don’t give me the run around telling me it’s coming out then putting it off for God knows how long.

    • I think Lora Leigh’s are just so…glaring. Missing scenes, complete changes in backstory, the whole works. It is kind of funny, because I go on a rampage about how sloppy they are, but I still can’t wait for the next one.

      I still do read Christine Feehan, but I have to admit she dropped from my number one favorite author to being a ways down the list. The Dark series needs to end – now. Ghostwalkers need to be published more than a book every two years, since there are still so many stories left to tell. I don’t mind the Leopards, but the Sisters of the Heart is missing…something. Not sure what, but it doesn’t quite work for me.

      The C.L. Wilson thing is just sad. I never even finished the Tairen Soul series, since I was waiting for word of Bel and Galen’s books so I could finish up just before they were released so I would be current. At this rate, we are looking at waiting another few years.

  7. I made a choice to not even bother with The Breeds series secondary to all the inconsistencies. I enjoy reading books where authors keep the back story, etc consistent. It can be done. So why should I spend my time (and money) on a series when the author can’t keep basic things straight?

    • I certainly understand that and I don’t suggest getting into the Breeds, but there is just something about the Breed characters when Lora Leigh is on her game. My favorites in the series are Dawn’s Awakening (my favorite favorite), Coyote’s Mate, Soul Deep, and Elizabeth’s Wolf. Strangely, I don’t recommend the series as a whole, but I have and do recommend individual books. Even with all the problems, I am still not ready to give up on the Breeds. The characters and the hope that Lora will get it together again keeps bringing me back. (Although the fact that the description of the new novella is almost incomprehensible is a very bad sign.)

      • There really is something about them that does set them apart. I can’t give up on them, either, even though I do roll my eyes a lot during the course of the reading. That novella write up is a total disaster, but here’s hoping it isn’t a sign of the story itself.

    • It really can be done, and done well, as shown by Kresley and Nalini, just to name two. There worlds are so detailed, and yet you very, very rarely find problems or errors.

      • Kresley Cole had a great interview with USA Today when Shadow’s Claim came out. I copied and pasted what she said about keeping all the details straight:

        “Pamela (Interviewer): What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing a long, continuing series like IAD?

        Kresley: The fact that all of the IAD books have overlapping timelines is crazy challenging. Added to this, I tend to write the same scenes from different points of view over different installments. I swear with each book that I’ll never do it again, but I always break down. Readers tell me they really enjoy exploring certain events from different angles, and that it makes for a rich reading experience.

        Needless to say, keeping the details straight is critical. We have comprehensive spreadsheets on every aspect of the series: species, major players within each faction, strengths and weaknesses, settings, lairs and castles, weapons, villains, deities, jewels and talismans, languages (especially any words I make up!), etc. Just to be on the safe side, I do a re-read of the entire series usually twice a year, which also keeps me on track with the overarching series direction.”

        The full interview is available at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2012/12/03/kresley-cole-interview-shadows-claim/1744663/

        Nalini Singh says she rereads her books regularly as well — I think that might be key [along with spreadsheets :) ]

      • It would require a great deal of attention to little facts – I like the idea that authors re-read their own works. Nothing like reading the entire series to get back into the flow of things.

  8. I read for the love of reading but even I find errors distracting at times. Names change, facts, change…heck I read an author once who wrote 2 books one way and the suddenly book 3 came out and the back story had changed…it left me wondering had I wandering into a parallel universe and not realised it…would surely explain what the heck I was reading.

    I have heard and read of authors who create spreadsheets and pinboards for long series with different characters and keep referring back to that to make sure that their information doesn’t alter from book to book. That’s the kind of author I’ll be inclined to read time and again. In my opinion information changes distract from the beauty of a good book

    • Hey Emma…it really does throw you off. I feel bad for saying this, because I am still a Breed fan, but there are so many careful, well plotted, well edited authors who take the time to put out a great product only to not have the sales and lose their contracts. It just doesn’t seem fair sometimes.

      On Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 6:47 AM, Wicked Scribes

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