Standing Proud – Fighting Romance Novel Stigma

I’ve written about book signings before, mostly about how depressing these events can be for a writer who nobody really knows, especially one who writes romance–the most popular and yet, also most snubbed genre in literature.

I spent this weekend in a signing, except this time it was one exclusively for romance writers. What a difference that made. The fact that I’m not well-known didn’t change, but the attitude of the general public was definitely different.

Rebels Table

How refreshing to be addressed and asked questions about your books instead of avoided or ignored. I don’t pretend to write high-brow literature and do not aspire at winning a Pulitzer prize, but I’m a good writer who writes fun and somewhat insightful stories that both entertain and excite the reader’s emotions. Very few people have read my books (a fact painfully evidenced by depressingly low royalties) and I don’t expect a horde of fans to descend upon my table at such events like a crowd of shoppers at a Best Buy on Black Friday. But I love being asked about my stories (the introvert in me won’t volunteer the information), having smart conversations about books (even about other people’s books), and generally just being acknowledged as alive and breathing.

Kudos go out to romance readers. They are amazingly welcoming and easy to talk to. They are also so enthusiastic about meeting authors, they make you feel like celebrities. I’ve been to quite a few events mostly attended by people who–by their own admission–only read “good” literature, or nonfiction, or–my favorite–anything but romance. Generally speaking, those crowds make you feel as if writing romance is some heinous crime for which you must feel terribly ashamed. They also lump all romance novels into one giant bundle of 50 Shades of Grey type stories when in fact the romance genre is widely diverse, both in styles, sub-genres, and quality.

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At one point I was embarrassed to admit I wrote romance, but no longer. I’ve “come out” of that closet and I now proudly stand as a romance writer. If you’ve never attempted at reading a romance, you should give it a try. It is not everybody’s cup of tea, I understand, but with the overwhelming number of authors and books out there, there is a very good chance you may find a new favorite.

 

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Escaping Ryan-New Release

Title: Escaping Ryan
Series: Genoa Mafia Series #2
Author: Ginger Ring
Genre: Mafia Romance 
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Limitless Publishing

 

Valentina Caponelli is more than a spoiled mafia princess…
She flees her father’s Chicago mansion to start a law office in a small-town in Wisconsin, determined to gain her independence.
Free of her father.
Free of her heritage.
Free of dangerous enemies of the family.
Then she falls in love with the one man who may cause her more harm than all the rest.
Officer Ryan Donavan is married to the force…
But the long-legged brunette he cared for after a car crash is all he can think about.
The problem is, Valentina is the sister of mob boss Roman Caponelli. The one man who definitely does not want his only sibling dating a lawman.
Ryan and Roman have made a tenuous peace, but if Ryan gives in to this passion, that peace will be shattered.
A killer is already roaming the streets, and all hell is about to break loose in Lake Genoa, Wisconsin. Can love really conquer all—or only make matters more deadly?


Ginger Ring is an eclectic, hat-loving Midwestern girl with a weakness for cheese, dark chocolate, and the Green Bay Packers. She loves reading, playing with her cats, watching great movies, and has a quirky sense of humor. Publishing a book has been a lifelong dream of hers and she is excited to share her romantic stories with you. Her heroines are classy, sassy and in search of love and adventure. When Ginger isn’t tracking down old gangster haunts or stopping at historical landmarks, you can find her on the backwaters of the Mississippi River fishing with her husband.
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The Character Conundrum

I’m always nervous to write about characters I’ve written about before. When I wrote Blind Magic, I agonized over Marcy. And more recently as I wrote the second in the Jewel Chronicles, I lost quite a few sleeps over my two main characters, Milenda and Jaali.

You’d think it would be easier to write characters you were already familiar with but it isn’t. When you’re a fiction writer you get to think of your characters as if they are real. You get attached to them, you love them and live in fear of not doing your characters credit, letting them down somehow.

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The hardest characters I’ve written so far were all from previous stories–Marcy from Loved You Always and Jaali and Milenda from Desert Jewel. Once I was finished I was happy with the results, but the process was painful.

In June 2018 the second of the Jewel Chronicles will be published. In it my young princess and her beloved Jaali take refuge in the Northern Lands while they wait for a safe time to return to Afrika. I needed Milenda to be the same brave and kindhearted young woman she was in Desert Jewel, but I also needed her to be a little clueless and unsure of herself because of her new setting. I was so afraid I would make her look weak after having made sure she came out strong and courageous in face of adversity in the first book.

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I wanted Jaali to regress a little when it came to his inner demons without making him sound like a helpless victim. Jaali had made such strides into killing his demons in the first book, I didn’t want him to lose that now.

And then there was Mjusi, the flying lizard. He was the only character I had a clear picture of where he was going. But even then, I was not sure of how to take him there.

Being a pantser I love that moment when everything comes together in a logical and beautiful way, small elements of the plot or the setting turning into great catalysts of character development. I was very pleased with it when I finished it and I’m hoping my readers will too.

How have you dealt with recurring characters and how have you avoided failing them?

 

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**Coming June 2018**

Letting Characters Take The Lead

I‘m very pleased to have A.L. Vincent as a guest blogger today. Please, welcome her and, as usual, comments are always welcome 😉

My favorite part of writing isn’t creating stories, it’s creating characters. For me, that’s where the real story begins. Why does the character act the way he or she does? What do they want? Where do they want to go? I spend countless hours simply watching people. This might be at a restaurant, in the line at the grocery store, at the beauty shop, or my favorite place, New Orleans. Now, sitting on a balcony on Bourbon Street will give you all the character inspiration you could need or want. (And sometimes more!)

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All this observing can give ideas, and get stories going, but the hard part starts when the characters get stubborn. They can completely halt a storyline if they aren’t getting what they want. I’ve scrapped scenes and entire chapters and started over again because where I wanted the story to go and where the character wanted to go were two different things. To be honest, I feel the story turns out better than I planned when I do that, but don’t tell them that.

Like most authors, I’m sure, I have a few favorite characters. I’ve enjoyed writing all my main characters, but there are three that really have a little extra space in my heart. Those three are Noah, Carly, and Ivy. Each has a slightly different story of how they were created.

Noah

Noah

Noah is the love interest of Emily Breaux in Tangled up In You. He’s quiet, strong, and what some would call an “old soul”. He’s been through a lot, been broken, but pulled himself together. When I was writing Tangled, I kept trying to coax Noah to tell more of his story. But, he wouldn’t talk. I told you he was quiet. When I was writing the second book in the series, Running on Empty, Noah decides to tell his story to Grace, who is going through her own personal hell. Noah was the first character to really teach me that the character will talk when he or she is ready.

Carly

Carly

Carly is the first character I created. I started her story many years ago while attempting my first National Novel Writing Month project. She is named after one of my favorite General Hospital characters. I scrapped that novel, although parts of it have been used in various other Fleur de Lis books. Carly is a dreamer, she questions the world and the things around her. She’s a tomboy, and she has a naivety about her when it comes to love. She’s also clumsy, funny, and a wee bit reckless. Her character has remained the most constant, although that’s changing in upcoming novels.

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Ivy

Ivy would get the award for Most Changed character. Ivy started out as a very minor character in my alter ego’s paranormal series. She went from a twenty-something bartender, to a centuries old vampire. A little meek and mild as the young woman, she became a force to be reckoned with as her character developed. She has a love for one-liners and a story that she hasn’t revealed to me. Yet. I’m sure there’s more to her coming soon.

Characters can be pesky creatures sometimes, but it’s so fun to see them start from little spark of inspiration and grow into full grown ideas. My favorite books are about characters I fell in love with even from way back. Characters such as Jo from Little Women, Lestat in The Vampire Chronicles, and Katniss from The Hunger Games always stood out for me. It was the people I loved as much as the stories themselves.

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Author Bio:

A.L. Vincent is a teacher/writer who lives in the heart of Cajun Country. Born in Oklahoma, Vincent became fascinated with South Louisiana after reading Interview With the Vampire. Finally, she became a Cajun transplant in 2001. When not getting lost in a story line, Vincent can be found cooking or enjoying live local music. She has one son, and a furball of a dog aptly named Furby.

Links:        Facebook            Twitter              Instagram

 

 

Romance On A Mission

If you read a few of my romances you may have noticed a common thread running through all of them, no matter if the story is set in the imaginary world of the angels or a very real town in Maine. My characters are diverse. They come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, some have disabilities, others are emotionally scarred in one form or another. But they all have one thing in common—they all want to be loved and are willing to move heaven and earth to protect those they care for.

I’ve heard it before as I’m sure you did too—the old adage (not so old as it turns out) that claims you can’t write a diverse character unless you are one yourself. I’ve heard the maxim from certain readers and from literary agents, from members of the LGBT community, from African Americans, Hispanics, people with disabilities or mental illnesses. Pretty much from every minority group everywhere. Because let’s face it—there is no way to fully understand what someone feels or goes through unless you’ve been through it yourself. But wait! Actually, even people who went through similar things felt about it differently because there is only one YOU.

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I don’t subscribe to this philosophy, though. Most writers have a well-developed sense of empathy and as such, and to use myself as an example, I may never fully comprehend how a gay man feels when faced with prejudice but I can come close. Nothing annoyed me more throughout life as being excluded from things because I didn’t quite belong. I was too or not enough of everything. People will bring up just about anything to exclude people they somehow don’t think belong with them.

I believe that no matter where we come from, what our ethnicity is, our religion, our state of mental or physical health we all have one thing in common—as my characters, we all really want to be loved and be happy. So, I write romance with a mission. Sounds silly but after a lifetime of being told I COULDN’T for so many reasons, I wanted to write about characters who in spite of all obstacles, in the end COULD and DID.

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What do you think? To which school of thought do you subscribe and why? In the next few weeks I will be posting some blogs about characters and character development. I know I’ve done it before but I want to go deeper. I’d love to hear from you too, and I’m opening up for guest blogs focusing on characters (their creation, inspiration, favorite ones, most hated ones, etc). Just email me and we’ll go from there.

 

 

Emotion in Writing

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I attended Donald Maas‘s workshop and I’m just now writing about it. I almost didn’t sign up for it. The workshop was being hosted by the Richmond branch of the Romance Writers of America (VRW) and held in Richmond, Virginia–an almost two hour drive from my house. Driving far from home and to places I’ve never been to stresses me out to panic levels and I normally avoid it like the plague. But I really wanted to go to this one, so I signed up. Luckily one of my local writer friends signed up too and I was able to drive with her. I’m a much better copilot than a pilot in situations like this.

This workshop was everything I expected it to be and so much more. A huge kudos for the Virginia Romance Writers  who set up an amazing event in a great venue and for providing us all with a magical supply of food (especially the donuts which seemed to be forever reproducing themselves in the kitchen) and the awesome speaker.

DMaas and me

I’ve been to many workshops. Some were writing-related and others not. Some were excellent, others left me regretting the money and time invested. This one was inspirational. I came out of the full-day event revitalized, inspired, and motivated to write more and better. I also left vindicated somehow.  I’m an emotional writer. I have a tendency to neglect certain details (which in my mind seem superfluous) and focus on feelings. I thought that maybe I was writing romance the wrong way, but after this workshop I feel I’ve been doing the right thing. But I need to get better at it.

During the session I wrote a couple of the best scenes in my current project, not to mention I came up with the missing pieces of my plot. Pretty wonderful, don’t you agree?

Mr. Maas was a pleasure to listen and talk to. Nothing like being able to immediately apply what you’re learning to give you a sense of accomplishment. He took us on a journey through his last writing book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, and had us apply it directly to our current projects. It was truly magical.

I don’t normally recommend writing books, no matter how great they are, because we all write differently and what I’ve found is that one “technique” may be amazing for some and absolutely not work for others. However, this one is different. This one works with what you already have and helps you–through some pretty simple exercises–to make it better, to make it resonate in readers’ s minds and hearts. So I am totally recommending it. Further more I am suggesting that you buy it and read it as you edit your work. You’ll be amazed with the results.

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My only regret after such a great workshop is not having anything to send to Mr. Maas’ agency after he so kindly extended an invitation to all of the attendees to query him. Maybe one day, Mr.Maas, maybe one day…

Oh, Oliver!-A Character Talk

Yesterday, Blind Magic was released into the world of readers. I’m seriously pumped about it since Marcy, the main character, is one of my favorite characters ever. She was a favorite sidekick in Loved You Always and it still is now that she has her own romance.

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I’ve written a couple blogs about this quirky witch and her winsome personality, but I’ve kept pretty much quiet about her male counterpart and love interest. There is a reason for that. I don’t know how to talk about Oliver without revealing some things about him that I would prefer to keep a secret, so I can surprise my readers.

But I decided to risk it and write this blog about wonderful, swoon-worthy Oliver. After you meet him you will totally understand why Marcy, an independent, free-thinking woman, falls in love hard for this guy.

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Oliver is one of the cops who was shot in Loved You Always while on protection detail for Marcy’s friends, Emily Rose and Jem. Oliver seeks Marcy’s help with a vexing problem at her witchcraft store and the relationship hits the ground running.

Oliver was both a hard and easy character to write. He’s complex and charming, broken and brave, sexy and vulnerable…. I was terrified of writing him, of not doing him justice, of writing him in a way I would totally betray who he is. I think I may have done a good job since I’ve had great comments from readers so far. I’d love to hear from you if and when you read it.

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His life has been far from easy and the ghosts of his past are still out to get him as he develops his relationship with Marcy. The little witch–like he likes to call her–is the light in his rather dark life and he is the missing piece in Marcy’s. He’s the classic type–organized, well-dressed, and reserved. She’s a free-spirit–open, quirky, and unconventional. On the outside they couldn’t be more different, but inside they are two peas-in-a-pod. Made for each other, true halves of one whole.

I love Oliver and I’m so excited to share him with all my readers. I can only hope they love him as much as I do.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME

by Jolie St. Amant

Series: Chateau Rouge

Release Date: October 7, 2017

Publisher: Bienvenue Press

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Chateau Rouge is a reputedly haunted hotel. It hides secrets and stories within its walls, tales that lure guests from all over the world.

Yet there’s one story that has never been told. The story of a New Orleans bordello Madam who had to endure the pain of watching her true love die…twice.

Josey has been the owner of Chateau Rouge for the last two hundred years. She’s content with her routine existence, and has been for a long time…until Archer Grayson walks into her hotel.

He ignites a hunger in her which she hasn’t felt for over one hundred years, and this can only mean one thing…her love has returned to her.

But with his return comes the curse of their fate, and Josey refuses to survive a broken heart for a third time. Unless…what if this time is different? What if there’s a chance for them to change their destiny?

Could it be that their love finally has a different fate written in the cards?

Or is history bound to repeat itself?

Dream a little

Purchase Dream a Little Dream of Me:

Kindle: http://a.co/cw0ttji

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jolie St. Amant fell in love with all things New Orleans after reading Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Now, a frequent visitor to the Crescent City, she can often be found getting inspiration from ghost tours, or sipping café au lait at Café du Monde. Dream a Little Dream of Me is the first in the Chateau Rouge Series.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JolieStAmant/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JolieStAmant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inked Hearts-New Release

 

 

Title: Inked Hearts
Series: Lines in the Sand #1
Author: Lindsay Detwiler
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 21, 2017
Blurb
“Six years, a
complex about my freckles, a love for pastrami, and a fear of failure.
That’s what he
gave me before slaughtering my heart and my faith in men.”
Suffering from the
sting of betrayal, twenty-eight-year-old Avery Johannas quits her job and moves
hundreds of miles away to Ocean City, the beach town of her dreams. With the
help of her zany roommate, Jodie, Avery finds a new career, home, and freedom.
Throughout her self-exploration, she makes only one rule: She won’t give her
heart to a man again. She’s living for herself this time.
But then she meets Jesse.
A tattoo shop owner,
the green-eyed Jesse Pearce is wild with a touch of mystery. As Jesse and Avery
explore Ocean City and their friendship, they’ll have a hard time drawing a
line in the sand between their hearts.
When summer nights
get a little more heated than either expected, they’ll have to ask
themselves: Can they let go of their notions of love, or will their
hearts be permanently inked by past pain?
Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Excerpt
There’s some soft rock music playing when I open the door to
Jesse’s apartment. The distinct smell of teriyaki sauce permeates the room,
dancing in my nose as soon as I walk through the door.
“Hey. That looks amazing on you,” he says. He’s wearing
black jeans and a button-up shirt. He’s gelled his hair, and hints of his
cologne permeate the room.
“Thanks. I love this. You didn’t have to do it.”
“I like to treat my artists well.”
“So you do this for all of them?” I ask, setting down my bag
on the counter.
“Only the good ones.”
He leans in to kiss me, and I realize how natural this has
become. It hasn’t taken long for us to settle into couple status. In
retrospect, it seems now like it was always coming. It seems unnatural for us
not to be like this—comfortable, kissing, and together.
I’m so glad that for once in my life, I broke my own rules.
Jesse leads me to his kitchen table, which is adorned with a
dozen pink roses. I smile, gently touching the petals of one.
“This is beautiful. Thank you.”
“Have a seat. Dinner is ready.” Jesse brings out a few
casserole dishes with rice, teriyaki chicken and vegetables, and even some egg
rolls.
“Did you make all this?” I ask coyly, pretending to be
impressed.
“Yeah, it was sort of rough because I’m not that great at
cooking.”
He stares for a moment as he sets the dishes down. I can
tell he’s trying to see if I believe him.
I look directly from him to the top of the refrigerator, at
a large take-out bag with a familiar Chinese restaurant’s name. I raise an
eyebrow.
“That’s an old bag,” Jesse says, waving a hand but smirking.
“Yeah, okay. I just have a feeling this is going to taste
just like it.”
“Only because I worked so hard to get the secret recipe.”
I dig into the dishes, serving myself, laughing at the
trouble he went through. “You know, you didn’t have to dirty dishes on my
account. I would’ve been fine with takeout. I’m not a food snob.”
“That’s a good thing, because I’m not much of a cook.”
“Oh, and I am,” I say, referring to the pasta debacle.
“What a pair, huh?”
I shrug. “Could be worse.”
“I’ll drink to that,” he says, holding up his bottle of
beer. We clink bottles as we finish eating. To an outsider, I’m sure it looks
ridiculous. My fancy dress and necklace, sitting at a table eating take-out
Chinese food.
To me, though, it’s perfect. The man I’ve fallen for sitting
beside me, Chinese food, and a comfort I haven’t had with anyone else.
As much of a mystery as Jesse Pearce was a few months ago,
he’s become as familiar as my new self.
I like this new Avery. I like Jesse’s Avery. I like the
Jesse and Avery we are together.
So when we finish eating and he gives me the look I’ve come
to recognize, I lean forward, kissing him with a fervor I’ve reserved for this
moment, telling him wordlessly that I’m all his.
As he leads me back to the bedroom and hastily unzips the
dress he painstakingly picked out for me, I smile.
For a long time, I didn’t think I wanted to belong to any
man. For a long time, I thought this part of myself was shut down.
But as Jesse’s hands travel down to the familiar hot-pink
underwear I’m wearing, I feel myself let go of all of those ideas I had before.
I’ve come to realize it’s okay to be his, because Jesse
doesn’t hold me back. He makes me who I want to be. He makes me the best
version of myself.
Loving him might be a risk, and losing myself completely to
him tonight might be my undoing. Letting him go, though, is not an option, not
when he tosses me back on the bed, and I feel every part of my being succumb to
the tattooed hunk moving perfectly on top of me.
And so, after a night of learning what adult sleepovers are
actually all about and mastering the sex-hair look, I let go of my rule.
I’m all in. I’m all his.
Author Bio

An English teacher, an author, and a fan of anything pink
and/or glittery, Lindsay’s the English teacher cliché; she loves cats, reading,
Shakespeare, and Poe.

She currently lives in her hometown with her husband, Chad (her junior high
sweetheart); their cats, Arya, Amelia, Alice, Marjorie, and Bob; and their
mastiff, Henry.

Lindsay’s goal with her writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of
life while also instilling a true sense of realism in her work. Some reviewers
have noted that her books are not the “typical romance.” With her novels coming
from a place of honesty, Lindsay examines the difficult questions, looks at the
tough emotions, and paints the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look
at. She wants her fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and
powerful. Lindsay wants women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that
novel.” She wants to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing
a twist of something new and exciting. Her aim is for readers to say, “That
could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how she knows
she’s done her job.

Lindsay’s hope is that by becoming a published author, she can inspire some of
her students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. She wants
them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of
the realm of possibility.

 

Author Links

An Author’s Betrayal

It’s no secret I’ve always been a bookworm. I used to gulp down books like water. My library–even as a child–has always been large. Many of my books are now electronic but the library, virtual or not, just keeps growing. Authors have always been my friends. They’ve given me such joy, I often think of them as family even though nine times of ten I have never met them. I could never understand how some people treat writers as celebrities and keep tabs on all the dirt they manage to dig up on them. I prefer to think of them as ethereal beings, not quite fictional but not quite real either. I don’t want to know the dirt and the skeletons they keep in their closets–because let’s face it, they are humans like everyone else. I want to focus on their writing and the characters and worlds they create. So you can imagine how I feel when a writer betrays their own writing, their own creation.

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I used to read a lot of fantasy and years ago I picked up a book in the store which would become one of my favorite fantasy series ever. I fell in love with the characters, the world she built, the story than unfolded. Maybe because the two main characters were gay, the author developed a specialized following. LGBT characters were not common at the time. These wonderfully three-dimensional characters develop a romantic relationship which was both sweet and realistic with ups and downs, doubts and moments of insane happiness. All while partnering in some seriously dangerous adventures. I fell in love with the characters, the way the author told their story, and the intricate world she created.

A few years later, maybe pressured by her publisher or the fans, she wrote and published an anthology of short stories about the characters. According to her, the fans had requested more details about the characters’ relationships, a sort of behind the scenes glimpse at their romantic lives. It seemed intriguing to this romantic fool, so I bought the book. To date, this was the only book I have ever thrown away. I was utterly disgusted by it. It was hard to believe these sordid, crude stories had been written by the same hand who had written such lovely prose before. Filthy language, terribly graphic sex scenes, well-loved heroic characters that were now being portrayed as bottom-of-the-barrel creatures concerned only with bodily pleasures. She effectively destroyed the beautiful images I had created in my mind of these wonderful, rich, multi-layered characters. I was mad! I felt betrayed. I felt the author had somehow betrayed her own characters.

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When the last book in the series came out shortly after, I bought it but I couldn’t read it. I couldn’t erase the images her short stories had placed in my head and couldn’t face the characters I had once loved so fiercely. The book is still on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

We all have different levels of tolerance for different things. I stopped reading The Outlander series midway through the first book because of something Jamie did to his wife. I just couldn’t “face” him after that so I never finished the book and have no intentions of reading the rest of the series. What’s your threshold of tolerance? Have you ever been betrayed by a favorite author or favorite character? What would–in your opinion–make you stop reading a series you loved?