Sometimes, readers make my back molars throb. This morning I was snooping around on Amazon and reading a few readers' comments about my books. What to my wondering eyes should appear but a real doozy. Boy howdy, was it mean-spirited. It was for Marriage of Mercy, that Harlequin that no one at Harlequin read because the title and back blurb have zippo, zilch, nada to do with the book. All in all, it's a pretty good read.
Ooh, not to someone named Tyson. She gave it one star, and the title line of her review was "Disgusting." The first sentence was "Carla Kelly is disgusting." Well, that got my attention. Some folks think I'm tolerable. Anyway, she didn't like the book because it was way too sexy for her tastes (umm, it's not that bad). I was supposed to be known as an LDS writer, so how dare I do that?
I don't generally respond to icky stuff like that, but I did this time. I thought I was reasonable. You judge:
"Tyson, I don't usually comment on book reviews, but I take exception to character assassination. I'm not primarily known as an LDS writer; that's your fiction. I wrote some 30+ Signets and Harlequins before I started writer for a more LDS audience [should have added 'on occasion']. I currently write for three publishers. If you want to review a book, fine. I can take that; poor reviews are part of the job. If you felt Grace was pathetic, that's certainly your choice. But to call me disgusting is rude and unmannerly. I would never call you disgusting. I don't know you and it would be the height of rudeness to make such a comment about you. You might be interested to know that when Borrowed Light came out, my first LDS-themed novel, a reader used to my other books wrote a death threat. Amazon kindly removed it. So I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. Just watch your language when you attack writers rather than books."
Writing for a variety of publishers is a ticklish situation, granted. That rather odd phrase "clean read" gets bandied about a lot in Mormon fiction. Before my foray into LDS fiction - something I don't read much - I never had heard that term. I currently owe two Regencies to Harlequin over the next 18 months or so. And there's that delightful publishing company in Seattle willing to let me try my hand at historical crime fiction. I probably still have a few more books in me for LDS-themed fiction, too. I'm toying with a sequel to My Loving Vigil Keeping. (I mean, I know what's going to happen to Della and Owen, so maybe I should share it.)
Maybe my books should come with a warning label: Harlequins are PG-13; ditto The Double Cross from Camel Press; early Signets are mostly PG; Cedar Fort's books are PG. That could satisfy readers who get their knickers in a twist when characters do more than hold hands.
So let the reader beware, I suppose. Just don't call me disgusting. Some folks think I'm fun to be around. I'm sure Tyson is a nice person. Even if she/he weren't, I wouldn't be so cruel.
Back to Safe Passage, a book I'm writing about the Mormon Exodus from Mexico in 1912. This could be a bit tough for Tyson, too, because the main character and his wife are estranged and have real issues to work through, as they try to avoid getting killed by guerillas in Mexico. Disgusting ol' Carla Kelly has fun.