The Wedge of the San Rafael

The Wedge of the San Rafael
Someone has to live here, in the middle of desert beauty. Might as well be the Kellys.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dagnabbit, but I'm disgusting

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.


  1. I think you had every right to defend yourself. Reviews can can be harsh, but they should never be rude. However, not all temper their words. I enjoyed the book I just finished that was written by you and it was exceptional. One of the best that I have read in quite some time.
    Tana Lewis

  2. I have read or reread everything of yours I can find in print, in e-book or online. It has been so for a number of years now. Reviewers seem to think that they have an open forum to write anything and everything. You know it is a free speech thing. Just like a lot of the trash spewed out during the election, everyone has an opinion, and feels like they should express it whether the facts are true or not. Just put this review out into the ashcan with rest of the after election trash or in the bottom of the birdcage where it belongs. Your characters are REAL. Your plots are intriguing, your scenery and settings are believable enough to feel as if I am there. I am a retired AP Engish teacher, I know of which I speak.
    Elaine Corman,
    Oklahoma City, OK

  3. I'm a Carla Kelly fangirl. I too have read everything of yours I can find in print, in e-book, or online. I now am buying the e-books of previously published print books that I have read already, just because I love them so much and want to be able to re-read them without having to dig through my boxes of paperbacks to find a particular book when the desire strikes (I do have a special box or two for my Carla Kelly books). So hurry up please with all the re-issues of all those e-books.

    I don't care that much whether your characters' sexy times are in the open or behind closed doors because what attracts me to your books are the stories that you tell, the ways that the characters grapple with real-life issues, the unfolding plots that show all involved as flawed and human, and the relationships that develop naturally through circumstances and interaction. I like the fact that most of your stories have a resolution that, while containing a believable HEA, also include indications that life will go on and there will be lots more to the story, including joys and pain, just as life is for all of us. It is not that the sexual interactions of the characters (whether written about or implied) are irrelevant. From my perspective, what matters is that sex is never gratuitous (oh, here we are at 50%, time to throw in a sex scene); it is always written about in the context of the emotional development of a relationship, or crucial turning of the plot. Your books can be harrowing (e.g. One Good Turn, Marrying the Royal Marine, two of my favorites), but they are never disgusting. I don't know you, so I can't say for sure, but I very much doubt you are disgusting either.

    It is too bad that online communications make it too easy for some people to be rude and thoughtless and to forget why civility matters in human discourse. Such vituperous venom reflects chiefly on the writer, rather than the written about, and the writer is the one that needs to look to his or her karma. I usually don't post, either on blogs or on online review sites, but in this case I felt compelled by your story to share my opinion, for what it is worth.

  4. Wendy and Ecorman, thanks for your comments, too. Yep, it's tme to just overlook folks like Tyson. As my son put it, "Used to be these people would stand on street corners and rave, and we could just all walk around and ignore them. Now they have a written forum."
    So it goes. Obviously, I need to grow a tougher hide, when dealing with trolls.

  5. My favorite troll doll had pink hair, I wonder what color of hair Tyson's is lol Okay sorry, couldnt resist lol!

    I LOVE LOVE your books! I'm only a dozen or so into them and have started them again once finishing I've loved them so much (finding out what happens to Owen and Della A DREAM COME TRUE)
    So keep up the GREAT work!

  6. Thanks, Amanda. I'm thinking about a sequel, but won't have time to write until summer.

  7. Just wanted to send a good word and virtual hug, as someone who has read and loved all of your books, in all of their different settings! Have always enjoyed how real your characters and situations felt.

  8. Carla, I just read the Amazon review and responded to it. I happen to think you are an extraordinary, lovely, intelligent, experienced woman, who is unbelievable creative. Thanks again for all the hours of reading pleasure you have given me. I especially loved The Wedding Journey, With This Ring, Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind, and Miss Chartley's Guided Tour. I appreciate all the research just these four books required. Thanks so much.

  9. Well, thanks, Diane! I took a look at all that too, added another comment, then gave it up as a lost cause. I probably shouldn't have ever encouraged a troll in the first place. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

  10. No, no, it is kind of hard to ignore that kind of insult. I kept on until it just became very boring. I think there is a subset of women who for various reasons just don't like anything sexual to be put in print. I don't like lots of sex in a book and have complained about it to an author when it seemed to me to be simply pornographic. But gee whiz, sex does happen, and for an author to be real, it does have to happen once in a while in a book.
    Anyway, forget the deliberately ignorant troll. (I understood the Latin.)

  11. I figured you'd understand the Latin! Crazy. I still remember Twinkle twinkle little star in Latin.
    Mica mica parva stella,
    Miror quaenam sis tam bella
    splendens eminus in illo
    alba vellut gemma caelo


  12. I am a huge fan of yours. I have read all your books and reread many of them. I have also started buying them in e-book format just to make it easy to reread them. I have enjoyed them all! It would be impossible to ignore that nasty comment but maybe knowing so many of us think so highly of you will help you forget the ignorant troll.