Wed
Feb 23 2011 12:30pm

The Lament of the Jilted: When Authors Break Up with Their Readers

 

How Will We Ever Trust Again?

 I hate being jilted.  The sense of betrayal (“How could fill-in-the-blank do this to me?”), the self-flagellation (“How could I not have seen this coming?”), the depression (“I can't believe there is no more future with fill-in-the-blank”), the despair (“How will I go on without fill-in-the-blank?”). We've all experienced it. We've all been jilted before and it is likely we will be again. Here's a partial list of my infamous jilters:

Judith Ivory  just simply vanished eight years ago, moved away without leaving a forwarding address. Oh, the pain of not knowing where a loved one is!  Is she well? Is she wearing a sweater and clean underwear, just in case? Where is the closure? Maybe I have to admit that she just isn't that into me.

Barbara Samuel not only jilted me 10 years ago, but she even changed her name to Barbara O'Neal so I couldn't find her—it's like she got a restraining order against me or entered the Witness Protection Program. If you were over me, Barbara, why couldn't you just tell me so? Why string me along for years, all the while promising another St. Ives family romance? It was cruel and unsporting of you.

Lisa Kleypas is a special case.  She hasn't quite left me, but she is two-timing me, committing bigamy, dividing her time between her historical romance family and her contemporary romance family. Her historical romances are still very good, but there is always the fear that she will finally get that divorce and choose to stay with her other family. Don't leave me, Lisa!

Connie Brockway broke my heart five years ago when she announced that she was leaving the manicured estates of  historical romance for the bright lights and big cities of contemporary romance. I donned my metaphorical sackcloth and ashes and built a small shrine on my Keeper Shelf in her memory.  But then a miracle occurred: she came crawling back to me.  She is now writing historical romance again—hallelujah!  But, you know, once bitten, twice shy.  Can someone who's cheated on you before ever really be fully trusted again?  I don't know . . .

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Favorite authors have left a trail of broken hearts and shattered dreams in their wake, but we die-hard historical romance fans keep coming back for more. We are, after all, incurable romantics. Cue Sally Bowles.


Cheryl Sneed reviews for Rakehell.com.

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40 comments
Wendy the Super Librarian
1. WendyCrutcher
LOL - I loved this post. Very tongue-in-cheek :)

There are two authors who have jilted me. 1) Susan Wiggs. Like Connie Brockway, she left me for the bright lights of contemporary romance slash women's fiction. But unlike Brockway, she hasn't come crawling back. I keep a lit candle in my bedroom window hoping one of these days she shall return.

And 2) Maggie Osborne. She threw me over for retirement. Some nonsense about wanting to spend her golden years with her husband and family. Bah! C'mon Maggie. Like they love and appreciate you more than I do?

/taking tongue out of my own cheek.
Michelle Willingham
2. Michelle Willingham
I miss Jude Deveraux's old skool historicals. I had every one on my keeper shelf. But I understand she went through a rough period of time, with the loss of her son. I keep hoping that she'll write some new books that are a strong as The Princess, The Awakening, and Twin of Ice.
Michelle Willingham
3. Vi
I too am worried that Lisa Kleypas will break up with me. I need her to write historicals. Also, this trial separation of her taking a year off is painful. I know she needs the time off and I will rejoice her return next year.
Victoria Janssen
4. VictoriaJanssen
Laura Kinsale came back to me recently - after SHADOWHEART, I had given up hope, but then came LESSONS IN FRENCH!
Michelle Willingham
5. Janet W
Oh well for me the biggest of the big will always be Suz Brockmann: one of my first loves in Romlandia. It's too painful to even describe the breakup but when Tab A did not FINALLY connect with Slot B in their long-awaited book, I was crushed. Just crushed. I still read her but it's all library all the time now.

Mrs. Spencer. How could she leave us for her Golden Years. I can't quite forgive her for that. Take a break and write a book LaVyrle!

Lastly, Mary Balogh. Now everyone knows I love her books but she's left the angst far far behind and I miss it ... not tons but a bit.

Great blog Cheryl!!
Michelle Willingham
6. Kati
Oh man, Tom and Sharon Curtis just dropped off the face of the world. And this after giving us The Windflower and then NEVER EVER writing Cat's story.

*WAILS* I want Cat's story!!!
romance reader
7. bookstorecat
The biggest relationship crack-up of all time has to be the (non-Romance related, sorry) Anne Rice break-up. When she broke it off with Lestat and starting seeing Jesus regularly--whew! There are people still pissed-off about that one. Relationship lesson #1: even if you've moved on, don't go around bad-mouthing your ex to everyone you know.
Michelle Willingham
8. Teresa Medeiros
Perhaps those dallying with the affections of other genres are simply honing their skills so they can bring new techniques to your relationship when they return to your loving arms? ;) (And I agree with you, Kati. As far as I'm concerned, Tom and Sharon Curtis were the best to ever play the game.)
Megan Frampton
9. MFrampton
@Teresa: Spoken like a true cross-genre author! As long as those authors return to our loving arms . . .

I have to agree with Cheryl: My saddest break-up is with Judith Ivory. Why did she leave? WHY?
Michelle Willingham
10. Penelope
Oh, how I loved reading this post!
Michelle Willingham
11. Readaholics Anonymous
Hey Cheryl,
Loved the is post. Break-up taken to the next level. Witty, well written, heart-rending, tragic, and of course agonizing! We all have gone through this in some way, you just had the guts to say what we all feel, but are too shy to say. Look forward to more of your tear-jerking post!
See ya,
Dana
Readaholics Anonymous
Michelle Willingham
12. KatLively
There was a Twitter convo about this the other day. It happens in mysteries, too. I had noted that my break up was Karen Kijewski, who had written the Kat Colorado mysteries. Come to find out she had retired due to family issues.
Michelle Willingham
13. Jamie Wesley
I was reading the post and thinking it's not that bad. I like contemporary and historical, so authors going back and forth between the two doesn't bother me. Then I remembered that Cherry Adair wandered into paranormal, my least favorite genre, and I felt abandoned. But she's made her way back to straight romantic suspense, but I do wonder how long it'll last.

So, yes, I feel your pain. :)
Lime Cello
14. Limecello
Very cute post, Cheryl! And I'm totally with you on Lisa Kleypas. Vi's comment worried me - I didn't know she was taking a break. I'm almost thinking I should be grateful I'm behind on her books so I can ration them now...
I have a "happy ending" story though - an author that disappeared and made me totally sad that happened is/was Karen L King - and she's back as Katy Madison! Whee!
Now- does anyone know what happened to/with Patricia Waddell? :X
Michelle Willingham
15. Brandi E.
This is hilarious and very true. I do feel a bit lost and confused when I find that a fav author moves to a different genre without notice. I don't know whether or not to try out the new work simply because of their name or wait until some other brave soul decides to spend $7.99 on an unknown.
Michelle Willingham
16. Kristibug
I LAUGHED at this post! (However I didn't laugh at making a comment, what is UP with this system? Third time trying to post! LOL)

Janet - WHAT about Suzanne Brockman??? I ADORE her, isn't she coming back with another one in the next few months? What slot didn't slit? hehe

I'm crying over Judith McNaught... You were supposed to publish your novel in 2009, then 2010, then what???? WHERE ARE YOU? PLEASE COME BACK!
Keira Gillett
17. Keira
I'm okay with the shakeup in authors if they're crossing genres. I might prefer them in one over the other, but as a reader I'm not always monogamous (ie reading just historicals sometimes I like to change it up...) Authors should be able to do the same. :) Equal opportunity and all. lol Let's call it the "Hall Pass" after the same manner of the movie coming out by the same name.
Michelle Willingham
18. MarinaMonfort
Oh my God! I feel like Lisa Kleypas's mistress who is trying to break her marriage because I absolutely adore her contemporary novels and wish she wrote more of those! Hehehehehe
Michelle Willingham
19. Keri Stevens
Someday, across a crowded RWA booksigning, I'll be standing there in my implacable whalebone corset, and you'll have popped the seam on your Spanx (r) knockoff. My cheeks will be freshly pinched and your department store blusher will be streaky with sweat and then you'll be sorry.
Michelle Willingham
20. Jen Brown
I love this! and Yes, I've been there and yes, in an odd way, it does feel like a betrayal. Luckily I'm "bi", I like historicals and contemporaries but I feel truly betrayed when an author stops in mid-series, THAT is true agony!
Michelle Willingham
21. Paula Shene
This is a great article and the pix is precious...

I am faithful and follow, and find that, while sometimes distasteful comes to mind, the overall experience stays close to my heart....p.s. just leave a forwarding address especially if there is a NAME change.

McNaught did publish - she just changed the name of the story
Michelle Willingham
22. Blythe Gifford
You forgot Linda Howard! And Penelope Williamson! And Megan Chance! (Megan at least still writes historical fiction, just not historical romance.)
Michelle Willingham
23. Vi
@Limecello Yep. Kleypas has no new book releases this year. :(

Regarding Katy Madison, I have that book in my TBR pile. I found it a little interesting why it wasn't released as an ebook.

I thought of another author. Whatever happened Josie Litton (aka Maura Seger)? I'm grateful that her Akora books are available as ebooks, but I want to know what happened to her.
Michelle Willingham
24. ksivey
Loved this blog as I've felt dumped and betrayed more than once. My very first love, Julie Garwood, left me for contemporary fiction, but even before then her historicals had lost some of their sparkle. I still have a dark suspicion that she had a ghost writer for some of those last few historicals. I thought this was just wild paranoia until I met an actuall ghost writer, who assured me it happens more than any of us realize. Does anyone else suspect that some of their favorite authors have contracted some extra help?
Michelle Willingham
25. Barb in Maryland
LOL--great post and great comments. Here's mine:

Laurie McBain--Where are You?????????!?!??!!!
Really, that's my big one.
Oh yes, I do have to second the request for a sequel to Windflower. I just knew there was going to be a book featuring Cat's story--and then--a big, fat nothing!
Michelle Willingham
26. el edwards
Oh so true oh so sad.....lets add Nita Abrahms, Jane Ashford, Melanie George Penelope Williamson. The list is without end for authors who have "disappeared". Then there are the authors who get you hooked on their historicals only to change genre...Katie MacAlister and Christinia Dodd are good examples of authors of regency historicals who have made complete 180 turns to a different style of book. What about the authors who start a series and leave it hanging Karen Robards is a good example 8 years is a long time to wait for the third book in a triology. The whole situation is made worse by when you come across a newly published book an favorite author who has "disappeared" only to get it home and discover that is a old book being rereleased, sometimes even with a new title. What's the author's side to this story????
Michelle Willingham
27. Gwendlyn
Great post Cheryl! So many of my favs were mentioned in these comments. Marylyle Rogers, Elizabeth Stuart and Maggie Davis where are you?!!! I second the request on Laurie Mc Bain too. And I know you can't third a request, but yeah Tom & Sharon Curtis we need a sequel to The Windflower and anything else from you. Anything from all of you?????!!!!!!
Michelle Willingham
28. Donna Jean
Cheryl, you couldn't have said it any better. I absolutely LOVED this post. It is so true and expresses what so many of us acutely feel when our favorite author(s) pulls a switch on us. I must say...I was very worried about Lisa Kleypas when she announced that she was going to release her first contemporary novel. I had flashbacks to Judith McNaught and Karen Robards. But Lisa's "Sugar Daddy" novel was fantastic!! Lisa is such a great writer that she won my loyalty and I will continue to stick with her through her contemporary journey. I can't say that about many historical turned contemporary authors. The three that I mentioned above are the only ones, and believe me, I have tried with others.
Michelle Willingham
29. wispofacloud
Dianne Day never finished her Fremont Jones mystery (with a romance) series because of some problem with the publisher. Basically they didn't want her anymore but she couldn't finish the series without them since they had the rights to it, or something.
Michelle Willingham
31. Alie
I had this with Iris Johansen. First she was historical, which was great. Then she was contemporary romantic suspense, great too. Then she continued with only suspense (in my book at least), not so great. :(
Michelle Willingham
32. Lily White LeFevre
Second the Where in the World is Judith McNaught question?

Also I had this happen with Mary Jo Putney, bc the first book of hers I read was her one stone saints book, The Marriage Spell, only to find after 2 years of waiting for the sequel(s) that she'd abandoned the series and taken those plots/characters and modified them to be straight historicals . I couldn't go on with any of them since they weren't going to be what I wanted (the actual sequels).
Michelle Willingham
33. Kelly Gregg
Oh my...The best of the best for me ; Sharon and Tom Curtis. I was in my twenties when I first met and fell in love with them. "Sigh", The Windflower just blew this southern belle away. We met at Woolworths on Washington Road across the street from the August National Golf Course. I will never forget the moment I read the blurb on the back of the book and I fell hard for their smooth talkin' words. Alas, they used an alias but I found everything they ever did , the little Love Swept novellas and later Sunshine and Shadow where upon they sweetly whispered their true names in my ear. I dared to write a little letter with humble words of love and appreciation . I even received a nice note in return (be still my heart). But then, woe is me...they just up and left me . So now I am hunting for The Natural Child ( the holy grail it seems). I hope life has been kind and blessed for them! Please come back my loves.
Ok...Yeah , I know a little silly. Its all in fun. I really do have a life!
Michelle Willingham
34. Kelly Gregg
Oh my...The best of the best for me ; Sharon and Tom Curtis. I was in my twenties when I first met and fell in love with them. "Sigh", The Windflower just blew this southern belle away. We met at Woolworths on Washington Road across the street from the August National Golf Course. I will never forget the moment I read the blurb on the back of the book and I fell hard for their smooth talkin' words. Alas, they used an alias but I found everything they ever did , the little Love Swept novellas and later Sunshine and Shadow where upon they sweetly whispered their true names in my ear. I dared to write a little letter with humble words of love and appreciation . I even received a nice note in return (be still my heart). But then, woe is me...they just up and left me . So now I am hunting for The Natural Child ( the holy grail it seems). I hope life has been kind and blessed for them! Please come back my loves.
Ok...Yeah , I know a little silly. Its all in fun. I really do have a life!
Michelle Willingham
35. Rachel Graham
Sharon and Tom Curtis = Best ever imho. Sunshine and Shadow, The Windflower. Amazing stuff. (Kelly Gregg, I have The Natural Child from the When you wish anthology, happy to lend)
I miss Elizabeth Stuart, "Without Honor" a DIK. I loved everything she wrote . I missed Marsha Canham but she just came back and finally finished her pirate trilogy, whooopeee!
Michelle Willingham
37. betti
Not a romance but what has happened to author Marianne Macdonald of the Didi Hoare series - she seems to have just disappeared. :(
Michelle Willingham
38. lynique
I want the sequel to Windflower so much I can hardly breathe when I think of it. I try not to think of it..... except I just re-read the book for the 113th time, so it is on my mind at the moment. Not only a story for Cat, one of the most interesting characters ever created who wasn't the main hero of the book, but also perhaps Rand Morgan's story....? (I'm always hoping.)

This was a very amusing little article and I totally agree with and most of the comments, too. It is heart-breaking when your treasured relationship with an author doesn't go down the anticipated path. siiigh

Tom and Sharon Curtis: COME BACK TO US !!!

(and got to say my frustration is not being able to post through 16 attempts is growing ..... Now it's a matter of honor to get it through)
Michelle Willingham
39. tigerlily
Windflower is one of my favourite books too, I've just finished reading it for the umpteenth time.
It does seem like there is some good news on the horizon. There is currently a book you can pre-order on amazon by Laura London aka Sharon and Tom Curtis, with the title of Moonlight mist. On the down side, amazon have very kindly not put any details about the book for us to view. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be historical!
Michelle Willingham
40. Melysa
Ah ... Sharon and Tom Curtis. The Windflower was the very first historical romance I ever read, and it ruined me forever. Every book I have devoured since then just doesn't measure up. Finding their books is difficult, especially now in the days of digital, but I have gotten lucky at a local bookstore. I read Moonlight Mist nearly 10 years ago. It didn't have the same magic for me, so when I picked up Sunshine and Shadow at that same store, I opened it with trepidation in my heart. But my loves delivered! Lightening that Lingers was just finished this morning, and I've found The Bad Baron's Daughter finally. As for Cat's story, I have been crying tears of blood waiting for it, but it's been so terribly long ... I may have to give up hope at some point, and just re-read The Windflower again. If I had a nickel for every time I read it, or recommended it ...
Michelle Willingham
41. Genny
I third the question, Where is Judith McNaught????? The book that was "to be released" in 2009 never came out...I've been waiting and waiting...
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