Weeknotes are back. Which means, sadly, that my vacation is over and normal life has resumed.
I spent the week catching up. Emails, phone meetings, memo writing, and other sundry administrative tasks. Don’t you love forms that must be signed the old fashioned way? That means receiving the form, printing it, signing it, scanning it, and then emailing it onward. An electronic signature would take a fraction of the time to sign and send back. And no, this isn’t a legal document or a HIPAA/FERPA form. Sigh.
I am behind on my 20 Books of Summer list. I am reading, but not as much, and I’ve been reading non-list books like Iain M. Bank’s Culture novel, Matter. It’s very good, although frequently quite discursive in that patented Banks way. But I’m enjoying it. I did manage to read Sarah Morgan’s most recent release, which I wrote about in a previous post, and I liked it a lot.
I’m still thinking about the Women’s Fiction/Genre Romance debate. A lot of my romland friends are bummed by the switch to WF by longtime romance authors, but the market for contemporary and historical romance is just not very profitable for publishers anymore. If you don’t want to self-publish then you pretty much have to move into a romance-adjacent genre, or at least that’s how it seems to me. It isn’t new for romance authors to shift to more high-profile genres with hardback options; category authors started doing it in the 1980s and 1990s. It might just be that social media amplifies the voices who dislike these moves, or it may be that social media and the internet more generally allow more people to see publishing shifts happen in real time than was the case in the past. Anyway, I’m still going on a author-by-author, book-by-book basis.
I fell way behind on my podcasts but have been catching bits and pieces of the Women’s World Cup. England v. USA on Tuesday should be something. England demolished Norway and the USA did not look its best while beating France, so who knows.
We watched another episode of Good Omens (still fun) and the first episode of the most recent season of Endeavour, which has finally premiered on PBS. We were gone for the first one and missed the second one, but PBS gives us a few weeks to catch up for free if we give them our email. It was good! Although Endeavour’s moustache is not. It’s very true to 1970s style, I admit, but I keep wanting to reach into the TV and brush it off his face.
It was a good week for lists, although my work schedule was continually interrupted by home-appliance delivery screwups (who notifies a customer the day before a delivery that the item is backordered for six weeks? When we already pulled out the old appliance as requested? Grrrr).
I need to write a proper productivity post. I’m still using my smartphone. It was great to have it on the trip and I’m amazed at how well I was able to use it as a substitute for a computer. I shouldn’t be amazed, since I study and teach about social uses of technology and I know that lots of people use smartphones as their primary way of doing computer-related and internet-related stuff. And yet, since I’ve always had a computer as my main device, I don’t really internalize what that means. Hmmm, this would make a good class project for the digital divide section …
I think I may get to do some writing, in amongst the phone meetings, committee memo writing, and appliance delivery drama.
Remember that asparagus/agave bloom I showed you before I left on vacation? It’s flowered some more:
I guess I think that while authors are absolutely entitled to write whatever they want or think is best for their career, I don’t have any obligation to read it. And if it means no more of the books I really love, I’ll be disappointed. I’m disappointed about that when an author retires, or takes a break, or gets ill or whatever. I don’t think they need to pander to my disappointment, but I might still express it.
On which note, I am done with Sarah Morgan. I have been trying to stick with her, but I just didn’t enjoy the last few books at all. If she ever switches back in a more romance-y direction, I’ll happily read them, but I’m not going to keep flogging a dead horse with her women’s fiction.
@Ros: Oh, I absolutely agree that readers should not feel they must follow an author to a different genre, including authors who write in more than one genre (e.g. Jayne Ann Krentz). And I really miss having more books by authors in the subgenres I liked best from them (Morgan’s Medicals, Cornick’s Regencies, just off the top of my head). And I don’t think it’s wrong to express it! I didn’t mean to be critical, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about, as much in relation to my own reading as anything else. Am I sticking with Morgan & Cornick’s new work because I want to support them and hope to like their work? Would I read these books if they were written by other people? I have had good and less good experiences with both of them in their new books. Fiona Harper is another Harlequin author whose categories I liked a lot who switched to WF and British “romantic fiction.” I’ve liked some of the new books a lot, others less.
I guess I am pushing back (gently I hope) at the idea that moving to WF is some kind of betrayal of readers (not that you’re saying that, and maybe I’m misreading conversations I’ve seen, but I sense similar reactions by readers to authors who switch up the heat levels across books). If publishers are pretending that WF is romance in order to sell it to romance readers, that’s a bad thing that should be called out. But if WF is selling and authors are willing/interested in writing it, then readers who don’t read WF lose them and there’s not much we can do about it. Expressing disappointment is natural in that case. It’s hard to break up with an author.
Me just now, to son: “So with Canada out of the WWC, which of your parents’ birthplaces will you support when USA faces off with England?” Son: “It’s complicated….” Indeed.
I am struggling (i.e. procrastinating) to get a few last work things done so I can be mostly on vacation. I do have to tinker some with my fall courses, but that is easier to do here and there on my own pace, and I have only myself—and students, of course—to answer to. I am feeling pretty burned out and trying to be gentle with myself.
@Liz: Burnout is real and we academics are not good at recognizing and accepting it, let alone giving ourselves permission to recuperate. So make sure you take the time you need! It took me years to realize how tired I was at the end of the semester, and that I couldn’t just leap into brain-intensive activities.
I am seriously impressed with both teams this year. Usually I support England over the US in footie, but I really want to see the USWNT take it all this year.
Oh, heat level is a whole other thing. I really, really struggle to understand why so many readers prioritise heat level as one of the most important criteria when choosing what to read. I don’t really read erotica/erotic romance, but other than that I’m happy to read any heat level. I don’t at all blame authors for wanting to write what will sell, and I think it’s a good idea to be clear to readers about what they should expect, but I do find it baffling that it is such a big deal for people when an author changes or has variety in the amount or explicitness of the sexual content in their books.
@Ros: I think it’s a romancelandia-specific version of what happens with some reader expectations in genre fiction. Apparently if a writer is considered to write cozy mysteries, they may not have their characters swear. I heard Colin Cotterill and some other authors talk about this at a panel a few years ago. I wouldn’t call Cotterill’s books cozies, and I don’t know that he would either. But he definitely got mail about it.
I guess it’s a consequence of the way genre reads are expected to conform to various rules, but not everyone agrees on what the rules are/should be.
I love your agave plant photos. I keep forgetting to mention the one at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago – it has a stalk that’s 38’ tall right now and about to bloom (according to their FB posts). Here’s an article from a month ago – https://news.wttw.com/2019/06/05/garfield-park-century-plant-grows-through-roof
@Cleo: OMG that is amazing, thank you for the link! We have a second one in our neighborhood now, a small one flowering from a smallish agave plant. There is a big one that’s been going for a while about a mile away, too. It’s a bumper year!