Shannon Stacey


Of all the acronyms I’ve seen around–POV, GMC, BM, MOC–TSTL is probably the one that bugs me the most. I see it a lot, and my idea of TSTL is apparently different from others’.

TSTL is when you hear a news report that Norman Bates has been spotted in your neighborhood and you jump in the shower without an entire SEAL team in your bathroom, and at least one of the guys in the shower with you to wash…err, watch your back.

TSTL is when you have unprotected sex with your bad-boy cop lover, get pregnant, and then, because he didn’t pause during his orgasm to tell you he loved you, moving away, raising the child in secret, and not telling him for eight years until a psycho decides to try to kill you. And TSTL is also running to the lone bad-boy cop ex-lover with his secret child instead of locking yourself in your local police station and calling in the National Guard.

TSTL is when you don’t escape your kidnapper when you have a great shot at it because there’s a sad look in his eyes that makes you think he’s not guilty of raping and murdering those six women.

Making a bad choice does not make a heroine TSTL. Nor does having bad luck or doing something reminiscent of I Love Lucy. Lucy wasn’t TSTL. As far as bad choices, women make them every day. I, personally, wouldn’t want to read about a Stepford Heroine, thank you very much.

Anyway, I was reading a comment on a book I really enjoyed, and the reader called the heroine TSTL. Ummm…no. She, being female, made a choice based on emotion. While that reader disagreed with the choice, if I was in the heroine’s situation, I may have made the same one. It happens sometimes. And that, to me, is the criteria for TSTL–if a normal woman would make that choice, even if it’s wrong, she’s a realistic character. If 97% of the female reading population would set down the book thinking “WTF is she thinking?”, she’s TSTL.

There are enough TSTL heroines out there without it being the catch-phrase for every heroine who does something the reader doesn’t agree with

One comment to “TSTL”

  1. Shannon
      · March 4th, 2005 at 12:06 am · Link


    kate said…

    now THAT is a rant worth putting on a front page somewhere. Brava!

    But wait. . .what about heroes who are TSTL? How come we never hear about them, eh?
    9:43 PM
    AngieW said…

    That was perfectly (and quite humerously) said Shan! But it is the way of the world that people use- and overuse- words that they don’t actually have the complete comprehensive of *snicker* (couldn’t help myself)

    So, what book was being discussed?
    10:11 PM
    Shannon said…

    Why thank you, Kate. :)

    And I think we don’t hear much about TSTL heroes because a lot of romance readers are married and we’re pretty well accustomed to stupid men. (Just kidding.)

    Actually, the comments I was reading about this book mentioned a TSTL hero as well.

    But apparently more than one reader considered the heroine of “Buried”–Donna Kaufmann’s novella in the MEN OF COURAGE anthology (with Lori Foster and Jill Shalvis) TSTL because after an earthquake, while there was still some unstability, she risked her life to save her dog. (Accompanied by the hero, of course.)

    Would –I– risk my life to save my dog? Unfortunately, no, because I have two children who need their mother more than their golden retriever. (Okay, we have two cats, and they’re on their own.)

    People die all the time trying to rescue their pets. Earthquakes, floods, fires. People, male and female, will fight rescue workers to get to their pets. I don’t think anybody can argue that fact.

    So the fact that Esteemed Reader wouldn’t risk her butt for Rover doesn’t make that heroine TSTL.

    In my EVER so humble opinion, of course. *snort*
    11:35 PM
    Larissa said…

    I agree with everything you said. One mistake does not a TSTL heroine make. And choices based on emotion might not be the best, but that doesn’t make someone TSTL.

    For the record, I’d risk my life to save my pets! *g*
    9:41 AM
    Anonymous said…

    As someone who could have broken a leg or an arm a few weeks ago when my cat was clinging by a claw to a log in a storm-swollen creek and I slid down the creekbank to jump into the water and beat off three dogs to save him, I think in the midst of beloved-pet-panic, one can completely forget about the children or anything else! Your mind kind of blanks out in a panic. You just think–I have to save him!!!

    7:54 PM


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