Shannon Stacey

AAR Reader Awards

Am I too cynical? Maybe. My first thought before clicking on the link that would take me to the winners’ list was let’s go see who has the biggest Yahoogroup.

I wasn’t too surprised by any of the names. Jennifer Crusie won 6 categories and an honorable mention in one. I love her books (except for Welcome to Temptation–I have no idea why I just can’t get through that one) but that still made me have a visual of the troops mobilizing after the interim results. And a book winning Best Romance and Best Chick Lit/Women’s Fict makes me grind my teeth just a bit.

The big shock? And I’m in no way going to be objective about this one–I loved the book. Worst Romance: The Real Deal by Lucy Monroe. WHAT?

Did the people voting in this category just happen to be lucky enough to miss some of the total CRAP being published? Is The Real Deal the meatiest book on the shelf? No. Is it the deepest, most complex conflict I’ve ever seen? No. But it’s a fun book, and I had a blast reading it.

Context. I’d love to see some context on this one. How many people voted in this category, and how many did The Real Deal get? Percentages! It was in the running for Best Chick Lit/Women’s Fict in the Feb 15 interim results, after all. (Wouldn’t it be ironic if Bet Me had stayed in the Best Romance category and The Real Deal had won Best CL/WF?) (Although, I would have griped about that, too, because to me, both of those books were romances, with Crusie’s leaning well-toward Funny Women’s Fiction.)

And I just plain old hate that category. If you want to have some fun with Worst Titles, or Worst Cover, or Most Laughable Historical Heroine Name, all well and good. Worst Romance is just mean. And the online romance community as a whole is a very small world, so I never underestimate the chances of somebody seeing a chance to get a little revenge for some past slight, whether real or imagined.

Then, of course, the whole thing is skewed by AAR’s dismissal of e-books. While the big print authors have enough troops to drown out the probability of an e-book winning–maybe–a lot of good books were overlooked in this contest. And no, it doesn’t make me want to boycott and send pissy emails and flame the boards, but it makes me a little sad. AAR’s pretty important to the romance community, and my book won’t matter a whit to them.

The new Award is very, very pretty, though. And I loved Linda Howard’s “acceptance speech”:

“Okay, I’m speechless. It’s a good thing I’m writing this instead of trying to talk. . Whenever I’m writing a book it’s as if I’m in a void, with nothing but me and the book and I don’t have a clue if I’m doing anything right or creating the biggest clunker in the universe. Then Laurie e-mailed me that I’d won Best Romantic Suspense, Strongest Heroine, and Best Villain, and just knowing that I’ve done something right in the past gives me hope that I’ll be able to wrestle a coherent tale out of my current tangle of characters. So thank you for the atta-girl. I’ll keep wrestling with this beast, and y’all keep reading.”

(If for no other reason than it being comforting that even the stars have monkeys.)

11 comments to “AAR Reader Awards”

  1. Trace
      · March 3rd, 2005 at 10:24 am · Link

    Shannon, they may not care about your book. But there will be a whole lot of people who do. You’ll bring hours of entertainment, escape and joy to the people who count: your readers. That’s really all the matters, right?

    Where is your book? I can’t find anything about it on your blog, here.

  2. AngieW
      · March 3rd, 2005 at 10:32 am · Link

    Shan, I’m on the AAR yahoo group (even though I never visit the board anymore, for whatever reason) and Lynne Connolly brought up the lack of ebooks. She had some good points about ebooks as a whole being more…diverse and unusual (paraphrasing) than print at this point – they’re not required to follow the accepted NY formula for writing and storyline. That raised some hackles with one or two ;)

    But Laurie did respond and to be fair, she said they weren’t “ignoring” them because of any belief that they weren’t worthy (I’m paraphrasing here) but because they don’t have the reviewers now to keep up with print publishing, let alone ebooks. She did mention that she would love for an ebook lover to apply for a reviewer position and review soley ebooks.

  3. Shannon
      · March 3rd, 2005 at 10:47 am · Link

    It won’t be out until…probably late summer, Trace. :oops: I need to get a book page up, but there’s that pesky, kicking-my-butt blurb to write. *g* I’ll bump that to the top of the To-Do Today list. And the readers are what matters. You’re right, there.

    Okay, ‘ignoring’ is probably a better word than ‘dismissing’. Dismissing implies negativity. (In my somewhat-defense, I have 685 unread emails in my inbox, 700 in my bulk mail, and 1808 in my Paradise folder–there’s a good chance that AAR digest is in there somewhere.)

    I find it a little odd that with all the readers out there reviewing e-books, that nobody wants to do it for AAR, which carries some pretty hefty weight with the romance-reading community. Then again, during the odd times my computer lets me visit AAR, being a reviewer seems to be a thankless job at times, as far as the respect they get from readers.

  4. Jorie
      · March 3rd, 2005 at 11:50 am · Link

    Shannon, personally I’d rather AAR dropped the category of worst romance as I don’t think it does what it’s supposed to do. Worst romances don’t get read much, they get ignored or put down or thrown against the wall. They don’t get buzz. I did enjoy The Real Deal. I had a couple of issues with it but it certainly was an engaging, enjoyable read.

    I’m a big fan of AAR, and I do like that AAR does the poll. I even kind of understand the idea of trying to balance best of, but it doesn’t really work in this case. I think it’s more of a backlash award.

  5. Alison
      · March 4th, 2005 at 1:37 am · Link

    Read this on The Real Deal:

  6. Shannon
      · March 4th, 2005 at 11:21 am · Link

    I did read that. But like every other review, other than the Korean vs. Japanese sword thing, it’s all subjective.

    I can read that review in hindsight and agree with some of the points made, but the fact that I enjoyed reading it first might make a difference.

    How many people who voted in the AAR poll read the reviews first? Then when little things came up that a reader immersed in a story can shrug off, or not even register, they stick out like sore thumbs because a snarky reviewer made such a big deal out of them?

    Then, because somebody popular didn’t like it, and it was the most recent book they saw trashed, they all vote for it in the poll.

    It’s a shitty category, and I can’t imagine how hurtful it was to the author. And I’m sure knowing that same book was in the running for Best CL/WF doesn’t help when she sits down to write.

    And I’d bet at least half the people who voted in that poll hadn’t even read the damn book. That category came up on the poll, they remembered a particularly enjoyable, snarky trashing of it, and they put it in there.

  7. Alison
      · March 4th, 2005 at 2:19 pm · Link

    Oh, I know nothing about the AAR polls. I never pay attention, never read them, never vote. Didn’t know they had a worst romance category!

    So, posting that review for me had nothing to do with AAR!

  8. Shannon
      · March 4th, 2005 at 2:39 pm · Link

    Oh, I didn’t necessarily think you did. I’d read the review a while back, though, so my train of thought had already tied the two together, and it’s pretty much an express train. *g*

    I do like them, though. Not as much as Mrs. Giggles–she’s the original , of course. But I’ll probably spend too much time reading their blog in the future. :smile:

  9. Jaq
      · March 5th, 2005 at 1:57 pm · Link

    Shannon, I read The Real Deal, and did not like it. Got about 1/3 of the way through (forced myself) and started skimming. The ‘hot’ lovescenes weren’t all that for me either. It was not the worse book I’d read (tried to) last year, but it was my biggest disappointment, because Laurie’s rah-rah review of the book had me anticipating a really great book. So in this case, in particular, if I had voted *the biggest disappointment* would have been accurate vote category

  10. Jaq
      · March 5th, 2005 at 2:06 pm · Link

    Just wanted to clarify that the reason I didn’t like the book was the author’s voice didn’t work for me, and I failed to connect with the characters. That’s it. Didn’t need to get as the in-depth as the analysis of the various reviews, my reaction was enough. And I did read the book before reading any other reviews *besides* Laurie’s. Butit was a relief to find out I wasn’t the only one this book didn’t work for.

  11. Shannon
      · March 5th, 2005 at 8:48 pm · Link

    That happens. There are writers out there that I don’t “get”.

    But was it the worst romance you read last year?

    Maybe it’s a craft thing. For me to vote for a Worst Romance, it would not only have to suck on a reading level, but it would have to be very poorly written.

    Maybe it is impossible to separate reading and writing.

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