Does time bring changes?

A little while ago, I read a thread in a forum discussing violence in romance. I’m not linking to it here, since it mentioned Eyes specifically, and that discussion isn’t the sole inspiration for this post. Not only that, I’m not rebutting what was said but agreeing with it. I’ve thought about it before, and my ideas on the subject have been cumulative. Other forum threads and reviews and individual emails have mentioned the violence in all my books one way or the other. Eyes probably provokes the most discussion, but then it’s sold more copies than any of the others so more people have read it.

Needless to say, the violence in my books isn’t too much for me, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a point at which violence does become too much for me, and I agree with the person who speculated that age has something to do with it, that as we grow older we become less tolerant of mayhem. It’s certainly true for me.

I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, and a while back simply cut out any story that features a serial killer in the way so many do. I don’t care if Kellerman’s Alex Delaware or Connelly’s Harry Bosch is after a serial killer, but I’m not reading those books that feature scenes in the killer’s POV. My tolerance for the good guy coming upon the violence and going after the bad guy is fairly high. My tolerance for being in the head of some pervert who’s busy slicing and dicing victims is non-existent. I don’t care if his mommy was mean to him. I don’t care if he was abused by an army of other perverts. I don’t want to see the world through his eyes. I don’t think I ever enjoyed those kind of scenes, but they didn’t always bother me so much. I used to read quite a few of those types of books. So is the change in attitude age, or is it been there done that and too darn often?

Another forum thread I saw recently talks about boredom with the books that reader usually reads. I have that too, and it’s one of the reasons I can’t stick to romance or for that matter to mystery, thriller or suspense. Surely in that case it is the been there done that syndrome.

We all draw the line on these things in different places, but is it a moving target for each of us? I think it is for me. For instance, I know I’m far more sensitive to any hint of coercion in romantic relationships than I used to be. Those of you who have followed my publishing adventures since the beginning know how my opinion of rape romances brought the wrath of the romance police down on my head, but as time has passed I’ve gotten worse. The experienced rake luring the dumb bunny virgin? Icky. The guy who sets out to ruin a girl so she’s in the position of having to marry him? Yuck. I want balance in relationships, but I also worry that leaves me with a much narrower type of relationship to write about. It sure leaves me with a narrower selection of romances to read.

~ Ellen






22 Responses to Does time bring changes?

  1. Rhonda says:

    Hello Ellen…I think, yes, time does bring change simply because we turn the page into another chapter of our lives. I am a devoted reader of yours — starting with ‘Eyes….’ My sisters and daughters-in-law are also followers — and we each have our own favorite.
    I love how you develop and write the relationship between your heroine and hero. And, you skillfully divert violence to other characters and their relationships. Stories evolve. Writing evolves.
    It never seems to be a waste of time to review and reflect on one’s work … but, without reservation, I really do love your male-female relationships and how they protect, save and champion one another.
    So, what’s next???
    R 🙂

  2. mesadallas says:

    I agree with you Ellen about being in the mind of the bad guy. I’ve read books that put me there, and there is such an ick factor. I have no problem reading about the hero inflicting pain on the bad guy, though.

    I sure do wish you could write faster, but I thoroughly enjoy whatever you put out for us.

  3. Rosheen says:

    Absolutely agreement on all points. As you in my opinion take a less traditional and more different approach (in a very good way) to writing and story telling you possibly are not narrowing the type of romantic relationship and are more likely just to take a different tack. Like all your readers we are keenly awaiting your next tale.

  4. June says:

    Hi Ellen
    Age does change how we feel about things. For instance, I don’t like reading bad language in a book. I can tolerate a few “bloodys” and, what I consider, old fashioned swearing but I hate all the swearing using sex words.
    I love all your books and short stories Ellen. My favourite is still “Eyes” and Cord is still my favourite hero.
    Now, never mind reading forums, get on with writing another book or short story! Your fans are waitng!

  5. Anonymous says:


  6. mesadallas says:

    You write about a period of history that was often violent and one thing that draws me to your books is that they are realistically gritty.

    Too violent? I’ve never thought so. I’ve read some of the amazon reviews that have mentioned the amount of violence as being unacceptable and I’ve just come to the conclusion that the violence in a romance is sort of along the lines of the sex in a romance. What some readers deem too explicit doesn’t even phase other readers.

    Just keep doing what you are doing.

  7. Rhonda – Thanks. Turning pages in life is another way to talk about the time passing thing, and it does make a difference, doesn’t it? As to next, the next romance is going to be the story of a bounty hunter who kills the last family member of a young woman, leaving her with nothing and reluctantly takes her with him. This is the story that I put off twice when the Suttons shoved to the forefront of my mind. I also want to get the next Rottie mystery done and maybe another Eyes short.

    mesadallas – Probably most of us don’t mind seeing the bad guys splattered all over the landscape, but I have let my good guys get smashed pretty badly too. Eyes may cause the most comment, but I’ve seen mention of what happens to Matt Slade in Sing and both Nilchi and Gaetan in Dancing. Cal does dish out more than he receives in Bad Man, so the comments there tend to be about what he does, not what happens to him.

    In some ways the responses to Light surprise me, though.
    Readers seem to think Light is gentler, but it starts out with Trey wounded so badly he expects to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, then he gets almost run down by a wagon, attacked with a pipe and concussed and needing stitches, stabbed, and targeted in sniper-like attacks twice. Then in the Afterword Cal almost takes someone’s head off clubbing him with the butt of the buffalo gun. All I can think is because the turn-of-the-century setting is more civilized that violence doesn’t seem so—violent to some.

    Rosheen – I hope you’re right that I’m not narrowing my possible worlds. I’d rather not write than keep doing the same story and characters over and over.

    June – Boy are you right about language. A mystery writer I always liked went off on a tangent and wrote a book almost all from the POV of a young criminal there in the UK from what we’d call the ghetto in this country. And she used all vernacular. Fortunately for me I took a look at that book in the library. I couldn’t read a single page. I don’t want to have to listen to that in real life and sure don’t want to read about it. I even prefer some movies on tv because they clean up the worst of the language.

    mesadallas – I hope I got your messages right. They came through from several different email addresses and that’s why the names were different. One had your real name and one said anonymous, so I tried to fix them. Strangely, if I deleted the duplicate anonymous one, the one that had the same message but from mesadallas disappeared too. So I edited one to simply say duplicate.

    And you’re right, we all have our druthers and want/prefer different things. Don’t worry I plan to keep doing what I’m doing, but I find the discussions of preferences interesting and thought-provoking.


  8. mesadallas says:

    I wrote the one that told yiu to keep doing what you are doing at 7:54 a.m.. I didn’t write the other one. Yes, I noticed it posted my real name too. I’ve been having some trouble with my google account so that may be the reason. I’ll try to get one of my kids to help me fix it if possible.

  9. mesadallas says:

    Hmm.. now it posted under mesadallas instead of my real name. Well…. I won’t worry about it now.

  10. Marcia says:

    I guess everyone has the same thoughts and please don’t change a thing. Maybe get those wonderful books out there faster for those of us that can’t stand to have to wait. I have written to you before. My whole family and in law family read your books and by far our favorites and more how I picture the west to have been. Don’t change a thing my friend.

  11. Marcia says:

    I forgot to mention I am 65

  12. mesadallas – Hmm. Does that mean you didn’t post the comment about bad guy’s POV at 10:14 p.m. on the 28th? If so, I owe an anonymous poster an apology. I think rather than tinkering any more, I’ll assume an anonymous doesn’t mind her post having a user name on it and you won’t beat me up for putting your user name on words that aren’t yours because you undoubtedly agree with them anyway.

    Hi Marcia – Good to hear about you and your family. I don’t plan on changing, but if we’re right about the time thing it may creep up on me, and there’s always that caveat about if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.

    ~ Ellen

  13. mesadallas says:

    No, I didn’t post the one about the bad guy’s POV- and I won’t beat you up at all- that would be rather violent.

  14. DallasE says:

    Ellen and mesadallas, that was my post on the 28th. When I originally posted it, everything was fine. Did something happen?

  15. DallasE says:

    And now that I’ve read all of the comments, I’m excited about the new book. When???

  16. DallasE – What happened to your post on the 28th was that it accidentally got into the mix when I was trying to fix mesadallas’s posts that came through as anonymous and with her real name. Since I made a mess doing that, I hope it’s okay to leave things as they are, but if you want, I’ll go back and try to put your name on the 28th post. Who knows, maybe I can do that without screwing up anything else. 🙂

    As to when, you may remember I’ve sworn to stop giving estimates. My record is very bad. The readers who want to see another dog mystery have been waiting years. I promised and didn’t deliver so often now all I’m saying is “this year.” I will report on progress as it happens – or doesn’t. Right now I have the mystery partly done and a complete outline of a plot that I’m content with (which has been part of the holdup – this next one seemed too similar to the first for a long time) so I expect the draft of it to be complete soon.

    The romance is completely outlined and at the stage I’m getting itchy fingers to start writing. I have vague ideas for the next Eyes novella but they haven’t gelled into anything so far and I keep churning them around in my mind.


  17. DallasE says:

    Ellen, I’m happy with whatever you do with the site. I just thought I should clear up the confusion.

    As to delivery dates for books, I’ll take ’em when I can get ’em! LOL

  18. Barbara Wadman says:

    Ellen, As a 75 year old woman may I say I love your books. Is there some violence? Yes, but not the serial killer, the sadistic killer, the person who kills for the thrill. Eyes had violence, but please people, let us remember how women were regarded and treated in the years in which this story takes place. In Coals, remember the white man was not exactly gentle and kind to the Indians (native Americans). If you feel Gaetan was violent, remember he was fighting an invading enemy. History is what it is and no where did I ever feel you were doing violence for violence sake, Ellen. Please continue to write your wonderful books and I will continue to buy therm. If I want bland, predictable books there are, alas, all too many authors out there today who will fill that void.

  19. Sharon says:

    Love, love, love all of your books. They are not predictable and please continue with your people that have so much depth of character. You give us insight into each person in your book unlike some writers who just make their characters so shallow as to get on with the story, which makes the story faster but does not hold readers interest. Just keep on with your awesome stories and awesome characters. As for violence, you stay true to the time period your story is set in, so continue to with your factual accounting! Can’t wait for next book. Hurry! No, don’t hurry! I’ll try to wait patiently.

  20. Barbara, Sharon, Thanks, ladies. The discussion that prompted my post wasn’t a slam on anyone in any way. It was just thoughts on how each of us draws the line in a different place and how that may change with age (and I wonder if that’s age or sometimes a result of having read so many books some themes wear thin).

    No one has to worry that I’m going to head for the light and easy side of the romance genre. My own taste runs to realism, even in other genres. For instance, in cozy mysteries, I can’t stand the ones where the police are all and always bumbling idiots and the amateur sleuth runs circles around them day and night. To have an amateur solve the mystery you have to get the police out of the way in some fashion, but to have them always be incompetent?

    Probably the reason Regencies don’t work for me most of the time is that although I accept they are (some of them) realistic for the upper class of the time, I have an urge to sneer at the idea that a man who can’t put his own clothes on without help or shave his own face is in wonderful six-pack shape because he boxes once a week and rides a horse.

    Believe me, from personal experience, I can tell you, except for the legs a bit, riding doesn’t make you muscular—cleaning a bunch of stalls every day and hauling feed, on the other hand…. Many of the luxuries that I imagine are the attraction of that era and class strike me as wasteful (the wonderful picnic that only requires a gazillion servants working their asses off). And some things—for instance, I think the idea behind the ironed newspapers is that without the ironing the ink smeared, but every time I read about it all I can think of is the rumor that Jackie O made her maid iron her silk stockings. That kind of b.s. doesn’t provoke either admiration or envy in me.

    So we readers really are a varied lot. One woman’s pleasure being another’s poison and all that.


  21. DallasE says:

    So I have to ask. Is the original post a reference to the conversation I had on a romance forum?

    I’m right with you there about the regency romances. I guess that’s why I prefer western and military.

    Also, you should let your readers/fans know that All About Romance has a poll up right now for favorite western/frontier romances.

  22. Dallas – Yes.

    As to the mini-poll, I’ve been debating what to say about that and decided to just go ahead and vent. Should get a new post about it up tonight.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s