Call to Action and Mini-Vent

Anyone who follows here or knows me knows how fond I am of AAR—All About Romance. I know it’s a site that reviews books, and when Sing My Name was first out no one there said, “Okay, let’s do Ellen O’Connell a big favor and review one of her books.” The book got reviewed in the usual course of what they usually do.

However, right at that time I was getting a lot of flack from the anti-indie crowd over things I didn’t do, and the fact is there’s no way to defend against that kind of thing. At one point I seriously considered giving up writing. So that DIK review was a tremendous and timely morale booster. I’ve heard it’s the first time they ever reviewed an indie book, and if that’s true, it just makes it better. I never submitted the book for review or asked them to review it (I did submit a request for Dancing and also one for Bad Man, although they haven’t reviewed Bad Man to date).

I also have good feelings because a lot of the AAR posters in their forums say nice things about my books, and the ones who don’t like them have the grace to be civil about it.

So… all that said. AAR is now doing a mini-poll to update their list of readers’ favorite “Frontier/Western Romances.” My initial reaction was how cool, wouldn’t it be great if one of my books made such a list.

Stop. Please read on. I am not about to suggest anyone hie to the site and vote for my books.

What I am about to do is vent a little. The list has not been updated since 2007, and this is the list of “Favorite Frontier/Western Romance” from 2007:

1. The Touch of Fire, Linda Howard
2. Only His, Elizabeth Lowell
3. Ride the Fire, Pamela Clare
4. Annie’s Song, Catherine Anderson
5. A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Diana Gabaldon
6. Prince Charming, Julie Garwood
7. Dream Fever, Katherine Sutcliffe
8. The Outsider, Penelope Williamson
9. Drums of Autumn, Diana Gabaldon
10. Texas Destiny, Lorraine Heath

Okay, I’ll confess right now I’m in that small minority of readers of the world who didn’t like Outlander. If I ever saw Jamie as heroic, and I don’t think I did, the description of red fuzz on his butt finished me off. I stopped reading not long after the beating. After that I skimmed a bit toward the end figuring to see how it ended and be done with it and hit right on a torture scene that absolutely gave me the creeps and that’s only with reading enough of it to get an appalled idea of what was going on. Talk about over my personal line for violence. (That’s not a review, folks. I didn’t read enough to review it. What I did read was long enough ago I may not be remembering clearly—maybe that red fuzz was on his thighs.)

It’s my understanding that Gabaldon herself does not consider her books romances. In the AAR comments on the 2007 poll, they say: “Technically Gabaldon’s book was neither a Frontier/Western Historical nor a Romance….” Okay, so why is it there? If a bunch of readers voted for a Regency on that “Western” list would the Regency get a place?

So where is Maggie Osborne? Where is LaVyrle Spencer? Where are others who wrote classic Westerns? Either not there at all or pushed down out of the Top Ten by books that are kinda sorta.

Maybe no one else in the world would look at that 2007 list and get as cranky as I did, but the fact is I did. And it’s now been several days since I first saw it, I’ve mulled it over, and I’m still cranky about it.

So this post is to urge you all to go vote. Surely readers who actually like Westerns can come up with ten real Westerns, and if enough people who do like real Westerns vote, the 2014 list will include nothing but.


P.S. I have not read Katherine Sutcliffe’s Dream Fever, which is mentioned as being set in New Zealand, but I don’t think just a non-U.S. setting keeps a book from qualifying as “Frontier.” If Quigley Down Under (Australia) were a book instead of a movie, it would in my opinion be one of the best Westerns ever. Then again, who knows, maybe that’s Tom Selleck-itis. One of my own favorites is Candice Proctor’s Whispers of Heaven (Tasmania) although the fact it’s hideously overpriced and not available for Kindle cools my enthusiasm somewhat although I know it’s the publisher, not the author that’s to blame (I had to get it from the library).



29 Responses to Call to Action and Mini-Vent

  1. Rosheen says:

    Yes done list made and survey complete. Cheers rosheen

  2. Gypsy says:

    I enjoyed looking over my keeper shelf and electronic books. I included Kathleen Eagle’s book, Reason to Believe. Even though it is contemporary, it tells of Native American history and the Memorial Trail Ride is as western and harsh as any frontier.
    I listed Eyes, Sing, and Dancing as 1, 2, 3.
    Parting Gifts..Lorraine Heath
    Summer Breeze..Catherine Anderson
    Bride of Willow Creek…Maggie Osborne
    The Lone Texan,,,Jodi Thomas
    Two Texas Hearts…Jodi Thomas
    Others that almost made my list:
    Dancing Moon…Barbara Samuel
    Mountain Wild…Stacey Kayne
    A Wife for Big John.. lauri Robinson
    Comanche Moon…Catherine Anderson
    And a contemporary I love is Warrior’s Bride by Nina Bruhns

    I hope this lists adds enjoyable reading to someone’s day.
    Walk I’m beauty.

  3. reganwalker says:

    Ellen, As you know, I have my own Best Western Historical Romances list on Regan’s Romance Reviews, and your books are on that list. I will certainly vote. Meanwhile, why did you mention Outlander? It wasn’t in the list you gave us…is it on the AAR site as a Western?

  4. Gypsy says:

    I did finish Outlander but never read another of her books. I had just retired and was working my way through the top 100 romance poll of that year.

  5. Thanks, ladies.

    Gypsy – Even if your vote for a contemporary isn’t counted, I’m sure the rest will be. Of course enough other people have to vote for the same book for it to make the list anyway. I wonder if that’s part of the problem for say, Maggie Osborne. Different readers have different favorites, so no one book gets enough votes to get it high on the list.

    Regan – Hi there, good to hear from you. Yes, you made me very happy by including my books on your list. It’s a real boost to have someone like them that much. As to why I mentioned Outlander – because those Gabaldon books on the 2007 list are part of the Outlander thing. Evidently Jamie and Clare do America at some point. Haven’t the foggiest how they get there, etc.


  6. P.S. I’m sure someone who comments here loves the Outlander series and thinks I’m wrong, wrong, wrong and can tell us. ~E

  7. reganwalker says:

    Ellen, when you write time travel as Gabaldon did, you have ways of transport unknown to the rest of the world. Thanks for clarifying. I have voted.

  8. Barbara Wadman says:

    Ellen, Unfortunately there are some people who are always so negative about matters that do not fall into line with their way thinking. I have written to you before telling you how very much I enjoy your books. As each book has been published, I buy it. As I found some of the books on Kindle before the printed book was out, I have purchased both–the Kindle version and the books. Everyone I have recommended your books to has said “Wow” and thanked me for telling them about such a good author. So–Ellen, please keep writing, and I will keep buying, your wonderful stories. As to Diana Gabaldon, well, let us just say I bought the first book but did not finish it. Never have understood how so many of her books have sold so you and I are on the same page with regards to her publications.

  9. Thanks, Barbara, it’s readers like you who have helped my books so much by word-of-mouth recommendations. That kind of thing is, as they say, priceless.

    The early experiences when Eyes and Sing were flying so high really were unfortunate, particularly because they left me reluctant to send books out for review or do any sort of marketing. I’m only now accepting that I need to get over it and change that.

    As to Outlander, I’m happy for all the bazillion people who love the series and have found hours of reading pleasure in those books. The fact they’re not for me is just one of those personal taste things, or as my mother used to say, “horses for courses.” It only upset me to see books generally acknowledged as not Romance much less Western on that list. But then even as I type this, I remember a couple of reviews of Dancing that say it’s not really a romance. 🙂


  10. Oh Ellen, please never say you will stop writing. I think my heart stopped for a second. I love, love, love your books. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read Eyes. I have even commented before that my youngest son is named Cord. (I was pregnant with him when I read Eyes.)
    I voted Eyes first of course, followed by Sing, Bad Man, Dancing and Light. Then the rest were Elaine Levine books.
    I am eagerly waiting for the next book. However Eyes and Sing have been on my mind lately so I feel a reread coming on soon.

  11. It was winter of 2010-11 when all that happened and I considered quitting, Five Shadows. That’s the only time, and I got over it back then.

    I do remember your comment from before that you named your son Cord. That’s an absolute, for sure, 100% compliment of the highest order. He’s never going to sit in a classroom with 5 other kids with the same name, is he?

    Thanks for going to the site and voting. Hope you really feel that way.

    There is no way for me as a writer to know how I’d feel about my own books as a reader. My votes are going to be more sprinkled out among a lot of authors of the [sub]genre, although maybe a couple of times 2 books by one person. Am still fiddling with it. Unlike a lot of dedicated readers, I don’t keep notes on what I read. I’ve tried a couple of times but never follow through. Maybe that’s good because if I still remember liking a book a lot years later, it made an impression.

    So I know there’s a Jo Goodman I really liked, and I remember the story but not the title and will have to go hunting. I liked Lorraine Heath’s Texas Destiny a lot, but another of hers made me cry, and I’m not sure of the title of that one. The very best books always make me cry. In the paper days, I used to say you could tell the very best ones on my shelves because they had wrinkly pages here and there.


  12. reganwalker says:

    OK, Ellen. June is my Best Western Historical Romances month and I’ve just added Texas Destiny to the list (a long one) of the books to read!

  13. Wow, Regan, you’re easy. The made me-cry-one was Parting Gifts.

  14. Gypsy says:

    I love Parting Gifts. The story is beautiful AND the title reminds you exactly what the story was about. I hate the stupid titles that have little to do with the story. My all-time favorite title is…..
    Sing My Name… incredibly beautiful…..sing my name. Genius

  15. You’re right, Gypsy, Parting Gifts is one of those descriptive titles that really fits the book. Glad you like Sing too. It was one that had no title for a long time, and I just called it “Matt Slade.” Then one day I was tweaking that one sex scene and came up with the idea for both there and the title. I was just emailing back and forth with a friend the other day and admitted I’m still in love with Matt. ~E

  16. The AAR blog today talks about Westerns again, and their reviewers give some of their own favorites. There were 2 in the list I hadn’t read that sound particularly interesting. I am taken with the idea of the Civil War nurse who travels to see the families of the men she nursed who died. Admittedly my realistic streak wonders about this because I think any CW nurse would have nursed so many who died a lifetime of traveling wouldn’t have allowed visiting that many families, but I’m keen to read it and see how it’s done.

    I also had a cynical reaction of, oh, yeah, and they won’t be available for Kindle because so many Westerns were written years ago and aren’t digital. I was happily wrong about the 2 that caught my eye. So I sent samples to my Kindle and have high hopes about new discoveries. ~E

  17. DallasE says:

    Well, Five Shadows Sewing and I voted pretty much the same books/authors. Except I put Beautiful Bad Man second. I fall in love with Cord every time I read Eyes, and I’ve read it sooo many times.

    I’m with you on the Outlander series. I read the first two and DNF the 3rd. It’s been so long, I don’t recall what it was that put me off. It might have been simply that I put the book down and had no desire to pick it back up.

    Any time you’re ready to put out another “Western Romance” Ellen, I’m ready to buy it!

  18. Thanks, Dallas. The next romance is going to be the bounty hunter story I put off twice to do Bad Man and LIght. I’ve actually worked on it a little, but that didn’t get me anywhere because I found out the beginning envisioned didn’t work and I had to go back to the drawing board. Working title for now is Without Words. ~Ellen

  19. Gypsy says:

    Sign me up….always.
    Do you ever appear at writer’s conferences?

  20. Gwen says:

    When can we expect a new book?

  21. Gypsy – I apologize, I thought I already answered you. No, I attended some conferences years ago, but my feelings at this point are pretty much been there, done that.

    Gwen – Every time I make a prediction on a new book, I’m wrong. Wrong in the too optimistic direction that disappoints people. I’m not predicting any more except broadly – so sometime this year. If you follow here or signed up for the Mailing List, you’ll get plenty of notice as I get close.


  22. Sharon says:

    When will the results of Western Romance Poll come out on AAR?
    Also, I might mention I’m waiting for Beau and/or Roddy’s story…….hint……..hint!

  23. Sharon – I don’t know about poll results. They were much quicker than I expected with the overall Top 100, so I would think one like this, which has to be much smaller would have results very quick.

    I put off both the current romance I’m calling Without Words and Roddy and Beau’s stories when the Suttons invaded my mind. In fact, originally the story I couldn’t not write was Bad Man, but I so wanted an original Afterword for that. I confess I’m very proud of the Afterword on Dancing because love it or hate it, it’s different. One reviewer said she’d been reading romance for 40 years and never read anything like it. 🙂 So I beat my head, trying to come up with something original for Bad Man.

    The problem was when I did come up with something I liked – a Sutton falling in love with a Van Cleve – it was just too big for an Afterword and had to be its own story, and since I was still very taken with the Sutton world, Light wanted to be written right then, and it pushed ahead of the others too.

    I know other writers are far more disciplined. They decide to write Story X and write it. It doesn’t work that way for me. A particular idea gets hold of me and stays in my mind, and I go back and forth over and over it, sending the characters here and there, deciding no, that doesn’t work and sending them elsewhere until the entire story is worked out, at which point the only way to be free of it is to write it.

    So when I say Bad Man and Light pushed ahead, I mean it quite literally, and right now that’s where the new story is, prominent in my mind, pushing out anything else. Roddy and Beau’s stories are far more skeletal at this point, but I expect Roddy and Charlotte to be next after Bret and Hassie.


  24. Gypsy says:

    I found myself smiling as I read your comment. I enjoyed the insight as to how your very creative mind works.

  25. Sharon says:

    Ditto, Gypsy. Ellen, I want you to continue “doing your thing” and writing what you want, when you want……… haven’t gone wrong yet! Whatever is next I know it will be awesome!

  26. Gypsy says:

    Enormous congratulations!!!!! You dominated the poll. I hope many new readers discover the magic of your stories. I am proud of you. The honor is richly deserved.

  27. Sharon says:

    Awesome! Awesome! and more Awesome!
    You rocked the polls and you so deserve it! All my favorites were there and pretty much as I
    voted. Congratulations!
    Can’t wait to read “Without Words”!!

  28. zema says:

    hello ms. oconnell: i was just checking your site to see if you have any new historical writing projects on the horizon.
    i’ve enjoyed your books, along with the historical stories by author beverly jenkins.

    one historical romance author, Marion Marshall. .
    books; Last Ticket to Paradise, nominated for the 2000 Eppie award for best historical romance. and Dakota Dawn, winner of the 2002 Eppie award for best historical romance.

    i’ve only seen and read one of her books; Amber Moment, which was a great read!

    the others seemed to have vanished [aka no longer available]
    are you familar with her books?

  29. Hi Zema and welcome. No, I’m afraid I haven’t read any books by Marion Marshall. When I looked just now I only saw Last Ticket to Paradise listed on Amazon, and it’s shown as out of print, which means I probably never will read anything of hers because I’m pretty much an all ebook reader any more. Occasionally I get paper books from the library, but having finally cleaned the piles of books out of my house, I don’t buy paper any more.

    If things go as planned, I’ll have a new romance titled, “Without Words” available sometime this summer.


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