Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Retreat Guest Blogger Cassandra Carr

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Cassandra Carr is a multi-published, award-winning erotic romance writer with Ellora's Cave, Siren, Sybarite Seductions and Loose Id who lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out on Twitter. Cassandra's book Caught was recently named Best BDSM Book 2011 by LoveRomancesCafe and Impact was named BDSM Book of the Month for May 2012 by BDSM Book Reviews.


Five Annoying Problems in Books


Recently I was talking to friends who are not in the publishing business and we were discussing some of their pet peeves with books. I work hard on my stories, and while they're not perfect, I really try not to be guilty of any of these writing sins. See if you agree with what my friends said.

1. Head hopping: I think writers especially notice this, but I know readers do too. If I don't see a scene break, an extra line of space, or other indication and the point of view suddenly changes I have to go back and figure out who's talking. That takes me out of the story, as I'm sure it does you.

2. Impossible body positioning: Particularly during either sex scenes or when the characters are cuddling. As a writer, I know how hard it is to keep track of body parts, but if the hero has five hands, it's a problem.

3. Out of character dialogue: Have you ever come across a hero who is, say, a high-school educated cowboy but whose speech makes him sound like a PhD candidate? While I know that too much bad English is annoying, so is going too far the other way.

4. Plot loopholes: Did you ever get to the end of a book and say, "But what happened with [insert plot element]?" This is something all writers are guilty of at one time or another, but according to my friends, it's pretty annoying. Sorry about that, readers. *hangs head*

5. Rapidly switching points of view: Even if there are scene/POV breaks, when an author switches points of view for only a few paragraphs and then goes back to the former one, it makes me and my friends wonder why it was necessary to change the POV.



Let's chat!
What are some of your pet peeves as a reader? Tell me in the comments!


69 comments:

Cassandra Carr said...

Good morning/afternoon everybody! I'm ready to chat about your pet peeves in books, or anything else you want to discuss.

Desere said...

Pet peeve number one when reading is when the cover of the book does not match the inside,it has happend so many times that the couple on the front has say blonde hair but the herione inside has brown hair that it the number one
"turn off"

brandi said...

I agree with desere. It happens more often than not. How much input do you as a writer have on the book cover?

brandi said...

A pet peeve of mine is, especially in self published like some amazon books, the writer explains in detail something and when that detail is needed further in the story they forget it or turn it into something else. I don't mind artistic license but don't ask me to believe one thing and then says something totally different.

Cassandra Carr said...

Hi Desere and Brandi!

Unfortunately, we don't have much control over our covers. What we do is fill out a "cover art form" where we list the h/h's physical attributes, anything distinguishing about them (tattoo) etc.

I do know art departments are much more cognizant that the shade of hair, etc needs to match what's inside the book. I've had good luck with that so far. I like conceptual covers better anyway for the most part, like the cover for my book Caught.

Moran V said...

I agree with all the pet peeves you mentioned in your post, especially #4 and #5.

Other pet peeves that I can think of are:

Hard to pronounce names (I know my name sound strange in English but it's a very common name in Israel LOL)

Too many secondary character- if I need to keep a list of them and who is who while I'm reading I get really mad.

Smoking - I hate smoking and I rather not read about it in books

Dannyfiredragon said...

Hi Cassandra,

one of my pet peeves is when there are more sex scenes than actual plot. I love hot love story, but there should be a balance between both

Shelly said...

One of my biggest pet peeves in continuity errors. I read one story where the hero went to someone's house on a harley and left in a hummer. In a different book, the couple were getting out of the elevator in one paragraph and leaving breakfast at the beginning of the very next paragraph. That is terribly annoying!! It also seems that typos are a lot more prevalent than there used to be. I have heard so many reasons why this is happening, but I still think a good editor or proofreader should be catching this stuff.

Cassandra Carr said...

Brandi - yes, that's a common problem, especially amongst self-pubbed books. I know there are authors out there who self-pub books without sending them through any sort of editorial process, and I think that's a huge mistake. Every book that's out there is a reflection of the author and when there are mistakes like that readers think less of you. Just my opinion...

calstephanie said...

Good morning!

Pet Peeves when it comes to books, when people borrow them and don't return them in the same condition. I know warn anyone who borrows my books how attached and picky I am with the condition they are in. (I inspect covers before I buy. LOL)

As to in the books, I agree about the cover thing, especially when it depicts a scene that's not in the book, or has the details wrong as Desere said.

Shelly said...

and of course, there is a typo in my post!! sheesh!!

Cassandra Carr said...

Moran - hard to pronounce names are a huge pet peeve of mine. Can't believe I forgot that one. ;-) And yes, too many secondary characters get confusing. I tend to keep a very tight focus on my h/h and I do that for a reason. Even in my series books if there are secondary characters they're usually the h/h from an earlier book so the readers are familiar with them.
Thanks for coming by!

brandi said...

I agree, cal. I love my books and my family doesn't understand the attachment i have for them.

Cassandra Carr said...

Dannyfiredragon - most definitely. If the book is meant to be erotica that's fine, but if it's erotic romance there does need to be some romancing going on. ;-)
Thanks for your comment!

Tammie - Night Owl Reviews said...

All five really take me out of a story or leave me unsatisfied.

Great list.

The main one would be the head poping without good indicators or just too often. I hate having to go back or having to guess.

Another great post. I am loving this event.

Tammie - Night Owl Reviews said...

I hate when a characters trait...eye color, hair color, flaw...is mentioned over and over. Once or twice is enough. Mor just becomes jarring

Mybradybunch6 said...

My pet peeve is the spelling and grammer errors. I have found several of my books have those mistakes. As I read and get into the flow of the book, I get to a spelling error and it throws off the flow.Like hitting a pot hole and getting a flat tire.

calstephanie said...

Oh, the not knowing how to pronounce a name is also one of mine and when an author uses the hero/heroines first and last name constantly throughout the book like they're trying to remind you of the name of the character. It's just weird. LOL

brandi said...

Not remembering which character is which. I have a few books where i have actually taken a pwn and wrote the correct character's name in it. This especially irritating when it is an ebook and i can't do that.

Tammie - Night Owl Reviews said...

Yep. Stick with one name. Having a last name/nickname come into play part of the time oftentimes has me going huuuu...who is that?

Cassandra Carr said...

Hi Shelly - continuity errors can be very annoying. I try hard to make sure those problems are taken care of but especially if I write the book in fits and starts, which is sometimes necessary, some creep in.

Cassandra Carr said...

Tammie - YES about the physical attributes. Readers are smart - they know what the character looks like after one or two mentions. I always try to remember how intelligent my readers are when I'm writing.

Cassandra Carr said...

Heh about the nickname thing, Tammie. I'm guilty of that because I write about hockey players, who ALWAYS have nicknames. But I try to keep that to a minimum. In Double Vision my one hero is known by his nickname, Red, and I call him that throughout the book even though it's not his actual name.

calstephanie said...

Another book pet peeve ~ I hate when I borrow books from the library and someone has gone through with a pencil and corrected the author's writing because they don't like the way it was worded. It's VERY annoying and also it ruins the book and that really bothers me. The same way that some used bookstores cut off half the covers of books they are selling for cheap. It's so wrong!

Tammie - Night Owl Reviews said...

Strongly different characters is important when writing a ménage based story. That way readers can separate everyone out bases on reactions and actions as well as with strait forward indicators. That can make the characters more real.

Shelly said...

There is one phrase that I find supremely annoying -- "they were so close, she didn't know where she ended and he began" or variations of that. Also, repeating the same phrase over and over - as well as what Tammie mentioned. I don't need to be told his eyes are blue every time the heroine looks as him.

I recently read a book where the hero's name was William until the next to last chapter when he suddenly became Liam, then was switched back to William for the ending. I remember thinking 'who the heck is Liam?" I hadn't seen that name in the story up until that point!

Cassandra Carr said...

Oh my gosh calstephanie - I've never seen that but really, what is the matter with these people?

Mutilating books is sometimes necessary (like when a bookstore goes out of business they HAVE to take the cover off to get their money back for the book from the publisher), but it makes me so sad. :-(

Cassandra Carr said...

Shelly - wow about the character name. That WOULD be pretty confusing.

And yes, the purple prose that still finds its way into sex scenes always makes me giggle. If I ever do that you all have permission to email me and give me a lashing with a wet noodle. ;-)

Tammie - Night Owl Reviews said...

Ya. With sports based characters I would expect some nicknames. That is just part of the game and expected because of the setting. Limiting is good when so many characters could come into play. Good to hear you stick with one name throughout the book. I am looking forward to getting started on it soon. It is waiting on my Kindle app.

Jan Douglas said...

My biggest pet peeve is getting to a scene in a book and suddenly there is no description of anything, only dialogue. It gets confusing and makes me have to back up to figure out who is saying what. Then I've lost the story.
I also don't like books that were obviously pushed through and lack editing. Or are edited badly. I'm a teacher so noticing is an occupational hazard for me.

Cassandra Carr said...

Thanks Tammie - I really appreciate the support!!!

calstephanie said...

Yeah, I couldn't believe it the first time I started reading a book and you can tell they sat there and went through every line!

I know, the cover thing hurt when I saw it. I can't believe they do it!

Cassandra Carr said...

If I could make a plea on behalf of myself and other authors - reviews really do make a huge difference to readers. Amazon, B&N, ARe, Goodreads, and the publisher's website all usually have reviews, and if you can just copy and paste from one to the other we are eternally grateful!
If you don't have time to do that, Amazon is where most of us make the highest sales, so having reviews there is important!
Thank you thank you thank you!

Shelly said...

Cassandra, speaking of "purple prose" why does the hero always have to have an "enormous cock" or "the head was the size of a plum" -- seriously? That would make for some uncomfortable sex!! Not all guys are hung like John Holmes!! It would be nice to read about someone who was "better than average".

Cassandra Carr said...

Jan - I don't use as many dialogue tags as I used to since they do slow the pacing down, but I don't go more than 3-4 lines at the most between tags. Yes, it can be very confusing if there's a huge long conversation with no clues as to who's saying what.

Cassandra Carr said...

Ha - yes Shelly! I don't think I've ever described a hero as enormous, mainly because the idea of that scares the heck out of me and isn't sexy. And yes, the plums, peaches, and mushroom-shaped heads are getting out of control.
I can say it's quite difficult to describe penises in any terms that don't sound ridiculous. I think this might be because, let's face it, penises are kind of ridiculous. :-P

Tammie - Night Owl Reviews said...

Cass I made a mistake. Thought I had this on in my kindle app. But it wasn't there. Where can I get an ebook copy. Amazon just had print

Cassandra Carr said...

Ugh. Amazon should have the ebook any day now. You CAN buy the Kindle version from Siren Bookstrand and have it sent to your Kindle. It's actually pretty easy. The link to it on the Siren website is http://www.bookstrand.com/double-vision.

Let me know if you have trouble.

Shelly said...

Beth - I'm LOL at your comment!! I've seen that too -- or with the shoes.... it does seem that a lot of those types of errors are in ebooks, and not the print version -- at least with the ones I've noticed.

Cassandra -- you're right about penises being kinda ridiculous -- do they really need to be described? I think we all know what they look like!!

Beth Reimer said...

Ok this is fun, heres another one for me when the hero calls the heroine the same nickname 50 million times like westerns or cowboy stories and it darling this and darling that ok dude your getting on my nerves now -

ad0ffae6-78f6-11e1-8cde-000bcdcb5194 said...

Thank you for defining "head hopping"--I've heard that phrase so much lately, but never knew what it meant. I always hate the foreshadowing that hits you over the head--a guy gets a cough and says he's fine, and 100 pages later he's dead, that sort of thing...

vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

Cassandra Carr said...

Yes, the foreshadowing thing bugs me too. IF I foreshadow I try not to do it that blatantly. Hopefully I succeed. ;-)

Cassandra Carr said...

Beth - the darlin' thing can be out of hand. In the authors' defense, there aren't too many pet names around. :-( I do try to edit some of them out when I'm doing revisions, though.

Shelly said...

"baby" is another one that is over used as a pet name -- especially coming from some super alpha hero-type. I can't see them using pet names at all, but that's just me...

robertsonreads said...

Hi Cassandra,
My pet peeve is when the cover is nothing like what is described inside book, i.e. hair color of heroine is blond but the cover has a brunette.
And yes, some of the items that you pointed out can be annoying but overall, to me, if the storyline is good, I overlook the other issues.
Many thanks for your time.
Ginger

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Guess I'm the odd ball I like unique names and the hard to pronounce ones don't bother me. But then I read Forgotten Realms and they have some pretty clever names.

Pet peeve would be too much sex that it dominates and overshadows the plot. There was a dragon book I couldn't wait to read but it was merely meh because everytime I turn around the h/h were jumping each other or having hot monkey sex.

personal peeve is when an author uses one of my personal hated male names. These names to me are like nails on chalkboard. Just don't like them. Such names like George, Bill, Bob. I always have to give them other names to get through the book.

as for the hard to pronounce names why I love searching them up for the proper pronounciation

mary f said...

My number one pet peeve.

Killing off a main character without warning.

I once read a book where the title character had a stomach ache on one page and she stopped mid thought. The next page posted her obit.

THE BOOK WOULD HAVE HIT THE WALL BUT IT WAS ON MY KINDLE

Cassandra Carr said...

Oh man, Mary, that would've been a "throw the book across the room" moment for me too. And when it's on your Kindle it's not like you can have that satisfaction. ;-)

Cassandra Carr said...

Raonaid - that's a new one. I've never heard of a reader hating specific names, but it makes perfect sense. Thanks for coming by and chatting!

Blogless Pat said...

One of my pet peeves is who proof reads the proof reader. You are reading along and all of a sudden the wrong character name comes up. Even the other day I was reading The Next Best Thing and all of a sudden halfway through the book the name is presented as the The Next Big Thing and I'm thinking now where did that come from.

Cassandra Carr said...

Everybody left me. *sniffling*

Cassandra Carr said...

Blogless Pat- Proofreaders are a Godsend to authors, who tend to get way too close to our stuff to be able to see errors like that, but they make mistakes too, and if the author doesn't see the book after it's gone to line edits (and oftentimes we don't), we can't catch stuff like that.

brandi said...

I agree, blogless pat. I have in the books i own, that are in print, taken a pen and corrected the name. I am reading and all of a sudden julie becomes kathy or they totally redo a history. Someone is killed by so and so and their sons are killed trying to enact revenge. Then in the following book (series) it is explained as they all died at the same time as the dad. just don't get it sometimes.

brandi said...

Thanks for blogging with us, Cassandra!

Cassandra Carr said...

Thanks for having me, everybody! I'll be popping in for the rest of the day in case someone else leaves a comment.

Donna said...

I'm with you on the head hopping.

Tammie - Night Owl Reviews said...

Yay. I now have a siren account. It was pretty easy. The kindle delivery didn't work for my iPad app, but I did get the manual delivery to work. I like these sports themed books even thought I am not a sports fan. Love the alpha characters with a sweet spot.

Z said...

Good afternoon
One of my pet peeves is the covers of books. I hate it when the art department doesn't even care what the hero and heroines look like. I have read a book where the heroine was blond but the cover had a brunette, made me want to tear the book to pieces because I use the cover as a visual.
Z

Herding Cats - Burning Soup said...

lol. Cassandra I love the body position one. That definitely drives me a little nuts. I'm with some of the others on the book cover not matching the characters. That's a bit eye twitching.

debraaparmley said...

Body positioning problems get on my nerves when reading. If the author can't describe what part is where without confusion I'd rather it be left out.

Sometimes I wish authors would trust readers more. I have a great imagination and I will get there without being led by the hand if the author will trust in that.

Joanne said...

I hate hard to pronounce names, spelling errors, and covers that don't match the story.

Lorna said...

My pet peeves - when the heroine isn't smart, when the hero is borderline abusive, when they kill off any of the sympathetic main characters and when the writer covers several minor relationships in the book series and I have to wait for months before I can buy the next book to find out what happens! LOL!

Linda Henderson said...

I agree with the cover not matching the descriptions of the characters. I find that a little annoying.

Lettetia Elsasser said...

I agree with calstephanie, when I have trouble pronouncing names or if there are two characters with similar names, I lose focus.

Debby said...

I have run into all those problems in books and it does throw me out of the story for a bit.

Sherri W. said...

Totally agree with Pet Peeves #1 and #4. They are very noticeable with audiobooks.

My next peeve would be continuity issues which upset the stories flows (bad editing would be part of this peeve also). Don't you love it when you get into the story and a new character name pops up and you eventually figure out that it was already a character in the book; the name had just changed along the way and it didn't get caught. That's confusing.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Cassandra! I think my pet peeves (aside from the characters I can't quite relate to) are mainly issues that tend to be taken care of by good editing and proofreading (which yes, are different things ;)) Continuity problems, flow, plot holes, and just plain typos distract from the storytelling. And while amazing storytelling can sometimes overcome those issues, they can pull me completely out of a so-so story :( I do think a good editor can make a good author great :)

joder said...

I don't like head hopping either! TSTL heroines also irritate as well as a heroine who starts out strong-willed but then becomes a doormat for her man. Too much sex is also distracting as it limits character growth.

gogi1_2 AT yahoo DOT com

June M. said...

My pet peeves are editorial issues. Either having the character's names messed up (recently read this with a hero of the book being called the heroine's brothers name on a few pages, I had to read it again to make sure who they were talking about) and in a series not keeping facts straight (names/sex of children, timelines, etc)