Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review- Snowfound by Connie Wilkins

Snowfound
by Connie Wilkins
2005- (Originally part of anthology “Rode Hard, Put Away Wet: Lesbian Cowboy Erotica)
Historical/ Lesbian- bisexual/ erotica/Interracial
5K- $2
Ebook

Buy at OmniLit

Connie Wilkins' western lesbian tale "Snowfound," offers a memorable cross-dressing Civil War soldier who, after the war, rescues a woman in danger in the Sierra gold country of California.


Snowfound is a very short, sweet story. Jack is really a woman pretending to be a man and is gold mining in the Sierras. No one questions that he’s woman, believing the stories that he was wounded fighting in the Civil War, making him loose his facial hair and interest in having a woman. So she/he gets by as a man.

On his way to town for supplies, his horse comes upon a Chinese woman lying in the snow almost dead and he brings her to the doc, the only other person who knows Jack's secret and someone he trusts.

Lotus can’t speak English, but it’s clear that she’s running from something or someone and has been abused. Not knowing what to do really, Jack decides to take her to his place since he/ she is feeling attracted and protective of her and he's afraid if he doesn't, she will come to real harm.

This story is so nicely written and I loved the feel of it. I’ll admit that I am partial to that time period in the US and enjoy the women passing off as a man plot. Although it’s too short and there were some improbable things in it, I was left with a good feeling. Since it’s so short, there’s really not much space for any character development and or plot, but there was just enough to give me a good idea of where every character was coming from.

There was also an erotic sex scene, which the author managed to get in there without being too contrived. Because really, would anyone feel like having sex after being almost half froze in the snow and obviously traumatized? But Lotus is a sweet character, the type of woman who only knows that to please a man is her survival. This made her come across as very vulnerable and I could see Jack getting soft on her right away. Plus, Lotus shows no shock at Jack being a woman.

My only gripe here is that I got hooked into this story, the characters, the ambience of it being a late 1800’s western type story, but got cut off at the pass as it were. I wanted more. Why did Jack dress and fight in the war as a man and continue on with pretending to be a man? What is Lotus’ story? There’s a short explanation about the Tong’s in SF spreading their control to the Sierras as well and that she might be part of it, but what IS her story? And then I wanted to know what happened to Jack and Lotus. How did they live together as a couple where one can’t speak English? Did the towns people question it? What I’m saying here is that this could have been a great story. Instead it’s just a teaser.

Little rant coming:

This brings up something that I’ve notice happening more and more. Authors who have pubbed a story in an anthology selling their story as an ebook separately. I disagree with this even though I feel more power to the author if they can do it. In an anthology you get many short stories; the whole effect is one of satisfaction. But if you just sell one 8 pg. story, the reader is going to be left feeling a bit ripped off. Or that’s how I feel even though I loved this particular story.

For whatever it’s worth though, I would recommend Snowfound to anyone who’s looking for a short, erotic quickie that will satisfy.

Sex rating: Orgasmic- graphic sexual scene f/f.

Grade: B+ for story concept and writing, C for lack of development

10 comments:

M. A. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LVLM said...

short stories to an e-anthology effort, my understanding is that a separate release is part of the terms of acceptance by publishers.

Are you talking specifically e-anthologies? Because in this case, the original wasn't an ebook. It was originally published as a trade PB with 26 stories in it with 217 pgs. That averages out to about 8 pgs per story.

And the original cost was $15.95 give or take a few dollars. It's currently out of print I think, so used is more than that at the moment. That made each story worth less than a dollar.

In ebook, it's $2 and only 5K. Which is still too high I think for such a low word count.

And the other single short stories I've seen for sale are from other originally pubbed in PB anthologies. Not e-anthologies.

Maybe the original price of an e-anthology is not as much as the PB and therefore when the stories get separated, maybe the cost difference is not that much. Formatting has also previously happened so that's not an added cost when separating.

I've bought one or two e-anthologies and they were a reasonable price for content.

For instance, SAPPHISTOCATED is 61K with four stories in it and sold for $6. The first one, Double Decker is being sold by the author separately on Kindle and Smashwords for $2.49. It's a 19K story. Fully developed and written as a real short story and so on. So that's not what I'm talking about. I could deal with that price for that story.

I get that formatting costs money and so on, but this still boils down to a short-short story being put out as a separate book is not enough I don't think to be satisfying.

I don't like to begrudge an author getting their work out in whatever format and if people buy it fine, but in this case I think the story should have been more developed or don't charge that much when it was written as a few page story originally with an anthology in mind.

I guess I get more disappointed in the case of really enjoying a story and the writing because it could have been so much more if it were a fully developed short story.

M. A. said...

In the situation you're describing, it's likely the author/s submitted their formerly published work (now "free" of its former contractual obligations)and another publisher accepted it.

To my understanding this is becoming more common.

In my other post, I was referring to several anthologies offered by epublishers (check submissions pages for Ellora's Cave, Samhain, Noble, etc.) and the terms usually state the full anthology will be released and separate ebooks of the individual stories will be released.

In ebook, it's $2 and only 5K. Which is still too high I think for such a low word count.


I'm not sure word count should count as much as quality. If I paid $2 or $3 for a short story and found it to be an enjoyable, complete story, I'm going to feel my money was better spent than if I paid $4-$6 for a novella or short novel I view as disappointing.

In fact, when I think about it, I probably own more "dud" novellas than any other type of ebook.

It's a 19K story. Fully developed and written as a real short story and so on.

19k words is a novella. Obviously there is "room" for greater detail and development in a 19K novella than a standard short story (usually 7500 words max., less than half the length of a novella.)

I think part of the problem with some "short story dissatisfaction" is that many people (both readers and writers) do not understand what a short story actually is and they judge it by something it isn't.

Short stories are not supposed to feature extreme detail and character development; normally they revolve around a chosen theme with the character/s, setting, and action/s being the "tools" the author uses to develop the theme. Static characters (character who don't evolve/grow/experience change) are common in short stories.

Some writers seem to be attempting to "squeeze" a novel/la into a short story word count. Some readers buy short stories seeking attributes they enjoy in lengthier works. Disappointment is bound to occur.

LVLM said...

Mia, you make some really valid points. And yes, I'm apt to me more satisfied with a well written short story at $2 than a piece o crap novella at $4.

But this is something that's going to keep coming up I think because there is no standard.

I'm not a writer so I don't really understand what constitutes a proper short story as far as length goes. Yes, I'm aware that there's not going to be a lot of development. And maybe I should just stop reading anything under 10K.

But as a reader, I base my understanding of short story length and price- in ebook, based on Samhain, which I think sets books at a fair price.

They call a short story between 12K-18K and charge $2.50 for that.

Other pubs, like Torquere, call their short stories single shots novelette, which to me is a short story in a bigger word and require 10K-15K for that. Ellora's Cave calls their 15k and under Quickies.

Which brings up another point, there are so many ways to describe the length of a story:
Category, novelette, short story, novella, short novel and all have different meanings to different pubs.

So there's always going to be some confusion and disappointment when something is labeled incorrectly.

When I see quickie in EC and would have found Snowfound under that category, I would have had less expectations.

My idea of a short story is more along Samhain's version of it.

There's no uniformity to any label with word count. So I go by word count per price. Not label per price.

But you are right in all respects. This is just how it is.

M. A. said...

You are absolutely right about the absence of a "set standard" amongst various publishers and epubs concerning the length/word count for different classifications of books. This one factor is responsible for a lot of the inconsistency concerning reader expectations when it comes to purchases and the reading experience.

This is just my opinion, but I strongly feel the traditional form for short stories does not "fit" the romance and erotic romance genres very well. Romance fiction relies heavily upon character development and growth and time/word count is required to realistically portray that.

I suspect this is why a lot of publishers are compromising, accepting "Happy for now" endings as well as HEAs for romance.

My short romance attempts always end up novellas. I am not saying short romance is impossible, just that it's a tall order.

The most memorable short stories I've read tend to be horror stories and ghost stories.

With that said, I can relate to your frustrations concerning shorter works ("I want more.")

I think the most "workable" short romances tend to be stories portraying a single aspect of the relationship, more a "piece of a story."

LVLM said...

Mia, I agree with everything you just said.

I think the most "workable" short romances tend to be stories portraying a single aspect of the relationship, more a "piece of a story."

I think most of what I've read in short story cases, does this. Just takes a moment out of time in the relationship, which is usually fine.

However, the better the author, the more the reader wants more and has more questions since the author was able to hook the reader in, in a short space.

I think the author of this book is a good writer. She made me want more. But then that's the catch-22.

I also think I'm a bit frustrated because in erotica/ erotic romance there tends to be a stronger focus on sex, which doesn't necessarily need a good plot or character development. And I think in some cases, authors think they can write a lot of sex and the reader will be happy. Not so. Erotic romance or erotica doesn't mean lack of passion or character development. But epubs tend to think they can put that out and people will be ok with it. No, we're not.

And I'm finding this to be a problem more so with f/f only because I'm kind of forced to buy what's there instead of having choices.

I don't have this problem with m/f or m/m where there's a plethora of choice and I can choose to only read longer stories. And I do.

M. A. said...

I also think I'm a bit frustrated because in erotica/ erotic romance there tends to be a stronger focus on sex, which doesn't necessarily need a good plot or character development. And I think in some cases, authors think they can write a lot of sex and the reader will be happy. Not so. Erotic romance or erotica doesn't mean lack of passion or character development. But epubs tend to think they can put that out and people will be ok with it. No, we're not.

I think "erotic romance" is another highly elastic phrase in the publishing industry, and there seems to be a lot of confusion concerning "what readers want" and "what readers buy."

An author friend of mine had to withdraw a novella from an anthology because it wasn't "sexy enough." I kid you not, the editor systematically went through the book and marked all the places where "the reader needed to see the sex."

I think everyone's viewpoint on this issue is different. I know my favorite erotic romances tend to be fully realized stories with detailed love scenes. I honestly don't mind an infrequent "dirty book" but normally I want "a little smut with a good story."

I think many people don't understand that sensuous attraction and build-up enhance erotica. Interrupted kisses, the hesitation involved in accepting one's new love interest...all those things are romantic and can be very titillating. It adds "heat" to the love story.

But some readers view the build up as "wasteful" or a "cop-out."

I'm shocked sometimes when I read reviews of some erotic romances where the readers complain about the lack of sex -- especially if I've read the book and thought it contained plenty of sexual description.

LOL, I sometimes used to joke with an author friend that I felt like the true art form of erotic romance was dwindling in favor of pornographic writing. "Every streetwalker with a kimono calls herself a Geisha..."

LVLM said...

Yes, you are right. For me erotic means that there's some kind of emotional connection with the characters, even if they've just met. There has to be some chemistry.

I also know an author who was told to sex up her book and the result was awful. It was the least erotic book she's written for me because it was so clinical and aggressive with graphic language but no feeling. I know that's not the way she wanted to write it, but to get it published that what happened. I blame the publisher on that because I've read her books and they are nicely written. But unfortunately not well sold because of the lack of actual sex.

I just can't believe that so many readers want to read sex for sex's sake without any feeling. But who am I?

The world of erotic romance is like the wild wild west. snort

M. A. said...

I just can't believe that so many readers want to read sex for sex's sake without any feeling. But who am I?


A lot of reading fads rise and fall in trends. I think there are people who prefer "porn" books to true erotica. Nothing's wrong with that, but more and more true erotica seems to be getting left out in the cold.

Cathy in AK said...

I just can't believe that so many readers want to read sex for sex's sake without any feeling. But who am I?

Who you are, LVLM, is a reader who has made her opinion heard. Surely there are more out there who are having a difficult time finding books they want to read. Myself included. As M.A. said, fads and trends may lean more toward story AND sexiness vs. sex for sex's sake (I hope) and it will have to be readers who let the publishers know enough already : )