It has come to my attention (due to a recent review on one of my books) that there are some people who do not understand my style of writing. Nor do they comprehend medieval history. This post is for them.
First of all, we will cover my style. I write mainly short stories so that in this fast-paced world readers can pick up a book knowing that they will have time to finish it. In doing so, I leave out the stuff that bores me to tears (like the clothes they put on…piece by piece, or each dish of food and how it was prepared). If it is not relevant to the story then I omit it. If you are looking for the details that Kathleen Woodiwiss would have included then please do search out her five to six hundred page books (I have every one of them)! But I am J. Lee Coulter…and I write short stories. The characters are what is important…not the props.
Second comes medieval history. In the eleventh and twelfth century which (I write about), women had no rights. They were not much more than slaves unless they were blessed with a good husband. If they talked back to a man they were beaten or locked away…some were killed. Her husband was the law! Women had to learn how to manipulate men to accomplish their own wishes…discreetly. So if my heroines seem to be cowing down to please their husbands, well, it was a fact of life in those days. I try to be accurate when it comes to my characters. It was the truth of the times and I always attempt to portray the truth. If you cannot embrace the period for what it was then, perhaps, you should not read my work.
The other point in history that I feel I must explain is the selling of the bride (which was commonplace and widely accepted). If a woman was widowed back in those days, possession of her reverted to her nearest male relative, to be sold off to another. A great deal of money and land went with her, as well as very important alliances. So…YES…Stephen did have to pay her uncle for the right to wed her! It did not matter that she was still wed to another since he planned on disposing of him as quickly as possible. Think of it as an advanced payment for an order that has not yet been delivered.
This last bit is for the readers who do not understand the review system at Amazon. I hope no one is offended by what I’m about to say but…if you do not feel that the book warrants at least four stars…please…please do not leave the review! I mean that, if you just don’t care for the story or you don’t understand the behavior of eleventh century women, that is no reason to give a bad review. I always appreciate constructive criticism (it helps me improve my writing) but to trash a story because you don’t agree with the lifestyle of the times is just wrong. I give reviews on the side (when I find time). If I find problems with what I read and cannot, in good faith, give four stars…I write a private review for the author and email them. I never give anything less than four stars. It hurts the author, the book and the sales. Some writers are just trying to make a living. You may think that three stars is acceptable but if there is only one other review that is five stars…you have knocked it down to four stars. A lot of sales can be lost because someone glanced at the stars without reading the actual reviews given so please consider how your review will impact the book.
Well, I am done venting now so I will climb down off my soapbox. I hope I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Some people find my honesty a bit hard to swallow.
J. Lee Coulter