Posted in Nitpicks

Professional Fanfiction: Response to critics

An author’s response to critics is most telling to me. A certain amount of hurt is to be expected. I, as a writer, understand that disparaging remarks about your work are hard to hear. After putting so much time, energy and thought into your work it can be hard not to take criticism personally.

Now this is a trait that is not confined merely to the authors of “professional fan fiction” there are plenty of legitimately good authors who still can’t take criticism. (At least not well.) But I write this into my theory because I see many “professional fan fiction” authors who not only refuse to admit faults in their work, they also become nasty when it is pointed out to them. Not all but a lot of them.

Some common responses than an author (and sometimes the fandom) will be some variation of the following.

1. I didn’t write it for you.

2. Don’t like, don’t read.

3. If you read it, you’re obviously a fan.

4. Like you could do any better.

5. You just don’t get it. 

All of these rebuttals are problematic in ways that I’m not sure if the authors realize. I’ll try to elaborate on each.

I didn’t write it for you

Oh? Who did you write if for then? True,  the story may have started off as a personal project, written just for fun, but it ceased to be that when you submitted it for publication.

When a work becomes available for public consumption, it also becomes the subject of public opinion.If it becomes popular enough to receive critical attention, then it will probably have a fanbase that staunchly defends it. Why not pay attention to those people, than to the book snobs like me who pick things apart? Why go looking for affirmation in a place you know you won’t find it?

I don’t think I’m alone in the opinion that published works should be held to a higher standard than say self-published works or fanfiction. Those mediums are expected to be bad. There is a lot of garbage literature pumped through those channels. Publishing companies have been trusted to be the gatekeepers that ensure quality in their products.

So yes, if you put it out there, I am entitled to have an opinion on it, whether you like that opinion or not.

 Don’t like, Don’t read

Authors (and fans) who say this are trying to shut down discussion, passive aggressively putting the blame on the reader. This line of reasoning blames the reader for being dissatisfied, instead of questioning where the book may have failed or offended in some way.

This line of reasoning often goes in tandem with If you read it, you’re a fan. I have read all four Twilight books and the novella. I groan every time I read them. I am allowed to read a book that I may not like, and to continue in the same series. I don’t have to like to read. True, I agree that for most people life is too short to read books you dislike. But there are people like me who read to be challenged. I do not always read for pleasure. Many times I read to test my critical thinking skills and to challenge my own sensibilities as a writer.

These are perfectly valid reasons to read a book, even a book you don’t necessarily like. By reading where other books fail, they can enrich their own experiences by being able to identify what makes other books great.

If you read it, you’re a fan

I personally find this the most ludicrous out of all the excuses I’ve seen. I absolutely do not need to be a fan to read something, or to decide to continue the series. I’ll use Anita Blake as an example. I do not like Anita’s character, I don’t personally care for Hamilton’s writing style, and I find the sheer amount of lovers Anita Blake has on standby absurd. (Seriously, they’re somehow all okay with this??)

Then why do I read it? At first the premise was interesting to me (and some of the world building was pretty good). I can acknowledge a book’s successes without being a fan. For the most part I read Anita Blake because a) I am a masochist. I can’t help but read books I know will hurt me. B) A tiny optimistic part of me hopes the books will improve with time. All indications lead me to believe hell will freeze over before that happens, unfortunately. And C) I am a critic that has an unhealthy obsession with cringe.

When an author insists that if you read their series you must be a fan, they are asserting that just the act of reading or continuing to read something means you must enjoy it. That isn’t necessarily true. It’s a defense that makes the author feel better.

Like you could do any better

Fans of a series are the first to come to an author’s defense with this excuse. this implies that because a person does not have the experience of writing a book, writing within the same genre, or writing period, that they are not allowed to have an opinion.

Just because I do not act, it doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion on a movie. Just because I don’t play sports does not mean I can’t have an opinion on a player’s performance. Those who use this as an excuse seek to delegitimatize any criticism lodged against a work.

Should writers and fans take criticism with a grain of salt? Of course. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and most of them stink. But when someone has a well thought out criticism that has some support or credence, authors and fans should acknowledge that, maybe even thank them. They put time and thought into their rebuttal, and that does deserve some respect. And if a subject consistently appears in criticisms, that might be something to consider for future projects.

You just don’t get it

Yeah, and so what if I don’t? Sometimes you’ll have people who completely miss the point.  Just because a reader doesn’t get the point you are trying to make, or take away something you wanted from the work, it doesn’t make them dumb.

We are all individuals and we’ll take different things away from a work. I don’t really get why so many people still defend Twilight and herald it as a great love story. I don’t see it. You could even say I just don’t get it. I don’t have to share the same opinion as the author or fandom to read or talk about a work. Like I said above, I don’t always read to enjoy myself. Sometimes I read to challenge myself.

And sometimes I hate books that most people like. Why? Because I can’t turn my brain off.

And that leads me to my conclusion. What I want most is a discussion. We don’t have to agree.I think Anita Blake is a despicable character who should really be the villain of the series, not the protagonist. But maybe someone else thinks she’s a progressive, sex-positive feminist icon, who kicks ass and takes names. We don’t have to agree, but we certainly can talk.

Debate me. Convince me you’re right.

Denouncing any critics as stupid, uninspired closet fans, or telling them they have no right to an opinion is petty. I believe any writer worth their salt can at least admit to making mistakes. Usually that is all it takes to mollify critics and/or disgruntled fans. Telling people they have no right to an opinion is petty, and frankly not the way to convince anyone you’re a good writer.

Take criticism. Learn from it, grow from it. Create something better next time.


Posted in Nitpicks

Why no tech?

I recently observed in a chapter review of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea that there seems to be very little technology used. If we assume that this book is set in around the same time period it came out, it really should. I can’t recall even the mention of a cellphone used. Violet and Luke relied solely on a landline until their power was shut off.

Its actually kind of rare to find someone who still uses a landline, unless the landline is used for a work purpose, or as a means to another end. It’s not commonplace to use a landline to talk to another person anymore.

While our main character Violet may not have the money for a cellphone, River West, the love interest certainly does. So why doesn’t he have one? A simple disposable line is easy to purchase and doesn’t require a contract. It couldn’t be tracked. So why no tech?

The most complex tech we see is a movie projector that is used during the evening movie screenings in Echo.

It isn’t a big deal, but it did strike me as a bit odd. This book is clearly trying to evoke horror tropes. Trapped in an enclosed place, no cell reception, and the baddie in the house? It’s classic. I do wonder why it wasn’t used. Oh well. Join me next time in my review of DADBS: Chapter Seven.

Posted in Nitpicks

YA Paranormal Romance Tropes that annoy me

I’ve talked about how I don’t particularly care for YA paranormal romance in the past. Largely because many of them use Twilight’s formula to reach their target demographic. So I’ll outline some of my least favorite tropes in the genre, and detail why I think they should stop.

Insta-Love: Now I know that fiction is just that, a fiction. It’s not meant to be real. It’s supposed to give you a nice little escapist fantasy and be a pleasant way to fill your time.

Romance novels have been doing it for years. A man and a woman meet. They share an automatic connection. Usually this comes in the form of a shared secret, a past fling, or just chemistry that sparks between the two. Most adult romance novels are geared towards baiting the reader, keeping them in the narrative until they get to what they came for- the smut.

Well with rare exceptions, most YA fare follows the same path, but sans the sex. The target demographic may or may not be sexually active yet, so most books play it safe and keep it clean, only flirting with the idea of intimate relations.

And unlike most romance novels, our protagonists don’t know each other. They meet and try to build a relationship from the ground up. Coming from experience, that’s hard to do. It takes a long getting-to-know you period. It takes discussion and hard work and a lot of time learning about the other person. YA paranormal romance tends to relegate the process to a few chapters. In particularly bad cases it may only be a few lines, or may not take place at all.

Its patently ridiculous to have your characters declaring their undying love for one another, when most of the time they don’t even know what the other person’s favorite color is.

In my opinion this happens because the authors don’t want to spend the time fleshing the characters and relationships out, they want to get down to the good stuff. Which are the scenes where their characters get physical (which in romance novels would be the sex, but in this case is probably steamy forbidden makeout sessions) and say romantic things to one another (aka vomiting purple prose all over the place.)

Insta-love is the result. The characters are attracted to each other despite the circumstances under which they meet (which are usually unfavorable.) They fall for one another despite one or both being a complete basket case. They have no conceivable reason to like each other or face down life-threatening odds together, but that’s what they do anyways. It’s plot contrivance at its laziest.

Bad Parenting (aka Village, you fail at raising that child): Parents are rarely in the picture in YA romance. Sometimes in the case of Twilight they are distant or played off as stupid. Sometimes they up and leave, as they do in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Sometimes they follow the Disney route and the protagonist is an outright orphan.

Whichever route the author chooses, the result is the same. Our protagonist (usually female) is alone in the world. Most often he or she is portrayed as mature and responsible for their age, because of their circumstance.

The love interest swoops in to “take care” of the protagonist, soothing their daddy/mommy issues in the process.

No one comes off as a good person when this trope is used. In DADBS the parents are so neglectful their children have no working electricity and are struggling to buy food for themselves. You sort of hate the parents.

In  Twilight I feel horrible for Charlie swan who is trying to be a good parent, and is constantly shat on Bella. As much as she tries to narrate that he’s somehow too stupid or weak to understand her life, I feel for the guy. In this case our protagonist comes off as an utterly selfish asshole, who just doesn’t want her dad butting in. It’s petty.

Either way, someone is an asshole. Why can’t we just have good parents in YA romances?

And onto my second bit. Especially in paranormal stories there has to be a bit of obliviousness. Otherwise the masquerade would be broken and there would be bigger consequences to deal with.

However the amount of obliviousness that takes place in YA paranormal romance is staggering. Almost no one takes notice of things that are incredibly obvious. Abuse is overlooked. Neglect is overlooked. Rape is overlooked. Its just sort of sickening.

In my most recent review DADBS there is a staggering amount of neglect going on. Child protective services really should have stepped in in their case, since they can’t afford to feed themselves. Another kid in the narrative lives in absolute squalor, with a father who regularly feeds his addiction rather than his kid. This shit would not fly in the real world, and I don’t see why it should in the fictional world. If you’re going to bring it up, don’t use it as a means to tug on our heartstrings and make us feel sorry for a character. Use it to do move that character forward, or make a difference in the story.

This trope is so common it kind of sickens me. It’s plot dictated stupidity, so that the character looks that much better when they manage to struggle on alone, so desperately alone!

The Love Triangle: It’s annoying. It’s  pointless, since the main character has to chose someone in the end, and shipping wars are ugly. Just stop doing it, please.

The Blank Slate: So often in YA paranormal romance the main character is given as little defining traits as possible in order to make it easy to step into their shoes. Which is fine if  you are writing a Choose your own adventure story, but not if you’re writing an actual novel. I cannot empathize with the character’s struggle when I have no clue what motivates them. And no, jumping the main love interest’s bones does not count as motivation in my book.

Author insert: Along the same lines as the blank slate, many main characters are obvious author avatars, sometimes spouting verbatim what the author thinks and feels on a certain subject. It’s annoying and usually pretty cringey.

It is fine if the author wants to put an insert of themselves in as a secondary or tertiary character. If you want to root for your main characters from the sidelines by all means do so, but please do not make your obvious self-insert the main character.

You can see my Professional Fan Fiction essays if you want me to break that down in more detail.

Abusive Relationships: More often than not, the relationship portrayed as “ideal” in YA paranormal romance has all the hallmarks of an abusive relationship. Isolation, manipulation, constant put downs, snide remarks, guilt trips, moodiness and ultimatums.

Sounds like the typical male protagonist of a YA paranormal romance, doesn’t it? The fact that so many women claim to want this “ideal man” scares me. It normalizes this sort of abuse. Instead of painting the guy (sometimes girl, but rarely. Usually she is the controlled party) as the asshole he is, the narrative portrays his interference as sexy or in her best interest.

Not much else I can say. I just want more likable male protagonists in romance.  And less whiny female leads.

Good setup, bad execution: This is actually the reason I started this this blog. I find so much potential in YA novels. Good characters are in there, usually in the supporting cast. The world-building and fantasy elements are usually very good as well. So why do they bomb so often?

Well it because of  what I like to call the luvs. The setup is often shoved to the background in order for the main characters to have romantic asides. The actually interesting bits are forgone for the least interesting bits of the story, which is usually a budding romance between our main leads.

I see so much wasted potential in YA paranormal romance, and romance in general. I wanted to riff on stories sure, but I also wanted to point out how disappointing it is that they don’t live up to what they could have been. Some stories would never be great, but they could have been fun. Other stories could have been fantastic with a few more rewrites, and less plot stupidity.

It frustrates me more than a book that fails utterly. At least then it can become so awful it is entertaining. In books like these, its mostly just hard to sit through because I can see it had promise.

So those are a few things I hate to see in YA paranormal romance. If I think of or encounter more, I’ll be sure to write them down, but that’s all for now.


Posted in Nitpicks

The Gratuitous Swearing Counter

Anyone who has been reading my reviews of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (DADBS for short) will have noticed I’ve placed a little counter at the bottom of each review, mentioning how many swear words I found in the chapter. Let me explain my reasoning behind this, since I’ve not actually done this for other books.

I don’t have any real problem with swearing. If you’ve been on a high school or college campus you’re probably familiar with people who swear constantly. When I was at university, it was background noise to everything I did. People tend to use swear words like I used salt, as if it added flavor to the conversation.

Whether its in real life, or in a book, if you want to use swear words you can. There are some situations in which swearing is cathartic, or can help a person manage stress.

However, I will say this. Swearing often actually takes away some of the punch of the words. Think about it. Curse words tend to offend and off-put people for a reason. In my opinion its all about context.

Say for example you have a middle aged single mother who is quite adamant about keeping her speech clean in front of her young children. She has a lot on her plate but does her best to make sure her kids are provided for and happy. Put her in a situation where she is laid off unexpectedly and is faced with the prospect of trying to take care of bills and the house payment on her own. She is half tearful, and she pounds her desk. “Damn it, damn it, damn it!” She says, her voice choked.

You feel the emotion, you sympathize with her breakdown here because you feel something and the cursing serves the purpose of illustrating just how stressful the situation is. The context is what counts.

Now say you have a character like Violet White, from DADBS. She’s a social misfit in her high school. She likes reading books, painting , and keeping to herself. She’s a food and coffee snob. She has never dated, and has maybe one friend.

She also swears like a sailor. In my opinion it was really unnecessary. I’d say over half of the swear words aren’t even in the dialogue. They end up scattered in the narration. It adds nothing, and in my opinion is sort of doesn’t make sense with Violet’s characterization.

Now I’m willing to forgive it in the last several chapters, because its the climax, with a big fight. In this high-stress situation, swearing seems to make sense. But its lost all of its punch in my opinion, since there are usually a lot of curse words in the narrative anyways.

I harp on it in this book, because of all the bad books I’ve read, this hasn’t been as big a problem. Most swear words I’ve encountered are usually aimed at someone. In romance novels the word “bitch” is particularly popular when directed at a rival for the main character’s affections. And most of them are in dialogue. The character is saying these words, and they add something. They aren’t trapped in the narration.

If I come across this phenomenon again in other books, I’ll be sure to insert a counter down below. I have a feeling I might need it for the Dark Hunter series. Not looking forward to those.

So those are my reasons why I dislike the swearing in this book. I don’t think its strictly necessary, and it adds little to the overall story.


Posted in Nitpicks

Professional Fan fiction: Where it started, and where it is now

From the beginning of time, we’ve had some amount of appropriation taking place within stories. There is nothing new under the sun after all. Even when storytelling was a strictly oral form of communication, it wasn’t surprising that there were very common overlapping themes.

For a long time reading and writing were restricted to the well to-do and the clergy. But with the rise in literacy in the 19th century, as well as the advances in technology that allowed for true mass-production, we saw the emergence of companies that aimed at the lowest common denominator.

The first instance of this within the 19th century was probably the penny and dime novels, better known as penny-dreadfuls. The stories were uninspired, sensationalized or melodramatic, and sometimes blatant rip-offs of existing works. They were made cheaply and sold for a penny (or dime) each.

While they had a bad reputation at the time, they also had a very high consumption rate. For the more educated masses, it was the literature they could afford, and that they found entertaining.

This point I want to pause on. A lot of people take for granted how liberating reading is. No really, even the semi-literate have a huge advantage over the completely illiterate. Before literacy rates began to rise, people had to take certain things for granted. With the majority of the masses illiterate, that means you have only an elite few who act as the gatekeepers of information.That means that these gatekeepers can control the flow of information at their leisure.

With the masses able to consume literature and information for themselves, you have a public which can come to its own conclusions about current events, literature, etc. The consumption of literature, even crappy literature, is a good thing. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to riff on literature that doesn’t live up to its potential, but even reading crap is better than reading nothing at all.

The penny and dime novels began to wane in popularity around the start of the  20th century. There to take their place was pulp fiction. Pulp fiction was primarily an American phenomenon, though there were several pulp magazines that became popular in the UK. The first pulp magazine was published in 1896, and the market continued to be profitable until the 1940’s. Pulp fiction shared a lot of similarities to the penny and dime novels. It was overly sensationalized literature that was printed on cheap paper.

Now, that’s not to say that pulp fiction was entirely bad. It was popular enough that there was a lot of recognition to be had from writing a story for a pulp magazine. Authors like Agatha Christie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, H.P. Lovecraft, and H.G. Wells wrote for or got their start in pulp magazines.

That goes back to my previous point that stories (like fan fiction) that appeal to the lowest common denominator, and indulge in overused tropes are not inherently bad. They are a stepping-off point. Just because you start in a market that is formulaic does not mean that you have to stay there. Growth is key when you are an author.

After the market declined for pulp fiction, a rather infamous name stepped in to fill the void. When I think of mass-produced form writing at its worst, I tend to think of this company. In 1949 Harlequin enterprises was born.

Harlequin held the monopoly for romance novels until 1970’s when their penchant for hiring only British writers backfired. Competitive companies began hiring American writers, and quickly began to pull ahead of Harlequin in sales. Realizing the mistake Harlequin began to hire American writers as well.

Though I’d argue that its popularity has waned in the 2000’s, plenty of Harlequin books are still sold every year. Harlequin is what most people think of in terms of romance, and I think that’s a bit sad. For the most part Harlequin romances have cookie-cutter plots, rely heavily on character archetypes, and are very cliche.

They are what my mother used to call “potato chip books.” Easily consumed, mildly palatable, but not very good for you. I’d say that this description fits most of these lowest common denominator markets. If you’re not a discerning consumer, your standards aren’t high and you end up clogging your arteries with junk.

So how does this relate to the present? Well with books like Fifty Shades of Grey you have a book that is guaranteed readers. Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fan fiction. The characters are soulless replicas of Bella and Edward, with the added bonus of smut.

In terms of marketing, its a win. All you have to say is that it’s a good read for Twilight fans and you have buyers. Why would publishers go for something untried and untested when they can publish something that is guaranteed to sell?

Almost is a One Direction fanfic. The author has made six figures on a fan fiction about a boy band. Now that’s depressing. And scary, if this is the future of publishing.

The only way that we can stop it is to take chances, and make good literature popular. And how do we do that?

Read. Decide for yourself what you do and don’t like, and don’t be swayed by public opinion on what is good. Create your own standards, or write something in the same vein as what is popular, but make it better.

Alright, join me next time when I’ll be discussing character building.

Posted in Nitpicks

Professional Fan Fiction

Today I want to discuss authors who get away with publishing, what is essentially fan fiction. Sometimes literal fan fiction in the case of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Is fan fiction bad? Actually no. I believe fan fiction is an essential step on the road to becoming an author. Fan fiction allows the potential writer a chance to build a creative process, their own style of writing, and a peer group. Fan fiction is a relatively safe environment to begin writing.

It’s very difficult to build a world from the ground up. There are so many choices to make, characters to build, and rules to govern your world. It’s far easier to start in a place of familiarity, like established fandom.

With a few exceptions, most fan fiction is going to be a half-baked idea with characters who are wildly OOC. A lot of fan fic authors will put the story up without revision. Which is fine, since it’s fan fiction, and their reputation as a writer isn’t really under fire.

So no, I don’t think fan fiction is bad, if you’re using it as a tool to become a better writer.However once you take the step and decide to become a serious author you obviously have to leave the world of fan fiction behind you, right?

Well, no. Not according to some authors, and some genres. There are people who make a ludicrous amount of money selling a story that is barely edited, poorly constructed, and with characters who are completely soulless. And then these authors get the idea into their head that because it has sold, it’s literary genius, and they should continue to write.

I’m starting a series of articles to address why I think this phenomenon occurred, and why it really needs to stop.

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The “pretty girls don’t eat” fallacy (AKA Good books have food.)

Food is essential to life. A lot of our time and energy is spent thinking about, seeking, and preparing food. Food is so integral to our life that it’s no surprise that it often turns up in the movies we watch and the books that we read.

I was going on a walk with my husband, as we tend to do twice a day when the weather permits, and I started to form this theory. Many of the books I consider to be “good” tend to involve food. It does not mean that the books have to revolve around food (though they most certainly can, as evidenced by the Hunger Games, wherein Suzanne Collins always makes me feel hungry) just that characters feed themselves, or attempt to do so.

A lot of writers choose a single aspect to be indulgent in with their purple prose. A popular favorite is clothes, which always makes me want to gag. I’ve read too many fanfictions to be impressed by those sorts of shenanigans anymore. Other times it might be the majesty of the landscape, or the intricacies of architecture.

Food tends to be a pretty safe place to indulge your purple prose. If food is what you choose to describe in vivid detail, then the worst that can happen is that you make your reader hungry. I thought this was a fairly hard and fast rule to determine a good author from a bad. And for the most part I’ve been right.

The one exception I have found is Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Still, the best writing in the book is done describing food. The food is the unsung hero of the book.

George R.R Martin, J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, Suzanne Collins, Roald Dahl, Jim Butcher, and many more authors that I don’t have room to list here, describe food in detail or have characters who regularly eat.

I have noticed a fascinating phenomenon in fiction- and romance in particular- where the female lead rarely if ever eats. It’s as if its too shameful for the author to admit that their kick ass and conventionally attractive lead has to eat. It’s a red flag for me when the main character is never shown eating on screen.

Take, for example, Bella from Twilight. Bella is hardly ever shown eating while the narrating is going on. She skips lunch and drinks a lemonade as a substitute for a meal during school. She skips dinner after the outing to First Beach. Her routine revolves around making food for Charlie, but yet we hardly ever see her eat the food she makes. She has only a few moments on screen where she eats anything. To be fair, Bella is far from a kick ass heroine, but she is still our main lead.

Meyer gets better about this in The Host, because Melanie and Wanderer get to eat. Eating is done as part of the routine of living, as it should be.

This is also evident in another bane of my existence as a critic, Anita Blake. As of yet I don’t plan to review this series. If you’d like to see a really funny and interesting blog that reviews it you could check it out here. She’s a lot further along in the series than I am, and I don’t want to steal her thunder. Instead I eventually plan to review The Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. It shares a lot of the same problems, but without the very occasional laugh and moments of self-awareness that Anita can sometimes have.

As I was saying, in all of the of the Anita Blake books I’ve had the misfortune to read, (I’ve read six of them thus far, not in order. That doesn’t really matter though, since they all share the same format) Anita seems to have this trait as well.

Anita is rarely shown on screen eating. In Dead Ice Anita is pestered by her harem to eat all the time. She doesn’t. This feeding on energy, the Ardeur, or feeding on anger is no substitute for eating. It cannot nourish her body, only food can do that. It could possibly delude her brain and stomach into thinking they are not hungry, much in the way dieters will drink a lot of water to feel full.

Anita does not eat even the protein bars that her lovers pack for her to eat on the road. I mean seriously, why not? That’s not a lot of food. Now I could be wrong, and there might be places in other books where she eats regularly, but I doubt it. Disaster always strikes before Anita can eat, and she conveniently forgets to do so after.

Anita has even less excuse to neglect her health than Bella. Bella is your average teenage girl who does little to no physical exercise. She’s largely sedentary, and all her hobbies are passive. Anita is very, very active. She apparently is quite muscular and lifts weights all the time. She tries to keep up with the gym routine that her guards do. She’s a Federal Marshall and she apparently meets the physical requirements to be on a SWAT team.

She’s also a “lycanthrope” (I use the term loosely because she doesn’t actually change shape.) Shouldn’t she have a higher metabolism than normal? That would mean she’d need more food just to maintain weight, let alone all the physical demands of her many jobs.

By all rights Anita Blake should be a skeleton, not a buff vampire slayer.

I could keep going all night about examples I’ve seen of this phenomenon. 9/10 times if I see a book with characters that neglect their health like that, I know it’s not a book I’ll like. I suppose this is technically a nitpick, but I want you all to know where I’m coming from, because I have this nitpick a lot.