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August 04, 2021

My Farewell + Don't Shame Readers for What They Read (or Writers for What They Write)



(Sent to book club members on 7/26/2021)

Readers and Writers,

Chrys Fey here. The IWSG administrators contacted me recently to inform me about a new direction they’ve decided to take the book club. They also decided to replace me. Toi will be taking over as the new book club lead. Although, she’s not really new. She’s been with us since 2017 as a book club moderator!

I don’t have many details about the new direction, but from what I understand, the book club will be spotlighting IWSG members’ books from now on. Toi will share more about the new direction soon.

Fortunately, our upcoming discussion day on August 25th for They Called Us Enemy and Writing Magic will still be taking place. Toi will be posting for that discussion day. Please join us!

I’d like to take a moment to reflect and express my gratitude.

I created this book club in 2017 for writers to read/learn about the writing craft. I am sad to have to say goodbye after all these years. Many of you have personally messaged me to say how much the book club has helped you and what it has meant to you. Your words have meant a great deal to me. I also know many of you have read the books over the years but chose not to participate in the discussions (which were always optional), preferring to stay on the sidelines, instead. I saw you, and I thank you for being a member on your terms. 

The book club’s upcoming changes will be different, but I know Toi and the moderators, Ronel and Juneta, will do great. I am incredibly grateful to them for being such a wonderful team. I didn’t make changes without their input and asked for all their ideas. Their enthusiasm for the book club boosted me, and their assistance helped me to maintain my stamina in running this book club.

Thank you for everything, Toi, Ronel, and Juneta!

And thank you, all four hundred and fifty-seven of you, for being a member of this book club!

Happy Reading (and writing),


*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

The IWSG book club selections for Sept/Oct/Nov would've been The Heroine's Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture by Gail Carriger and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (as a good example of voice). I was really looking forward to reading and discussing these two books, so I am still going to read them for myself. If either of these books sound good to you, I encourage you to read them for yourself, too. I will talk about them on my blog later this year. 

Happy Reading!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

NOTE: This next part of my post does not relate to the beginning of my post. I already had this post about books and reading planned for today.



Don't shame readers for what genres and formats they like to read.

Or writers for what genres and formats they like to write.

(This started as a post for readers until I realized it went for writers as well.)


Print novels aren't the only correct format.

Audiobooks are real books.

Ebooks are real books.

Graphic novels are real books.

Comic books are real books.

Picture books are real books.

Poetry collections are real books.

Essay collections are real books.

Short story collections are real books.

As a matter of fact...

Short stories are real literature.

FUN FACT: Short stories are one of the oldest forms of literature.

Novelettes and novellas are real literature, too.

Short stories, novelettes, and novellas (usually published as eBooks) count toward reading goals/challenges (as do picture books, graphic novels, audiobooks, etc.). They are complete works of fiction. Writing them involves a special skillset, and reading them for pleasure or toward challenges is acceptable.

ALL reading is valid.

In terms of publishing, short stories, novelettes, and novellas are publishable and readers DO read them.

And writers who write short fiction (anything shorter than a novel) ARE REAL WRITERS.


Just because you may not like a genre doesn't make it any less than the genres you prefer.

The romance genre is the most criticized genre ever. And romance authors are heavily criticized and judged, even by fellow writers.

But romance is a $1.4 billion industry and makes up 1/3 of the fiction market. Romance is the best-selling book genre in the entire publishing industry, and the most profitable.

Not everyone can write romance. It involves a special skillset as well as certain qualities, such as a HEA (happily-ever-after) or HFN (happy-for-now) endings. 

EX: Nicholas Sparks does NOT write romance. His books have bittersweet (or just plain sad) endings. His books are love stories.

Check out this article: What's the Difference Between a Romance Novel and a Love Story?

Romance is not all about sex. Romance books are NOT mommy porn. There's many romance sub-genres, age categories, and heat levels. In fact, romance has a vast heat range from zero sexual contact to erotica. Oh, and men read romance, too.

Romance stories are complex, because people and relationships are complex, and that's what romance stories delve into. 

Don't shame readers for what genres they like to read, or writers for what genres they like to write, whether that's:



MlM (men loving men)

WlW (woman loving women)


Christian Fiction (i.e. Amish romance)

Religious Fiction (ALL religions)

Monster Romance

Young Adult

New Adult







Science Fiction



You read you. I'll read me. Everyone will read them.

No more shaming readers for what they read!

You write you. I’ll write me. Everyone will write them.

No more shaming writers for what they write!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***



QUESTION: Have you ever been shamed (judged) for what you like to read? Or have you seen this happen? Writers, have you ever been shamed (judged) for what you like to write?

I've seen this happen for romance, audio books, and shorter works (eBooks).


Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

I already read the fiction selection and will read the non-fic when I get the chance!

Just love the stop shaming part of the post!

And I'm already on your new street team :-)

Ronel visiting for IWSG day Being Busy vs Being Productive

Chrys Fey said...

Hey, Ronel! Thank you for reading the books. And thank you for everything! ❤️

Charity Bradford said...

I too loved the not shaming part of the post. The funny thing is I've never shamed others, but the last few years I've sort of shamed myself for switching from science fiction to romance writing. Your post reminded me to get over it. Truth is, I'm a better romance writer than scifi. And that's okay. I love sharing stories about people who are looking for where they belong, where they feel loved and accepted for who they are, no games. And I know there is an audience for that.


Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you liked the not shaming part of my post, Charity. :) And I'm glad it reminded you that writing romance is not something to be ashamed about. <3

Natalie Aguirre said...

I really agree with your not shaming part of your post too. And thank you for starting the book club even though I don't comment. I really appreciate. I didn't sign for the street team but am always glad to shout out about your books in my Follower News.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Natalie!

I'll jot down your name for future shout outs. I've always appreciated being included in your Follower News. <3

M.J. Fifield said...

I wasn't a member of the book club, but I always enjoyed seeing which titles you selected. It was always a really nice mix, I though.

And yes! Let's absolutely stop shaming readers and writers for what they choose to read and/or write! Seriously. The industry is tough enough. We don't need to add to it.

Writing a romance does take a special skill set. It's really hard when characters are supposed to be happy. I bow down to those who can pull it off.

Sherry Ellis said...

Thanks for what you did for the book club. I know it helped a lot of readers connect.

Jemi Fraser said...

Thanks for all you've done for the book club!!
I've definitely been on the receiving end of negative comments about the romance genre from other writers. It's frustrating

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you so much, MJ! We always strove to have a nice mix of genres and authors for the fiction books and a variety of topics for the craft books.

This industry IS tough enough. We need to let people be and support each other as readers and writers more.

My characters go through a lot to get to their HEA. lol

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Sherry! <3

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Jemi! <3

I am so sorry you've had to deal with that. It is frustrating, and not right at all.

Adrienne Reiter said...

Hi Chrys! I try to read everything. I don't believe in one genre being better than another. And Faulkner once said, "Read the good, the bad. Read everything." It's silly to be a separatist.

Samantha Bryant said...

Love this! Reading is reading is reading. :-)

Chrys Fey said...

Great quote!

Chrys Fey said...

I agree. Just like writing is writing is writing. :D

emaginette said...

I love books, Chrys, and know that for every reader there is a book and for every book there is a reader. It's what make the world go round. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Chrys Fey said...

Absolutely! Well put.

Loni Townsend said...

Sorry to hear you're having to part ways with the book club. Those kind of break-ups can be hard.

I like the no-shaming part. I prefer audiobooks and have had people say "is that really reading?" I've also been judged for my word count, though for it being long, not short.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Loni. <3 I hadn't seen this coming, so it has been hard, but I know Toi, Juneta, and Ronel will be great.

Audiobooks definitely count as reading.

And that's a good point about longer word counts. I have seen people also judge books that are longer than the average novel. I think the more words and pages, the more to love. :)

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

I don’t think I’ve run into much judgement outside my own mind :). I can be hard on myself for being too limited in what I read :)

Gwen Gardner said...

Very thorough list. In my younger years I was made fun of for reading romance. I've always been a HEA gal--it's why I read/write cozy mysteries. But I read widely and extensively as well. Everyone should read what they want. That's the joy of it.

PK HREZO said...

Hi Chrys! So great of you to contribute to the writing community for so long. Maybe having the club off your plate will open up a new avenue you didn't know was there. Funny about the romance genre-- I tell that to all my friends who laugh at romance being a genre. Romance readers are loyal and ravenous and it's no easy feat writing it!!

Chrys Fey said...

We can be very hard on ourselves.

Chrys Fey said...

It's sad when kids/teens are made fun of for reading romance. I was made fun of for reading a lot when I was younger.

That *is* the joy of it! :D

Chrys Fey said...

I loved the book club, but I have been wondering if this happened because it would open up a new door for me. I'm looking forward to seeing what that is. :)

Romance readers are extremely loyal. You don't mess with Romancelandia. lol

Fundy Blue said...

Hi, Chrys! Thank you for all the work you did with the IWSG Book Club. I read a lot of the books, and I really enjoyed them. I celebrate anyone reading or writing! Thanks for speaking up for all the genres. May a wonderful new door open up for you!

Chemist Ken said...

Chrys, thanks for running the book club. I was one of those lurkers who stayed on the sidelines, but I appreciated the books you recommended. I'd heard about "The Heroine's Journey" from listening to Joanna Penn's podcast episode with Gail Carriger. Does this mean you'll have more time for writing?

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Louise! I like hearing that you read and enjoyed a lot of the books from the book club. That makes me very happy.

Celebrating anyone reading or writing is what we all should be doing.

Thank you for a lovely comment. ❤️

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for being a lurker, Ken! I appreciated the lurkers as much as the active members. I’m glad you liked the book recommendations. I hope they helped you in some way. :)

I’ll still be reading, but I just might have more time for writing or something else.

Jeff said...

Thanks for your work with the book club and may you continue to find ways to help writers.

I have often had people "shame" me for the seriousness of my reading. Or at least they don't understand why I read what I do. I remember taking a college class (after I already had a degree) and the instructor asked us what book had we recently read for fun and I was on a Dicken's kick and had just read "Tale of Two Cities" and she insisted that wasn't fun reading!

Deniz Bevan said...

Thank you for this post! As a writer or romance, I can't believe people still think it's all "heaving bosoms". They need to read more widely!

Nancy Gideon said...

Chrys, you've always been such a guiding light for writers and readers. Shine On!! I always get so much out of your posts.

Toi Thomas said...

I am so glad you started the book club. It has been the best book club I've ever been in.
I love your words about not shaming others for what they read and or write. Thank you for sharing them.
Every year I post about the books I read for my Goodreads challenge. About two or three years ago, I started using the terminology of "titles" instead of books. Some people felt (yes, they actually expressed this to me through email) that I was missleading people about how much I read because I read a combination of novel-length books, picture books, graphic novels, and short stories.
And to think, I didn't even know I was in competition with anyone.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Chrys, thanks for all you do to assist your fellow writer. It is appreciated more than you realize. I signed up to be part of your "street team." All best to you!

Liz A. said...

Once upon a time I was covering an English class (9th grade, I think) where they were reading all period. I noticed the cover of one boy's book, and I recognized it from blogging. It was a YA princess romance thing. Because I had heard about the book, I asked him about it, wondering if he was enjoying it and if he knew there were sequels.

He got very defensive. It was sad, because I wasn't judging. I was curious. Once he realized I wasn't book shaming, he talked a bit about what he enjoyed in the book. (It was before class, so it was just him and me. No one else was around.) I hadn't gotten a teen's perspective on the book, so it was good to hear how he reacted to it.

It's always interesting to see what teens pick to read for themselves when they get to choose.

Chrys Fey said...

It's really sad that people "shame" or make fun of someone for what they read, because when someone reads a specific genre or subject, it means they're interested in it, and no one should be made to feel bad about what they enjoy or are interested in.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome, Deniz!

I agree. The readers who criticize romance so much don't actually read it, or they read one book years ago and is judging the entire genre on that one experience.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you so much, Nancy! I will continue to shine on. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Toi! I am glad I started it, too. I appreciate you for telling me that it was the best book club you've ever been in. That makes me so happy to hear. Really, it does.

I had the thought to post about my Goodreads 2021 challenge in January of next year because I've been reading so many different books and thought it'd be a fun post.

I don't understand people who have to nit-pick at what they think counts as real reading (or writing). If I read a picture book, you better believe I will count it toward my Goodreads challenge, because it IS a book. There's no rule that a Goodreads challenge (especially a personal reading challenge) has to be novels only.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Victoria! Honestly, I did start to doubt that when I found out I was being replaced in the book club I started, so I really do appreciate your words. Thank you so much for signing up to be a part of my street team!

Chrys Fey said...

Aw. That story is cute and sad at the same time. Sad because he sounds as though he might've been teased for reading that book (or other books like it) and he was on edge, already prepared to defend himself. But I love that he opened up after he realized you were genuinely interested.

We should all nurture a teen's (kid's) interest in reading and not tell them that this type of book is for boys and this type of book is for girls, which this student may have heard from others. All genres are for everyone, regardless of gender identity.

I love that you talked to him about the book. Thank you for sharing that story!

H.R. Sinclair said...

The no-shaming was brilliant! "ALL reading is valid." Yup! Nicely sad.

I'm sorry to hear about the book club breakup. Breakups are hard, no matter how amicable.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, H.R.! I appreciate your comment. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Oh, I've been judged, and shamefully, when I was younger, I judged, so it's gone all directions. I love reading speculative fiction and I've been judged for that, and for not reading/writing romance (a perfectly good genre, but not one I feel capable of writing well), and for not writing literary/contemporary/real world fiction (I do sometimes, but it generally stays on my PC). As a young teen, I judged those who didn't read as often as I did...and I regret that. I married a guy who doesn't read much, but had finally mostly stopped judging at that point...and then discovered he really loves being read to by me, and he loves audiobooks, so we can still talk books and stories, which is awesome. We both enjoy graphic novels and comics. I love short stories and poetry. He likes song lyrics that tell stories. Again, it all works. I have a cousin with dyslexia who became a reader through Stephen King's horror, and a dyslexic friend who became a reader through spicy romance. Again, once the reading starts, it just keeps going, so agreed - let's not judge, or allow others' opinions to matter.

Chrys Fey said...

I love that you've discovered that your husband likes it when you read to him. That is sweet and romantic.

I know an author who is dyslexic and admire her so much. She's amazing.

Thank you for your comment, Tyrean! :)

Botanist said...

Good post about not shaming. I don't think I ever shamed someone for what they read or write (although I confess I really don't "get" literary fiction) but I do always feel a twinge of anxiety when I tell people I write sci-fi. It always feels to me like a naughty confession, as if sci-fi is a less serious genre and not worth taking seriously. Nuts, I know, but that's how it goes.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Terrific post, Chrys! I agree, we should all respect each others rights to write and read what we like WITHOUT criticism from others. When I started reading the HP series at 40! Yes, 40, I was teased a lot because I was reading children's fantasy. I ADORE MG and YA fantasy and have chosen to write my first novel in that genre. Thankfully, this does not happen anymore because there are MILLIONS of older adults who love and read HP novels.

Nick Wilford said...

You're quite right, Chrys, all reading and writing should be celebrated because behind every piece of work is a writer who's poured their heart and soul into it. And for the reading side, if a reader is uplifted and moved by something, that can't be taken away from them. I do suspect fewer people are reading these days with endless other entertainment options, so it should be valued.

Lisa said...

As usual, you hit the nail right on the head. I totally agree that shaming for any reason is not cool. At IWSG the point is to help build people up, not take them down... So sorry to hear you're being ousted from the book club! I hope you are all right with the decision. Maybe this will give you time to focus on other projects...?! Wishing you all the best!

Chrys Fey said...

Hi, Lisa. Thank you for your comment! I didn’t have a say in the decision(s) and was taken by surprise, but I know Toi and Ronel and Juneta will be great. I am rooting for them. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

Chrys Fey said...

I read a lot of MG and YA and picture books. It’s sad that adults will shame other adults for reading MG and YA. Who do they think write those books? Adults. No shame in reading or writing MG or YA.

Chrys Fey said...

I love your comment, Nick. Well sad.

Chrys Fey said...

The genres that others consider to be “less serious” can be the trickiest to write.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I totally agree, and I can totally relate to this post. As an English professor, I often come across other professors who are snobbish about what they read. It's natural for them to want to read the genres that they specialized in; for example, professors who teach American literature typically prefer to read American authors. But some of them look down their noses on "popular" fiction, which I enjoy reading, because they think it's not intellectually stimulating enough or they criticize the quality of it. But although there are some "popular" books that aren't so great (ahem, Fifty Shades of Grey), there are many that are very well-written and that I've loved.

Chrys Fey said...

Any reading is intellectually stimulating. We can learn so much from reading any kind of book, any kind of genre. <3