MINI FAQ (as of 9/3/96) by Tinita M. Wheaton

Date: Tue, 3 Sep 1996 09:47:15 -0400
Sender: Romance Readers Anonymous 
From: "Tinita M. Wheaton" 

In the inestimable tradition of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
everywhere, this FAQ isn't so much an answer to the questions that people
ask over and over about book chat, but really an attempt to impart
as much information about Book Chat as possible.  This worthy document is
known as a min-faq because (hopefully) it won't be more than a couple of
pages long.  Besides, I get really intimidated when I think of real FAQs
and the work that goes into them (have you guys ever read the faq or the Wheel of Time faq, sheesh!).  So without
further ado, I give you the (drumroll please)  BOOK CHAT MINI-FAQ.

I. Background & Intro
II. This is How we Do it...
III. Etiquette
IV. Sub-Genre
V. Scheduled Book Chats
VI. Past Book Chats
VII. General Questions

I.  Intro and Background

        * Why Book Chat when RRA-L is a chat group about books anyway?
Good Question!  The whole idea behind Book Chat is to have an open and
frank discussion about a specific book each month.  Because there are
300+ of us on this listserve (and untold numbers on the newsgroup) chances
are that we are all reading a bunch of different books and sharing our
likes, dislikes, experience etc.  Chances also are that a couple of us
are reading one book and talking about it while another couple of us are
doing the same thing with a different book.
        The whole idea behind Book Chat is to try and get an appreciable
number of us reading one specific book at one specific time so we can all
discuss it together.
        * Why read a different Sub-Genre each month?
          Some of us read only Regencies.  Some of us never read a
category romance.  But sometimes we would like to read a sub-genre that
we usually don't gravitate to in the store.  Book Chat is a good way to
do that.  If you've never read a futuristic romance and would like to
read one and discuss it, Book Chat has a futuristic month.  We also have
a New Author month, which is a good way to find a new talent.
(Is it me or is this beginning to sound like an infomercial?)
        * How did you get roped into this?
        When I first signed on to RRA-L back in oh... February 1995, Book
Chats were a-happening.  But they disappeared because the person who
organized them signed off the list.  I picked up the slack one day
because I wondered "Hey whatever happened to Book Chat?"  Hence, Book
Chat II was born.  When I threw open the question of "How should we go
about this?"  There was some discussion and, as a group, we proposed the

II. This is how we do it....

        Each month we read one title in a specified sub-genre.  The
coordinator (me) will inform the list of the sub-genre we'll be reading
for a specific month (usually a month or so ahead of time).  Then the
coordinator (me again) will solicit the list for opinions of a specific
title in that sub-genre.
        For example:  sometime in late March I will tell the list that
the May book will be a Regency.  I will then ask the listmembers who plan
to participate to please submit titles and a brief synopsis (if possible)
for consideration. Listmembers will either submit their ideas for a
possible title or second someone else's suggestions.  The suggestions may
be posted to the list or e-mailed to me directly.
        Suggested books should be new or fairly recent (like within the
past year).  This is because back lists are not universally available and
newer books can generally be found easily.
        After about a period of two weeks, I will tally all the
suggestions.  If there is a strong preference for a specific title, I
will choose the title and post the result to the list.  If there is no
strong preference for a specific title, I will make the decision which
book to choose based upon 1) the number of suggestions that book received
and/or 2) the brief synposis submitted and how interesting the book looks
(to me).
        I will post periodic reminders of the chosen book up to the first
day of the specified month.

III.  Etiquette

        Once the title has been chosen and the specified month is upon
us, anyone can begin Book Chat.
        There are really only 3 main etiquette items:
        1) Somewhere in the subject line the words "Book Chat" should appear.
        2) There is NO spoiler warning necessary. None, nyet, zip, zilch,
        3) Be frank but fair.
   regarding #3: Book Chat is an open forum to discuss what you really
liked about a book or what really didn't work for you.  I hope that some
lively discussion can come from it. It goes without saying (although I am
gonna say it here) that any criticism offered should be constructive and
thoughtful. Sure, the book is being discussed by people who have read the
book, but some people who *haven't* read the book will also be reading the
comments and will decide whether or not to plunk down the $$ or invest
the time in finding it in the library based upon what the Book Chatters say
about it.

IV. Sub-Genre

        We came up with the following sub-genre
                Category Romance (silhouette, harlequin, loveswepts etc.)
                Contemporary (also known as long form or single title)
                New Author (regardless of genre)
                Romantic Suspence
                Time Travel/Other Worldly

please note: sub-genre can be added and deleted as necessary.  I am
always open to suggestion.

V. Scheduled Chats

        April 1996 - Futuristic
        May 1996 - Romantic Suspense
        June 1996 - Historical
        July 1996 - Multicultural/Ethnic
        August 1996 - Time Travel/ Otherworldly
        Sept 1996 - Regency
        Oct 1996 - New Author
        Nov 1996 - Western/Americana
        Dec 1996 - Contemporary
        Jan 1997 - Category

  please note: Book Chats are never "written in stone"  if there is a
book that is crying out to be chatted and it doesn't fit the sub-genre
for that month, we will adapt. I am ALWAYS open to your suggestions.

VI. Past Book Chats

        We re-started Book Chat in June 1995.  I will list our past Chats
with the Siskel/Ebert method of the general RRA-L reception of the book.

        June 1995 - Romantic Suspense - Dream Man by Linda Howard
                rating: Thumbs Up but with caveat that it wasn't her best
        July 1995 - Historical - FAIREST OF THEM ALL by Teresa De Medieros
                rating: mixed. enjoyment dimmed by anachronisms in
                        medieval time period.
        Aug 1995 - Time Travel - ONCE UPON A PIRATE by Nancy Block
                rating: mixed. Inconsistencies in characters. New author.
        Sept 1995 - Regency - a TEMPORARY BETROTHAL by Dorothy Mack
                rating: Thumbs Up. Little discussion, but positive.
        Oct 1995 - New Author - MARIANA by Susanna Kiersley
                rating: Thumbs Up. Interesting take on time travel and
                                reincarnation. New Author.
        Nov 1995 - Western - THE PREACHER & THE REDHEAD by Sandra Chastain
                rating: Thumbs down. Choppy editing. Flat characters.
        Dec 1995 - Contemporary - EMILY'S SECRET by Jill Jones
                rating: Thumbs up. New author.
        Jan 1996 - Category - CHARLIE ALL NIGHT (HT#570) by Jennifer Crusie
                rating: Thumbs up. Crusie is a list fave.
        Feb 1996 & Mar 1996 - No Chat. My e-mail went wack-o.
        April 1996 - Futuristic - SHIELD'S LADY by Jayne Krentz
               rating: mixed.  Harshest criticism was saved for
                ultra-alpha hero.
        May 1996 - Romantic Suspense - EXPOSURE by Susan Andersen
                rating: thumbs up. Altho there were mixed reviews
                 regarding Gracie's baby talk.
        June 1996 - Historical - THE SHATTERED ROSE by Jo Beverly
                rating: thumbs up. Good discussion ensued about the Church.
        July 1996 - Ethnic/Multicultural - SUDDENLY by Sandra Kitt
                rating: thumbs down. average story w/ unsympathetic hero.
        August 1996 - Time Travel - THE DOUBLE EDGED BLADE - Julie Moffet
                rating: thumbs up. good paced. absorbing story.

VII. General Questions:

        Q) Should we discuss RRA-L authors in Book Chat?
        A) There was some informal discussion about this. The final word
>from  our most vocal RRA-L authors (Jo, Stella, Eileen, Sally, Karen...) was
"Sure."  They welcome discussion of their books. See sec. III #3 above.

        Q) How about reading more than one book per month for Chat?
        A) Generally, I am against this.  Getting the 1 book is, believe
it or not, a lot of work.  If I find that during a specific month two
books are strongly requested, I may throw the Chat open to these two
books, allowing RRAers to read one or the other or both and having two
simultaneous Chats.  But this would only happen in a circumstance where
there is high enough interest in two books.  Any more than two could
become extremely confusing and frankly, defeats the purpose of the Book

        Q) Why do we have to read only new books, what about and older book
                or classic?
        A) New books are easier to find than old books.  For maximum
effect of Book Chat I would like as many people who want to, to be able
to participate.  Backlists are sometimes notoriously hard to find for
lesser known or promoted authors.  As far as classics, such as a Jane
Austen or Georgette Heyer, I'm all for it as long as it can be generally
agreed that the books are readily available for everyone to read.

So there you have it.  The Mini-Faq.  I welcome suggestions, additions
and deletia. But keep in mind, it is a *mini* FAQ for Book Chat specifically.

The Book Chat Mini-FAQ will be posted bi-monthly.  By request I will
forward  a copy of the FAQ via private e-mail between the regularly
scheduled FAQ postings.

Please e-mail comments to me at or


"God don't like ugly."
      -favorite saying of Mrs. Addie Mae Lawrence (my grandma)