In Which I Follow the New FTC Guidelines, and Then Some

As you bloggers in the United States probably know, the Federal Trade Commission has issued a rule entitled, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” 16 CFR Part 255. In a nutshell, bloggers who receive items free for review are expected to disclose this fact.

I have a couple of books I’ve received for free from the publisher that I’ll be reviewing in due course, and I’ll comply with the new rule. In the meantime, though, I’ll do the FTC one better and disclose some of my chief biases that play into my own reviews of historical fiction. So here goes.

1) I have never enjoyed a novel when a character is described as being “fey.” Or when a character has “the Sight.”

2) I went to Wales several years ago and did not see a single soul there who appeared to have mystical powers. I therefore fail to appreciate novels where a trip over the Welsh border somehow endows everyone present with mystical powers.

3) Most dialect makes my head hurt. I hate it when my head hurts.

4) Gracing a lead character with physical beauty does not relieve an author of the duty to endow him or her with something resembling a personality.

5) Once it has been established that the heroine and hero have a full and rewarding sexual relationship, it is not necessary to graphically remind me of this fact every thirty pages.

6) I can live with it when an English character in 1470 sits down to a meal of turkey and potatoes. When said character is eating this meal in 1470 despite being known to have died in 1460, however, I get very cranky. When said character proceeds to father a child after his meal in 1470 despite having died in 1460, I get even crankier, and only the presence of small animals in the vicinity will prevent the book from going airborne.

7) The idea of a high-born medieval heroine protesting endlessly that she wants to marry for love and not to enter into an arranged marriage was probably an original one at some point. It has long since ceased to be so.

8) I think that not liking a historical figure is not a valid ground for turning him into a murderer, a rapist, or a child molester without any supporting evidence.

9) I appreciate the fact that authors who feel compelled to write ten-page childbirth scenes are faithfully depicting the dangers of childbirth before modern medicine. That still doesn’t mean that said scenes couldn’t be cut down to five pages. Or two pages. Or two paragraphs.

10) I will find it very hard not to like a novel where the writer gets Katherine Woodville’s approximate age right. Ditto for a novel that correctly states that Edward I, and not Edward II, arranged the marriage of Eleanor de Clare to Hugh le Despenser the younger. Just don’t muck things up by giving any of them the Sight, please.

15 thoughts on “In Which I Follow the New FTC Guidelines, and Then Some”

  1. This is hilarious! I love it! The tone, the words, the observations….simply excellent 🙂
    Thanks for the afternoon laugh.

  2. Jen (Devourer of Books)

    I think that #5 should be a cardinal rule of ALL writing that isn't specifically erotica. I really could do without all of those scenes!

  3. What an utterly wonderful list Susan!
    I will be interested in seeing what you "boiler plate" on wording for FCC compliance will be.

  4. Do I get the feeling of a touch of 'Don't push it Sharon?'

    As somebody who's predominantly Celtic (Irish Scottish, Welsh)I can assure you that we do have people who are fey – it's a typical Celtic phenomenon – but you're more likely to meet them in isolated places not the moment you cross the Severn bridge and it all depends which part of Wales one visits.

    I suppose I could claim 'mystical powers' given the way I'm catching historians out but actually it's all down to being weaned on Sherlock Holmes and years of working for financial gorillas who like everything just so. Basic research did someone say – some of them woulnd't last five minutes if they had my former bosses at their backs.

    Starting with Sharon who in her book 'There be Dragons' had Llewelyn the Great and Joanna marry in Chester only,according to her blog, to be caught out by some reader who moaned that on a visit to Chester Cathedral she could find no record and SP had to admit it had been a 'logical guess'

    Logical guess my foot. Wasn't it a case of foreign born consorts marrying in their husband's kingdom or his dad's? Still is given that recently in the Netherlands and Denmark the marriage took place in the bridegroom's home town. More likely it took place at Aber Garth Celyn which was the site of Llewelyn's home.

    Don't forget MOA was also foreign-born. I trust none of the 'Zut alors' or 'Mon Dieu' followed by a rapid beating of breasts and tearing of hair or wild gesticulations. Some of my former colleagues were French and I never saw any of them behave according to the Anglo-Saxon caricatures.

    Keep up the good work. A laugh a day keeps the shrink away

  5. Susan Higginbotham

    Thanks, all! No, Trish, I wasn't thinking of Penman at all, but of some less accomplished writers!

  6. Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

    That was great fun, Susan. Thanks for making me laugh.

    And thanks for visiting my History and Women blog. Your picture came up on BrogFrog and I was thrilled to see it was you.

  7. If you think I'm less than flattering you should read the last comment on the last page in Desmond Seward's Richard III about certain women authors!!!

  8. Great list! I really laughed. Can I add on for us fans of American historicals?

    Being African-American does not automatically endow one with special wisdom about life, a direct pipeline to God, the ability to redeem the lives of white people, or any particular belief in "haints."

  9. Your list is priceless. So is the description of airborne books. I have only one largish animal, a nimble dog who has learned to correctly interpret the disgruntled sounds I make prior to sending a book towards the wall.

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