Wednesday, April 29, 2009

LGBT Romance Chapter

RWA has apparently recognised Rainbow Romance Writers as an official chapter. Via Teddypig.

Drama of the Day: Bonfire of the Bloggery

At the Princeton Romance conference Michelle Buonfiglio made comments that seem to smear a lot of romance blogs. Responses were forthcoming from Dear Author, Smart Bitches, Fashionista and Karen Scott. The second generation blog-backs begin... now!

See also:
Let me tell you what we think
When “Nice” Girls Attack
Listen up, people, I'm not a Mean Girl, alright?

Useful interview with Samhain's Angela James -- Jules

Reader blogger Jesse Wave has posted the latest in her series of publisher interviews, this time with Samhain's Angela James. Lots of good stuff in there, worth your attention.

Previous interviews were with Treva Harte of Loose Id, and Nicole Kimberling of Blind Eye Books.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Google Settlement

If you have not been following the Google settlement, Judge Denny Chin has just provided an extra four months to figure it out. If, as an author, you want to opt out of the settlement you now have until September 4, 2009.

The gist of the settlement, as far as I can tell, is this Google asserts the right to scan all books as a part of the Google Library Project, The Authors Guild assumes the rights to represent all owners of printed works in opposing this rights grab.

You can object, or opt out of the settlement--otherwise you are assumed to opt in. The settlement will disperse $45 million dollars to those whose books were digitised without their consent (about $60 per book). Google is then allowed to use any books from this list that are not in print, unless otherwise instructed by the rights holder.

For complete information see here.

If anyone knows of a good summary or commentary please let me know and I will add a link.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Red Sage looking for m/m? -- Jules

According to the RT con report at edittorrent, Red Sage is looking for "longer (over 40k, but especially 70-100k) stories for our e-books program, M/M of any length for our e-books program, and resumes for acquisitions editors."

Having just had a quick look at the Red Sage website and particularly the submissions guidelines, I'm really not getting the feeling that m/m is welcome, let alone desired, so make of that what you will. They do take shorts, which interests me strangely as I have a couple of short pieces more suited to the erotic romance than the gay erotica market. I'd be tempted to test the water with a couple of shorts. On the other hand, I'm not convinced that those cover prices are appropriate for very short pieces -- it doesn't feel like value for money when I put my reader hat on. And I'd rather not annoy potential readers who might have otherwise gone on to buy longer stuff.

(Seen via Storm Grant.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cynical Woman Cartoons

If you have not already seen the cartoon strips by Helen E. H. Madden "Adventures of a Cynical Women" I would suggest taking a look. And don't miss her short animations Stick Figure Porno.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Press Release: Virtual Tales

"Virtual Tales is looking for Romances, Westerns, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Action Adventure and many others. Please take a moment to visit our web site at if you would like to submit please follow the following guidelines.

To submit your manuscript to Virtual Tales Publications, please go to the following web address: for complete submission guidelines. Please take the effort to follow our submission guidelines as it makes it easier for our editors to review your work in the same light as other submissions.

Not following the submission guidelines may cause us to reject your manuscript. We look forward to hearing from you reviewing your manuscript."

Does anyone know more about Virtual Tales?

I suppose it is moot for our subject area in that the following are automatically rejected:

* NC-17 / X rated stories
* Erotica
* Alternative lifestyles
* Children's books

Unfortunate terminology aside (have we not buried that one yet?) is it a change to be scooped in with kids books rather than the more usual erotic taboos. On a final note, very non-erotic romance banner they have there :) I am sure that couple will get up, shake hands and go home separately....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Over the last few days three people have emails to organise a little meet-and-greet at RT. The only problem with that being that I am not now, nor have I ever, attended the Romantic Times Convention.

On the up side if the implication is that RT is where anyone who is somebody is going to be tomorrow, some time during the last year I must have become somebody (?). On the down side I am still not going to be there.

So if you are properly fulfilling your "somebody" duties, and are--as I type--either at RT or on the way to RT... please send me some reports, updates, photos etc to share with the rest of the class.

Monday, April 20, 2009


An advance is a statement by a publisher that they anticipate selling a certain number of copies of your book. Only a few epublishers offer modest advances. Samhain offers the option of a $100 advance, which mist authors could anticipate making back within a month. Lyrical offers the same amount of longer fiction for their three new imprints. Now it is rumored that the Wild Rose Press will offer a small advance for their White Rose imprint only. Do writers of Christian romance need the advance more, or deserve it?

In the end, an advance is just one piece of information you use to try and determine what your publisher will invest in you, how your book might sell. But with epublishers the first royalties start arriving quickly and regularly--and there are other ways of working out how your sales will go. On the whole I think the emphasis on paying an advance is the trapping and suits of print publishing--it has very little relevance to the epublishing model.

A Short Interview with RWA Research Grant Winner Catherine Roach

Catherine RoachCongratulations on winning the 2009-2010 Romance Writers of America Academic Research Grant. Can we expect to see you work on "Book Lovers: Love, Desire, and Fantasy in Popular Culture Romance Narratives" in a published form? I would be very interested in reading it :)

Unfortunately, academics write a lot slower than romance novelists. I am working on this book project using the title you quote, but it will be several years before it's done. I am hoping to publish preliminary results from my research in journal article form first, hopefully within the next year.

In my experience there are a lot of academicians and armchair intellectuals who write or read romance. Which begs the question of why the romance genre is perceived as reflecting low brow interests. What do you see as underlying the "bodice ripper stigma".

To the extent that this stigma exists (and I'm not always sure that it really does, to any great degree), I think it reflects the fact that romance is a publishing genre dominated almost entirely by women authors and readers. It's hard for female realms of any sort to earn top respect in a culture that, to my mind, is still shaped by patriarchy. Female endeavors and professionals and interests of all sorts have a hard time shedding a stigma and breaking various glass ceilings (e.g., maternity leave or women presidents).

Do you see erotic romance, ebooks, gay and menage romance and other modern developments in romance fiction as substantially change how romance functions in our culture and the kinds of tales being told--or is this just a new twist on and old theme?

I do see a substantial change in our culture: I (and other scholars) call it sex-positive culture or sex-positive feminism or (in the context of my last book) striptease culture. The popular media depicts more and different types of sexual lifestyles, more sexual options are open to people with less social censure than before, and some of the double standard that has penalized women for straying outside monogamous married norms is lessening. I think both feminism and the LGTBQ movement are responsible here for helping bring about these changes, as well as romance novelists and publishers willing to experiment with such plot lines.

How do you think the RWA fits in to the changing demographics of romance writing and reading?

If your question is in relation to the growth of erotica, I do see the tensions this raises for some members who fear it will discredit the genre (further raise concerns about stigma) and/or that it is simply "unladylike." These very tensions become fascinating study material to me.

If you were to write a romance novel, what type would it be and why?

I am trying to write a romance novel, actually! It's a historical novel, set in 1847 London. Writing these two book projects together is fascinating for me, and a lot of fun!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


kitten man* New Lyrical imprints offering $100 advances
* The smell of e-books just got better
* Canadian e-authors
* New flash/poetry market: Howl House
* Sex and sexuality in Victorian England
* Beware the Gender Trap: Marketing to the Twenty-First Century Gender Neutral Consumer

On being a Tweenbot

A tweenbot is a simple device that looks like a robot and has the ability to roll forward at a set slow pace. Nevertheless, armed with only this skill, a cheerful cardboard face, and a note requesting help, tweenbots have successfully navigated the streets of New York City.


We sometimes see cities and cyberspaces as large, anonymous, and hostile. I think the tweenbot teach us that many people will take the time to pause and point a hapless stranger in the right direct. So long as you keep moving, keep cheerful and have a goal in mind--you can indeed depend on the kindness of strangers.

"The results were unexpected. Over the course of the following months, throughout numerous missions, the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers. Every time the robot got caught under a park bench, ground futilely against a curb, or became trapped in a pothole, some passerby would always rescue it and send it toward its goal. Never once was a Tweenbot lost or damaged. Often, people would ignore the instructions to aim the Tweenbot in the “right” direction, if that direction meant sending the robot into a perilous situation. One man turned the robot back in the direction from which it had just come, saying out loud to the Tweenbot, "You can’t go that way, it’s toward the road.”

Monday, April 13, 2009


You have seen all Romance Novels pages. Explore others...

As soon as I joined Stumble I subscribed to the Romance Novel channel. Curiously it is generally empty of new content. Are stumble people not romance people, or is the channel just too difficult to find?

Double plus unfail (or not?)

It looks like the Amazon derankings have been, um, un-deranked :)

Funniest amazonfail twitter: "Kroger grocery overrides produce manager's removal of phallic fruits & vegetables from shelves. Blames automated scanner glitch." (roncharles)

Some books are still deranked--is yours? You can add it to the list here.

A good summary here: Authors, readers angry over Amazon 'glitch'

In other news (spec fic)

Starlog Magazine is closing (Internetz killed the paperback star?)

Also closing: From the Asylum

Re: It's premature to blame Amazon

From Information Week

"But it's premature to blame Amazon or boycott them. Let's hear what Amazon has to say before getting out the flaming torches and pitchforks."

Yes, let's hear what Amazon has to say, like Craig Seymour has been repeatedly asking since February 2nd. Because, golly, nobody thought of doing that.

Lets see what Amazon has to say, well they said: "Upon following up the issue with our Technical staff, the sales rank was not displayed for the following reasons: The ISBN [redacted] was classified as an Adult product" and "In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature" and "The reason that these books aren’t appearing with sales rank is due to their classification as erotica. It is an Amazon policy that adult ASINS are to be filtered from product group sales ranks."

That is what they said. How could it be any plainer? It is also very clear that reranked books had gay and lesbian or erotica in their category metadata. And support email to multiple separate customers specified deranking was due to "adult" content.

"Indeed, an Amazon spokeswoman said late Sunday that the change was a "glitch" in their software, they're fixing it, and they're still trying to figure out what's going on. Even in text, she sounded tired."

Oh poor baby. A policy they enacted months ago and rolled out on a holiday weekend upset people and they were mean to her. How terrible. But the Amazon spokeswoman doesn't know what is going on with the company she represents isn't that her fucking problem? Perhaps she could get the gals at Dear Author and Absolute Write to explain it to her?

"My prediction: By the end of the day Monday, we'll find out this is, indeed, a software glitch. Or maybe some bigoted middle manager got too big for his britches. I am confident that this is not a reflection of Amazon policy."

My prediction: Amazon flew a kite and found the weather stormy. They will, as they always do when this occurs, pull it in and call it all a big mistake.

Being confident that discrimination and puritanism is not Amazon's policy is, however, jumping to a conclusion that is both unsupported, self-serving and naive. It is discrimination by proxy and smacks of calling authors (especially authors of so called "adult" material) hysterical, uneducated and mean girls. A leap in either direction is a leap of faith--but those paying attention know which assumption is better supported by the evidence.

Those at Information Week may have their own reasons for identifying with Amazon's approach. After all, to even comment on a blog post at Information Week you are required to give them your full name, mailing address, workplace (name, industry and number of employees), job position and telephone number. Because I should just assume they won't make any use of that unwarranted disclosure of information.

Unless of course they have a "glitch".

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Amazon is removing sales ranks from material it deems "adult". Can you guess what counts as adult?

Well it seems that, as usual, gay romance is adult (but not equally saucy heterosexual romance).

Edited to add: although it seems the net is being cast ever wider, to cover all kinds of content including mf material.


A wide swathe of fiction and non-fiction is dropping fron the Amazon "ranks", literally.

Follow at twitter: amazonfail. Facebook group here.

A list of deranked books is being kept here.

The petition.

Link list here.

Google bombing scheme here.

AbsoluteWrite thread here.

As discussed at the Amazon forums here: Amazon-GBLT And here: Amazon-romance. I would like to suggest tagging deranked books with "amazonfail" to help people find them.

The cries for boycott return, but this has never been effective in the past so I am not optimistic this this time 'round will be different.

Edited to add: It looks like Amazon may do a "blame the intern" (a.k.a. a "glitch") on this....

See also:
* Amazon Follies
* Why am I not surpised
* Good news/Bad news
* Amazon IS removing all erotica from the sales rankings. It’s Official
* Amazon Censors Its Rankings & Search Results to Protect Us Against GLBT Books
* Amazon de-ranks so-called adult books, including National Book Award winner
* My AmazonFail Timeline
* 'Gay writing' falls foul of Amazon sales ranking system

Saturday, April 11, 2009


For those paying tax in the US, remember you need to declare any royalties over $10 regardless of the paperwork sent (or not sent) by the publisher.

The rumor that Barnes & Noble with make their own ebook reader is now widespread ( see Bad Idea, Slippery Brick)

There is a grassroots campaign against overpriced kindle editions. See 9.99 boycott.

Apparently it is not only romance that sells well in a recession, but also Christian fiction.

Cheap thrill: Buy a romance novel: "It’s been all over the news–the fact that romance novels are selling like hot cakes. They mainstream press says it’s because of the happy endings. Trust me, it’s the sex."

The Thorn Birds to open as a musical in the UK.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: One Deadly Sin by Annie Solomon (Forever)

I requested a review copy of One Deadly Sin (by Annie Solomon) because of the way the heroine is described. She is a tattooed barmaid-slash-bikerchick going back to her home town to figure out whether her father really committed suicide back when she was young, or whether he actually met a far more sinister end. I thought this might be a kind of romance I could really get behind with a rock chick and the law man she crosses paths with.

Edie, however, rapidly stopped making sense to me. She comes into town and plants tiny stone angels on men she thinks might be involved in her father death. To begin with I suspected this might be a Black Arrow reference, but Edie isn't actually planning to take her revenge. The angel represents her father's headstone and her plan goes no further than some vague hope that her trinkets will stir things up and cause spontaneous confessions (or something). When these men start dying under suspicious circumstance the pressure starts to build.

Except that I never really felt it. Edie changes her names by a few letters and goes back to a town so small it has only two cops and no taxi cab--and no one works out who she is. She even goes to her Dad's former workplace (the only major business in town) in "disguise" just by wearing a suit, and still using her real name. I don't know what small town you guys have been in but I don't see this working on the local gossip, let alone any kind of competant sheriff.

Holt, the sheriff, comes with a barely-mentioned late wife and cute girlchild (from central casting). And neither main character really does anything to reveal what really happened to Daddy, provoking the real villain to finally break down and reveal themselves in an implausible finale. The whole problem with this readable but irritating books is summed up in miniature by a scene where Edie gets upset and so goes speeding along the country roads on her motorcycle in the middle of the night, with no helmet on, and falls off... and doesn't even get a significant bruise. Which is to say that characters don't seems too smart and the outcomes don't seem too realistic.

See also:
One Deadly Sin

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Open Calls

"We are open for submissions in "forbidden" romance genres, particularly ménage, BDSM, m/m and capture/abduction stories from authors who are passionate about erotic romance. Sex scenes must sizzle, be explicit, use adult language and leaving nothing to the imagination.. Our goal is to cultivate authors with vivid, passionate voices and the ability to deliver well-crafted characters and relationships. We're most interested in books of 40,000 to 60,000 words, but will consider works as short as 20,000 and as long as 80,000. Nothing under 20,000 words will be considered at this time."

The link to full submission guidelines:

Romance, Recession Proof?

The argument often seems to be made that romance sales boom during economic depressions because people want escapist or comforting reads. But is that really the case? I can think of a lot of other possible explanations.... Romance is also about making difficult choices, taking control of your life, about the consequences of actions, and a often reminder that in the end family and friendships are more important than material gains. Perhaps romance books actually allow people to work through their anxieties and decide what to do, rather than just escape from or deny them?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Recession Fuels Readers’ Escapist Urges (New York Times)
"The growing market for digital romance novels has attracted several newcomers, including tiny independent publishers like Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing and Ravenous Romance."

Monday, April 06, 2009

Blog Challenge

The blog task of the day is to Write an Elevator Pitch for Your Blog.

The main problem with my own blog is wavering identity. Is it about me, the online "me", my books, all myself, none of the above? So the job of writing your elevator pitch is not so much branding your work as determining the role of the blog in this endeavor.

Please post your pitches if you write one.

New E-Press

Purple Sword is an invitation-only outfit, which I will tentatively interpret to mean author owned? Including some material previously at Forbidden.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Updates & Rumors (okay, technically "update & rumor" but I may add more later)... see, I did

* Lyrical Press's contract has been revised with input from Victoria Strauss (of Writer Beware)
* Forbidden Passions website is now live.

* Is it possible that some of the people behind Aphrodite's Apples will be starting a new epress?
* Is Dorchester's SHOMI line closing?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bad Habits

I cannot help but occasionally loiter in forums that, more than occasionally, showcase writers behaving in less than 100% professional ways. There should be a 12-step group for giving this up. It could rent a room between the groups to help people are addicted to looking at roadkill and the support group for writers who need to break up with a toxic WIP.

Don't know what I am talking about? Try the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards Community (in the wake of the cut, especially the threads bitching about the reviewers), and the Lulu forums (pretty much any time, especially the bottom two subforums).

See also:
Self publishing authors and reviews

Thursday, April 02, 2009

[click cartoon to enlarge]