Monday, November 30, 2009


Always Look on the Dark side of News (dum, dum, dum, dum--dah dah, dah dah, dah dah). But with news like this, what else is there to do?

Uganda proposes death penalty for HIV positive gays
"The Bill proposes a three-year prison sentence for anyone who is aware of evidence of homosexuality and fails to report it to the police within 24 hours. And it would impose a sentence of up to seven years for anyone who defends the rights of gays and lesbians."

Having mentioned some previous male-centric lists I should in all fairness mention that the all female Shortlist for BBC Short story Prize:

All-women shortlist for BBC Short Story Prize
"More than 600 entries were received for the award, which celebrates the best of contemporary British short stories and is part of the national campaign "story", which supports the form."

However the grinch in me wonders if it a coincidence that men dominate the financially lucrative and ostensibly prestiguous genres and formats, and women the more neglected ones? Short stories are, in literature, what romance is in genre--no matter how good bad or indifferent the quality is, they never seem to get the recognition they deserve.

And finally, many authors use their own royalties to promote their work. But how would it be a good thing for a publisher to contractually require that investment?

12 Steps to Better Book Publishing
"We all know that one of the big functions of today's in-house marketing professional is to explain why the publisher can't afford to do much marketing. So who has the money? Authors, from the advances we pay them. Publishers should contractually require that a part of the advance be allocated to marketing and promotional efforts supervised by the author."

Who has the money?! (*cough* *Splutter*)

Edited to Add: On a lighter note:
Bad sex award goes to Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones.
"...a mythologically inspired passage and lines such as 'I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg' clinched the award for The Kindly Ones. We hope he takes it in good humour."

Saturday, November 28, 2009


2010 EPPIE Finalists
"These awards, which honor the finest electronically published books of the year, will be presented at the EPIC Award Banquet during EPICon 2010."

Franz Kafka’s porn brought out of the closet
"Some of it is quite dark, with animals committing fellatio and girl-on-girl action... It's quite unpleasant..."

A Regency Romance in 2 minutes
"Count Buttweasel is disqualified. Okay, who is bored with the life of a rogue and secretly yearning for something deeper and more meaningful?"

Friday, November 27, 2009


I didn't watch the American Music Awards live, because frankly--who does? I did see all the shock, horror and general over-reaction to his performance afterwards. So, somewhat curious, I looked it up online.

And boy was I underwhelmed. Even taking into account the cut-aways you have a performance for an adult audience that includes some guys in pseudo-harnesses, a head in the groin area, and a kiss. The only bit I found at all uncomfortable it when he put his hand in the crotch area of the pole-dancing women.

But seriously, Madonna did this first, didn't hide that she was trying to shock, went further and continues to do it better. The only thing that shocks me is that people were shocked by Lambert's watered down piece of amateurish choreography and that he considered afterwards that he "got carried away". Carried away what, the spirit of 80s Glamrock past? (bah, humbug).

Is just that Teh Gay just so much more shocking to a general audience, that barely blinks when Miley pole dances at the Teen Choice awards? (Something, BTW, that Madonna also does better).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Yo' Mama: Rating the Writers Associations Responses to HaHo

So, Harlequin goes vanity with a Ha-Ho, Nonny-no. Here is my own utterly arbitrary Eurovision-style rating of the responses from the major writer's associations--all lining up with a pin to pop Harlequin's bubble.

RWA (Romance)
Timeliness: 1 day [9/10]
Pithiness: 298 words [9/10]
Rhetoric: Clear, dry with a hint of smugness: [7/10]
Excerpt: "With the launch of Harlequin Horizons, Harlequin Enterprises no longer meets the requirements to be eligible for RWA-provided conference resources."
Comment: I guess consistency counts for something.
Final Rating: [8/10]

MWA (Mystery)
Timeliness: 2 day [8/10]
Pithiness: 460 words [8/10]
Rhetoric: Bland but business-like: [5/10]
Excerpt: "On November 9, Mystery Writers of America sent a letter to Harlequin about the “eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service,” notifying Harlequin that it is in violation of our rules and suggesting steps that Harlequin could take to remain on our Approved Publishers list."
Comment: MWA are clearly signalling that they had their eye on the ball before anyone else.
Final Rating: [7/10]

SFWA (Sci Fi)
Timeliness: 3 days [7/10]
Pithiness: 515 words [8/10]
Rhetoric: Constrained, well-targeted, but a little repetitive: [5/10]
Excerpt: "The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) finds it extremely disappointing that Harlequin has chosen to launch an imprint whose sole purpose appears to be the enrichment of the corporate coffers at the expense of aspiring writers."
Comment: Quite.
Final Rating: [7/10]

EPIC (e-Publishing)
Timeliness: 5 days [5/10]
Pithiness: 1,750 words [1/10]
Rhetoric: Outraged, but rambling and self-serving: [2/10]
Excerpt: "Nevertheless, Harlequin had to realize that putting the Harlequin name on a vanity line, then sending aspiring authors rejected by Harlequin not to Carina--which is still traditional though e--but to the Harlequin's new vanity line and posting RWA links on the vanity arm's webpage would antagonize RWA, whose views on vanity publishing were well known."
Comment: Authors not good enough to be published conventionally shouldn't go vanity, they should write e-books. Yay! I mean, what?!
Final Rating: [3/10]

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I know I am biassed, but...

I don't think it is classy for agents or editors to snark queries without prior permission, and I likewise don't think it is classy for authors to use whatever platform is available to them snark rejection letters either. These are personal pieces of correspondence.

May I interest you in...?

No, thank you.

Sour grapes should be consumed in private.

(And this is why most editors no longer give detail feedback, leaving the rest of us to just try and guess why they said no.)

p.s. All Romance Ebooks turns three today. Happy Anniversary.

I am Cynic, hear me bitch.

So, Carina press, what exactly does it have going for it. One thing is the immense machinery that goes with a humungous publisher (or at least as much of it as they commit to the endeavor). The other is Harlequin's good name.

A good name that they do not use in association with the ring-fenced Carina imprint--but they are happy to slap all over their new vanity press imprint Harlequin Horizons.

"Parent company Harlequin Enterprises Limited has a history of providing opportunities to first time authors. Now with Harlequin Horizons, more writers have the opportunity to enter the market, hone their skills and achieve the goals that burn in their hearts..."

"However, we understand you may aspire to be published with a traditional house – a noble aspiration. While there is no guarantee that if you publish with Harlequin Horizons you will picked up for traditional publishing, Harlequin will monitor sales of books published through Harlequin Horizons for possible pick-up by its traditional imprints."

For $600 to $1,600 dollars you too can be a Harlequin author no matter how well, or how badly, you write.

Edited to Add: Further evidence that Harlequin is providing only their name, and the real business model comes from Authorhouse: "Through this strategic alliance, all sales, marketing, publishing, distribution, and book-selling services will be fulfilled by ASI, but Harlequin Horizons will exist as a division of Harlequin Enterprises Limited."

* Teddypig
* Publishers Weekly
* Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
* Pickled Cupid
* Murder She Writes
* New York Times

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

RWA does something I actually agree with.

Is this a sign of the end times?

"With the launch of Harlequin Horizons, Harlequin Enterprises no longer meets the requirements to be eligible for RWA-provided conference resources. This does not mean that Harlequin Enterprises cannot attend the conference. Like all non-eligible publishers, they are welcome to attend. However, as a non-eligible publisher, they would fund their own conference fees and they would not be provided with conference resources by RWA to publicize or promote the company or its imprints.

Michelle Monkou
RWA President"

[Ann Aguirre's blog: full text reprinted here]

New Market, I guess.

Reflections Press is now accepting submissions for it's [sic] Spring 2010 launch. We are seeking stories which involve transsexualism, transvestitism and crossdressing.
Length Requirements:- 20,000-60,000 words.
What We're Seeking:- Romance- Erotica- Historical- Mystery- Paranormal

Did it occur to them, I wonder, to post something about what the press will be able to do for an author--rather than just what they want?

From abwrite

Harlequin replies

Of at SBTB we have this response from a Harlequin staff member:

"First, why is Harlequin launching a self-publishing business? Bowker reported in 2008 that more titles were published through self-publishing than traditional publishers. Self-publishing is a fast growing and vibrant part of the publishing industry today. Harlequin has decided to provide a romance focused self-publishing business for those that choose to go down the self-publishing road."

And so why did you choose to partner with a fee-charging self-publishing provider whose authors typically do not make a profit, and whose offshoots (e.g. Authorhouse) have a rather poor reputation? Could it be anything to do with receiving a cut from those substantial fees?

"The use of the Harlequin name with Harlequin Horizons has raised the most questions and comments. At Harlequin, we are probably even more concerned about our brand than the commenters at this blog, so here, then, are some clarifications to your questions.
Brand – Harlequin put its name on the Harlequin Horizons site to clearly indicate this is a romance self-publishing site. The books published through Harlequin Horizons will not carry traditional Harlequin branding. The self-published author will be the brand and the Horizon double H logo will appear on the spine of the book. Harlequin is the gold standard in romance and that will not be compromised. Readers will not confuse Horizons books with traditional Harlequin books."

So these books won't be branded Harlequin, just called Harlequin and marked with an 'H' in the Harlequin font and offered the carrot of possibly being picked up by Harlequin. That's totally clear.

"Distribution – Self-publishing has a different distribution model than traditional publishing. Horizons books will not be carried nor appear in traditional Harlequin distribution. The self-published book will not appear next to a traditionally published Harlequin title.
The Harlequin Horizons site very clearly indicates it is a self-publishing business and that those who choose to publish with Horizons will not receive the traditional Harlequin distribution and marketing support."

So, Harlequin Horizons will use a different distribution model, of not being distributed.

"Many authors are choosing to self-publish. There are a number of reasons to select self-publishing including as a way to see their work in print— to give copies as gifts, to have a bound copy to help in finding an agent, or simply as a keepsake. Harlequin is providing a service to those choosing to self-publish with a leading organization in this field, Author Solutions. To recap, self-publishing is an option for those who want to put their story into print. The Harlequin brand will not be on these titles. The Harlequin Horizons site is very transparent that it offers self-publishing services."

I hear they also make good doorstops. But the Horizon website makes reference to being the centre of attention at a crowded book signing--in which alternate universe will this occur?

"Last, if anyone is wondering if this changes anything with Harlequin’s usual editorial processes, the answer is no. We remain committed to reading and acquiring manuscripts from aspiring authors. It’s new voices that set new directions for the future."

Except for the Harlequin Horizon books which will provided with the different editing model, of not being edited.

So that clears that up, Harlequin will get the self-publishing authors' money, after luring them with a Harlequin-branded website they will offer them a non-Harlequin edited book with no Harlequin branding and no distribution.

Wow, that's a great deal. Silly me for being so negative.

As Ava Quinn commented below: "Preditors and Editors has already changed its Harlequin Inc status to vanity publisher."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

RWNZ Clendon Award

Back in 2007 I proudly proclaimed I was a member of RWNZ (Romance Writers of New Zealand): "I ... had that joyful of experience of asking whether they accept writers of gay romance--the experience where one is met with a response of total bemusement as to why they wouldn't."

I suppose I had never paid much attention to the Clendon book award RWNZ runs jointly with Barbara's books. But this year I did notice: "For the purpose of the contest, “romance” is defined as a fictional story which has the development and resolution of a romance between a male and a female as the primary motivation of the plot".

I sent in a question about this and over the intervening two weeks, until I recieved a courteous answer that my reading of the defintion was correct, my membership lapsed. And it shall be staying that way.

Who Gets to Wear the Big H?

I have been thinking about this Harlequin branding of the AuthorSolutions powered vanity press Harlequin Horizons, and ring-fencing of gay romance inclusive Harlequin ebook imprint Carina Press, which does not carry the Harlequin name. To me this seems to say:

* If you have really editors, take no fees and are selective ("editorial and marketing expertise"), this is not 'H'.

* So long as the book is printed on paper, even though it is not even seen by a Harlequin staff member at any time ("all sales, marketing, publishing, distribution, and book-selling services will be fulfilled by ASI [Authorsolutions]"), this is 'H'.

It makes me thing of people who say: "How dare you charge $7 for an ebook? There is no paper and distribution!"

If the value of a publisher could be measured in pulpwood and stamps, readers would just buy reams of blank paper and be well satisfied.

The value of a publish is, or should primarily be, its quality control, its editorial tone and standards--it's guarantee that what it gives you to read is worth reading.

Harlequin, it seems, does not agree.

Borders UK Keeps it Classy News Story: "Borders UK's e-commerce team is believed to have left the business. The Bookseller understands that the team of three, including head of e-commerce, Julie Howkins and e-commerce manager, Barbara Sussman left the company on Friday (13th November)."

Reader Comment: "Always good to hear these things from The Bookseller and not your own company."

Monday, November 16, 2009

OT: RIP Edward Woodward

Known for his appearances ranging for cult-favorite "The Wicker Man" (1973) to the long running series "The Equalizer" (1985-1989). Edward Woodward passed away after a period of illness, at the age of 79. Rest in peace.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Self-Publishing: The Pros and Cons by Patricia Simpson
"I am the author of thirteen books published by HarperMonogram, Silhouette and TOR, and have been published in print since the early 1990s ... I thought, why not try the emerging print-on-demand (POD) technology and see what happens?"

Romancing the Recession
"But while the allure of the guaranteed happy ending can’t be denied, Jennifer Enderlin, associate publisher for St. Martin’s Paperbacks, says she believes that part of romance’s continued appeal is the high quality required to achieve such healthy sales. “In addition to providing escape, romance is so competitive that the writers who get published are really good,” she says."

Veinglory on Air

If you want to hear me talk about... whatever it is I talked about to Sascha for Radi Dentata's unNAMED Romance Show, here are the times and links. If you ever get the chance to be on this show I would certainly recommend it.

Sascha Illyvich Radio Show Host
Radio Dentata Listen to

Romance Show with No Name
Weekly at: Monday 4 PM & 10PM Thursday 6 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
November 16, 2009: Emily Veinglory
November 19, 2009: Emily Veinglory

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cherchez the Romance?

Amazon's best books of 2009 top ten work out as: non-fiction (5), historical (2), detective (1), general fiction (1), literary (1). If there is a romance novel anywhere in the entire top 100 "editors' favorites" it wasn't easy to find.

Publishers Weekly editors came up with best books of 2009 likewise including: non-fiction (5), literary (3), anthology (1), graphic novel (1)--books written by women (0).

Of all the books that came out this year these two editoral bodies not only chose similar genres, but 2 of the exact same books.

Gee, I wonder why book sections of papers and traditional review magazine are having a little trouble staying financially viable, when they are obviously very clear indeed when it comes to the types of books they like.
(The closest I can come to making sense of this is if they chose masculine-centric books in the hopes that a lot of these books will end up under Christmas trees.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

NEW MARKET: Carina Press

Carina Press
"Carina Press will consider shorter length stories of less than 50,000 words, genre novels between 50,000 to 100,000 words and longer and complex narratives of over 100,000 words. We expect to publish a majority of romance and erotic romance but are also very interested in women’s fiction, science fiction, fantasy, futuristic, mystery, thrillers, horror, and niches. If you have something new and fresh we would be happy to read your story!"

Objectively, this is pretty big news. Subjectively, I am having trouble finding it all that interesting. I think it is, as with any new epress, a case of "wait and see".

See also:
Angela James and her journey to Harlequin with Carina Press
Harlequin Launches Digital-Only Publishing House
Carina Press (SBTB)
Harlequin: Carina Press (Teddypig)

Saturday, November 07, 2009


As I am about to send a lot of time in airports and taxis, I thought I would share some of the podcasts I subscribe to and will be listening to as I hurry up and wait.

My main requirement for subscribing to a podcasts is that it be informative, entertaining, and that it is delivered in a pleasant speaking voice. Frankly, I could listen to Stephen Fry dictate the phone book--and if anyone out there knows of a podcast delivered by someone with a Welsh accent, let me know; I don't care what it is about.

I encourage you all to let me know about more podcasts, either podcasts you make youself our the ones you subscribe to. The podcasts below are available from iTunes for free.

On Topic
* The Good Parts: the Art of Writing Smut
* Packing Heat: Erotica Writing Tops and Techniques

* Stephen Fry's Podgrams
* Classical Mythology Podcast
* Stuff You Missed in History Class
* Art of Manliness

Friday, November 06, 2009

Body 2 Body

Based on Mrs. Giggles' comments I picked up a copy of the new book: Body 2 Body--a Malaysian Queer Anthology edited by Jerome Kugan and Pang Khee Teik. It seems that the publisher has been unable to successfully solicit reviews or wide distribution within Malaysia, not surprising as male homosexuality is still illegal in Malaysia.

So, anyway, I have ordered a copy and plan to join other bloggers in providing some online publicity. Body 2 Body is available on Amazon but steel yourself, it is $20 for a standard paperback. That is a little steep but I will give the published, Matahari, the benefit of the doubt. I have no idea what the regional limitations might be when to comes to small press printing and distribution.

If you do post a review of this book, please let me know. I will be posting my own comments in a week or two, after I get back from a joyous work-related sojourn to the balmy north. Meaning that this is a good time for all you duly-appointed contributors to ERECblog to run amok while I am distracted.

See also: Body 2 Body reviews
Mrs Giggles

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Off Topic Links

An Olde-Fashioned Book Burning
Burnt Offerings
[Most disturbing, Scripture itself was burned—onto the pyre flew modern translations of the Bible like those that the woman in the joke deplored. Amazing Grace is a self-proclaimed King James Only church: "We believe that the King James Bible is the Word of God," says the church's Web site.]

Best First Comment
Literary classic Little Women being remixed with werewolves
First comment: [Enough already.]

Funny Dog Story
I Has a Sweet Potato
[From the kitchen, there comes a noise like someone is eating a baseball bat.]

I Laughed, Out Loud
10 reasons to buy a Kindle 2… and 10 reasons not to
[Flight attendants will tell you to turn it off on take off and landing. You can’t explain that it’s epaper and uses no current. You just can’t. It’s like explaining heaven to bears.]

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Meanwhile, at lyd

* Epublisher Love You Divine seems to have reported a reviewer to the FBI for reviewing a bought ebook, assuming it was pirated. (via Mrs G.)

* P.s. While the whole trend of replacing names with acronyms is merely annoying, using them in lower case if just weird: "lyd titles are distributed world-wide, both electronically and in print."


The XOXO website seems to be down for construction and most of the content on their blog is behing "invitation only" curtains. The publisher is, however, apparently active and amongst other things creating some charity projects. But charity by whom?

"We are a royalty paying publisher, NOT a vanity press. We offer 40% royalty of gross sales. This will be fully explained in the publishing contract.
... We have two fundraising books per year where the royalties are fully donated to two charities, while the other four books are offered a percentage of the royalties and donated to charities."

Do they really mean that only the author royalties are donated to the charity--or total profits?