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Sarah, I was going to respond to your comment in the previous post, but it got way too long, so I decided to make it into a blog post of its own.

This was the point that I was originally responding to:



The thing is Sarah, I think you’re one of EC’s most talented and probably successful writers. Plus like you mentioned in a later post, you would soon tell them where to get off, if they started messing with you. You can do that because, they know you have far more options, than a newbie just starting in the business.

I’m sure that authors like Jaci Burton, Lora Leigh, and Shiloh Walker have probably never been asked to add more sex to their books, because, like you, they are in a far more powerful position than a lot of the current crop of authors. And let’s face it, it’s not like they’re releasing lots of books with EC at the moment anyway.

What I think is more worrying are the newer editors who, in my personal opinion, wouldn’t know a good book, if it got up and did the jig in front of them.

I know that one woman’s meat is another woman’s poison, but in my opinion, there is a difference between disliking a book, because it was badly written, and disliking a book, because you didn’t appreciate the storyline, and the heroine pissed you off, etc, etc.

Ben’s Wildflower, was the most inept, amateur, ridiculous, and absurd book, that I’ve come across in a very, very long time. I’m not even going to take the route of fully blaming the author, because the fact is, the editor felt it was good enough to, not only publish it in the first place, but allegedly, felt that the author was deserving of a 12-book contract. I’m still trying to get over that one.

In my opinion the editor messed up, big time. That book was so bad, that a 10 year old probably could have done a better job. It was porn in the purest sense, with a happy-ending thrown in, so that it could earn the label, ‘erotic romance’. I can’t even describe how utterly ridiculous it was.

Of course there are people who will have enjoyed Ben’s Wildflower, but in my opinion, the reason for their enjoyment would have less to do with with the quality of the book, and more to do with the high titillation factor.

I can’t think that it’s mere coincidence that things (for me at least) started nose-diving when Crissy Bashear left to form Samhain. According to a couple of EC authors, things have been on a downward spiral for a while now, and the changes that have been rung, haven’t pleased everybody, on the contrary, some of these authors have been privately shaking their heads, and discreetly making plans to change publishers.

Also, although as reader, I love it when publishers offer up more books, I’m still scratching my head at EC’s decision to release their books on a twice-weekly basis.

I’m sure it was a financial decision, but at what cost? Have they taken on more editors to cope with the number of books being released each week? More to the point, are the editors that they are taking on, able to do the job? In the case of the editor who pubbed Ben’s Wildflower, clearly not.

Admittedly, she may have been having a bad day, when she gave the thumbs-up to Ms Lynne’s second book, and maybe her next book will be stupendously well-worked. I seriously doubt it though.

I mentioned earlier that I know a few talented, (in my opinion at least) unpubbed writers, who have been refused by EC, whilst they seemingly embrace authors who clearly struggle with the English language. Harsh I know, but as a former staunch advocate of EC books, I can’t help but feel very disappointed about the quality of the books that they are spewing out.

I still recall feeling dismayed when Ashleigh Raine announced over a year ago, that EC had made the decision to not continue with their Talisman Bay series. I generally hate paranormals, but the Shadow Walker books were actually really good, and definitely a lot better than the dross that’s currently being published.

I’m aware of at least one EC author, who has one book left on her contract, and she’s been trying to get that one book released for the past eighteen months. It still hasn’t been accepted for publication. Apparently, there were massive edits, which isn’t a problem per se, but when I see the crap that’s being let through, I can’t help but wonder if there are any clear standards that the editors are supposed to be working to.

The newbie authors at EC will probably feel quite safe, and happy there at this present time, they’re still experiencing the Just-Published, rosy-hued honeymoon period. Utterly grateful for their first publishing contract. Who can blame them? Not I, that’s for sure, but sooner or later, the worm will turn, and it will be interesting to see what they have to say about EC, once that happens.

In the meantime, I hope the quality of the books improve, because if they don’t, then sooner or later, sales will probably be impacted.

Also, is it simply coincidence that Elloras Cave haven’t won any major accolades since they won Best Publisher in the Preditors and Editors poll in 2003?

Oh, by the way, if anybody has any juicy gossip for me re the happenings at EC, then you can e-mail me at hairylemony @ gmail. com. Confidentiality guaranteed. Go on, you know you want to. *g*

Amended to add:

If you are a regular buyer of EC books and feel that you’ve been getting a shoddy deal lately, the best thing you can do is to write and complain. The more readers complain about the current quality of books being produced, the greater the chance that some of the higher-ups will sit up and take notice.

If you can be arsed, their customer services e-mail address is service@ellorascave.com It would be interesting to see if we as readers are able to force them to change things up a bit.

And don’t get me started on the new crop of pornographic cover art.

Karen Does Ben's Wildflower, By Carol Lynne...


Interesting cover…

Please note, the following review contains spoilers and excerpts.

This review was painful to write, but it had to be done. Carol Lynne, if you happen to come across this review, whilst googling yourself, I’d recommend that you don’t read any further. It’s not a gushing lovey-dovey review, in fact, it may be a tad… harsh? I’m sorry.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the blurb from Elloras Cave.


My Verdict

Jesus. Effing. Christ.

I can honestly say, it’s been a while since I read a book so bad, I had to review it.

I’m almost sorry to do this to Ms Lynne, but I can’t imagine who thought it was a good idea to put this book out for public consumption. Seriously, I don’t even know where to begin.

I should have known things were gonna be bad when the hero insisted on calling the heroine ‘Wildflower’. Could the author be more corny?

The sheer amateurish nature of this book, lead me to conclude that the author was fairly new to publishing, and looking at her website, it seems that I may be right, unless of course she publishes under another guise Please say it aint so!.

For the love of all things Oprah, please let her be a newbie author, because if she aint, then she’s got no fucking excuse for the pile of steaming horse manure that I’ve just subjected myself to.

The characterisation was poor beyond belief, I couldn’t get over the ridiculously stilted dialogue, the slightly bizarre storyline, and the whole host of secondary characters, who all seemed to be either gay, or at least thinking about it.

Ben and Kate (the hero and heroine) have some friends who are involved in a menage relationship. The woman in the menage is pregnant, and the two men are denying her sex because apparently pregnant women can’t indulge in carnal activities.

Now bear in mind that this is a contemp set in a town called Junctionville, but there’s a strange old scene where Ben is lamenting over the issues that Kate has been having, to his friends, when suddenly, the two men, who form part of the menage start tonguing each other in public, and feeling each other’s cocks. Huh?

Not only that, but at one point Ben, who’s obviously a manly heterosexual man, is on the phone to one of his buddies, and he turns round to find that the two men, unable to keep their passions below boiling, start going at each other whilst he’s sat there. And when I say going at each other, what I mean is, one guy sticks his tongue in the other guys arse, and starts licking him out.

What. The. Fuck?

Now I’m not saying that shit like this doesn’t happen, but considering that one of the men was the local sheriff, and the other one had an equally ‘masculine’, public minded job, I just don’t think they would behave like that in a straight bar, in a town called Junctionville, know what I mean?

I’m sorry, I’m usually willing to suspend disbelief when reading erotic romance, but this was just something I couldn’t see happening. This is the equivalent of TTG and I having dinner with friends, then me pulling down my knickers, and letting him feast on my womanly bud. I think not.

I know that these kind of scenes happen a lot in erotic romance, but this was a contemp set in a town called Junctionville for fuck’s sake, if that doesn’t scream redneckville, I don’t know what does.

What I couldn’t understand was that there was this raving lunatic, who was obviously going round causing Katie-Did trouble, and kept trying to kill her at every opportunity, whilst leaving big-assed clues that he was the guilty party, yet for some reason, nothing was ever done about it.

Erm… hold on, on second thoughts, that doesn’t sound so far-fetched. That shit happens in England all the time.

Oh by the way, did I mention that Ben (our hero) had a problem with his overgrown dick? No? Well he did. What clued me in on his little problem, I hear you ask?

Oooh, let me count the ways:


Clue number one: He has a ten inch dick.


Clue number two: He has to stick it to his heroine, itty bitty inches at a time, so that he doesn’t rip her in half.


Clue number thr… fuck that, more to the point, I want to know who the fuck says something as stupid as ‘I can handle your cock’s circumference’? Blech.


Clue number four: Even Ben’s friends have noticed the size of his pecker.


Good fucking lord. *Head-desk*

I get it, Ben has a big dick, and it’s been the bane of his life, now please move on with the fucking story.

*Ahem*, I digress…

Not only were the primary characters totally lacking any kind of depth, the villain, was just sooo over the top evil, I almost found myself sympathising with him. He was a crap baddie, and it didn’t help that he didn’t seem to be the brightest tool in the box either.

Anytime he did something evil to Kate, he left great big fucking clues that anybody with half a brain cell would have been able to figure out. He might as well have taken out an ad in the local rag, telling everybody that he did it. Sigh.

I just remembered that there was a sub-plot involving a couple of Ben’s friends, that seemed to have just been dumped in the middle of the book. There was simply no rhyme or reason for it, so my best guess was that the author was doing her utmost to meet her minimum word count. Oh the pain.

Another thing that bemused me was Ms Lynne’s apparent love for the phrase, ‘Little Fucker’. I wonder if she realised just how often she used said phrase, when referring to the villain of the book? I was tempted to count, but I couldn’t be arsed. Anybody who buys Ben’s Wildflower will quickly see what I mean.

I briefly mentioned the stilted dialogue before, but it was gems like the following that had me nearly peeing my panties. I’m not sure that was the intended reaction though:

“Speaking of fucking. I’ve been giving it some thought and if you’re still interested I think I’d like you to fuck me in the ass.”

I loved how the author wrote the above in such a way that Kate could have been easily asking for more sugar in her coffee. Did I mention that the heroine was nervous about sex when she met the hero? And that for some reason she had bras with the nipples cut out, even though she was scared of S.E.X?

This book was so badly written, that it made Thea Devine’s Sensation seem positively wonderful. My regular readers will know that this is not a good thing. Seriously.

There were so many things wrong with Ben’s Wildflower that the problem would be knowing when to stop listing my issues with the book. It was craptastic in way that I haven’t experienced in a long while.

I have to say, it isn’t often that I come across a book so bad, that I have to question what the editor was smoking when she agreed to publish it. I’m sorry Ms Lynne, I pray that you aren’t somebody I actually like. but this book was so technically inept that it leads me to indeed wonder what the fuck your editor was shooting up, when she offered you a contract for it.

It really was that crap.

You can visit Carol Lynne’s very interesting website here, and buy Ben’s Wildflower in e-book format, here.

Ok, that’s enough from me, I’m just going to gargle with mouthwash to take the nasty taste of this book out of my mouth. I feel so dirty, I think that a bath is also in order.

So, I was on the phone with my little sister yesterday, when she casually drops into the conversation, that her boyf wants them to go to Bahrain for their hols this year.

Bahrain. This year.

This is how the conversation went:

Sis: P wants to go to Bahrain in July, for a couple of weeks.
K: Silence
Sis: He’s got a friend over there, who’s got a lovely big house, and says we can stay with him.
K: Silence.
Sis: Silence.
Sis: Erm, what do you think?
K: You do know it’s a middle eastern country don’t you?
Sis: Um.. yeah
K: You do know you can’t wear short skirts there don’t you?
Sis: What do you mean?
K: They don’t like women wearing sexy clothes in public.
Sis: Why not?
K: Stupified silence.
K: Are you on a drugs?
Sis: What do you mean?
K: You do know it’s an Islamic country, right?
Sis: Um… yeah.
Sis: P sez it’ll be good.
K: Silence
Sis: He sez that at least it’ll be sunny all the time.
K: Silence.
K: You do know they hate Americans right?
Sis: But I’m not American
K: Babe, you’re black, they’ll just assume you’re American.
Sis: Oh.
K: You wont be able to kiss P in public over there.
Sis: Silence
K: You wont be able to drink either.
Sis: I’ll call you right back.
*Hangs up, then calls back 5 minutes later*
Sis: Are we ok to go to Cuba?
K: *Head-desk.*

I’m sorry, no offense to Bahrain, or any of its inhabitants, I just don’t want my sister stepping foot anywhere near the middle east, no matter how progressive they are. It’s nothing personal. Really. I just happen to like her head where it is.

*Make note to slap Sister’s boyfriend into the middle of next week the next time I see him.*

Too Dark? Or Not Dark Enough?

Saturday, April 21, 2007
Posted in: romance heroes

Anne Marble, over at the AAR group list is asking the question, “How Dark Is Too Dark?”

She writes:


Now I do love me some dark and tormented heroes. I love heroes who have experienced real pain in their life, because as far as I’m concerned, these very struggles are what enables the author to hook the reader in.

I want to see the hero overcome his problems. I want to see him find the woman that he was meant to be with. I want to see the character develop, as the book goes on. It seems easier to do this with these kind of heroes, than with their fluffy counterparts.

One of the reasons why I love Nora’s J.D Robb’s Roarke so much is because although he’s in a pretty good position as far as his wealth etc, he had to go through pretty torrid times to get to where he’s at right now. I love his whole backstory. I love the fact that he came from nothing, and made something of himself. I love that he wasn’t always whiter than white, and wasn’t above operating outside the law.

When I think of my favourite books, a lot of the heroes were dark, or tormented. Anne Stuart’s Bastien Toussaint totally floated my boat because of his lack of scruples. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I’m convinced it’s because he was so far removed from the typical romance hero.

I recall being totally enthralled by Linda Howard’s hero in Cry No More. When I think about it though, Diaz seemed to have similar characteristics to Bastien Toussaint in Black Ice, so that may explain why.

The only time I recall really hating a dark hero, was in JW Mckenna’s Darkest Hour. Now he wasn’t just dark, the man was cruel beyond belief. The fact that he whipped the heroine to within an inch of her life (and no she most definitely didn’t get off on it!), as punishment for some BDSM related misdemeanour, made me so mad, I wrote to the author, asking him why he’d labelled the book a romance when it so clearly wasn’t. (The heroine spent about three quarters of a page with this twat of a man, then ends up with a ‘nicer’ guy in the last twenty or so pages of the book, wtf?)

He was gracious enough to write back and tell me that it was one of his earlier works, and that it probably shouldn’t have been labelled romance, but I have to say, Darkest Hour remains at the top of my Top Ten Worst Books of all time, to this day.

Apart from the above example, I can’t recall reading many romance books where the hero was so dark, he bordered on evil. What about you guys?

Also, is it ever acceptable for the hero to actually hit the heroine? Have you read any romance books where this happened, yet somehow the author was able to sufficiently redeem the hero?

Is This For Real?

Saturday, April 21, 2007
Posted in: where do they get these people from?

If so, the guy needs to be horse-whipped. This is not amusing in the fucking slightest. Sick fuck.

Courtesy of Eve’s Yahoo list.

I got this from Monica’s blog. Effing hilarious. Seriously, you need to click and listen to this woman talk.

I couldn’t be arsed checking out Wikipedia for the answer to this question, but do women have more than one official G spot? *g*

Count me in as one of the gals who likes clitoral stimulation too!

I like this broad, (even though I don’t actually know what she’s talking about half the time) but what’s wrong with being screwed into submission anyway? *g*

Effing hilarious.

Now I don’t particularly mind them, in fact I do like that Anchor and Storm cover, but they are kinda close to the knuckle aren’t they?

Like I said to Bam, I wouldn’t be caught dead reading these books in public, so it’s probably just as well they are in e-format, no?

As pornographic (yes they are) as some of these covers are, I bet they’re selling like hotcakes though.

If these come out in print, I suspect EC will have to change the covers altogether. No self-respecting woman is gonna read any of these books on the train, or any other public (heheh, I just accidentally wrote, ‘pubic’) venue.

I came across this rant by Jennifer Crusie earlier today, and I must say, it tickled me pink. I do like that woman. Seriously.

Her rant was basically about the hoo ha caused by the alleged rape scene in Courting The Courtesan by Anna Campbell.

She starts:

She’s probably right, the people complaining are probably the people who haven’t read the book. Have you noticed that that seems to happen a lot?

This was my favourite bit:


God, I love her. Anyway, I’ve got nothing else to say on the matter, and had it not been for her eloquent rant, I would have totally ignored the subject, so go read for yourselves, if you haven’t already.

Go Lewis, go!

TTG and I watched the Bahrain Grandprix yesterday, and I must say, I was very impressed with young Mr Hamilton. He finished second to Felipe Massa, and is in joint first place in terms of championship points.

We got our very own Tiger Woods, woo hoo!

What a difference a day makes. They were alive yesterday.

I always wonder about the person that just seems to go crazy and shoot as many people as they possibly can? Why today? What triggered the rage that was responsible for this massacre?

You know that saying about guns not killing people? Well it’s not strictly true is it? Check out this timeline of worldwide school shootings.

It strikes me as very telling that 30 of the 45 shootings happened in the States. I’ve always been of the mind that selling guns in the same place that one gets their baked beans, is nothing but pure madness.

It creeps me out to think the number of guns out there that are in the wrong hands.

What an effing tragedy. Does anybody know who the shooter is?

I picked up this book when I was doing the monthly shop, over 6 months ago. It caught my eye, because I noticed the Richard and Judy’s Summer Read logo on the front cover; plus it was only £3.63.

As I had a mountain of unread books waiting for me, it just got added to the top of the pile, and remained there till I finally got round to reading it the other day.

For those, like myself, who love character driven books, My Best Friend’s Girl was an absolute treat.


My Verdict


Gosh I loved, loved, loved this book.

Not since Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife, has a book pulled me in so many different directions.

Every now and then, it’s good to get away from the fluff, and read something that actually makes you look at life, love, and relationships in a different way.

Koomson’s My Best Friend’s Girl, certainly achieved that, and so much more besides.

The book starts with a letter or a diary excerpt from Adele, Tegan’s mother. She explains how she discovered that she had leukemia, and the subsequent heartbreak over having to leave her child forever.

My eyes teared up at that point, and pretty much stayed teared up, through the rest of the book.

Let me start this review, by concentrating on each of the main characters.

Kamryn

Kamryn was the kind of angsty, insecure heroine that I usually abhor in a romance, but there was a difference between this character, and a lot of the standard angsty romance heroines out there.

I was able to empathise with her more often than not. In fact, surprisingly enough, there wasn’t actually a point in the book, where her actions made me want to shoot myself in the eye. Her insecurities, and bouts of low self-esteem was the result of being called ugly, and fat, during her formative years. She was psychologically scarred from a childhood that taught her that the only person you can truly rely on is yourself.

Although Kam had her faults, and could be a tad paranoid, she was a woman with whom, I could have been friends with. This is how I tend to judge heroines in books.

Because the book was written in the first person, I was a little apprehensive as to whether or not I would be allowed to enjoy the story. I usually try to stick to third person POVs, but every now and again, I’ll go over to the dark side. I wasn’t sorry that I did so on this occasion.

I felt Kam’s grief at the passing of her best friend all the way through the book. The sadness, and devastation that one experiences upon the death of a loved one, was brilliantly portrayed by Koomson.

I could totally empathise with her struggles, and the various adjustments to motherhood that she had to make. I felt the love that she had for her new daughter, the rage that she felt at her friend for dying, as well as her conflicting feelings about the two men who entered and re-entered her life, shortly after Tegan went to live with her.

Kam’s relationship with Tegan was a heartbreaking thing to read. I know it seems trite to say so, but reading this book was really like riding a rollercoaster. The highs were great, and gave me reason to laugh, and rejoice, but the lows really were the pits, and I had to constantly reach for tissues, and my stash of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, at the risk of puking my guts up.

Kam wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, she could be surly, unforgiving, sarcastic, and techy at the slightest provocation, but she felt real to me, and I was able to understand her motivations, and identify that she was going through the grieving process. Through all of this, the only thing that I was sure about, was that she would eventually make it past the grey storm clouds, and into the sun.

Luke

Usually in a romance, the reader is never allowed to have conflicting feelings about the hero, especially when it comes to a love triangle.

We don’t meet Luke Wiseman till later on in the book, but he was a great character. He’s Kam’s new boss, and they hated each other on sight.

I on the other hand liked him. I really did.

When they first met, he made it more than obvious to Kam that he found her lacking, as a woman. This was something that Kam found very hard to deal with, because it was too reminiscent of her childhood feelings of inadequacy. It was refreshing to read a book, where the characters don’t instantly rush into unrivalled lust at first sight.

As they get to know one another, their relationship changes, and Kam is forced to look at Luke in a less judgmental way, and he, her.

I love the struggles that Luke had with himself over his feelings for Kam.
All his life, he’d always been attracted to a certain kind of woman, and even through Kam’s POV, it was interesting for me to see how he dealt with the fact that he was falling for a woman who was nothing like his perceived ideal woman.

Luke wasn’t the typical hero, he was condescending, and superior, and at times insulting, What am I saying? He sounds exactly like a HQ Presents hero! but guess what, the good things about him totally outweighed the bad, and even from Kam’s point of view, I was able to see beyond his false front of easy confidence, and arrogant veneer. A complex, but lovely man.

Nate

Nate had cheated on Kamryn with her best friend, so I really shouldn’t have liked him as much as I did, and in a standard romance, he would have clearly been the bad guy. Luckily, Koomson didn’t go down the cookie-cutter, bastard-other-guy route.

I really wanted to hate Nate, but couldn’t, because despite the fact that he’d betrayed Kam so badly, I believed that essentially, he was a good guy, who genuinely loved her.

All the way through the book, I found myself swaying from Luke to Nate, then back again.

In romance books, there’s usually never any ambiguity as to whom the heroine should end up with, but I have to say, I found myself constantly changing my mind about that very question, in this book.

Yes, Nate had been a rat-dog bastard, but he really loved her, I could tell. On the other hand, Luke was an arrogant son of a bitch who needed taking down a peg or two, but he was just as insecure as Kam, in his own way. The arguments in my head went on, and on, right up until the final few pages, when Koomson put me out of my misery, and let us know who Kam would be sharing hers and Tegan’s life with.

Koomson didn’t insist on giving the reader the whole backstory in one go. It was done via a series of flashbacks throughout the book, as well as in the form of a diary/letter from Adele hereself. I didn’t feel bombarded with lots of information that I’d have to process, before I could move on, and for that I was very grateful.

Another thing that I particularly loved about MBFG, was that you never quite knew where the author was going to take you. All the way through the book, I agonised over who Kam was going to ultimately choose to be with, and let me tell you, it wasn’t an easy thing to figure out at all.

There was one point in the book where I thought Koomson was about to betray me, by taking me down an avenue I didn’t expect her to take, but luckily (for her) she didn’t follow through. (If she had, the results would have been a very snotty, and pissed off Karen.)

The book did make me question how I would have reacted had I been in either Kam’s or Adele’s shoes. Would I have taken in the child of the best friend who’d betrayed me with my lover? Would I have asked the friend I’d betrayed to look after my most cherished possession? Sigh. I’m still trying to figure the answers out.

MBFG is not your typical romance, (I think it’s actually described, wrongly in my opinion, as chicklit) but it did indeed have some strong romantic elements. I loved how the author was able to capture my interest, and not only kept me hooked, but I found myself actually not wanting the book to end. Seriously.

The romance purists out there may not be interested in reading this book, because of the themes of betrayal, but I have to say, in my opinion, they’d be missing out on a fantastic read.

It was well written, well paced, and packed an emotional punch that had me literally crying, then laughing, then crying again.

This is a book that I’m going to do my best to recommend to anybody and everybody who are willing to give it a chance. Yes, I loved it that much.

You can buy MBFG here, and visit Dorothy Koomson’s website here.

Note: Loosely related to The Racism In Publishing Issue…

I thought it was fairly clever of the cover artist to have the little white girl with the blonde hair, holding the hand of the black woman. As a white reader, you probably wouldn’t notice that the hand that the little girl was holding was black, because so much of the cover was focused on the little girl herself. This way, white readers who profess to be uncomfortable with ‘black books’ aren’t confronted by anything that jars them out of their comfort zone.

After Richard and Judy included MBFG in their Top Summer Reads of 2006, Koomson, a career journalist, gained overnight literary fame, by selling over 110,000 copies of her book in a very short period of time. She made the best-sellers lists over here in England.

This was a book, written by a black woman, from the point of view of black female character.

So, how come most of the people who bought this book were white?

Simple. If you market anything effectively enough, people will buy. Richard and Judy gave it their seal of approval on their show, which meant that people were more than happy to go out and read it, regardless of the colour of the person who’d written it, and the colour of the protagonists.

Kam is a black woman who falls in love with two white men, and has been entrusted to look after a white child, but at no time did the racial element ever take over from the main theme of the story.

This was a story about the fragility of life, grief, forgiveness, and love. In short, this was a story about people. And as people, aren’t all of the above issues, something we all have in common?

Yawn…

Thursday, April 12, 2007
Posted in: First person pov sucks arse (sometimes)

I wonder why sex scenes written from the first person POV, always seem to bore me stupid?

Anybody got any ideas?

Where Is Giggles?

Thursday, April 12, 2007
Posted in: Mrs Giggles Is MIA

OK, where is she? I tried Giggles.com, but her blog isn’t even listed there anymore.

Does anybody know where it’s moved to? And furthermore, how dare she move without prior warning! Hmmphh!

First, The Maili goes missing, now Giggles is gone. I’m not impressed. *Grumble, grumble.*

He Makes Me Laugh Out Loud…

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Posted in: Ken Levine

OK, I’m far too busy to blog constructively, so I’ll point you in the direction of Ken Levine’s blog. He’s waxing lyrical about this week’s American Idol. Apparently he was in the audience for this week’s show.

I don’t know who he is, but Ann assures me that he’s a brilliant somebody. Either way, he’s funny as hell.

I knew I’d like him when I read this little gem:


Was it bad of me to laugh at that? Sigh, I thought so.


Shit, that cracked me up. Here’s a couple more hilarious excerpts from his blog:


So bad, yet so damn funny.


I know. My name’s Karen and I have a sick, sick sense of humour.

Oh well, I’m off to bed now so goodnight all!

MANCHESTER UNITED 7 – 1 ROMA!!!!!!

Carrick, Smithy, Rooney, Ronaldo, Evra!!!!! GOALS GALORE!!!!!

COME ON THE BOYS!! Wooooohooooooo!!!!!

Now that’s what I call an Effing Italian Job!!!!! Woohoo!!

Normal schedule will resume shortly.

Apologies for the lack of post. It’s been a busy old Easter for TTG and I.

We found our house. It’s an absolutely fabulous, Five-bed house, with a huge backyard, and the double garage that The Boy wanted. We put an offer in, so fingers crossed that it’s accepted.

Went to see my nephew this weekend. He is just so damn adorable. I could just eat him up.

Two of my friends also gave birth this week. One girl and one boy. They are both absolutely adorable.

We had a visit from a school friend I hadn’t seen in seven years. She had both her babies with her, except they weren’t actually babies anymore. They were nine, and seven. Sigh. Where does the time go eh?

Anyway, talking about babies, I finally read Nora’s Born In Death last night. Fabulous as usual. I do love, love, love Eve and Roarke’s acerbic banter with each other. How cheesetastic was the ending when they were all in the hospital? Who needs Hallmark eh?

I also managed to read Anchor and Storm (see below) and actually, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was fairly easy for me to overlook the imperfections and concentrate on the actual story.

I also finally got round to starting Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. I gave in after chapter two. It might have just been me, but I was bored to tears after just a few pages, I knew I wasn’t going to manage the full 704 pages anytime soon. I’ll possibly keep it for the next time I have to visit my doctor, I’m pretty sure I’m due for a smear test soon.

I finally read Dorothy Koomson’s, My Best Friend’s Girl. Shit, but that book made me cry. Very sad, but uplifting at the same time.

Whilst TTG and I were away, I also managed to read a Nicholas Sparks book, that’s been on my TBR forever and a day. The Guardian was a good way to pass a couple of hours, but it didn’t blow me away. The only writer who can head-hop worth a damn is La Nora, but even then it can get a little tiresome, (sorry Nora) thus I found myself getting a little pissed off by the time the time the heroine started figuring out that one of the men in her life was a nutjob. Sigh.

I’m off to bed now because I don’t feel all that great, but I’ll be taking Annie Solomon’s Blind Curve with me. I’ve always had an affection for physically impaired heroes and heroines, ever since I read that Sweet Valley High book, where that deaf girl goes out with that wanker high school jock, and reforms him. Regina whatshername, and Bruce Patman. Ahhh memories…

Anyway, in Blind Curve, the hero, who happens to be a cop, goes blind. That’s all I needed to know.

So, what are you guys reading?


I wonder which is Anchor, and which is Storm? *g*

But it certainly caught my eye. I’ve mostly gone right off menage books now, but I really liked the premise of this one.


I have a certain affection for historical erotic romance, I think it’s the thought of such naughty goings ons, during these notoriously repressive time periods.

You can buy Anchor and Storm from Elloras Cave. Now let’s hope there aren’t any effing whips, chains, or nipple clamps involved.

When did you first get published?

2000

What genre do you write in?

Romance/ Women’s Fiction

What race/colour are the majority of your characters?

African-American

How is your work marketed?

I believe my work is primarily marketed to African-American romance readers. But the publisher purchases ads in Romantic Times magazine. I’ve wondered how effective these ads are.

I’ve heard only a small fraction of RT’s readership is interested in A-A fiction. I have no idea if this is true, but that’s the perception.

Where are your books generally shelved?

My first few novels were shelved in the romance section. The latest releases were shelved in the A-A section if the store has such a section.

Where would you prefer your books to be shelved?

This is a tough question. If books are going to be separated, make copies available in the general fiction or romance sections, too. Something about the segregation feels wrong, but as a reader I must admit I like the convenience of the African-American section for browsing.

I have discovered many new authors of color that I would have missed if they were shelved among the thousands of non-black or mainstream books. As an author trying to build a brand or following, that accessibility to readers most likely to buy my books is attractive.

If black books were only shelved among the mainstream books it would make it harder for black readers to find me. A few white readers might sample black books shelved in the mainstream sections, but I’m not so sure there would be enough to make up the lost sales.

If stores were to do away with all A-A book sections I believe more new black authors or black authors who have yet to make a name for themselves would ultimately suffer.

Have you been subjected to direct/indirect racism from editors, publishers etc in your publishing career?

I haven’t experienced anything blatant. It’s not as if the publisher is going to say, “Hey, we’re getting behind Sally Sue because she’s white and we’re not getting behind you because you’re not white.”

Sally Sue is probably getting certain things because her sales numbers are better and warrant an extra push. Is Sally Sue selling better because she’s white and her potential audience is larger? That’s probably true. But that can’t explain why Sally Sue is also selling better than another white author who has the same potential audience and publisher support.

Who really knows why one author catches on and another doesn’t? I think it’s common knowledge that it’s not all about writing talent or even promotion. Publishers have thrown money behind lots of books that have flopped.

Promotion helps, of course, but it’s not a guarantee of anything. A lot of luck is involved. But with all that said, it’s still much harder for a black author to hitch a ride on the luck-mobile.

How do you feel about Oprah Winfrey’s book club- Do you think she could do more to promote AA authors?

Oprah has done her part by selecting books written by black authors. It would be nice if she selected more, but it’s not as if she’s completely ignored writers of color.

Do you believe that publishers are more ambivalent when it comes to marketing AA books?

Publishers are into making money. There’s a trend toward more niche marketing to do this. If publishers believed they could make lots and lots of money pushing more A-A books to the mainstream audience they would.

But in the romance genre in particular, I don’t think the average white romance reader is interested in reading love stories featuring African-American characters. However, I’m not sure it’s always about racism.

Maybe it’s just about familiarity or comfort zone. Blacks might do better crossing over in mystery, suspense/thrillers, non-fiction/memoir etc. Romance and relationship novels are too intimate and personal-fantasy driven.

There are so many white romances from which to choose. They can’t whittle down their towering TBR piles. Why would a white reader meander out of her comfort zone if she doesn’t have to?

It would take thousands of white readers regularly and steadily supporting black authors for any substantial spike in black authors’ numbers to show.

Which race groups would you say bought the majority of your books?

I believe 99.9 percent of my readers are African-American females.

What do you think needs to change in order for more white people to read African American books?

Oprah would have to recommend a new African-American novel every chance she got and even that wouldn’t be enough. Crossover magic happens in the literary fiction world (ex. Zadie Smith, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Colson Whitehead, Edward P. Jones) but not so much with commercial fiction.

That’s why I finally stopped caring about luring white readers to my novels with black characters. Hoping and wishing for things to change is akin to hoping and wishing to win the lottery. It’s a cool dream, but then you wake up.

When I’m ready to target white readers I’ll try to write and sell a book featuring white characters, then hope I can get away with it. I hear even that’s not so simple. (Note: See stories about Millennia Black.)

Have you ever been snubbed by white readers/white authors during a signing?

Yes, I have been snubbed by white readers. Some white readers will get the book, then let me know it’s for their black friend or co-worker, as if the book couldn’t possibly be something they would enjoy themselves. I’ve been snubbed by black readers, too.

Have you ever been overlooked by an editor in favour of a white author?

I’m not sure if anything like this has happened.

Have you ever been asked to tone down, or increase the ethnicity within your books?

No.

Are you familiar with Millennia Black’s lawsuit against Penguin? If so, what do you think her chances of winning are?

I’m not sure what her chances are, but I hope she wins. I think she should have the opportunity write any type of characters she chooses. The only way a black commercial author has a prayer of breaking out of the “Negro niche” is to write for the mainstream.

And if you want to a better shot at hooking the mainstream reader, you have to write mainstream or white characters. (See Tess Gerritsen as an example.) It also can’t hurt for the black author to use a pen name and wait a book or two before slapping his or her photo on the cover.

How do you think her victory will affect the way AA authors are treated within the industry?

Millennia’s case is about the freedom to write the type of characters she chooses. I would like to have the opportunity to write white characters, too, at some point. But most black authors I know are perfectly happy writing about other blacks. However, those black authors writing about black people would like the same opportunity for big success that white authors enjoy.

What are your thoughts on niche marketing? What do you think the limitations are if any?

It’s a way to zoom in on the people most likely to buy a particular product. The niche is a much smaller slice of the pie.

The limitation is obvious for the black authors fighting for a bite of that same sliver of pie. The potential rewards are greater if you can go for the rest of the pie.

Have you been personally involved in trying to bring about changes within the publishing industry, with regards to how African American authors are treated? If so can you tell me about your efforts?

No. I see it as pointless. Why? Because the whole race thing is too deeply ingrained. Who has the time and energy when most people have day jobs, families and a zillion other responsibilities?

Writing is something most of us squeeze in on the side. Most of us are not even close to making a living at it. So who has the energy to wage a fruitless campaign against publishers? Who has the time to try to enlighten white people in their bubble? It takes all our “book time” writing the book and promoting it to the people who are most likely to embrace what we’re selling.

If you whine and rant too much in this business it’s easy for publishers to get rid of you, particularly if you’re not a big money-making star.

There’s always someone eager to step in and take your place to maintain the status quo. Also, I’ve seen how people who are vocal on this issue are treated and often attacked for trying to raise awareness. I just don’t need the headaches that come along with trying to “raise awareness.”

Do you think this will still be a controversial subject in five years time, or do you think major changes would have been made by then?

That’s an easy one. It’s a big ol’ fat NOPE.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

I know many of my answers sound negative. I did not enter the business feeling this way. This is what experience has taught me.

That’s ok, it was honest, which is the important thing.

Coming up next, Mystery Author Number 2!

Shelly The Purple Goddess wants to know, so go tell her!

My example would be Nora Roberts, I love her like a fat kid loves cake.

I used to love her back in the day, then her books started getting on my tits. (Sorry Nora.) Her online behaviour has definitely led me to buy more of her newer books.

Oh yeah, and Eve and Roarke, are my fave couple evah.

Why, America?

Friday, April 6, 2007
Posted in: What's the fascination with the hair?

I’ll be annoyed if either Melinda, Lakisha, or Jordin get voted out before he does. Those people at Votefortheworst need a good seeing to. Hmmpphh.