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“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.”

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Mark Twain

Another dead guy who’s dry wit I rather enjoyed.

The Cassie Edwards plagiarism scandal broke in early January. (Neat centralized pdf. document from the SmartBitches here)

Dear Author and SmartBitches—and a number of authors—wrote about it during the following weeks.

I posted about it here in March (including a number of links to previous discussions)

Signet finally dumped Cassie Edwards over it in mid April, which reignited some discussion.

By late May people, including well known authors of the stature of Lori Foster, were still wondering why there was public discussion of something that, in their opinion, was “between Ms Edwards and the parties involved”

In late July—well over six months later—there was a panel on plagiarism at the RWA National Conference in San Francisco, with Nora Roberts as one of the panelists. Conference room seating 200, about a quarter of the seats filled.

May I ask, what the hell?

Because even if you are an author who thought you knew all there is to know about plagiarism, copyright infringement, proper attribution, etc., etc., ad nauseam, there was still a Q&A portion of the panel where solutions could be proposed, and where specific instances could be brought to light and examined.

My inner cynic is starting to wonder if indeed many writers don’t want open discussion of this because of dirty linen in their own closets.

Who doesn’t understand why sailing is considered an olympic sport?

I get ridiculously annoyed every time I see it on the TV.

I haven’t been this annoyed since those Scottish women, won the gold (or was it silver?) medal for curling. That was a serious WTF? moment for me.

What other so-called olympic sports do you think ought to be binned?

Into the Fire, by Suzanne Brockmann

Into the Fire is lucky thirteen in Ms Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. Unlike many series, most if not all of the installments in this one can be read as single titles without really missing necessary background information on ongoing story arcs. Ms Brockmann is uniquely talented, in my opinion, in giving new readers enough information to understand everything that is going on, without overloading her books with backstories from previous novels. At the same time, she writes quite a bit of foreshadowing for a number of story arcs in every book—à la Joss Whedon in Buffy—which increases the enjoyment of each successive novel for long time fans.

Ms Brockmann’s novels typically include large casts of characters, many of them recurring from previous novels, with anything from two to five story arcs running through. Most often, only one or two of these will be resolved in any one novel, with the rest left open-ended for future installments.

There are also a number of ‘point of view’ characters who carry the story in alternate chapters—or even alternate sections within a chapter. This works extremely well mainly because a) Ms Brockmann writes from what she calls “deep point of view”—which means that the reader is looking at any given scene or event from that particular character’s point of view, with his memories and feelings coloring his interpretation of whatever is going on (unreliable narrators, anyone?) and b) her characterization is so deft, that the reader has no problem identifying each narrator.

From the very first book, The Unsung Hero (June 2000) the Troubleshooters series has been set in the counterterrorism/military world, as well as in ‘real time’—meaning that the action in the novel is dated at the time of publication, i.e. Into the Fire, which was released on July 22, 2008, is set in late July 2008. (more…)

A poster left an interesting comment on one of the many NCP posts on the blog earlier today. It wasn’t the NCP related stuff that caught my interest, but this little gem:

I had a friend who told me once that I should write from my heart and everything else will come along on its own. I disagree. I believe you should write what people are interested in reading. Otherwise, you’re not going to make any money, which is pretty much the point of writing isn’t it?

Well, we know that a lot of authors have jumped on the various bandwagons out there, (Read: paranormals) but does this mean that they are likely to sell more books, just because they chose a popular sub-genre?

Is this poster correct? Does it really make more sense to write what is selling in the market, rather than what you’re passionate about?

As readers, do you prefer your fave authors to write from the heart, or would you be just as happy if they jumped on the bandwagons?

What’s So Great About Outdoor Sex?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Posted in: random rambling

In our local rag, there’s an article about the increasing problem of people having outdoor sex in local beauty spots.

Apparently the warm weather brings these people out in their droves.

The paper refers to a girl who was gang-banged by five blokes on the bonnet of a car in broad daylight. I couldn’t figure out how they all managed to fit on the car.

Nearby residents weren’t happy about having their peace destroyed by the continuous grunting.

Apparently, this isn’t a one-off. This is a popular past-time for some people.

I don’t get it. I really don’t.

Even when I’m reading erotic romance, if the protags start having sex in public, I find myself worrying about them being caught.

Does this mean I’m actually a prude?

Dammit.

Vicious Vixen, by Shiloh Walker

This is an erotic romance published by Samhain Publishing. Ms Walker’s talent lies in her characterization, and this one is no exception. Vicious Vixen is a very intense, if relatively short, read. The narrative shifts between the two main characters, and in two timelines; however, I hesitate to describe these shifts as flashbacks. It is more that the characters are overwhelmed by the intensity of their memories.

Before going any further, though, let’s have the usual warning, taken directly from the publisher: the following contains violence, hot sex and one vicious vixen.

Here’s the surprisingly accurate blurb:

He’s given one chance at redemption—hers and his.
Hired killer, Vixen Markham doesn’t have any illusions about life or love. Unable to trust even the one man she lets into her heart, she makes a decision that she’ll regret for the rest of her life—which won’t be much longer by the looks of things. Loaded with vengeance and a small arsenal of weapons, she’s ready to face up to her past and say goodbye to her future, until she’s confronted by a pair of eyes she could never forget.
Graeme Mackenzie Lawson lived a hard life. Hard on himself and harder on those who got in his way. Betrayed and murdered, he’s given one chance at redemption—but not for himself—for the woman he loved, the woman who killed him.
Can he keep Vixen safe, when she seems determined to lose her life—and her soul?

(more…)

I finished reading Goodnight, Beautiful yesterday, and I’m still crying over it. Will review when I stop sobbing.

Damn, but Dorothy Koomson knows how to write.

Mine To Possess, by Nalini Singh

The fourth installment in the Psy/Changeling series, this story centers again on one of the sentinels of the DarkRiver pack, Clay, and brings back a ghost from his past—Talin, the human girl who once upon a time gave him unconditional love and trust.

This novel can be enjoyed on its own merits, as it has a self-contained plot and the world building holds its internal consistency in an excellent manner, but I definitely recommend starting this series at the beginning. There are just too many background threads set up in the overall story arc of the series for a reader to catch all the nuances and references if starting with this book.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Clay Bennett is a powerful Dark River sentinel, but he grew up in the slums with his human mother, never knowing his changeling father. As a young boy without the bonds of Pack, he tried to stifle his animal nature. He failed… and committed the most extreme act of violence, killing a man, and lost his best friend, Talin, in the bloody aftermath. Everything good in him died the day he was told that she, too, was dead.

Talin McKade barely survived a childhood drenched in bloodshed and terror. Now a new nightmare stalks her—the street children she works to protect are disappearing and turning up dead. Determined to keep them safe, she unlocks the darkest secret in her heart and returns to ask the help of the strongest man she knows…

Clay lost Talin once. He will not let her go again and hungers to possess her with a clawing need born of the leopard within. As they race to save the innocent, Clay and Talin must face the violent truths in their past… or lose everything that ever mattered.

The blurb is overly melodramatic in tone, if any one asks me (and whoever wrote it, really should have asked a reader—seriously) so I’ll try to rephrase it briefly: (more…)

Karen’s Quotes Of The Week…

Saturday, August 9, 2008
Posted in: the quote whore strikes

“It is true that we are weak and sick and ugly and quarrelsome but if that is all we ever were, we would millenniums ago have disappeared from the face of the earth”.

“It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world.”

John Steinbeck

Thanks to Mark Schwahn for introducing me to John Steinbeck. That man spoke so much sense, in his own flowery little way.

Reading this post at the Smart Bitches, I have been struck again by the fact that the few loud extremists drown the many silent moderates.

First, of course, allow me to admit to—and apologize for—an instance of kneejerk reaction in direct and violent opposition to what I said here just the other day.**

The fact is that no religion is a monolithic mass of humanity, but that is a very very difficult fact to remember when being faced, again and again, with the fact that the only voices we hear are those of the intolerant fanatics. Moderate individuals of every group need to step up and speak out—loudly, repeatedly—because quiet, moderate voices can’t be heard under the roaring noise of fanaticism.

Just as the squeaky wheel gets the grease, those few loud voices get the lion’s share of media attention—it is the nature of the beast, after all. So the rest of us, those who believe in living our lives on our terms and letting everyone else live their lives on their terms, we need to make noise too.

Because by keeping quiet, by allowing the fanatics (of all stripes—Fred Phelps’ so called church, Warren Jeffs’ fundamentalist LDS splinter cult, etc) to be the only ones who are seen and heard, we are tacitly endorsing their image as the image of any given religious group.

If it’s not us – who? If it’s not now – when?
Daca nu noi, cine? Daca nu, acum, cind?
Si c’est pas nous – qui? Si c’est pas maintenant – quand?

May our hands be unlocked.. someday bringing Peace to all.
Your GOD bless each and everyone of you…
Your GOD bless all our nations…
Your GOD bless the HUMAN RACE…

(AnaB*, flickr Speak up for Peace)

**the ‘hypocrisy’ tag is for my own hypocrisy, in case anyone was wondering.

Warning, shitloads of spoilers and swearing ahead

I’ve been on a bit of of a romance reading slump lately, so the other day, I decided to buy some non-romance fiction.

Fuck me, what a mistake that was.

The first book was called The Second Husband, by a Brit author called Louise Candlish.

I bought it, because I’d read one of her older books a while ago, and had enjoyed it, so I thought I’d give this one a try.

Jesus, I shouldn’t have fucking bothered.

Basically, the story is about a divorced woman (Kate), with two kids, boy, eleven, and girl, seventeen, who is forced to take in a lodger after her ex-husband announces that his current wife is pregnant. (Less maintenance money, etc.)

Anyway, the daughter (Roxy) was basically a slut, who could have done with a firm hand or two. She also has an equally slutty friend, who had a habit of talking to her own mother like crap. She also needed a good kick up the arse.

The mother (Kate) becomes attracted to the apparently charismatic lodger, (Davis) although, she can tell that he has no interest in her as a woman.

One day, whilst Kate is trying to relive her youth by trying on her daughter’s slutty clothes, Davis knocks on the door. When Davis sees Kate in Roxy’s clothes, he gets turned on, and he’s so overcome with lust that he jumps on Kate, and they have jack-rabbit sex.

At this point, I am totally skeeved out, because quite obviously, the man has a thing for younger girls.

Anyway, things cool down a bit between them, and Kate starts noticing how much time Davis is spending ‘tutoring’ Roxy (Did I mention that the man is a teacher by the way?).

Kate, whilst feeling insecure about Davis’ affections for her, tells him that he has to find somewhere else to stay. At this point, Davis asks her to marry him (bear in mind that they’ve only been sorta seeing each other for two weeks).

Kate who is a fucktard above all fucktards, agrees to marry a man who only seems to find her attractive when she’s wearing teen clothes. A man she’s only known for two fucking weeks.

Davis and Kate then get married, quite quickly. Kate can’t believe that she’s managed to bag this seemingly perfect man, and is happy as a pig in shit. For about two minutes, at least.

One day, whilst she’s clearing out Davis’ old room, she finds some love letters. Kate, being a total fuckwit, and a disgrace to woman-kind in general, initially assumes that the letters are an homage to her.

As she reads on, she discovers that the letters are actually about her daughter Roxy (Give the fucking woman a medal). It turns out that Roxy and Davis had been secretly having an affair, and that Davis only asked Kate to marry him, so that he could stay close to Roxy. Stellar.

Mayhem and madness ensues, and the daughter ends up running away with Kate’s second husband.

Fuck me, rigid. I really hated this book.

What pissed me off the most about The Second Husband  was that there wasn’t a satisfactory come-uppance for Davis. Or Roxy, come to think of it. They’d basically messed up loads of lives, caused lots of heartache, and the author didn’t see fit to make them pay. That made me mad as hell. So mad in fact that I threw the fucking book out of the window. I think it will be a happy addition to the compost at the bottom of the garden.

Anyway, being a glutton for punishment, I read the next book on my list, Meg Hutchinson’s The Wanton Redhead. I’m too annoyed to even discuss that book right now, so I’ll wait until I’ve calmed down sufficiently enough to talk about it.

(Originally posted at Shiloh Walker’s blog)

Anyone who has spent some time online knows that written communication, by its very nature, lacks many of the cues that humans take for granted when interacting with each other. Body language, tone, and the normal restraint that face to face interaction with strangers brings into physical exchanges, are all missing from online discussions. (SmartBitch Candy and Dear Author Janet/Robin have both talked about this issue before me—as usual)

This translates into a helluva lotta room for misunderstandings between people who, in fact, may be quite close in their thinking about any given issue. Lacking real world context, though, it can be very difficult to separate oneself enough from the misperceptions to get to the actual meaning that the writer was trying to convey. (more…)

Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers.

Have His Carcase is only the second novel by Ms Sayers that I’ve had the pleasure of reading, thanks to the nagg… erm, recommendations of my significant other (thank you, love). While usually I would read all the Lord Peter Wimsey books in order of publication *coughabitanalretentivecough* I am first reading the four novels that focus more on his relationship with Harriet Vane. I can always (read: will) go back and read the rest of the series.

Oh, and for anyone who thought that poorly written, excessively dramatic blurbs afflicted only the romance genre, here’s proof of just how naïve that belief is:

The mystery writer Harriet Vane, recovering from an unhappy love affair and its aftermath, seeks solace on a barren beach—deserted but for the body of a bearded young man with his throat cut. From the moment she photographs the corpse, which soon disappears with the tide, she is puzzled by a mystery that might have been suicide, murder, or a political plot. With the appearance of her dear friend Lord Peter Wimsey, she finds a reason for detective pursuit—as only the two of them can pursue it.

Frankly, the only virtue of such a blurb is its brevity. Who in her right mind would seek solace on a barren beach? The facts are close enough though: Harriet Vane discovers the body and has the presence of mind to take photographs and collect some evidence, as well as taking notice of any and all things about it that she can, before trudging a few miles in search of way to let the police know. Of course, by the time she does, the tide has turned and the body is nowhere to be found for some days. (more…)

R.I.P Ben and Catherine Mullany…

Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Posted in: Real life crime

The unspeakably evil acts that man commits against his fellow man, sometimes leaves me breathless.

It saddens me that the greed that consumes man is so often the cause of our sorrows.

That’s from the gospel according to the NCP loonies.

I received this e-mail from one of their authors:

Hi, Karen. NCP just sent out a “marketing tips” letter to the internal author loop, this one explaining very seriously (and with absolutely no self-interest, of course) why it’s bad for authors’ careers to publish at multiple houses, and why authors should be publishing three or four books a year with NCP in order to develop the maximum possible fanbase.

Here’s an excerpt from the original post:

“In 2007, NCP sold around 150,000 ebooks. This year’s sales, contrary to the hopes and dreams of the truly evil, are up around 25%. Since we have, since our inception, pretty much doubled in sales every year, this is a low increase for us thus far this year, but we put this down to the choking economy—-not evil wishes. It’s difficult to get an exact figure on the customer base since many of our customers get a new customer number almost every time they visit, but with those sales figures it should be easy to see that we have a pretty respectable customer base.”

Totally selfless this lot, aren’t they?

Is it me, or do they seem to be getting more and more desperate?

You can pretty much guarantee that since they’ve given 25% as their annual increase, the numbers are probably a lot lower than that in reality.

Here’s hoping they go under soon.

I ask, because all of our friends have similarly aged neighbours, who they can do fun stuff with.

Not us. We seem to always get stuck with the coffin-dodgers whose idea of fun is polishing up their classic ‘circa 1925′ Jaguar to within an inch of its life. What’s up with that? Urrggh.

For once, it would be lovely to have neighbours who are at least the same age as us, so that we can invite them over to look at our fabulously refurbed kitchen, so that they can participate in the whole obligatory, “I’m so jealous of your kitchen” thing that people do.

Is that asking too much? Sheesh.

Tribute, by Nora Roberts

This most recent stand-alone novel by Ms Roberts is just one more in the long list of her titles going to my keeper shelves. Called a romantic suspense by most fans, this book tells two intertwined stories—the love story between the main protagonists, Cilla and Ford, and the mysteries surrounding the life and death of Cilla’s maternal grandmother, the late actress and singer Janet Hardy.

Here is the dustcover blurb for the hardcover edition:

Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a long way from Hollywood. And that’s exactly how Cilla McGowan likes it.

Cilla, a former child star, has found a more satisfying life working with her hands to restore homes from floor to ceiling—and has come here to her grandmother’s farmhouse, tools at her side, to rescue it from ruin. Sadly, no one had been able to save her grandmother, the legendary Janet Hardy. An actress with a golden voice and a tumultuous life, Janet entertained glamorous guests and engaged in decadent affairs—but died of an overdose in this very house more than thirty years ago. To this day, Janet haunts Cilla’s dreams. And during her waking hours, Cilla is haunted by her melodramatic, five-times-married mother who carried on in the public spotlight and never gave her a chance at a normal childhood. By coming to the East Coast, rolling up her sleeves, and rehabbing this wreck of a house, Cilla intends to take a shot at finding some kind of normalcy for herself.

Cilla has her work cut out for her—the house, once a place of comfort and simple rural beauty, is long neglected, crumbling, the grounds choked by weeds. Plunging into the project with gusto, she’s almost too busy and exhausted to notice her neighbor, graphic novelist Ford Sawyer—but his lanky form, green eyes, and easy, unflappable humor (not to mention his delightfully ugly dog, Spock) are hard to ignore. Determined not to carry on the family tradition of ill-fated romances, Cilla steels herself against Ford’s quirky charm, but she can’t help indulging in a little fantasy. (more…)

Pardon Me For Asking…

Friday, August 1, 2008
Posted in: WTF is that?

But what the hell is pony-play?

I was over at Samhain checking out the new releases, when this caught my eye:

Warning: This title contains the following: explicit sex, anal sex, bondage & discipline, pony-play.

Yippee, all of my favourite subject matters in one book.

I’m guessing this is a sexual act, but I find myself feeling quite disturbed, when trying to imagine what the logistics could be.

Anybody?