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Apparently EC are looking to change things up a bit by launching two new lines.

EC is launching two new Lines (genres) of Romantica at Ellora’s Cave!

These are targeted at specific niche markets, to expand our readership to women who might not be current customers, or who may be looking for something not reflected in our existing story types.

The first line is aimed at girls between 18-25 years of age: (more…)

I was sent documentary proof of the fact that Elloras Cave failed to pay their worker’s compensation premiums on at least two occasions in 2007.

Now this was either due to an incompetent financial controller, or they are struggling to pay those little pesky legally required extras. I have heard that sales are falling at EC, but I have no firm proof either way.

The sums were so paltry ($1000.96 & $571.85), that if EC couldn’t afford to pay them, you would have to seriously question how long they would be able to remain in business. Which leaves us with the option of the incompetent book-keeper or financial controller.

I’m not sure which is worse.

I blame Giselle Bundchen, that bitch really needs to learn about the benefits of standing orders and direct debit payments.

Tina Engler, Founder of Elloras Cave Talks About Her Marriage To A Convicted Murderer, And Airs Her Views On The U.S Penal System

JaynieR posted an interview with Tina Engler, AKA Jaid Black on her blog earlier today.

The purpose of the interview appears to be two-fold. Firstly, it seems to be an opportunity for Black to give her side of the story, in terms of her marriage to a *convicted felon, (if the link is broken, search for a David Roy Keen) serving time for shooting, and killing an ex-girlfriend; and secondly, to discuss her feelings, on the failings of the current U.S penal system, and its bias towards the poor, and the uneducated.

Ms Black’s decision to marry a prisoner, serving a life sentence for murder is her affair, and I feel that it would be remiss of me to publicly comment on my personal feelings relating to this matter.

In actual fact, what disturbed me most was Black’s assertion that locking up prisoners is tantamount to human trafficking, and that a person who deliberately takes a life, cannot be blamed for their actions.

When one reads the interview in its entirety, the delivery of her message is staunch, and unflinching, whilst her belief that she speaks a universal truth, appears to be unshakeable.

Ms Black writes:

“At the time the crime is committed, the male is typically aged 18-25, too poor to retain private counsel, and black. (My husband was poor and white.) Many possess very low IQs and/or are clearly mentally ill. The accused is typically severely depressed at the time of his arrest, and particularly in one-time crimes where violence is involved, suicidal.

During this phase they often don’t care about their own fates and wish they were the dead ones instead of the victim—a normal feeling given what they did and one that resurfaces over and over again throughout their lives. The reason for this extreme guilt and self-hatred is because there tends to be a true remorse amongt these men,”

What Black appears to be saying here, is that we should have more sympathy for convicted felons, because they are often young and foolish, and know not what they do. Plus, they are always remorseful after the fact.

Presuming that this is true for every 18-25 year old who decides to end the life of another, are we to take the route of excusing them for their crime, simply because they were poor, and perhaps their parents didn’t love them sufficiently enough to turn them into decent human beings?

She continues:

If released, they are the least likely group of men to wind up back in prison. (Recall we’re talking about one-time killers here, not serial killers. They are a different breed altogether”

Black’s assertion that felons who have only killed once, aren’t as dangerous as serial killers, seems to be a tad naïve, and slightly disturbing.

The statements that she makes all the way through this interview, at no time, takes into consideration, the rights of the victim, or their family.

“So here is the accused—young, poor, uneducated, morbidly depressed and suicidal—and he’s given a public defender who, if lucky, speaks to him for 20 minutes to an hour before representing him at a trial that will determine his fate forever. (For all the hyperbole one hears about men allegedly getting out on appeal, this happens very, very rarely.)”

Once again, without thought for the victim, who’s life has been deliberately cut short, (don’t forget we are talking murder here) Black suggests that being young, poor and uneducated are viable reasons for us to sympathise with somebody who’s taken the life of another.

“On the other side, representing the state, is a damn good, seasoned lawyer with his/her eye on bigger and better things. They want to be judges, politicians, or well-paid private attorneys. The glory they seek can come only from knowing how to play the game and by playing it well.”

OK, what have we learned thus far?

1. We have learned that every 18-25 year old who goes on to commit murder, is always truly remorseful after the crime has been committed.

2. The public defenders appointed for the accused, are always below par to say the least.

3. Every lawyer representing the state is a damned good lawyer, who doesn’t care about his/her cases, they just want to hit the big time.

Moving on:

“Amongst all this, where you commit a crime is probably more important than what you actually did, at least from a cold perspective. Florida (my husband’s state) and Texas are notorious for giving loooong sentences. In Florida, for instance, you can be found guilty of first degree (premeditated) murder if you had even a second to think about what you are doing. I don’t know too many people who can make calculated decisions in a single second, let alone premeditate a murder,”

In other words, if an armed burglar enters a house, without any intention of killing the occupants, but panics and shoots the homeowner, killing him, then according to Ms Black, this should not be treated as first degree murder, because the Burglar didn’t have time to think about pulling the trigger, he just panicked.

“Off to prison he goes. He has no voice, cannot vote, is locked in a cage and stripped of all human rights and dignity forever. He will be given substandard, third-world medical care by unqualified “physicians” who often times aren’t even legitimate doctors and/or do not speak the convicted prisoner’s native English tongue, making communication all but impossible. His meals are as substandard as his medical care, the fruits and vegetables often rotted.”

But what about the victim? What about the young woman who will not live to see her potential, what about the girl who will never become a bride, what about the girl who’s family were given a death sentence of sorts, when their child was brutally taken from them?

As a parent, if your child was murdered, would you really be worried about the fact that the perpetrator of that murder wasn’t getting the best healthcare, and that they had lost their right to vote?

“The government and big business make a lot of money off legalized human trafficking—a very scary reality. It costs approximately $27,000 USD per year to house, feed and clothe an inmate in Florida and produces a profit of over $100,000 USD per inmate per year for the state. (FYI: this info is readily available on the FL Dept of Corrections website.)”

Human trafficking? Black seems to have missed the point of correctional institutions altogether. Prisons are not supposed to be easy, and her assertion that the whole penal system was set up, just to make as much money as possible seem quite wild, and mostly unsubstantiated.

These places only exist because there are people out there who have no respect for life, who have no respect for other people’s possessions, and who have no respect for the notion of freedom. The financial gains made by the state, is merely a by-product of this.

In the question and answer segment that follows Black’s essay, she writes:

“All of us, with no exceptions, make hideous mistakes. Unfortunately, some of us also make tragic ones.”

Tragic would be killing a young woman who had her whole life ahead of her, one supposes?

“My kids love their (step) dad —my husband—beyond reason. In fact, when they overheard me on the phone talking about doing this interview in light of the emails being sent around (I didn’t know they were eavesdropping), both of them became extremely upset and were crying.”

As I stated earlier, Black’s decision to marry a man who was convicted of killing his girlfriend is her business, and I’m sure that her children do think of him as ‘Daddy’, but I would question whether or not every member of her family is as ecstatic over their relationship as she appears to believe.

“The issue for me as a wife and as an activist is this: Does a man deserve to spend the rest of his life alone and neglected, starved for human affection and attention, because of a deed he committed many, many years ago as a young, immature man?”

It is feasible that a person who commits such a heinous crime as a young man (23), would feel remorse. But is that a good enough reason for him/her to not be punished severely?

Black, insists that her husband is a good person, and that his incarceration is no longer of value to him or his victim.

I suggest that perhaps the victim’s parents would feel otherwise.

One has to wonder if Black would feel the same way, if it was one of her children who had been murdered by a man who was really, really sorry afterwards?

Via Anonymous

I’ve just finished reading NJ Walter’s newest EC book, Three Swords, One Heart, (which I enjoyed despite the fugly cover, but she’s one of my auto-buys anyway) and when I came to the end of the book, I noticed this:


I was going to let the blog settle down before I posted some of the responses from various EC authors, but what the hell, TTG and I are going away for the weekend, so might as well post, and run, whilst I can.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the responses from current EC authors:

“Crissy (Bashear) left EC under less than pleasant circumstances. She wasn’t treated fairly, in my opinion, however, she handled it in a very classy manner. She opened her own publisher and Samhain is doing wonderfully. They’ve already established a reputation for delivering quality books… AND getting the print books to print outlets.”

EC, on the other hand, doesn’t fulfill print orders. A print outlet orders so many copies of one popular author and EC would like them to purchase ALL authors so instead of sending the requested amount of the requested authors…they send a hodgepodge. Now if I went into the store and said I want a pair of silver earrings with pearls and they gave me brass with garnets, I’d be irritated as all I get out. When I’m buying, *I* get the choice of what I buy. Not the person selling it.”

“I know some people are growing unhappy with things there (no, I can’t name any names offhand. I’ve heard rumors, nothing more.) I know some policies are changing with regard to print and I think people are frustrated by the lack of info being given about that. And I think the growing sense that EC’s standards have slipped bothers everyone.

For me I think the problem is the incredibly long response time on subs. I think they should have closed to subs for six months some time ago to clear out the backlog, because talented writers are subbing elsewhere rather than wait. The only editor there I know is my own, but I know they were really crushing for editors a while back so can only guess they may have hired some people whose work wasn’t stellar.”

“It’s disheartening to see new authors coming in with numerous contracts. It’s discouraging to see less and less of the old standards anchoring the new release page.”

“I like my overworked EC editor. So far, I’ve not been asked to add any sex. Though, xxxx was revised from sensual to erotic. Btw, no anal sex was involved in heating the story up. And, as far as I know no new editors were hired in recent months.”

“First, editors are NOT allowed to change content of the books at all. They aren’t allowed to edit sentences, etc. Basically, they just line edit it seems. As you can tell from the quality of the books. Second, did you know that EC is selling their print rights? They just did it to one author and a few others are up for auction.
They are asking for LIFETIME contracts from newbie authors, and established authors they are asking for 10 years”

“Samhain has people who love the romance genre. EC has several people in the executive level, so to speak, that don’t care for romance at all. People who come from a background of sales and not romance, not publishing, nada. It’s hard to really sell a product unless you understand it. And if you hate it? Much harder.”

“It’s sad that EC seems to be losing more and more readers. Between you and me, I have to agree about the quality of writing of the new authors. I lament the loss of older, quality authors who no longer write for EC or in some cases release a book here and there. Those were the good old days. In conversations I’ve had with some author friends, we all privately agreed that it’s probably time to seek new opportunities elsewhere. SIGH.”

“Any EC author who says they haven’t been told to “sex it up” is lying. It’s a public message you see over and over in the company announcements, so it isn’t just on the editor-level. You learn by the end of the editing process on your first book to put smut in the forefront.

It has only gotten worse since NY started playing in EC’s pool. As an example, the book I am currently editing for them has xxxxx words and two sex scenes……, so it actually focuses on the plot. I took it to EC after my contract expired, and the first thing I heard was to add more sex–at least one more scene, and to really punch up the existing scenes. I guess I’ll have to add some anal or something. In contrast, I just read xxxxx’s “xxxxx” It has three sex scenes for the 100,000 word novel. EC never would have let her get away with that. It’s ridiculous. I can live with writing erotic romance as long as there is still plot and characters. But I didn’t sign on to write porn!”

“I know they are still selling ebooks and many are going to continue to buy for the titillation factor alone, but they’ve lost many readers who want it all, good hot sex and a good hot story. I know it for a fact because I hear it all the time, plus I rarely buy from them anymore unless it’s one of the books by my fave authors, which are fewer and fewer with them. EC sales are down and I guess they figure if they put out more and more, it will make up for it.”

“Yes, your review struck a chord because it underscores the current situation at EC. To begin with, I wasn’t happy about the Wednesday and Friday new releases but I’m thinking they need the money. But quantity doesn’t mean quality. That’s the problem.”

“When I started with EC…, Crissy was the publisher. I liked her and personally never had a problem with her. Since she left, a lot of changes have been instituted, most of which I don’t agree with. There are a ton of new authors onboard–some newbies, some previously pubbed–but not all of them are talented. They’re prolific, though, some like Carol Lynne with multiple books lined up with release dates well into August and September.”

“You’ll love this. EC told the authors the reason they are taking out all the commas is because commas make the readers stumble as they read, and the faster the reader reads, the more books we sell. Wow. I guess they don’t take into account that most adults know how to use commas fairly well.

They probably aren’t as adept with them as professional writers–note I say pros, not necessarily the authors EC is taking on–but they are going to notice when the commas aren’t there. That is just one of the many bitches I could share about EC. The print program is a joke. The checks are late half the time, but that’s all the post office’s doing. They flat-out lie, telling us the checks were sent on time, and then they show up weeks later with a postmark that’s three days previous. Uh huh. IF you dare ask about if/when the payments were mailed, you have fellow EC authors jumping to the company’s defense. …., brainwashed fools IMO.”

“I think they need to be reminded that their loyal readers want it all. This isn’t going to happen unless readers complain. Loudly. Very loudly. And not just on blogs. They’ve changed their methods in the past because of reader complaints, IE: they no longer accept F/F stories of any sort because readers didn’t like them. Even if it was just a brief scene in a book. They started looking for more interracial and more M/M because readers requested them. I’d like to think that if readers start strongly requesting better books, they’d do something about it.”

“EC could go back to the quality they once had. They still have some great authors. But the great authors are being forced to wait months and months for release dates because the schedule chock full of what they’ve been putting out lately. They aren’t going to make that change unless they are made very aware that is needed. I’d like to see it happen before it’s too late.”

“I didn’t even get the cover until a week before release, which gave me no time to ask for changes, basically tying my hands. I wasn’t able to do any advertising or promo, which is almost impossible to do without a cover. But hey, I smiled and said thanks. I already knew bitching wasn’t going to get me anywhere.”

“I wanted to compliment you on drawing attention to the craphole EC has become. Unfortunately, I can’t publicly support you…In private, I’ll tell you they couldn’t manage their way out of a paper box with a flashlight. Bunch of incompetent idiots running that place. I’ve had the fortune to work with two really great editors at EC, but they both left long ago.”

“Unfortunately, the powers that be at EC can get very petty when they perceive one of their authors is being critical of them. Unfair to the point that they threaten legal action, claiming libel, slander and whatever. I don’t really want or need that trouble. So far, they haven’t ever caused me any trouble and I fly under their radar. I want to keep it that way. High seller or not, if some people at EC get ticked off at me, they will cause me trouble. They’ve done it for a couple of their highest sellers so I’m under no illusions it wouldn’t happen to me.”

“I will always be grateful for EC for giving me my start, but as long as it is financially feasible, I will not be writing anything else for them….after I finish my contracted commitments.”


“You can use my words, but not my name, please. I’m a coward and I’m scared of EC. I’ll tell you right now that they’re so incredibly litigious most of their authors are too scared to speak out (hence my wish to remain anonymous). That’s why you get such a love-fest online.”

It’s little things, like EC’s ongoing war against punctuation. I had all the colons and semi-colons taken out of my book, and a lot of the commas too (for instance a character saying, “Karen, wait a minute,” would be changed to “Karen wait a minute.” Just…looks wrong to my eye). This is EC policy, actually sent out in their Style Sheet.

“Any request takes days to be answered, and if it involves Raelene, often weeks. Asking readers to email her will probably have little effect since her inbox is apparently the size of Texas. I had a couple of royalty requests…. that were either ignored or refused. The first cover I was given looked like it had been done in 10 minutes with Photoshop and bore little resemblance to the painstakingly written cover request I’d been encouraged to fill out in detail.”

“The bigger issue, the one that really annoys me. EC now issues, what, eight e-books a week? But hardly anything is getting into print. Every now and then we get a marvellously exciting email about some new print partner, but the fact remains that EC hasn’t made a print schedule available to authors since August last year.”

“We were told we’d be notified 10-12 weeks before our books went into print, and that as Raelene had had so many emails asking for more details, we weren’t to ask any more. That’s right, we were told not to ask when our books would be coming out. No matter that any promotion worth its while in a big publication needs far more than 3 months’ notice. There wasn’t even a ballpark figure to go on.”

“EC has such a tight grip on contracts that getting your rights back is now relegated to the status of mythic legend, and according to rumour they’re getting worse, adding sneakier clauses (and remember newbie authors are way, way too poor to afford lawyers) and often refusing to negotiate. Still I’ve learned my lesson now… EC is treating authors like mushrooms these days: kept in the dark and fed on shit.”

So, there you have it, reading the above, and the numerous comments on previous posts leads me to conclude that something is definitely awry at EC. To borrow one of my mum’s favourite phrases; A thousand flies on shit can’t be wrong.

Will things change? Probably not. Do they care? I’m sure they do, but if they aren’t willing to change things up a bit for their readers, then it becomes a moot point.

Sex sells, and it sells well, but even the people who enjoy smut for the sake of it will start to get very tired, when nothing else is offered up.

This really isn’t a witch hunt. I have spent far too much money at EC to be slating them just for the sake of it. I simply want quality to win over quantity. I simply want authors who know the difference between erotic romance and porn. I simply want editors, who know what the word means.

I will happily continue to buy their books, if the standards improve. Whether that will happen, remains to be seen.

As for their mutually beneficial relationship with RT’s Kathryn Falk? Hmmmm….

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.

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.