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That boat is still sinking

Remember Karen’s post, way back when, about Jill Noble leaving Noble Romance?

There was a longish thread where at least one Anom (not my typo, people) defended poor lovely Jill and the publisher as a whole. Pretty much everyone else, from Erastes to Brita Addams, J. S. Wayne to Lori Green, and other Noble Romance authors, were pretty pissed at a) how Jill Noble had abandoned ship, and b) how things didn’t change by much with her exit.

(You can still read some of the posts by checking the link round up at Bryl R Tyne–some of them take you to dead air, but the ones still standing are worth spending a few minutes on)

Well, this is close to a year later, and things are…yeah, you guessed, pretty much the same. Different flavor, same bullshit. Jane at Dear Author shared a bit of what one author is going through, trying to get her work distributed to the venue where it sells best.

Charming, eh?

And then we learned some more (from author Kari Gregg):

For the love of all that is holy, yes, AVOID NOBLE ROMANCE. You can read about my experience with Noble releasing a second edition paperback of my Spoils of War that is a grossly inferior and substandard product here. Well, that has details I was willing to give the public, anyway. Noble released the second edition paperback in October 2012 without notifying me so I was totally unaware it existed or that there were problems until April 2013. Dimensions that are approx. 11?x9?, no title page, no page headers, no page numbers, no chapter breaks…and readers had been buying that atrocity for six months. Good God.

I’m filing a claim against Noble in Georgia magistrate court, not only due to the second edition frankenpod but also issues I haven’t mentioned or discussed in public. Unless writers would like to follow my footsteps into court…no. Just no. Stay away.

(read more here)

Authors, it behooves you to beware. The rest of us stare in amazement at the shenanigans and implosions, but these are your careers. Even in the many cases where the writing income is minimal, it’s surely not worth the headache, ulcer and general aggravation, right?

Edited to add: author Brita Addams has a current post on her own issues with Noble Romance here

Further edit, May 3rd: author J. S. Wayne posts about breaches of contract and reversion of rights


Edited to correct spelling–apologies to both authors!

Willaful Review: Painted by the Sun by Elizabeth Grayson (TBR Challenge)


Sensuality rating: Steamy

The Challenge: Read a book by a “New To Me” author.

To find a book for this challenge, I  checked out my print TBR, sorted by oldest received. It was an eye-opening experience. Book after book — more than 50 — by authors whom I’ve glommed, many I’d consider favorites. And I’ve owned these books for years.

It helped me get tough when I finally got to the NTM authors. Was this someone I wanted to spend time on, time I could be spending on unread Jo Goodman or Laura Kinsale books? I almost always go through a few culls before settling on my final TBR challenge book, but this time, I got rid of 7 books first. My most effective TBR challenge month so far!

Painted by the Sun managed to catch my restless attention with an unusual premise: the heroine is searching for her missing child, who was sent away on an “orphan train”  ten years previously. I’ve read many children’s books about the orphan trains, but I think this is the first time I’ve encountered them in a romance.  The premise is also interesting because Shea is working as a traveling photographer, a complex profession in 1875. The title comes from a quote by Ambrose Bierce: “Photography is a picture painted by the sun.”

While trying to take a picture of a hanging, Shea fall afoul of Judge Cameron Gallimore, a man who’s pretty sick of having to sentence people to death. He puts her camera — and her — into temporary custody. At first Shea is heartsick over the missed financial opportunity, but then comes around to the judge’s point of view: “she didn’t want to be able to make hundreds of copies of what she had seen, or relive what happened every time she did. She didn’t want to implant that image in anyone else’s mind…. She was a photographer, a business woman, not a mercenary. She was proud of what she did, and she would never have been able to be proud of this.”

Shea and Cameron next meet under even more fraught circumstances, when she saves him from men trying to take revenge for their friend’s death, and is badly wounded in the process. After Cam takes her home to be nursed by his housebound sister Lily,  Shea comes to care for the whole family and deeply envies their close bonds — especially with Cam’s ten year old son, Rand.

I can’t talk much more about the plot without spoilers, but I will say it’s very heavy in coincidences; by the middle of the book, the implausibility of it all was getting exasperating. By the end however, the threads had all been woven together with surprising delicacy, and I was once again charmed as I was at the beginning.

There’s a lot of heavy stuff going on in this story; every character has at least one source of major angst in their life, much of it centered around the Civil War. It’s a surprisingly easy, flowing read, but I think that’s partially because many of the angsty plot points get shortchanged.  The slow-growing romance is very tender and supportive, and the various child characters tugged effectively at my heartstrings,  but overall I don’t think it quite reached its potential. I’m giving it 3 1/2 stars; it’s out of print but available through paperbackswap.com or you can buy it used here.

Published by Bantam Books. Review copy owned by me for so long, I don’t remember how I got it.

Got My Mojo Shrinking

Got My Mojo Shrinking

Sunday, April 7, 2013
Posted in: willaful



About two weeks ago, GoodReads announced they had been swallowed bought by Amazon, and I’ve haven’t written anything worth calling a review since. Even an exceptionally good book (Big Boy by Ruthie Knox) just got a short paragraph out of me. I’ve dried up.

My feelings are confused, not particularly logical, and definitely hypocritical. I buy stuff from Amazon, more than I want to, because it’s so freakin’ convenient and their customer service is so good. I don’t usually buy ebooks from them, because I prefer to support the standard epub format, but I’ll give in to a good sale. I’ve even left the occasional review.

But — and it’s a big but — I use a different name there, and I don’t usually review books. And I couldn’t even tell you why, exactly, except that I don’t like their reviewing culture, and I don’t like their untrustworthy reviews, and I just don’t want to be a part of it.

And now I’m a part of it whether I like it or not. Unless I give up all the benefits GoodReads has brought into my life.

I’m just depressed as hell, and who can write reviews when they’re depressed? I can’t even get up the energy to make corrections on GoodReads anymore. So there are typos and spelling errors, who cares… it’s not my home anymore, I don’t need to keep it tidy. (I suspect I’m not the only person feeling this way, since I seem to see more errors than I used to. And though only one of my friends has officially left the site, my updates feed has slowed down, too.)

GoodReads had a unique spirit. People could say what they wanted to say, rate how they wanted to rate. It was all about the users and how they wanted to use the site. That’s spirit has been eroding for quite a while now, and there’s little doubt it will erode further.

But I can’t say this is about just one thing. It’s partially rage that unpaid librarians did so much work for nothing. It’s partially fear of change. It’s partially not wanting words that I’ve poured my heart and soul into to be out there for Amazon to use as they will in their quest for world domination.  I recognize that I get something from GoodReads in return for the content I provide, and that it should be a fair exchange. But it doesn’t feel like a fair exchange any more.

Really, there’s no point in even trying to find the right words, the right reason. I just don’t have it in me to review books right now. And maybe it’ll come back, and maybe it won’t.