Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Friday News Roundup: Positivity in the face of poor quality...

eyeIn testimony before the House Judiciary, Google announced that it would allow other retailers to sell access to the out of print books (the infamous “orphan works”). This was a policy Google had in place regarding its in print books available through the Partners Program.

emoticon_smileThe North Carolina Literary Festival is starting today with a romance panel scheduled for September 13, at 11:10 am in Hamilton Hall. It is free and open to the public.

emoticon_tongueTime has an article about romances that is both insulting and positive. I love mainstream articles on romance. The insulting?

Famous for their bodacious bosoms and six-pack abs, they must be toned down in some markets. “We’d be likely to have more modest-looking covers in India,” where, says Hayes, “generally, women are less likely to want to carry around a book that is very explicit.” Not so in the West. “Increasingly, romance fiction is for women who move their hips when they read,” joked a Canadian journalist.

The positive? Harlequin’s revenues are up over 8% this year although some of that is related to the weakening of the Canadian dollar.

emoticon_smileNot to be outdone, a columnist for the Guardian in the UK confesses that Mills & Boon books are hard to write, mostly because she appears to despise them and herself for liking MB books.

I am now a little chastened. So I sit down to write. But I find I can’t do the sample chapter and synopsis. I know I am supposed to write about a believable heroine falling in love with a believable hero and having a believable happy ending. This is what the experts have told me; this is what the readers expect. But, to my surprise, I simply cannot do it. I can’t even begin to write a woman I like enough to give a lover to. Begin with myself, you say? How? There is nothing heroic about me. I am bilious and I smoke. I suddenly become convinced that I am too cynical to write this proposal properly and, in the pantheon of Mills & Boon readers, I am not quite sure where this leaves me. Ready to become a 60-book-a-month girl? Or does this self-loathing in itself make me a Mills & Boon heroine? A woman who does not believe herself loveable enough to write a hero for? Nah. Pass the axe.

eyeSilicon Alley Insider notes that Google is losing a number of key employees to other companies. Either Google is no longer the place to be or they just did a superior job of head hunting a few years back (or both). Possibly a third reason is they couldn’t eat Preeti’s food anymore. The chef of Google’s Charlie Cafe got the boot from Top Chef last week.

emoticon_smileMaking its way around the blogosphere is this opinion piece by Josh Olson who says that saying something positive about a work that is dreadfully bad is its own kind of cruelty.

To make matters worse, this guy (and his girlfriend) had begged me to be honest with him. He was frustrated by the responses he’d gotten from friends, because he felt they were going easy on him, and he wanted real criticism. They never do, of course. What they want is a few tough notes to give the illusion of honesty, and then some pats on the head. What they want–always–is encouragement, even when they shouldn’t get any.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to tell someone that they’ve spent a year wasting their time? Do you know how much blood and sweat goes into that criticism? Because you want to tell the truth, but you want to make absolutely certain that it comes across honestly and without cruelty. I did more rewrites on that fucking e-mail than I did on my last three studio projects.

This is what my husband says about Simon Cowell, that he is the kindest person on American Idol because some people shouldn’t have their singing aspirations fostered. This is true in every profession or avocation. Of course, whenever someone tells me that they always wanted to go to law school, I encourage them because frick, if I had to suffer through that hideous experience why shouldn’t they?

emoticon_smileRobin has a great post over at Romancing the Blog about the Bad Mother in romances. I always hate reading her blog posts on other blogs because they are always so interesting that I am jealous it isn’t posted here. Go forth and read:

Have you ever noticed how many bad mothers there are in Romance? And by "bad," I mean cruel, abusive, dismissively unfaithful, even violently and sexually perverse (Mary Jo Putney’s Dearly Beloved comes to mind here). I recently finished Judith James’s new release, Highland Rebel, and the hero, James Sinclair, describes his mother as "a wanton who played my father for a fool." Poppy’s mother in Eloisa James’s An Affair Before Christmas almost destroys her daughter’s will and her marriage through her cruelty, selfishness, and usurping interference. Min Dobb’s nagging, social-climbing and superficial mother in Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me does not, as I remember it, enjoy one moment in which the reader might feel sympathy or affection for her. And then there’s Skye Titan’s physically absent mother in Susan Mallery’s recent release, Lip Service, who committed suicide and then set about ensuring that her young daughter would be the one to find the body and the decidedly not reassuring note.

emoticon_smileThe UK finally apologizes to Alan Turing, genius codebreaker of WWII, whom they drove to his suicide in 1954. Harsh words? No, really just the facts. Alan Turing admitted to being gay and this was punishable by law in UK in the 50s. He was convicted and given the choice of imprisonment or chemical castration, the injection of female hormones. He chose the latter but ultimately could not live with this. We were deprived of Turing’s genius because of persecution for his sexual orientation. Perhaps the saddest thing is that Alan Turing’s of today are still persecuted in many real ways such as the US government’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and DOMA and others.

emoticon_tongueMrs. Seinfeld (who really even knows her name, Jessica, I think?) book about cooking healthy food can continue to earn profits without a penny going to Missy Lupine who had filed a copyright infringement case. The copyright infringement case has been dismissed. The part about Jerry Seinfeld comparing Lupine to an assassin? That’s still on.

eyeMediaBistro has information that Amazon is trying to obtain the content of books earlier to provide earlier access to readers for its “Search Inside” feature. I have high doubts that publishers will be rushing to take advantage of this program. Search Inside allows the consumer to view snippets of the book but not read the entire book. I can just see authors dismayed by the idea that consumer’s will be able to read excerpts of content out of context far in advance of the book’s sale.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

12 Comments

  1. Keira Soleore
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 13:17:27

    Twelve years after allowing Turing to die in shame and persecution, the U.S. instituted the Turing Award in his name on par with The Nobel. The second winner of the prize, in 1967, was Maurice Wilkes, a Brit, who is still alive today. Wonder what he has to say about Gordon Brown’s non-apology that calls the persecution “utterly unfair.” An atrocity is unfair?

    (Turing is also known as the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.)

  2. md
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 13:19:10

    We were deprived of Turing's genius because of his sexual orientation.

    I know it’s nitpicking, but I’d very much like to see you rephrase that to read, “We were deprived of Turing’s genius because of society’s reaction to his sexual orientation.”

    Of course, whenever someone tells me that they always wanted to go to law school, I encourage them because frick, if I had to suffer through that hideous experience why shouldn't they?

    LOL… My husband’s been so horrified by law school + twenty years of being a lawyer, he tells lawyer-wanna-bees to run far, far away from law school and never look back.

  3. Jane
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 13:27:37

    @md Very good point. I changed the post.

  4. Jessica
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 13:39:03

    “Increasingly, romance fiction is for women who move their hips when they read,” joked a Canadian journalist.

    Yes, because I am on an elliptical, you idiot.

  5. AQ
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 13:48:08

    Oh, Jessica, I think I love you. LOL

  6. whey
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 15:08:40

    Thanks so much for pointing out that news about Alan Turing (a personal hero of mine). He’s one of the main reasons we have these new-fangled gadgets called comp-u-ters (aka Homo’s Devil Machine! http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v16/wolfbrigade/gaycomputer.jpg ).

  7. DS
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 16:34:26

    @md:

    My husband's been so horrified by law school + twenty years of being a lawyer, he tells lawyer-wanna-bees to run far, far away from law school and never look back.

    They never believe you when you say that. They just think you don’t want the competition. *snort*

  8. Jocelyn
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 18:11:55

    Of course, whenever someone tells me that they always wanted to go to law school, I encourage them because frick, if I had to suffer through that hideous experience why shouldn't they?

    When I met my husband’s cousin, I’d just graduated from law school and he was about to start. I laughed and laughed at him all through that Thanksgiving and then he spent the next three years telling my husband “oh shit! she’s not just crazy!”

    (The rest of his family thinks he avoided them for three years because he’s mean. He loves me now, I’m the only one who didn’t hold the obsessive studying against him).

  9. Nadia
    Sep 11, 2009 @ 19:53:29

    Inviting people to review your “book” after posting the link to Josh Olsen…! LOL. Gutsy, aren’t you?

    Google sucks. Now they want to LICENSE on top of grabbing all our rights too? Argh.

  10. Joonigrrl/Leslie
    Sep 13, 2009 @ 12:53:33

    To make matters worse, this guy (and his girlfriend) had begged me to be honest with him. He was frustrated by the responses he'd gotten from friends, because he felt they were going easy on him, and he wanted real criticism. They never do, of course. What they want is a few tough notes to give the illusion of honesty, and then some pats on the head. What they want-always-is encouragement, even when they shouldn't get any.

    I’ve run into this same thing with a friend of mine. He gave me his book to read asking for real criticism, but I know he just wants confirmation that it’s good. The problem is that it needs a LOT of work. It’s an urban fantasy without any fantasy. . . or conflict or plot or even much dialogue, really. I’m now in the difficult situation of trying to give him my honest feedback without crushing him too hard.

  11. Anion
    Sep 13, 2009 @ 16:05:53

    I totally agree that sometimes the worst thing you can do for someone is encourage their literary aspirations when they clearly have no talent.

    But in practice…sigh.

    I once had a girl, a vague online pal, send me the novel she was writing. It was hideous. Really, honestly hideous. The hero was obviously based on Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones but was a horrible, stupid stalker. Exclamation points littered the ms like spikes outside Vlad Tepes’ place. It was all tell. The Meet Cute was based on a misunderstanding no one above the age of four would make.

    But what did I do? I asked if she was considering publication. She said no, she was just playing, so I told her she’d made a cute start and she should keep having fun, and let her get on with it. Had her goal been publication my answer might have been different. But it might not have been. To do a full critique would have cost me hours of time, and it would probably have just hurt her feelings anyway.

    Maybe I did the wrong thing. I still wonder. But every day I see bad writing samples and have to bite my tongue because I just don’t know what to say.

  12. Suzi-Q
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 15:27:42

    “Increasingly, romance fiction is for women who move their hips when they read,” joked a Canadian journalist.

    This is too scary…

    A woman’s history of vaginal orgasm is discernible from her walk….. CONCLUSIONS: The discerning observer may infer women’s experience of vaginal orgasm from a gait that comprises fluidity, energy, sensuality, freedom, and absence of both flaccid and locked muscles. Results are discussed with regard to previous research on gait, the effect of the musculature on sexual function, the special nature of vaginal orgasm, and implications for sexual therapy.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18637995

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