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

Monday News Roundup: Angela James Leaves Samhain & other stuff that’s...

emoticon_surprisedFirst up is the news that Angela James, former executive editor of Samhain, is joining the Quartet Press folks. I think QP means business, no? In other QP news, Anne Frasier aka Teresa Weir is going to be releasing Bad Karma in ebook form through Quartet. Under the penname of Teresa Weir, Frasier wrote some fabulous romances with unexpected depth and emotion. I can’t wait to enjoy a re-reading binge of Weir books.

emoticon_smileLinda Howard will be at the Borders True Romance blog tomorrow. She blogs, among other things, why she hasn’t written about Nick, the daughter of Zane and Barrie McKenzie. I spent the last two weeks re-reading many of my favorite Linda Howard books. I wish that Harlequin would re-release her Kell Sabin series because that remains one of my all time favorite series. I didn’t love White Lies like Midnight Rainbow, Diamond Bay and Heartbreaker. Of the three, I think Midnight Rainbow is my favorite and not because the heroine’s name is Jane.

eyeFiled under “Why I Would Be Glad if Newspapers Died” is this hugely distasteful review of JC Penney store by Cintra Wilson in NYTimes.

It took me a long time to find a size 2 among the racks. There are, however, abundant size 10’s, 12’s and 16’s. The dressing rooms are big, clean and well tended. I tried two fairly cute items: a modified domino-print swing dress with padded shoulders by American Living (aRalph Lauren line created for Penney’s) and a long psychedelic muumuu of a style generally worn by Rachel Zoe. Each was around $80; each fit nicely and looked good. I didn’t buy either because I can do better for $80, but if I were a size 18, I’d have rejoiced.

AND herein lies the genius of J. C. Penney: It has made a point of providing clothing for people of all sizes (a strategy, company officials have said, to snatch business from nearbyMacy’s). To this end, it has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on. It’s like a headless wax museum devoted entirely to the cast of "Roseanne."

And then this article in the Washington Post about a family struggling to make ends meet with a household income of $300,000.00.

Laura Steins doesn’t mind saying that she is barely squeaking by on $300,000 a year. She lives in a place where the boom years of Wall Street pushed the standard of living to astonishing heights. Where fifth-graders shop at a store called Lester’s that sells $114 tween-size True Religion jeans. Where a cup of fresh spinach and carrot juice called the Iron Maiden costs $7.95.

As a vice president at MasterCard’s corporate office in Purchase, N.Y., she earns a base pay of $150,000 plus a bonus. This year she’ll take home 10 percent less because of a smaller bonus. She receives $75,000 a year in child support from her ex-husband. She figures she will pull an additional $50,000 from a personal investment account to “pick up the slack.”

The nanny and property taxes take $75,000 right off the top, but Steins considers both non-negotiable facts of her life and not discretionary. When she bought out her husband’s share of the house after their 2006 divorce, she assumed the costs of keeping it afloat — $8,000 to $10,000 a month. There’s a pool man, a gardener and someone to plow the snow from the quarter-mile-long driveway.



Apparently the Amish trope is the fastest selling in Christian romance.

A hero’s greatest desire is often to teach an English, or non-Amish, heroine about Jesus. Plots may stir an irresistable urge to bake rhubarb pie.

Most Amish-themed romance novels are written by non-Amish authors and are aimed primarily at an evangelical Christian readership. While Amish women do read them, leaders of Amish communities in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have actively discouraged or banned them.

The exceptions are books by an Amish woman from Franklin County, whose self-published novels are about to be picked up by a major publisher.

Read more:Post Gazette

emoticon_smileHeather at the Galaxy Express takes a look at whether there are just too many female pilots in Science Fiction Romance.

But are heroines with the innate ability to pilot starships really such a cliché? Already?


But I do wonder: Are these heroines any different from all the heroes with the same ability? After all, in the stories of the authors noted above, both male and female characters possess such talents (even if only in passing reference). Why does it become a plot device when heroines across several books share a similar ability?

emoticon_tongueA poster at Huffington Post wonders whether publishing has abandoned men because he can’t sell his male oriented anthology of manhood. Via GalleyCat.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. Elise Logan
    Aug 17, 2009 @ 21:37:01

    The JC Penney article annoyed me. The Post article made me want to smack people around.

    I am really looking forward to what Quartet Press will do. They have a stellar team.

    With regards to female pilots in SF- I think it’s just a case of flipping the norm. If the norm is male pilots here and now, then flipping it makes for instant noticeable differences in the world. It puts women in a position of power and authority. On the other hand, is it really the case that there are so many women pilots? Or is it just that Heather is noticing them because they are different? I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s an interesting question.

    With regards to Linda Howard (*panting and drooling occur here*), I agree completely with you about Sabin. Fortunately for me, I have all four of the Sabin books. And I guard them jealously. I actually recently blogged about the fact that I reread them often.

    And I’m not even going to touch the Amish thing. I think I’m having a Witness moment.

  2. DeeCee
    Aug 17, 2009 @ 22:13:24

    Oh gag. The Washington Post article was such a sob fest…NOT! I did however like the quote from a member of the group, “I look around the world — Darfur, India — and I don’t feel that sad for us.” True.

    And that NYT…WTF? What happened to quality control?

    It’s no wonder there are so many snobs.

  3. Sam DG
    Aug 17, 2009 @ 23:14:29

    I was all set to come comment with glee about the Teresa Weir stuff when I read the utter ass-hattery of the spoiled and thin. Someone needs to tell the size 2 snob that while her ass may be in shape, her soul has obviously died from starvation.

    Ditto the poor me Mastercard MasterBitch.

  4. Kaetrin
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 01:12:57

    Congratulations to Angela James – sounds like Quartet is gonna be releasing some awesome stuff – I’m looking forward to it.

    @ Jane – I was in my local KMart recently and saw a trade paperback of a Linda Howard double – I can’t remember the first story (I don’t think it was a Kell Sabin one but I could be wrong…) but the second one was definitely Diamond Bay – so at least in Australia they are kind of re-releasing the Kell Sabin series.

  5. medumb
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 02:10:50

    Quartet is certainly generating some buzz and it is going to be interesting to see whether they actually manage to do anything new and different.

    OMFG to the NYT I want to biatchslap that woman, followed closely by her editors.

    Totally speechless at the 300,000 woman. Just.. in awe.

    Women pilots from my reading, seems fairly common, and I would like to see some more roles provided. But don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing?? Will have to read the post.

    Maybe that bloke should look into getting more blokes reading more than one book a year.

  6. katiebabs
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 06:03:25

    Can’t survive on an income of $300K?? Give me a break! Sounds like she needs a part time job.

    The tone of that article in the NY Times about JC Penny’s was so distasteful.

  7. MicheleKS
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 06:23:43

    I actually snickered a little when I read the NYT article and the size-2 author had trouble finding clothes in her size. Now she has an idea of how the other half lives. I feel plus-size women get a lot of the same crap as romance readers so as both I just shrug and say ‘whatever’. This idiot obvoiusly doesn’t live in the real world.

    And I have no sympathy for someone making $300K a year and not being able to live on it. Just goes to show you that money and brains don’t equal common sense.

    And the Kell Sabin books are probably my favorite Linda Howard books. I have two-in-one editions of Midnight Rainbow/Diamond Bay and Heartbreaker/White Lies and no, I don’t loan them out. I wonder if she’ll ever return to those characters or maybe their offspring. I would loved to have read about Nick McKenzie but without Wolf and Mary it just wouldn’t be a McKenzie book.

  8. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 06:42:09

    The article by Cintara Wilson still makes me want to grit my teeth. Just loved her tone…if you’re not a size two, you’re a moo-moo wearing cow. Bite me. Please.

    You know, I can think all sorts of people who’d just love to ‘squeak by’ on $300k a year. Hell, I would love to ‘squeak by’ on that. Maybe she should really try to rough it…see what it would be like to be one of the millions who have to get by on under $50k. Even $75k.

  9. RStewie
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 07:33:50

    I’m very interested in what QP is going to come out with.

    That woman makes more in child support than I make in salary. I’m speechless.

  10. KeriM
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 07:35:11

    I had read the entire article about the woman barely making it on 300k yesterday and boy was my eyes rolling the entire time I was reading the thing. The sacrifices and cutbacks she was having to do in order to make ends meet, well they were shocking!!! (total sarcasm here)

    Although I did get a chuckle right there in the end, about her son’s stinky shirt and the woman of the house and the maid looked at each other and was thinking about the other, well why in the hell didn’t you wash it!

  11. DS
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 08:24:51

    Well, Melissa Scott wrote the Silence Leigh Trilogy in the 80’s about a woman pilot– it’s a really interesting method of space navigation in that it involves the skill and training to manipulate archetypal images. There’s some alchemy and something similar to the Portuguese Book of Routes involved. Also the heroine ends up being forced by circumstances into a marriage of convenience with two men.

    Whatever happened to Melissa Scott? She wrote some great space opera.

  12. Missy Ann
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 08:33:30

    1. NYT can go f*ck themselves with an obese mannequin.

    2. Washington Post, what you couldn’t find a man who doesn’t understand what a budget is? Of course not, it’s women who spend spend spend. And live off money that men have earned (child support).

    3. How else are you supposed to get around space?! Is a woman that driving a car a plot device? “Here big strong Captain Man, I own the ship and all but could you please drive? You’re just so much better at it than little ol’ me. And could you teach me to parallel park? I’m just no good at it. teehehe”

  13. Dawn
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 08:46:13

    Ugh – worst line of the WP article: ” … asking the painter if she can delay paying him until next month. ”

    Because that’s how you squeak by on 300K/yr – by shafting people who are probably only making 50K/yr.

  14. Jayne
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 08:54:51

    And I'm not even going to touch the Amish thing. I think I'm having a Witness moment.

    LOL, before my local Waldenbooks closed, I’d occasionally peruse the Inspy section and every other book seemed to be about the Amish. I was never inspired to try a single one of them.

  15. Nat
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 10:53:59

    @Jane “Why does it become a plot device when heroines across several books share a similar ability?”

    EXACTLY! Mon dieu, if I get any more frustrated over this review, my head, it’s going to be all explodey. As I said over at Heather’s Galaxy Express, it burns my toast that women pilots would *have* to be a cliché convention. It can’t be, you know, plausible to have that many women pilots. Mfft.

    @Shilow “Just loved her tone…if you're not a size two, you're a moo-moo wearing cow. Bite me. Please.” Shilow, madame, would you marry me?

  16. Lori
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 11:20:45

    Am I the only one who felt a little uncomfortable discovering that Amish romances written by Christians are an Inspy trope? To me it feels a bit too much like white authors writing Indian romances of the Noble Savage Lurve variety. Ick.

    I’m not even going to comment on the NYT and Post articles because thinking about that much stupidity and self-involvement at one time gives me a migraine.

  17. LizJ
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 12:03:19

    The Amish thing is true, but it’s certainly not a new thing. Just take a look in the Inspirational fiction section of your local Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. It seems like most inspirational romances are either Amish, Western historicals, and contemporary suspense.

    I guess from a lifestyle standpoint the Amish are really “safe.” Your characters aren’t going to play cards or go to R-rated movies.

  18. Midknyt
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 12:21:36

    Geez. Well, for starters I would be one of the plus-size cows. Yes, how dare they finally provide our sizes in stores! The shame! I also love the crack on how the obese mannequins need insulin injections. Just because I’m not a size two does not automatically mean I’m unhealthy. (I -gasp- don’t have diabetes, or high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Actually, Im fairly certain that I am both healthier and go to the gym more than this size two toothpick, since my best friend is a natural size zero and my size 20 ass is healthier than she is. Ugh.

    I loved the article about the poor women who’s only living off of $300,000. I especially liked the contridictions, like “Whatever fantasies the underclass may have of the good life — of small dogs in purses and Dolce and Gabbana — are not on display here,” followed by sentences like “she ditches her Volvo SUV for her Pontiac Solstice convertible and heads for a party in the Hamptons.” Or her coming down to her prepared breakfast in her Armani suit. So there’s no Dolce and Gabbana, but there is Armani. Yeah, there are no displays of the good life there at all.

    My family survived off less than 10% of what this woman is, so I can’t even imagine how you can spend that much money in a year. Of course, I still drive my 1995 Geo Metro, so that might be part of it. I imagine it’s pretty tough. Maybe I should send her some of our classic recipes like Ramen Casserole for her nanny chef so she can afford the $200 for her colorist? It must be awful to not have perfectly dyed hair.

  19. whey
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 18:31:43

    I do NOT follow editors. But, yeah, I’ll be checking out Quartet Press’ lineup. (Poor Samhain, losing a good one there.)

  20. XandraG
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 19:15:56

    Cintra Wilson gets Epic Fail for referencing Voltron in that article. As if she’s got the chops to play geek in her narrow little size-two ass. Ninja, please.

    And Amish romances? Gives me one of those vaguely squicky “noble savage” vibes, too. But makes me really really really want to see the kind of cover snark over at Smart Bitches the subgenre begs for.

    Female pilots too many in SF? No more than there are too many female drivers in contemporaries. Or female horsewomen in historicals. It’s just a way to get around. And one would hope that in the future, we aren’t so gender-constricted. Men aren’t the only ones entitled to have a bad feeling about something.

  21. Ann Bruce
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 21:37:10

    Regarding the WP article: CNN did a series of articles of people surviving on X amount per annum. Incomes ranged from $40k/a to $600k/a. The excuses in the higher end ranged from “But we live in Manhattan!” to “Organic food is a need, not a want.” Madre de Dios.

    Anyway, I find it hard to believe a VP for a Fortune 500 company–admittedly, it’s near the bottom of the ranking–has a base salary of only $150k/a. Even if she’s a junior VP, that’s positively anemic.

  22. SandyEB
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 10:20:16

    Actually, a Christian writing inspirational romances featuring the Amish makes sense to me. For a Christian struggling to lead a Christ-centered life in a world that often seems obsessed with trivial matters and material things, the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle must seem very appealing.

    I can see how someone who doesn’t understand the basics of the Christian faith might find it a snarky subject. But I think anyone who has ever studied the teachings of Jesus might see a connection between some of Jesus’ teachings and the way the Amish practice their Christianity.

  23. Lori
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 12:22:10

    Don’t assume that discomfort with Amish romances stems from a lack of understanding of Christianity. In my case that’s certainly not the issue.

    Also, many of the people who write and read Noble Savage romances are attracted to certain aspects of Native culture. That doesn’t make the trope less insulting to Indians.

  24. DS
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 13:57:41

    I read a very good suspense/thriller novel this spring– Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo. It was set in Ohio Amish county and the author did a very good job (I thought) with the plot involving a number of persons who were Amish or connected to Amish families. The heroine was a woman who had not entered the church after her rumspringa which created serious tension with members of her family, who were baptised into the church.

    I think it is possible for an author to deal sensitively with Amish characters but I don’t think popularity in a romance trope has ever lead to that– look what it has done to vampires, governesses and members of the British nobility.

  25. Lori
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 14:14:06

    The heroine was a woman who had not entered the church after her rumspringa which created serious tension with members of her family, who were baptised into the church.

    “Serious tension” doesn’t really cover that situation. If an Amish teen chooses not to join the church after rumspringa she is shunned. That means that the entire community, including her family, is forbidden to have any communication or contact with her.

  26. Thursday Midday Links: Is Google Book Settlement Dead? | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 10:04:23

    […] romances being hot.  Business hot, not content hot.  We actually discussed this briefly in a post a couple of weeks ago. Most bonnet books are G-rated romances, often involving an Amish character who falls for an […]

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