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

Thursday News: Fern Michaels wins a defamation suit; Harlequin revenues down;...

Today marks the first day in our August giveaway extravanganza. I don’t know why but I thought it might be fun to solicit authors and publishers to see if they would give away stuff to the Dear Author community. I opened it up to anyone, including self published authors so long as the SP authors had editors. We had a great response. Over 70 authors and publishers agree to provide books, gift certificates and even swag to our readers.

Every day we’ll feature a new giveaway. I hope you come and celebrate reading with us during the month of August.

If I wind up dead, please know that Mary Kuczkir, the author Fern Michaels, more (than) likely arranged for it to happen. Please don’t respond. I want a black/white record. Shelley Dangerfield.

This email was forwarded by Craig Dilley to a website that promotes romance authors. Dilley was found to have defamed Michaels because they could not prove the truth of the statement – that Michaels was trying to murder the Shelley Dangerfield.

Even though the judge found that Michaels had suffered no damages, he still ordered the defamer, Craig Dilley, to pay $75,000.

Attorneys for Michaels, who filed the lawsuit under her legal name, Mary Kuczkir, argued that the writer of almost 100 bestsellers was not a public figure. Michaels claimed she was unable to write for six months and lost $850,000 in income due to her distress. Seventh Judicial Circuit Judge Roger Couch ruled “there was no apparent adverse effect on her earning capacity,” nor was there evidence her book sales suffered or she was denied publishing privileges due to the email.

The facts in the case are so sketchy that it’s hard to make out exactly what the claim was. Defamation per se doesn’t need any proof of damages and calling someone a murderer might fall under that category so the $75,000 may be punitive damages. Again, hard to say and frankly I find the verdict/ruling a bit ridiculous.

One of the reasons for the decline was a weakness in the direct to consumer sales.  Yahoo! Finance

Jennifer Ashley’s shifters wear collars that allow the human government to control their emotions to a certain extent. Collars or other microchips could be used to do more than simply suppress emotion or give off an electrical surge to control instinct. Clearly advanced technology suggests that full control over a lesser being could be done through harnessing EEG signals and processing them. Yay??? ExtremeTech

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. Ren
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 05:27:08

    Three months of real-life dating under ordinary circumstances seems ludicrously fast to be throwing the L-word around, given the shallowness and degree of fakery involved in the dating ritual. Only three months in, you’re still getting a looooooooooooooot of The Performance and may have seen very little of the real person.

    Stories in general throw characters into higher-than-average-pressure situations specifically for the purpose of showing what they’re really made of, so a shorter timeline can be plausible by virtue of stripping away the bullshit.

    (Then again, there are times characters could have been courting for fifty years, and I still wouldn’t believe they belong in the same zip code, much less proclamations of love, so…)

  2. Jayne
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 06:15:15

    Harvard has created a way for us to control rat tails.

    Oh, thank God for this. Up til now, all my rats had defied my attemps to control their tails. But now I’ve got ’em those little bastards!

  3. Cindy
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 07:25:15

    Harlequin needs to rethink their new awful covers that makes every category line look the same. The romantic suspense line looked borderline creepy, the colors are dull and nothing attracts the reader’s attention. I emailed them last month and told them the covers were horrible. And you have to really look to see what line the book belongs in since there is nothing distinguishing historical from suspense from Blaze. Some lines are also getting more difficult to find. I can’t find the historicals at Wal-Mart or BAM.

  4. Patricia
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 08:11:50

    Is three to four months really instalove? Fast, sure, but I wouldn’t call that instant. Perhaps I’m biased. My husband and I decided to get married after four months of dating. (Although we did wait two years to actually walk down the aisle — you know, just in case it was the hormones talking.) Fourteen years and four kids later, we’re still going strong.

  5. Jill Sorenson
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 08:27:25

    I’d like to see Harlequin experiment with covers and pricing. It seems like both are geared towards print buyers. Covers are designed to pop on physical shelves and prices are set at a point that doesn’t make ebooks more attractive/cheaper than print. The digital-only releases (Carina) seem reasonable to me, but I notice more readers grabbing those 99 cent deals from other publishing houses (Loveswept, Entangled). Now authors are joining forces to self-pub box sets. I don’t know if there is a limit to the number of titles that can be bundled for 99 cents. Maybe we’ll get 99 books for 99 cents. I realize that publishers can’t stay in business if they set prices too low, but I don’t know how else they can compete.

  6. Lada
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 08:28:21

    @Jayne: Heh. Needed that.

  7. MarieC
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 09:06:28

    I’m partial to “bread and butter” (the phrase, not the position. Not that there’s anything wrong with the position. Anyway…)

    I love that!

  8. Amanda
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 09:36:08

    I use to read harlequin after harlequin, now I think its about 4 or 5 a year. I am rarely in the mood and when I am they are just not many harlequin authors are around anymore that I am familiar with. Also there is not as much info out about newer harlequin authors and their books. I like knowing there is a good chance I will like the new author (at least new to me) before I am spend money on them. Especially at those prices.

  9. Cindy
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 10:22:08

    @Jill That’s the thing. This new cover design that Harlequin has gone with does not pop at all. The colors are dark, dull and lifeless. Half of the time the models look creepy or at the least disturbing (don’t know if it’s the colors, the pose or what), the name of the line is tiny, and when you’re like me and really only buy Intrigue and Historical (and once in a while, romantic suspense), that’s a problem. And if I’m not mistaken, they’ve adopted the same type of covers for Love Inspired.

  10. Allie
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 10:22:46

    “Harvard creates brain-to-brain interface, allows humans to control other animals with thoughts alone”

    The Borg is here.

  11. Lynnd
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 10:43:28

    The Harlequin website is also extremely cumbersome and ackward to use. There book descriptionos also leave a lot to be desired. I rarely shop there anymorre unless I want a spccific book that is on sale early. Given the size of my TBR, this is a very rare occurence these days.

  12. Amanda
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 11:52:02

    If I remember correctly Harlequin use to only offer DRM epubs on their site, which was something else that made me not want to buy ebooks from their site

  13. Nadia Lee
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 11:52:10

    @Jill Sorenson:

    I don’t know if there is a limit to the number of titles that can be bundled for 99 cents. Maybe we’ll get 99 books for 99 cents.

    Actually there is a technical limitation. The more books you bundle, the bigger and more cumbersome the file becomes. There is a size limit on ebook files, though it’s pretty generous. Also AMZ is requiring all books to contain TOC (if your books have managed to get by without one, good for you, but AMZ has been cracking down on it, esp. when they get complaints). TOC is painful when you bundle tons and tons of books.

    I highly doubt anybody is going to be able to bundle 99 books, unless they’re all very short stuff (like 5-10k long stories).

  14. Janine
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 12:19:26

    I’m partial to “bread and butter”

    My favorites are “convivial society” and “green gown.”

  15. Janine
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 12:22:15

    @Allie: I don’t understand why scientists insist on inventing anything they can think up, regardless of these inventions’ value to society. Mind control? Nuclear weapons? Who thought these were good ideas?

  16. hapax
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 12:32:18

    @Janine: I don’t know about nuclear weapons, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that the “mind control” experiment is part of the research to develop prosthetic limbs and other devices to help the disabled.

    I’ve read about fascinating experiments that allows quadriplegiac patients to control computer joystics and keyboards with their minds. Maybe the idea is to use animal companions to perform tasks that people cannot?

  17. Charming
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 13:54:23

    I don’t consider 3-4 months at all instalove. It might be a bit quick to get married, but it seems like plenty of time to fall in love.

  18. Jill Sorenson
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 14:00:28

    @Nadia Lee: Interesting! It wonder if there’s a way around the size limit. I was assuming that the box sets are a way around pricing restrictions, but I actually don’t know what those are. I heard somewhere that Amazon limits freebies. Instead of free, the authors are offering *more* for 99 cents.

    And I realize that this sounds like sour grapes. It is. Someone stop me before I start making coffee comparisons.

  19. Janine
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 15:50:23


    Maybe the idea is to use animal companions to perform tasks that people cannot?

    I’m all for giving the disabled more options, but for me experiments on animals are far from a cut and dried issue. As far as the “animal companion’s” quality of life is concerned, it’s certainly an improvement on a lot of other things we do to animals, but it still leaves much to be desired. Robotics would be a better option I think.

    ETA: I also would not be at all surprised, if, once such a technology was developed, some enterprising but shady people put it to use on human beings. Think of anyone who still practices slavery; for example, people who kidnap or purchase children for prostitution rings, and how happy they’d be to have such devices.

  20. Evangeline
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 17:13:08

    I’m not surprised by men saying “I love you” first. Based on random relationships discussions I’ve read or heard from male friends, guys usually don’t angst or hem and haw when they fall in love. Granted, this doesn’t mean the love is Forever, but when they decide a woman is for them, they accept it and act on it.


    That’s interesting that you don’t like the new covers. I really love them–they got me to pick up lines I usually ignored (Desire, Intrigue, Romance) because they looked sharp and modern.

    @Amanda: “Also there is not as much info out about newer harlequin authors and their books.”

    I share this major gripe with you. The Harlequin website lists upcoming books in each line, but there aren’t any descriptions or excerpts. It’s also difficult to find information on their authors, and sometimes, those bio pages are incredibly out of date. Like Jill Sorenson said, they seem to be catering to the habits of the print market in the online marketplace when online readers are internet savvier and more likely to plan ahead (marking on Goodreads, adding to TBB list, etc) for future book purchases.

  21. Susan
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 17:15:03

    That Fern Michaels thing sounds like a novel plot itself. It’s sick of me, but the names crack me up, too. When I read Carlos Ramos and Shelley Dangerfield quickly, it looks like Carlos Danger. . . which then makes me think of Anthony Weiner. . . and then prompts eye rolls and giggles. And the Dilley fellow–stirred up the hornet’s nest and ended up getting stung. Honestly, people, just grow up.

    I love the idea of the Gargantuan Giveaway, but know I will just be able to look on longingly. Only once have I ever gotten the Rafflecopter thingy to work for me. It’s blocked on my work computer (my employer really inconveniences my personal life sometimes!) and just never seems to load on my tablet. Sigh.

  22. Char
    Aug 01, 2013 @ 17:45:35

    I really hate the new Harlequin covers. I agree they do not pop. I admit since they changed their covers I have bought less of their books not on purpose but I’m a person who buys books by browsing through covers. It’s the covers that catch my attention and make me want to read the blurb. I cringe at the Blaze covers the most. So much skin and no personality. It took awhile but now the Intrigue line has converted over to the new cover format. Yuk! The desaturated backgrounds just isn’t something I want sitting on my shelf or on my Kindle for that matter.

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