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

Wednesday Midday Links: NJRW Axes Finalist

I’m not sure if I blogged about this or not but Best Buy will be ereader central.   The Kindle, nook, Sony eink devices will be sold in store as well as iPads.   If you have a Best Buy close, this is a great opportunity to take a look at these devices and compare and contrast them.   According to Barnes and Noble, 80% of the nook sales take place in the store (SEC report).


Patricia Ryan, author of the Nell Sweeney mysteries that we’ve recommended here on Dear Author, and historical romances, has partnered with a number of other print published authors to form a cooperative of sorts called Backlist eBooks.   This cooperative’s home is on Facebook and you can read the announcements of releases and the list of the authors who are currently participating in the cooperative on Facebook.   There is a resources tab for those authors who might be interested in joining the cooperative.

I noticed that Patricia Rice was on the list. I want to put my vote in for Blue Clouds to be digitized.   I loved that book.    (Thanks MaryKat for the heads up).


Someone tweeted this link to an article on a study of brain activity during orgasm.   Apparently women can actually think their way to an orgasm but once they have one, there is absolutely no brain activity.   “Struck dumb” has real meaning here.


Blio, Ray Kurzweil’s ebook reading platform, is finally going to be released in September. It’s not epub but XPS.   The press release doesn’t say, but given what I’ve read in the past, it looks like the DRM will be Microsoft run.   There are no current dates for the release of any MAC related software for the Blio.


After four? years, the Eloisa James and Julia Quinn message board is shutting down.   I’ve heard its due to the authors wanting to spend more time with Facebook and in other social media environments.


Christa McHugh wrote a work   (A Soul for Trouble) and submitted it for the “Put Your Heart in a Book” New Jersey Romance Writers’ chapter contest.   It finaled.   McHugh then received a phone call from the contest coordinator stating that the president, Mo Boylan, had told the contest coordinator to disqualify McHugh’s work on the basis that Samhain designated her previously published works as novels.   McHugh’s Samhain works are both under 40,000 words, the cut off line that the national RWA organization uses to define book length fiction.   Book length are the words used by NJRW to define the terms of the contest:

Entrant must be a member of RWA in good standing, unpublished, and not contracted in  book-length romantic fiction at the contest deadline by  any publisher and  in any format within the last five years."

NJRW did not define what book length romantic fiction was and it did not deem the national RWA definition suitable for their purposes.   It is unknown what book length is in the eyes of NRWA.

When questioned by McHugh regarding this, Ms. Moylan replied back:

“Fact remains that, by your own publisher’s definition, you are considered to be published in book length and not as a novella. You signed THEIR contract. Our rules stipulate book or novel length.   This contest is not RWA’s contest but ours so you assumed wrongly that we would use RWA’s definition. Please read the rules where it states that the decision of the Contest Chair is final.”

Fortunately, McHugh’s entry fee was refunded but unfortunately, her work won’t be seen by those who judge the finalists entries.   A finalist will sometimes find an agent or editor through these book contests.

A look through the NJRW conference page, shows a paucity of digital publishing people despite the fact that it had once been considered a very forward thinking chapter.   Lindsey Faber from Samhain stated that Samhain was not invited and Angela James from Carina Press stated that she was not either, for the first time in 5 years.

I asked the President about the chapter’s stance on digital publishing and Christa McHugh’s situation, particularly:

In regard to McHugh’s disqualification, Boylan maintained it was a private matter and she woul dnot comment on it.   As for the chapter’s current stance on digital publishing, Boylan claimed that the NJRW was “proud to be inclusive of our members’ accomplishments in romance publishing” and that the committee did their best to “present the best workshops that address the needs of romance writers in all levels of writing skills.”   There is one digital publishing workshop being offered which I believe is from Bob Mayer, “Bob Mayer -‘ E-Pub and Everything Else”.

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. Sheryl Nantus
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 12:18:56

    Well, it *is* New Jersey…


    I think the facts speak for themselves in how they treat digital publishing.


    Hopefully their members will move onwards and upwards from this sort of closed-minded thinking. They may not agree with it but ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away.

    Is Snooki a member?


  2. ka
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 12:30:18

    Informative news roundup this morning.

    NJRW seems to be a magnet for controversy. But it has also offers an interactive fall conference on the East Coast.

  3. Jackie Barbosa
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 13:05:36

    I’m published primarily in digital, but I don’t see how NJRW’s decision in this particular situation has anything to do with digital publishing. The fact that McHugh’s published manuscripts were placed with Samhain has no bearing on her published/unpublished status. Wouldn’t NJRW have been accused of being prejudiced against digital publishing if it had considered her unpublished because all her work (regardless of length) was published at a digital house? How does the reverse (considering her PUBLISHED) indicate a prejudice against digital publishing?

    I’ll add that I had a lot more sympathy for McHugh’s plight until I read that the manuscript she entered was 35,000 words in length. This means she is entering a contest for unpublished writers in a “category” in which she is already published (novella-length fiction). The vagueness of the “book-length” definition notwithstanding, she is essentially published in the category she entered. This would seem to me to be an adequate reason to disqualify her, whether or not her published works are “book-length” or not.

    I think NJRW’s rules for this contest are poorly written and ill-defined. For example, they specify word-length for category entries (under 80k) and specify “single title” for the contemporary category, but there’s nothing about word lengths for the other three categories (historical, paranormal, and romantic elements), which would apparently mean those those categories are open to everything from 5k-200k, and I’m sure that’s not the intent. In fact, I’m sure it’s the INTENT that entries in all categories be “book-length” (however ill-defined) because that’s the reason “book-length” published authors are excluded from the competition.

    I hope that next year, NJRW will do a better job of spelling out their rules with specificity, and I do feel for Ms. McHugh because the clarity really WASN’T there. On the other hand, whenever I’ve encountered contest rules that seemed vague, I’ve always made it a rule to contact the coordinator to ask for clarification before entering. It has saved me both money and heartache.

  4. Jane
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 13:16:08

    @Jackie Barbosa Actually I revised the post. I don’t know what the length of her work was for the contest and it was inaccurate for me to put that in. I don’t think it is the entrant’s responsibility to go to the contest coordinator and find out if they have hidden rules that aren’t appearing on the web.

  5. Crista
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 13:31:27

    At this point, I’m trying to put the NJRW situation behind me and I wouldn’t have commented except to clarify one false fact supplied by Ms. Barbosa.

    “I'll add that I had a lot more sympathy for McHugh's plight until I read that the manuscript she entered was 35,000 words in length.”

    I don’t know where Ms. Barbosa was misinformed, but the manuscript that finalled in the paranormal category (A Soul for Trouble) is a full length fantasy romance that is complete at 93,000 words, and is currently being submitted.

    Even though the rules were vague, the money was refunded, and hopefully, the rules will be clearer in the future.

  6. Robin
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 14:38:14

    Huh. I didn’t realize that Bob Mayer is a digital publishing guru.

  7. Ridley
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 15:14:09

    As great as that Backlist eBooks Facebook thing is, they need a real website.

  8. Vi
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 15:17:50

    @ Ridley. It’s free to use FB. That’s also probably part of the reason why James/ Quinn are ending their board.

  9. MaryK
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 15:24:16

    @Ridley: @Vi: The FB thing is temporary. Their website is in the works, apparently. Here’s the info from Patricia Ryan’s newsletter:

    Our primary platform will eventually be a web site, A professionally designed web site takes time, however, so we’ve created an interim step, a Backlist Ebooks Facebook page where our readers can check out our authors and their books as they come on board.

  10. katiebabs
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 15:55:53

    I thought book-length romantic fiction is anything over 80k words? So how does a 40k word fiction count as book-length?

    I wonder how many epublished authors are allowed to sign at the NJRWA literary signing on the Saturday?

  11. Vi
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 16:09:48

    @ MaryK Thanks for the info. Btw, do you recommend any of her books? Silken Threads intrigues me but so her other books.

  12. MaryK
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 16:11:40

    “proud to be inclusive of our members' accomplishments in romance publishing”

    I’m still trying to figure out what that means.

  13. MaryK
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 16:16:25

    @Vi: Sadly, I have not read her books yet even though I bought several from Smashwords.

    Janine wrote a review of one though, and there’s much discussion of her books in the comments.

  14. Ridley
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 16:25:23


    That’s good to know. My eyes just glazed over looking at the FB page. Those things are just too busy.

  15. HeatherK
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 16:30:33

    YAY on the ereaders in Best Buy (there’s one in the next town). I can’t wait to see an iPad and touch it. Seeing it in person also makes my husband feel better about dropping the cash for such things. The only reason he ordered my iPod Touch rather than going to the store to get it was so I could get it engraved, still debating getting an iPad engraved if it becomes available in store locally.

    This past weekend, I noticed a sign in Target stating the K3 was coming soon and I’m guessing the new Sonys as well, since they have the older models on clearance. I can’t wait to see a K3, because it’s also on my wish list, though it’s been difficult explaining to my husband why I need a new reader. I had to promise to keep using my Sony PRS-505 even if I do get a K3, and truthfully, I probably will.

    No comment on the NJRWA thing, because well, it would probably be unwise, so I’ll just keep my mouth shut. However, I do agree that the rules for those things should be better written so as to avoid any confusion from the start.

  16. Chris Redding
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 18:09:10

    I will comment on NJRW and their lack of digital.
    All the people who were interested in being INclusive, left.

  17. Jackie Barbosa
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 20:01:10

    @Crista: As Jane mentioned just above you, that was in the version of this post to which I responded. It has since been edited to remove that error.

    I apologize to anyone reading a subsequent version of the post who doesn’t understand where the heck I got that fact, since it was clearly untrue.

  18. library addict
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 20:05:59

    So the Microsoft/Blio reader won’t support LIT files either. Bummer.

  19. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 06:39:36

    The NJRW thing is sad. And while Bob Mayer seems to be a nice enough guy, I’m sorry, but he’s no dig pub expert.

    He DOES seem to have insight on a lot of various options for writers, but most of it seems to be self-pub related, from what I’ve seen.

    NJRW isn’t required to ‘welcome’ anything, I don’t guess, but considering how RWA has been trying to educate people on the various options open to writers, it would be nice if more chapters could do the same.

    And while I could be mistaken, I believe I’ve heard from several others about how things like this have happened with NJRW before-problems with contest finalists being disqualified and basically it’s because the rules weren’t made clear. Again, I could be mistaken.

    And speaking of ereader central, while I don’t want an iPad for an ereader, I’m really hoping they do come out with the smaller one that’s supposedly in the works. I want. I’m a gadget junkie.

  20. Julia Quinn
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 11:24:34

    Hi Jane–

    The decision to close the board didn’t have anything to do with wanting to spend more time anywhere else online. As Eloisa put it–time is not an endless resource, and we both felt we needed to cut back on our promotional commitments to create more time for writing. (And real life. Mustn’t forget real life.)

    We both still have comprehensive and regularly updated websites, and we both are quite active on Facebook, so we are definitely still out there.


  21. Bob Mayer
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 14:52:57

    Well I’m no guru. But with Who Dares Wins Publishing this year, which is more than my backlist, I’ve learned a lot from the author’s point of view. I don’t do nuts and bolts, but I do concepts, both strategic and tactical. I think publishing is getting too divided between the Traditional Publishing Is Dead camp and the E-Publishing is vanity/self publishing camps. The future is much more interesting.

  22. Lynn S.
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 15:35:05


    So, orgasms make you brainless. Wonder where they’ll place the surgeon general’s warning for that one.

    Hope this gave you a little chuckle and many commiserations on the legal drama with RRP. Had my own wranglings with the legal arm of my state tax commission over monies that were never owed in the first place, their incompetence knew no bounds and the matter took over three years to resolve. You know that all our sympathies are with you on this but as a lawyer I imagine you enjoy a battle now and then, just wish your opponent was a bit more worthy.

  23. Robin
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 17:08:17

    I don’t understand why the Quinn/James board has to be shut down just because the authors no longer have whatever time to devote to it. I mean, aren’t there a bunch of people who belong to and are active on the board who will make exactly the same use of it whether the authors have a lot of time to visit or not? Can’t it just proceed like the fan board for Nora Roberts does — as a reader run board on which Roberts posts periodically, depending on her availability, etc.? Are most of the people who post there asking questions of or wanting to engage the authors in conversation? Are the authors afraid it will go off the rails if they aren’t there so often?

  24. Suze
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 20:39:22

    @Robin: I’m thinking certain boards would benefit from less author presence *coughBDBcough*.

  25. Robin
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 21:50:11

    @Suze: I’m not the biggest fan of author-controlled boards, but that one is truly in a class (or a cell) by itself.

  26. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Drip drip drop, little linkity showers…
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 02:02:50

    […] linkity: Dear Author and the ReadReactReview Monday […]

  27. Estara
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 16:40:26

    @Vi: I bought the Nell Sweeney series after the DA recommendation and I really enjoyed it a lot, and I’m not usually a mystery romance reader.

    Those are the books she published as P.B. Ryan – I put my reviews up on the Smashwords page of the single books (and on

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