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Dianne Sylvan

Monday Midday Links: Cobblestone Press Making the Wrong Kind of News

Monday Midday Links: Cobblestone Press Making the Wrong Kind of News

A Miami Herald article finally states the obvious when it comes to readers and books. Readers are looking to buy books at the cheapest prices possible and if digital books are pushing the prices down, then readers will flock to the digital books.

“The whole book culture is changing, and in some ways, I think it’s worth worrying about,” says Jack Shafer, who writes about media at Slate.com and spent years working at bookstores before turning to journalism. “But we are so much better off now with what we’ve got. There’s a cornucopia of books out there. It may be that the bookstores are vanishing, but readers are going to have more choice and cheaper books.

“Is it good for bookstores, for writers, for agents, for publishers? We readers don’t care. It’s really good for us.”

The article goes on to speculate at the end what new publishing innovations may arise from digital publishing. One suggestion is that epic fantasy works will be serialized. Ginn Hale’s The Rifter (reviewed here) is an experiment in serialization. It will be interesting to see if she and her publisher deem this to be a success.

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3M is gearing up to challenge Overdrive’s supremacy in the ebook lending market. The 3M Cloud product page has been updated. Perhaps 3Ms biggest obstacle is publisher participation. If you recall, Kansas is arguing that it owns the books that it licensed through Overdrive and thus can lend them using the 3M library system. It will be very interesting to see how this shakes out. If Kansas is allowed to do this, then other states will as well.

According to Eric Hellman, the 3M Cloud Library will be using DRM systems from Adobe and will sell “white-label” devices to libraries. (Source: Go To Hellman)

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The Amazon Kindle refurbished prices haves dropped. Many people believe that this signals new Amazon Kindles on the horizons. I think that is accurate. I also believe that Kindle’s late entry into the library market has something to do with the launch of the new Kindles and maybe even the October release of the Harry Potter digital books. There is going to be a big announcement from Amazon and it will likely be made before September.

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Cobblestone Press is making news, but not the good kind. According to absolute write forum, Cobblestone is delayed in making payments to authors.

It seems as if every other pay period, we’re told there’s a computer problem or power outage or whatever that makes it impossible to run royalties or make payments. My sales there trickled off to nothing after a year and I’m currently preparing a couple of rights reversion letters so I’ve let it go.

Requests for information and/or action are getting ignored. According to this author, Cobblestone did not inform her of her release date, has stopped answering emails, and is generally acting in a manner that makes her regret her publishing decision.

One author reported to me privately that she believes her contract is in breach and has been for several weeks but no response has been forthcoming from emails or snail mailings.

This is a departure from the regular practice of doing business for Cobblestone, the author reported. In the past, all royalty payments were made promptly and contact between the author and publishing house was regular and without interruption.

Cobblestone Press has some of the most ridiculously high prices for books – $4.99 for a novella, for example – so one would hope that it is on good financial footing. Or perhaps in this era of $.99 books, the high prices are dooming the Press. Hopefully Cobblestone will right its ship.

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A sock puppet by the name of DarknessCalls is duking it out with readers over at Amazon regarding Dianne Sylvan’s book “Shadowflame”. I wrote a review here at Dear Author expressing my dismay at the direction of the story. According to DarknessCalls and, coincidentally, Dianne Sylvan herself, this reader dismay is being characterized as homophobia.

Like I said, homosexuality clearly disturbs you. I don’t believe for one minute that infidelity would make anyone react with this much hostility toward an author. It’s just silly.

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/#!/DSylvan/status/96698270012817408"]

Sylvan’s disbelief that readers dislike infidelity that much is a bit naive but even so, jumping to the homophobic accusation is really poor form. Frankly, the way in which Sylvan writes about the infidelity between two male characters is a fetishization of homosexuality. Miranda, the soul mate of one of the cheaters, admits to her girlfriend that the pain of the infidelity is somehow eased by how hot she thinks it is that her soul mate and husband is having sex with another man. Moreover Sylvan’s mistake isn’t that she included infidelity, but rather the way in which she handled the subject matter. She never examines the issue of love versus the soul mate bond; she has the parties who have been cheated on act almost as if it had never happened; she doesn’t acknowledge the issue of emotional infidelity and whether that has any affect on a relationship; she doesn’t deal with the aftermath.

In failing to deal with the aftermath, Sylvan presents the act of sex between two men as something titillating rather than something meaningful.

Sylvan’s reaction that she’ll really stick it to the readers by further feminizing the male protagonist doesn’t speak to someone who is driven by her muse, but of a Lori Foster-esque response wherein the author uses her work to answer her critics.

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Georgette Heyer accused Barbara Cartland of stealing plots.

The borrowings extended to character names. Heyer was outraged that Sir Montagu Reversby, in Cartland’s Hazard of Hearts, was like her own Sir Montagu Revesby in Friday’s Child.

Heyer wrote: “On perusing the first two novels of Miss Cartland’s trilogy I was astonished to find the number of identical or infinitesimally altered names and titles … I also found what might best be described as paraphrases of situations I had created, and a suspicious number of Regency cant words, or obsolete turns of speech, all of which I can pinpoint in several of my books.”

You can read more about it in the October release, Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller (no release date in the US  yet).  Sunita had some interesting thoughts about Heyer in a recent post on her own blog.

REVIEW: Shadowflame by Dianne Sylvan

REVIEW: Shadowflame by Dianne Sylvan

Dear Ms. Sylvan:

I recommended your first book, “Queen of Shadows”, to the DA readership but now I regret it. The core readership here is romance and I thought QofS had a great romantic subplot in the overall urban fantasy setting. In fact, it easily could have been marketed and sold as a paranormal romance. Shadowflame, however, takes romance readers to a place I think they will regret. This spoilerfilled summary gives the reason why.

Shadowflame by Dianne SylvanMiranda Grey is human who becomes the vampire Queen to David Solomon, the leader of the vampires of the Southern United States. David is called a Prime and Miranda is chosen to be his mystical mate, a special “Pair”. They are bonded and will be unto their death. Worse, (worse in this story at least) what David feels, Miranda feels and vice versa. Because Miranda and David are newly married, the Prime or Pairs who rule the other territories are coming to pay homage to them.

This story involves two things. First, there are visits from Prime James Hart of the Northeast and Prime Deven O’Donnell, Prime of the Western United States. Second, there is something killing powerful vampires under David’s rule and threatening the safety of both David and Miranda.

Prime James is an utter bastard who terrorizes women and Prime Deven has some serious backstory with David that David has not yet revealed to Miranda. The person(s) who are killing the powerful vampires in the Southern territory are clever and powerful, escaping the detection of David who is one of the more technologically advanced Primes but also one of the more powerful Primes in the world.

There is some suggestion in Queen of Shadows that this series is to be a feminist anthem. Miranda, for example, is a capable Queen, powerful in her own right and ready to rule by David’s side instead of behind him. Most Queens play a silent, supportive role and the Prime ranks are people with old, misogynistic men. Yet, I never understood how Miranda was powerful in her own right. In other words, she was granted power by some mystical being, anything she knows about ruling she has learned from David, and when she finds herself at odds with David, she washes over his actions as if there was nothing amiss.

I never really saw Miranda have any agency, any direction of her own. Yes, she had her music career but even her success in music came from her magical ability to spread a blanket of emotion, whether it be joy or sorrow, amongst the crowd. Not to mention that she was now Queen of the Southern United States. She even acknowledges this:

The music business was all about influence . . . and Miranda had that in spades. There was no door that closed to her, no velvet rope to keep her out no matter how exclusive the club. The Signet held sway in every level of government and the Prime a hand in every game in town, legal or otherwise. It wouldn’t take much effort to have her first single on the Billboard charts the day it was released

To be fair she does learn how to fight and wield her power independent of David.

As for David, his star does not shine very brightly for me in this book, likely diminished to a great degree by what happens in the spoiler. He’s powerful, he’s nerdy, he’s sexy, he’s wanted by everyone, and he’s understanding. Because he is described as practically perfect in every way, he lacks interesting dimension. Possibly that is why you were led to introduce an element regarding a former lover, a former male lover. Making David bisexual, however, doesn’t make him multidimensional, just someone with a broad sexual appetite. That, in and of itself, isn’t enough to make him jump off the page, at least for me.

And then there is this, the spoiler.
[spoiler]

“I don’t want to feel this way,” Deven murmured into David’s chest. “I want to forget we were ever in love and be content with friendship. But I don’t think I can, David. I can keep my distance and I can honor your commitment, but I can’t ever stop loving you.”

David drew back to look at him. There was such anguish in his face, and David felt it just as keenly himself even if it didn’t show. “I know,” he said. “Neither can I.”

Deven shook his head. “You should go. Go, now, before we do something that . . .”

He didn’t have a chance to finish the sentence. David’s mouth had already covered his.

So as you can see by the quoted portion, David and Deven have sex. Because apparently they cannot be within the same region without their love overcoming their scruples. When they have their powerful orgasm, both their mated pairs feel it.

He looked over at David. His voice was perfectly even again, perfectly factual. “Incidentally, you’re not going to have to tell Miranda either. You haven’t had time to learn this, but when you have a bond like ours, you can feel when your husband has an orgasm . . . no matter who it’s with.”

Later Miranda is angry yet turned on by David and Deven together. She even goes so far as to suggest maybe David and Deven be allowed to run off together a few times a year to fuck themselves silly. Wat?

What is totally confusing and, I felt, inconsistent is that when Deven met his mate (or Consort as he is called) in Jonathan, he totally forgot about David, pushed him aside and David spent centuries mourning Deven’s loss.

Deven didn’t say anything. For the first time since the night they had met, Deven looked utterly lost . . . and David understood that when it came down to it, Deven would do whatever Jonathan asked, would abandon David again, would sever all ties with the South if Jonathan wanted him to . . . because in the end, David wasn’t the one he was bound to. They could love each other until the stars burned out, but they weren’t, and had never been, mated in soul. They would never live together, nor die together.

I confess I don’t even know what this means. They love each other so much that they can’t keep their hands off each other. They both know what they did was a betrayal of their mates, yet….they aren’t mated in soul? What does that even mean, for the love of all that is holy.

I should add that Miranda is in bed because she is recovering from an attack that has left her weak and injured. It’s like the trifecta of horribleness. David cheats on her with an old flame, in the same house, while she is lying on a sickbed attacked because she is his Queen. Why not just defecate on her? Wouldn’t that show her the same amount of respect?

[/spoiler]

I recognize this is not billed as a romance, but the entire story is about a fated mate pair! I don’t think its fair to say that an author doesn’t have to deal with the expectations set by the story. If an author introduces something in her books, then she needs to carry it through, needs to deal with it. David and Miranda are bonded for life, their very long, immortal life. This bond is through mystical means. There is some suggestion that one part of the Pair can have feelings for someone outside the mystical mate bond but the repercussions of this are never addressed. The concept of love v. forced mating is never addressed. I was left at the end of the book with a deeply unsatisfying emotional experience and not much respect for either David or Miranda. The idea of the two of them having a love match doesn’t hold much water after this book because there isn’t any good exploration of what love is, how one loves within a mate bond or without. Truth be told, I have no interest in reading the next book, not unless a very trusted friend or five tell me it’s a can’t miss title. D

Best regards,

Jane

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