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Thursday, April 30, 2009
I'm blogging over at Samhain's blog today. Author Catherine Wade and I have teamed up for our posts. Mine is about writing with the bedroom door wide open, and at three o'clock, Catherine's post will be about writing with the bedroom door firmly shut. Drop by and say hi ... And tell us your preference and what makes a love scene, or non-love scene, good for you.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I've been trying to force myself away from edits in the evening in order to clear my head - sometimes I get so buried in details I forget to see the big picture. I've got about four books on the go right now and I felt I had to comment on them. I don't like writing reviews because I am not one who can "deconstruct" a book. I like it, or I don't like it, and often times I can't say why either way. I don't like saying why a book isn't working for me unless I can say why, it's not fair to the author. Plus I feel like I'm REALLY picky about what I like and what I don't. But here goes:
I nearly got up in the middle of the night last night because I resented having to stop reading Deidre Knight's Butterfly Tattoo. There'd been a lot of buzz about this book in both the blog world and Twitterverse. The excerpt didn't thrill me, but after reading Jane over at Dear Author and Smart Bitches' Sarah's reviews and tweets, I bought it. (That's the first time I've ever bought a book based on a review, I should add.)
One thing Sarah over at SBTB said: Further, do not skip the book because it is big. And it is. For an ebook, it’s bloody huge. But fear not. It flies. I have to say I don't get this comment. I have no problems with the length.It's 280 pages when I bring it into Word, 119,000 words. That's not huge to me. I read longer books on my Sony Reader all the time. For instance, JR Ward's Lover Revealed is 147,000 words. So, don't be put off by that comment over at SBTB. Butterfly Tattoo is exactly the length it needs to be. Anyway, back to the review ...
The first chapter starts slowly, it's from Rebecca's POV, but chapter two, told from Michael's POV ...Wow. Right then I knew I was hooked. Deidre Knight can write with such depth, with such emotion, and I LOVE authors who can make me feel what their characters are feeling. I'd almost describe it as a literary romance, it's so beautifully written. I'm only halfway through and I'm having a helluva time convincing myself to open my own manuscript instead of devouring the rest of Butterfly Tattoo.
Here's the blurb:
Michael Warner has been drifting in a numb haze since his lover was killed by a drunk driver. As the anniversary of the wreck approaches, Michael’s grief grows more suffocating. Yet he must find a way through the maze of pain and secrets to live for their troubled young daughter who struggles with guilt that she survived the crash.
Out of the darkness comes a voice, a lifeline he never expected to find—Rebecca O’Neill, a development executive in the studio where Michael works as an electrician.
Rebecca, a former sitcom celebrity left scarred from a crazed fan’s attack, has retreated from the limelight and from life in general, certain no man can ever get past her disfigurement. The instant sparks between her and Michael, who arrives to help her during a power outage, come as a complete surprise—and so does her uncanny bond with his daughter.
For the first time, all three feel compelled to examine their inner and outer scars in the light of love. But trust is hard to come by, especially when you’re not sure what to believe when you look in the mirror. The scars? Or the truth?
As I mentioned above, Butterfly Tattoo is written in first person POV for both the hero AND the heroine's stories. Chapter one is told from Rebecca's POV, Chapter two is told from Michael's POV and they play off from there. I can only recall one other book written this way and that was the book made from the screenplay of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I know I've seen others say they've found it a little jarring, but I have no problems, especially since it tells you right at the start of the chapter whose POV you're reading.
What it doesn't tell you in the blurb is that Michael's lover was a man. You see, Michael is bisexual. I've been following a few GBLT sites lately and have discovered that bisexuals are outcasts from both the heterosexual world as well as the gay world. Deidre's Michael is no different. His friends from when he was with Alex don't like that he's attracted to a woman instead of a man. His friends, including his therapist, from the straight side don't understand how a man can be attracted to a woman after having been with a man and encourage him to date amongst "with his own kind" first. For his part, Michael is struggling dealing with the loss of his lover, and then later with the guilt he feels in being attracted to Rebecca. Falling in love makes him feel like he's betraying Alex. Deidre has managed to capture the emotion, the pain, the loss that Michael is feeling and I love a good emotional tale. It sucked me right in.
I'm also reading Lora Leigh's Killer Secrets. I've been a big fan of Lora Leigh - I loved her Breed series, but for some reason I haven't picked up a Lora recently. I'm not sure why, but I think it's probably because I have nearly 100 books on my TBR pile and I've lost track of who I've been following.
Killer Secrets is the second in her Tempting Seals series (I believe--there's no release dates or order they should be read that I can find on her site - it's very annoying.) It's another book filled with emotion, with the added bonus of lots of hot sex. Now I have to go back and find her Hidden Agendas story and the rest of her Tempting Seals books.
A while back, Dani sent me the entire Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Sorry, Dani, but I have to tell you that I'm not loving it so far. I forced myself to finish the first one, Guilty Pleasures. If I'd bought this book myself, and didn't have the entire series sitting behind me waiting to be read, I probably would have put the book down before I reached the fiftieth page. I've since finished The Laughing Corpse and Circus of the Damned, and am part way through the fourth in the series, The Lunatic Cafe. Afraid to say, I still don't like Anita. Laurell doesn't get into Anita's head enough for me to understand her, to connect with her as a character. I don't like Jean-Claude. There's no other characters that interest me either. I don't like the world. I don't hate it, I just don't ... care. There's nothing clicking, nothing sucking me in. To me, that's a death knell.
Maybe if I hadn't read Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series first I would have liked it more? I can't say. But I do know I love Patricia's world, I love the characters, I can envision them, I care about Mercy, I adore Charles and Samuel and Adam, I'm not so hot about Stephan and the vampire stories, but I can live with it as long as Patricia keeps giving me scenes with Adam.
That's why I was so disappointed to be bored with the Anita Blake series. I'd heard so many people raving about them and yet, to me, the writing falls flat. Especially after reading Deidre's, Lora's and Maya's books who have done such wonderful jobs sucking me into their worlds.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Holly Lisle has a whole series of books on plotting and writing dialogue, etc. She runs courses that writers can take, including a year long one called "How to Think Sideways."
**Edited** Sorry about the 'spillover' but YouTube has gone to these wide screens and they sure screw up Blogger.
Also if you have a chance, go over to Julia's A Piece of My Mind blog today. She's clearing up a few ... mis-statements by John McCain and Janet Napolitano. As a Canadian, I'm fed up with these continuing lies.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Maybe because today was a beautiful sunny day with the robins and sparrows chirping outside my open window. It reached 28 today (that's 82 for you folks south of me). The buds on my magnolia tree out my front window are full and ready to blossom. That's early - normally it blooms about mid May. I'm worried that there'll be a frost that'll kill all the blossoms off. That's happened before, and it's not pretty.
Guitar Hero - who I'm seriously considering renaming Biker Dude - has ordered a seat back for the passenger seat, and the mounting hardware for it and convinced his girlfriend Blue Monkey to buy a helmet. Yup, she's going to get up on his bike behind him. That takes more guts than I've currently got. Although I am tempted. I wouldn't mind trying to ride a bike one day. It's just a little too expensive for my taste, considering you can't ride it for a good 5 - 6 months of the year in this part of the world, and even there's no snow it's dangerous when it rains or the wind blows too hard. But it doesn't matter so much to GH - he's thrilled to have wheels and goes out every day to wash his machine and make sure it sparkles. (Initially GH took her to the Harley store, but all they had there were plain black helmets. She is NOT a plain black helmet type of gal, so I offered to take them a couple towns over to another store where there was a slightly bigger selection. The helmet she got is still predominantly black but it has some red piping and extra flair.) Next up is either a light bar with extra lights on the side since he rides it to work in the dark, and a different seat for himself that also has a back support. But he's counting his pennies now as he has a limited number of weeks left at his full time job.
Our taxes came in today, another reason why I'm in a good mood. (Although I had a minor OMG moment when I saw how much spent on my writing last year.) Unfortunately most of the return will have to be put toward house repairs. BUT good news is the Canadian government are allowing a lot of home repairs to be deducted on next year's taxes. So maybe we'll get some of it back again next year, LOL. Here's hoping.
Oh, and Gizmo Guy sent me this link today about a machine that can print off your book in the time it takes to get a coffee. (105 pages per minute) You can bring your book on a CD or download one from their database. They say it'll cost about the same as the book on the shelf, though the example they quote says a 300 page book will cost 30 pounds. I immediately wondered about whether the book pirates would use these, but at that cost probably not. What do you think? Would you like one of these in your local drug store? Or not?
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Okay, actually the reviewer Shannon, who rated Private Property worthy of five hearts, made my day, JK just happened to point it out. But kudos (and thanks) to both ladies for making me dance!
As part of her review, Shannon said:
For the whole review, go here.
Ms. Braemel seems to have an amazing gift to delight readers with a wickedly delicious and daring story taken directly from most women's fantasies. She makes it sizzle with a raw sensuality that holds the reader captive from the first page. This is a luscious, fast paced adventure that is sure to please readers who enjoy an edgy and intense erotic romance. There is something sinfully delighting when the tables can be turned on a hero and he is forced to confront what is right in front of his eyes, the love of a woman meant to be treasured and loved whole-heartedly and not just his playmate. The character of Sam takes the definition of sexy bad boy to the extreme with his dark and dangerous sensuality that is intriguing. Jodi and Mark's characters are playful, engaging, unpredictable, complex, outrageously sexy and witty. The sex is scorching hot and edgy with a touch of BDSM play including toys and bondage sure to have the reader seduced to the sexual escapades and yummy no holds, pleasure blazing thrills. The heated sexual bondage tension amongst the smoldering play will have readers sitting on the edge of their seat. The ending is brimming with surprisingly tender touches to have the romance reader sighing with delight while still leaving a smile filled with heat.
This is a refreshingly touching twist to the menage theme that showcases the author's ability to deliver the goods! I can't wait to see more from this wonderful new author.
Friday, April 24, 2009
This morning I had a small squee moment when I got an email telling me a favorite radio personality from Toronto was following me. Erin Davis of CHFI. I've listened to Erin for decades. Literally. She and I were pregnant at the same time - her with her daughter Lauren, me with Curly. (And since Curly is now 18, that tells you that I'm not exaggerating when I say decades.) When she left CHFI for a while, I followed her to her new station, and was thrilled when CHFI realized what a mistake they'd made and brought her back. She's one of those down-to-earth people that I've always envisioned you could sit down and gossip with over tea or coffee. Which made me wonder, of all the people in the Golden Horseshoe, or in the Twitter world for that matter, how the heck did she find ME?
Because my head's been in such a fog lately, I've not been making much progress on my editing of Andy's story. So I've been reading. First Maya Bank's book - which I heartily enjoyed, especially since it was free, LOL. Yesterday, I read fellow Toronto Romance Writer JK Coi's Dark Immortal. I have to confess that I've not read the first two books in JK's Immortal series, but that didn't stop me from enjoying her Dark Immortal. Well done JK to write a book in a series that can stand alone. And even better, that makes me want to go out and buy the first two. It's an urban fantasy with demons and vampires and kick-ass Immortal demon slayers. What I didn't realize until I'd finished her DI was that it was another amnesia story. What are the odds that I'd read two amnesia stories back-to-back? Again, thoroughly enjoyable. Lots of sexual tension which I really enjoy, and I admire how writers can create and sustain the tension when the characters don't actually have sex until quite a ways through the book. But when they do, whew! turn on the air conditioning!
Don't forget the contests are still ongoing over at The Samhellion, as well as the free short stories.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
After yesterday, I'm adding Maya Banks to the list. Oh, I was already a Maya fan. I loved her Colters' Woman one of the first Samhain books I'd read. And the first to make a polyamorous relationship work IMHO. Her CW inspired me to take a chance on writing the menage in Private Property. The other day I was lucky enough to win one of Maya's books on a Twitter contest. I had to chuckle at the title, The Tycoon's Pregnant Mistress and was surprised to discover it wasn't a Harlequin Presents as the title suggests but a Silhouette Desire. (To make it perfect, it should have been The Greek Tycoon's Pregnant Mistress. Maybe that would have tipped it into the Presents line.) It has everything: the rich billionaire tycoon uber-alpha hero, the assistant who had become the mistress (though she hadn't realized that's what she was) who gets *gasp* amnesia. Oh, all right, I admit it. I love a good amnesia story. They have to be well done though. To add to the perfection, the heroine's name is .... wait for it .... Marley! Yes, the name of my critique partner who adores amnesia stories and has one of her own in the works. It was just too perfect.
The timing of its arrival was extrenely fortuitous too. You see, I had a really bad day yesterday. Apart from Yahoo and Microsoft giving me some major headaches yesterday, I've been having some health issues and finally gave in and went to the doctor. Though it came as no surprise that he's recommending I see a specialist, he mentioned a specific test I'd have to have. That's when I discovered the downsides of the internet and the danger that comes from google searches. Sometimes a little ignorance is bliss. I am NOT looking forward to one of the tests I'm going to have to have. So I decided to pretend they weren't in my future and buried myself in Maya's book.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Maybe it was my mood, but Maya created a depth of despair in Marley that just sucked me right in. There were times when I wanted to sock the hero, Chrysander, in the jaw (oh, all right, to be truthful I would have socked him about three foot lower. Several times. With a pointed toed boot. A pointed toed IRON boot.) While I predicted exactly who did what and how they'd done it, it didn't matter. All that mattered was that Marley was vindicated. That she discovered what had happened, the unvarnished truth. And boy, did she ever.
I LOVE stories that can make me cry, that can fill me with the emotions the heroine is feeling. Maya has a golden touch when it comes to writing emotion.
Well done, Maya. And thank you.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
My freebie short story, Cherry Cottage, is up for download today over at The Samhellion. After today it'll be here. This story absolutely kicked my behind to write. It took me a week as well as phone calls from Texas and Louisiana as my critique partners poked and prodded me before I could move forward on it.
Facts about Cherry Cottage:
- there really is a Cherry Cottage built in 1877. However, it is not in Niagara Falls. It is in Bowmanville Ontario though since I lived in it, it's been renovated and is now an assisted living facility.
- the real Cherry Cottage used to have (I really hope it still does) huge wooden doors that slid out of the wall to separate the living room from the dining room the way the hero describes.
- the "carriage house" behind the real Cherry Cottage has long since been converted to a house and sold separately
- there were a long line of lilacs in the back yard but no apple or cherry trees in its front or back yards which always made me wonder why it was called Cherry Cottage
- the locale of the B&B in Niagara Falls was based upon Park Place where GG & I stayed last fall. It is on River Road overlooking the gorge, though it was built in the 1880s. And no, it needs no renovations. It's a beautiful B&B that I highly recommend if you're ever in the area. And yes, it does have a carriage house behind it that visitors can choose to stay in but there is no gazebo, more's the pity.
- the couple Brian takes a picture of was based on photos Gizmo Guy took of me on our honeymoon in Niagara Falls
- there can be snow and ice in the gorge even as late as May
- tulips and daffodils are only now blooming in the area, apple trees and cherry trees will be blooming into mid to late May.
- No, I don't look like that any more. Again, more's the pity.
Here's a short book trailer I did for it. Yeah, I was bored one night and in a total *Head/desk* mood about Andy's story (still without a title-gah!) so I distracted myself with this little project. The videos are ones Gizmo Guy and I took in the fall of 2008, not in the spring unfortunately. Enjoy!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Last night I had a dream that I was in a bookstore and they just brought out a stack of YOUR books to put on the shelves. I was so excited, and kept telling them I know her, I actually got to read this before it went to the editor. Of course no one believed me and thought I was crazy. (Some days those people aren't that wrong.) But I didn't care, I knew the truth! I really did know that author.The book cover was simple, white with dark red lettering, classic style. Not plain, a little bit scrollish, but easily read. I didn't make out the title, but in my head I'm sure I already knew what the title was so I didn't focus on that. I focused your name real big taking up the entire bottom half of the cover. I can see it in my head plainly and have seen the print type before, very common font.
At first I laughed and thought "From your dreams to God's ear" but then I started thinking. Had I ever had any dreams that had ever come true.(I mean real dreams, not day dreams or wishes for the future.) I swear I have, but I can't remember them now. Dani says she has had dreams that have come true.
I know my mother has always warned me to "never tell Friday night's dream on Saturday morn" or it'll come true. (I've often wondered, does that mean she thinks Friday night dreams are always nightmares?) I've had moments of deja vu where I swear I've done something, or met someone or been someplace I've never met or been before. I've had moments when I've been humming a song and turned on the radio to find that song playing at the exact chord or refrain I was singing. (I've always found that a little freaky.)
When I had my hair done last week, my hair dresser had had a psychic party the night before and was talking about things the psychic had told her and how the psychic knew things and had predicted things that had come true before. I've been to a psychic once - he told me that I would get a job soon that involved computers. Not sitting at the computer, he told me. No, he saw me standing behind the person on the computer. Six months later I got my first job teaching computer skills at a local college. All right, I'll be honest here. I think a lot of what psychics say can be open to interpretation. Same as horoscopes. "Standing behind the person on the computer" could have meant I worked at a store bagging groceries, LOL.
I was in my teens when Star Wars first came out. I was in my 20s by the time the second one came out where Luke trained with Yoda. Yoda's lessons about "the force," about how everything in the universe was connected struck a chord with me. I liked the idea, it explained a lot of weird things (like songs in your head at the same time as on the radio). Okay, I'm coming off as majorly weird here myself, aren't I?
But Dani's email about her dream, combined with my hair dresser's conversation about the psychic got me thinking ... have you ever had a dream that's come true later? Have you ever had something a psychic told you come true? Tarot cards anyone? Is there some unseen thread connecting us somehow that some people can see easier than others?
Or is it just Darth Vader whispering "Luke, I am your father ..." (people who know me will get the inside joke on that one.)
Monday, April 20, 2009
One study found that 44 percent of participants who grew up reading Braille were unemployed, compared with 77 percent for those who relied on print. Overall, blind adults face 70 percent unemployment.Sometimes relying on regular print/voice technology isn't the way to go ...
The federation also did some original research, including a survey of 500 people that found the ability to read Braille correlated with higher levels of education, a higher likelihood of employment and higher income.
Don't forget to go over to The Samhellion every day for a new contest and new free short story to download.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I've given up on Yahoo, I'm signing up for a mailing list and will be collecting names that way. Thanks to Shelli Stevens and Christine d'Abo for their suggestions.
One of the things I announced on the newsletter was Samhain's Spring Fling contest. Then I nearly forgot to announce it here. There will be over 40 prizes given away over the next week, and once again Samhain authors have contributed short stories that you can download for free. (My story, Cherry Cottage, is up on the 22nd.) Today's Fling can be found here. Once again, it's a scavenger hunt where you have to go to the participating author's websites and find the hidden icons. So every day for the next week, don't forget to stop over at The Samhellion Blog to check for the free download and the participating authors in the day's "hunt."
Friday, April 17, 2009
Gizmo Guy also pointed me to this site last night - there are some beautiful pictures gathered by the folks over at National Geographic. Don't forget to look through some of the previous months' photos - click on the drop down menu just above the thumbnails.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
(No, she's not really my daughter, but Amy was born three weeks before the day I married Gizmo Guy and I've often joked how she's young enough to BE my daughter. *head desk* I'm not OLD enough to have a daughter in her 30s. Srsly!)
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The first one is a behind the scenes look at the Sound of Music video I posted yesterday. Although it's not in English, you can pretty much understand what people are saying. Four weeks planning, 200 dancers ...
And this one was for a T-Mobile ad and takes place in Liverpool Station, England. Personally I prefer the Sound of Music one, the constant switching of songs in this loses some of the momentum, although towards the end I was flashing back to The Blues Brothers, LOL.
Kick back and enjoy!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
It annoyed me that after 200,000 tweets, the countless articles and blogs have been posted, I realized how other than the affected authors and industry people, few of the public realized that behind the book that had been deranked there was a person. A person who sat down and slaved over each word. A person who was losing money, losing their livelihood because of this *cough*bullshit*cough glitch/code f*ckup? Quite a few of my friends and fellow authors had their books delisted, both in the GBLT realm and the erotic romance realm. But as I wrote this at midnight, I had to decide who to focus on. After re-reading that LA times post, it became clear. The lady who created the original #amazonfail hashtag. She wasn't the only one twittering about the derankings that day, but she was the first to use the tag that was universally adopted.
So ... meet Storm Grant. Author. I've totally filched this from her bio on her website:
Storm is a Board member of the Toronto chapter of the RWA and a member of the From the Heart online chapter as well. She holds a degree in business and has spent three decades working in marketing and administration. Her writing experience includes commercial copywriting, as well as fiction. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and a miscellany of rescued pets and a rather messy house.(Oooh, messy house! I can so relate!)
Photo by Paul Schiratti
Although I've only met met Storm a few times at my Toronto Romance Writers meeting and honestly we're little more than passing acquaintances, Storm is one of the most unassuming, soft-spoken people I've met. However, even from the few times I've met her, I sense that she has a backbone of steel. That when she sets her mind to something, she persists. And she certainly has needed to persist this week.
When she posted that first twitter message with its #amazonfail hashtag, Storm wasn't looking for a boycott of Amazon. She hadn't thought a petition would be needed. She wasn't looking for anything more than for her book's rankings to be restored. The same thing every other author who was affected wanted.
Unfortunately at the time of me writing this post, Storm's book, Gym Dandy, still hadn't been returned to its rightful place. I searched from Amazon.com's main page yet still drew a blank with both her name and the book title. And when I did find Gym Dandy by searching the Book section, the rankings were still not listed.
**EDITED: Gym Dandy has now been restored to the rankings. But how much has Storm, and the other authors who have been delisted lost, both in time and money. Will they ever know? If your book isn't delisted yet, add it to the list being compiled here or if you're a Twitter member, tweet the information and add the #stilldelisted tag to your book information. Don't forget to check the various country sites of Amazon too. Some books are being re-ranked in the US but not in the UK. And yes, the .ca site was also affected by this "glitch".**
After this, I think authors and publishers will have to adopt Professor Moody's mantra: "Constant vigilance." I'm pretty sure Storm will be staying vigilant too. That backbone of hers is going to come in very handy.
So before all those twitters rant on about how the #amazonfail watchers need to "get a life", remember that this is that person's life. This is that person's livelihood. And Storm's one of the people being impacted by this ... code malfunction.
I had written paragraphs about my take on Amazon, and what had happened, but you know, it's been blogged about by people with a helluva lot more credentials than me. So I'm just going to post a few links of the ones I thought gave the best summations:
The best article looking at things from a PR point of view is by Kelley Eskridge over at "Humans at Work" called "The Lessons of Amazonfail". Kelley's post brings up all the relevant points of what did, and didn't happen, as well as suggesting what Amazon could have/should have done to mitigate the PR disaster #amazonfail turned into. I found myself nodding my head and thinking "Exactly!"
Booklorn, Literary Escapism, the ladies at Smart Bitches Trashy Books and Dear Author all have excellent posts if you've been living in a cave this past week and haven't been following what has been going on.
Now to lighten things up, I'll show you how I distracted myself yesterday from some of the trolls and misinformation that had me grinding my teeth. Thanks to Victoria Dahl to this link of a video of various people (Seth Rogan, Paul Rudd, George Will, Cheryl Hines) reading from 60 years worth of Harlequins. I couldn't help laughing out loud.
And this video Jane from Dear Author tweeted about last night ...
Monday, April 13, 2009
For the past couple days, Storm Grant, a fellow Toronto Romance Writer and Rainbow Romance writer member (Yes, I belong to a group promoting GBLT romances) has been twittering about how her book, Gym Dandy, had recently lost its rankings but she couldn't figure out why. If you go to Ms. Grant's twitter page, and scroll down through her posts for the last few days, you'll see she started talking about it on April 10th.
Yesterday morning, she twittered about a blog post made by Mark R. Probst, author of "The Filly". Mr. Probst had noticed a few days before that his book had been deranked. (more explanation on rankings a bit later) Mr. Probst finally got an answer from Amazon as to what they'd done. At 2 a.m. April 12th, he posted a screenshot of Amazon's reply:
In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.(By the way, Mr. Probst's book is a Young Adult book. There's nothing graphic about it. It's not an adult book at all.) Notice in the first screen capture, Storm also names a couple other authors who are affected - Erastes and Alex Beecroft, along with a big name one - Anne Rice's alter-ego Anne Rampling. (Do make sure you read both Storm's and Mr. Probst's blogs, along with the Smart Bitches and Dear Author's blogs - it's fascinating reading.)
It first came to MY attention around eight a.m. Sunday morning when Storm Grant twittered about Mark's post, and we chatted about that a few times. Now, I'd seen people on an author loop talking about their ranking disappearing over at Amazon over the past week or more, so it wasn't a "wow, look what's just happened" type of conversation.
A couple minutes later, Angela James twittered about needing ideas for a blog post. I recommended how books - both erotic and GBLT - were being deranked as a possible topic; Storm provided Angela the links. By that time, Storm had added the hashtag #amazonfail to her tweets about it. (For those unfamiliar with Twitter, a hash tag is a way to search posts.) When I checked on the hashtag during that discussion, the #amazonfail page was just that. A single page. And Storm's post was the very first to twitter about the deranking of books using the #Amazonfail hashtag. I wish I'd got a screenshot of that page, but I didn't think it would be relevant back then.
A few minutes later, Smart Bitches tweeted the addy to Mr. Probst's post, the same one Storm had sent to Angela. (I have no idea if Smart Bitches picked up on Storm's post to Angela or not, I'm just saying it happened at the same time.) Then the whole Twitterverse exploded. By the end of the day, there had been over 63,000+ posts and it was still going strong when I put this up. Publishers, editors, agents, the ladies over at Smart Bitches, and Dear Author, Neil Gaiman, even Demi Moore got into the discussion. Smart Bitches even managed to set up a Google bomb.
Later on Sunday evening, the LA Times posted about it, and I was very interested to read that they seem to want to take credit for starting the trend. That one of their people twittered about it and an hour later everything exploded at about 3 p.m. Um, I don't think so. See the post to Alex Draven below? That's the VERY first time the #amazonfail tag was used to discuss the deranking. Who knew that would be the spark that kindled the firestorm. *Snort, I just realized the irony of that term.*
Besides, the topic had been going on for a while amongst GBLT writers, it wasn't something that just 'suddenly appeared' yesterday. That fact seemed to get lost in those thousands of posts. Mr. Probst's blogpost along with Ms. Grant's twittering brought it to the fore, Smart Bitches (who have a big following that Storm and most of the other authors involved don't have) picked it up and it went viral.
Another thing that was lost in the wildfire posting -- it wasn't only GBLT books that were being deranked. Erotic romances are also affected. So authors like Lauren Dane, Jaci Burton, Maya Banks, Shelli Stevens and Kate Pearce, and all the Kensington Aphrodisia authors amongst a myriad of others, have been shunted aside even though they are being equally affected. How were they affected? Well, for one thing, if you searched from the main "All Categories" search engine on Amazon's front page, their books weren't showing up. Jaci Burton's Riding on Instinct which was released this week. Didn't show up. But wait a minute, you say, you've just provided a link to Amazon proving that it IS there. (By the way, did you notice it's Amazon.CA - so even the Canadian Amazon is being affected?) Thing is, when I did a search from the front page using the "All Categories" search box - yeah, it didn't show up. I had to actually type in "Jaci Burton's Riding On Instinct" If I hadn't known that she had that book released this week, I'd have never found it.
Same as one of Lauren's doesn't show up. Same as any Kensington Aphrodisia book. See that screen shot below? I searched for Kensington Aphrodisia on Amazon.com-- and lookee here, only 2 books showed up. That's it. And neither are Kensington Aphrodisias, are they? Starting to see how it might affect an author's sales? If a reader can't find the book when they're searching, they're not going to be able to buy it.
Now, for a proper explanation of what deranking means and how it affects a book's visibility and sales, I'm going to bow to the expertise of the ladies over at Dear Author. Go here. (What I really like about that post? It tells you that Amazon's lame explanation that it was all the result of a glitch, just doesn't cut it.)
Amazon finally responded late Sunday evening saying that it was a "glitch". (Personally I can't say I buy that excuse given that response Mr. Probst was given.) But then again, I've seen a lot of posts over the past year about how Amazon's processes are an absolute mystery even to the publishers. So ... it doesn't excuse them, but it's no surprise either.
Maybe I'm getting cautious as I'm getting older, but I don't think all the information is out yet, not enough for me to make an informed judgement. Frankly, it may never be. Nor do I have the contacts that people like the Smart Bitches and Dear Author ladies have. So I'll let them continue to update us. But in the meantime, it's been an exceedingly interesting thread to watch this past 24 hours. And an incredibly powerful reminder just how much power the internet has.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I made this one on my Mac using Final Cut Pro, a program the professionals use when making movies. OMG it's got a much longer learning curve than Windows Movie Maker, or Roxio, or even the Flash program I used for Private Property's trailer. Thank heavens, Guitar Hero and Curly both trained in it and could help me out. (Of course I wouldn't have even attempted using FCP without them.)
Personal Protection releases one month from today. OMG the time is going so fast. And in case you've forgotten (yes, I know, how could you forget, I harp on it so much) here's the blurb:
Sam Watson excels at keeping other people safe. Now a stalker is targeting him, but so what? A few doctored photos and a couple threatening phone calls are no big deal. He can watch his own back. Then again, the view from behind the sexy spitfire assigned to protect him isn’t so bad…
Rosalinda Ramos has managed to keep her attraction to Hauberk Security’s owner tightly under wraps. It’s just as well he doesn’t know. One slip—in the bedroom or on the job—will cost her her heart and her career, so she’s got only one thing on her mind. Protect Sam, whether he wants it or not.
The stakes—and the heat—rise exponentially when she discovers Sam belongs to an exclusive sex club—one she must investigate for potential suspects. Suddenly she finds herself immersed in a world that pushes her boundaries.
Sam delights in leading Rosie deep into his sexual shadows—until they go one game too far. Making him wonder if he can allow the woman he loves to take a bullet for him.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I've been fighting a miserable cold this week. (Thanks a lot, Gizmo Guy! grumble grumble) Yet, even though I am a bit discombobulated, I've had an incredibly productive day.
The discombobulation? I had thought my Toronto Romance Writers meeting was today and decided it wouldn't be very nice of me to go and infect everyone else. Luckily I twittered that I wouldn't be going and JK Coi informed me that the meeting had been put off to next week. There was a real *face/palm* moment. Good thing I didn't drive in to Toronto after all.
I've finalized two book trailers that I've been fiddling with. One I created last night on a whim - it's a funny little trailer for the short that I've written for the upcoming Spring Fling. I got to use some of my own home movies as well as some of Gizmo Guy's photography. And I finally finished tweaking Personal Protection's trailer. I'll put it up here tomorrow, since it'll be exactly one month til Sam's story releases. (Whoa, where's the time gone?) I had a lot of fun with both of them, and I've learned a lot about Final Cut Pro while making them.
Can you hear the choirs of angels singing the Hallelujah chorus? I can. And I'm singing with them because Guitar Hero drove himself over to Blue Monkey's place on his motorcycle this afternoon. It'll be the first time he's done that, thanks to the lousy weather we've had this past week. Yay! No more "Mom, can you drive me ..." Now I can say "Drive yourself!" (Although Blue Monkey isn't any more enthusiastic about getting on the back of the motorcycle than I would be. So if the two of them want to go out, I may still be drafted into a taxi service.) Next step: getting him his driver's license. Although I'm not keen on letting him drive my car either. And though you probably can't hear it, I can already hear him snarling when Blue Monkey tells him I wrote that last comment.
Oh, and I owe Gizmo Guy a bit of an apology - I doubted that he could fix our electrical problems in the office. *groveling to GG: You fixed it. I shouldn't have doubted you.* Yes, the power is back up in my office. Hmm, I hear those angels singing their Hallelujahs again. Maybe they're preparing for tonight's Easter Vigil. Either that or they're amazed that I can admit that I was wrong ... after all, that is fairly rare. My being wrong, I mean. ;)
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Power failure? I stuck my head out the office and realized the lights in the family room and kitchen were still on.
Rats. A fuse must have blown.
Luckily enough, Gizmo Guy was still home so he grabbed the flashlight and checked out the fusebox. (What idjit designed the basement wouldn't have thought to put a light in that area?) We had one of those fuses that have a little button on them so they act as a circuit breaker. Gizmo Guy called up and said it hadn't tripped, but he reset it anyway. The office was still dark. So he changed that fuse for another. Still nothing.
"It's okay," he told me. "You can still use your laptop."
Except I hadn't backed up my work to a flashdrive the last couple days. I ended up dragging the extension cord we use for the lawn mower out of the garage and hooked it up to the power bar between my office and a plug upstairs in the living room. It looked weird, but I booted up my mac, transferred my doc over to a flash drive and unplugged it again. At least I can work on my doc on my mini-mac (Thank Heavens GG managed to find a way to replace the hard drive in it recently.) So all is not lost.
GG's left the fuse out, and will have to spend this weekend tracking down the reason the power's not coming back on. "Open circuit somewhere" he muttered right before he left for work. All I could picture was arcing circuits and burning wall board. (Which is why he left the fuse out) However, as much confidence as I have in GG, I foresee us being without power in the office until next week when we have to call in an electrician. GG's having conniptions that they'll have to tear down the ceiling or walls in the office which means emptying everything in there. *Head desk* on that one. We just got it the way we like it, and there's SO much stuff in there I have no idea where we'd put it. I also foresee one big-a$$ed repair bill by the time it's all done.
In the meantime, go over to Hooked on Romance, where Angela James is being interviewed by fellow Samhain author Nikki Duncan. They're giving away 3 Samhain books (of your choice) throughout the day.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I've gathered a few pens from the various conferences I've attended; Gizmo Guy also has a stash from the company he used to work for since they gave them out to their clients. They're okay in a pinch, though the straight pens usually give uneven coverage. But when it comes to signing anything special or personal - my two contracts, for instance, or even yesterday, when I was writing up an envelope for Natasha who responded to yesterday's post about my new Personal Protection bookmarks, I use a very special pen.
It's part of a set Gizmo Guy gave me a few years back (I rarely use the pencil. The reason he bought me the set is the thing in the middle which can be inserted in the pencil and used as a stylus for PDAs - which I no longer use.) But that pen? I treasure it. I get into panics when I can't find it. I love the feel of the brushed gold in my fingers, the squishiness of the grip that molds to my fingers while I'm writing. (What a fantastic invention) I love how the ink smoothly rolls from the ball at the tip when I'm writing, something cheap ball points never satisfactorily manage. There's a weight to it too, so it feels like whatever I'm writing has substance, whether it does or not. When I hold it, I try to slow my writing down, make those perfect Os and Rs and Bs that I spent hours perfecting in grade school. My Ls take on an extra flourish.
I know my sons both learned cursive writing in school, but I don't think they ever spent the time, the energy, that people of my generation (boy this really makes me feel old) writing lines and lines of each letter, filling pages and pages of a notebook specifically dedicated to penmanship. I remember having lessons even in grade 7 to improve our handwriting. I also remember moving from up near Ottawa in grade 2 and being surprised to discover that my new school expected us to write our letters differently than they did at my old school.
Now I'll never give up my computer for writing my manuscripts. I can type almost 100 words a minute, there's no way I can write as fast as I can type. And my brain often outstrips my fingers even when they're typing. But still, there's nothing quite like receiving a note someone's taken the time to write out by hand. It's an unspoken "You're important enough to me to take the time to stop for a moment and write it instead of firing off an email."
Even better is when it's on special paper. This stationery set was sent to me by a friend who lives in England. The case is done in a creamy peach satin with lovely ribbon pansies that I'm wondering may have been hand-stitched as someone's craft. But the paper inside? Heavily embossed violets and pansies on smooth thick paper that screams class. The whole thing sings "this note is special". I guard them like gold, choosing to use one on only very special occasions. Because try as I might, I cannot find anything around here as beautiful. Usually the only notepaper I can find is the mass produced packages at Staples. I guess I'm old fashioned, but I love that personal touch, especially when it's on such gorgeous paper.
What about you? Do you hand-write notes anymore? Do you have a stash of special stationery? Or use a particular pen for important documents? Or is it a lost art?
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
You know how I said it was spring on Sunday? It's winter here again. There's a blanket of white stuff covering my poor little crocuses. *sob* Ah, well, at least I know it'll probably gone in a couple days as the temperatures are supposed to go back up into the 40s soon.
Gizmo Guy's been home with a nasty cold the last couple days, and now Guitar Hero has announced he's got it too. I suppose it's only a matter of time before I catch it. I know, I know, think positively and wash my hands a million times to stop the spread of germs.
Yesterday I got in a lovely package of bookmarks for Personal Protection. I never ordered any for Private Property since it'll never be a book, so these are a novelty. They've got my website header on one side, and the cover of Personal Protection along with the blurb and info on the other. They've turned out quite nicely. Now I just have to figure out what to do with them. Anyone want one? I'll send you one along with an oversized postcard of Private Property's cover ... just sayin'.
I am still working on the second draft of Andy's story, which means that I'm filling in a lot of scenes where I left myself placeholders like [insert sex scene here] or [you need something here about how Charley (that's the heroine) is threatened by Roger ... figure it out!] Which means I'm writing fresh a lot. It also means I'm having to turn off the internet and not check my mail, and NOT follow Twitter. OMG it's so addictive. I love it, but it's fatal to my productivity.
Yesterday, with Twitter turned off for most of the day, I wrote 3001 words - which is really good considering partway through, I sent Dani and Marley a panicked email saying I'd written myself (and my heroine) into the proverbial corner and had to make a door for the heroine to get out of it. Marley, bless her, phoned me and very quickly extracted the pertinent information from me (never an easy task). She made a couple suggestions that were real *face/palm* moments. Of course! It was so obvious! I'd already written a solution that could be used, why didn't I think of it? Because I was too close to the story. I don't know what I'd do without my critique partners some days.
Thing is, I plotted this one. In fact, I plotted Sam's story. Yet as soon as I start writing I realize the plot isn't working, or my new writing is better than the plot, and my notes get trashed and I have to start again. I'm tired of writing 130K for a 70K book. One of these days I'll figure out how to write more effectively. I can only hope.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Which is why they're calling for snow on Monday and Tuesday. Ugh.
But I thought I'd share with you what I spent about an hour on this evening. GG and I have been trying to switch our old camcorder tapes over to DVDs before the tapes disintegrate and are lost forever. It's been a blast looking back to when the kids were little. But as I was finishing things up, I took a couple clips from our new video camera and played around on Roxio with them. (I have been learning Final Cute Pro, but OMG, it took me 3 HOURS to render a 49 second clip, and this little video is 2 minutes. Can you imagine how long that would have taken me?)
Anyway I'm quite pleased with the result. Nope, this isn't a book trailer, it's a video of Niagara Falls that we took last October, with some lovely relaxing music in the background.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
I've been working hard this week on a couple projects. Andy's story - I still have to find a title for the poor guy. I've added another eight thousand words this week - I hadn't realized I'd been that productive until I looked at last week's figures. And I've written another story for the upcoming Spring Fling Samhellion promotion - with more freebie stories, and another contest. It starts mid April - I'll post the links here when it goes active.
Normally I write 2K a day, and can polish off a freebie in a day and a half. However, this particular story kicked my butt. It took me over a week. Mainly because it had to be spring related, but I couldn't figure out which way to take it. Despite having long talks with Dani and Marley trying to brainstorm, and the terrific ideas they gave me, I ended up going my own. Instead of tying it to the Hauberk series the way I did with my New Year's story, First Night, I've written a standalone story. When I think of spring, I think of our honeymoon in Niagara Falls, surrounded by all those gorgeous flowers. (the picture to the left is one we took in 1979 when they still held the Blossom Festival. That's the American Falls in behind.) Yup, you're finally getting a Canadian story from me. And instead of being a sexy, steamy-hot story, it's sweet. A definite departure for me, but the storyline just didn't work as an erotica.