October 19, 2014

tl;dr: Author violates blogger’s privacy, stalks her, visits her at home, calls her at work, and wonders why the blogger doesn’t use her real name online. I can’t even make this up.

Updaed 20/10/2014 to add links to Dear Author and SBTB’s round-up of the article and reactions.

I rarely talk about author/blogger-reviewer stoushes here because, well, the minefield is endless and better bloggers than I will usually cover all the pertinent details more articulately.

But today, The Guardian published a piece that, as a I read it, literally made me feel like I might vomit.

If you’re even tangentially interested in books, or online reviewing of any kind, you need to read it. Basically, a debut author (linked but not named so egosurfing gets no hits from me) receives a tweet from a blogger, realises that the blogger hated her book, joins the STGRB support group, visits the blogger at home and later calls her at work, and feels vaguely satisfied to have proven that said blogger was not using her real name and personal details online.

As many on Twitter have pointed out, the ethics of publishing this piece is questionable. Yes, the first person account is intriguing in a train wreck sort of way, but this isn’t fiction. And it might not be over. Which means a reader was stalked — and in all likelihood is still feeling unsafe — because she talked about why she hated a book. Because I’m fairly sure this would never have escalated had that review been 5-stars and effusive in praise.

And yet something strange — and fairly hideous — happened on social media. You can read the comments to the article yourself, and I have a curated Storify thread here with some tweets, but it’s by no means extensive. Though most authors and readers were quick to express shock, horror and dismay at the stalker’s actions, some authors tweeted support, calling the stalker ‘bold’, and one even asked for a follow-up, possibly a ‘thriller’.

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Posted by Kat in *Opinions (9 comments)
October 13, 2014

The Shadows by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 13) - US editionTeasers and tidbits for the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Fallen Angels and Bourbon Kings series.

Need to brush up on your BDB knowledge? Click here for the BDB cheat sheets.

JR Ward’s official FB page has posted a rough transcript of the Q&A from the signing she held with Karen Marie Moning, which contains spoilers from the Fallen Angels series (including the newly released Immortal) and teasers from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

I think the biggest teaser of the night was the back story involving Vishous, Lassiter, Throe (current or his father?) and Throe’s sister, which has to do with why other characters can’t stand Lassiter. I get the feeling that Throe’s sister may have been the ‘her’ Vishous mentioned when giving Lassiter crap.

Eddie and Adrian have to find Lassiter (Immortal tells us a bit about his place in the angel world). They will get their own books but it will be a while and the BDB has to catch up a couple months to the Fallen Angels world (I’d say this will be at least two books). Lassiter just enjoys pissing people off.

Ward knows who the next two books will be about, but can’t say.

We’re also getting a teaser of a teaser that she has to ‘ease her boss into’ before sharing.

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October 4, 2014

If you’re interested in helping Jane Litte defend herself against Ellora’s Cave, here are the details.

Sarah Wendell, from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, has set up the Dear Author/Jane Litte Defence Fund via Go Fund Me. The fund aims to raise $50,000, to be used if and when Jane’s costs exceed the $20,000 of her personal funds. You can read more about the fund here.

I won’t repeat what has already been said at Dear Author, SMTB, and various blogs and social media platforms, except to say I fully support Jane. In the last 24 hours, the fun has raised almost 75% of the target amount. Notably, many of the donors are authors (and I suspect many of the anonymous donors, too).

I can’t be sure of Ellora’s Cave’s motives in suing Jane and Dear Author, but the law suit smacks of desperation and an attempt to distract the romance community from the allegations made in Jane’s post. I don’t think it’s working. Ellora’s Cave and its management have come under great scrutiny, and frankly, the responses from Ellora’s Cave aren’t exactly the model of professionalism.

On Twitter, the romance community is using the hashtag #notchilled to keep Ellora’s Cave under the spotlight.

Since my previous post on why authors should support Jane, the following posts have also appeared. They’re worth reading if you’re interested in the progress of the case:

Ellora’s Cave v Dear Author update at Dear Author
A note about confidentiality clauses #notchilled by Courtney Milan
Dear Author legal defense fund by Ilona Andrews
Ellora’s Cave. The Grabbed series. #notchilled by Lolita Lopez
Tina Engler from Ellora’s Cave responds to a post on The Passive Guy
Just for you-know-what and giggles by Cat Grant (includes EC statements)
Let’s stop winter from coming by the folks at AAR
A list of titles by Ellora’s Cave authors who have books out via different publishers at S&M’s Book Obsessions — As a bonus, affiliate commissions will go to Dear Author if you buy using the links in this post

Posted by Kat in Industry news (Leave a comment)
Keywords: dear author
September 30, 2014

The chilling case of Ellora’s Cave.

The biggest news in romance this week — and probably in the coming weeks — is publisher Ellora’s Cave’s defamation suit against Jane Litte from Dear Author, which Jane plans to fight. Last month, Jane published a piece on Dear Author that looks into allegations that Ellora’s Cave is facing financial problems (The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave).

In a stunning coincidence, the biggest news in Australian journalism this week is the passing of national security laws that bring severe penalties for journalists and whistleblower who disclose information relating to intelligence operations.

What do these two events have in common? you’re probably asking. Well, they’re both about curtailing the ability to expose potentially questionable practices to public scrutiny.

You know that saying about bad things happening when good people do nothing? That happens when there’s no mechanism to protect people against retribution when they stand up and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. When the risk of speaking out and exposing wrongdoing (actual or potential) is stacked against the whistleblower, it creates a situation where undesirable behaviour can flourish.

We’ve been hearing rumours about Ellora’s Cave for a while now. I generally don’t post these kinds of rumours because I just don’t have the same sources as the bigger bloggers, including Jane, nor the contacts to independently verify what I hear. But I’ve heard them from people online and offline. I’ve heard them from people I trust as having a pretty good sense of the industry. So when I read Jane’s piece on Dear Author, I wasn’t surprised by the content so much as the sense that authors were afraid to speak out.

Authors who have a beef with Jane or Dear Author might well be feeling some glee right about now. Even putting aside the pettiness of such an attitude, this is the wrong fight for authors to pick against bloggers.

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Posted by Kat in *Opinions, Industry news (8 comments)
Keywords: dear author
August 28, 2014

The cover and back cover blurb for The Shadows have been revealed! Tentative release date is April 2015. Virtual signing for Immortal opens tonight at 11pm AEST, plus future books by J. R. Ward.

Need to brush up on your BDB knowledge? Click here for the BDB cheat sheets.

The Shadows by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 13) - US editionTHE SHADOWS by J. R. Ward

Two brothers bound by more than blood fight to change a brutal destiny in the heart-wrenching new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward.

Trez “Latimer” doesn’t really exist. And not just because the identity was created so that a Shadow could function in the underbelly of the human world. Sold by his parents to the Queen of the S’Hisbe as a child, Trez escaped the Territory and has been a pimp and an enforcer in Caldwell, NY for years- all the while on the run from a destiny of sexual servitude. He’s never had anyone he could totally rely on… except for his brother, iAm.

iAm’s sole goal has always been to keep his brother from self-destructing- and he knows he’s failed. It’s not until the Chosen Selena enters Trez’s life that the male begins to turn things around… but by then it’s too late. The pledge to mate the Queen’s daughter comes due and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no negotiating.

Trapped between his heart and a fate he never volunteered for, Trez must decide whether to endanger himself and others- or forever leave behind the female he’s in love with. But then an unimaginable tragedy strikes and changes everything. Staring out over an emotional abyss, Trez must find a reason to go on or risk losing himself and his soul forever. And iAm, in the name of brotherly love, is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice…

Booktopia | Bookworld | Amazon US | Book Depository | Kobo | Library

J. R. Ward will start writing The Shadows in September and it is expected to be released in April 2015.

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August 12, 2014

Harlequin achieved a clean sweep as Australian romance book industry’s top prizes were awarded last Saturday at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney in a gala dinner that was capped off by a moving speech by Hall of Fame inductee Emma Darcy.

One Life Changing Moment by Lucy Clark - Australian edition What The Bride Didn't Know by Kelly Hunter - Australian edition Her Favourite Rival by Sarah Mayberry - Australian edition Lost in Kakadu by Kendall Talbot

The Romantic Book of the Year awards, known affectionately as the RUBY by the Romance Writers of Australia, were presented last Saturday at the Novotel, Sydney Olympic Park, and all the major awards went to Harlequin authors. Lucy Clark won the Short and Sweet category with her Medical book One Life Changing MomentKelly Hunter won the Short and Sexy category for What the Bride Didn’t Know (Harlequin Kiss). Kendall Talbot took home the prize for Romantic Elements for her unusual story featuring a trophy wife, a bisexual hero and a plane crash in Lost in Kakadu. The win was also a first for Escape Publishing. Sarah Mayberry took home the RUBY for Long Romance with Her Favourite Rival (Harlequin SuperRomance) as well as the ELLA for her novella Worth The Risk.

Emma Darcy (source: Harlequin)

Emma Darcy (Source: Harlequin)

The night, however, belonged to Mills and Boon author Emma Darcy, who was inducted to RWA’s Hall of Fame. Darcy received a standing ovation before giving a moving speech that included a tribute to her late husband Frank. Audience members were reduced to tears and laughter. Darcy summarised the appeal of romance fiction with the 5Fs: ‘fantasy, feelgood, fun and fabulous fucking!’

The Romance Media Award went to yours truly for my opinion piece on The Drum, ‘Dear columnists, romance fiction is not your bitch’. Presenter Nikki Logan revealed that for the first time, the ROMA nominees included blog posts and opinion pieces. I can’t even express how honoured and overwhelmed I was to receive this award.

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Posted by Kat in Industry news (2 comments)
August 5, 2014

Everlove: Rose by Silicon SistersEverlove: Rose raises the game in the romance genre with a unique interactive experience designed to appeal to romance readers.

A review copy of this app was generously provided by Silicon Sisters Interactive.

While you can possibly only label me a casual gamer at best, I used to work in mobile application design, so I was excited to try out the ‘interactive’ romance novel, Everlove: Rose.

Everlove: Rose was specifically made for romance readers by Silicon Sisters, a Canadian company led by women creating video games for women.

Everlove: Rose is a historical romance with a medieval setting and a storyline that changes based on the decisions you make. The heroine is Rose, a career woman struggling to understand her hang-ups with men, who turns to past-life regression for insight. Under hypnosis she’s transported to the medieval village of Heart’s Home, where she soon discovers that she has chemistry with several of the local hotties. You get to decide what she says and who she pursues, with each decision you make shaping Rose’s personality and defining where the romance goes.

Everlove: Rose - screenshotAs a visual novel Everlove: Rose succeeds more than as a game. The premise on a superficial level seems like a weird excuse to just get with hot dudes in a fantastical setting. And hey, maybe that’s exactly what some women want, but I was somewhat bothered by the idea of roleplaying a modern career woman (though you don’t even get the sense that she is one) with ‘issues’ justifying a romp in the Middle Ages. The game begins during a ‘past life regression therapy’ session, which is how Rose is ‘transported’ to the medieval period. Hypnotherapy is actually kind of a scary situation to begin a fantasy in, no?

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Posted by Jen in Other, Reviews (Leave a comment)
Keywords: games, time travel
August 2, 2014

2014 Byron Bay Writers Festival bannerRomance panel at Byron Bay Writers Festival, featuring Amy Andrews and Jennifer St George with Mandy Nolan.

Finally, we have a writers’ festival with actual romance authors in the program! If you’re at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival this weekend, make sure you check out tomorrow’s panel, Be Still My Beating Heart: Writing Romance, where local celebrity comedian Mandy Nolan chats with Amy Andrews and Jennifer St George and explores the world of romance writing and what it’s like to be a contemporary romance author.

The event is on Sunday, August 3 from 12.45pm to 1.30pm at the New Philosopher Marquee. You can purchase your tickets here or at the Festival. You can download the full program here (pdf). 

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July 31, 2014

Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl (Girls' Night Out, Book 1)If he had a beard, the hero would be the actual perfect man.

Kat’s note: When Rudi of the Famous Romance Shoes mentioned she was looking forward to Victoria Dahl’s latest book, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to invite her over for a guest review. An advance reading copy of this book was generously provided by Harlequin Australia.

Rudi Bremer is a romance genre nerd, emerging radio broadcaster, and the owner of some pretty amazing shoes. After reading countless articles suggesting all romance readers must want a man exactly like the heroes they read about, she began her search for a Scottish werewolf with a dukedom. She is still searching, but remains hopeful.

Looking For Trouble is hot, guys. Like really, really hot. To the point where I pretty much didn’t care about the plot as long as Sophie and Alex kept touching each other. Or talking about touching each other. Or thinking about touching each other. And for the most part that’s exactly what Victoria Dahl delivers — THANK GOD!!! Like in this scene (which co-incidentally inspired my favourite button from the RT conference)

‘I guess nice girls like this,’ he growled.

‘Yes,’ she whispered.

‘What else do they like?’

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July 21, 2014

2014 ARRC15 banner darkThe 2015 Australian Romance Readers Convention registration details have been released!

ARRC 2015 will be at the QT Hotel, Canberra, from March 6 to March 8, 2015. Keynote speakers Sylvia Day, Victoria Dahl and Helene Young are confirmed, and ARRA revealed that Kelley Armstrong will also be coming to the convention.

ARRC 2015 has two platinum sponsors this year — Booktopia, who has supported ARRC since the very first convention, and eXtasy Books. Yay for platinum sponsors! The official bookshop is Dymocks Canberra. They will be accepting pre-orders for the convention, and I’m told they will also offer a mail home service for people who run out of luggage space for their loot!

Registration rates are:

Author pre-registration — $225/$245 (closes Aug 16)

Reader early-bird (ARRA members only) — $225 (closes Jul 31)

Registration (from Sep 1) — $255/$275

Day only — $150

Booksigning only — $15

Welcome reception — $53 (Update: I originally posted the incorrect rate.)

Awards dinner — $79

Early-bird registration is for members only (limit of 50) and closes July 31. Author pre-registration closes August 16 (limit of 100). Regular registration opens September 1 and closes March 1. The full rate is for the entire weekend (Friday to Sunday) and includes morning and afternoon teas, lunches, and entry to all sessions, including the booksigning. The cocktails and ARRA dinner are separate. Booksigning ticket only will be available from December 1.

Guys, it is going to be SO MUCH FUN. Plans are already afoot for shenanigans on Friday night after trivia, so watch this space! Let us know if we’ll see you in Canberra next year!