BOOKMARKED is the name we gave to our paper.li journal, but since not everyone is on Twitter and not everyone on Twitter likes paper.li, I thought I’d run an adhoc omnibus of links on the blog to highlight links and news that might be of interest.
Author Monica Jackson has passed away
I remember Jackson from some passionate comment threads at Dear Author around race and diversity in romance, back before I started this blog. I didn’t know her well, but I do remember reading a comment she wrote, which completely changed how I read those comment threads. I can’t remember her exact words—I think it was to do with tone and why it’s okay for commenters to be angry and passionate—but she made me think about my own behaviour, and it was a turning point for me as a blogger and as a participant in the romance community. You can read Karen’s tribute post here.
Charlaine Harris — Australian tour
Charlaine Harris, bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series will be touring Australia in July, followed by New Zealand in August. Tour details are still to be confirmed. She’s definitely scheduled to be at Tru Blood 2 (July 28 in Sydney and July 29 in Melbourne), but given the ticket prices I’ll take my chances on a local bookshop appearance. You can stalk her event calendar for details as they become available.
SMH TV has made available for free a romance documentary called Guilty Pleasures:
Every four seconds a Harlequin Mills & Boon romance novel is sold somewhere in the world. In India, the books give Shumita hope that her straying husband will return. In Japan, housewife Hiroko yearns to make fantasy reality with her handsome ballroom dancing teacher. And in Warrington, mum-of-three Shirley rifles through the books for ideas on how to keep her marriage spicy. But it’s not only the female readers who dream of a perfect romance. New York model Stephen has been on over 200 Mills & Boon covers, but can’t find his true love. While romance novelist Gill Sanderson is in fact a pensioner called Roger, writing from a caravan in the North of England. Guilty Pleasures explores our universal struggle to reconcile inner fantasy with the tragicomic truths of real-life relationships.
It’s a really interesting documentary, and even though I wouldn’t call it a broad representation of romance readers and authors, I think it’s quite a moving look at how romance books have affected the lives of five different individuals. There’s still some stereotyping of what romance novels are, although Sanderson is a great ambassador for the genre.
The show is around 90 minutes long, so make sure you have a good broadband connection.
New Aussie romance blog — Hot & Bothered
I recently discovered a romance blog by Melbourne-based Ms. L called Hot & Bothered. She also tweets as @HnBblog. I particularly love her Vintage Book Friday posts. Some of those old covers are just awesome.
Sarah Frantz moves on from Dear Author
And speaking of bloggers, in case you didn’t see it, Sarah Frantz announced last month that she’s leaving Dear Author’s team of reviewers to pursue freelance editing and BDSM consultation. She’s been a fantastic asset to Dear Author, and she’s provided me with some great recommendations, so she’ll definitely be missed. But there’s always Twitter, and I’m looking forward to seeing what new and interesting things she’ll be doing next.
Women should stop defending romance and start making fun of the fantasies men enjoy
So starts Sydney Smith’s Fairfax article, Female authors write only chick-lit? That’s pure fiction. It’s difficult to summarise the article, but it looks at the tone of criticism against romance fiction. Some snippets:
the bulk of criticism of women’s fiction is aimed at the fantasies its readers take pleasure in. Moreover, it comes from women themselves. Men don’t have to lift a finger, unless they really want to. Possibly, women’s fiction is a blip on the edge of their radar, if it registers at all.
That tends to make it a one-sided fight. And it is a fight. These women are battling the notion that the romance and other soft-focus tales about women are vain and unforgivably declasse in contrast to the narratives men enjoy.
…women are struggling against the unspoken assumption that their fiction is inferior to men’s. They have, consciously or not, rated feminine fantasies alongside men’s, and found them ludicrous.
But since the only people who care about the issue are women, they are fighting a battle they have already lost.
And the bit that made me laugh, and which I’m seriously considering taking up as a cause, at least among family and friends:
If women really want something to fight, other than themselves, they should stop defending romance, or satirising it, ridiculing it, demolishing it, and start making fun of the fantasies men enjoy.
Go and read it, then come back and tell us what you think.
An author rethinks her unhappy ending
Via @charlottesucks I read this interesting post, On writing happy endings, by author Mardi McConnochie, who wonders if she did one of her books a disservice by killing off one of the characters. It’s a really interesting perspective from an author (and I note that a few of the comments were very much against the idea):
How you resolve the story does have a big impact on the way the reader views everything that’s come before. I’m beginning to think that withholding that kind of pleasure from readers is unfair. And it also does the work a disservice. The wrong ending can spoil a book, and if what you want is for people to like your book enough to want to give it to other people to read, how you end it really does matter. If you’re a writer who’s fundamentally dealing in wish fulfilment, as I am, getting to the end of the story and not fulfilling the wish is an act of bad faith. Or bad manners.
Momentum drops DRM
Last month, Momentum Books announced that they’re phasing out DRM and will be releasing DRM-free books by August. Momentum now claims that they are ‘the first imprint of a major Australian publisher to drop DRM’. Let’s hope more will follow, because it’s been a long time coming in Australia. Now if they can just make their books available at the booksellers from which I buy my ebooks, life would be sweet.
Also, I love this quote from author Nathan Farrugia: ‘But I think if pirates are better at distributing your ebooks than you are, then you’re doing it wrong.’
HarperCollins launches 360 Global Program
More recently, HarperCollins launched an initiative aimed at ensuring:
that all books published by any division of HarperCollins around the world are available in print or digital format in all English-language markets. When the program is fully implemented, the HarperCollins global catalog — 50,000 print books and 40,000 e-books — will be available, limited only by the rights held, not by technology or geography. Authors published in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, India, and Canada will be listed, published, and available to booksellers and consumers in the U.S. through the HarperCollins global print and digital platforms that include regional warehousing with on-site printing machines. (Source: Press release via @kate_eltham)
I’m not actually sure what this means, and if you speak publisher, this post by Samantha Francis at Booknet Canada (via @pronunciate) might give some insights. It sounds like a good deal for US readers and, to some extent, Australian authors whose work will become available to the larger US market. But I’m not sure what this means for territorial rights, PIR, royalties and Australian booksellers.
Women in speculative fiction
A recent Fairfax article (Frontier womenby Linda Morris, via @OverlandJournal) provides a good summary of women in SFF—as authors, readers and characters. If you have time, it’s a good read with quote from a variety of Australian female SFF authors. Some interesting quotes from the article:
- ‘Only twice in 17 years has the [Aurealis] featured more women than men: this year and last when it was an all-female final.’
- From writer and speculative fiction author Lucy Sussex: ‘all sorts of hybrids have been created as books leap off shelf categories and ”madly fornicate on the carpet”.’
- SFF romance is ‘dismissed as science lite with mushy bits.’
- ‘Hard-core science fiction, featuring genetics, nanotechnology, space flight, biotechnology, military hardware, computing and epic fantasy…remain difficult niches for women to crack.’
- From Cosmos fiction editor Cat Sparks: ‘A particular bugbear of mine is the supposed strong female character who is really just a male with boobs, acting like a cardboard-cutout hero. It’s lazy writing catering to the lowest common denominator.’