Romance

Ellora’s Cave Now Threatening RWA With Bogus Defamation Lawsuit

23 May 2016

From The Digital Reader:

The romance publisher Ellora’s Cave has moved on from trying to silence book bloggers with a SLAPP lawsuit; now it is reportedly making threats against the Romance Writers of America.

The RWA is the leading writers association for the romance genre. While it has no legal authority, it does have considerable industry clout. It can sanction publishers for violations of the RWA’s Code of Ethics for Industry Professionals, and has done so in the past when publishers cheated  authors out of royalties or otherwise tried to exploit authors (Harlequin and DellArte Press, for example).

Throughout Ellora’s Cave’s ongoing financial problems, the RWA has been pressuring the publisher to pay authors overdue royalties or release the authors from their contracts. The RWA has banned Ellora’s Cave from conferences and forbidden the publisher from contacting RWA chapters to recruit new authors.

. . . .

Author Kellie Jamieson has revealed on Facebook that Ellora’s Cave is making legal threats against the RWA. On Thursday she published part of a notice which she says the RWA sent out.

RWA has repeatedly contacted management at Ellora’s Cave to demand payment to authors. RWA has also requested that the publisher revert rights if it is unable to pay authors in full. The response we received was a letter signed by Steve Mastrantonio, attorney for Ellora’s Cave, in which he states, “any premature comment by RWA that Ellora’s Cave is in breach of their agreements is reckless, false and Defamatory.” Mr. Mastrantonio asserts that Ellora’s Cave is paying authors as it should, and “any false comments by RWA to harm his clients reputation will be dealt with in a forceful manner.

In light of Ellora’s Cave’s lawsuit against the Dear Author book blog, that is not a legal warning so much as it is an outright threat, an attempt to silence the RWA through legal intimidation.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

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Google Is Feeding Romance Novels To Its Artificial Intelligence Engine To Make Its Products More Conversational

6 May 2016

From Buzzfeed:

“Her blouse sprang apart. He was assaulted with the sight of lots of pale creamy flesh bursting out of a hot pink bra, the cleavage high and perky. It was a gorgeous surprise, all that breast she’d been hiding under her crisp tailored shirts.”

That passage may not turn you on, but it’s certainly working for Google’s artificial intelligence engine.

For the past few months, Google has been feeding text like this to an AI engine — all of it taken from steamy romance novels with titles like Unconditional Love, Ignited,Fatal Desire, and Jacked Up. Google’s AI has read them all — every randy, bodice-ripping page — because the researchers overseeing its development have determined that parsing the text of romance novels could be a great way of enhancing the company’s technology with some of the personality and conversational skills it lacks.

And it’s working, too. Google’s research team recently got the AI to write sentences that resemble those in the books. With that achievement unlocked, they’re now planning to move on to bigger challenges: using the conversational styles the AI has learned to inform and humanize the company’s products, such as the typically staid Google app.

. . . .

Romance novels make great training material for AI because they all essentially use the same plot to tell similar stories with different words. “Girl falls in love with boy, boy falls in love with a different girl. Romance tragedy,” Dai said. By reading thousands of such books, the AI can detect which sentences contain similar meanings and gain a more nuanced understanding of language. Romance novels work better than children’s learn-to-read books, since they offer a broad range of linguistic examples for the AI to draw from.

. . . .

After ingesting those romance novels, Google’s AI engine composed sentences of its own using what it learned from them. It then evaluated these new sentences against the original text. The process was repeated over and over again, with the AI self-calibrating as it went along — writing better and better sentences.

Link to the rest at Buzzfeed and thanks to MKS for the tip.

A hunger for romance in northern Nigeria

4 May 2016

From The BBC:

Women and girls in northern Nigeria have a voracious appetite for romantic fiction that is taking on conservative attitudes in this largely Muslim region.

Written in the local Hausa language by women for women, Kano city’s equivalent of the Mills and Boons industry, known as “Litattafan Soyayya”, is a booming business.

“I read these novels to know how to handle complex life issues, like courtship and what life is in the matrimonial home,” says 23-year-old Hadiza Ibrahim Kabuga.

One of the bestsellers, A Daren Farko, meaning “On the First Night”, is especially popular with girls and young women about to be married – detailing what they can expect on their first night in the marriage bed.

The novels are a way for women to talk about issues not openly discussed in northern Nigeria.

. . . .

“In my writing I give more attention to women’s issues, like marriage, polygamy and education,” says Fauziyyah B Suleiman, who has written 32 novels and makes enough money to live by her writing.

. . . .

One called Rumaysah deals with polygamy and the complications that come with it.

Rumaysah is a woman driven by jealousy who is determined to stop her husband from taking a second wife and ends up murdering him.

The trickery and subterfuge of life in a polygamous family is also raised by many of the novels.

Others will, for example, chronicle the rise of an illiterate child bride who rebels against her family to get an education – ending with her becoming aware of her rights within and outside the family.

“Such novels bring to the fore the much-needed change in the way women are treated in Hausa society,” says literary critic Murtala Abdullahi.

. . . .

The novels sell for about 300 naira ($1.50, £1) each and can be bought at book stalls in all markets.

“Every week at least five new novels come on to the market – some selling in their thousands,” says Ali Mai Litattafai, who runs a bookshop in old Kano city.

“In the past people had the wrong impression of issues such novels raise, but now people have realised that they are for the good of the society.”

At one of the shops I met a boy who came to pick up the latest novels for his mother – some women here stay at home as they are not allowed to mix with men in public.

Most of Mr Litattafai’s customers are married women, some of whom buy in bulk and then loan out copies of the romances in their neighbourhoods for a small fee.

It is usually about $0.70 to borrow three books for a week.

Link to the rest at The BBC and thanks to J.A. for the tip.

Authors out of thousands of dollars after event is abruptly canceled

30 April 2016

From 12 on Your Side:

A group of romance authors contacted 12 On Your Side after an event, which many of them had already paid for, was abruptly canceled.

It appears refunds will not be happening.

It’s a debacle and the alleged reason given for the cancellation reads like an excerpt from a horror novel.

Lauren Calhoun is accused of canceling a big affair for romance authors and readers after the event planner collected registration fees through a Paypal account.

Best-selling author and alleged victim Carey Heywood says, “There were people traveling from Canada to attend this event.”

Calhoun’s online profile says she’s an open book but the authors say she’s hiding.

Calhoun isn’t answering emails, calls or Facebook messages from them or from 12 On Your Side.

. . . .

The meet-and-greet was set for April 30th but, a mass e-mail on April 13 from Calhoun said the event was canceled because of alleged terror threats.

Calhoun added she was sorry and would issue refunds but now, no one can get a hold of her.

“Not only did you steal my money, but now you’re lying to me as well,” Allen said. “We know there was not a terrorist threat against the event.”

. . . .

“I don’t think she intentionally set out to scam us but I think she used our money fraudulently,” Lynn says. “I definitely think it’s criminal. I mean we’re talking over $10,000 easily.”

Link to the rest at 12 on Your Side and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

The closing of Harlequin Blaze / Harlequin Historical

27 April 2016

From Dear Author:

Harlequin Blaze will be published until June 2017. All Blaze titles will continue to be available for purchase at Harlequin.com and digital retailers (hence no rights reversion). Harlequin is opening a new line:

Harlequin is thrilled to announce the launch of a new sexy, contemporary series in July 2017.  After carefully studying the market and monitoring reader feedback to our books and to competitive books, we are developing a series with a fresh new approach to the “passion” positioning. We will have more information to share with you in the near future.

With the launch of this sexy contemporary series, we have made the decision to end the publication of Harlequin Blaze, effective June 2017.

In addition, as of July 2017, in North America, Harlequin Romance and Harlequin Historical will be available exclusively through online retailers, in both print and digital formats, and in print through our Direct-to-Consumer channels, where sales are strongest. There is no change to the availability of either series in Overseas markets.

Link to the rest at Dear Author

Proposed Settlement in Harlequin Class Action Suit

20 April 2016

A proposed settlement of the class-action suit by Harlequin authors against Harlequin for underpayment of royalties has been released.



HQ-Settlement (Text)

For more information, go to Harlequin Settlement and thanks to JoAnn for the tip.

Digital reading driven by older women

17 April 2016

From The Guardian:

Fuelled on a diet of romance and crime, new research claims the digital reading revolution is being powered by “prolific” readers who are predominantly female and over 45.

A study carried out for ebook retailer Kobo suggests that women represent 75% of the most active e-readers – defined as readers who spend at least 30 minutes a day using electronic books.

“They are the engine that powers the industry,” said chief executive Michael Tamblyn. “The industry has intuitively known this, but we wanted to shine a light on it.”

Around 77% of the most active readers – who make up a 10th of Kobo’s 28 million customers – are aged 45 and over, with the largest single group (30%) aged between 55 and 64. Kobo said this makes e-reading “the first technological revolution being driven by [those aged] 45 and older, rather than younger generations”.

. . . .

Kobo found that the average prolific reader used print and digital formats, reading two print books a month, and buying 16 print books a year, as well as 60 ebooks. Some 16% of Kobo’s most enthusiastic customers said they bought an ebook “almost every day”. They overwhelmingly preferred to read romance novels, the retailer reported, with the category accounting for more than twice the number of unit sales as general fiction, the second most popular category. Mystery novels came in third. Prolific readers who chose romance were reading for almost 90 minutes a day, and finding time more than six times a day to settle down with a book.

“Romance tends to be a little bit shorter, and more affordable,” said Tamblyn. “It’s a place where digital has become overrepresented – it’s quite difficult for a bricks and mortar store to stock the range and selection these passionate readers want, as they can’t devote the space to it. So these customers have come much more quickly to digital.”

. . . .

Older women carried less purchasing heft in the print book market, Bohme continued, accounting for 20% by volume in 2015 – a figure influenced by parents buying books for their children. But the enthusiasm among older women for reading revealed by the Kobo survey was matched in figures on library usage.

“Older women are relatively likely to borrow (print) books from public libraries,” Bohme added, “accounting for 32% of borrowers in 2015.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Patrice for the tip.

With Romance Novels Booming, Beefcake Sells, but It Doesn’t Pay

5 April 2016

From The New York Times:

Jason Aaron Baca is good-looking, not handsome like the Ryans (Gosling and Reynolds) or rugged like Daniel Craig, who is fetching in a tailored Tom Ford suit. But when Mr. Baca, 42, slipped on a pair of dark aviator glasses recently, he looked remarkably like Tom Cruise in “Top Gun.”

He was dressed for work in a khaki military jumpsuit. And even though it was barely noon, he had already stopped by the gym to make sure his biceps and legs looked combat-strong. His assignment: To be a military helicopter pilot saved in a crash by a female rescuer with whom he once had a torrid affair. Now that they’re reunited, their passions have flared.

Mr. Baca is a cover model for romance novels. He has been on nearly 500 book covers, by his own account — one of scores of men like him vying to be heroic heartthrobs. Not since the flaxen-haired Fabio Lanzoni dominated drugstore book racks in the 1980s and 1990s, with his lion’s mane and bulging biceps, have cover models been in such demand.

“Look at me like you are really mad at me,” cooed Portia Shao, his photographer that day. “Show me your good side.”

After a few more clicks of the shutter, he and Ms. Shao paused to examine his work on a 2-by-4-foot television screen. “It looks good because it has everything,” Mr. Baca said. The smoldering gaze. A glimpse of his six-pack abs. Mr. Baca had even thrust his pelvis forward, a trick he learned to make his stomach appear flatter and ensure the ladies looked, well, you know,there.

Romance writers and publishers, as it happens, are among publishing’s most innovative participants. They were early to digital serialization. Booksellers, too, now crowdsource ideas to find fresh writers. And if you want to explore a virtual relationship, you can try a romance-novel app.

How hot are romance novels? Over all, annual sales totaled $1.08 billion in 2013, according to the Romance Writers of America, which tracks sales.

. . . .

 Despite the perception that blockbusters like “Fifty Shades of Grey” drive sales, self-publishing has proved a boon for this particular genre. E-books make up nearly 40 percent of all purchases, according to the writers group.

. . . .

 Sexy still sells. At Brazen, Entangled’s more risqué fiction line, Ms. Pelletier said book covers with male models sold three times as much as with a woman alone. And for new authors in particular, “the cover is really critical,” said Dianne Moggy, vice president for romance fiction at Harlequin.

. . . .

Unlike the Fabio era, when covers were painted by hand, today they are more assembly line than art. Consider Daemon Black, a space alien with dark curls and emerald green eyes who is the hero of Entangled’s Lux series, written by the New York Times best-selling author Jennifer L. Armentrout. In 2011, Pepe Toth saw a photograph of himself and his then model girlfriend, Sztella Tziotziosz, on the cover of “Obsidian,” the first in the Lux series, published that December.

Mr. Toth, 26, then living in his native Hungary, had been transformed into Daemon Black without his knowledge. “I thought, what kind of book is this?” he said in a recent interview.

Mr. Toth, a professional soccer player, learned that Ms. Armentrout had used a stock photo taken from a shoot he and his girlfriend had done three years earlier in Budapest. So, he emailed the author. “I’m the guy on your book,” he said he wrote. Ms. Armentrout invited him to visit the United States.

. . . .

For Mr. Baca’s helicopter-pilot shoot in Santa Cruz, Eileen Nauman, a writer better known by her pseudonym, Lindsay McKenna, emailed a series of guidelines. She wanted to see him looking alert, with a “slight, playful, teasing smile” and, she wrote, with his “flight suit open to sternum, showing off your great body, but nothing too flagrant or obvious.”

“The cover of an e-book is the size of a postage stamp,” she said. “Everyone has about three seconds to peruse, and the first hook is going to be that cover.”

Few romance models, if any, make enough money to eke out a living. Mr. Baca, for example, works at the Housing Authority of the Santa Clara County, Calif., as a customer-service clerk. And although he has an agent, he said he earned only $20,000 in his best year. This, despite the fact that he is a tireless self-promoter who fancies himself the next Fabio. Industry executives say it will be difficult to topple the king. “Nobody did it better than Fabio,” said Allison Kelley, executive director of the romance writers group. “He really did create the brand.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

30 March 2016

From Nora Roberts:

For the past several weeks, I’ve been house hunting–publishing houses, that is. While publishing’s a business, a house is still a home, and moving is stressful, complicated–and for a creature of routine like myself–just fraught.

Exciting, too, because once you work through the fraught, there are new possibilities, a fresh page, a new start.

There were changes in the house I worked with, lived in, was part of for more than twenty years, and with those changes I no longer felt at home there. Home, for me, is the center, the core, personally and professionally, so I need to feel comfortable and in place. I need to fit and feel connected.

. . . .

I’m fortunate to have had choices, to be able look at the landscape, the architecture, the personality and foundations of what was available to me. Each had its own distinct appeal and advantages, and since I don’t move lightly, all had to be carefully considered–with the invaluable and level-headed guidance of my agent. Amy Berkower of Writers’ House has been my agent since 1980. Not only don’t I make changes lightly, but I know when I have the best and I hold onto it.

. . . .

For those reasons and many others, I’m unpacking my bags in MacMillan–St. Martin’s Press. Their landscape, architecture and personality all fit so well I already feel at home. I already know some of the family, and that’s a path to contentment.

Link to the rest at Fall Into The Story and thanks to Kelly for the tip.

Here’s a link to Nora Roberts’ books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

This Charity Bookstore Is Begging People To Stop Donating Their Copies Of ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’

25 March 2016

From Distractify:

It seems like there’s no end to the pain Fifty Shades Of Grey can inflict — intentional or otherwise. First, there was the dismal trilogy, followed shortly thereafter by the abomination of a movie starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. And now, the number of people attempting to get rid of their Fifty Shades books is putting significant strain on a charity bookshop.

Come on, Fifty Shades — haven’t you done enough??

Goldstone Books, an Oxfam charity book shop in Swansea, South Wales, has officially put their foot down when it comes to EL James’ best-seller. Due to the ridiculously high number of donations, the shop will no longer accept copies of Fifty Shades Of Grey. 

“We appreciate all the donations — but less Fifty Shades and more sixties and seventies vinyl would be good,” employee Phil Broadhurst told the Mirror. “There are a lot of people obsessed by Fifty Shades of Grey, we get people bringing in new copies all the time. Enough is enough.”

The shop has “literally hundreds” of copies of the novel, and the employees have taken it upon themselves to create an actual Fifty Shades Of Grey fort.

Link to the rest at Distractify and thanks to Elizabeth for the tip.

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