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.

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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 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


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.

Victorian Doctors Thought Reading Novels Made Women “Incurably Insane”

24 March 2016

From History Buff:

In 1886, homeschooling pioneer Charlotte Mason wrote that “the girl who sits for hours poring over a novel to the damage of her eyes, her brain, and her general nervous system, is guilty of a lesser fault of the nature of suicide.” Strange as it may sound, Mason’s belief that reading fiction was physically dangerous for girls and women was actually held by many medical doctors of her day.

A few years earlier, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg—the same guy who invented corn flakes in an attempt to “cure” people of masturbation—called novel reading “one of the most pernicious habits to which a young lady can be devoted. When the habit is once thoroughly fixed, it becomes as inveterate as the use of liquor or opium.”

. . . .

The idea that reading novels was a really bad idea for ladies had been suggested in an article not-so-subtly titled “Novel Reading, a Cause of Female Depravity,” which was published in a British journal all the way back in 1797. In that article, the author claimed to have personally witnessed the moral decay of several young female readers.

“I have seen two poor disconsolate parents drop into premature graves, miserable victims to their daughters’ dishonour, and the peace of several relative families wounded, never to be healed again in this world. ‘And was novel-reading the cause of this? inquires some gentle fair one… I answer yes!”

. . . .

In her 1899 self-help book What a Young Woman Ought to Know, Dr. Mary Wood-Allen cautioned future mothers to beware the “evils of novel-reading.”

“Girls are not apt to understand the evils of novel-reading, and may think it is only because mothers have outlived their days of romance that they object to their daughters enjoying such sentimental reading; but the wise mother understands the effects of sensational reading upon the physical organization, and wishes to protect her daughter from the evils thus produced… Romance-reading by young girls will, by this excitement of the bodily organs, tend to create their premature development, and the child becomes physically a woman months, or even years, before she should.”

Link to the rest at History Buff and thanks to Patrice for the tip.

Writing a Romance Novel

20 March 2016

From author Victorine E. Lieske:

There’s a lot of confusion out there about romance novels. It’s easy to see why. Your book might have two people who fall in love, and that might be the main focus of the story, and yet it still might not fall into the romance novel category. Then throw chick lit and women’s fiction into the mix, and your head might spin wondering what you’ve actually written.

Let’s start by talking about what a romance novel isn’t. It isn’t about two people happily falling in love. I’m going to say it again, a different way, because it’s so important. Romance novels are not about happy couples falling in love. Romance novels are all about the tension, and leaving the reader wondering if they will end up together at the end. Every romance novel has something pulling the characters away from each other. If your book doesn’t have this up until the end, your book is not a romance novel.

So, what is a romance novel then? Here are the things a romance novel must have in order to be in the romance genre.

1. Emotional Conflict — This is paramount in a romance novel. There needs to be some kind of emotional conflict in the story that keeps the reader turning the page. This emotional conflict must not be resolved until the end of the book. This is what drives your plot forward and creates the need for your reader to finish the book.

. . . .

4. Attraction and Repelling — Your main characters must feel the draw toward each other, while simultaneously feeling that a relationship can’t possibly work between them. This is the emotional conflict at work, while the emotional and physical intimacy pulls them together.

. . . .

Romance novels use romance to create suspense. “Working with suspense is a bit like mimicking the rise and fall of the sea. First you rev your reader’s interest to a high pitch, then you drop back without completely satisfying her and then you do it again. You work incrementally, getting a little closer to fulfillment–for your characters and your reader–with every scene, but you always stop short of giving them everything they want.

Link to the rest at Victorine Writes

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

Nigeria’s Thriving Community of Female Romance Novelists

13 March 2016

From Slate:

Glenna Gordon was working on a project about Nigerian weddings when, in 2012, she traveled to the northern part of the country to photograph a mass wedding. Traveling to the north can be arduous, both because of the journey and the culture outside of the coastal city of Lagos where Gordon was based. In order to prepare for what she might see there, writer Carmen McCain advised her to read a romance novel written by a Muslim woman, Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, titled Sin Is a Puppy That Follows You Home. The idea of a culture of romance writers living in a part of the country where Sharia law is widely followed was intriguing.

“I instantly knew I wanted to do something on this,” she said. Gordon was told that if she were able to track down some of the authors, there would be a good chance none of them would want their portraits taken; she was undaunted.

Gordon was given a few of the author’s phone numbers and tracked down writers who would want to be part of the project, which was published last month by RedHook Editions as a book Diagram of the Heart. McCain did the translations for the book. While there is a large Hausa literary movement in Nigeria composed of men and women who write across a number of genres, Gordon said she decided to focus on female romance novelists for a number of reasons.

“The photographs in my book are also sort of about daily life in northern Nigeria,” she said. “I’m using romance novels as cues; I’m looking for moments of love and romance and intimacy.”

. . . .

The plots of the novels range from complex issues like child marriage and human trafficking to stories about a poor girl marrying a rich man or about how to please your husband. Some of the novelists said there were subjects that were too far-fetched to seem plausible including an anecdote about a husband comforting his wife by wiping away a tear from her cheek.

Gordon said a few years ago the writing was a bit more risqué, but things have changed after the state governor burned books that were thought to corrupt youth or that might lead to moral indecency. Many of the writers censor themselves a bit in order to avoid hassle. Most of the women don’t have computers so they write in composition books that are then transferred to a computer either by middlemen who act as editors or the publishers themselves.

Link to the rest at Slate where there are some great photos and thanks to Tim for the tip.

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