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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ellora's Cave Redux: When Publishers Don't Learn Their Lessons

The folks at Ellora's Cave are at it again. This time, their attorney sent a letter to Romance Writers of America, threatening to file a libel suit. Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader has a nice run down of the latest situation. And the comments at TDR fill in more information. You can read the full text of RWA's notice here.

Basically, it's the same ole-same ole. Actually, it's even older than the recent lawsuit against romance blogger Dear Author.

Issues between RWA and EC have been going on for nearly ten years. The first problems occurred back in 2007 when RWA changed its approved publisher rules in order to block any writer who has an e-book only release. (The president at the time was notorious dismissive of e-books and writers who signed e-book contracts.) The issue at the time was not specifically about EC, but ANY e-book publisher. I attended the RWA National Conference that year, and sat through the annual board meeting. A lot of members were angry because EC had approved status for several years before this bullsh** happened.

The behavior of certain board members and general members wasn't pretty.

There was another major upheaval between 2011 and 2012 within RWA, again over the subject of e-books. Indie writers weren't considered to be actively seeking publication. Around this time, RWA changed the term from "approved publisher" to "qualifying markets", and EC was eliminated from the list. Also, during this period was when I first heard rumors of problems at EC, but most of the romance community was focused on the collapse of Dorchester.

So RWA has been warning its membership away from EC for some time. The only thing that's changed? RWA, acting on behalf of members who previously published with EC, is demanding payment of overdue royalties.

EC has been denying the allegations of non-payment for some time. But the funny thing is that every time EC goes to court, the case gets settled right around the time opposing counsel demands proof of payment.

The difference between suing DA and RWA? DA is a romance book review blog essentially headed up by one person. RWA represents over TEN THOUSAND romance writers.

While I quit RWA in 2012 because I didn't agree with their e-book and indie publishing policies (according to several friends, thing's have recently changed), I don't agree with trying to silence critics. If EC really wanted to settle things once and for all, prove that all writers, editors and artists have been paid in full.

It's that simple.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - Mad Max: Fury Road

Still on the HBO free weekend movies I missed at the theater.

Mad Max, the original with Mel Gibson, was one of those cult films that everyone at my high school watched.

A generation and three films later, Mad Max creator, writer and director George Miller has actually put together a decent story for his hero.

Or at least, a story that makes sense and isn't just one big, violent car chase. Okay, it is a big, violent car chase with great character development thrown in, which is why it was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Ironically, I wasn't planning on seeing the fourth Mad Max in the theater. At least not until I started seeing a huge number of complaints on the internet about its feminist themes. It wasn't just minor complaints. It was more like "OMG! Women are taking over the world and cutting off our balls!"

Which ironically made me want to see the movie.

Unfortunately, Mad Max: Fury Road was released around the time the Crazy Niece moved in with us, so funds were tight, and I didn't have the time or money to see it while it was in theaters.

* * *  SPOILERS  * * *

1) When you have Oscar-nominated and/or -winning powerhouses leading the film, you know this isn't going to be the typical B-movie dystopia. Tom and Charlize share equal time, equal intensity, and equal respect without any sexual or sensual bullshit.

2) The five brides aren't your typical damsels in distress, though the costumer and Miller try to lead you down that path. They understand they have to chip in on the work, and they do.

3) I found to be Nicholas Hoult a fascinating actor when I first saw him in Warm Bodies. His Nux actually has the biggest character arc in the film. And whether he's young Beast in the recent X-Men movies or one of Immortan Joe's War Boys, Hoult brings a deep level of humanity to all of his characters.

1) I can honestly say this is the first Mad Max movie that there wasn't a part that I absolutely hated.

Final thoughts: I didn't realize how old I was getting until I found out that two of Joe's escaping wives were played by Zoe Kravitz, the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, and Riley Keough, the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and Danny Keough.

I loved this movie so much I give it a 10 out of 10.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


I didn't post this morning because I jumped on the read-back editing of A Question of Balance. I finished it, and read through the first chapter of A Modicum of Truth. I'll finish putting the front and back matter together and send them to my formatter tonight or tomorrow morning.

I'm off to Panera's in a few minutes to pound out words on Zombie Goddess. I'm currently at 55,862 words before I start tonight's session. I doubt if I finish the novel tonight, but it will be damn close.

And I should have another announcement in a week or two. Woo-hoo!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - The Judge

During my flu from hell, HBO/Cinemax had one of their free weekends. Luckily, they were showing several movies I'd wanted to see in the theater, but for various reasons didn't get a chance to. Some I watched in real time; others we recorded since they were on at the same time as something else we wanted to see.

I'm a huge fan of Robert Downey, Jr., and Robert Duvall, and The Judge was about a lawyer with a dysfunctional relationship with his father, which was right up my alley. Unfortunately, it was released the day we closed on the house in Houston. By the time we finished dealing with renting the new apartment and unloading the moving truck, it was out of the theaters in both Texas and Ohio.

* * * SPOILERS * * *

1) Duvall's Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor was well-deserved. He played off RDJ as the estranged father so well that I think he was cheated.

2) RDJ reminded me he can play so much more than Tony Stark/Iron Man. His performance as middle son Henry reminded me of Chaplin.

3) Vincent D'Onofrio was so damn sweet as oldest brother Glen, a nice reminder than he can play things other than assholes.

4) Henry's encounter with a much younger bar waitress provides a welcome thread of humor in what could be a thoroughly depressing movie otherwise.

1) I honestly can't think of a single one.

One last thing that is neither a pro or a con: this movie pushed some personal buttons in DH and me. The type of buttons where we questioned whether we wanted to continue watching, and each of us asking the other, "Are you okay?"

Judge Palmer has Stage 4 colon cancer, and he's an alcoholic, though at the beginning of the movie, he's been sober for twenty-eight years. Just a friendly warning if you've suffered through these experiences.

Overall, I give The Judge 9 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

We watched Guardians of the Galaxy for the umpteenth time, and I still can't get over how the pop mix works so well with this movie!

Friday, May 13, 2016

My Subconscious 2: The Bitch Is Back

I've complained about my subconscious before. A little over five years ago in fact.

Well, the bitch is back, and she's taking things to a new level.

From 6th through law school, I'd have nightmares right before classes started. The most common one involved me panicking because I hadn't gone to one particular class all year, but I forgot to go to the admin/registrar's office to drop it. I'm desperately cramming for the class because if I didn't take the test, I'd fail all classes for the semester.

I graduated from law school in 1998. I haven't attended an official "school" for nearly twenty years. Yet, I've been having that Selket-damned recurring dream a lot over the last five months. By the way, a lot means nearly every night. Think I'm a little panicked about my writing career right now?

I don't know why I'm freaking out NOW! I'm getting things back on track. I've published two  Alter Ego short stories. One of them was accepted for republication by a small publisher. I submitted a "Suzan Harden" short story to another small publisher. A Question of Balance is almost ready to go to my formatter. Zombie Goddess is making headway again after the April flu-from-hell hiatus. And the lovely Deanna Sanchez, who was the narrator for the Far-Fetched Fables podcast of "Justice," and I are discussing her narrating "Diplomacy in the Dark."

Things are bouncing along smashingly as a U.K. friend would say.

*sigh* I hate my subconscious. She can be such a bitch sometimes.

P.S. The podcast featuring Ms. Sanchez reading my work is still available for download at Far-Fetched Fables. On iTunes, you'll want Far-Fetched Fables No. 38.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People

Originally, I was going to title this post, "Never EVER Piss Off Romance Readers and Writers." But this topic has far broader implications.

There are two things you really need to understand in the modern world:

1) Everything on the internet is forever.

2) When you do something incredibly stupid on the internet, everyone's going to know because of Rule #1.

Last Sunday, a cover model by the name of Paul Blake thought it would be a good idea to tell an author to go eat her last Dairy Queen Blizzard and then hang herself. Rather than apologizing for his thoughtless remark when he was called out or talk to someone more media savvy than him before he responded, Paul decided double-down on the insults.

Then triple-down.

The backlash was immediate and fierce as word spread among the romance community. Paul deleted the post that started the controversy, but too many tech-savvy writers and readers had screenshots. Many people who dealt personally and professionally with him blocked or unfriended him on Facebook.

The worst thing in this whole mess? Readers and other writers said they'd boycott any books with Paul on the cover. So the writers who had hired him before the kerfluffle were now being punished for his behavior.

Then the romance community did something incredible. Other models condemned Paul's behavior and offered to do free or reduced cost photo shoots for those writers who had Paul on their covers and wanted to replace him. Cover designers offered their service for free to replace the Paul covers. Other readers begged their associates not to punish the writers of the Paul-covered books for his ugly words and actions. Hell, a couple of authors decided to have a book signing at their local Dairy Queen, and they bought Blizzards for their fans.

The lesson in this is don't insult people in the public space that is social media. I'm not saying you have to agree with everyone, but there are ways to make your point without telling someone to commit suicide.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - Captain America: Civil War

When you tell a story, you need to tell a complete story that makes sense within that world. I think that's what a lot of movie makers forget.

Out of all the blockbuster movies I've seen in the last six months, only two movies hit all the right notes: Deadpool and this one. Whereas, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice left out a few parts to make the whole cohesive.

Frankly, I want to go see Civil War again to pick up all the things I know I missed.

* * *


* * *

1) While even I've been making cracks about Civil War being Avengers 2.5, this is most definitely a sequel to Captain America: Winter Soldier. And this isn't so much a Steve Rogers story as a Bucky Barnes story. While the main story is roughly analogous to the comics mini-series Civil War, the addition of the U.N. hunting down Bucky gives the story more heft than the philosophical debate of safety versus freedom the comics got bogged down in.

2) General Ross, now Secretary of Defense Ross, is finally back, his first appearance since 2008's The Incredible Hulk. It's just a pity they couldn't use him more, but this thing clocks in at two and a half hours. (Bathroom break before claiming a seat and no liquids during are a definite must!)

3) The writers did the right thing by inserting T'Challa/Black Panther's origin story here. No need to waste time when the Black Panther movie comes out. A pity Marvel doesn't have film rights to the X-Men because I would love to see Storm guest-star in in his flick.

4) The Vision/Scarlet Witch romance is being left in though it hits a major bump here. Yay!

5) The consequences were a little more realistic for Cap's team than they were in the comics.

6) I absolutely LOVE how they inserted Redwing into the movie!

7) ALL the character arcs made sense. Usually someone gets left out, but all twelve super-heroes were accounted for.

1) This is my vanity speaking, but Marisa Tomei is my age. SHE IS TOO FUCKING YOUNG TO BE PLAYING AUNT MAY!!!

This is a definite 10 out of 10 stars! So go see it!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

Then you're ready to take on the world again!