The Week: 11th – 17th March

Happy St Patrick’s Day! (And happy birthday to my uncle, whose middle name is – you guessed it – Patrick!).

What a terrible week for New Zealand. I don’t think there’s anything that can be said about it that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over. Since I first visited Christchurch nearly a decade ago they have had a really rough time with earthquakes, and now a terror attack.

Canberra Day and Canberra Kangaroos

kangaroo-dog-and-man-810x520 ‘Only in Canberra’ Bizarre stand-off between kangaroo and dog caught on video

New Cover for Mary Balogh

My review of St. Patrick’s Journey by Calee M. Lee

Browser the Library Cat

Out Now: Toxic Game by Christine Feehan

Remember “Romantica”?

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Remember “Romantica”?

Wild Card (Elite Ops #1) by Lora Leigh

Around a decade ago, everyone in the romance community was talking about a new subgenre: “Romantica”. It was when romances started getting super-steamy, but they also had the classic romance-genre Happy Ever After. They weren’t erotica, but nobody had a better term for them.

Remember that? Because it was a term I used to use fairly often, and until a few weeks ago I’d totally forgotten about it. There’s not a great deal of purpose to this post other than to observe how quickly things in publishing change.

I was reminded of “Romantica” because I was rereading Smart Bitches’ hilarious 2009 review of Pregnesia, which was connected to a discussion about Lora Leigh’s Elite Ops series, which led me to read some old reviews of some of those books. I don’t remember much about them other than that the first one used the misogynistic term “dumb blonde” a lot, and ended with a scene involving surprise anal sex, where the hero commented that he’d finally “touched his wife’s soul”.

Things change so fast in Romancelandia that I doubt these any of these erotic romance books would be written the same way now, only a decade after they were first published.

In the years since, a certain Twilight fan by the name of E.L. James wrote some fan fiction about another blonde-hating brunette who got spanked by a billionaire, and suddenly “erotic romance” was in the mainstream everywhere.

Not all change is good. I’m growing increasingly annoyed with readers who one-star books – particularly historical romances – because the characters don’t perform like porn stars on the page, or because the heroine is a virgin (unmarried pregnant girls in the 19th century often ended up on the streets – or dead. There’s a reason there were so many premarital virgins). Amazing authors like Mimi Matthews have to self-publish because her books aren’t filled with the steamier stuff so many publishers demand.

I wonder what – another ten years on – we write, read, and talk about now will seem spectacularly outdated then.

Chinese writer sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

An author in China has just been sentenced to over a decade in prison for writing a book with homosexual scenes. You can read more HERE, and I’ve shared a few paragraphs of the story below.

Chinese censorship is extreme. You can’t even access basic sites like Google, Instagram, Facebook – or even Goodreads! – over there. Heaven forbid someone learns something not approved by the government.

The most frustrating thing about travelling in China is the absolute ignorance of social issues the tourists bring with them. It’s one thing to wonder at the Forbidden City, and another thing entirely to be oblivious to the hammer and sickle symbols everywhere, and to not think there’s anything odd about the denial of the massacre in Tiananmen Square (and don’t get me started on what’s happening with Interpol – the whole world should be worried).

A Chinese author of erotic fiction has been sentenced to more than 10 years in jail for writing and selling a novel that featured gay sex scenes

Chinese writer sentenced to 10 years’ jail over book with homoerotic sex scenes

A Chinese author of erotic fiction has been sentenced to more than 10 years in jail for writing and selling a novel that featured gay sex scenes.

The female writer, who uses the pen name Tianyi but was identified in state media by her surname Liu, published the book Occupy in 2017, and sold it through Chinese online shopping site Taobao.

Local media reported police arrested Liu in November last year, and that she confessed to writing the book.

A court in China’s Anhui province sentenced her to 10 years and six months in jail for the crime of making and selling obscene articles for profit.

The Week: 4th – 10th June

Winter Lake Burley Griffin Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 9th June 2018 Carillon Nature Sunset pink

Winter Lake Burley Griffin Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 9th June 2018 Carillon Nature Sunset

Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin – with the National Carillon (a gift from the Queen that she personally opened in 1970) – late on Saturday afternoon.

It was a surprisingly dreary week here. Usually winter is really sunny, but the last few days felt like winter! At least it got sunny on Saturday afternoon!

This week in the book world has been full of drama, which I seem to have written a few thousands posts about. Sorry for the spam!

My review of A Cowboy of Convenience (Sheridan Sweethearts #2) by Stacy Henrie

A Cowboy of Convenience (Sheridan Sweethearts #2) by Stacy Henrie

A Cocky Weekend

cocky-final-2 Cocktales the cocky collective cockygate cover

Book Stuffing and Author Ethics

Book Stuffer Kindle Unlimited Scammer

Why “outing” someone makes you an utter arse – #1

and

Why “outing” someone makes you an utter arse – #2

_86601698_authorandbook Richard Brittain used Facebook to track down the reviewer, a teenage girl from Glenrothes, and drove all the way (some 800 kilometres) from the south of England t

Cover Love

Someone to Trust (Westcott Book #5) by Mary Balogh

Book Stuffing and Author Ethics

If you keep up with dramas in the publishing world, you’ll probably have already heard about the scammers infiltrating the Kindle Unlimited program.

You can go to this Twitter thread to understand in detail what is going on.

Authors who enter their books into the Kindle Unlimited scheme must agree to sell exclusively through Amazon. They are paid via page reads, from a pool of money that is shared between ALL authors.

In order to make lots of money, some “authors” have been employing all sorts of tricks to make their readers skip through thousands of pages per book. By doing this they get paid a great deal per book – at the same time as stealing that money from their fellow authors. Having only one pool of money means there’s only so much of it to go around.

Book Stuffer Kindle Unlimited Scammer

A book with heaps of other books stuffed in the back.

The #cockygate drama helped to bring the scammers to attention (Faleena Hopkins, of cockygate infamy, is a book stuffer and system cheat).

One of the worst scammers, Chance Carter, has *finally* been removed from Amazon, after years of making his fortune by cheating the system in every imaginable way. His porny “romances” shot to the top of Amazon’s romance bestseller lists with thousands of fake or solicited reviews, stuffed books, and offers of diamond jewellery for positive publicity.

He was also collecting a bonus for being one of the “All-Star” bestsellers.

Chance Carter Book Stuffer Amazon Scammer

Chance Carter offers diamonds in the middle of a book!

Unfortunately the Kindle Unlimited scheme is full of male romance authors looking to get rich quick. They pose as women and publish books stuffed with five or six other, previously published books, often written by ghost writers.

This is especially troubling as when they pose as women they also go to social media with questions like this for their readers:

Kira Blakely Book Stuffer Kindle Unlimited Scammer

It’s creepy, and shows an agenda that has NOTHING to do with a love of the genre.

Many readers have uncovered these men’s identities when alarm bells started going off in the sex scenes of their books. The scenes contain revolting things no self-respecting woman would *ever* write, not even those writing kinky stories (I’ll spare you the details, but they’re on Twitter if you look). The lack of respect for women is appalling, especially considering the books’ target audience.

Cockygate looks to have tanked Faleena Hopkins’ career, but she’s managed to do even more than that. Now she’s set off a chain of events that have widely exposed many other unethical authors.