The Week: 3rd – 9th December

Bright blue summer skies in Canberra.

How is it the ninth of December already?! It’s been a crazy-hot weekend in Canberra; inland it’s a good ten degrees warmer than in the cities on the coast.

I went to the sale at the National Library yesterday. If I have time I’ll write a post about it!

Twentieth Anniversary of Shakespeare in Love

Bad Sex Writing Awards 2018

Recommended Christmas Read

Out Now: The Story of Us by Lana Kortchik

Book Adaptation for Christmas

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Bad Sex Writing Awards 2018

Bad Sex Writing Awards Elizabeth Bright

You can head over to The Guardian to read quotes from the all-male lineup of writers nominated for the worst sex scenes of 2018. The first one below is particularly awful, and the second one is revolting. And over at the link you can read a passage from Haruki Murakami, where his “hero” is raping a woman in her sleep…

The tweet above deserves a lot of attention and respect.

Bad Sex Writing Awards

Another Book Community Gone?

Romance University

Today Romance University goes on hiatus. The site is a trove of information about the genre, and – until now – had regular posts from authors and others in the industry, about the romance genre, and also about publishing in general.

In this case “hiatus” seems to mean they’re leaving the site forever. They are keeping the old posts up for a while, but the community itself will be no more.

I do understand that the people running RU put in a huge amount of time and effort, and I can understand stepping away, but it’s yet another book community gone.

The more the internet takes over everything, the deader online book groups seem to become. Goodreads groups are practically a wasteland now, and most popular book forums and blogs have been shut down (e.g. Harlequin’s decision to move all their discussion over to awful Facebook, where nobody gets any anonymity).

Twitter? Useless. All the authors and bloggers moved over there, but all anybody discusses on Twitter now is Donald Trump. There’s very little in the way of meaningful discussion about books to be found.

I’ll be sorry to see Romance University go.

Books to Counter Kavanaugh – Breakable by Tammara Webber

No, I’m not American, but the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Brett Kavanaugh – and the subsequent misogynistic victim-blaming movement emerging out of it – is reverberating around the world.

So, I’ve moved all my scheduled posts for the week, and instead will be recommending some books that deal with the reality of what women are up against when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.

Breakable by Tammara Webber

Breakable (Contours of the Heart, #2) by Tammara Webber

Breakable is a retelling of Easy. Here is the blurb for Easy:

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life. Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex’s frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night – but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound. When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he’s hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

Romance authors, misogyny, and conservative conversations about men.

In light of recent developments in the US (which are being reported in real time across the world), I have a request.

Everyone read the Twitter thread below. Everyone, but especially men and conservative women. Read it, memorise it:

Jeremy C. Young

(Alternate link.)

And then, if you’re still having doubts, read this article, too:

The Anatomy of a Lie: Reflections on the Enduring Myth of Women Who Cry Rape

Yes, of course men are also sexually assaulted, but right now? Conservative politicians have turned this into a men versus women thing, and so that’s what I’m running with.

I’ve written – and deleted – seventy million versions of this post, and now I’ve decided to keep it shortish. I have to say something here, especially when a former favourite author of mine is currently plastering Facebook with far-right memes in support of sex abusers.

I know multiple women who have been raped, and I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t been groped and/or harassed in their lifetime.

The only attacker I know of who suffered any consequences for his actions was the man who also murdered his victim – a woman I grew up with, a woman I’d known since I was eight.

Men claiming they’re the real victims these days (and the women who support that lie) disgust me.

Some points:

  • The rise of Donald Trump (and his equivalents in other countries) has, generally, inspired the romance writing (and reading) community to become stronger, more resistant to misogyny, and to create better books. E.g. Sarah MacLean.
  • However, extremist politics are polarising, and certain authors – including one of my all-time favourites – have gone the other way.
  • It has only got worse in the past few weeks, with the narrative from the far-right turning its focus to women who have been sexually assaulted. The new narrative: all women lie about assault to destroy men’s lives. It’s working. I’m sickened by how many men are jumping on that bandwagon and using it as yet another excuse to hate women.
  • This particular author I’m thinking of – a woman who in the past wrote about rape survivors in a positive way – has taken to posting Facebook memes about how girls are looking to destroy boys’ lives with false accusations.
  • It makes me sad. Yes, her politics have leaked into her books for years and years, but never before has she been so publicly open with it. I’ve lost an author I know I’ll never be able to read again.

One final point: if you support an avowed misogynist and self-confessed sex abuser, and if you’ve chosen to hate your own gender because your President told you to, then you have no business being in the romance industry, an industry that not only touts itself as feminist, but as being “by women, for women”.

Romance Novels Are Not Your Junk Food

Sarah Mayberry Julie James Contemporary Romance Book Covers

This is an article from over at Book Riot a few days ago, addressing some longstanding stereotyping and insults that are routinely hurled at the romance genre.

Romance Novels Are Not Your Junk Food

Of course, it’s been said before, but this piece addresses the “junk” and “trash’ labels we hear all the time, and is a response to a highly ignorant piece written about the genre by Sadaf Ahsan.

A Cocky Weekend

The book world had quite the start to the weekend, with the #cockygate trademark drama making it to court on Friday afternoon New York time (Saturday morning here).

E L James Fifty Shades Cockygate Cocktales Trademark

Even E L Fifty Shades James stood up for the authors by promoting the Cocktales anthology that has been released in support of Faleena Hopkins’ victims and of Romance Writers of America.

RWA stepped up for the authors under attack, providing the legal assistance they needed.

Faleena Hopkins, the author who started this mess to begin with, didn’t turn up in the courtroom and so missed seeing her lawyer try to argue – with the help of giant poster versions of her books – that her oh-so generic topless guy covers and oh-so generic titles were unique enough to warrant both trademarking AND her taking out restraining orders against her rivals.

Disgustingly, she is also trying to have the other authors’ real names (rather than their pennames) revealed.

Court documents from Friday afternoon are floating around the internet, and make for pretty hilarious reading. The poor judge!

Cockygate court document.

Cockygate court document.1