The Week: 26th August – 1st September

Nearly Spring in Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney End of August 2019 Garden Nature Blossom Blossoms Wattle

It’s starting to look and feel (and smell!) like spring in Canberra.

Goodbye to winter! It’s spring here, it’s sunny, everything is blossoming! I have allergies, of course – as ever – but that’s fine.

I need to have a little fangirl moment: a few nights ago one of my absolute favourite historical romance authors “liked” my author page on Facebook, and that made an otherwise appalling week pretty bright for a few hours! My page doesn’t have much there yet, but will after my book comes out.

I worked harder this week than I’ve ever worked in my life, and that includes back when I was a ballet dancer. I’m about to send the sequel to The Landowner’s Secret – out in two weeks! – off to my editor, but the process has not been without drama.

The hours I’ve been putting in these past few days have been unbelievable. I thought 13.5 hours on Monday was bad, but then Thursday happened. I started working at 4am and didn’t stop until 11pm (that’s NINETEEN hours). I slept on the couch for two hours, started working again at 1am, and then emailed my editor at 4:30 in the morning in a state of panic!

What happened, you ask? Well …

In the past fortnight I decided to completely rework the structure of the second book (totally my idea – I can’t blame my publisher for this!). I got myself into such a situation that the timeline and continuity were completely messed up. Every change I made to one scene meant I had to change every other scene in the book.

The process was … not … fun.

With me heading off to Europe on Saturday, I had to get this book done NOW.

I haven’t been reading, replying to emails, or even eating or sleeping this week, and now I’m drifting in the sort of weird, exhausted haze caused by of one of those mega 40+ hour international trips Australians often have to take – but worse.

Here’s my post about inspiration for my September book.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

The latest in the current plagiarism drama.

Edited to add a link to a lengthy article covering this in detail, if you have the time to read it.

Here’s an updated look at what Cristiane Serruya has plagiarised. The list of books/articles/etc. she has stolen from keeps on growing,

For heaven’s sake, she even plagiarised Outlander!

What is so incredible is that she got away with it for so long. It is also incredible that so many book bloggers – people who should have recognised these original books – were giving her four and five-star reviews and not even noticing!

Also incredible: Serruya was not only entered in the RITA Awards, but was a judge!

Cristiane Serruya has plagiarism scandal 1

Cristiane Serruya has plagiarism scandal 2

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.

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


Bad First Sentences

Bored Panda has a piece featuring bad first sentences of books, and they’re really, really terrible – and hilarious!

I’ve put a few here, but to read a few dozen of them (including some that were rude and I couldn’t bring myself to post!) you can visit the site HERE.

Contest Announced The Worst Opening Sentences In Novels, And They Are Tough To Read. #4

Contest Announced The Worst Opening Sentences In Novels, And They Are Tough To Read. #6

Contest Announced The Worst Opening Sentences In Novels, And They Are Tough To Read. #28

Contest Announced The Worst Opening Sentences In Novels, And They Are Tough To Read. #16

Contest Announced The Worst Opening Sentences In Novels, And They Are Tough To Read. #3

Struggling Genres

I came across an article via Twitter yesterday, about finding a literary agent. I don’t really know why I read it, but I found the passage below pretty interesting – the last dot point in particular:

Literary Agent Query Letters Struggling Genres

When did this happen?? They haven’t even finished making the Fifty Shades movies yet, and already they don’t want anybody to send them books in that genre?

Holy Moly.

I remember only a few years ago you couldn’t escape cosy mysteries (Charlaine Harris!), and urban fantasy was supposed to be one of the Next Big Things (I mean, Patricia Briggs!).

I don’t really have a point here, other than to say I’m a bit surprised.

What’s really silly is that at this rate, whatever is “in” right now is likely to be out of fashion by the time an agent takes it on.

I wonder what will be “struggling” next.

Wish List for Historical Romances

Avon Historical Romance Covers Julie Anne Long Anna Campbell Maya Rodale

Avon historical romance: including one of my Best Reads of 2014.

Avon, a major romance publisher, runs a Romance University blog, with lots of interesting articles about writing, publishing and all the things you’d expect from a blog about books.

However, I randomly came across a post titled: Avon Romance Editor Lucia Macro’s Wish List for Historical Romances and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Now, I do receive many, many Avon historical romances for review. And I’ve really liked a lot of them. However, in romance reader circles, Avon’s historical romance line has a reputation for being… flimsy and very much about tossing historical accuracy out the window.

I don’t find this to be the case all the time (I am very fond of some Avon historical romances, and some of my favourite authors write for this publisher), but sometimes, yep, it is.

To summarise the points made in the post (but PLEASE read the original post, because obviously this is my brief interpretation!):

  1. *Don’t* write serious books.
  2. *Do* make your heroes obsessive cavemen.
  3. *Do* stick to old tropes and don’t try to do anything new.
  4. *Don’t* let your characters follow social rules of the era.

Annnd… is this not a list of all the things we’re constantly complaining about in historical romance?! Are there not endless articles such as this one and this one and this one where readers, writers, reviewers and bloggers are lamenting the fact historical romance is doing these exact things? And that it is ruining the genre?

I suppose I came away from this piece disappointed, but unsurprised. Because publishers are constantly being criticised for churning out wallpaper romances and turning readers off the genre entirely. So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that’s precisely the type of book they’re asking for.

An argument for authors doing their research…

Virgin River by Robyn Carr

I let my blog get (briefly) away from me again, because after all my family’s other recent dramas, we had another one just after 5pm on Saturday. I was sitting beside my father on the couch when he lost all the feeling in his left arm (and – because we’re all a little crazy – I thought he was joking at first). But things got worse, and it was very quickly obvious this was no joke.

After that, my mind went a little strange, and somehow Robyn Carr’s eerily similar scene in one of her Virgin River books popped into my head. While thinking, God, I hope the author did her research correctly, I did everything I remembered main character, Melinda, doing in a similar situation.

We got him to the hospital and – even though he’s still there because the incompetent nurses screwed up his tests – he is just about back to normal (as normal as he’s ever been!).

However, when things settled down a bit, the doctors wanted to know how I knew what to do.

I couldn’t really say, Uh, Virgin River taught me, could I?!

If there was ever an argument for authors doing their research, I think this is it! You might literally save someone’s life!

This follows on from my very wonderful (and soon to be reviewed) experience reading Kaylea Cross’ latest book. The level of research she does is simply staggering; I’m completely in awe of her!