Friday, January 27, 2012

Author E.J. Dabel Interview on Journal Jabber!‏

Hi everyone!

On this episode of Journal Jabber, we will be diving into what is sure to be the next big thing. Watch out Percy Jackson, Isaiah is hot on your tail to be the next boy on the block playing with the big boys. But we won't just be talking about the Greek gods - oh no - we have mythology that stretches through all times, all histories.

E.J. Dabel, author of Pantheons, will be here talking about his new book and how he was abe to mix Norse, Greek, Aztec and a plethora of other histories all in one book and make it AMAZING. Be sure to be here as we learn about how many gods and goddesses are really out there and how they all blend together.

Can we fit it all into a one-hour show? Be here to find out!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Big rescue link!

Hi all!

Just another post: I did find a link for rescuing other people's books.

Here's the link if you're a librarian. (Click here for ye big olde list.) If you're not a librarian it won't allow you to see it, but it's very easy to become one. Click here to apply!

Why Goodreads is getting rid of Amazon info (PS: They still need your help!)

Hi everyone!

I'm posting again on Goodreads to try to explain more about what I think is going on as well as another plea for people to help out.

What's been going on with this is that from what I can gather, Amazon has been getting more and more restrictive on what Goodreads can do with the information from their site. I've heard that GR is paying Amazon some amount of money (not sure if this is true or not), which would also factor into all of this.

Whatever the restrictions were, they were obviously getting to the point where Goodreads just couldn't deal with it anymore. I have a suspicion that Goodreads listing book availability on several merchant sites rather than just Amazon might have had something to do with it as well. (No basis for this, just common sense that a big merchant site would like to be the only option listed for purchases.)

In any case, there's still thousands of books that are in danger of getting deleted. One of the areas that I've seen is most likely to be in danger are foreign language books. I'm a huge fan of Japanese manga and I've noticed that much of the manga I'd reviewed came up as "rescue me". ESPECIALLY those series that haven't been officially translated into English.

I know that some might be figuring "oh, you can add them afterwards" but aren't realizing how much work it is to add a book that isn't on the system. It's a difference between filling out about 12 fields versus only having to fill out 3-4 at most. (The rescue books do have more fields, but at most you only have to verify 3 fields, one of which is a link to whatever source you're using.) It's just time consuming, plus you have to figure that hundreds of reviews are going to be lost for whatever book you're going to add after the 30th. I hate guilt tripping people, but there's a huge amount of work left to do. (Wish that Goodreads would offer one big list along with the smaller, more user oriented lists!)


I found a blog by Abel Keogh that gives a little more information (click here).

One of the users posted this:

My understanding is that Amazon has changed its terms of service for use of its API (the bit of code that allows third parties to access its database) and have basically forced GR into this new stance – a similar thing has also happened with Barnes and Noble. I guess Amazon has built up intellectual capital in its database construction and it is under no obligation to allow others to mine that data (and it doesn’t much matter where amazon gets its data from as presumably they have an arrangement of their own for that)

I followed a link to this page (here) and it looks like my hunch about the possibility of Amazon wanting to be the only site Goodreads linked to might be spot on.

Under (C) Linking and Diversion

2) You may not link any of the Properties presented on your Web site to (a) any commercial page of a Web site other than the Web site, or (b) direct traffic to any commercial page of a Web site other than the Web site; and

3) You may not utilize the Properties in a way that could divert sales from the Web site, including but not limited to, merchandising products not offered on the Web site.

This does seem to explain a lot. Neither side has mentioned anything, so I do have to stress that all of this is purely hypothetical.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Goodreads rescue!

Goodreads needs you. No seriously, they do.

The reason being, on January 30th Goodreads will stop getting their data from Amazon. I'm re-posting the message from Goodreads: (click here to go to the original link)

At Goodreads, we make it a priority to use book information from the most reliable and open data sources, because it helps us build the best experience for our members. To that end, we're making a major change.

On January 30, Goodreads will no longer display book information that comes from Amazon.

Amazon's data has been great for us for many years, but the terms that come with it have gotten more and more restrictive, and we were finally forced to come to the conclusion that moving to other datasources will be better for Goodreads and our members in so many ways that we had to do it. It may be a little painful, but our aim is to make it as seamless as possible for all our members. Amazon data that we will stop using includes data such as titles, author names, page counts, and publication dates. For the vast majority of book editions, we are currently importing this data from other sources. Once the imports are done, those few remaining editions for which we haven't found an alternative source of information will be removed from Goodreads.

Member ratings, reviews, and bookshelves are safe, but your data may be moved to a different edition of the book. If we can't find a matching edition, then your review will be attached to a book with no title or author. But the good news is that there's a way you can help.

Today, we are announcing new tools to help Goodreads Librarians source data for the books that need rescuing.

To view these new tools, click here and click "rescue me!" next to any of the books on the list. You will then see a form with data to fill in and some helpful guidelines for where to locate said data.

Early next week, we will be importing a database of 14 million ISBNs from a new source, so many of the books that seem to need rescue today may not actually be in jeopardy. We won't know until we import this new data source. So please don't spend a lot of time rescuing books—we don't want you to do unnecessary work. What we really need is for everyone to try rescuing a few books to see if the tools are working as we hoped. That way, once next week rolls around, we'll be ready to get down to the business or rescuing the books that actually are in jeopardy.

Thanks for helping Goodreads remain the amazing resource and special place it is. Hopefully all of this work will result in an even more robust Goodreads database, a database that, with your help, is already one of the best book databases in the world, and will last the ages. The rescue link:

What this means for authors is that there's a chance your book might get moved to a page with no name or author on it. The reviews will still be there but the book won't have a title.

Luckily there are things we can all do. If you have a Goodreads account and have a few reviews under your belt, you can become a Goodreads Librarian and help rescue the books. All you have to do is use a physical copy or look the information up on a site that isn't a merchant site. I've been using WorldCat, which is basically a lookup of library sites.

If you don't have a Goodreads account and want to become a librarian, all you need to do is sign up, review 50 books, and then apply to become a librarian. (Click here for a link to the application.)

It only takes minutes to save these books as they are now, but it'll take a lot longer to upload them after the 30th.


Updating this to say that if your books are only on sites such as Amazon or B&N, all you really have to do is verify that you have a physical copy and vouch for the information. I figure that even if the copy is a Kindle version or from a self-published source, it still qualifies. From what I've gathered from the GR post, all that the site really wants is to verify that the information is correct and true.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review: The Unseen by Heather Graham

Title: The Unseen
Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: 03/27/2012
ISBN: 0778313298

I'll give all of the long time Heather Graham fans a warning. The old Graham is probably never going to come back. I'd liken her older books to rich Godiva chocolate: rich and oh-so-sinfully bad for you, whereas her newer books are like Hershey chocolate: good, but not nearly as good as the Godiva was. This is pretty much the case here in this book.

1800s. San Antonio, Texas: In room 207 at the Longhorn Saloon, in the long shadow of the Alamo itself, a woman renowned for her beauty was brutally murdered. Her killer was never found.

One year ago: In that same historic room, another woman vanished without a trace. Her blood was everywhere…but her body was never recovered.

Now: In the last month, San Antonio has become a dumping ground for battered bodies. All young women, all long missing, almost all forgotten. Until now. Texas Ranger Logan Raintree cannot sit by and let his city’s most vulnerable citizens be slain. So when he is approached to lead a brand-new group of elite paranormal investigators working the case, he has no choice but to accept the challenge. And with it, his powerful ability to commune with the dead. Among Logan’s new team is Kelsey O’Brien, a U.S. marshal known for her razor-sharp intuition and a toughness that belies her delicate exterior. Kelsey has been waiting all her life to work with someone who can understand her ability to “see” the past unfolding in the present. Now she has her chance.

Together, Kelsey and Logan follow their instincts to the Alamo and to the newly reopened Longhorn, which once tempted heroes with drink, cards and women. If the spirits of those long-dead Texans are really appearing to the victims before their deaths, only Kelsey and Logan have the skills to find out why. And if something more earthly is menacing the city’s oldest, darkest corners, only they can stop it – before more innocent women join the company of San Antonio’s restless ghosts….

I'll be honest and say that while this wasn't an "oh my gosh, read it until my eyeballs pop out" type of book, it wasn't bad and is an improvement over some of Graham's previous books. (This is far better than Dust to Dust was.) The Unseen is pretty much a continuation of the Krewe of Hunters series, but with a new group of characters since the previous bunch had all been paired off with their love interests. This book brings us a new pairing, a new murder mystery, and a new set of ghosts.

I really wanted to judge this book on its own merit (for good or bad), but some of the similarities between the pairing in this book and the pairing in the first KoH book sort of prevented that. Like our pairing in Phantom Evil, we're given two people in law enforcement, with the male love interest being a Native American. This is generally where the similarities ended, but it's enough to where I kind of felt a little disappointed that Graham didn't shake things up a little more. I'd have loved to have seen a pairing where one of the duo was a brash young thing that shoehorned their way into the investigation, but hopefully we'll get that in another book. The pairing in this book is nice, but didn't really set off an avalanche of steamy sparks. It's sort of just there and secondary to the book's mystery.

The mystery actually wasn't bad. I did enjoy the Texas setting as well as the inclusion of the infamous Alamo. We're given a good start, a tale of a star-crossed Southern belle that fell into a seedy lifestyle and was murdered because of her ill fated decisions and a valuable diamond ring. It's what really brought me into the book and pushed me past the tepid love scenes between Logan and Kelsey. It eventually turned a little predictable, but overall it wasn't half bad. I just wish that the mystery and murders had been played up a little more, with the main characters doing a little more detecting and investigating. Things just sort of progressed from point A to point B and it didn't really seem that our lead characters did anything on their own without a ghost to point the way for them. (Although if I can compare it to the mystery in the first KoH book, the mystery here is way better laid out.) I was still slightly surprised by the whodunit, although I wasn't too far off in my estimation.

Overall this is a good but not great Graham novel. It's something that is absolutely worth a library read, but I'd hesitate to buy this at a hardback price. (If it was paperback then it'd be easier to say "buy it".) Graham has shown some improvement as of late and this book is no exception, but I think this book would have done better if it had just spent a little more time in the stew pot.If you're looking for a whiz-banger of a read, you'll be disappointed, but if you're looking for a decent read to while away a few hours with in front of the fireplace, then this is worth checking out.

2.5 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Protest SOPA and PIPA!

Hi everyone!

I'd like to take this moment to speak out against SOPA and PIPA, two legal actions that threaten the way of life as we know it on the internet. (For more information about them, check out CNET's excellent articles on the subjects here and here.)

Now I know what you're thinking. "What would this mean to me- it's only for people who pirate stuff, right?" WRONG. The fine print on SOPA and PIPA can extend to far more than pirated books, movies, games, and music. The amount of ways that these bills can be abused beyond their original intent are many and they can and will affect you, the average person.

Think about the review blog Book Chick City, one of the biggest review blogs on the internet. Or any review blog, for that matter. It's common practice to post a picture of the book cover and a favorite quote or two from the text. Not the whole book, just pieces and parts of it. Well, under SOPA and PIPA, that site is infringing on the publisher's copyright and that site can be removed. Even if it's clearly something that will help instead of hinder the publisher's sales, that site can be removed.

The same thing goes for youtube videos. Imagine that you're recording a video where you're gushing about the Tim Burton movie, Alice in Wonderland. You're wearing a shirt that has Johnny Depp on it and you happen to show a picture from the trailer. Well, that can be considered copyright infringement as well. It could also be considered copyright infringement to just be wearing the shirt even if you aren't discussing the movie or showing bits of the trailer.

That's not enough? Well, how about Wikipedia? They rely on fair use pictures to enhance their articles, usually posters and the occasional screen grab of a notable scene. Under these policies Wikipedia could have those images stripped from the site and potentially even the plot summaries. This is why Wikipedia along with Google, have blacked out their sites to protest these bills.

Here's where it gets really scary. Parts of the bill pretty much state that they can monitor everything that you do and even block sites that is believed to encourage piracy. Not the term "believed to encourage". They don't need proof, they just need to think that the site encourages piracy in any way. That means that even sites like Amazon, eBay, and Blogger could be put under fire because they think that it encourages piracy. (Amazon and eBay are both sites that try to remove pirated products when it's pointed out to them BTW.) That these bills effectively give the government and goodness knows who else the right to monitor your online movements is pretty scary. All of this smacks of communist China, a country well known for blocking out sites they believe are "bad" for their people or threaten the country in any way.

Like fanfiction? Under SOPA and PIPA your fanfiction site (and itself) can be removed from the internet entirely since it's seen as "encouraging" piracy. It doesn't matter that you've purchased so much Harry Potter products that you've barely got enough room to move in your house or that you've bought every single Silent Hill game the day it's released. SOPA and PIPA will see your fanfiction site as a dirty and evil site that's going to encourage piracy.

Or how about just googling the internet? If SOPA and PIPA are approved then you'll find that the amount of sites that come up in a search are dramatically decreased. Sites such as youtube, eBay, or even random sites will not come up because the government is putting pressure on the search engines to not display those sites because they "encourage piracy". Yep, these bills will tell us what we can and can't see on our screens. While it might be nice to see fewer "download Harry Potter 6 from divx" hits, it'll also remove sites that legitimately sell the movie or book as well as any other Harry Potter site that the government deems is a site that encourages piracy.

This is an insanely bad move by the government. I won't deny that piracy is a problem, but this is not the answer. Everyone remember learning about Prohibition in school? For those who don't remember or haven't gotten to that point yet, Prohibition is a point in America's history where the government tried to "improve" the country by banning the sale of alcohol because they thought it encouraged evil and wicked behaviors. Rather than improving the country, Prohibition actually helped bring about an obscene amount of bloodshed and violence... and even then alcohol was still freely circulated. Crime rates soared. That's soared, not dropped, which is what we can expect from all of this. This didn't stop until 1933 when people finally saw that their good intentions were bringing more harm than good.

This is what we can expect from SOPA and PIPA, violence and crime. Piracy won't stop, it'll just find new ways to circulate. Effectively censoring the internet will only hurt everyone involved. I also think it'll hurt the wallets of the companies that are clamoring for it as well. I'm not condoning piracy, but many people discover new products through pirated products and many will end up purchasing things because they first saw the pirated version. I'm fully expecting for profits to fall rather than rise, with people never discovering that great new author, movie, or game.

We need to all try to find ways to solve the problem of piracy other than creating Big Brother. I for one think that if prices were potentially lowered, more people would buy things. I know that part of the reason I avoid the movies is because I don't feel like spending $8 on a matinee ticket for a movie I'm not even sure I'll like. (Maybe if the big Hollywood actors would stop demanding millions of dollars, the ticket prices could be lower.)

In any case, I highly recommend that you contact your local representatives about these proposed bills and let them know what you think. Give them ideas for what to do other than censoring and blocking the internet. Ignoring this problem will not make it go away.

For your local representatives, check out Wikipedia. They've blacked out the site and have a form where you can discover your local reps. (Click here.)

Also, I just thought I'd share a gif that The Oatmeal has posted on his site:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Press Release: Patrick Rothfuss's The Adventures of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle

Dark, macabre, humorous! This isn't your children's faerie tale!

From New York Times bestselling Author of the Kingkiller Chronicles, Patrick Rothfuss, comes the dark picture-book The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed

ATLANTA, GA January 11, 2012 - Sea Lion Books is proud to announce they will be republishing the critically acclaimed Patrick Rothfuss picture-book illustrated by Nate Taylor, THE ADVENTURES OF THE PRINCESS AND MR. WHIFFLE: The Thing Beneath the Bed.

Don't let the sweet cover and sugary title fool you, this is NOT a children's book. From the mad mind of New York Times bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss comes a dark tale not for the faint of heart. A story evoking memories of good old-fashioned faerie tales, the main characters are
the cute little girl princess and her outwardly adorable teddy bear, Mr. Whiffle.

The world seems wonderful and good for the duo, except for the monster lurking Beneath the bed.

THE ADVENTURES OF THE PRINCESS AND MR. WHIFFLE is an odd mix of dark classic storytelling, new age terror, and a macabre sense of wicked humor that leave the reader with three possible endings, each one being darker than the last, letting the reader decide how far they dare to go.

The final ending just might keep your teddy bear awake tonight, or at least start a stuffed animal rebellion. The reprint will include original bonus material and a Q&A with author Patrick Rothfuss.

"Sea Lion Books is very excited to be able to republish this amazing story that is destined to be a classic modern faerie tale," said Derek Ruiz, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Sea Lion Books.

THE ADVENTURES OF THE PRINCESS AND MR. WHIFFLE: The Thing Beneath the Bed will be released as a soft cover title in July 2012 and will retail for $14.99, (ISBN 978-0-9836131-5-2)

About The Author:

Patrick Rothfuss had the good fortune to be born in Wisconsin where long winters and lack of cable television brought about a love of reading and writing. Patrick had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, and changed his major to Undeclared despite the fact that he had been in college for over three years. After nine years as an undergraduate, Pat was forced by university policy to finally complete his undergraduate degree.... in English. After two excruciating years of grad school, Pat returned to teach at the University he had grown to love as a student. Pat continues to live in central Wisconsin. He still lacks cable television, and the long winters
force him to stay inside and write. The long winters inspired his NYT bestseller, The Killkinger Chronicles: Name of the Wind, and Wise Man's Fear. You can learn more about Patrick at his website:

About Sea Lion Books:

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Sea Lion Books LLC is a newly established publishing house which specializes in all formats: hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market and in urban fantasy and young adult genres. Sea Lion Books LLC recent roster of authors include: International Bestselling author, Anne Rice, Paulo Coelho, New York Times Bestselling authors, Richelle Mead, Richard A. Knaak, F. Paul Wilson and Becca Fitzpatrick. You can visit Sea Lion Books at

Copyright 2012, Sea Lion Books. All Rights reserved.

All trademarks and titles are the property of their respective owners. The statements contained within this document are considered "forward-looking statements" and may not reflect upon the actual future performance of Sea Lion Books.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

When agents go bad...

I'm following up yesterday's report of plagiarism with something just as bad: authors and agents trying to manipulate the system in their favor.

Recently a Goodreads reviewer and blogger named Wendy Darling (who puts out some of the best reviews ever, I might add) reviewed the book The Selection by author Kiera Cass. As sometimes happens, she didn't like it and wrote a negative review. She'd had reservations about the book to begin with, but how many of us have picked up a book in a similar situation and ended up adoring it? It makes sense that despite the earlier misgivings, you'd still give the book a try. She didn't finish the review, but finished enough of it to where she knew what her opinion would be in general and reviewed it. Wendy was completely honest about not finishing the book and this was one of the first things she mentioned in her review. (click here for her Goodreads review)

After a while (about 4:30 in the afternoon yesterday) Wendy started receiving anonymous negative comments at her blog entry for The Selection (you can see her blog post here) . They started with the typical "how dare you review a book you didn't finish that I loved?!?!" type of comment and then just spun off into general rudeness. Now any reviewer that's ever posted a critique about a book is aware that eventually you'll get someone who violently disagrees with your review. The response to negative Twilight reviews alone is enough to prove this fact. You generally try to just deal with them and move on. Now I have no way of knowing who posted these comments and I'm not trying to insinuate that it was either Cass or her agent.

However, once in a while you'll find that there's something else going on behind the random comments. In this case it had to do with some comments on Twitter. Yesterday (around 11 am) the following conversation happened between author Kiera Cass and her agent Elena Roth: (click on it to see the bigger picture)

Here you can see Kass and her agent publicly discussing ways to hide Wendy Darling's review. I do have to say that Kass is the nicer of the two and initially, she seemed to just shrug off her agent's anger towards the negative review. The better thing would have been to just not respond to her agent and to respond to her in private, but she did talk to her and it wasn't that bad. If this was all that happened, it'd pretty much be a non-issue.

However, eventually Roth dropped this "cute" little comment: (click here to go to the author's twitter page)

"That bitch at the top is really pissing me off. She complains before reading, then barely reads, then complains. What's her deal?"

This is wildly unprofessional and it's incredibly unwise for her to tweet this in a way that is trackable by the general public. (It was in response to another one of Kass's tweets and as of this blog posting, they're still up on both persons' twitter accounts.) Roth's tweets are currently protected, so I have no way of knowing if her tweets were ever completely unprotected. It's possible that she thought her tweets were completely private, but if watching the recent literary fiascos over the years have taught me anything, it's that nothing is ever completely private when it comes to social platforms. Pseudonyms created to comment on reviews can be discovered, comments sent around to specific people can be sent to the very people you're talking about, and comments you thought nobody would see will be found and read. (To see what I'm talking about, click here to see the CuddleBuggery blog that covers these events.) The fallout from these can often hurt your career and your credibility.

I do want to state that voting positive reviews up by itself is not exactly a negative action, but I think that voting them up just so you can hide a negative review is an attempt to game and manipulate the system. It might not be illegal, but it is (in my opinion) unethical. Discussing this in public is not only foolish, but dangerous for several reasons. The first is that quite obviously, people can find it and report on it, which can hurt the reputation of everyone involved in said discussion. The second is that it can cause readers to lash out in various ways, which could range from posting hostile comments on said reviewer's blog to posting fake reviews. (Not saying that anyone has in this instance, but it's a common thing for fans/friends/family to post fake positive reviews in the hopes of cancelling out any negative reviews.) This might not have been anyone's intent, but people have been harassed in response to authors who publicly complain about specific reviews and I've seen people remove reviews because they just get tired of it.

I'm not posting this because I want anyone to bully the author or the agent. I'm posting this because quite frankly, I don't want people to think that they can pull this sort of thing and not have it mentioned. Cass is a new author and this is the sort of thing that can really hurt her professionally, but she's a newbie. It's possible that she just isn't used to the reality that once you put things out for sale or review, you will get negatively reviewed. Her actions are mostly forgivable, to be honest. No, what made me angry is the reactions by her agent. Roth is someone who is supposed to be a professional and should know better than to post things like this to her author's twitter page. (Seriously, EMAIL. There's still a chance you could email it to the wrong person by mistake, but that chance is very slim.) She's the one who behaved incredibly badly in this instance, from calling Wendy names to reaching out to her various other clients to ask them to vote up positive reviews. They rely on her to get them jobs, so they might be afraid that if they deny her, she'll keep from getting them a good job. (Not saying she would, but if the person who helped promote my work asked me to do something, this would be the thought that went through my head regardless of how they asked.)

In any case, here's your daily dose of what not to do if you're an author or an agent. Just to be clear, here's what you shouldn't do: (Cass and Roth didn't do all of these, but they're just rules in general to follow)

1) Don't respond to negative reviews. Just ignore them. If you think that they're done in bad spirit, responding to them in any format is not the way to go. If they really were done in an attempt to be mean or to troll (Wendy's review was absolutely not written for these reasons), they'll want you to respond because that's what they want. The best way to respond to trolls or "meanies" is to ignore them and not respond.

2) If you do need to vent, don't do it publicly and don't publicly discuss ways to lower the review in your rankings or even ways to get it removed. If you plan on harassing the reviewer ala Deborah Anne MacGilveray, don't announce it publicly. (Although it should be said that you shouldn't harass anyone at all!)

3) Get used to the fact that you'll get negative responses to your work. Even the books considered to be the world's greatest classics have people that don't like them, so you will absolutely have people who don't like your work. Some of them will state their opinions in ways you don't like. Get used to it.

4) Don't hold campaigns to get the reviews negatively responded to via downreps on Amazon, post responses to the review to encourage them to remove or change it, or do anything to get the review removed. People can pick up on organized campaigns and nowadays people always suspect that stuff like this originated on the author's own forums. Even if it didn't, the bad actions of the fans can give the author a bad image. There are people who refuse to read Twilight because of the bad attitude they've seen from some of the Twihards, and that's an aspect of the fandom that Meyers does not endorse.

Just remember- the stuff you do today could end up as the blog topic for various blogs in the future, so if you're an author you need to tread carefully. Us reviewers aren't getting paid for our work, but you are and your actions can be seen as shooting yourself in your foot.


Kierra Cass has apologized to Wendy Darling for attempting to vote reviews up to hide hers and I'm going to hope that she's also apologized for her agent's appalling behavior.

Kierra hon, if you read this then let me give you a tip: get a new agent. Her job is to sell you to people, part of which involves public relations. This is not good public relations and she should have known that publicly complaining to you, a new author, is not a wise decision to make. You might not have known better, but she should have known and that she didn't stop to think about any potential fallout should make you stop and worry about what other mistakes she might make or could make. This is the woman who is supposed to promote you to publishers and she's making moves like this, that can and will hurt your public image? What if she did something like this about your publisher and they caught wind of it?

Get a new agent. She might have been the one who started all of it and made the nastiest remarks, but you're the one who gets mud on their face. Roth gets to duck out of the spotlight and you have to sit there and be the focus of all of this. A person with these types of habits will only be a hazard to your writing career because you don't know when she'll stick her foot in her mouth or do something foolish and you'll end up suffering for it.


I just got sent to Roth's twitter page (which isn't locked, as I thought- click here to go there) and this tweet just proves my point about Cass needing to get a new agent:

"Oh, I said something mean about someone else saying something mean, and now the world of unpublished writers is mad at me."

That's the type of thing I'm talking about. This is the type of unprofessional behavior that will hurt the authors they're supposed to be representing. Contrary to Roth's perception of things, not everyone is an unpublished writer wanting to take swings at the people who "made it". No, some of us are just average readers who take time out of our daily life to review the things we read. Review for free, I might add. Very few of us get paid money for what we do and even the more popular book bloggers out there have to keep a day job to pay for the daily necessities like rent and food. We generally don't like it when agents get angry at someone for not liking their author and we like it even less when they call them names and fail to see why it's such a big deal.

It's a big deal because THIS HURTS YOUR AUTHOR'S REPUTATION WORSE THAN ONE SINGLE NEGATIVE REVIEW WOULD. Sorry for shouting, but I just want to get this across in the vain hope that Cass or Roth would read this. At the very least I hope that this is something that future mainstream authors will read and remember. A bad reputation lasts longer than you'd like and with the hundreds upon thousands of talented people ready to take your place when you fall, well... let's just say that today (especially if you're a new author) it's easy to get replaced by a newer author.

If this is her trying to help her client out, then Cass needs to watch out. All of her literary deals and contracts are done through Roth and this level of unprofessional behavior could keep her from getting a better deal. Publishers don't like bad publicity and they might use this as a way to pay an author less or worse, not pick up a second series from them because they don't want the liability that your agent might do something like this again and alienate readers, thus lowering your sales.

I'm going to close this with a great quote from Wendy Darling:

Bad reviews don't always stop people from buying books. Bad behavior often does.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Plagiarism on Amazon? Say it isn't so!

Amazon has never been a stranger to controversy or criticism. Whether it's the conditions of warehouse workers or the selling of a controversial book aimed towards pedophiles, odds are you've heard Amazon's name used in an unflattering news story.

Well, get ready for one of their newest situations: erotica plagiarism. Yep, plagiarism. It's one of the worst sins you can commit in publishing and according to some news sources, it's rampant. (Click here for one such news article.)

It was recently discovered that self-published "authors" such as Maria Cruz have been stealing stories from sites such as Literotica and passing it off as their own work. Cruz also plagiarized Bram Stoker's Dracula, a pretty gutsy move when you figure that it's a book that much of the literary world is at least passingly familiar with.

It's not only Literotica and Bram Stoker getting ripped off either. Another "author" named Jazmyne DeLyte (see her Amazon profile here) took the text of Victorian era novel Romance of Lust (written between the years 1873–1876), retitled it A Classic Victorian Erotic Novel, and never once stated that it was actually a public domain novel, choosing instead to pass it off as her own work. While it's not illegal to plagiarize public domain novels (see an explanation here), it is extremely unethical and is something that will eventually come back to bite you in the rump later on if/when you choose to try to publish something you actually wrote. Imagine trying to explain to your agent why you chose to misrepresent yourself and lie about things you actually wrote, especially after they (or a potential publisher) discovered the ruse! The old saying "you'll never work in this town (or at least in this publishing company) again" would probably apply. I don't have a problem with people selling copies of public domain works, just a problem with people trying to pass it off as something they wrote themselves. And yes, "forgetting" to state that you didn't write the book or "accidentally" submitting it incorrectly is plagiarism.

When the writing falls into a public site such as Literotica, the copyright is rather a tricky subject. What if the book was written anonymously or under a screen name? The author would have to find a way to prove that he or she was the actual writer of the tale. Then you come to another tricky subject: where you live. Some countries give you automatic copyrights under the Berne Convention, some don't. If you do live in one of these countries you will have some protection. If you don't, then it's all up to whether or not you applied to have your work copyrighted. WIPO says that you have the copyright to something the moment you finished writing it, but it can get tricky in the countries that don't follow the Berne Convention. So in other words, if it went to court it'd be a tricky thing to prove. Not impossible, but so difficult that many wouldn't have the money or time to invest in a lawsuit.

So what can we do about people like this? We do what we can. We comment in their book forums, stating that the book is plagiarized and state the source. We make a point to never purchase their books, not even the ones they actually wrote. (How could you ever know if they weren't ripping off someone else's work?) We tell our friends about it, especially those who are likely to purchase that person's work. Word of mouth can do a lot. And most importantly, we alert the website about the plagiarism. Again, it's not illegal to plagiarize a public domain works but many websites would rather remove the offending work than to keep them available for sale. It gives them a bad image, which is bad for business.

If you're curious, there's a whole thread about this over on Amazon. This is a really good example of how spreading the word about plagiarists can help get their books removed, as this thread was responsible for many of the plagiarized Literotica books getting removed from Amazon. (See the thread here.)

I'm honestly pretty disgusted by this. In my opinion plagiarism is no better than being a pickpocket. In the end you're still stealing something that belongs to someone else, even if it is in the public domain. These authors have to remember that they should treat other people's works the same way they want theirs to be treated: with respect, and passing off someone else work as your own shows a serious lack of respect for not only yourself, but also your readers and literature in general.

What I love about today's young adult fiction

Just a little while ago I was thinking about how much young adult fiction has changed. What used to be a tiny niche best known for its dramatic or bubblegum portrayals of teen life has now blossomed into a genre where you can find something for just about any reading preference you like.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s, reading things like Sweet Valley High and Fear Street. While I absolutely adored these types of books, I always got a little irritated with the characters. They were always so... sanitized. Unless it was a "I'm bad but now I'm seeing the error of my ways" type of book, the heroine (and most of these books always had a female as the main character) was someone who played by the rules, a good old fashioned "All American" girl that publishers apparently expected was the norm. Even the more free-spirited characters such as Jessica Wakefield found themselves eventually toeing the line after their latest crisis. After a while I just felt like the books were kind of dumbed down, like it was assumed that teens couldn't handle a more realistic character. The villains weren't much better. The bad girls and guys of the books either turned over a new leaf or "got their just desserts" by the end of the book.

The only books I would find that somewhat talked about real issues were the dramas and even then most of them had a patina of surrealism attached to them, to the point where you just couldn't fully see them as normal everyday people. There are of course exceptions to this, such as the wonderful Go Ask Alice, which dealt with a drug addicted teen. Unfortunately the majority of what was offered during the late 80s and early 90s was the "cleaner" stuff. (Or at least that's what my school and local libraries would mostly offer.)

Then there's the issue with what gender the books were written for. My male friends almost always had to shop in the general fiction sections for their books because well, there weren't many books that were out there for teen guys. There were things offered in the children's section, but after that you were pretty much limited to stuff like Redwall. I know that my friends and I usually ended up spending more time in the adult sections than we did in the teen and children's sections of our local libraries and bookstores.

This leads me to what I love about today's young adult fiction. Not only is it written in a more realistic and non-dumbed down fashion, but the characters are flawed. Wonderfully, beautifully flawed. There's always going to be the sanitized characters, but you can also see heroines who aren't always the prettiest girl in school (or described as the type of plain where it's pretty obvious that they're practically a Neutrogena skin model). They have bad habits and aren't the almost-Sues of earlier YA fiction. Oh and then there's the bad girls... It's wonderful to be able to pick up a book where the mean girls are actually mean and occasionally go without any huge repercussions. The heroine might get one over on the mean girl, but you know that in the end the antagonist will probably keep on trucking, but probably not bother our main character.

I was also overjoyed to see books aimed more towards guys. You have Christopher Paolini's Eragon, the James Patterson series (which are all gender-neutral), and a host of other books that guys can feel free to read without worrying that they're too "babyish". You'll always get teen boys and girls shopping in the adult section, but now the teen section is getting more love too!

In any case, I couldn't help but wonder if some of these authors grew up in the same time period that I did and experienced these things for themselves, choosing to write their books this way because they knew what this is what they'd have wanted as a teen. No matter what their reasoning, I'm glad for the changes.

Book Review: Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Title: Friends With Boys
Author: Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second
Release date: 02/28/2012
ISBN: 1596435569

I have to admit that I'm a big fan of indie comics in general. Hopeless-Savages, Koko be Good, and Blue Monday... I love them all. Friends With Boys can now be added to this list. I literally sat and devoured this in one night, flipping back to scenes and images that I particularly loved, especially Maggie's interactions with her family.
A coming-of-age tale with a spooky twist! Maggie McKay hardly knows what to do with herself. After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and rough-housing with her older brothers, it’s time for Maggie to face the outside world, all on her own. But that means facing high school first. And it also means solving the mystery of the melancholy ghost who has silently followed Maggie throughout her entire life. Maybe it even means making a new friend—one who isn’t one of her brothers. Funny, surprising, and tender, Friends with Boys is a pitch perfect YA graphic novel full of spooky supernatural fun.

One of the best things about this comic was that the main character isn't some picture-perfect character with flawless skin and great hair. (You know the ones I'm talking about- the characters who are supposed to be outcasts but look like models instead.) Maggie does have good skin, but most importantly she isn't perfect. She has hair that sticks straight up and a huge nose, which I found refreshing. It makes her that much easier to instantly relate to as an average person. I also loved Maggie's expressions throughout the book. She's a very expressive character and it shows through her facial features. Another thing that I loved about the artwork is that it reminds me of so many different artists without actually copying their style. Hicks might have potentially been inspired by them, but her artwork style is all her own. (Especially reminds me of Koko be Good and Blue Monday.)

The story line here is pretty interesting, although I'd like to warn people that the ghost part of the story is never fully explored. I'm not sure if that means there will be another volume, but if you're hoping for a big ghost story then you'll be disappointed. She (the ghost) does factor into the story, but not as the main grab. No, the biggest and most basic focus of the story is Maggie growing up and adapting to life outside of her comfort zone. Hicks does a good job of showing this off, from Maggie's awkward first day to her attempts to deal with some of the more major issues of her life.

This is only a brief glimpse into Maggie's world and I hope that this won't be the last I see of her, but this does work as a stand alone book for the most part. People wanting a definitive ending will undoubtedly get frustrated at it and I won't entirely blame them. This doesn't have the clear cut ending that I normally want my stories to have, but it's satisfying enough that I won't begrudge it. I loved this manga and I would love to see more like it, if not more of Maggie herself.

If you're curious, Friends With Boys is also available online as a webcomic at the author's website. (Click here to go to the site.)

5 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Amazon Vine)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Contest Winner!

Sorry for the late wait for the winner, but I'm pleased to say that the winner is (drumroll)

Miss Delirious!

Congratulations! I'll pass your contact info to Artist Arthur so the two of you can work out sending you your prize!

Happy New Year and Happy Holidays to you all!