Friday, February 26, 2010

Thoughts on Authorial Control and Piracy

Reading Between the Lines guest blogger Rachel Bostic tackles two very interesting topics in her January 20th blogpost on her website.

Discussing the topics of authorial control and piracy, Rachel has some great points:

Author Cherie Priest posted an excellent summary of which parts of the book production process authors have any control over or say in. And Nicole Peeler has a fabulous explanation of exactly how piracy hurts authors.

My thoughts on these topics?

Well, one of the reasons that self-publishing doesn’t scare me is that publishers are needed for a lot of the things Cherie lists–particularly scheduling and distribution. Individual authors–or even a small publishing house–simply don’t have the resources to get the kind of distribution that established houses can get. Would you know who to contact to sell your book to Barnes & Noble? Would you know when to sell it? Would you know how to project sales for them? Those major chain retailers are super-important to publishers, so a lot of the times when the art is changed it has to do with an account not liking it.

As for piracy, well. As a society we’re facing a complicated time when an entire generation has grown up with free information right at their fingertips. Free! Endless! Information! Those people have a hard time paying for something they can’t touch, and frankly I don’t really blame them when they don’t even own what they’re paying for (a Kindle download is actually a license to use the content, not an actual purchase as we think of a paperback book purchase being something that you pay for and then HAVE, and you can read it or loan it to someone or rip it up and put it on your wall as art. We need to iron out these issues before we can have a legitimate conversation about it. Piracy hurts publishers and authors, no doubt about it. But society is changing, and fighting piracy with DRM isn’t the answer.

Check out her post HERE

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Super Mario? Meet Shakespeare.

Not only do we have e-books and vooks, but another media is jumping on the book biz bandwagon--video games.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that Nintendo plans to add a book reader to its DS handheld device:

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Nintendo Co. is putting William Shakespeare and Mark Twain alongside “Super Mario” with its new handheld game device.

The Kyoto-based maker of the top-selling Wii console introduced the DSi XL handheld video-game player in the U.S., adding a book-reader similar to products from Apple Inc., Inc. and Sony Corp.. The device will be released on March 28 and cost $189.99, Cammie Dunaway, executive vice president of sales and marketing for North America, said today at an event in San Francisco.

The player, which has a larger screen than the company’s current model, will double as an electronic reader when Nintendo introduces “100 Classic Books” in June. Nintendo is facing increasing competition from Apple Inc. for mobile-game players. Apple’s iPad, to be released next month, will function as an e- reader and have games from makers including Electronic Arts Inc.

Nintendo said after introducing the DSi XL in Japan in November that the product had a wider market potential, especially with people ages 25 and up. The company is the largest maker of portable game players, with total DS shipments of 125.1 million units through last year, according to a Jan. 29 conference call.

The “Classic Books” title will be released on June 14 and will cost $19.99, Nintendo said. The DSi XL screen is almost double the size of other DS models and has wider viewing angles so it’s easier to watch a person play.

“It’s not really about trying to take on the e-book market,” dunaway said in an interview. “It’s just one more way to enjoy your device.”

Read the rest of the article HERE

I'm not sure how I feel about these "Look, we can do everything!" devices--basically, you're just carrying a little laptop around with you, instead of your former gaming device or e-reader. These types of advances--unnecessary as they may be--do open up some opportunities. Mainly, it encourages more demographics to actually read, even if it is on their Nintendo.

And I guess there's nothin' wrong with that.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Guest Blogger, Allison Pang: From 30,000 Words to a Three-Book Deal

I was standing at the ticket counter for United Airlines last April, getting ready to attend my first Romantic Times conference, when the airline rep asked me where I was headed. I remember giving her this sort of self-deprecating smile and telling her that I’d written a book, and was going to a writer’s conference. And then I kind of had to laugh at her comment:

“Yeah, I’d like to write a book one day. Maybe in my spare time.”

After all, most of us who write know there is no such thing as spare time. In fact, if you wait for such a mysterious animal to appear, the chances of you actually writing anything are pretty much nil. Try telling that to a non-writer, though, and see how far that attitude gets you.

It was nice to tell someone that I’d written a book, but the details I hadn’t told her were really the important ones. Like the fact I’d only finished my rough draft a week before. Or that in January I only had about 30,000 words written of my first manuscript, Shadow of the Incubus. But if I was going to spend the money to go to a conference, I’d be damned if I didn’t have something to pitch.
So somewhere between January and mid-April, I gave up the excuses as to why I couldn’t write. I stopped using my kids, my job, and my schedule as reasons why I wouldn’t succeed and forced myself to crank out at least 1,000 words a night. And in the end, I did it.
I finished the draft with 102,000 words, I made it to the conference, and I pitched to two agents and an editor, all of whom asked to see either a partial or a full manuscript. Of course, that was the rub – the manuscript certainly wasn’t polished enough to send out. So immediately after the conference I spent several weeks editing and revising and sent it off to the agents, so full of hope and pride and utterly confident that I’d knock their socks off.
And of course, I got rejected.
Nicely rejected, but rejected nonetheless. So I went back to the drawing board, sent it out to a few beta readers and let them pick it apart. And they all had very similar things to say about that first chapter or two.

Now, I had quite the history with that first chapter. The year before, when I first started writing, I came up with the premise and started letting people look at it. Which would have been great, except I allowed myself to be pulled in so many different directions that I lost all sense of my voice. Upon some excellent advice, I attempted to rewrite it yet again, but this time I stuck to my instincts and told it the way *I* wanted to tell it, Goal-Motivation-Conflict be damned!
My beta readers deemed it “Good.”
It was time to start working on my query letter and sending it out to agents. I got more rejections, so I decided to try my hand at contests. And the truth was that I didn’t really care so much about winning. My objective was merely to final, in the off-hand chance that a judging editor or agent might request to see more. I entered a LOT of contests, with varying degrees ofsuccess. People either loved my story or hated it.
It’s the sign of a strong voice, said the betas.
So I persevered, and eventually won three contests, one of which netted me requests from both an agent and an editor. In the meantime, I was refining my query letter and getting still more rejections, although I eventually ended up with two more requests for fulls.
In November, I got a phone call. A contest editor wanted to make an offer.
Excited, I hastily contacted all the agents who had my full and gave them the news. All three made offers of representation, but with the caveat that regardless of the editor, we would be going out on submission.
It was a tough spot to be in, and an even tougher decision to make. All three agents were brilliant, but it was difficult to think about turning down an offer on the table, to think I might be giving up my chance to see my book in print.
But I did.
In the end, I had to weigh what I wanted now versus my long-term goals. And I realized that I don’t just want to be published – I want a career as an author. And sometimes risks must be taken, even if they fly in the face of what seems like the obvious decision.
So I signed up with an agent, Colleen Lindsay of FinePrint Literary Management. She gave me some revisions. Just little ones. In fact, the only thing I had to do was take out too many references to the word “bacon.” (Turns out sometimes I can take a running gag too far. Who knew?) In the meantime, Colleen was contacted by an editor who had seen my manuscript as part of that same contest request, and she expressed interest in acquiring it.
We immediately put it out on submission. 36 hours later we had our first official offer. This, of course, led to a flurry of activity - and many sleepless nights on my part- as my agent contacted the rest of the editors who were taking a look to let them know we had movement. Two weeks later, I had several more offers and my agent took my manuscript to auction.
I was a nervous wreck as the phone calls and emails poured in from Colleen, letting me know who was interested, what they wanted to offer, and when we had to let them know by. She also wanted to know if I’d be interested in speaking with the editors. After all, I could potentially be working with one of them for several years, and it made perfect sense to feel each of them out.
Not being an idiot, I said yes. I took a day off from my job and hammered out the phone calls and listened to what they had to say. Again, it was a wretchedly difficult decision. Everyone was enthusiastic and friendly and willing to work with me on the points I felt were most important to the story.
But in the end it all boiled down to that last phone call from Colleen at 4:30 PM on the day of the deadline. “You’ve got a decision to make,” she told me. “And you need to tell me in the next 15 minutes."

So I sucked in a breath and told her my choice, and now I have a three-book deal with Pocket Books.
It scares me to death in some ways. But it’s also very full of win.
In the span of less than a year, I finished my novel, got an agent and signed a publishing contract – well, the actual signature part is still to come, but I’ve got deadlines! Whether this was the culmination of skill or timing or just dumb luck on my part, I’ll probably never know.
What I do know is that I have no spare time at all.
And I’m utterly grateful for it.

About the blogger: A marine biologist in a former life, Allison Pang turned to a life of crime to finance her wild spending habits and need to collect Faberge eggs. A cat thief of notable repute, she spends her days sleeping and nights scaling walls and wooing dancing boys....Well, at least the marine biology part is true. And she was taloned by a hawk once. She also loves Hello Kitty, sparkly shoes, and gorgeous violinists. She spends her days in Northern Virginia working as a cube grunt and her nights waiting on her kids and cats, punctuated by the occasional husbandly serenade. Sometimes she even manages to write. Mostly she just makes it up as she goes. Check out her blog at

Thanks for joining us at Reading Between the Lines, Allison!
If you or anyone you know would like to guest blog for RBtL, please inquire via e-mail.

Britain's Diagram Prize. For What? Oddest Book Title, Of Course!

The Associated Press sent a surprising article about Britain's 2009 Diagram Prize along the wire this morning. And it was too amusing not to share with my loyal readers. Yahoo reposted:

LONDON – Worm hunters, lethal robots and Nazi spoons are in the running for Britain's quirkiest literary award, the Diagram Prize for year's oddest book title.

The six finalists are "Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter;" "Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich;" "Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots;" "The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease"; "Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes;" and "What Kind of Bean is This Chihuahua?"

The shortlist, announced Friday, was narrowed down from 90 entries, including "The Origin of Feces" and "Bacon: A Love Story."

The Diagram Prize was founded in 1978 and is run by trade magazine The Bookseller. The winner, decided by public vote, will be announced March 26.

Previous champions include "Bombproof Your Horse" and "Living With Crazy Buttocks."

Read the article HERE

My vote goes to "What Kind of Bean is This Chihuahua?"

What about you?
What title do you think shound win?

Friday, February 19, 2010

"Books on shirts. Shirts on a mission."

There's a fantastic new clothing line struting its stuff in the literary world this year--Out of Print Clothing. Though it was established in 1984, the creative and charitable company that prints out-of-print book covers on comfy fitted tee shirts is just now getting noticed.

Their shirts are more than just a perfect addition to any book-lover's closet, however. The company is trying to change the world, according to the Out of Print Clothing mission statement posted on their website:
Books on shirts. Shirts on a mission.

Out of Print celebrates the world’s great stories through fashion. Our shirts feature iconic and often out of print book covers. Some are classics, some are just curious enough to make great t-shirts, but all are striking works of art.

We work closely with artists, authors and publishers to license the content that ends up in our collections. Each shirt is treated to feel soft and worn like a well-read book.

In addition to spreading the joy of reading through our tees, we acknowledge that many parts of the world don't have access to books at all. We are working to change that. For each shirt we sell, one book is donated to a community in need through our partner Books For Africa.

How we read is changing as we move further into the digital age. It's unclear what the role of the book cover will be in this new era, but we feel it's more important than ever to reflect on our own individual experiences with great literary art before it's forever changed.

What’s your story? Wear it proud.
Among some of the titles Out Of Print has already transferred to tees are The Catcher in the Rye, On the Road, Invisible Man, Brave New World, 1984, Of Mice and Men, Lolita, A Streetcar Named Desire, Moby Dick, and Farenheit 451. Check out their website for a complete listing of tees.

I am absolutely loving this company! I can't wait till they issue some of my personal favorites--A Farewell to Arms and The Bell Jar among them. And man, what a great way to find new markets for the Classics!

Thanks to Rebecca for bringing this awesome endeavor to my attention!

GalleyCat Announces "Kindle-rella" Story (Which Also Happens to be Some More Personal News!)

I just found out that GalleyCat announced some personal news of mine this past Wednesday, though no one would know it from the article:

Publishing's "Kindle-rella" story had a happy ending, as one indie author went from indie "bestseller" in the Kindle store to scoring a book deal with Simon & Schuster's new Gallery Books imprint.

In January, we reported how indie publisher Bell Bridge Books offered a free copy of "Murder Takes The Cake" as a temporary promotion in the Kindle Store. The free book by Gayle Trent (pictured) jumped to third place on the Kindle "bestseller" list and she attracted the attention of Robert Gottlieb from Trident Media Group. Currently selling for $8.00, her book is now ranked #590 in the Kindle Store.

Trent's editor from Bell Bridge Books, Deborah Smith, emailed us with a quick follow-up report, calling Trent a "Kindle-rella" story: "Gottlieb has sold the next book in Trent's mystery series, Killer Sweet Tooth to Lauren McKenna ... The publisher is also picking up subrights from us on one of Gayle's previous titles in the series." Smith also noted that the company will try again with the temporary free Kindle edition promotion in March. (Deal info via Publishers Marketplace)

See the article on GalleyCat HERE

Unfortunately, the PW announcement wasn't run by me this time before it was published, so 'm not listed here as the editor. But it's official--I am. I've already spoken to Gayle and she's fantastic. We, of course, bonded over cake. Yay!

But not only is this exciting for me personally--another great, fun series to edit and cake-related--but it's an interesting development in the e-book/print saga.

More and more self-published or small press e-books are climbing the lists, and as a result, are catching the attention of traditional publishers and getting book deals. Clearly, e-book-only authors are still looking to find a top publisher to get their printed books out in the marketplace, showing that e-books are not taking over, as the prestige and merit of being published in print is still plenty significant.

Thank goodness.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Harry Potter and the Unfounded Plagiarism Lawsuit

The Associated Press announced today that perrennial children's author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame and her publisher, Bloomsbury UK, are being sued for copyright infringement.
USA Today published the AP article online first thing this morning:
J.K. Rowling has been named in a lawsuit alleging she stole ideas for her wildly popular and lucrative Harry Potter books from another British author.

The estate of the late Adrian Jacobs on Wednesday added Rowling as a defendant in a lawsuit it filed in June against Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for alleged copyright infringement, according to a statement released by the estate's representatives, who are based in Australia.

The lawsuit, filed in a London court, claims Rowling's book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire copied substantial parts of Jacobs' 1987 book, The Adventures of Willy the Wizard — No. 1 Livid Land. Jacobs' estate also claims that many other ideas from Willy the Wizard were copied into the Harry Potter books. Jacobs died in London in 1997.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth book in Rowling's series and was published in July 2000.

Sydney agent Max Markson, who is representing the trustee of Jacobs' estate, Paul Allen, said Rowling was added to the lawsuit after Allen learned that the statute of limitations to sue her had not run out, as previously thought.

"I estimate it's a billion-dollar case," Markson said Thursday. "That'll be the decision of the courts, obviously."

J.K. Rowling said the claim was completely untrue.

"I am saddened that yet another claim has been made that I have taken material from another source to write Harry," she said. "The fact is I had never heard of the author or the book before the first accusation by those connected to the author's estate in 2004; I have certainly never read the book."

"The claims that are made are not only unfounded but absurd and I am disappointed that I, and my UK publisher Bloomsbury, are put in a position to have to defend ourselves. We will be applying to the Court immediately for a ruling that the claim is without merit and should therefore be dismissed without delay."

In June, Bloomsbury said the allegation that Rowling lifted from Jacobs' work was "unfounded, unsubstantiated and untrue." Bloomsbury said Jacobs' estate first approached the company in 2004 with its claims, but was unable to identify any text in the Harry Potter books that was copied from Willy the Wizard.

In a statement, Allen said the estate is also seeking legal advice on whether the Harry Potter films and soon-to-be-opened Harry Potter theme park breach copyright law.
Willy the Wizard? Really?

I'm inclinded to believe Rowling on this one. I don't think anyone has ever heard of him before. And without even a speck of solid evidence of plagiarism, it looks like this case is dead before it even appears before a judge.

It sounds to me like the Jacobs estate is just trying to snag any kind of publicity they can for Willy and his shenanigans, even if its negative. Just as they've been doing for years.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cameron to Pen "Avatar" Novel

Who has the biggest ego in Hollywood? Why, James Cameron, of course!

While the creator of Titantic and Avatar certainly has some phenomenal credits to his name, t the film maven is known to be an egotistical control-freak of the highest order. (Just ask his third ex-wife, Linda Hamilton--or read this crazy and kind of hysterical tell-all interview on

And now his ego is being fed even more.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Cameron has confirmed that he will in fact be writing the "Avatar" novel:

James Cameron has the two biggest movie blockbusters of all time: “Titanic” and “Avatar.” So what’s left for him to conquer? The world of literature.

At a reception held in his honor on Tuesday night in New York City at the Four Seasons Restaurant, Cameron confirmed reports that he’s turning his Oscar-nominated movie “Avatar” into a novel.

“There are things you can do in books that you can’t do with films,” said Cameron.

“Avatar” tells the story of a disabled Marine who travels to a distant moon called Pandora, inhabits a surrogate body, and falls in with a nature-loving alien race fighting military and corporate forces seeking to exploit their land for profit.

He says the book version of “Avatar” will follow the film version “quite closely” in
terms of the plot. But the novel will also include “interior monologues” and provide details about the characters and Pandora.

Cameron said he first considered writing the book when he was filming the movie. “I told myself, if it made money, I’d write a book,” the director said.

Read the rest of the story HERE

I'm sorry but it must be said--what a wanker! =p

Leave the novels to the pros, Cameron. Or, better yet, leave it on the big screen where it belongs. The actual "Avatar" premise is generic; it's the special effects that make it the big flick it is.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Urban Fantasy Extravaganza

In preparation for my big edit, I've been reading up on my urban fantasy. I've read urban fantasy before, but I really wanted to get a handle on some of the newer series out there before I dove in to work:

Description/cover copy:

My name is Gin, and I kill people.

They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South -- when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I'm out for revenge. And I'll exterminate anyone who gets in my way -- good or bad. I may look hot, but I'm still one of the bad guys. Which is why I'm in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I'm battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction...especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

My take: One word--awesome. The first book in Estep's new Elemental Assassins series (01/2010) is riveting, creative, and just plain cool. Gin is a kick-ass herione with layers of intriguing morals and deep secrets. She's relatable on a lot ofAdd Image levels, but so unique that you can't help but want to get to know her better. And her and Detective Caine? Oy. Their chemistry sizzles off the page. Definitely a read you don't want to miss!

Description/cover copy:


Dark. Talented. Beautiful. Star of the rock band Inferno. Rumored owner of the hot New Orleans nightspot Club Hell. Born of the Blood, then broken by an evil beyond imagination.


F.B.I. Special Agent Heather Wallace has been tracking a sadistic serial murderer known as the Cross Country Killer, and the trail has led her to New Orleans, Club Hell, and Dante. But the dangerously attractive musician not only resists her investigation, he claims to be "nightkind": in other words, a vampire. Digging into his past for answers reveals little. A juvenile record a mile long. No social security number. No known birth date. In and out of foster homes for most of his life before being taken in by a man named Lucien DeNoir, who appears to guard mysteries of his own.


What Heather does know about Dante is that something links him to the killer -- and she's pretty sure that link makes him the CCK's next target. Heather must unravel the truth about this sensual, complicated, vulnerable young man -- who, she begins to believe, may indeed be a vampire -- in order to finally bring a killer to justice. But Dante's past holds a shocking, dangerous secret, and once it is revealed not even Heather will be able to protect him from his destiny....
My take: This is the first book in Phoenix's popular "Maker's Song" series (01/2008). While the story is certainly intriguing, I found it difficult to engage with in all its complexity. Serving as a very obvious world-building story, there was so much information laid out on the table that it was a little hard to follow at times. Special Agent Heather, however, is a fantastic character, with the smarts to nail any murderer to the wall. Dante's character is fascinating as well in all his brooding and sensual glory. This book didn't hook me on the series, but it's definitely worth a read because I can see why it would develop such a strong following.

Description/cover copy:

Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, '60s psychedelia, '80s goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers just how the DJs maintain their cred: they're vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.

Ciara's first instinct, as always, is to cut and run. But communications giant Skywave wants to buy WVMP and turn it into just another hit-playing clone. Without the station -- and the link it provides to their original Life Times -- the vampires would "fade," becoming little more than mindless ghosts of the past. Suddenly a routine corporate takeover is a matter of life and undeath.

To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara rebrands the station as "WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll." In the ultimate con, she hides the DJs' vampire nature in plain sight, disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around -- next to Ciara's complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the "gimmick" enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren't so eager to be brought into the light. Soon the stakes are higher -- and the perils graver -- than any con game Ciara's ever played....
My take: I love, love, love this book! I'm not such a fan of the cover, but I adore what's inside the pages! With a super fresh hook and loads of compelling characters, this story (05/08) is a must-read. Ciara's wit and intelligence will have you laughing out loud and wishing she were your best friend. The romance between Ciara and Shane is seductive and edgy, yet so safe and loving--it's the perfect mix. The music references throughout are also a great addition, giving me another easy reason to adore this unnamed series. Go get a copy NOW. I'm about to track down Book 2 in this series myself!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A New Ploy for Amazon

Amazon's at it again as they try to rake in more Amazon Prime customers by dangling a free Kindle in front of their faces, according to

In January Amazon offered select customers a free Kindle of sorts – they had to pay for it, but if they didn’t like it they could get a full refund and keep the device. It turns out that was just a test run for a much more ambitious program. A reliable source tells us Amazon wants to give a free Kindle to every Amazon Prime subscriber.

Just as soon as they can work out how to do it without losing money.

Amazon Prime is a subscription product that gives customers free two-day shipping on everything they buy from Amazon. The current fee is $79/year.

These are Amazon’s very best customers – the ones who tend to make multiple purchases per month. And they are also likely to buy multiple books per month on their Kindle devices. If those users buy enough books, and Amazon gets the production costs of the Kindle down enough, Amazon can get Kindles into “millions” of people’s hands without losing their shirt. At least when the goal is to break even or better over the course of a couple of years, the expected lifetime of a Kindle.

See the article HERE
Now, given that I'm already an Amazon Prime member--and I just bought a Sony e-reader--I couldn't care much less about this potential promotion. (Don't worry, I don't pay to be a Prime member; I'm a member for free by having an Visa card. I couldn't pass up the free two-day shipping.) My initial thought when I read the above article, as uncool as it may be, was "Ooooh something to sell on E-bay!" It's likely that a good number of Amazon Prime members--who are constantly making purchases online, and thus are likely fairly supportive of new technology--already have e-readers, as well. So, I wonder how many of these babies would pop up on E-bay if they follow through with this plan.

But I'm sure for those who don't yet have Amazon Prime, the free Kindle would be a huge draw. Amazon sure knows how to hook 'em.

A Little Personal News...

Check it out!

From Publishers Marketplace Deals yesterday afternoon:

Debut author Allison Pang's SHADOW OF THE INCUBUS, the first book in a new urban fantasy series about a mortal woman serving as the Queen of Elfland's human touchstone; when her employer goes missing, she finds herself under suspicion and learns that the only way to find the truth is to forge a truce with a sexy demon who may or may not be setting her up to be the next victim, to Lauren McKenna at Pocket, with Danielle Poiesz to edit, in a three-book deal, at auction, by Colleen Lindsay at FinePrint Literary Management (World English).

WOOOOOO!!! So stoked!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gotta love those Hamster Massacres...

The announced last night that the Waterstone's children's book prize has been awarded to author Katie Davies for her book The Great Hamster Massacre.

Does this freak anyone else out a little bit???
A children's book that started life as "a collection of horrible hamster deaths" has won the Waterstone's children's book prize for debut author Katie Davies.

The Great Hamster Massacre, a humorous murder mystery involving two girl sleuths and an array of dead hamsters, is an illustrated book aimed at seven to 10-year-olds and is the first time that a story aimed at a younger readership has won the prize.

"I originally thought it was for older children but then I was told that children over the age of 10 are not interested in hamsters," said Davies. "The story was also inspired by real events that happened when I was a kid around eight or nine years old. I remember quite vividly what it was like at that age: me and my little brother wanted hamsters desperately, but had been given various portentous foreshadowing stories of dreadful things that had happened to small pets. We were also told that both our hamsters were girls but, inevitably, they turned out to be a breeding pair. We were over the moon with the litter but the following morning it was carnage in the cage - they had all been killed by the mother."

Inspired by this memory, Davies began asking her friends about similar pet tales and was overwhelmed with grim hamster stories. "One friend was getting ready for a night out, stepped back with a stiletto and speared the hamster. Another fell into a pot of glue in the classroom," said Davies, with a shudder.

From these unlikely beginnings was born a book described by the children's laureate Anthony Browne as "a funny and touching story told very convincingly and honestly from the point of view of a young girl."

Davies was keen to write a story that would appeal to both boys and girls and contain all the "gory and bodily function bits" that she loved in Roald Dahl books as a child.

Read the rest of the article HERE

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Portia De Rossi's Got Something to Say

When I heard about Portia De Rossi's memoir coming out this fall, I was surprised to say the least. All I knew about her is that she's married to Ellen DeGeneres and she's freakin' gorgeous, despite her rail thin figure. I honestly never thought of her as having much to say with her quiet and seemingly shy demeanor--especially in contrast to her outgoing, comedian wife. But now I shall eat my words.

Mmm words, yum.

De Rossi seems to have a lot to say. She has strong beliefs, morals, and a personality I knew nothing of (not to say I would ever claim to actually know her personality, never having met her). And I've gotta admit, I'm stoked for her memoir after reading this cover story in Advocate Magazine on the mag's website:
The lady has something to say.

Maybe she always did, but she didn’t always know it. For a very long time she swallowed words instead of food. When she did speak she answered as if in character, imitating the kind of woman her publicists and costars told her young actresses should be.

That was the deal Hollywood offered: Forget being smart. Forget being a feminist. Forget that year of law school. And definitely forget being gay. Be “Portia de Rossi,” an Australian ingenue. Rolling Stone’s “hot bombshell” cover girl. A modern Rapunzel with silky blond hair bewitching an audience simply by unpinning a tightly knit bun.

Be miserable and self-destructive.

“It was a very difficult dichotomy to live in,” she says now. “Oh, I’m Portia. I’m fresh and new to Hollywood. I just found myself in Ally McBeal. Now I’m in my underwear and sleeping with my boss even though I don’t want to portray women in the workplace that way. All of these things were tearing me apart. Plus—” Her mouth quirks up. “I was gay, did I mention?”

A self-described “staunch feminist,” she was stuck on a show that famously led Time magazine to ask “Is Feminism Dead?” Its leading ladies seemed to shrink in size with every episode, and the only on-set rumor that came close to challenging the popularity of “Does everyone on Ally have an eating disorder?” was “Is that hot blond gay?”

Today, De Rossi is a walking, talking advertisement for happiness. “I talk about everything more now than I used to,” she says. She writes about it too, in a book that she discusses for the first time publicly with The Advocate.


The book that has emerged is “definitely not self-help” and not quite a memoir—“I hate that term”—though it is absolutely autobiographical and, given her built-in platform—DeGeneres has shamelessly promoted Better Off Ted on-air—poised to be a best seller.

The story starts in 1997 (when her acting career took off) and goes through 2004 (when she began dating DeGeneres), with flashbacks to her childhood. “I abused my body. I had bulimia. I would use fen-phen. I wanted to talk about all that. But obviously I can’t do that without talking about my sexuality. And although you can’t really talk about one without the other, it still felt like two stories. The only thing that linked the two of them was me.”

And it’s not always easy going. “It’s been a difficult but revealing process,” she says. Losses she thought she’d fully grieved, such as her father’s death when she was 9, have been confusing, if cathartic, to write through. “You go back and you experience these emotions that you thought weren’t there any more.”

So now the woman who once was terrified to speak about her life is a writer. The book leaves convenient room for a sequel spanning her life with DeGeneres. And, she says, “I would like to try my hand at a novel at one point.” One thing she’s not interested in trying is screenwriting. “I’m just not drawn to it,” she says. “I still love acting. It’s the easiest of all of it for me.”

Read the rest of the fantastic article
(trust me, it's worth it!)
De Rossi's book was sold by William Morris Endeavor co-head Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, but I can't for the life of me track down who she sold it to. Even Publishers Marketplace isn't listing the mysterious publisher. I wonder why...

Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum? Eh...

The bestselling Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich is finally coming to the big screen.

A film adaptation of One for the Money, the first book in the beloved romance/mystery series, had been in the works for over 15 years and just finally is making headway now that its leading lady is cast--Katherine Heigl--according to the Daily News:

What do you get when you mix Katherine Heigl, lingerie and bounty hunting? A chick flick that guys are sure to enjoy.

The "Grey's Anatomy" star has signed on for the lead role in "One for the Money," based on the first book in the immensely popular Stephanie Plum series of novels by Janet Evanovich, reports.

Heigl will play Plum, a lingerie buyer who takes onwork as a bounty hunter to make some extra cash, setting off a series of adventures that has lead to 19 books so far, the most recent being "Finger Lickin' Fifteen."

In "One for the Money," Plum learns the ropes of bounty hunting by chasing down a wanted cop named Joseph Morelli, who happens to be the guy who took her virginity back when she was 16 and wrote about it on the bathroom wall of Mario's Sub Shop.

Read more HERE

While I agree that this series will make a very fun movie (I've only read the first two books in the series myself), I'm iffy on the casting again. I love Katherine Heigl in "Grey's Anatomy" and in some of her films--I was OBSESSED with "Wish Upon a Star" when I was a kid--I don't think she's quite right for this role. I also didn't think she was right for the role of Izzy Spellman in The Spellman Files adaptation, which is was rumored to play and is a very similar role. I don't know--I just can't see her as a gun-toting, tough-as-nails (but sarcastic and hilarious) sleuth. She has too much innocence and not enough chutzpah. But who knows, maybe she'll surprise me.

If I were casting this film, I'd go with someone more like Kristen Bell, whose role as Veronica Mars in the television series of the same name was kick-ass. Or maybe someone with a darker, sexier look like Sandra Bullock (though she's a bit too old for the role now, I think) or Rachel McAdams.

Tough (casting) call.

Also, check out these polls on Some of the nominees are hilarious:

Who makes the best Stephanie Plum? and Cast the Stephanie Plum Movie

Who do YOU think would be best?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

And the winner is....

Work has been insanity this week, so I aplogize for my lack of posting. But here's a brief update on the whole Amazon v. Macmillan debacle...

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the two companies have actually come to an agreement! *sarcastic gasp*

A week after Inc. halted the direct sale of books published by Macmillan in a pricing dispute, the two sides have settled their differences and books by Macmillan authors went back on sale on Amazon's Web site over the weekend.

The settlement sets the stage for what will almost certainly be a transformative year in publishing as Amazon goes head-to-head with Apple Inc. over the thriving electronic-book market.

By agreeing to accept a new pricing model, Amazon has publicly acknowledged the sudden emergence of a rival that may not only threaten its highly popular Kindle franchise but also its total domination of e-books.

Specific terms of the Macmillan agreement couldn't be learned. However, they are expected to include higher prices for e-books, mirroring those offered by Apple on its coming iPad device.

Read more HERE

Also check out this interesting video from

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dueling Review: "Of Bees and Mist" by Erick Setiawan

Recently, my book club read Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan. As I was reading, I realized, “Wait a second, I have such a great opportunity here to get opposing reviews of the same book! I can get two completely different perspectives to share with my readers!”

So that’s what I’ve done—or tried to do rather. It turns out that Of Bees and Mist was so incredible that both reviewers loved it. But take a look and see what it is that made this book so special for each of them. (And stay tuned for another Dueling Review, but I’ll make sure their actually dueling!)

And now, with no further ado, please welcome Rachel Bostic and Meghan Stevenson for the first Reading Between the Lines dueling review.

A Review by Rachel:

Of Bees and Mist is a stunning literary debut from Erick Setiawan. Reminiscent of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Of Bees and Mist uses magical realism to tell the story of Meridia, a young woman whose troubled parents are unable to relate to her. Her father stares her down and critiques her clothing and character every morning and her mother frequently forgets her existence. Tormented by ghosts in mirrors, extreme cold, nightmares, and expanding staircases, Meridia escapes her home at the first opportunity—when she meets and falls in love with Daniel.

In addition to falling for Daniel, she falls in love with his family, who are so different from her own. It is only after the young lovers wed and Meridia moves into her husband’s family home that she discovers the true nature of her mother in law, a cruel, manipulative woman who uses every method at her disposal—including supernatural ones—to exert her power over those around her. At first Eva doesn’t realize that she’s met her match in Meridia, and the duel that springs up between them has unexpected consequences for all of those around them.

At its heart, Of Bees and Mist is a love story. Loss of innocence, discovery of one’s true strength, and the power of both forgiveness and revenge are explored through unexplainable phenomena as well as a relationship that rings true to life. Setiawan skillfully weaves Indonesian superstition, Chinese heritage, and American ideals into compelling portraits of a number of different women, getting right what they fear, what they hate, what they love, and what they most want.

While magical realism is not a style that everyone loves, for me it emphasized the parts of life that can seem to have mystical elements—falling in love, fighting with those close to you. The mist covering Meridia’s father cloaks his shame and his secrets and Meridia quickly learns the futility of fighting against it. Eva’s stinging and harassing bees demonstrate the power of hateful and poisonous words. We all imbue certain memories or experiences with a brightness or menacing atmosphere that don’t exist in the physical world, and Setiawan does an excellent job, for me, of tying supernatural elements into those emotions in the text.

Of Bees and Mist isn’t for the faint of heart. Its message is that love certainly does not conquer all, and that growing up isn’t a painless journey. I’d say it’s a novel for those who have loved and lost, and for those who have loved and lost and come together again. It’s for those who believe that if there isn’t magic in everyday life, maybe there should be.

A Review by Meghan:

I received a copy of this book from a friend without its jacket; that I had no idea what to expect was an understatement. My friend and I share the books for a book club that reads a lot of YA and commercial fiction, so I had no idea what the bees or the mist were. But once I opened the book, I quickly found myself completely delighted to read about a magical world without place or time. I had no idea when or where the characters lived, and at some point, I stopped guessing.

The magical, undefined setting freed me as a reader to be completely enchanted and curious as to what was going to happen to our lonely but lovely protagonist. In the beginning, I compared this book to Jane Eyre a bit—but by the middle of the book, I realized that the heroine in Of Bees and Mist could totally whip Jane’s butt, and not in a mean-girl type of way. Rather, I found the main character Meridia to be a strong woman who knows the difference between right and wrong, and wants to reconcile reality with her morals. She strives to figure out how to accomplish that goal throughout the book.

I actually found a lot of situations in this novel to be more real than you would expect from magical realism; the author brings some common familial conflicts to the plot that will resonate with a lot of readers, and I feel the manipulation between and at the hands of the characters was really, really well crafted and made the book suspenseful in a way most novels today are not.

Without giving away too much of the plot, I feel that this novel is similar to Gabriel Garcia Marquez in that it uses magical realism to show some of human nature that’s not apparent in the normal world—the dark forces or bees that individuals use to manipulate others; the mist that traps some of us in the past. This is the perfect subway read—it takes you away without requiring that much of you. I heartily recommend it.

About the bloggers:

Rachel Bostic is a voracious reader, amateur belly dancer, and lover of all things purple. She currently works at Simon & Schuster as the marketing manager for Atria Books. Find her at

Meghan Stevenson is an associate editor at Hudson Street Press, working on prescriptive (how-to) and narrative nonfiction. She enjoys reading fiction because it’s not work-related. Originally from Wisconsin, Meghan has somewhat embarrassing hobbies and passions including but not limited to country music, useless yet extensive knowledge of one-hit wonders, Jason Segel and the New York Mets. Her first New York Times bestseller contained the line “Bros before ho’s.” (Seriously: Page 11 of THE BRO CODE.) She has a penchant for trivia and more cats than people live in her apartment.

Thanks for joining us at Reading Between the Lines, Rachel and Meghan!

If you or anyone you know would like to guest blog for RBtL, please inquire via e-mail.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Amazon and Macmillan and E-Books, Oh My!

So, it's Wednesday and the war still wages between Amazon and the publishing house Macmillan. As of 9 a.m. today, consumers still cannot buy Macmillan books on Amazon, unless it's from a private seller.

In case you haven't heard the news, EW's Shelf Life fills readers in:

[T]he e-book pricing wars came to a head on Friday and Saturday, when Amazon stopped selling Macmillan titles (St. Martin’s, Holt, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux books), though customers could still purchase books on the site from other sellers. Macmillan CEO John Sargent issued an impassioned plea on Saturday night to explain his company’s position, and last night, Amazon gave in, posting a statement to customers on its Kindle page that said, in part, “We want you to know that ultimately, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them toyou even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative. Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!”

Read the rest of the article HERE

I couldn't believe it when I heard that Amazon pulled all Macmillan titles from their website on Friday afternoon, just late enough in the day that the publisher couldn't do anything about it with all it's staff off for the weekend. Talk about manipulative! Despite any argument that Amazon and Macmillan may be having, professionalism should still be in place. I would understand not posting any new titles from Macmillan until the situation is resolved, but pulling the titles already being sold? It's like a little kid throwing a temper tantrum. And then I couldn't believe it again when I heard about Amazon's post recognizing that they'd be forced to give in to Macmillan. Again, they're just being stubborn to be stubborn, instead of trying to address the problem in an adult and professional way.

While I can understand Amazon's reluctance to price an e-book at $14.99, from a publishing point of view, it's not as simple as Amazon thinks. Macmillan is right in that too low of a price point just doesn't make sense. Books are a business. One with very low profit margins, at that. EW points out that 3% is considered a healthy profit margin in the industry, which is startlingly low. Publishers also lose money of 90% of their titles. Most people don't know that. They think we're over here swimming in dough, but it's just the opposite. There are a lot of expenses that go into making, selling, and promoting a book, not to mention paying the advance to the author and salaries (though miniscule) to the employees. And then on top of that, 90% of the books don't even earn out, so the publisher doesn't even break even. This is why Macmillan has such a beef with Amazon's set pricing of e-books. While yes, e-books are less expensive to produce than physical books, it still costs money, and e-book sales are a necessary and helpful part of trying to earn out on a title.

So, with Amazon still in a tizzy about Macmillan's suggestion of a range of e-book prices, Macmillan has taken matter into their own hands, according to Publishers Marketplace:

Buy buttons for Macmillan's physical books have yet to return at Amazon (at least in any meaningful way), but the publisher quietly launched what may soon be just a remnant of their earlier strategy to keep up the price of ebooks: the "enhanced" edition.

Kristin Hannah's Winter Garden, which released yesterday, was one of the few (if only) Macmillan books you could buy directly from Amazon, which was offering the Kindle version only and not the trade hardcover. But the book carries the curious digital list price of $29.99--three dollars higher than the print book list price.

The Amazon information page offered no obvious explanation for the new pricing. But at Barnes &, they helpfully (and prominently) explained that the ebook version of Winter Garden is a "Special Edition eBook" with "a number of exciting features, including: An exclusive conversation with the author; a special essay written by the author describing her research process for the book; delicious recipes for making Russian food favorites in your kitchen at home; and more."

Read more HERE

I'm not sure "enhanced e-books" are necessarily the way to go, but it's one alternative. At least Macmillan is trying to do something productive and solve the problem. They aren't just crying and stamping their feet like some other company I know.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Before Carrie Bradshaw Became Carrie Bradshaw

Publisher Balzer + Bray--an imprint of HarperCollins--is coming out with a new spin-off of Sex and the City this April, but this time, it's for young adults.

Here's B&'s synopsis of Candace Bushnell's new book, The Carrie Diaries:

Before Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation?

The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it's finally time to go after everything she ever wanted.

Rabid fans of Sex and the City will love seeing Carrie Bradshaw evolve from a regular girl into a sharp, insightful writer. They'll learn about her family background -- how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. We'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where the next Carrie Diaries book will take place.

For more information click HERE

Thanks to LG for passing along the exciting news! We'll have to keep an eye on this one!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bringing Back the Babysitters

The beloved children's series "The Babysitter's Club" is being reissued this spring, with brand spanking new covers and a new prequel from Ann M. Martin, according to The New York Times:

Taking a page from Broadway and George Lucas, Scholastic Inc., the children’s book publisher, is trying for a revival — with a prequel attached.

In April the company plans to reissue repackaged and slightly revised versions of the first two volumes in one of its most successful series, “The Baby-Sitters Club,” in the hopes of igniting enthusiasm in a new generation of readers. And just as Mr. Lucas brought “Star Wars” back with a whole new arc of stories that began before the original series, Scholastic is publishing a newly written prequel, “The Summer Before,” by Ann M. Martin, the original author of “The Baby-Sitters Club” books.

The move follows Scholastic’s 2008 resuscitation of “Goosebumps,” another of its most popular series. For now Scholastic and Ms. Martin only have plans for the one prequel, although the publisher will release three more reissues of the original series later next year.

Read the rest of your article HERE

I was obsessed with this series as a little girl. I read every book multiple times. They were fun, relateable, compelling, and pure. It's refreshing to me that Scholastic is reissuing these gems and giving the youth market some good role models once more, as there so much edge to children's fiction these days.

However, I'm less than enthused about the redesign of the cover. While I agree that they need updating for today's audience, I don't think they went about it the right way. The cartoon-feel makes these books seem TOO young to me. With kids acting more and more mature, even the appropriate age level might shy away from such illustrated covers. In addition, by removing the babysitters themselves from the covers, on of the biggests draws of the series--there's a girl for everyone to relate to, emotionally and physically--is minimized. It takes the reader away from the heart of these novels--the self-discovery, the friendships, the process of growing up.

But at least these are better than the previous adaptation to a graphic novel (on left). I can't imagine that this worked, but who knows.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see if kids in the 21st century love the Babysitter's gang as much as us 20th century kiddies did.