Friday, March 29, 2013

Goodreads: An Amazon Acquisition

After working in the publishing industry for so many years, I've learned that there's sadly a good bit of passive aggression going on behind the scenes--as it does in every industry, really. But sometimes, publishing's particular brand of rivalry is more public than most.

Like today's announcement that Amazon has purchased Goodreads, for example. tells us more:

After two years of stops and starts, Bookish, the book discovery and e-commerce website co-owned by three of the world’s biggest publishers, finally opened for business in February. Seven weeks later, Amazon has acquired Goodreads, the leading book-centric social network. 
Of course, with 16 million members, San Francisco-based Goodreads is a logical enough acquisition target for the e-tailer. (The sale price hasn’t been disclosed but seems likely to have been in the low eight digits; according to Crunchbase, Goodreads had raised a total of $2.75 million in funding.) 
The two sites aren’t mirror images of each other. In particular, as Laura Hazard Owen explains, Amazon and Goodreads make recommendations based on something called “collaborative filtering,” which factors in a user’s past activity and the behavior of similar users. Lacking Amazon’s servers full of data, Bookish — which is backed by Penguin, Hachette and Simon & Schuster — bases its recommendations more on content analysis. Bookish also lacks Goodreads’ social layer. 
Still, the similarities are sufficient that when Bookish launched in February, a Wired writer dubbed it “the love child of Goodreads and Amazon.” 
One thing to keep an eye on is whether an Amazon-owned Goodreads will continue to drive customers to other retailers. In 2011, the site stopped using Amazon’s API, saying the terms of use were too restrictive – in particular the requirement that all product links go to Amazon rather than to other retailers. 
In a blog post announcing the sale, Goodreads founder Otis Chandler suggested nothing is going to change, at least immediately: “Amazon supports us continuing to grow our vision as an independent entity, under the Goodreads brand and with our unique culture.” 
Obviously, Amazon would rather not send potential book buyers to its competitors. But with a new anti-trust lawsuit accusing it (and the six biggest publishers) of wielding too much control over the e-book market, this isn’t the time to be seen as acting like a monopoly. 
See the original post HERE

Oh, publishing...what will you come up with next?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Wednesday Full of Romance

So far this week, I have edited two books, read three submissions, and am about to dive into another edit today. All for romance novels. Which I found ironic given the lead article today on the Huffington Post's Books page: "Trash or Treasure: Why More Women Should Read Romance Novels."

In the post, author Sherryl Woods provides some of her personal insight into romance novels, why they are so popular, why they are significant:

A number of years ago at the height of the shirtless hero craze on romance book covers, one of my novels featured an artist's rendering of an impish little girl dragging angel wings. A television news anchor in Washington, DC, held it up on camera and asked, "Where's Fabio?" 
I laughed and told him, "Fabio doesn't live in my books." 
While it's pretty clear with well over 100 novels to my credit that I'm a huge fan of romance, my infatuation with the genre goes beyond Fabio and other sexy cover models with their six-pack abs and larger-than-life persona. As a reader and as a writer, I want the kind of hero who might well live down the block and walk into my life at any second, the guy with a sense of humor, with strong values and a degree of dependability that will make him a wonderful lifelong partner. 
I often hear from readers that what they love the most are the "real" people who live in the pages of my stories. They identify with the women who face problems that they themselves have faced. They're inspired when the characters not only survive, but thrive. In fact, for some the characters become so real, they tell me they worry about them between books. And just recently I heard from a man who said the stories had helped him to rekindle the romance in his marriage after 22 years and 8 children! The simple fact that he was looking for ways to rekindle the romance made him a hero to my way of thinking. 
As far back as I can recall both proponents and critics of romance novels have labeled many of them as fantasies for women. Critics suggest that creates unrealistic expectations. Proponents cheer for the fantasies that keep female blood pumping and spawn a few steamy dreams. 
I tend to look at romance -- in books and in real life -- a bit differently. While the arrival of a knight-in-shining-armor in the middle of a crisis might be a welcome sight and being carried off to a carefree life of wealth and pleasure might even be a secret dream, most of us are going to find romance in other ways. It's going to be in that sweet, unexpected comment that makes us smile or the little gesture that demonstrates just how much we're appreciated. Our hero is going to be the guy who notices that something needs fixing and just does it or who plans a special date that might mean nothing to another woman, but means the world to us. It may even be the man who stands by, ready to help in a crisis, but wise enough to know how much we need to discover we can depend on ourselves. 
I think our view of romance -- what we want and what we need -- changes over time. Age and experience kick in. While the very young want the heart-stopping excitement and passion, in time we come to appreciate a good laugh, respect, and common interests. 
The one thing that never fades is the longing to see "that" look in someone's eyes, the twinkle that makes us feel desirable and alive. I think that's one reason so many of my books are multi-generational, with people of all ages discovering that a new romance may be just around the corner. I believe in those possibilities that remind us life can be worth living till the very last breath we take. 
In my Sweet Magnolias series, for instance, there are several "senior" Magnolias, who openly talk about their views on finding love at their stage of life. One is actively dating a younger man to the horror of her suddenly traditional middle-age daughter. A few very lively debates ensue that I imagine many of us can relate to -- from one point of view or the other! 
In this latest Ocean Breeze trilogy, which kicks off March 26 with Sand Castle Bay, not only do the three Castle sisters find love, but so does their grandmother, Cora Jane. The issues she faces as a widow who was happily married for many years are very different from those who were unhappily wed. And for me there was something especially endearing about the patient man who stayed in the background, never even hinting at his feelings out of respect for her husband and her marriage. Now, though, he's courting her with all the understanding he's gained through years of friendship. 
Bottom line, whether we're in our twenties or our seventies, we all need a strong bond to another human being. In fact, for older women, who've been widowed or divorced or never married at all and who may have given up on love, unexpectedly finding romance may be the sweetest joy of all. 
And when we're feeling low, reading about romance in the pages of a good book, can be just the reminder we all need to get out there and keep trying. Love could very well be right around the corner, just down the block or even in the house next door! As Jane Seymour says in the commercial for her jewelry designs, the key is to keep our hearts open. 
See the original post HERE

After reading Sherryl's piece, I have to say I agree with her (though have additional opinions--naturally. It is me after all). Romance novels are not just silly fantasies. They are about believing in love and the power of the heart, which is truly the reason we're all here in the first place. Love. Of all shapes and sizes. Romantic, familial, platonic. Romance novels often touch upon them all. It's about the romance of life, not just silly fantasies. Plus, they often make you laugh, cry, and just feel. Something I think we all could use a little more of.

So, pick one up, give it a whirl. And if you need recommendations, you know you to come to... *points to self* this girl.

What is YOUR favorite romance novel? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS on the Silver Screen

So, it seems they are making a film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Can anyone say score!!

My book club (I know, members, I know. I need to email you.) read this one a while back with some interesting discussion about the book. I think I was actually the most critical, which perhaps is why I'm so excited for the film adaptation.

As we all know, when moving a book to the silver screen, changes, deletions, and additions must be made for a new medium. It's the beauty of adaptations--a new vision sprouting from the same idea. I did have some issues with the book (though not to say I didn't enjoy it very much--I definitely did! It was excellent overall.) that I'm interested to see what producers and directors do with. Green's story could translate very well to film and has the potential to really dig even deeper and in an even more accessible way into the hearts of its audience.

It seems our heroine has also been cast already. Set to play Hazel is Shailene Woodley, according to Entertainment weekly, via GalleyCat:

The Descendants actress Shailene Woodley has been cast as Hazel Grace Lancaster in the upcoming film adaptation of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, Entertainment Weekly reports. 
As of this writing, the announcement has attracted 240 “likes” on Facebook. Green himself has endorsed Woodley in a blog post: “I am very excited about this. Here’s the thing, tumblr: Shailene Woodley loves The Fault in Our Stars. She really does, and in her audition, she just was Hazel—at least to me.” 
The Golden Globe-nominated actress has taken roles in numerous book adaptation projects. 
We previously reported that she will portray Beatrice “Tris” Prior in the Divergent movie. According to Yahoo! Movies, she will also play Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. 
See the original post HERE

Shailene was brilliant in The Descendants (and I'm not gonna lie, I am a secret fan of her former ABC show The Secret Life of the American Teenager) and must be doing something to right to by landing so many fantastic roles in upcoming adaptations.

Looking forward to buying my ticket in advance!

P.S. I would totally go on a Divergent squee-ing spree right now, by the way, but I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dictionary Drama: "Literally" a Bad Idea

While I am certainly not an innocent when it comes to using the word "literally" in its common slang form, I must say I'm not super thrilled at its new spot in the dictionary.

I do my best not to use literally in every day speech unless doing so correctly, and I think that's what bothers me the most. Adding words to the dictionary gives them validity, tells people it's okay to use this word in the ridiculous way that you do. But's not.

GalleyCat tells us more:

For years, readers and writers have debated a common informal use of the word “literally.” 
In conversation, some people use the word to provide exaggerated emphasis for a statement: “I love Haruki Murakami so much I literally read South of the Border, West of the Sun one hundred times.” Back in 2011, we even published a grammar PSA about the word 
Reddit reader "andtheniansaid" shared three separate dictionary definitions that include this informal usage, arguing that “it is okay to use the word ‘literally’ for emphasis.” 
Here are three major dictionaries that mention the exaggerated “literally” usage… 
Merriam-Webster Dictionary added a second “virtually” sense for the word, explaining with this note: “Since some people take sense 2 to be the opposite of sense 1, it has been frequently criticized as a misuse. Instead, the use is pure hyperbole intended to gain emphasis, but it often appears in contexts where no additional emphasis is necessary.” 
Cambridge Dictionaries Online added this informal usage to its definition: “used to emphasize what you are saying: He missed that kick literally by miles. I was literally bowled over by the news.” 
Oxford Dictionaries begrudgingly admitted the shift: “In recent years an extended use of literally (and also literal) has become very common, where literally (or literal) is used deliberately in non-literal contexts, for added effect, as in they bought the car and literally ran it into the ground. This use can lead to unintentional humorous effects (we were literally killing ourselves laughing) and is not acceptable in formal contexts, though it is widespread.” 
UPDATE: Reader Ann Glaviano added this note on Twitter: “‘Literally’ Creeping Since 1914. cf. usage in the opening line of ‘The Dead.’ She passed along an annotated link showing how James Joyce used the word literally in his famous short story. 
(Literal dead end photograph via MorrowLess) 
See the original post HERE

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Monday Morning Joss Whedon Distraction

Since I last posted, I have been to four different countries, moved to a new state with a totally different lifestyle, and begun a sloooow launch of my new editorial company, Double Vision Editorial. It has been overwhelming to say the least. So, let's just pretend my little disappearance never happened, shall we? :)

Instead, let's all enjoy this new trailer for the incredible Joss Whedon's upcoming adaptation of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, posted last week on GalleyCat.

The Avengers director Joss Whedon adapted William Shakespeare‘s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, as a modern-day retelling. The trailer is embedded above–what do you think? 
A limited release date has been set for June 07, 2013. The film has already screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Glasgow Film Festival. As we previously reported, Whedon shot the entire movie at his own home in 12 days. Here’s more about the film from NPR
As I watched Much Ado About Nothing, I had the distinct thought, “I wonder whether this is the future.” Not the future, of course — I don’t believe we’re anywhere close to the end of the blockbuster, nor do I believe we’re necessarily entering a new age of Shakespeare — but a big piece of the future. Big films have gotten so big, expensive films so expensive, that all of the risk has to be drained out of them, which often leaves behind a dried-out version of whatever was originally intended. 
See the original post HERE 

See? Now isnt't that a fun start to your week?