Archive for March, 2008

The Main Blog Is Back…

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You’ll be pleased to know that we’re with a new host, thank the lord. Hopefully this one wont cause us as many problems, but if it does, I’ll be back at this blog.

You can now find me at Karenknowsbest.com.

Thanks muchly to Luna, for moving us so quickly.

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“Don’t share your hysteria, anxieties or disappointments”

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That’s what Madris DePasture wrote in a New Concepts announcement letter addressed to her authors in 2002/2003.

It would seem that even as far back as that, Madris lacked a certain finesse when dealing with her writers.

Because I’m a bad, bad girl, let me post this warning that she included within one of the letters:

Please remember, this page is ONLY for NCP authors, so don’t give out the address to anyone else. There is no link on the main site going to the Author Lounge, so be sure to bookmark it. The address is http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/authorlounge33.htm

Ooops, again.

That should get some of the authors at the Romance Divas forum anxiously wringing their hands. Yes, I know, I am the devil herself.

Let me post you some snippets anyway, after all, the devil has no conscience:

“Any author who has NOT fulfilled the terms of their contract, or in any other manner behaved unprofessionally, been verbally abusive or just uncooperative, who demands the release of their book, may or may not be given permission to withdraw.

If money has been exchanged and/or time and effort put into marketing your book, we might then decide NOT to release you from your contractual obligations. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you wish to hire a lawyer to regain the rights. If we do decide to relinquish the rights, and state as much via email, do NOT expect to receive further written confirmation just to make you comfortable.

We will not go to any extraordinary lengths to soothe your fears. You are not welcome to submit again at a later time when we have managed to build a market and your work will never be considered again by New Concepts Publishing.

Charming woman.

For those of you who don’t understand and get nervous when you don’t hear anything and want to be continually updated on any and all progress… I’m sorry, but we just don’t have time to hold hands right now. Please repeat this mantra…..NCP is a business with much work to do.

As long as the website is there, they are there. If the phone is busy, it’s a good thing. If my emails have not been answered it’s because they are busy doing the work publishers do in order to stay in business and sell books. I am not being ignored because I’m not important, or because they’re thinking about dumping me. They are busy and I am allowing my fertile imagination to conjure paranoia.

Good grief.

Otherwise, keep in mind that your reputation is our reputation and our reputation is your reputation. If NCP is thought well of, then our authors have status as our authors. If our authors are thought poorly of, then NCP is not considered a good publisher. Whatever doubts or anxieties you might have, when you make NCP look bad, it makes you look bad.

Watch what you say, where you say it and to whom you say it. Don’t share your hysteria, anxieties or disappointments. Don’t play the blame game. Whether you realize it or not, YOU always get tarred with that feather.

I realize that people are either confident, or not. Nothing anyone can say or do can build confidence in those who lack it. Everything anyone says or does can further deteriorate a fragile confidence. However, I am sick to death of hearing ‘we’re not as good as’ NY, or any other publisher for that matter.

I have a feeling she’s not that big on trying to build confidence in the first place.

Rumor has it that Ellora’s Cave is so desperate for ‘romantica’ that they’re asking their authors to add sex scenes to previously written books. Anyone who’s been in the business for a while, and learned their craft, will know that this is a formula that will generally not click.

Hehe, she dissed Elloras Cave. That should go down well with the folks over at EC. We all know how precious they can be.

Before I go further, I need to address one serious problem that frequently rears it’s ugly head in this business, particularly when I try to talk shop to our authors—jealousy. I do understand that this is something that is a part of some people’s nature, hard to control and hard to combat. However, it is a totally useless and unproductive emotion. If it empowered a person to strive harder, then it would have some use. I’ve yet to see that—I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but in general it just causes problems.

Set your jealousy aside. The plain, hard, indisputable fact of life in publishing is that you are an entertainer. Sometimes your ideas appeal, sometimes not. I wish I knew the exact formula to produce highly successful books every time, but no one knows that. Even authors who regularly sell well occasionally write one that flops, and usually some that do not perform as well as others—this isn’t an exact science and it is useless to try to compare your books to anyone else’s.

Hey, it’s not all bad, she does give props to one of her authors:

Now, having said that, I want to give credit where it’s due, Autumn Dawn ‘lucked’ out by writing a wonderfully appealing book, effective promotion, and being in the right place at the right time with the right story.

I wonder she couldn’t just say the author in question did a good job, without having to say that her success was due to ‘luck’?

What a great ambassador for her business eh? I can’t believe how bad she is at addressing her writers. It is possible to write a communication document without leaving the recipients feeling like they just had a fight with a cruise missile.

Oh, and for those folks over at Romance Divas who insist on wringing their hands over the legality of posting Madris’ e-mail, and discussing whether it should have been posted in the first place, rather than concentrating on the fact that your fellow authors are being shafted left, right, and centre, let’s hope you’re never in the same position as Ellen Ashe eh?

Thanks to you-know-who for the link.

Mychael Black, One Of The ‘In’ People At Torquere Tells Us What He Thinks…

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I was sent this link by a source so anonymous, even I don’t know who he/she is.

It’s a post from one of the Torquere authors who apparently belongs in the ‘In Crowd’ over there:

Ya know… If I really wanted to hear all the frickin’ mud-slinging that goes on within this biz (namely on blogs), I’d have gone into politics. For the record: I love my publishers. So for those idiots who have nothing better to do than drag pubs through the mud just for the sake of blog hits, feel free to step out in front of a car.

Have a nice day. 🙂

Apparently, he/she also writes under the name of Kaye Derwydd. No idea who she/he is of course.

I’ll post some of his accompanying comments shall I? (FreePublicityFreePublicityFreePublicity!)

Torquere, Phaze… I’m happy with my pubs, and I honestly don’t understand where the drive to spout shit about pubs comes from. Between private conversations among friends? Bitch all ya want. But in public? These morons need to learn to get their facts straight.

This is a comment from one of Mychael’s cronies:

Some folks got no manners…
and no awareness of how small the biz really is. Names get noted, and remembered.

And Mychael replies with:

Yup. Which is probably why some of these people start the mud-slinging–either they or someone they know was probably rejected/not happy, and poof! The press in question is officially evil.

This next comment is from another of Mychael’s readers, and I thought it was very telling:

not sure where, who, what was said ect – I agree with you tho’ – it’s one thing to express your concerns about a pub in private – but to post in a public forum is just wrong

The above comments epitomizes a lot of what is wrong with the e-publishing industry right now.

What worries me even more is this sentiment from the Anon who sent the link:

Please don’t name this email or the source. These people are psychos. Note the threats of violence. Balanced – not.

Not much else for me to say really apart from….Am I the only person who’s annoyed at the way Mychael Black has chosen to spell his/her name? Sheesh.

And The Main Blog Is Gone Again…

Luna was in the middle of moving everything to another host, but obviously that takes time. I can’t understand why the current host can’t sort this crap out. Flaming incompetent fools.

Anyway, here’s hoping Luna gets the move speeded up.

And here’s hoping that you guys took down this address when I posted it originally when my blog came back up the last time.

I’m Back On My Main Blog…

Just in case anybody missed the news, but if it should go down again, I’d bookmark this blog, as this is where you’ll find me! Or just put it on Google Reader, or any other feed thingies.

Tuesday Special Author Interview: Cheryl Holt – Redux

I happened to be reading some of my old author interviews the other day, (Ya know, when the main blog was live)  marvelling over how much my views on Romanceland has changed since I started them, just over two-and-a-half years ago.

Anyway, one of the interviews that amused me greatly was Cheryl Holt’s, so I thought I’d repost it. I think I’ll probably re-visit some of my fave interviews over the next few Tuesdays.

Anyway, enjoy.

Author Name: Cheryl Holt
Website: cherylholt.com
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance
Latest book in shops now: Too Hot To Handle (Sept ’05) , and Too Tempting To Touch (March ’06)

Before we begin this interview, I need to check that you’re still grounded and that your head isn’t swollen from all of your success, so with that in mind, what was the last thing you bought at Target, and do you know how much a loaf of bread costs?

I life in a very small town on the west coast of the US, so the nearest Target store is two hours away. I don’t get there very often. Usually I go in the autumn to shop for school clothes for my 2 kids. You have a very glamorous view of my life, which is — in fact — very quiet and very normal. Where I live, a loaf of bread is anywhere from $1.29 to $2.29.

Why did you choose to write erotic romance books, rather than traditional romance?

I started out writing regular historicals, then the publisher where I was writing shut down the lines I’d been writing for, and I was let go, or “orphaned” as they call it in the book business. My first book wasn’t even out on the store shelves yet. It was very depressing.

I needed to get back out on the market and sell something, and the agent I had at the time advised me to write an erotic historical proposal (this was in 1999) because the market was just opening up and it was going to be very hot. I looked right at him and said “what’s an erotic historical?”

I finally wrote one, Love Lessons, which I sold to my current publisher, St. Martins Press, and it turns out that I not only have a knack for writing great love stories, but also for writing very sexy, very hot love stories. It still surprises me

Books such as More Than Seduction, aren’t for the faint-hearted, do you have a certain audience in mind when you write, and if so, what kind of people do you imagine, read your books?

I don’t think about the audience too much, or I’ll drive myself crazy trying to figure out what everybody wants. I get letters that tell me that my books are too sex-packed, that they’re too tame, that they’re too fast-paced, that they’re too slow, that they’re too action-packed, that they’re too boring

Everybody who reads books has such diverse tastes. I simply try to think up a great story, with great issues and great characters, then I write it down, and hope people enjoy it.

Luckily, my editor really encourages me. She likes me to “push the envelope” with stories, to give people heroes and villains that they can love and hate, so I work very hard to do that. But when you have terrible villains, doing terrible things, it can create situations that aren’t what you’d find in a “typical” romance, so my stories leap beyond the boundaries that you’d find in other romance novels.

When you develop your characters, do you model them on people you know in your life, or do they all come from inside your head?

They come from inside my head.

Do you ever get compared to other erotic romance writers, e.g. Thea Devine? If so, how does that make you feel?

I used to, when I was first starting out. I remember one of my first reviews for Love Lessons said something like “if you love Susan Johnson and Thea Devine, you’ll love Cheryl Holt.” I was so proud! Now, people are being compared to “me”, instead of the other way around, and it’s fun to know that people enjoy my books so much.

With the alleged decline in historical romance, do you think it’s risky business writing within the Regency era?

I don’t believe there is a “decline” in historical romance, and I’m not sure where this rumor got started. I hear from fans all the time, lamenting that they can’t get their hands on many good historicals anymore, so it seems like the publishers are releasing less of them, but I think there are plenty of historical fans out there.

Plus, I’m an optimist. I think fans will read any great books, whether it’s historical or contemporary. The past few years, my sales have been fabulous. So “no”, I don’t think it’s risky to write historicals. I don’t think the rumors about a “slump” are true.

Do any of members of your family read your books, and if so, what kind of feedback do you get from them?

No one reads them. My husband would die before he read a romance, and my kids are too young, so they haven’t had the chance.

What does a typical day as a writer consist of?

I get up at 6:30. I get my kids (ages 11 and 13) up and off to school. I exercise (hard! to keep my stress down), I eat a high protein breakfast and take loads of energy vitamins, I take a shower and get to work. I work in an office in my home, and I try to be at my desk by 8:30. I write till 3:30, when my kids get home.

Then, I play chauffeur, driving them to dance lessons, or soccer, or whatever’s going on, and I race back up to my office to write between giving them rides to the places they have to be. I squeeze in another round of exercise, I cook supper, I get everybody to bed, and I write from 6:30 till 10:00 or 11:00. I work on the weekends, too, usually 12-14 hours per day. I work very hard and I work all the time.

Name your top five favourite books of all time.

I can think of two off the top of my head:
Pride and Prejudice
Outlander

Which authors are you glomming at the moment? (reading a lot of?)

I try to read an assortment of women’s fiction, so that I’m always picking up something new when I’m in the bookstore. I’m so busy that I don’t have much time to read for pleasure. I read with an eye toward the market, to see what’s selling, to see what people are buying.

I also try to buy authors who write for my publisher, St. Martins Press. They put out great books, and I like to support them. I’m just reading a St. Martins Bestseller, Something Borrowed, by Emily Giffin, which is very clever and funny. I usually tend to not read romances, simply because I spend so much time writing them, and when I have some free time, I like to do something different

Do you have other close romance writer friends, and if so who are they?

I’ve met a lot of romance authors, but I’m not really friends with any of them. I don’t have time to belong to any loops or groups, and I live a long way from anybody.

When did you realise that you wanted to write books, and who or what inspired you?

I always wanted to write books. From the time I was a little girl, I’d talk about it. I wasn’t ever really “inspired” to get going, but life circumstances pushed me into it. I had my two kids, pretty much back to back when I was 38 and 40 years old, and I was home being a mom, and needing to replace the income I’d lost by staying home. If I had an inspiration, it was money — or the sudden lack of it!

How many times did you get rejected (if indeed you did) before you got published?

I was rejected hundreds of times. The first book I sold was an older romance called The Way Of The Heart, but it was the 7th book that I had written.

I’m a lawyer, so I started out trying to write suspense, which I never sold. I wrote some nonfiction that I didn’t sell, either. I was also constantly trying to find an agent, sending out solicitations and queries. This was over a period of 2-3 years. The most reject letters I ever got in the mail on a single day was eight! This is not a business for sissies!

If you could have a one-to-one conversation with a famous historical figure, who would it be with and what would you talk about?

I would probably like to meet Jesus or Buddha. I’d like to see what was up with them, if I could sense the divinity that has inspired billions to revere them over the centuries. Or, face to face, would they seem like normal men? It would be fascinating to me.

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your writing?

First and foremost, I want to keep having good sales and keep my numbers growing so that there are publishers who continue to want me. More specifically, I want to continue lowering my numbers on the USA Today Bestseller list, and I want to break onto the NY Times Bestseller list. I also want to establish myself in a second genre, and I’m hoping it will end up being contemporary erotic suspense.

How has the romance industry changed from when you first started writing, and which of these changes were you happiest/unhappiest with?

The publishers do a lot of reprinting of old books, from people who are famous now, but weren’t a decade or two ago when they were starting out. I understand the financial reasons that companies do this — it’s easier and cheaper to reprint an old book then to go to the trouble of preparing a new one — but everytime a reprinted book goes out on the store shelves, it keeps a new writer from having a book there, instead.

If I’d started writing today, instead of a decade ago, I often wonder if I’d ever have gotten published. It gets harder and harder all the time.

A lot of well known authors who first wrote within the romance genre, seem to have moved away from traditional romance, and are now writing paranormals, suspense etc. (e.g. Linda Howard, Catherine Coulter) Why do you think this is?

It’s all about money. The sad fact of the matter is that romances just don’t pay that well, and people are always surprised when I actually share some numbers. I was paid $2,000 for my first romance. (This is not ancient history. It was in the year 2000!) I was only paid $7,500 for my 10th book!

I’m making quite a bit more than that now, but it just takes a really, really long time to start making any kind of significant income at it. The markets are bigger for suspense and other sorts of books.

While there are so many great fans in romance, there are many, many more women who wouldn’t read a romance if it was the last book on the planet. But they’ll read a suspense, or a paranormal. Which is too bad, because romances are so fun.

I don’t know where romance got such a bad reputation, but it’s so difficult for a female writer to hold on for the amount of time it takes to start garnering significant attention and make a living at it. For many it’s just not possible. I was only able to keep on through the lean years because my husband had a “real” job, with a good salary and benefits.

In your vast experience, what would you say was the most effective method of marketing a romance novel?

I use my web page. It’s an inexpensive way to touch base with millions. It works!

Which of your books is dearest to your heart, and why?

I love Complete Abandon. It’s always been my favorite. I liked how the hero and heroine turned out, and I felt like I was able to capture their differences in such a fun, romantic way.

Which of your books do you feel you’re best known for?

Hands down, my fans’ favorite is my first erotic, Love Lessons. If you haven’t read it, I hope you will. It is so great!

I’ve always wondered about this, but as an author, once your books are published, do you actually go back and read them yourself, and if so, are you able to enjoy them, or do you perhaps see things that make you want to chew your own arm off in frustration?

Yes, I read them. It’s fun. By the time they’re actually out on the shelf, it’s usually been a year or more since I wrote them, so it’s fun to go back and remember. It’s like reading a new book.

Just recently, it was suggested that reader reviews aren’t as credible as reviews by your peers, and that only writers/authors should be able to review books in the first place, what are your thoughts on this? Continue reading

KKB Blog Update…

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Apparently, the server crashes are due to high volume of traffic on the blog. Who knew? Traffic overload was never a consideration on blogger, so it didn’t occur to me that it would be the problem in this case.

So basically, when I get to a certain number of visitors on the main blog, (at the same time presumably) it not only causes my blog to crash, but all the blogs that are operating on the same server.

Anyway, Luna, (bless her cottons, her blog is kaput too) is gonna get me my own server (erm, or something like that) so it shouldn’t happen in the future.

What I still don’t understand is why it takes the host company so long to fix this, surely they could have sorted this out in a matter of minutes? A couple of hours at most?

Anyway, the blog should be back by 5pm GMT. Although, you may want to bookmark this blog, include it in your Google Reader, or get the RSS feed for it, just in case my main blog goes down again, because this is where you’ll find me.

Shiloh, just for you, I got rid of the black and red template. *g*