Friday, August 19, 2011

I miss Borders.

I was attempting to write some Leverage fanfic because I realized I've only written one fic all year. It's been a bitch of a year, chock full of good and bad, but incredibly stressful. I was kinda hoping that things would calm down after July, but you know what they say about best laid plans.

It appears, I'm still waiting on confirmation, but it appears I've worked my last scheduled shift at Borders. I might get called in if someone calls out sick, but otherwise I'm done. This is not precisely a shock because I did sorta know this was coming. I'm in a better position than many of my co-workers since I don't have a family and my full-time job is here at the library, so it makes sense for me to give up my hours for someone else who needs them. It'll also help my pocketbook because I was shopping during every shift and I was basically spending whatever money I was making.

It sucks, though. I miss it, miss it more than I thought I would. I read PW or the book section of Entertainment Weekly and I make mental note of what the 'big books' will be. I was reading Shelf Awareness or something similar one morning and there was this kid's book that made me go, 'I can totally sell that.' Then there's that moment of awareness when you go, 'Oh, yeah, right.' I miss the books, I miss my co-workers, I miss knowing what's hot, and I miss being able to read almost anything I wanted.

Still, I've been re-reading a lot lately. Mostly because I no longer have the sense of guilt about the stack of ARCs waiting for my attention, but also because all I want now are good books. I feel wounded and I just want the comfort of the familiar. This blog is helping, though. It gives me a sense of purpose and a place to dump all the romance opinions I've been sharing with the romance buyers for the last five years.

Of course, when Borders closes for good, you may just find me wandering around, wringing my hands together, my identity crisis complete. *sigh*

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Discourse on fanfic, plagiarism, & @CynthiaEden's Deadly Heat. With giveaway!

So I know the Internet is a big place and all, but I've used the handle Lady Lioness for a very, very long time. I've been a member of since 2000 and I write fanfic when the muse strikes me. Indeed, a lot of what I've written isn't even posted on Most of my fanfic is based on television shows or movies, aside from one or two Draco/Ginny fics (what? I like the bad boy/good girl trope). I tend to write when I feel the need to 'fix' something or expand on something that got a short shrift.

I never really felt the need to write fanfic based on books because, to me, if it's a good book, I don't feel the need to 'fix' anything. Since I  read mainly romances, there are rarely any loose threads left hanging. This doesn't mean I don't read book-based fanfic. Ron/Hermione are a favorite pairing and I admit a fondness for the Edward/Bella Twilight AU fic Wide Awake. In addition, I'm fascinated by authors who make the jump from fanfiction to published works or vice versa.

I read R.J. Anderson because she posted some Sheldon/Penny fanfics. Evelyn Vaughn, a former Harlequin Bombshell author, was kind enough to compliment some of my fics and sent me to the moon. Nika Dixon, a great Stargate: Atlantis fic writer, has started publishing original materials. There's probably a ton more that I'm missing, but for every one of these fabulous ladies, there's a Cassandra Clare. For those who are not aware (and I wasn't until much, much later), Clare used to write an epic Harry/Draco fanfic called the 'Draco Trilogy.' The story is no longer posted, but it was the center of a major fandom incident, as Clare was accused of plagiarizing from multiple sources. You can read a very detailed account of the incident here.

The issue of plagiarism and fanfiction is a tricky one. The general rule of thumb is that, unless the creator has specifically said no (Anne McCaffrey and Anne Rice are two who come to mind), if you give proper credit, you can borrow the material to create a new work, so long as you aren't trying to profit from it. Allegedly, Clare not only quoted from multiple television shows & movies, but she took chunks of her plot from the books of author Pamela Dean. Lifting text from a published work is, ultimately, what did her in. In this day and age, it is incredibly easy to double-check everything.

This is not to say it only happens in fanfiction. Cassie Edwards, Janet Dailey, and Barbara Cartland have all been accused of plagiarism. Still, these authors either took chunks or details and wove them into their own works. It would take a special kind of balls to lift someone's story, word for word, and claim it as your own. And that's exactly what happened to Cynthia Eden.

Eden is one of my favorite authors and I was so disappointed that she wasn't at the RWA literacy signing, as she's on my autograph wishlist. So when I saw @SueGrimshaw's tweet, I immediately clicked on the link to read Eden's account of being plagiarized. To summarize, a fanfic author lifted the entirety of Eden's Deadly Heat and turned into a first-person Bella/Edward fic. While writing author notes about how hard it is to be a writer. I was dumbfounded. People were leaving a ton of scolding and angry reviews, but I knew from experience that a random fanfic reader only looks at the number of reviews, not the reviews themselves. I reported the fic and tweeted Eden that she should tell others to do the same. Then I was still pissed  so  I started PMing people who'd left positive reviews and who'd favorited the fic.

I only did a couple of people and one Twilight facebook community because I didn't want to exacerbate the problem (or risk being suspended myself), but I wanted these people to know about Eden. I got a couple of emails back, thanking me for alerting them to the situation, one of which read:
Wow that is just auwful. I have wish listed Cynthia's books. Wish they were not $8.00.
Well, thought I, I am currently working at a liquidating Borders. A giveaway of Deadly Heat would let someone experience the story the RIGHT way and increase my blog traffic! Win win!

The Pigeon approves of this contest.

This contest is only open to continental US residents at this time. If by some miracle, I get a lot of entries (let's say 10), I'll spring for a second copy from the Book Depository.  To enter, please share this entry somewhere (twitter, facebook, blog, whatever) and comment with a link to where you posted it. I'll randomly pick someone. Contest will close on September 1st, 2011.

Epilogue: the fanfic author deleted her fic (I'm pretty sure she did it & not because they would've suspended her account) and left a pretty dumbass message on her profile page. For more details, see Eden's blog entry

Monday, August 15, 2011

Odds n' Ends

Now that I'm a soon-to-be-ex-bookseller, I find my reading habits changed slightly. I guess I felt a little constrained at Borders and I was always racing to keep up with ARC flow. I'm more comfortable re-reading now and therefore, I'm reading a lot more.

I signed up for a GoodReads account a while back, but I wasn't thrilled with it. LibraryThing was a much better fit for my needs. I basically wanted something I could use to catalog my books and tag them like crazy. GoodReads doesn't have a tag system, but it does have a bizarre shelving system and, more importantly, an app. So what I'm doing is trying to transition my TBR to GoodReads. Now that I'm not working at Borders anymore, I know that it's possible I could be book-shopping on the spur of the moment and I want to have my TBR handy. I don't know how well I'm going to be able to search it, but it'll be better than nothing.

In addition, theoretically, I should be able to post reviews at GoodReads and have them cross-post here. At the moment, I'm not having any luck with that so I have to tinker with it a bit. Hopefully, someone on GoodReads will be able to help or I'll have an epiphany and figure it out. The twitter account for this blog is @lionessbkshelf & it's set up to tweet whenever anything gets posted here.

Liquidation isn't going as badly as I feared. Mostly because I only work one day a week and I don't really do customer service anymore. I joke that my new title is 'inventory shifter,' but it's really kinda true. I'm either at the register or circling the store, putting away the crap that was dropped on random flat surfaces. We're not even alphabetizing anymore. This is supposedly the last week the warehouse will be sending us stuff so I figure it'll really sink in when the store starts looking really bare. *sigh*

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Strike Zone (Richmond Rogues, #3)Strike Zone by Kate Angell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a weakness for the trope of celebrity hero falls for ordinary Jane heroine. These days, that's most commonly found in sport romances, where the hero is some superstar athlete. Kate Angell specializes in baseball romances.

Strike Zone is the third in Angell's Richmond Rogues series. Somehow I missed this one when it first came out and I picked it up from the library the other day. Angell is unique in that she seems incapable of just writing about one heroine and one hero, and the duality of the books are never evident by the cover blurb.

In Strike Zone, the main couple, and the one featured in the blurb, is Taylor and Stryke. Taylor is back in town after leaving Stryke at the altar years ago. Stryke is engaged, but thanks to an abruptly ended plot device, he's single again by page 135 and his fiancee is neatly tucked out of the way. Time passes in the book by way of 'three weeks later,' and the reader is told that Stryke and Taylor are rebuilding their relationship. However, while there's nothing to contradict with that statement, the reader doesn't get to see it either.

The secondary couple is Taylor's sister, Eve, and Stryke's teammate, Sloan. Sloan and Eve were much more interesting to me than Taylor and Stryke. First off, Sloan is a bit of a manwhore and doesn't attempt to hide that. Watching him deal with his growing feelings for Eve is quite enjoyable. On the flip side of that, Eve knows she has feelings for Sloan and isn't particularly happy about that. She has no desire to be one of his groupies and stands firm on the issue. While the chemistry crackled between Eve and Sloan, I would have liked to see Sloan's realization that he is head over heels for Eve. They go on three dates, he screws up big-time on the third one, she cuts him out of her life, and he spends the next chunk of the book trying to get her back. When Sloan finally convinces her to talk to him, the reader finds out that he's now super-serious about Eve to the extent he now knows she's the 'one.' After three dates. Yes, this is a romance novel and all, but I can't help think that this is why so many famous athletes get divorced.

What saves this book, quite frankly, is the baseball. Full disclosure, I go to one baseball game a year with my dad and pretty much ignore the sport the rest of the time. So while I suspect there are a few 'that would never happen' moments in this book (the mascot fight, perhaps), there was nothing that stood out to me with my limited knowledge. As a result, I loved the baseball scenes. I felt like I was right there on the mound with Sloan and Stryke. I liked how Angell underscored the fact that yes, these guys are celebrities, but one bad injury and their careers are over. While Stryke came off as a little too perfect, Sloan started off as the arrogant hot-shot I'd expect a star athlete to be.

I think, overall, Angell would benefit from either treating her books like anthologies and doing two distinct stories or keeping the focus on one particular couple. Sweet Spot, the fifth book in the series, is scheduled to be released in May 2012, but there's no info yet about the plot or publisher. Unfortunately, with Angell caught in the Dorchester quicksand, I would imagine Sweet Spot is likely going to be the last Richmond Rogue book.

There aren't a lot of baseball romances, but if you like the Richmond Rogue books, I recommend you check out Jill Shalvis's Double Play and Slow Heat.