Monday Morning Stepback: My new logo, among other things

The weekly links, opinion, and personal updates post

1. Links of interest

The Romance Writers of America handed out its annual awards Saturday night. Complete list of winners here. I am thrilled that one of my all time favorite writers, Sherry Thomas, won her first RITA for Not Quite a Husband. Way to go, Sherry!

Harlequin is fast tracking submissions to its Medical line — submit a query letter and a few chapters and you’ll hear back by the end of the month! My submission, The Bacciform* Bioethicist and the Daunting Doctor — is in process.

I don’t know anyone who actually reads this line, do you?

*Berry shaped

Two very worthwhile posts about literary endings, one from The Millions, and one from Isn’t It Romance?

Maili — who has managed to get her name in the post title, cheeky chit — has a great interview with Meljean Brook over at Dear Author, on  “What is Steampunk? I chatted with Meljean about her upcoming steampunk romance, The Iron Duke, at RomCon, and I cannot wait to read it.

As a formerly content Kindle 2.0 owner, I have mixed feelings about the faster, lighter, cheaper, all-around-better Kindle 3.0.

Kind of sad about this: Carolyn Kellogg of the excellent NYT blog Jacket Copy was hired as a staff writer for the New York TImes

This post by author Nicola Marsh on The Importance of Fans warmed the cockles of my heart.

Everyone who reads this blog has probably seen Sarah Wendell’s video of authors at the RWa literacy signing in Orlando singing to Ke$ha’s Your Love is My Drug. Isn’t it fun?

The Book Vixen narrowly escaped the Southern Cali wildfires and lived to blog about it. She’s asking what books you would grab if flames threatened to engulf your library.

Two of my favorite bloggers, Carolyn Crane of the Thrillionth Page and Chris of Stumbling Over Chaos have teamed up on a guest post at on Best and Worst Job Prospects in the Urban Fantasy Economy for 2011. Among them:

7. Tattoo artists
In the paranormal world these days, it’s no longer enough to have a mere tattoo or tramp stamp. Hello! Plain old tattoos are so 2009. Hero(ine)s now require elaborate body art of all kinds, including animate, arousal sensing, kill-tallying, and celebratory tattoos.

8. Tattoo removal specialist

See #7.

Jason Boog of Galley Cat on Best YA books for adults. And as a chaser, check out this fun blog for adult readers of YA (love the banner!) (via @mcvane)

From The Awl, an article on the history of the use of the term “spoiler alert”.

Great discussion at Racialicious, of the July 25 True Blood (aka the head crush ep).

Not so much feeling Sookeh. You’re dead on with your assessment of her “spunkiness.” It’s a rather privileged willfulness where the needs and safety of others be damned in favor of what Sookie wants and needs. It’s childishness masquerading as strength–a faux sort of girl power that is nothing new. It’s Scarlett O’Hara for a new millenium. It is also very related to race, as I think few women of color can get away with playing Sookie or Scarlett.

My post on True Blood and Philosophy was syndicated by Thought Catalog which was very nice, especially because I have a fun new place to visit online.

2. Book Smugglers Backlash

The Book Smugglers have reached a point in their blogging lives where they are going to take some heat for any negative review, not just by readers, but by the author. The Book Smugglers’ reviews are thorough, and often treat cultural and social issues, something that the backlashers don’t like.

I’ve been to two academic conferences on popular culture in the past two years, in which YA was a favorite topic of middle aged academics who don’t read it, don’t care for it, and don’t understand it. Maybe some of you have also seen the critiques of YA on Fox News, and in other media.

Thanks to living in a situation (some might call it “patriarchy”)  in which women are special objects of concern and control, when books are written (primarily) for young women, and read (primarily) by young women, our society is going to take an interest in this phenomenon as not just a literary one, but a cultural and political one. You can either have two young women who love the genre and are members of the YA community asking these questions with insight and sensitivity, or you can have talking (male) heads on cable news doing it, with a view to keeping a leash on young women’s sexuality.

It seems to me that the Book Smugglers have reached a point in popularity and influence such that authors and fans who disagree feel they need to do damage control. I think that’s a sign of their great success. I hope they keep it up!

3. On the Blog

I’ve put off my Dracula post yet again, this time because my spouse is reading it, and he doesn’t know this yet, but he and I will write a joint post when he is done. He’s a historian who specializes in Victorian Britain, so I thought he might have a few insights.

Also, I’ve been working with some talented folks on a new logo, and this is it:

Thanks to Shelley at Webcrafters Design for the image and color scheme, and KMont of Lurv a la Mode for the text. And thanks to everyone on Twitter and email who put up with my many requests for feedback.

I’ve been using the image as my Twitter icon and gravatar. Look for it to become part of my new blog banner when I roll out Read React Review’s “freshened” look later this month.

4. Personal

The kids finished up art camp on Friday. They do this camp every summer. They absolutely love it. To parents, it looks like a cluster of dilapidated buildings in the middle of nowhere, but to children, it’s a wonderland where they have free reign to write, direct, costume and perform plays and movies, take and develop pictures, work on fused glass or ceramics, write, draw, and paint.

On the last day, the campers take their parents around, showing them the different work areas, and then we gather in an old barn for a “show”. Here’s a shot of Mr. Tripler and Tripler the Younger entering the dark room:

My boys made and screened a film in which one of them dressed up as Evil Big Bird and menaced the campers. The other son saved the day, which involved sacrificing his right arm in a bizarre bird fight. I am so proud.

By the time this post goes live, I will be far away from Maine, on the TripleR Family Rust Belt Tour 2010. The South Africa sojourn having depleted our travel reserves, we decided to make a trip out of driving to Comerica Park to see the Tigers play the White Sox. So we’ll be gone for a week with stops in Niagara Falls, Detroit, Dearborn, Cleveland, Sandusky, and any place else we care to. Not sure what or when I’ll post.

Disclaimer for potential thieves: As per usual, we have two large dogs just looking for an excuse to bite a human at the house, and have left a few terrified grad students there –ostensibly looking after the gardens, but really just bait for the dogs — as well. Our cats are pretty tough, too. You’ve been warned.


21 responses

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Monday Morning Stepback: My new logo, among other things « Read React Review --

  2. “I don’t know anyone who actually reads this line, do you?”

    I have a feeling that in the US paper editions of books in this line aren’t sold in the shops. It’s very popular in France, apparently, and there are lots of Medicals among the mix of Mills & Boons in my local library. I suspect that the kind of healthcare system there is in a country might affect the line’s popularity.


  3. My personal perception of the Medical line is that most books are set in the UK or NZ. Occasionally they are set elsewhere, with the protags being aid or development workers, generally being from countries like the UK which have socialized medicine systems.
    Anecdata only, but I’ve never seen the Medical lines on shelves while traveling in the US. Given the tendency towards deep, even hysterical suspicion of systems like the NHS in certain segments of the US population, it would not surprise me at all if the line is deliberately not carried.

    Personally, I’m very fond of it; some of my favourite authors write/wrote for that line and there are very few ‘alpha’ idiots, plots mostly tend to be logical and the heroes and heroines tend to be grownups with lives, families and careers. There’s the usual proportion of gold/ok/meh/dross, but I find that even the dross does not offend the way the Presents lines frequently does.

    I refrained from jumping into the fray at The Book Smugglers, but I was definitely silently reading and cheering Thea and Ana on. I had intended to borrow the book in question to read from the library, but given the ham-handedness of the author, I doubt I will now.


  4. Confirming what Laura has said: the Medical line is not sold retail here in the States (or Canada I believe). You can ONLY buy this line directly from Harlequin – either individual titles or as a subscription plan where they send you all the titles every month.


  5. Re: Harlequin Medical romance – I’ve read a few of them and some actually turned out to be good. The titles tend to be silly, but if you get past that, you can find some good stories with professional characters who tend to be a little more mature with each other. The main downside for me is that there are lots of baby stories, and that’s just not my thing. They’re mail order only in the US, but I went to a workshop at RWA where the Harlequin editors mentioned this line as being very popular overseas.


  6. Add me to the list of people who have been reading Medicals for years. As Wendy and others have said, they are not sold in stores here, but they are available through subscription and mail order, and the ebooks are available on the US Harlequin site. And occasionally Medicals show up as Presents Extras.

    The titles can be as silly as the other Harlequins, but there are some very good writers in the line, and several authors who are better known for their books in other lines also write Medicals (e.g., Marion Lennox, Kate Hardy, Sarah Morgan). There are a few writers whose books are set in the US, but most are set in the UK and Australia.

    I think the Medicals deserve to be much better known here than they are. I hope that Harlequin’s push for new authors will help that happen.

    I’ve been debating doing a set of mini-reviews at DA of Medicals and maybe this is the push I need!

    ETA: Lynn is spot on about the surfeit of babies. I actively seek out those without them! But the stories can pack a lot of serious stuff into the short format, sometimes not so successfully, sometimes very powerfully. And I agree that the characters feel more mature (they have demanding jobs, as a rule).

    ETA2: I doubt the current health-care debate has anything to do w/Medicals’ popularity in the US. More likely it’s the lack of availability. I’ve only seen Medicals in a few UBS , where they were probably imported. If Harlequin put them out there, I’m sure people would buy them.


  7. Hmm. Yeah I don’t know anyone who reads the Medical line either.

    The discussion at the Book Smugglers seems to touch a hot button which is how reader’s interpretations may differ from an author’s intentions. I say that once a book is out there, an author can’t control the reactions of readers to a book. Every person brings their own perspective to the table and sometimes a reader may have a wild reaction to a book an author may not expect. This happens. And if an author notices quite a few people with the same reaction (like all the commenters who agreed with Ana and Thea about the excerpts they posted), then maybe they need to question if the reaction is that wild and examine what they wrote. All they can do is perhaps take it as a lesson as something to keep an eye on in further books. In either case, I think authors have to respect the fact that sometimes readers react to books in ways they did not mean them to.


  8. … the Queen of the Medical would be Betty Neels. Never out of style (well, ok, perhaps) but I just eat them up. Why? Because it’s like a foreign novel in English: I don’t really understand the medical jargon but I love the behind the scenes banter. Some of those ward nurses could be (should have been?) generals!


  9. “I’ve put off my Dracula post yet again, this time because my spouse is reading it, and he doesn’t know this yet, but he and I will write a joint post when he is done”

    That cracked me up. I’ve never made my hubby joint-post, but I do that sort of thing to him all the time.

    (Also, I totally agree with your reaction to the Booksmuggler’s blog. I love their reviews, though I don’t always agree with their taste, I love stopping by to see what they said about a book I’ve finished. It’s always interesting and gives me a new viewpoint on what I’ve read).


  10. I highly recommend Meljean Brook’s novella in the Burning Up anthology. It is set in the world of Iron Duke and makes me even more eager for that series to get going. LOVE IT.


  11. It seems to me that the Book Smugglers have reached a point in popularity and influence such that authors and fans who disagree feel they need to do damage control.

    Indeed. I hadn’t thought of that. It’s been a very interesting debate to watch.

    Love the new logo, and can’t wait to see the new layout that goes with it.


  12. Aw, thanks for the kind words and the mention, Jessica! As I’m sure you can guess, it was great fun working on that post with CJ. And not just because of the pizza and beer involved. ;)

    LOVE the new logo!

    Fun and thought-provoking links as always. Love these Monday posts.


  13. I’m also loving the new logo. It is cute and sharp at the same time.

    Re Medicals; living in Oz I see them in Big W and Target which are our category stores, all the time.

    I went over to BookSmugglers and read their review and the many, many comments. Thanks for the heads up. I really value the thoughtfulness of the review work the BookSmugglers do and this review was exactly that. I read the book in the same way they did and was disturbed by it as well. Which made the comments which wanted to take to task the girls for their ‘interpretation’ fascinating. All books are subjective to the cultural and social mores of the times in which they are written and that I think as much as anything was the point being made by the reviewers and seemed to be a major point of contension with some commenters.

    Jane Yolen wrote a beautiful poem in the early 1990s that re-told the Cinderella story as a conflict of conceptual languages. It is called ‘Knives’ here is a link

    “…I spoke to the prince in that secret tongue, the diplomacy of courting, he using shoes, I using glass, and all my sisters saw was a slipper, too long in the heel, too short at the toe. What else could they use but a knife? What else could he see but the declaration of war?…”

    It seems to me that the clash described in ‘Knives’ is present in the response to the review. It may be as basic as people who think in symbols versus those who think in more concrete terms. Yet I felt like asking some of the commenters if they have ever worn high heels because I remember a discussion reported about a rape case here in Melbourne in the 1980’s. It was about high heels making it impossible to run and so making women who wore them potential victims. Therefore, the implication was all women who wear high heels are setting themselves up to be victims. I thought of that when I read this section of the story. The book isn’t just a book it tells a story about us in the now.

    There are no winners in a discussion like this but I was certainly disappointed in the tone of the comments and the author’s response. The BookSmugglers mediated all that beautifully and reminded why I love these blogs.


  14. @Vi: The Kindle 3 looks amazing and I would buy it in a heartbeat. The mixed feeling is just that I have a perfectly good Kindle 2.0! Sorry for the confusion.

    Thanks to everyone for the setting me straight on Harlequin Medicals. I take it they are not set in the US, so my dreams of writing one set in an underserved area like rural Maine will have to be deferred.

    @Sunita: Please write that post! I would like to read some and have no idea where to begin.

    @SonomaLass: I hate anthologies, but maybe I will give that one a try.


    There are no winners in a discussion like this but I was certainly disappointed in the tone of the comments and the author’s response. The BookSmugglers mediated all that beautifully and reminded why I love these blogs

    Agreed. thank you all for your supportive comments on the Book Smugglers — I know they are reading and appreciative.

    @Janet W: Betty Neels! I should’ve had a V-8!

    Sorry for the haste in this response — I’m in the dark in our hotel room in Niagara Falls while my family sleeps. Thanks again for all the great info about Medicals, the positive feedback on my logo, and all the other comments.


  15. Thanks to everyone for the setting me straight on Harlequin Medicals. I take it they are not set in the US, so my dreams of writing one set in an underserved area like rural Maine will have to be deferred.

    No, they can be set in the US. Dianne Drake’s The Medicine Man, for example, is set in the Hawk Reservation in Montana (and has a lot about high rates of diabetes among Native Americans). I vaguely remember a few others set in the US, although I do have the impression that most Medicals are set in the UK or Australia.


  16. I’m glad everyone likes the type on the new logo – I think that sort of sans serif font just looks more streamlined and up-to-date, but I’m glad to hear other reactions to it. I really love the icon your friend did. It gave me a giggle to see you illustrated! ;)


  17. Coming from one of my all-time favorite bloggers, this means a lot. :-)

    The new logo is nice, but I feel you are much hotter than it suggests. I say off with the glasses, put on some lip stain, and lower that book to where it best emphasizes your cleavage. :P


  18. I was so stoked to see Sherry Thomas had won a RITA for Not Quite A Husband. That was my favourite book of hers. Until I read His At NIght at least! Way to go Sherry!


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