Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike Dead

I love Updike. I've been reading him since I was in high school. When 9-11 hit publishing really hard,and I was unable to sell books for 8 months, I read Updike to make me feel that books were worth selling (and therefore publishing).

I can't believe he's gone, or that I won't be looking for a new book from him next year and the year after that, or picking up a copy of the New Yorker and seeing yet another of his stories.

I have all these great little Updike stories to share - and now fewer and fewer people will know who he was.

The first time I met Updike (I have been waiting decades to write that) was at the annual American Academy of Arts and Letters Awards on 155th Street in Manhattan, when I was the editor of a community newspaper there. He was in his late 50's. I was in my 20's. His hair was breath-takingly silver. It was the physical thing about him I remember most. I mumbled something about how much I loved his work, and he mumbled something back. It was insignificant to him, but just incredible to me that I was meeting him (I met Ralph Ellison that day too!)

Years later, one of my best friends married into a family where John Updike was invited to her engagement party. She said he and his wife gave a lousy gift.

I also remember that in spite of how pivotal Rabbit, Run was as a book in the 60's, it was considered one of the worst movies ever made (starring James Cain). When I became an agent, I was told that Updike books were on the never option list in Hollywood.

Years later, when Witches of Eastwick was made into a movie, I was told a story (by some film agent) that the only way it got made was for Updike to promise to keep his hands off of it. They changed the ending completely and made it a better movie.

I remember being blown away by a simple sentence in Witches of Eastwick where Updike described the clouds in the sky as looking like bacon fat.

I learned only a few years ago that one of the reasons Updike was able to be the decades-long literary success that he was was because his mother had written for The New Yorker, and given him that all-important "in."

And I often think of just how good a short story A&P is all these years after reading it.

Tell me your Updike stories - I'd love to share them with my blog readers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Free Download at RavenousRomance - Get it While it Lasts!

If you read the Romance blogs, you already know about Ravenous Romance's launch celebration giveaway. Between now and January 31, Ravenous Romance is extending an invitation to readers to get a free $5 gift certificate to the site just by emailing us. $5 will buy either one full-length novel or several short stories (Ravenous Rendezvous).

But I wanted to put it here, just in case you missed it.

We're thrilled with the site and even happier with our content. What better way to launch a new venture and show it off than by offering readers an opportunity to check us out – for free!

Requests should be sent to and gift certificates can be redeemed online at . The offer is good for both new customers and returning customers.

My faves (which I shouldn't list, but I can't help myself) are Marrakesh (our sexy M/M retelling of Casablanca) and An Officer and His Gentle Man; Lisa Lane's Darkness & Light: Blood and Coffee and the entire Maestro vampire series by Rhonda Jones; Twilight's Edge and Vital Signs, our erotic soap operas; the extremely witty Opposite Sex and the romantic suspense Mind Games. Oh, and I just love the glamor and style of Pat Tucker's hip romances. Force My Hand, our dirty historical romance, took my breath away. And Knight Moves, our time travel with a Knight, titillated me too. Our Women of a Certain Age novels - Cybill in Between and Playgirl - were much more fun for me than Fear of Flying (but I was a kid when I read that). And The Land of Falling Stars, our answer to Gone with the Wind, should be read by everyone (and would make a great Valentine's Day gift to any woman on this planet). I like the anthologies I edited too - Men in Shorts and Sex and Shoes.

Let me, and RR, through our author reviews, know what you think of these titles.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Holocaust Blind Date Hoax

As I'm sure most of you are aware, right before the Christmas break, a story broke that Angel at the Fence, a memoir of two Holocaust survivors who met at the Buchenwald fence and then had a blind date 12 years later was a hoax. The book was to be published by Berkeley, and was already an Oprah pick.

It was another example of poor vetting on the publishing side of the spectrum (why can't publishers use the same yardstick as journalist's? Make the author give written or corroborating verbal proof?), as well as another example of an author making up a (believe it or not) romantic Holocaust past (Misha, the fake memoir about the woman who was brought up by wolves after escaping the Nazis). As well as yet one more Oprah-backed memoir that was too good a story to really be true (James Frey). I know it makes the reading pubic question the veracity of memoir, and that's not a good thing.

But, I looked in my email this morning, and had a very long blog entry from a man who claims he helped expose the Holocaust blind date hoax, and I thought it was an interesting backstory. I did not vet it, so I post the link here with that warning.

dan has left a new comment on your post "The New Year":


The New Year

Who among us is not happy to see 2008 go?

But, there are some in publishing who predict even worse numbers for 2009.

I don't know.

What I do know is that what is selling is celebrity and branded books (I have two of those right now), as well as pop culture titles (I have one on the best seller list and another in development, although it's with a TV show, so it's also branded and official). There's still a strong market for YA, romance and erotica, but there are fewer slots open than last year.

And the ebook and audio markets continue to grow, while print publishing shrinks, but both were so small to begin with that it's inevitable that there would be growth there.