Links, News, and Sales! On the Internet!

A stack of multicolored books in a shopping cart.Links and news! You ready? 

Via Facebook, I found this link to a May 2012 explanation of a research project about “experience taking” while reading fiction:

Researchers at Ohio State University examined what happened to people who, while reading a fictional story, found themselves feeling the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses of one of the characters as if they were their own – a phenomenon the researchers call “experience-taking.”

They found that, in the right situations, experience-taking may lead to real changes, if only temporary, in the lives of readers.

I admit, I have often twitched a bit at the presumption that romance readers identify with the heroine, or see her as a placeholder for themselves, as that isn't how I've read romance. But I also know that I've read books with vibrant, complex characters and learned from them in such a way that adjusted my own behavior.

What do you think of the idea of “experience taking?” Has that happened to you after reading a novel?

Natalie Ramm wrote a list of typical criticisms of romance and knocked them about one by one In Defense of Romance Novels:

Romance novels are unrealistic.Please. Romance novels simply use love to guide their narrative arcs. Why is it considered silly to read about the wild passions of two unlikely lovers, but appropriate to read a violent thriller about mutant zombies?


Cory Doctorow wrote a column for PW in which he revealed that the CEO of Little, Brown UK Ursula Mackenzie wrote a letter to an author whose books are published both by Hachette in some territories and by TOR/Macmillan in others. Tor recently announced all their book would be published without DRM.

Doctorow writes:

The letter, signed by Little, Brown U.K. CEO Ursula Mackenzie, explains to the author that Hachette has “acquired exclusive publication rights in our territories from you in good faith,” but warns that in other territories, Tor’s no-DRM policy “will make it difficult for the rights granted to us to be properly protected.” Hachette’s proposed solution: that the author insist Tor use DRM on these titles. “We look forward to hearing what action you propose taking.”

The letter also contains language that will apparently be included in future Hachette imprint contracts, language that would require authors to “ensure that any of his or her licensees of rights in territories not licensed under this agreement” will use DRM.


It’s hard to say what’s more shocking to me: the temerity of Hachette to attempt to dictate terms to its rivals on the use of anti-customer technology, or the evidence-free insistence that DRM has some nexus with improving the commercial fortunes of writers and their publishers. Let’s just say that Hachette has balls the size of Mars if it thinks it can dictate what other publishers do with titles in territories where it has no rights…..

What’s also interesting about Hachette’s letter is that it comes at a time when the publishing industry has begun to figure this all out. At the London Book Fair in April, Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne spoke about the decision to forgo DRM on Harry Potter e-books. DRM doesn’t stop piracy, he told publishers, and it inhibits readers from using the books they’ve bought on multiple platforms. Exactly. Pottermore even got Amazon to sell DRM-free editions in the Kindle store.

Chutzpah, aisle three! Price check on chutzpah, aisle three! 

Kelly sent me the following link profiling a woman with a unique project focusing on depictions of sex, and it's really thought provoking. Kelly wrote,

It's about a new project called which, despite the name, offers explicit “real sex” streaming videos for rent. Her basic premise is that young people are overly influenced by hardcore pornography (since it's so easily available and sex ed is often pretty limited), and she'd like to put an alternative out into the world. A teaser quote: “I want to help bring the individuality, the creativity and the self-expression back to [sex]. At the same time, I want to explode a lot of the received wisdom that exists out there about porn.”


Like I said, very off the wall, but I thought the SBTB community might have interesting things to say about it, so I figured I'd send it on over. Whenever people start talking about the influence of hardcore pornography and our cultural ideas about intimacy, I start wondering about where romance novels fit into the discussion — far from being “pr0n 4 the laydeez,” I tend to think of them as being a wholly different way of tackling an important aspect of human experience.

I'm over at Kirkus this week, this time talking about books I read on vacation, and why I put high expectations on them, poor things:

Vacation books come with a lot of pressure. The book has to be entertaining, fun and easily picked up and put down. I believe these books are commonly called “beach reads” in marketing material, but I live near enough to the beach that any book I'm reading could become a beach read. The beach isn't that far away. A vacation book, however, is a book that will happily entertain me for a few hours, but will also allow me to put the book down and go do things with my family without too much of the “just five more pages, no, really, just five more” feeling of urgency.

I am shaking my head at myself for building all these expectations on books for vacation, I assure you.

Vacation reading for me is always comprised of books that I know I'm going to really enjoy, that I've been waiting to read, and that I cannot wait to begin. Starting those books is a signal to my brain: “See this book? This book means you are ON VACATION.” I mentioned earlier that I read these books without the expectation of review, but nine times out of 10, I will review them because I enjoy them so much I have to share that giddy reading feeling with everyone.

What are your favorite vacation reads? Any recomendations?

Want some books on sale? You can has!

First, just about all the digitally released Georgette Heyer books are $2.99 right now at Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks. I asked for recommendations on Twitter, and have collected them all in a Storify, should you be looking for ideas of what to buy! 

The most recommended: Cotillion ( A | BN | K | S | ARe ). Which is your favorite? 

And, more ebooks on sale!


  • Pleasures of the Night by Sylvia Day * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S | ARe
  • Heat of the Night by Sylvia Day * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S | ARe
  • Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber * $1.59-$1.99 * A | BN | K | S |
  • Embrace by Jessica Shirvington * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S | ARe
  • The Night is Mine by ML Buchman * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S | ARe
  • Midnight on Julia Street by Ciji Ware * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S | ARe
  • Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride * $0.00 $2.99 * A | BN | K | S | ARe
  • Love Me With Fury by Janelle Taylor * $3.82-$4.99 * A | BN | K | S | ARe
  • Sugar Rush by Donna Kauffman * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S | ARe
  • Lord and Lady Spy by Shanna Galen * $.99-$1.99 * A | BN | K | S | ARe

The Link-O-Lator

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ruthie says:

    I’m totally fascinated by all discussion of how porn is affecting contemporary sexuality. Caitlin Moran has a good conversation about this in her (awesome) feminist memoir, How To Be a Woman. But I have yet to figure out exactly what connection this has to romance novels, to my writing of romance novels, to my feminism, etc. Except to ponder the possibility of writing a hero with a porn addiction, and then to imagine getting shot down by my agent… ;-)

  2. 2
    Randi says:

    Hi Sarah, just an FYI that Lish McBride’s “Hold Me Closer, Necromancer” is $2.99 at Amazon. It’s her “Necromancer: A Novella” that’s $0.00 at Amazon.

  3. 3
    SB Sarah says:

    WHOOPS – thanks! All fixed.

  4. 4
    CarrieS says:

    I get plenty of flak for my mutant zombie books, thank you.

  5. 5
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    Heyer’s Cotillion is awesome. I also love Frederica and Sylvester.

  6. 6
    Readsalot81 says:

    There are certain themes or statements often times in a romance novel that resonate very strongly within me.. or will cause me to examine why I think a certain way.. but the idea of experience taking is fairly new to me.

    In regards to Hatchette, I’ve just become rather used to the idea that publishers must like shooting themselves in the foot as they seem to do it so very often. ( P.S. Hatchette – Tor doesn’t appear to be suffering for making their novels DRM free –  Granted a recent development, but still)

    Vacation reads? Well.. lol.. I picked up Rogue’s Pawn by Jeffe Kennedy at RWA.. and got Blade Song by J.C Daniels ( aka Shiloh Walker). Both are very good. Fantasy romance/ UF with strong romantic elements.

  7. 7
    Faye says:

    I was just listening to Here and Now on NPR, and they ran an interview with a male romance reviewer who’s published a parody of FSOG. Best part- he emphasizes that there are many really good romances out there, and that his problem is with this one book.…

  8. 8
    Tabs says:

    Faro’s Daughter is one of my favorite of Heyer’s.  The hero mistakenly assumes the heroine is a gold-digger with her sights set on his ward and acts like an asshole.  The heroine has a serious temper and isn’t about to put up with one iota of his shit.  A marvelous game of back-and-forth retaliation ensues.

  9. 9
    Lauren Willig says:

    Can I tell you how thrilled and flattered I am that I (I mean, the Pink books) get to be your vacation reading?  Yay! 

    Also, does this mean I get to be on vacation by extension?  (Sadly, I don’t think I can quite make that argument work.  Le sigh.)

  10. 10
    JenM says:

    I picked up the Lish McBride book, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, when it first went on sale last month and read it yesterday. A bit of a rough start due to shifting POVs, but after that, wow, it was great and I couldn’t put it down. I just pre-ordered the next one, which is coming out in September, and given that it’s $9.99, a price I rarely pay for ANY book, that’s quite a complement. Once again, the “first book at a bargain price” strategy has paid off LOL.

  11. 11
    Mirandaflynn says:

    The one book I can think of that had an actual ‘experience taking’ for me was Barbara Hambly’s Homeland. The book deals with the friendship of two women on opposing sides of the Civil War and is told through letters between the women. Their experiences, and their reactions to those experiences, moved me profoundly and made some fundamental changes to my philosophy.


  12. 12
    kkw says:

    Natalie Ramm’s defense…look, do me a favor and don’t do me any more favors, OK?  Both the writing and the thinking are so sloppy it’s embarrassing. 
    Romance novels are unrealistic.  Novels are made up.  They’re supposed to be imaginative.  Bashing other unrealistic novels is a craptastic, shameful, illogical ‘defense’ of something that doesn’t need defending.  Why on earth should art be realistic?  Should it also be morally improving?
    I’ve heard well-reasoned arguments about the difference between porn and romance.  This isn’t one of them. “In porn, women are negatively labeled for similar appetites, but in romance their desires are accepted, exalted even.” By whom? Generally the guy(s) having sex with a woman in real life, romance novels, and porn are pretty much thrilled if said woman is open and clear about her sexual desires.  The judgement almost invariably comes from people who aren’t actually involved, right?  I just don’t get this.
    Really, it’s more of the same bullshit rhetoric: we’re not bad cause others are worse.  Denigrating romance by calling it porn is a red herring, and defending romance by denigrating porn is perpetuating the belief that sexuality is shameful.
    And for some more received wisdom, we’re told that at least one romance novelist went to Harvard, therefore some romance novels aren’t poorly written.  Oooh, Harvard.  Well, then.

  13. 13
    Kate4queen says:

    I think Venetia and These Old Shades are my favorite Heyer’s, , but its like asking me to pick my favorite kid:)

    btw-my book Simply Sexual is only $2.99 on amazon kindle at the moment!! Not anywhere else for some reason, but hey…

  14. 14
    RevMelinda says:

    Just finished a novel I adored—Elizabeth Essex’s historical, “Almost A Scandal.” (The plot: heroine pretends to be her brother and takes his place as a crewman aboard a Royal Navy ship.) This author really Gets It Right—the book is wonderfully researched and written, and the love scenes are some of the most delicious I’ve ever read. The whole time I was reading it, the inner-meta-critic-me was jumping up and down with glee.

    And speaking of women pretending to be men, I want to make a shout out for Heyer’s “The Masqueraders.” It features a double masquerade (heroine pretends to be a man, her brother pretends to be a woman), a hunky and honorable hero, a villainous villain, masquerade balls, swordplay, highway robbery, wonderful supporting characters. . . sigh. The scene where Sir Anthony reveals Prudence’s identity is maybe my favorite in all of romance.

  15. 15
    snarkhunter says:

    I would say I experience “experience-taking” more often than not. Is that not normal? I thought that was how everyone read…

  16. 16
    Jewel says:

    I have succumbed to ‘experience-taking’ a few times that I can think of; the most strong were when I read Gone With The Wind around the same time I was getting married (lo these many, many, many years ago). For a while there I WAS Scarlett! That was the first time I remember a book taking over my mind like that. Most recently is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: I’m reading it right now and whoo boy – the emotions are like a crazy train through my head. I had to take a break from it because I was becoming really intensely cranky. Don’t get me wrong – the book is really well written and sucks you right in, I think I’m just weird in this manner that it effects my emotional state so much. But maybe not, according to this new study.

    And, I’ve got a beach vacation to the lovely Redneck Riviera (aka, panhandle of Florida; Rosemary Beach specifically) coming up the week of Labor Day and now I have some good ideas for what to load up the Kindle with for the week! Thanks ladies!!

  17. 17
    Isabel C. says:

    @kkw: Yep. The thing that bugs me about “romance is porn for women” is more the “for women” than the “is porn”. I don’t think of romance as porn, myself, but…“porn” covers a lot of ground and is an extremely subjective term, and isn’t by any means a bad thing either. (And the claim that nobody involves with it respects women bugs me.)

    Romance *could* be porn for a reader who’s really into the sex scenes but also likes a good story. (And attractive men, which is where I admit that most mainstream porn-for-straight-men has classically failed with wild abandon.) The same book could be not porn at all for a reader who doesn’t give a damn about the sex scenes but wants to find out what happens with the zombie pirates. Those two readers could be any gender—and, in fact, could be the same person on different days.

  18. 18
    Flo_over says:

    Is it bad I think porn is a cheat?  I feel that it takes away the imagination and sort of homogenizes the sexuality of people.  It becomes about a fixed/popular image and fetish.  It forces a person to think “Oh this is the standard I should hold myself too” whether or not they mean to think that.

    Beyond the standard “it demoralizes and objectifies women” it also brings men down.  It sets their brains up for certain ways of thinking and NO woman is going to be the same as the perfectly make-up’d, properly angled “actress” in a porn.  It’s a setup for failure and disappointment.  I’m sure not all porn is like that.  But it seems like it’s an idiot’s guide to bad sex.  Instead of figuring it out with your lover and having the fun, joy, laughs, awkward moments to share TOGETHER people come equipped with their “moves”.  That is… sad.  It feels almost lonely “Let me impress you with how I look with my back arched like THIS~  RAWR!”  It’s dishonest.

    At least with romance novels (most of them) you find the protagonists struggling together, working together, and even if the hero comes equipped with knowledge of the female form, it usually is special and unique with the heroine.  Emphasizing that even with the horizontal mambo, the story and intent is about two people coming to love each other.  Not so with porn.

  19. 19

    I don’t think of myself as “experience-taking” but “experience-talking” oh my yes. One of my friends always knows what I’ve been reading by the changes in my speech patterns. It’s most notable when I’ve been reading either the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters or the Lord Peter Whimsey books by Dorothy L. Sayers.

  20. 20
    Kate4queen says:

    I just finished Gone Girl and it definitely does mess with your head-I’m still thinking about it now!

  21. 21
    Carrie Gwaltney says:

    I enjoy reading Heyer books, but listening to them on audio is like a whole new level of happy. There are different narrators, but most of them are very talented. I honestly can’t list a favorite Heyer book. The Talisman Ring for comedy, A Civil Contract for more serious romance, The Reluctant Widow for mystery-romance, and everything else for just plain fun. ;-)

  22. 22
    Beth says:

    Definitely check out Hold Me Closer Necromancer if you get the chance. It’s such a great read!

  23. 23
    Karin says:

    I used to stay at a little bungalow colony in Destin called “Murmuring Surf”, loved it. I wish you a hurricane-free holiday!

  24. 24
    Karin says:

    Devil’s Cub is my favorite Heyer, but I’m also very fond of A Civil Contract.

  25. 25
    Isabel C. says:

    It might, in a way, but I take the opinion that there’s actually more diversity of appearance in porn than there is in mainstream media, especially once you get outside the standard videos: there are enough, er, specific preferences going on here, and the spectrum, especially with the Internet and amateur stuff, is big enough to accommodate a lot of different appearances. Whereas the typical woman in TV and movies is…yep, perfect make up, proper angles, sometimes even a body double or three.

    Most guys watch porn. None of the ones I know has ever expressed much disappointment in the women they actually sleep with; if any of them has ever been under the impression that sex worked that way in real life, they got over it long before I knew them. And yeah, you’re going to be figuring some stuff out together with any new partner you have, because everyone’s different and all.

    Mostly, I think that porn is fantasy: like romance, like, well, fantasy. Sometimes you daydream about love; sometimes you daydream about sex; sometimes you daydream about saving the universe. Sometimes all three. No point being down on anyone for any of that.

  26. 26
    Maryheather says:

    Devil’s Cub is my favorite if I was forced to pick one. They are all wonderful!

  27. 27
    Terrie says:

    Heyer Love:  “Cotillion” for joy of the sweetest hero ever; “Devil’s Cub” for short-tempered sexy rake; “These Old Shades” for his omniscient alpha father; “Frederica” for an elegant hero and determined heroine (that sounds grim—it’s not; great fun); “Venetia” for a tired rake and a secluded beauty who enjoy an idyll where they quote poetry; “The Talisman Ring” for fun adventure, “The Unknown Ajax” which is a little light on the romance but has a great hero; “The Quiet Gentleman” for a mystery and unlikely pairing; “A Civil Contract” for a little more realistic but also really touching look at an arranged marriage; as noted at this website before, “The Grand Sophy” is problematic for a painful to read scene chock full of anti-semitism but the rest of the book is fun; “Black Sheep” is one of my favorites (ummm . . . they all are) for a great plot and particularly sparkling dialogue.  “False Colors” is not one of my favorites for the major romance but the book also contains the most funny marriage proposal and aftermath I have ever read anywhere.  Watching a middle-aged but still beautiful woman maneuver a proposal out of her long time beau who long ago settled into happy bachelorhood is absolutely priceless, as is his reactions afterwards.  “Friday’s Child” is a delight for the sheer zaniness of the young men about town.

    So many Heyers.  I’d buy them all if the budget would only allow.

  28. 28
    Dee says:

    I had withdrawal symptoms after the last book of the Harry Potter series. I honestly felt like I was saying good-bye to some really good friends who had been a major part of my life for almost 10 years. Also, I’ve actually never read a Heyer (shocking I know) but ironically enough I recently pilfered “The Masqueraders” from my mom’s shelf because of all the Heyer love here. It’s now lying on nightstand still unread. I shall have to remedy that situation.

  29. 29
    Jenny says:

    I think the experience taking thing is an interesting idea – the way we perceive books seems so obvious and normal to us that it’s bizarre to think that there’s any other way.  It was a revelation to me that some (most?) people play a movie in their heads while they read, and it all plays out in glorious technicolour.  If there are pictures in my head, they’re too quick and I don’t register them, but I can *hear* the characters voice very clearly.  (This has its advantages: when I’m reading incredibly dull papers at work, I hear Alan Rickman’s voice reading them to me.)

    My Mum has a theory that we have moments of heightened consciousness, when we remember seemingly mundane things for no reason and experience things more intensely – which might be why, from time to time, you can experience the emotion of a book so intensely that it takes you over.  The summer I first read Dorothy Dunnett’s Pawn in Frankincence must have been one of those times for me!

  30. 30
    GeeCee says:

    Alas, no bargains on Heyer to be had at this end of the world. Does anyone else think the covers on those ebooks are boring? Insipid even? If I was coming to Heyer for the first time I wouldn’t touch a single one of them. Favourites have to be The Unknown Ajax and The Nonesuch.

Comments are closed.

↑ Back to Top