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Month: June 2015

Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Midnight Sun: Saturday, May 14, 2011 or “Lack of situational awareness makes our hero look like a serial killer.”

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I have internet again. Our long national nightmare is over.

Here are some interesting things relating to E.L. James and the travesties she commits against humanity and the English language:

Also, several people emailed me to point this out, and I’m rolling:

Cover of Stephenie Meyer's The Host, featuring a close up of a face and one open eye.Cover of E.L. James's Grey, picturing a close up of a face and one open eye.

But perhaps my favorite of the bunch from this week is Janet Maslin’s review of Grey for The New York Times. Maslin writes:

Speaking of cries for help, Ms. James leaves herself badly exposed by this book’s flagrant air of desperation. Her own fans write better stories about Christian Grey than she does. The fact that hers is the hidebound, trademarked and much-copied version doesn’t make it the important one. She has let time stand still in order to capitalize on one big hit, but she’s working in such a fast-moving medium that her failure of imagination is dangerous. She didn’t exactly invent these characters in the first place: She was a “Twilight” fan who appropriated them, tweaked them and made them hugely salable for a while.

Someone please send Ms. James a whole bouquet of aloe plants for that sick burn.

On to the recap!

How I reacted to the news of Hannibal’s cancellation.

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During my writing retreat up north last week, we actually did have a teensy bit of 4G at times. And during one of those times, Bronwyn Green found the most distressing news:

NBC had cancelled Hannibal.

I’m die hard fangurl of Thomas Harris’s novels and the movies of them, but Hannibal is some next level slash-fanfic and I can’t get enough of it. And while Netflix and Amazon are apparently both courting the idea of picking up the show, in those first dark hours, I did not take the news of the cancellation well at all:

Me lying face down on the floor, taken from a really unflattering angle

FOR THE RECORD my feet were only that dirty because I’d just been outside shoeless, walking in pine sap.

After a while, my friends became concerned about me. They possibly also wanted me to wash my feet, which smelled strongly of Christmas tree.

Me, still laying on the floor.

But I wouldn’t get up. I just laid there, softly weeping at the unfairness of a world that would cancel not just Hannibal, but Covington CrossThe Adventures of Briscoe County Jr.The Mindy Project, and Futurama that one time.

Eventually they thought they could tempt me off the floor with promises of cookies and milk…

Me laying on the floor with a package of oreos beside my head and a cup of milk with a  series of straws attached to each other form one long straw.

But they had to build a special straw to get me to go for it.

It is my hope that eventually, Hannibal will also be given cookies and milk on the floor, in the form of a new life on Amazon or Netflix.

Stay tuned this week for another Grey recap and probably more about my upper peninsula adventures.

Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Midnight Sun: Grey, Monday, May 9, 2011, or, “Return of The Chedward”

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You guys didn’t really think I would leave, for a week, right after Grey hit the stands, and NOT do a recap before I left? Are you high? Why did you fall for that?

So, while I’m in Gay, MI, which I have renamed it in honor of A Concerned Home Owner, relentlessly Gay, MI, please enjoy this recap until I return.

letter reading: "Dear resident of 4900 Kenwood Avenue, your yard is becoming RELENTLESSLY GAY!"
What’s their home so concerned about?

This way, my silence on the subject doesn’t lead people to believe that I’m actually dead.

Blogging Hiatus

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Howdy, Trout Nation! Just a heads up that because I’m trying to finish up First Time and in preparation of my annual writing retreat to the U.P., I’m going on blog hiatus. If you’re new here this year, or in case you’ve forgotten, for the past three years I’ve headed into the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with a group of writers, to share a cabin that has no phone, internet, or television, but a bangin’ electric sauna, for a whole week. We have all kinds of zany adventures (you can read about the single most important thing that happened on last year’s retreat here. And about how terrible my friends are here), but best of all, we write. Like crazy. I think I did 30,000 words in a week last time. This time, I’m aiming for 50,000.

Anyway, because getting ready for all this takes time, I won’t be making blog posts unless some extraordinary bullshit happens (and with Grey on the way, it’s entirely possible), and I’ll be scarce on social media (except for Tumblr, which sucks your life away like The Machine in The Princess Bride).

I’ll be back after June 28 with another recap of Grey. For now, enjoy your summer, and know that I’ll be writing about Neil and Sophie while I’m up north. I might even be able to share some when I return.

50 Shades of Single White Female

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I’m supposed to be on a blogging hiatus. Is it really too much to ask that 50 Shades related foolishness just pause for a minute? Yet, like the cop sidekick in an action movie, I was so close to going home and saying goodbye to this dangerous life, and then I got shot.

Shot in the face with the most absurdly staged news story in the history of all time.

In a twist unlike any that has ever happened to any other hotly anticipated retelling of a blockbuster novel, Grey, the retold  50 Shades of Grey, has been stolen and is in grave danger of being leaked to the general public.

Oh, how terrible it must feel when one rewrites the first novel of their series from the hero’s perspective, only to find it has cruelly been leaked ahead of release day! Probably not as bad as someone plagiarizing your entire series, then turning around and putting out their own version of the spin-off novel you wrote and shelved because it was leaked to the public, and claiming that their novel was also leaked, because they don’t just want to rip off your intellectual property, they want to absorb your entire life and become you.

Something like that.

Now, I’m not saying this was James’s idea. But I am saying that a publicist is at work on this one. What are the odds, really, that:

  • Stephenie Meyer publishes the Twilight series.
  • Stephenie Meyer begins work on Midnight Sun.
  • Midnight Sun is leaked online
  • Stephenie Meyer shelves Midnight Sun indefinitely.

and then

  • E.L. James is “inspired” by Twilight and writes 50 Shades of Grey.
  • E.L. James announces the publication of Grey.
  • Grey is allegedly stolen from the printers.

Obviously there’s no chance of Grey being shelved or even postponed because God is dead, just like I am on the inside. But I’m sorry, it’s just too coincidental that a series plagiarizing Twilight just so happens to have a companion novel told from the hero’s perspective a la Midnight Sun, and it also just so happens to get stolen and possibly leaked, especially when the printing company is apparently not having it, either:

A spokeswoman for CPI UK confirmed it is printing the 50 Shades of Grey companion novel Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey As Told by Christian, but said: “I doubt it’s gone missing from one of our printworks seeing as I haven’t heard about it.”

Here’s hoping that James choses to rip off the rest of Meyers’s career arc, and vanish without fanfare.

Now it’s back to the hiatus hole for me.

50 Shades of This Is Not Cool, Guys

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By now, every single author with a summer release knows that their book is doomed to fall into the black hole that is Grey, E.L. James’s regurgitation of her blockbuster novel 50 Shades of Grey. A title like Grey is like an event horizon. It will suck everything into its gravity with no chance of escape. All other books will come to a standstill, approaching, but never reaching, the sales success they would have had if Grey hadn’t come crashing into the market. And it doesn’t just happen to small books. Big, splashy titles will be affected, and you’ll see regular NYT #1-ers failing to reach the spot.

In other words, fiction sales this summer are “fifty shades of fucked up.”

So, if Grey is expected to sell out its unheard of print run (1.25 million copies in its first printing), why does it need to be prominently advertised on other titles? Oh, for example…

50 Shades of Total Bullshit

If you can’t see the graphic, it’s a screen shot of the Amazon page for my book, The Boss (which is free and, from what I understand, pretty fantastic, so check it out if you want). Before the reader browsing through the page can even reach the book’s description, there’s an add imploring the consumer to visit the Kindle store page for Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian, and providing links to “More ‘Fifty Shades’ titles.”

In other words, “Before you have a chance to read about this book you were interested in a minute ago, might we redirect you to this other one, instead?”

Besides the fact that this creepily implies a similarity between the two titles (or the author’s tacit approval of the franchise), it’s a low blow to authors who just want to break even. My books are fairly successful, and share something of a crossover audience with the Fifty series. But tons of other authors have seen this ad pop up on their pages, too. The titles don’t even need to have anything in common with Grey; while my book is seemingly a shoe-in for readers who like BDSM billionaire soap operas, one author reported seeing it on her “very, very, very gay” all-male menage book. One saw it on her erotic thriller’s page. If your book is erotic romance or erotica of any flavor, it appears to wear the Grey badge of awful.

So, what gives, Amazon? Grey is already #1 in both the Kindle store and among regular books. It is a part of the bestselling fiction series of all time. It has a first print run of 1.25 million copies. Does it really, truly need sales so bad as to potentially drive them away from authors who sell less? One author who found her product page bearing the advertisement reported that she “barely broke” a thousand dollars in profit last year, a far cry from the $95 million James made in 2013. The ad showed up on the product page for one author who reports selling approximately 120 ebooks per year. 120. What compels the logic that E.L. James desperately needs those 120 readers to see her title and potentially drive readers from that 120 copy selling author to Grey? And that author has no hope of seeing her book placed prominently on the Grey product page.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Vintage Press, James’s publisher, doesn’t feel the book needs any advertisement at all:

When asked why Vintage announced the book just two weeks before its on sale date, Bogaards said, it’s what E.L. James, nee Erika Mitchell, wanted. “Erika wanted this to be a surprise for her readers, and the only amplification that was necessary on our end was to point press to her tweet [about the publication], which we did.”

So, if a simple tweet will suffice to drive the sales of this book (and it absolutely will and has), I have to ask…why would anyone go the extra mile to potentially squash the sales of other authors? Maybe I’m just not retail savvy enough to understand it. Either Amazon is behind the campaign (possible) or Vintage Press has sprung for the placement (more possible). Either way, the retail behemoth has to understand that Grey is guaranteed money in their pockets with or without this advertisment, so it doesn’t make sense to undercut sales of other titles.


I guess the lesson we can all learn from this is that there is no coattail so small that E.L. James’s masterwork cannot ride it.

Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Midnight Sun

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50 Shades of Grey is the Hotel California of books. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

Stopping just short of actually peeling Stephenie Meyer like an orange and making a Silence of The Lambs suit out of her, E.L. James has decided that what the world needs, what we really, really need, is for her to crash her new title, Grey, a retelling of 50 Shades of Grey, from Christian’s POV.

grey cover

I hope this is a fan-made graphic and not the actual cover to the follow up of a billion-dollar trilogy, because I expect to see this kind of thing pop up on a stock cover site.

But I know what a lot of you are thinking, because I fell asleep on my phone last night and woke up this morning to a vibrator going off underneath my neck. So the answer is, yes.

Yes. I am going to recap it.

Grey comes out on June 18th. I’ll be leaving for my annual trip to the U.P., where I will begin writing The Baby, so I won’t be able to begin recaps on Grey until after that. So Grey recaps will start on June 29th.