Skip to content

For my February Prime borrow on Kindle I picked up Elizabeth Lowell's, "Golden Mountain."   It now appears to be free, so you might want to pick it up and give it a read.  Your opinion could certainly vary from that of a crazy duck lady, because IMHO - this is one to pass on.  And I can't believe I said that about a Lowell romance!

I love every Lowell book I've ever read with the exception of this one.  Ms. Lowell is an amazingly talented author, but this book just didn't do it for me.  I couldn't finish it.  I read about 10 to 15% of the book before I put it away.  I only read that much because it was a Lowell so I kept waiting for it to pick me up and get me involved.  Except that never happened.  Not only did I not get involved, I dreaded picking up my Fire and would make excuses why I couldn't read more just now.  That's when I knew that I had to let this one go because normally I steal time from writing to read.  I was a romance fan a long time before I was a romance author, after all. 

Why didn't I like this one?  First, it took way too long to get started.  The first part was the heroine following her father around and assisting him while he took photos of  Chinese miners and mining communities.  When the father died - very early in the book (not a *spoiler*) -  the heroine wandered off to Seattle to take photos.  Then we're treated to long, expansive descriptions of the Chinese community in Seattle.  By the time I put it down the story seemed almost ready to go somewhere, but by then I didn't care.  In a romance, I want to feel tension between the hero and the heroine fairly quickly.  I'm okay with a few pages of backstory, but get me involved first, then feed me the history.

My other big problem with this book was that it wasn't clear from the get go who the hero was.  There were 2 brothers - one good guy and one wild one.  It seemed that the good guy would be the hero, but the first chemistry we read about occurs between the heroine and the wild brother.  I wasn't even sure if the good guy could be the hero because there was a reference to the good guy having slept with the heroine's newly discovered step-mother, a prostitute for one of the Chinese crime lord big shots we read far too much about.  That made me feel icky about the good guy brother.  Of course the good guy could have turned out to be the bad guy and the wild one could have been the real good guy. 

My biggest problem with the book was that the lack of clarity about the hero made me feel unsure of the story.  I'm okay with a hero that starts out with issues.  I'm okay if he is the biggest rogue in the galaxy.  I know that once he meets the heroine, he'll change.  Oh, he'll be unwilling to change and perturbed with the world at large because he is changing.  But by the end of the story, I'll have been with him through his changes and I'll adore him.  But that can only happen if I'm clear that I should be rooting for him instead of finding him annoying.

I hate romances where the heroine is torn between two men.  Or at least, I generally hate them.  I recall that "Whitney, My Love" was an exception to that rule.   Golden Mountain could have been an exception too - it should have been, because it was written by Lowell.  The difference between Whitney and Golden is that we knew who the hero and heroine were in Whitney and we saw chemistry between the hero and heroine early on - even if the heroine didn't see it yet. 

I guess Elizabeth Lowell can't be perfect every time.  So she's only "almost" perfect.  If I ever achieve "almost" perfect I'll rent out an airplane and skywrite it.  I'll buy TV time and advertise it.  But I won't start budgeting for that just yet...

If I were you, I'd give "Golden Mountain" a pass and pick up Lowell's "Only" books instead.    I got them while they were $1.99.  Of course, they're old favorites but now they have space on my Fire.  It looks like HarperCollins is running "rolling" $1.99 specials on a bunch of Ms. Lowell's work.  Trust me, pick those up and pass on "Golden Mountain."

Today news broke that the Justice Department warned Apple and a number of big publishers of its intent to file suit against them.  The DOJ alleges that Apple and the publishers conspired to increase the price of ebooks.  Publishers affected apparently include the following: 

The five publishers facing possible Justice Department action are Simon & Schuster Inc, a unit of CBS Corp (CBS.N); Lagardere SCA's (LAGA.PA) Hachette Book Group; Pearson Plc's (PSON.L) Penguin Group (USA); Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and HarperCollins Publishers Inc, a unit of News Corp (NWSA.O).  -- Reuters

If DOJ wants confirmation, it might check with consumers, particularly those who owned Kindles and bought them based upon Amazon's promise to try to keep ebook prices below $9.99.  Yes, Virginia the roosters coming home to roost this time arise from the publisher's battle with Amazon over ebook pricing that resulted in publishers and Apple concocting the "agency model" of pricing. What is the agency model?  It's where the publisher decides what its price will be and the retailer is not allowed to change it. 

Think of the agency model like this (and this is only an example, based on nothing more than the odd imagination of a certain duck lady) - imagine that Wrangler is really peeved at Wal Mart for selling its blue jeans for $19.99.  Wrangler has decided it wants it's blue jeans to have an upscale image and a price tag to match.  Wrangler decides that Wal Mart can only sell its jeans if they are priced at the numbers on the tags shipped with the jeans and they start at $49.95 a pair.  If Wal Mart doesn't like it, then they can't sell Wrangler jeans. 

Well, that wouldn't work if just Wrangler did it, now, would it?  Wal Mart would say to Wrangler - screw you and the horse you rode in on.  Where will you sell your jeans with those terms, Wal Mart would ask.  The store that Sam Walton built might reply that it would just sell Levis instead.  But what if 5 or 6 big companies control all the well known jean brands? And what if  all of them say the same thing to the big chain store?  And when the chain store asks, in a much softer voice, well, where will you sell your product, then - who will ever accept those terms?  And the merchants answer - Target.  We've all reached a deal with Target on exactly those terms and Target will keep a set percentage for profit based on the price we set.   Well, Target would be making a chunk of change too, wouldn't it?  And Wal Mart would lose all the customers who wanted to buy big name jeans.  AND, worst of all, the customers would pay a lot more for the product. 

Now,  understand that the big publishers are the blue jean companies and Apple is Target. That's agency pricing and in the long run, the victims are the consumers. 

Federal Antitrust legislation exists to prevent monopolies that destroy competition and damage consumers.  The most famous example of DOJ's heavy hand with Antitrust action was the break up of the old Ma Bell network of AT&T.  Since that time - look at what's happened to telephone service.  Consumers have options at every price point and every service level.  And as much as I dislike the Feds regulating most things, Antitrust legislation has an important and valuable purpose. 

So, DOJ may very well be right on target in breaking up this scheme because prices consumers pay should be set by the merchants from whom consumers buy.  The merchants pay a wholesale price and sometimes they'll sell some items below wholesale in order to promote some other items.  That's what Amazon was doing with ebooks to sell its Kindle devices - and again, that's what publishers were trying to prevent. 

Yes, if agency pricing goes then the whole system will have to adjust.  Indies like me would be hurt because we are little tiny pebbles caught between giant boulders.  Amazon says to indies, you can only sell on our platform if you price you ebooks at your cheapest price.  Oh, and if your price is lower anywhere else - we'll match the low price and base your royalty payment on that figure.  Presently, the agency pricing system gave indies got a benefit of sales platforms mostly selling indie work at the price the indies set. So indies don't get caught in a price reduction whirlwind at Amazon, often the biggest sales source. 

Even though readjusting the system to get it back to a wholesale/retail marketplace would hurt indies, like me, for a while, I expect that pricing would work itself out after a period of some turbulence.  And even if it didn't, and I took a hit along with other indies, well, that's okay.  We'd have to adapt because ultimately, the agency pricing results in readers paying high prices across the board when in a wholesale/retail market, competition would keep prices lower.  READERS SHOULD NEVER BE HURT BY AND OVERCHARGED BECAUSE OF A "SECRET" SYSTEM THAT'S KEEPING PRICES ARTIFICIALLY INFLATED.

It's not something I say often but in this case, I've gotta make an exception - YOU GO, DOJ.  Ma Book should go the way of Ma Bell.

Don't miss out on the Smashwords Read An Ebook week promo.  It runs through this Saturday, March 10th. 

There are steals and deals galore so don't miss out on this once-a-year chance to fill your ereader without draining your wallet.  It's a coupon sale, so enter the codes at check out.

ALL QUACKING ALONE ROMANCES ARE 50% OFF !  If you don't own 'em all already - perhaps you haven't picked up one or two of them yet - then don't miss these deals. 

With the strained state of finances and the need to stretch a dollar until old George Washington quacks for help - I never miss this deal and you shouldn't either.  So waddle on over to SW and fill up your ereader before the stroke of midnight on Saturday, March 10th.

I'll admit to enjoying checking out my horoscope as cast by Jonathan Cainer.  BTW, I'm a Leo.  Too bad there's not a duck in the Zodiac. I'd have to change my birthday to get that sign!

Anyway, late yesterday I was checking Mr. Cainer's horoscope reading for today to see if it was going to be as tough as most of the days have been lately.  Cainer says Leos have been having a rough time because Mars has been boogling through our sign.  Thank goodness mean ole' Mars exits Leo at the end of the month because I've had about enough of him.

In the horoscope I just read Mr. Cainer was referring to this Friday's date.  If you check your calendar, you'll see that 11.11.11 is the date on Friday.  And according to Mr. Cainer, lots of folks think 11.11.11 is the day we can re-boot our lives. It's interesting to consider, isn't it? 

When I consider something, I Google it and when I googled this, I ran across  Numerologist's Nam Hari Kaur Khalsa's thoughts on the significance of 11.11.11.  Mr. Khalsa says as follows:

The date of 11.11.11 is one of the most powerful shifts in human awareness that we will experience in our lifetime. It is a rare opportunity to release lifetimes of karmic scripting and ancestral entrapment. Entrapment in the sense of the conscious and unconscious habit patterns which have us wondering why we can’t seem to actualize the life we really want to have, and know is possible. 11-11-11 is the cosmic birth date of humanities prayer for liberation from the rote, mundane, and monotonous. Many people are presently feeling, “I can’t go on like this anymore, I just can’t live like this another day.” 

And Mr. Khalsa says that Eleven is the sound current of infinity.  He suggests that "Eleven is the sound current of Infinity, and sound is one of the most powerful ways we can heal ourselves. Mantras contain a frequency of sound which is a healing force that is available to us all."

Mr. Khalsa suggests we channel the energy of the day by chanting a "Magic Mantra":   

There is one Creator of all Creation.  All is a blessing of the One Creator.  This realization comes through Guru's Grace.

The numerologist says  this is the “magic mantra” because it "can shift the flow of the psyche so powerfully that new opportunities seem to materialize out of nowhere."

Wouldn't you love a chance to re-boot your life?  For me, a re-boot would be having an opportunity to write full time.  When I'm writing and my muse is with me I feel like I'm channeling thunder.  I don't know if chanting the mantra will be magic or not, but why not try some possible magic?

I wish everyone a happy re-boot on 11.11.11!!!!!!!!!!!(11 exclamation points. I might as well make the most of the current of infinity.)

We've made it over the hump in a short week.  If I perch on my tippytoes I can just make out the weekend - getting closer every second.

Why are short weeks so much busier than long weeks?  Crises and deadlines wait for the short weeks.  I picture them behaving a little like the faeries in some of my historicals - plotting to pop in at the very worst time.

In honor of our having made it over the hump, I give you a link to the movie - Lord Love A Duck.  And yeah, there's even a quacking duck in the theme song. I've already asked my DH to download the song on the USB stick. It's full of oldies from the real era of music - the 70s to the 80s. I boogle down the road in my little red PT Cruiser, bopping to the beat of the same music that inspires my muse.

This movie has Roddy McDowell and Tuesday Weld. Can't believe I'd never heard of it before!  But any movie smart enough to pay tribute to ducks in its title and theme song gets my vote.  I'll have to watch the whole thing - sometime.  I stay pretty busy between the full time day job and the writing that is trying to grow up into a full time job.

So, without further ado - turn up your speakers and click for : 

Lord Love A Duck

Quack on over to the All Day, All Night Writing Diva's blog.  The post up today (8/17) is mine.  It was inspired by comments from a reviewer on Amazon saying that based on the book's cover, she thought it was something appropriate for a younger crowd - something with a lower heat level. 

Pop by and tell me whether in the virtual bookstore era a cover has an obligation to illustrate the heat level for the book.

I'm hoping the answer will be NO.  Or perhaps, H..E..Double Hockey Sticks..NO!

My Blog is Up over at All Day, All Night ... Romance Divas.  It's the other place insane enough to let the Duck Lady swim over and give a Quack Out on a regular basis.

This month, I'm blogging about Sexism.  I discuss the Fall Network TV Schedules and the insidious Anti-Romance articles popping up lately.  Is there a connection? 

Put on your tinfoil hat, pop over and leave a comment.

My blogging insanity is at an ebb today because I dug down deep and cranked out A GOOD ONE for All Day, All Night, Romance Diva's -the Marianne's Blog. That post will be out and about on the 18th - which begins a minute after the stroke of midnight tonight.  Yeah, you should absolutely stay up to read it.  Yeah, it's that good.  I'll post a link on this blog for sure and after it comes down at ADAN later this week, I'll repost it here.  It bears repeating.

But what would the weekend be without a dose of QA insanity?  This week, the witty, wonderful wierdos on Twitter - myself included - participated in a fun # (hashtag).  Some of the ones I particularly liked appear below.  To check them all out, go on Twitter and enter the hashtag in the search.  Of course, you should IMMEDIATELY FOLLOW ALL THESE FOLKS -  


@angeldodger  "I want your clothes, your boots and your Duck."

@valsadie  "Don't ask me about my Duck, Kay."

@_jax_  "A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a Duck." - Mark Twain.

@rodwinery  "Power corrupts. Absolute Duck corrupts absolutely."  Lord Acton.

@Im_bonafide  "Ask not what your Duck can do for you. Ask what you can do for your duck."

@amirhalbakri  "All for one & Duck for all."

@SarahBurnett  "The rumors of his Duck have been greatly exaggerated."

 @Perry_e  "Another one bites the Duck."

@taguan  "You want the Duck? You can't handle the Duck."

@quackingalone  "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a duck."

@xunes  "Duck the halls with boughs of holly."

@RichardWiegold  "A large Duck is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of."  Jane Austen.

@zelda_pinwheel  "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the Duck."

@edovebragg "The first rule of Duck Club is: you do not talk about Duck Club."

@sboulton  "I'll make him a Duck he can't refuse."

@KillBen10  "They may take our lives, but they will never take our Ducks."

@YesYvonne  "You shall know the Duck and the Duck will set you free."

@demeIza2  "All the world's a stage and all the Men and Women merely Ducks."

@jarnoglenn  "I get by with a little help from my Duck."

@WJKrembi  "You're going to need a bigger Duck."

Again, the hashtag is full of teh funny, and I've only repeated a few of 'em above.  Go forth and check them out and the next time a funny hashtag is trending, play along!

Just a quick update b/c I didn't blog this weekend. I was busy working on Duke of Eden - so I know my fans will forgive me.

I almost finished Duke this weekend - I've made it to the closing scene. So I hope to get 'er done this week and hit the press with Part 3 by the weekend - at the latest. The full book will follow after a "full" edit.

So all you DUKE OF EDEN fans keep your eyes on this blog. You'll find out here first when Part 3 goes to press.