When Did Being a Republican Become… THIS?

I’ve known Republicans all my life.

Family members. Neighbors. Select friends. Workmates. Maybe even a boyfriend or two. And though my parents were Chicago-bred liberals, and I was most definitely raised with the political sensibilities of the “big tent” Democratic Party, I can’t remember a time when Republicans—their brand, their image, their policies and platforms; their mission, their words and deeds—were something that would make you grab the children and run screaming from the room.

Until now.

We all remember the old Republican Party, grand or otherwise. It was a party that used to stand for small government and free enterprise, with fewer regulations and lower taxes. It promoted fiscal responsibility, ideals of self-reliance and individuality, with a focus on family values and law and order. It emphasized national pride and valor, while supporting notions of human and civil rights, and peace and freedom throughout the world. In fact, it positioned itself as the “grown-up” party of conservative values, certainly in comparison to the freewheeling, wildly diverse, and politically liberal Democrats.

And they pulled it off for a while. At least some version of that idealized branding. They were able to wrap themselves in bright, shiny purpose and actually make their constituents feel that those mandates were being honored. Some Republicans became political stars: Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt; Eisenhower. More recently, Ronald Reagan was a Republican who made them swoon. Despite his background as a “lowly actor,” his paternalistic—sometimes bumbling—oration; despite the Iran-Contra scandal, his lack of action on the civil rights and AIDS crises, even when evidence of his dementia became clear, they called him “The Great Communicator,” and his name was invoked by any member of the party who wanted to be seen as comparable in the slightest. A likeable, admirable Republican. Hey, even Bush Jr., whose administration was a clusterfuck of corruption, graft, and what some would frame as actual war crimes, was often referenced as someone “you’d like to have a beer with.”

Then came Trump.

The chaos and corruption that was imagined in the fever dreams of every single person who worked their ass off to see that he was not elected have now come screaming to life in full, horrifying, three-dimensional color. And in the months and years of his almost unfathomably toxic administration, the Republican Party has devolved into a thing so unrecognizable, so pandering and capitulating, so crass and enabling of crassness, that Ronald Reagan is quite possibly rolling over in his grave.

When did being a Republican become engaging in corrupt, criminal, even traitorous activities with foreign adversaries to win elections?

When did being a Republican become wearing a red hat intended to signal bigotry, ignorance, and “fear of other”?

When did being a Republican become impugning, insulting, and negating our national intelligence, justice, and law enforcement agents and agencies?

When did being a Republican become ignoring your constituency to pander to the petulant demands of the executive branch?

When did being a Republican become embracing, enabling, and propagating verifiable lies in an effort to win favor with a corrupt president?

When did being a Republican become running up the budget deficit nearly 50% in only 2+ years?

When did being a Republican become handing welfare (paid by taxpayers) to farmers after imposing tariffs that gutted them, gifting tax relief to the wealthiest among us, and doing everything possible to dismantle a healthcare system that actually works for the people who need it most?

When did being a Republican become disseminating lies, slander, insults, and ignorance on social media, emulating a POTUS who’s lowered every standard of decorum and decency?

When did being a Republican become ignoring protocols and rules set up by your own party to, instead, spuriously attack and defame the opposition?

When did being a Republican become dismissing the party leader’s stated declarations of sexual harassment and assault, while concurrently ignoring the legion of credible women who’ve accused him of the same?

When did being a Republican become agreeing with, sharing, even finding humor in vile, ugly name-calling by the man our children should look up to but cannot?

When did being a Republican become turning a blind eye to the inhumanity of caging asylum-seeking refugees, kidnapping their children, breaking up their families, and denying them legal rights?

When did being a Republican become advancing discrimination against Muslims, Mexicans, LGBTQ, people of color, women, and immigrants?

When did being a Republican become openly embracing white supremacists, Nazis, KKK, racists and bigots who see “America first!” as a battle cry for white nationalism?

When did being a Republican become insulting war heroes, dismissing the needs of vets, and treating national security like a dangerous and badly played game of “Risk”?

When did being a Republican become cozying up to inhumane dictators, even comparing them favorably to former presidents?

When did being a Republican become cowardice, spinelessness; an inability to speak truth frankly, or stand up for integrity and honor?

When did being a Republican become supporting, enabling, complying with, or otherwise propping up the most corrupt, inept person who’s ever been in the Oval Office?

When did being a Republican become something shameful?

Any group, certainly any political party, has its share of criminals, hooligans, fools, idiots, and the ethically challenged. I mean… Anthony Weiner. But as I watched Matt Gaetz and his Mindless Minions march in self-righteous lockstep to disrupt and violate a private impeachment hearing in a secure room, and listened as he and his cabal spewed nonsense about “secrecy” and “lack of transparency,” maligning the very respectable Adam Schiff as a Machiavellian purveyor of nefarious intent all while pretending to forget (or consciously ignoring) the fact that Trey Gowdy himself—the Wag of Benghazi Street—stated that the procedure was proceeding exactly as it should and in compliance with rules that, yes, REPUBLICANS put in place, I saw a Republican Party that had devolved to the very worst of human weakness, corruption, arrogance, and stupidity.

But it’s every day I see a Republican Party willing to ignore facts, lie with zeal,  break laws, gaslight constituents, flout norms and protocols, demean and mudsling with the prattles of insecure bullies tap-dancing either at the behest of the Fool on the Hill or to gain his approval and acceptance. And every day I realize this party is no more.

It’s not “grand,” it’s not even “old,” because the Republican Party of yore is gone. The one that exists today is a mutant version of what came before, and until the snarling head of that beast has been removed, either by impeachment or election, this party will continue to metastasize into a dark, corrupt thing unrecognizable to the two-hundred-and-forty-three-years of Republicans who came before.

Until then, rethink, America. We have a country to save.

Photographs in order:
Jorgen Haland, Roya Ann Miller & Jon Tyson, all on Unsplash

Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Book Review: After the Sucker Punch (With Soundtrack)


After stepping away from book promotion for a while, I’d almost forgotten the process of getting reader feedback to my work: that anticipation of knowing a review has been written and wondering, “How did it hit them? Did they get my story? Did it move them, strike a chord?” So, to open my Facebook page this morning and find the link to this lyrical, poetic review of a book that meant so much to me to write is… well, it reminds me of WHY we write.

Thank you, Lisl Zlitni, for taking the time to read, to enjoy, and write your beautiful and deeply thoughtful review of my work. I cannot tell you how moved I am. I will float through the rest of my day!

Photo Art by Brenda Perlin

before the second sleep

After the Sucker Punch

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

by Lorraine Devon Wilke

Perceptions can be tricky animals, especially when filtered secondhand, even more so when they involve those closest to us. What happens when we find out that what we thought others thought—of us—is way off base? That actually the reflections they’d been silently entertaining along the way were rather negative? The kicker: what if that person was our parent?


Tessa Curzio’s situation goes one step further in that she discovers her father’s dismal judgments about her after he has already passed away and she can no longer ask him about it. In fact, After the Sucker Punch opens with Tessa reading his previously-journaled words reaching out to slap her with a hurt as fresh as the grave the family had lowered him into just hours before. It’s a sucker punch that she knows not only re-writes the past, but also…

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Honored By ‘Honorable Mention’ Win in THE MAINE REVIEW


Literary journals are like boxes of treasure. Poems, essays, memoir pieces, fiction… the best of the best coming together to regale readers with myriad choices created by some of the most thoughtful, inventive writers around.

I entered a piece of mine, “The Mother of My Reinvention,” into the Rocky Coast Writing Contest sponsored by The Maine Review, and was honored to have it awarded as an “Honorable Mention” (or “the runner up,” as wonderful Maine Review editor, Katherine Mayfield, framed it!). Which, of course, truly is an honor, particularly given the number and quality of submissions made. 

Excerpt from “The Mother of My Reinvention”:

Tucked in her lift chair, chilled and uneasy, she waits for tea and dry toast to calm her daily quarrel with queasiness and hunger. With a raised eyebrow and sardonic grin, she remarks, “It ain’t easy gettin’ old.” I commiserate, but she dismisses my empathy; tells me I’m too young to understand. I don’t bother to correct her.

She’s tired, though she’s been in bed since breakfast. It’s a long day by two o’clock, and not necessarily a good one. Though there are good ones: days when she plays cards, sings along with glee, or gets to video Mass in the community room. She still relishes her three squares and always brightens at the sight of chocolate. She’s now in a wheelchair full-time but loves a roll around the park. She’s almost eighty-five, a widow for fifteen years, and a diagnosed Alzheimer’s patient for five.

She is my mother.

I left home—and her—a long time ago. I left hard and fast, no quibbling or weepy boomeranging. My mother refers to this as, “when you ran away,” which isn’t far from the truth. It had been a challenging childhood.

I am a third child, the third girl in a family of eleven children. My two older sisters and I, by virtue of gender and birth order, became “little mommies” for smaller, younger siblings while we were still smaller, younger siblings ourselves. And though being in charge of an infant at six-years-old is, perhaps, too steep a curve, the responsibility did promote skills found useful later in life. I not only learned to change diapers, feed babies, and wrangle toddlers, I became adept at making meals, doing laundry, and running interference for a mercurial and confounding mother. And that was before I got to high school.

By the time I did get to high school, I was bone-weary of family and desperate to fly. Somewhere. Anywhere. Graduation couldn’t come quick enough and my departure for college was so swift, high school friends claim I never even said good-bye. I don’t remember; I was moving too fast. I came home the summer after freshman year, but by next, I was gone for good. My first apartment was a hideous ninety-dollar-a-month single with lousy furniture and a stuttering landlady, but it may as well have been heaven.

It wasn’t just the weight of trading too much childhood for “little mommy-hood.” It wasn’t just the burden of my parents’ religion with its restrictive views of human interaction (i.e., boys and sex). It wasn’t even that one-on-one time in a big family was too spare to be satisfying. It was that I couldn’t find an honest way to consistently and compassionately tolerate my mother.

She was a paradox. One minute clever and creative, the next enraged and irrational. She was impossible to predict and easy to trigger. She loved music, did a mean jitterbug, and had a wildly romantic relationship with the handsome man who was my father. She could make any day a holiday, taught us that fun was our birthright, and, oh, she loved with a passion. All this provided the good that pushed against the other. Her dark side. The turbulent state that came with frenzied tears, cold silences, or rages that scattered us like terrified animals.  

As a child, I would tremble at the sound of her stomping down stairs to mete out punishments I could never seem to avoid. She would be physical, vocal, and unrelenting, and when control snapped and life got the best of her, everyone suffered.  

She tried; I believe she sincerely tried, but she was undeniably overwhelmed by a family too large to manage, a husband often too detached to meet her emotional needs, and a psyche too fragile to offer the flexibility and endurance required by the job.

So when I left, I stayed away and kept her away. She and my father didn’t meet my husband until years after we eloped and I’d already given birth to a son. They were that distant and I was that intractable.

But life is surprising….

[To continue reading, go HEREAnd THANK YOU!]

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Hopping On the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop: The Little Drummer Boy, Old and New


Growing up Catholic in a small midwestern town meant the traditions of our most universal holidays were a mix of sacred and secular. Easter came not only with the solemnity and pomp of Lent and Easter Mass, but the joy of bunnies and baskets of jelly beans and pastel boiled eggs. Halloween surely meant costumes and voluminous bags of treats, but the prayers and patronage of All Saints’ Day that followed were also demanded. And, of course, the big ticket item, Christmas, began with Advent calendars and candles lit during the four weeks before, to be accompanied later by a house festooned with Santas, reindeer, and every kind of snowman, snowflake, and Christmas tree.

Christmas also meant carols: the holy kind— “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful,” “Joy To the World,” “Oh, Holy Night”—and the not-so-holy—”Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bells,” and the rest. I loved them all. The lyrics inspired every range of holiday spirit, the harmonies evoked joy in shared vocal expression, and the melodies stirred emotion and nostalgia whenever heard. That remains true even now.

But there was one certain carol that touched my soul like no other. The almost mournful tone, the somber melody with its repetitive “pa rum pum pum pum.” When “The Little Drummer Boy” began playing in the rotation of stacked Christmas records, my siblings and I would respond almost universally: we’d stop whatever we were doing and start singing along, a chorus of voices in honor of Christmas and that little boy with a drum.

Why this one song over any other? I don’t know, but to this day it gives me a shiver of nostalgia.

So it was with great delight when, three years ago, long after record players were retired and we’d gone from albums to cassettes to CDs to iTunes to streaming music, my brother showed up at our holiday celebration with two vintage LPs of this beloved song; the original recordings, with the memorable album cover, sung by the Harry Simeone Chorale.


Just looking at that cover brought back so many poignant and visceral memories, but it was listening to it (on an accompanying CD!) that transported both my brother and I back to our little house in Illinois, with its warm rooms decked in Christmas finery and the gaggle of siblings leaping about, singing “pa rum pump pum pum” full throttle.

Starting that year, I began using one album cover as part of my own Christmas decorations; the other I brought to my mother’s room at the Alzheimer’s facility where she lives, bedazzling her room to remind her of family Christmases and the song that was a favorite throughout our growing up. When she saw the album cover tucked amongst the basket of her other decorations, she squinted her eyes and asked, “What is that picture there, the one behind the snowman?”

I pulled it out and showed it to her. “Tom found it; it’s the album cover for our favorite Christmas song, ‘The Little Drummer Boy.’ Do you remember?”

She said she didn’t, but, then, she doesn’t remember much of anything from the past these days. I just smiled and said, “No worries, Mom, maybe it’ll come to you later,” as she sat back in her wheelchair, enjoying her rather large chocolate Santa. Yet, as I was cleaning up, packing ribbons and red paper into my bag, I slowly started singing: “Come, they told me…” and in her scratchy, dissonant, but always-enthusiastic singing voice, she suddenly popped up in her chair, eyes bright, intoning loudly and in perfect time, “… pa rum pum pum pum!”

It seems some things never completely leave you.

Little Drummer Boy_mom room

Back at my own house, as I listen, once again, to those pitched voices and the vocal drumbeat droning rhythmically behind, I can’t help but be filled with the ache of nostalgia: remembering my father, who made backyard ice rinks, and “Bishop” punch, and every Christmas so special; remembering the excitement and creativity of my ten siblings, who turned every holiday into an event, and, mostly, remembering my once-vibrant mother, who loved music, loved Christmas, and loved hearing her children sing. My brother and I will be sure to get over to her room during the holiday to sing a few “pa rum pum pum pums” for her. In harmony, all the verses, as we always did… 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Being the contemporary girl I am, I wanted to share both my beloved original version, as well as a most modern one by a favorite group of mine. Enjoy… and Merry Christmas!

The original version:

The Pentatonix:

And for those who’d appreciate a little extra Drummer Boy trivia, there’s always its page at Wikipedia!

NOW STAY ONBOARD: The next stop on the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop is tomorrow, December 12 with Valerie Biel.

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

That Universal Yearning: How Finding Love Became the Theme of HYSTERICAL LOVE


An interviewer asked me recently about the themes I most often employ in my writing, mentioning that love and family were central pivots around which both my novels spun. She wondered why those two themes so resonated with me, and I told her it was simply because they’re the most universal themes in all of life. Regardless of circumstance, ethnicity, social status, or any of the other qualifying ways in which we define and divide life, we all have family and we all want love. Even Edward longed for his Bella and he was a vampire!

When I started writing Hysterical Love, my second novel, the story evolved in a way that made it a companion piece to my first, After The Sucker Punch. While very different stories in terms of tone, plot, storyline, and protagonist, both involve thirty-something people reacting to the words of their fathers. But where Tessa, of my first novel, was most involved in rediscovering who she was—and who she was to her deceased father—Dan’s journey in Hysterical Love is all about love; sweet, elusive, maddening love.

And it’s an exploration of love on many levels: not just the heady lust and passion of new love that’s so often the driving force of drama, but the longer-term love of Dan’s three-year relationship with Jane (his very-soon-to-be-ex-fiancée); the lifetime love of his parents married for forty years; even the fleeting love of youth described in a fifty-year-old story written by his father. His roommate, Bob, revels in love’s abundance, his workmate, Zoey, can’t seem to find it, his sister, Lucy, is convinced it’s all about soul mates. But it’s when his father has a stroke and hovers near death, mumbling the name of the woman from the fifty-year-old story, that Dan is struck by the realization of another kind of love: love unrequited.

Given the strains and struggles of his parents’ cranky, utterly unromantic marriage, the story of his father’s aching first love of fifty years earlier overwhelms Dan’s imagination. And when he hears his comatose father mumble the name of the woman from the story, he’s struck by an unrestrainable urge to go find her, convinced she holds answers to his many questions about love.

So Dan sets off on an untimely and ill-conceived road trip to Oakland, CA, where the woman was last located, determined to change the course of his and his father’s lives. While on that tumultuous journey, he not only questions every aspect of his life, he’s faced with defining a whole new level of love when he meets the gorgeous, intriguing Fiona, a woman surely formed from someone’s fantasy. She appears as if sent from the gods to help in his quest and, in doing so, takes his breath away, forcing him to face his own definition of the elusive emotion.

But it’s the one-two punch of the plot’s unfolding—the reality of the woman he’s searching for, and Jane’s unexpected arrival to win his heart back, that forces love, an urgent pull both life-giving and soul shattering, to be most deeply examined.

For any adult who’s experienced the roller-coaster ride inherent in our human urge to connect and find affection, Dan’s story, and that of his parents, his fiancée, his workmates, his roommate, even Fiona, will surely resonate. He’s led to new thoughts, new realizations, and some painful, if undeniable, conclusions about the many faces love wears, and, in ways he couldn’t have imagined at the start of his story, he finds life altered accordingly.  

The true testament to the power of love… 

Photoart by Brenda Perlin

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Other Humans Are Just Different Genres, Labelled Badly

I love the way book blogger Tara Sparling thinks, and her take on recent events, seen through the filter of books and wise humor, is a good one to share.


Tara Sparling writes

Imagine that you are a writer of romance. Sometimes steamy, sometimes so heart-breaking that grown men in their forties have scowled at you on the street.

Then, imagine that all the people who don’t regularly buy books – which, in case you don’t know, is a far larger number than the book-buying public – think that every single book in the romance genre, including yours, is the exact same as Fifty Shades Of Grey.

If that means nothing to you, let’s say, then, that you are a parent. You are but one out of billions of parents around the world. However, let’s say the biggest cultural event in parenting this year is the blockbuster Mommie Dearest. Suddenly, all non-parental people think that you behave like the titular Mommie. Whenever they see you, they shield their dogs (and it’s nothing to do with your sheepskin gilet).

Last week I was riding high on a

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Want To Help Inspire Kids To Read? I’ve Got Just the Way To Do It

Brilliant Books banner

If you are alive and aware in the year 2015, you know that one of the most common complaints articulated is how technology has surpassed all other avenues of entertainment for “today’s youth.” Likely every parent, teacher, mentor, writer has made note of this cultural evolution (devolution?), and while most would claim no antipathy for technology itself (many quite happily using it to their own advantage), there is a general sense that proper balance between the tugging mediums has yet to be found.

Which prompts the question: Is there a way for kids to learn and engage with technology without losing the glorious and countless benefits of reading actual books? As any book-reading/loving adult who concurrently loves the Internet can attest: YES! But first you’ve got to inspire a love of books and reading, and that’s not easily done in the cacophony of ever-more-seductive screens. 

Access All Areas SelfieMark Barry, a Nottingham UK native who also happens to be an incredible writer and novelist (two of his books, Carla and The Night Porter, are top faves of mine!), is the co-founder of a brilliant organization called, quite appropriately, Brilliant Books (you can read all about it HERE).  This organization’s sole mission is to create access to, and interest in, books… books that children are then inspired to read. Books that are put into the hands of children who might not otherwise have them. But Mark and his partner, Phil Pidluznyj, don’t just leave it there:

Essentially, Brilliant Books go into schools with successful people in tow; people who credit their success in careers, etc. because they read fiction as children and continue to read.

In two hours, they give an inspirational talk, then help us work with up to twenty children, in small groups, mostly reluctant readers, each writing a short story. 

IMG_0006Finally, after eight weeks, the stories are collected in an anthology which is presented to the kids in front of their peers, so they essentially become published authors at between 10 and 14.

Pretty amazing idea, isn’t it?

Obviously, there is a need for this sort of activity in millions of schools around the world, and if you’re interested in organizing just such a group in your area, much info and inspiration can be drawn from reading what Brilliant Books is doing.

Another way you can help is from afar: by purchasing Access All Areas, a sweet little short story anthology Mark put together as a fundraising gift.

Gathering many of his favorite authors (including, humbly, yours truly!), he gave the prompt to “focus on the magic of books and reading,” inviting writers to share stories about what inspired them as readers, what sparked their passion for words; what contributed to their love affair with books. The proceeds of this anthology, now on sale in both e-book and paperback at Amazon, will go directly toward much-needed items for Brilliant Books.

Access All Areas

If you ‘d like to know more about the authors involved, Mark has shared a bit about each in  Meet The Team From Access All Areas. A great group I’m happy to be a part of.

But the biggest call-to-action here is BUY THE BOOK!

Because this one’s not about raising the profile of any specific author, or participating in a push to get Amazon rankings up, or a contest won. It’s about spending a few dollars on a lovely collection of stories, all written for the purpose of getting — and keeping — kids interested in reading. As Mark always says:  “A society that doesn’t read is a poorer one than one that does.”


Amazon UK Customers can buy the E-book HERE
Amazon.Com/US Customers Can Buy the E-Book HERE


Amazon UK Customers Can Buy The Paperback HERE
Amazon.Com/US Customers Can Buy The Paperback HERE

THANK YOU and enjoy the read!

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Beautiful Covers…some thoughts on the topic by JJ Marsh

JJ Marsh




I have a thing about book covers. They’re not only the initial calling card of a book and its author, they are the art, the statement, the quality, that sets the tone for, hopefully, what follows within.

I’m sharing this piece by JJ Marsh because I think she hit the point on the head, about both the covers she features in her piece, as well as the article she references with their own examples. Interesting comparisons. And, yes, to each his own, but why not make the first statement of your book be a thing of beauty and intrigue?


This week, I spotted an article by Bookbub on eight trends for covers that sell books.

The key elements to lure readers? Animals, beaches, seasonal themes, friendship/sisterhood, shirtless men, great photography, chicklit glitter and cute kids.

Sure, I get that. Certain readers will buy stuff that guarantees satisfaction – stuff that does what it says on the tin. Yet I scrolled through those covers and not one appealed to me. No surprise there. I loathe anything mawkish or sentimental, rarely read chicklit/romance/erotica and I’m drawn to covers which promise beauty, intelligence, new ideas and experiences.

I know very little about design, but as a reader, I do judge books by their covers. Never one to keep my opinions to myself, here are ten indie-published covers which appealed to my own personal predelictions. In no particular order, this is my own subjective beauty parade with links to the designers.


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Sharing An Editor’s Perspective On the Quality Debate: Meet Jamie Chavez

Jamie Chavez
Jamie Chavez’s Blog Banner

As one who is hellbent on making sure my points, my theses, are all thoroughly clear and understood, I find that when evidence suggests I’ve not succeeded, I occasionally go overboard with “clarifications,” addendums, updated material, etc., in a quest to correct the problem. What I discover is, more often than not, there really is no problem, just the dissent of those who do not share my opinion (sometimes with horribly bad manners!). So when a tweeting follower sent me an article that supported a controversial theme I covered recently, I paid attention.

When I published Dear Self-Published Author: Do NOT Write Four Books a Year, a strongly worded (I’ll admit 🙂 ) opinion piece about the “quality vs. quantity” debate that inspired prodigious pushback from angry writers, I considered that I’d taken, perhaps, too broad a brushstroke about who ought to publish in volume (those who vigilantly take the time and care to put out excellent work regardless of how often) vs. those who shouldn’t (anyone who doesn’t). But no amount of clarification would mollify the angry mobs who found my theory heinous, so I left it where I could and got on with my life.

Jamie Chavez

Then this article was sent my way, That’s Not Writing–It’s Typing, and I felt the writer, developmental editor/writer, Jamie Chavez, not only echoed some version of my thesis, but very possibly did a better job of articulating the issues. Have a read:

A good friend of mine proofs for a small firm that publishes category romances. Her social media commentary about it is hilarious (and most of it unprintable in a family blog like this one, though recently I learned the word throbbing, among others, is currently out of fashion in the romance novel biz).

It’s a time-honored, legitimate publishing endeavor, the writing of romances—and whether they are PG or sexy or hard-core, there’s a huge fan base of smart, savvy romance readers out there. Don’t believe me? Check out the Smart Bitches Trashy Books website, which has been doing a booming review business for ten years now.

If you’re a writer, then, this is a huge market you might want to tap, n’est-ce pas?

Oui. As Entertainment Weekly notes, “Romance novels were once the book world’s dirty little secret. No more. Thanks in part to e-readers and Fifty Shades of Grey, they’re now the hottest fiction genre going.” Even Jane Friedman, to whose blog I subscribe, wrote a piece about a highly successful self-published author, Bella Andre, and what other writers could learn from her path to success.

Who is this Bella Andre? I wondered. EW says,

In 2010 Bella Andre was dropped by Random House after her firefighter romance series failed to generate sales. She’d spent the previous seven years shuffling between publishers, and now it seemed that her career was over. … Some friends and romance readers encouraged the writer to self-publish. So in July 2010 she uploaded the fittingly titled Love Me—a sequel that her then publisher, Simon & Schuster, had never wanted to put out. She sent personal notes to every fan who’d ever contacted her during her career, urging them to seek out the new book on Amazon. “I probably made $8,000 that month, which was bigger than the advance of $5,000 I’d been offered by Plume, and I retained all the rights,” she says. Five months later she self-published another sequel, and within weeks she became the first self-published author to hit the top 25 on Barnes & Noble’s Nook best-seller list, selling 1,000 books a day.

I didn’t know that when I read Friedman’s piece, though. So I looked up this woman’s best-selling books. They must be good, I thought. And I bought one, in spite of the dreadful cover. (That should have been my first clue.)

Continue reading full article….

Excellent piece. Excellent points. Thank you, Jamie, for your wise, experienced, and useful contribution to the debate.  

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Death By EL James… a take from Tara Sparling

Tara Sparling

And now for a complete change of pace: some Fifty Shades of Grey silliness from one of my favorite bloggers. Enjoy the many interpretive imaginings of this iconic tome, pulled from the depths of Sparling’s stylistic playbook….

And be sure to go check out the rest of her blog at Tara Sparling Writes. She’s easily one of the funniest, most observant commenters about the writing scene around. 

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Tara Sparling writes

When I threatened to kill a bunny by reading it EL James’ Grey until it ran headlong and arse-ways into traffic, some thought me callous. Some thought me justified, because the furry little gits give them nightmares. Someone else coined the phrase “Death by EL James”, which immediately sounded to me like a great story title.

So without further ado, here are not one, but five – count ’em! – five different versions, in five different genres, of Death By EL James. (I have yet to take action on the bunny – it all depends on whether you’ll vote for me in the 2015 Irish Blog Awards here and here before September 21st. Just sayin’)

Death By EL James

1. Literal

Oh, my! she thought, as he came with the knife. Was he going to stab her? She’d never been stabbed before. But she was sure it would be delicious. It was a very large and magnificent knife. She was sure none of the…

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