i’ve hit the Big Time.

That’s right, folks.  I’m Big Enough (or little enough?) to get plagiarized.

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Poor, plagiarized Madman…

Someone, and I won’t name names at this moment (because I have already lodged a copyright infringement complaint with Amazon and I’m hoping this plagiarized book will be taken down soon), has taken the entire text of The Madman and thrown it up on Amazon with a new title and cover.  Selling it for exactly the same amount as I am.

Several questions arise.

First, why choose a book five deep into a series?  Or, if you consider the Wolf Point prequels as a separate series, it’s still the second book.  Like, did they even read the work they were plagiarizing?  They haven’t plagiarized any other books in the series, and didn’t bother to even change the characters’ names.  The Madman doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  There are references to the characters in almost every other book in the series.  Never mind that the first chapter is an alternate-viewpoint retelling of the last chapter of The Beast.

Second, did they really expect to make money off of this?  The book is actually free on Smashwords, and by extension sites like Barnes & Noble, and I’ve had 60 downloads in the 3 weeks it’s been available.  Zero actual sales over at Amazon.  I’m honestly not understanding what the thought process is here.  Maybe try ripping off a bestseller?  But yeah, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the plagiarized book was published on the day The Madman was made available on Smashwords (a day later than it was available on Amazon).

I’m confident that I will be able to prove my case should it come to that.  I’m just more annoyed that it even happened.  Apparently, according to this article, Amazon doesn’t have screening software that is anywhere close to other self-publishing distributors like Smashwords or Scribd. And this article talks about how profitable it is for people to plagiarize works on Kindle.  Even if Amazon eventually takes them down, the “authors” can make thousands of dollars before that, and the original author won’t see any of that money unless they pursue a lawsuit.  The examples here aren’t even as blatant as the plagiarism of my book (and the author did the same word-for-word plagiarism of almost all the other novels listed on her Amazon author page).  The article indicates that because Amazon takes 30% of the profit from Kindle book sales, they get more profit from leaving up these plagiarized works (this other article says the same thing).

This whole thing seems ludicrous to me.  I want to laugh at the title and new cover – literally, there’s a werewolf standing atop a bloody stagecoach (which never happens in the book).  The author has about six books, all from different genres.  But the more I looked into it, the more this plagiarism thing is a huge scam that is actually paying off for people.  It’s bad enough that someone would take a self-published work, which isn’t making any money to begin with.  But a lot of plagiarists seem to take from fanfiction and other freely posted writing (for example, from Litrotica), and these works aren’t as safe in their copyrights as even a self-published book would be.

All I want is for people to read what I’m writing – which is why most of my ebooks are freely available and I run a lot of promos.  I’d rather have people reading my work than making a profit.  I have work posted on fanfiction.net, Archive of Our Own, figment.com, and Wattpad.  All of which could be plagiarized at any time.  Like it isn’t hard to enough to be a writer.

P.S. I first heard about the plagiarism last night, and filed a complaint almost immediately.  As I was writing this post I went to check and thankfully, the book has been removed!  I hope the other books under this author’s name (Elsa N. Neuman) are also removed.  In case anyone has found their own work plagiarized, Amazon has a form for that.  You just need the ASIN for the offending work.  I also included the ASIN for my own work.

P.P.S. And 45 minutes after posting this, all of Elsa N. Neuman’s works have been removed from Amazon.  Victory!

 

what is it about slow covers of happy songs in horror movie trailers?

It’s a trend that has been going on for years.  A slowed-down version of a song played during a horror movie trailer.  The slowness of the normally happy tune throws you off, and suddenly the song’s lyrics sound creepy.  Recently, I saw a trailer for A Cure for Wellness (2017):

Took me a minute, but I finally recognized the song as “I Wanna Be Sedated” by the Ramones.  The song is covered by Benjamin Wallfisch and features Mirel Wagner on vocals.  A song that is normally frenetic, about simultaneously hurrying around and being bored, now applies to patients undergoing some mysterious surgery and takes a dark new twist.

For some reason this led me on a hunt to find all those other horror movies featuring slow covers of songs.  I came up with:

Last House on the Left (2009) features a cover of the Guns ‘n’ Roses song “Sweet Child O’Mine” by Taken by Trees.  The trailer punctuates the rather upbeat cover version with dramatic drum stops, but keeps the upbeat feel of it as clips of the parents getting bloody revenge for their “sweet child” play.

Lorde’s cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” in the Dracula Untold (2014) trailer isn’t actually that much slower than the original, and the song is both lyrically fitting and super dramatic.

Victor Frankenstein (2015) uses an only slightly slower version of the Doors’ “Break on Through” by Josh Mobley.  Oddly enough, it isn’t the slowness but the guitar riff that really matches up with the feel of this movie.  It’s a bizarre version of the Frankenstein story that starts with Igor working in a circus.

The Nirvana classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” graces the trailer for The Gallows (2015).  The cover version, by Think Up Anger ft. Malia J. may have been chosen because it’s a teen slasher flick.  Or maybe because of that line, “Here we are now, entertainers,” because they’re all in drama club?

“Every breath you take… I’ll be watching you…” The extremely slowed down cover of the classic Police song in the Blair Witch (2016) trailer is covered by… Pia Ashley?  I think?  There’s no official recording.  But it’s certainly creepy enough – suddenly a love song has become one about stalking.  Or maybe that’s what it was about in the first place.

The Pride and Prejudice, and Zombies (2016) trailer features a cover of “Born to Be Wild” (by J2 ft. Blu Holliday) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, lyrics-wise.  Or tone-wise.  But since this film is a mash-up of classic literature and zombie gore, I suppose it works on that level.

2009 is really the earliest movie I could find that had a slow cover song in the trailer, but I have to give a shout out to a couple of cover songs in horror movies that weren’t in the trailers: Gary Jules’ cover of “Mad World” from Donnie Darko (2001), and Richard Cheese’s cover of “Down with the Sickness” from the end credits of Dawn of the Dead (2004) – both for entirely different reasons.  The first is simply one of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard.  The second perfectly captures the social commentary of spending the zombie apocalypse trapped in a mall.  Oh, and the cover of “Paint it Black” by Gob for in Stir of Echoes (1999).  And The Sunday’s version of “Wild Horses” in the movie Fear (1996).  And Mona’s cover of “Stand By Me” which was featured in the commercials for the Hannibal TV series.  And if I’m going to start throwing out TV series, I might as well add Placebo’s cover of “Running Up That Hill” from Vampire Diaries.

I honestly love this trend.  There are a few songs I’d love to see slow covers of in a trailer:

  • Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Mercy Street by Peter Gabriel (Fever Ray does a great creepy cover of this)
  • Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics – Marilyn Manson has already done a creepy cover, but it could be EVEN CREEPIER
  • Hello by Lionel Ritchie
  • I’m on Fire by Bruce Springsteen – there’s a cover by Bat for Lashes that I love
  • The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen – it was used in Donnie Darko, and there’s a quirky cover by Nouvelle Vague, but just the title of the song would be PERFECT for a slow cover and a horror movie trailer, perhaps one about werewolves?
  • Maneater by Hall & Oates – the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” used a cool cover of this by Grace Mitchell, but same reasons as above: title is perfect
  • Toxic by Britney Spears – ditto, again

 

For more non-horror trailers featuring slow cover songs, check out http://screencrush.com/movie-trailers-sad-covers/ and http://screencrush.com/movie-trailers-sad-covers-2/.  Clearly the slow cover song thing isn’t just for horror movies!

 

 

Read a ebook week: March 5-11

In honor of “Read an eBook Week,” Smashwords is having a huge site-wide sale, which means all the Wolf Point series books will be free!

So, you can get Wolf Point books 1-3:

Hitchhikers ebook cover 4

dreamwalkers ebook cover

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And you can also get both of the prequel novellas (that’s right, The Madman is now available!):

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Smashwords is great because you can download any format you need.  There’s ePub (for most ereaders), .mobi (for Kindle – use the Send to Kindle app to get on your device), and PDF (if you prefer that for ereader or to read on your computer).  You can also read online at the site.  And getting an account on Smashwords is free!

horror movies “based on a true story”: House of the Devil

mv5bmtaxmdaxodg5odreqtjeqwpwz15bbwu3mdi5odyxodi-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_“During the 1980s over 70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive Satanic Cults… Another 30% rationalized the lack of evidence due to government cover ups… The following is based on true unexplained events…”

This is the text which opens the 2009 film, The House of the Devil.

What is true:

  • The statistics – which don’t actually say that any Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) occurred.  The stats are about beliefs.  I don’t know which survey was used to cull these particular statistics, but I found this article which mentions a 1990 study that reported “that 90 percent of Utah citizens believed that ritualistic sex abuse was occurring.”  So the belief was certainly there.

What is not true:

  • Any of the actual events depicted in the film.

The verdict: This film is more an homage to films made in the 1980s.  It was recorded on 16mm film to give it an authentic early 80s look, and uses familiar tropes, like the baby-sitter under attack.  The use of a “based on a true story” tagline is likely an homage as well, since many films of that era used it.  “True unexplained events” could mean anything, really.  There were thousands of cases of SRA reported in the 1980s, most of them after a few high-profile cases such as the one described in the book Michelle Remembers, and the McMartin preschool trial.  In the end, however, the preschool trial led to charges dropped and dismissed, with no evidence of any actual Satanic abuse, and Michelle Remembers was largely discredited.  In many cases of alleged SRA, recovered memories (which are highly questionable and often false memories) played a large role.

3 on a theme: books within books

I am often reading between 3 and 5 books at the same time, and occasionally there’s a theme that might not be remarkable in one book… but when I see it in three books, I take notice.

Well, I started this blog post with three recent titles, then I kept finding more.  I’ll try to keep it to these three, because their inclusion in the novels felt more important to the plot than some of the other fictional titles.

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All read in December 2016-January 2017

The premise of Melanie Raabe’s The Trap includes a mention of the fictional book right on the cover blurb: “I know who killed my sister.  I wrote this book for him.”  The narrator, an author, writes a book called Blood Sisters about her sister’s murder in an effort to lure the murderer, a journalist, to her secluded house, where she plans to get him to confess.  There are chapters from the fictional book, which later one wonders how closely these chapters actually follow the truth.

A fictional book called The Bubblegum Reaper brings together two teens in Matthew Quick’s Every Exquisite Thing.  The fictional novel involves a teenage boy who falls in love with a twin who talks to turtles, only he isn’t sure which of the identical twins he’s in love with.  The characters, in their obsession with this book, discover that the author lives nearby and after striking up a friendship with him, also discover that The Bubblegum Reaper seems to be a thinly veiled story of his own life.  Every Exquisite Thing reminded me a LOT of The Fault in Our Stars, which has its own fictional novel, An Imperial Affliction.  Still no idea why the book is called The Bubblegum Reaper.

Finally, and you knew I’d be back to talk about this one, A List of Cages features an entire SERIES of fictional novels: the Elian Mariner books, which sound suspiciously like The Little Prince to me (and I just finished reading Everything, Everything, in which the main character reads and re-reads The Little Prince).  I haven’t actually read that book, so I could be way off, but basically Julian uses these books both to remind him of Adam, and to escape into the stars much like Elian Mariner does.

I often find that characters in books read other books, and most of the time they are real books that exist.  Obviously, authors are readers and they want to pay homage to the books that inspire them.  The use of a fictional book gives the characters the ability to interact with the authors’ lives – obviously, The Trap wouldn’t have worked with a real novel, because it’s all about the author, and the same for Every Exquisite Thing (and The Fault in Our Stars).  For A List of Cages, I think the reason for using a fictional series is largely for one scene, in which one of Julian’s classmates asks what he’s reading, and he gets excited to talk about his favorite books, and we as the reader don’t know what level these books are until the classmate makes a terrible comment, and suddenly we realize that high school freshman Julian is reading books meant for elementary school children.  In that way, The Little Prince wouldn’t have worked, because many adults read it.

Lots and lots of other books include fictional works.  Probably the coolest example of this is Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell, in which the main character writes fanfiction for the Simon Snow series (it bears close resemblance to Harry Potter).  So many people were writing fanfiction for this fictional series that Rainbow Rowell actually wrote the fic Cath was working on, and it was published as Carry On Simon.  Doesn’t always happen, but I sure would like to read The Bubblegum Reaper!

Addition, 3/10/17: Found another one!  Currently reading The Man in the High Castle, wherein there is a book titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.  I keep getting the feeling that there is a parallel universe where people read the book The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which refers to a fictional book called The Man in the High Castle.

 

February reading round-up

  • # of books read: 17
  • audiobooks listened to: 3
  • ebooks read: 6
  • ARCs read: 2
  • books from the Throne of Glass series: 2
  • graphic novels: 4
  • total page count: 3,877
  • year total page count: 8,253

Well, not so many books read as last month, but a lot of that has to do with February being 3 days shorter than January, as well as the fact that I took a week off from work, which means less time commuting to listen to audiobooks.

I breezed through 2 advanced reader copies, one from Edelweiss Above the Treeline and one from Netgalley.  I had some issues with Reaper by Kyra Leigh, although it was still a fast read (mostly to do with the ending).  Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta fit in well with my rewatch of the Outlander series.  It involves a history of Scottish witches using blood magic.  Reaper will be released in May and Bad Blood will be coming out next month.

In newer releases, I got to read Veronica Roth’s new book, Carve the Mark.  This wasn’t the easy read Divergent was, and for a while in the beginning I thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish.  A few chapters later, once I hit Cyra’s point of view, all that changed.  Akos and Cyra’s slow burn relationship was quite enjoyable to read, so much so that I can almost forgive the fact that this ends without really wrapping up ANYTHING.

I also got my hands on History of Wolves, by Emily Fridlund, which has been on the hold shelves at my library for months.  It wasn’t quite as thriller-y as the jacket blurb makes it out to be, but the tension throughout and the descriptive passages made this a worthwhile read.

The graphic novels I read this month can be split quite evenly into Awesome and Pretty Good.  In the Pretty Good category: The Monstress is an award-winner, and has gorgeous artwork (the story itself is a bit too confusing and complex for me), and Trashed (by the author of My Friend Dahmer) was part memoir and part lecture on landfills.  In the Awesome category: Paper Girls 2 had all the greatness of the first volume, and Reindeer Boy by Cassandra Jean was cute as all hell.

In vintage YA, I discovered a horse series that I hadn’t read: Flambards, by K.M. Peyton.  It was delightfully old-fashioned, I suppose because it was written in 1967 and takes place in the early part of the century.  Since I would have to interlibrary loan the rest of the books, I attempted to watch the TV series, but that was really too old-fashioned for me.  Guess I’ll never find out if Christina marries William or Dick.

And finally, I finally read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (immdiately followed by Crown of Midnight) and I was a near-instant convert!  What took me so long??  In a way, I’m sort of glad I waited, because it means I get to read them all at once. Up next is the prequel, The Assassin’s Blade.

my top 10 werewolf books*

*that I didn’t write

Books about werewolves have a huge advantage over werewolf movies: they don’t have to deal with special effects, which means they can be great without needing a big budget.  That being said, there are a lot of cheesy werewolf books out there (and many of them are in the romance genre…).  This list includes both YA and adult novels.  

 

 

#10: Wolfbreed by S.A. Swann

6449596This book deserves a better cover.  I suppose here is where the idea of a budget affects werewolf novels in a similar way as movies.  This seems designed to appeal to fan of paranormal romance, but it’s actually more historical fiction or fantasy.

In the Middle Ages, an order of monks discovers a litter of werewolf pups, and kept them alive to use as weapons of God.  Years later, one of the weapons, Lilly, has escaped.  She’s found by Udolf, a man with one arm, who tries to help her.

I’ve read (or tried to read) other historical werewolf novels, and thus far Wolfbreed is unique for its time frame.

 

#9: Unleashed by Kristopher Reisz

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A gritty teen werewolf tale that broke away from the post-Twilight werewolf trend. The story is about more than changing into wolves and having superpowers – it’s about finding your voice rather than being a “hand-licker” or someone who tries to please other people.  If City of Bones by Cassandra Clare had more of a focus on werewolves, it might have made my list, but this novel has that same feel – the urban fantasy, about werewolves living in the city.

Fun fact, I named one of the werewolves in my Wolf Point series Misty based on one of the main characters in Unleashed.  (Another character is named Daniel, but he’s not named after the Daniel in this story).

 

#8: Frostbite by David Wellington

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One of the few true “horror” novels on this list, I had originally bought Overwinter (the second book in this two book series) before realizing I needed to read this one first.

There’s plenty of action as a woman named Cheyenne barely survives a wolf attack and is brought to a man named Powell for help.  When she learns Powell wants to kill her, she runs, and that is when she discovers that Powell is a werewolf, and so is she.

 

 

#7: Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer

49041You might think it silly, but I do think the werewolf culture presented in this series is strong and well-developed.  Yes, there has been controversy about this being cultural appropriation, but based on other instances of Native American culture in young adult literature, I find this to be one of the least problematic.

Jacob’s nature as a werewolf is only hinted at in the first book, and it’s New Moon where it becomes central to the plot.  New Moon is also where Edward is MIA and Jacob and Bella’s friendship begins to grow.  Jacob is literally the best part of New Moon, because he pulls Bella out of her months-long catatonia (or moping, as one might call it).

 

#6: Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

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The Alex Awards celebrate adult novels with young adult appeal, and I was a new YA librarian when I heard about this particular book on the list.

Essentially, Sharp Teeth is an epic poem.  Unlike Beowulf or The Odyssey or other epic poems teens are forced to read in high school, this one is about werewolves.  Werewolf poetry is rare, despite some of the earliest works about werewolves being poems (“Bisclavret” by Marie de France was written in the 12th century).  So you get to feel like you’re reading something literary, instead of pulpy.

 

#5: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

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This was the first book I ever read by Maggie Stiefvater and it made me a total convert.  Her writing is poetic without being over the top purple prose, and I loved the idea that these werewolves only changed when it got to be too cold.

I’ll admit that I read this shortly after reading Twilight, and there is a heavy focus on the romance.  But there’s no love triangle, and Grace and Sam are so sweet with each other.  Plus you get to hear both of their perspectives.  In later books, you get to hear from others in the pack, like Isabelle and Cole (who get their own book later in the series).

 

#4: Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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You’ll hear me gush about Patricia Briggs later in this list, so it might not mean much now for me to say Jennifer Lynn Barnes is like the YA version of Patricia Briggs.

Bryn isn’t a werewolf, but she was raised by a werewolf alpha after he saved her from a werewolf attack.  And she has to work within the pack rules to figure out why everyone’s telling her to stay away from Chase, who was also attacked in a similar way as Bryn herself was.

Another bonus: this is a trilogy, not an endless series – although I would have gladly read more!

 

 

#3: Cry Wolf (and the entire Alpha & Omega series) by Patricia Briggs

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Just a note: I’d recommend reading the prequel novella “Alpha & Omega” (contained in the anthology On the Prowl) before reading the first book in this series.

Patricia Briggs has created a wonderfully complex world of werewolves.  Her other series explores the wider world – which includes fae, vampires, witches, and various other paranormal beings.  This series really focuses on werewolf politics and pack structure from the perspective of a werewolf alpha, Charles, seen by most of the werewolf community as an assassin, and Anna, a rare werewolf omega.

Omegas are so rare, in fact, that the pack who turned Anna believed she was simply the lowest of the low in pack order, when instead she’s actually outside the order.  This means Anna was abused in her pack, until Charles saves her.  And it’s their romance and the way they heal each other that makes this series so wonderful.

 

#2: Moon Called (and the entire Mercy Thompson series) by Patricia Briggs

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That’s right, another series by Patricia Briggs!

Don’t let this cover fool you.  This is the best werewolf series out there – and thankfully, the covers of the later books move away from the paranormal tramp-stamp aesthetic.

Patricia Briggs builds a fantastic world full of paranormal beings.  Mercy isn’t actually a werewolf, she’s a shapeshifter, but she ended up being raised by werewolves.  More specifically, she was raised by the Marrok, the head of all the werewolf packs in North America.  She is able to sense magic, and has ties to the werewolves through pack bonds, which makes her able to maneuver the many sticky situations she finds herself in.

There’s a ton of folklore in the history of the werewolves, which is explored in Shifting Shadows (a collection of the short stories and novellas based on this world). There’s also some romance, and realistic handling of things like rape and violence.  You don’t have to read this series to read the Alpha & Omega series, but it certainly helps.

The only reason I don’t have this series at the top of my list is because it did take me a while to get a feel for Briggs’ writing style.

 

#1: Blood & Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

30324This little book is my favorite werewolf novel.  Please, do not watch the movie (or, if you do, know that the movie bears very little resemblance to the book).  Published before the Twilight phenomenon, it’s a young adult story of a female werewolf, Vivian, who falls for a human boy.  What I really loved about this was that it didn’t hold back from exploring the savage lives of werewolves, where Vivian is expected to vie for the alpha’s attention (competing with her own mother), and she’s proud of what she is and expects the boy she loves to love her wolf form too. You’ll have to read it to find out how he reacts, but pretty much everything about this story surprised me.

 

There you have it!  My top ten favorite werewolf novels.  There were quite a few close calls – Hemlock Grove came thisclose to making the top 10, and I would have loved to add Sisters Red.  What is your favorite werewolf novel?