Tag: Industry News

New Study: Mobile Reading is Up

Posted November 3, 2014 by Holly in Discussions, News | 8 Comments

mobile readingThis was a UK study, but I found it really interesting. I read books primarily on my e-reader, but I do read on my phone on those rare occasions I’m out and about without my Nook. However, when it comes to blog-hopping, news, social media, etc, I use my phone more than my table, e-reader or even my pc.

Mobile phone book reading boom takes hold

Oxford, UK, 7 October 2014 – We are more likely to use our mobiles to read books than ever before, according to new research by publishing services provider, Publishing Technology.

The survey, which polled 1,500 UK consumers, found that 43 per cent of people read (or have read) ebooks on their mobile. And our love of mobile reading is on the rise, with a huge 59 per cent of people reading more on their phones now than they did last year. Younger people in particular are not just using their mobiles to text, Snapchat and take selfies, they’re also taking to their mobile phones to read more frequently, with 23 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds using their mobiles to read books on a daily basis.

The trend for shorter, snappier online content looks to be changing the way we read books on our phones. The survey shows that we read on our mobiles in short bursts with a growing preference for bite-sized content that is easier to consume on the go.

For example, two thirds of Brits (66 per cent) tend to spend less than 30 minutes reading on their mobile phones in each sitting. And more than a third of young people aged 18-24 said they preferred to read shorter content on their mobiles (38 per cent).

But one thing that doesn’t change just because we’re reading on our mobiles is our favourite genres. As is true in the world of printed books, crime and thriller books are still the most popular genres for readers (27 per cent), followed by autobiographies/biographies (25 per cent), general fiction (20 per cent), sci-fi/fantasy (19 per cent) and romance/erotic fiction (18 per cent).

We all have our favourite places to read too. Relaxation and home comforts are top of the list for young people most of whom prefer to read on their mobiles in the comfort of their homes, either snuggled up on the couch or while taking a long bath (61 per cent). By comparison, older generations (35 and over) are reading around the pressures of busy work lives, mainly reading books secretly on their mobiles at work and during the daily commute on public transport (73 per cent).

Michael Cairns, Publishing Technology’s CEO, said: “As mobile phones become a more intrinsic part of our lives, we are increasingly using them to read our favourite books. Technology is changing the what, where and how of book reading and this survey shows us how significant mobiles, in particular, are going to be to the future of books.”

“We can see that the technology still has a long way to go before it satisfies everyone. But as mobiles continue to improve the user experience, we can expect more people to choose them as a convenient way to read books.”

The Mobile Book Reading Habits survey was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Publishing Technology. The full results can be accessed at www.publishingtechnology.com/research.

I thought it was interesting that romance readers showed the lowest percentile. Since romance is the highest selling fiction genre, I can only conclude that, like me, most romance readers have an e-reader or still prefer print books. I used to read way more print than digital, but in the last couple years my print reading has dwindled to practically nothing. I might read 5 print books a year, which is nothing when I average 200+ books.

Do you read on your mobile phone, or do you prefer to read in print or on your e-reader? What’s your current print vs digital ratio? 

Publishing Technology plc:

Publishing Technology is the world-leading provider of content solutions that transform business.  We cover the publishing process from end to end with content systems, audience development and content delivery software and services. Combining our unmatched publishing knowledge, global operations and perpetual support model with our advance enterprise system, ingentaconnect scholarly portal, pub2web custom hosting platform and PCG (Publishers Communication Group) sales and marketing consultancy, we offer the industry’s only full spectrum of solutions to help publishers move their content forward.  Listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange, the company operates jointly from Europe (Oxford) and North America (Boston and New Jersey), with local offices in Brazil, India, China and Australia.  Assisting 400 trade and scholarly publishers for over thirty years, Publishing Technology solves the fundamental issues content providers face.

 Visit publishingtechnology.com, follow @publishingtech on Twitter, or connect with us on LinkedIn.


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“Catfish”, “Doxx”, and “Stalk” – What You Need To Know About Kathleen Hale #HaleNo

Posted October 21, 2014 by Holly in Discussions | 22 Comments

Last week, The Guardian posted an op-ed piece from YA author Kathleen Hale titled, ‘Am I Being Catfished’? An author confronts her number one online critic (I’m using a Do Not Link filter so the site doesn’t get a hit from your click). Let me break down the article for you.

In response to a query on Twitter asking for ideas for her next book, someone tweeted at Kathleen Hale. Hale followed the blue link road to Goodreads, where the reviewer gave Hale’s book a 1 star rating, after a series of reading updates, which chronicled what she didn’t like about the book (this is fact, as you can see by the link above. The reviewer in question gave the book 1 star after outlining her reasons for not liking the book).

Per Hale’s account in The Guardian article, this had a snowball effect in which other readers changed their ratings and/or quoted the 1 star review with caveats in their own higher ranking reviews.

Curious to see if Blythe had read my book, I clicked from her Twitter through her blog and her Goodreads page. She had given it one star. “Meh,” I thought. I scrolled down her review.

“Fuck this,” it said. “I think this book is awfully written and offensive; its execution in regards to all aspects is horrible and honestly, nonexistent.”

Blythe went on to warn other readers that my characters were rape apologists and slut-shamers. She accused my book of mocking everything from domestic abuse to PTSD. “I can say with utmost certainty that this is one of the worst books I’ve read this year,” she said, “maybe my life.”

Other commenters joined in to say they’d been thinking of reading my book, but now wouldn’t. Or they’d liked it, but could see where Blythe was coming from, and would reduce their ratings.

(…)

In the following weeks, Blythe’s vitriol continued to create a ripple effect: every time someone admitted to having liked my book on Goodreads, they included a caveat that referenced her review. The ones who truly loathed it tweeted reviews at me. It got to the point where my mild-mannered mother (also checking on my book’s status) wanted to run a background check on Blythe. “Who are these people?” she asked. She had accidentally followed one of my detractors on Twitter – “I didn’t know the button!” she yelled down the phone – and was now having to deal with cyberbullying of her own. (“Fine, I’ll get off the Twitter,” she said. “But I really don’t like these people.”)

– Kathleen Hale (From The Guardian article)

Despite many telling her not to, Hale then began a months long campaign to find out everything she could about the reviewer. She found some information that made her believe the reviewer wasn’t blogging under her real name, and she set out to solve the mystery of who she really was.

thinking back through what I knew of Blythe – her endless photos and reviews complete with Gifs and links, which I now realised must have taken hours to write. The only non-generic photo on her Instagram was of a Pomeranian. It occurred to me that a wife and mother with papers to grade might not have a lot of time to tweet between 6pm and midnight. That said, I had a fiance, friends and a social life (if you can believe it), a lot of writing projects, and I still managed total recall of much of what Blythe had said online. I noticed that two of her profiles contradicted each other – one said 8th grade teacher, one said 10th grade – and that most of her former avatar photos had been of the Pomeranian.

(…)

Was Blythe Harris even real?

(…)

Over the next few months, my book came out, I got distracted by life and managed to stay off Goodreads. Then a book club wanted an interview, and suggested I pick a blogger to do it.

“Blythe Harris,” I wrote back. I knew tons of nice bloggers, but I still longed to engage with Blythe directly.

The book club explained that it was common for authors to do “giveaways” in conjunction with the interview, and asked if I could sign some books. I agreed, and they forwarded me Blythe’s address.

– Kathleen Hale (From The Guardian article)

Just so we’re all on the same page up to this point: Hale saw a 1 star review and some things the reviewer said on Twitter, and began obsessively following said reviewer online, trying to find proof of her real identity. When given the opportunity, Hale then gained the reviewer’s physical address from a third-party book club.

The exterior of the house that showed up on Google maps looked thousands of square feet too small for the interiors Blythe had posted on Instagram. According to the telephone directory and recent census reports, nobody named Blythe Harris lived there. The address belonged to someone I’ll call Judy Donofrio who, according to an internet background check ($19), was 46 – not 27, as Blythe was – and worked as vice-president of a company that authorises disability claims.

– Kathleen Hale (From The Guardian acticle)

Hale looked up the address she was given on Google maps and, when she decided this must be the real reviewer’s name, paid for a background check on the owner of the house. Hale also claims she verified the reviewers address with a contact at a publishing house (I’ll get to the problems with this in a little bit).

[Incidentally, the online book club has since posted their side of the story, which details how they came to give Hale the reviewer’s address (another Do Not Link address): My side of the story… | Y.A. Reads Book Reviews. In the post, they confirm Hale asked to be paired with this particular reviewer and wanted her address so Hale could send her a “gift” for agreeing to host her. (They also, in my opinion, took this opportunity to make the situation all about themselves. “Gosh, do you see how this affected me??” when they could have taken the opportunity to support the reviewer and apologize for the part they played in the whole debacle).]

 A contact at a publishing house confirmed that they’d been sending books to Judy’s address all year, and as recently as two weeks ago.

– Kathleen Hale (From The Guardian article)

Once Hale had the address of the reviewer, she booked a rental car with the intention of driving to her house and confronting her about using a fake name to give bad reviews. But first she tried to find a better way to confirm her suspicions. She tried setting up a phone or video interview, but the reviewer blew her off. So, in the end, she was left with no choice. She drove to the address she’d been given but chickened out at the last minute and left a book, Anna Quindlen’s A Short Guide To A Happy Life (which even Hale admits was passive-aggressive), on the reviewer’s doorstep instead of knocking. Then she went home and decided to call the reviewer at work.

First she pretended to be doing a factcheck survey and asked the reviewer to confirm her identity. When it seemed like the reviewer was going to hang up, Hale finally broke down and asked if she wrote book reviews under a different name.

“I can’t help you,” she said. “Buh-bye…”

“DO YOU USE THE NAME BLYTHE HARRIS TO BOOK BLOG ONLINE?” I felt like the guy on the Howard Stern show, screaming, “I exist!”

She paused. “No,” she said quietly.

She paused again, then asked, “Who’s Blythe Harris?” Her tone had changed, as if suddenly she could talk for ever.

“She’s a book blogger,” I said, “and she’s given your address.”

“A book blog… Yeah, I don’t know what that is.”

“Oh.”

– Kathleen Hale (From The Guardian article)

Hale has already crossed so many lines here I don’t even know where to begin. But it gets worse. She tries to get the woman to admit she’s really the reviewer, and even asks whether or not she has kids who might be doing it. She admits to us, the readers of the article, she already knew the reviewer had kids. Which is utterly terrifying.

“She uses photos of your dogs,” I said, feeling like the biggest creep in the world, but also that I might be talking to a slightly bigger creep. “I have it here,” I said, pretending to consult notes, even though she couldn’t see me, “that you have a Pomeranian, and another dog, and she uses photos that you posted.”

She gasped. “I do have a Pomeranian.”

“She uses your address,” I repeated. “Do you have children who might be using a different name online?” I already knew she had two teenagers.

– Kathleen Hale (From The Guardian article, emphasis mine)

Hale goes on to detail how she stalked the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of the reviewer and the woman she believes she’s gotten her online identity from. Eventually , after many months, she gave up and went back to living her life, though she admits she sometimes she grows nostalgic about the situation.

Let’s recap (aka The Too Long;Didn’t Read version):

Author Kathleen Hale receives a bad review via Goodreads and spends months cyber-stalking the reviewer, before gaining her address and visiting her home. Then Hale tries to prove the reviewer’s real identity and calls her at work. Then Hale writes an article about it for The Guardian in a tone which makes it clear she has zero remorse for what she did, and in fact seems to want sympathy for being “catfished” by a reviewer who dared to give her a 1 star review and possibly wasn’t using her real name online.

There are a couple things I want to talk about here.

1) The term “catfish” generally refers to someone who creates an online persona with the specific intention of creating a romantic relationship under false pretenses. By Hale’s own account, the reviewer in question didn’t create an account simply to deceive Hale. She didn’t even engage Hale, with the exception of possibly tweeting her direct in response to an invitation from Hale herself.

2) The term “doxing” generally refers to the act of searching for, and publishing, information about a person online, in an attempt to serve up some vigilante justice. What Hale did was doxx the Goodreads reviewer. She makes it sound like it was in response to bad things the reviewer did to Hale first, but all evidence I’ve seen points to the reviewer doing nothing more than talking about how she didn’t like Hale’s book, citing specific reasons for her dislike. Even if she went on a campaign to stop others from reading the book, the reviewer did nothing wrong. A book is not its author.

3) The term “stalking” refers to unwanted or obsessive attention from an individual and can include “following the victim in person or monitoring them” (per Wikipedia). While it seems the reviewer did nothing more than give Hale’s book a negative review, Hale’s actions read like stalking to me. Going to a person’s home, calling her at work and obsessively monitoring her social media accounts obviously rides the line

4) Hale mentions Stop the Goodreads Bullies (STGRB) in her article (link to our piece about STGRB, with links to other sites with info about their actions). Lest we forget, that website is owned and maintained by an anonymous person or persons who got their start by doing exactly what Hale did here: Searching for and posting personal information about those they consider bullies on their website, even going so far as to post real names, favorite restaurants and photos of their children. The irony of Hale quoting a blogger who uses a fake name in reference to the reviewer she wants to out as having a fake name should be noted (and dare I say mocked?).

5) Jim C. Hines posted on Twitter today that he read an article in response to Hale’s actions that included her address and photos of her house. I don’t know Hines (I don’t follow him on Twitter or anywhere else online) and I didn’t see the post in question, but I really hope it isn’t true. To reveal personal information about Hale makes us no better than she is.

6) I’ve seen quite a number of well-known authors and prominent figures in the book community speak out in support of Hale. Like literary agent Jessica Faust who says Hale was “brave” to post about her account. Kat of Book Thingo put together a great list of others who have shown support for Hale. Buzzfeed also posted a good round-up of those who support Hale, and those in the book community who think her actions were heinous.

7) The fact that this article was published at The Guardian, in the book section, gives it a legitimacy it doesn’t deserve. By posting the article, The Guardian is basically saying they condone Hale’s actions. Which is just as terrifying as Hale having done it in the first place. The majority of the comments on the article are from other authors who think Hale should be applauded for trying to out her critic.

Personally, I have to say Hale’s article scared the crap out of me. The idea that an author would spend months trying to discover my real identity, show up at my house or call me at work because I didn’t like her book is terrifying. The idea that an author would question my identity and try to find proof of my real name is equally terrifying. It’s also a bit hypocritical, considering the majority of authors write under pen names. I’m not sure why a blogger using an alternate is so wrong or different. The irony of an author questioning why a blogger would use an alias after spending months stalking one isn’t lost on me, either.

Not only that, but when I think about the number of publishers and authors who have my address, I wonder if this is the beginning of the end of publisher sponsored giveaways/ARCs. Hale says she confirmed the reviewer’s address with a publishing contact. So what she’s saying, essentially, is that my personal information isn’t protected. Can any author, disgruntled or otherwise, confirm my address with the publishing houses who have them? Do I need to be concerned about the fact that my daughter has received review copies from publishers? Do I need to worry about forwarding a reader’s information on to an author/publisher when they win a sponsored contest on our site?

Hale’s article brought up a lot of feelings, but none of them are the ones she seemed to want. I didn’t find it funny that a neurotic author fell down that rabbit hole. I hope you don’t either.

Here are some additional articles about this situation:

Dear Author – On the Importance of Pseudonymous Activity http://dearauthor.com/features/essays/on-the-importance-of-pseudonymous-activity/
Dear Author – Poisoning the Well  http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/poisoning-the-well/
Smart B*tches – The Choices of Kathleen Hale http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/blog/the-choices-of-kathleen-hale
Blame My Bookshelf (blogger is 15) – A Response to Kathleen Hale http://blamemybookshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/an-response-to-kathleen-hale.html
Sunita -The Rising Costs of Membership in the Booktalk Community http://vacuousminx.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/the-rising-costs-of-membership-in-the-booktalk-community/

 

 


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Publisher Ellora’s Cave Sues Book Blog Dear Author #ChillingEffect

Posted September 30, 2014 by Holly in Discussions, News | 6 Comments

I’m sure most of you have heard about this. For those who haven’t, a quick recap.

On September 14, Jane of Dear Author wrote a blog post titled The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave. She outlined the history behind the company – praising them for being one of the first e-publishers to offer authors and readers erotica-type content – then related news of their slow decline in management and business practices. Per Jane’s article and the subsequent comments from EC authors, editors and cover artists: authors and sub-contractors haven’t been paid in a timely manner; royalty checks are at an all-time low and Tina Engler/Jaid Black, the founder and owner of the company has been taking shopping trips, buying new property and looking into starting new ventures (this, apparently, from her Facebook page, Twitter stream and personal blog).

EC is suing Jane and Dear Author for defamation, claiming what Jane wrote in her blog post was false.  I am not a lawyer. I don’t claim to understand a whole lot about the law in general and defamation in particular, but my basic understanding is that in order for EC to win this suit they have to prove that what Jane said – their authors/cover artists/vendors/editors/tax liens/etc not being paid – isn’t true. In order to do that, I would assume they’d have to provide company records, financial statements, etc. I may be mistaken about that, so don’t take my word for it, but I do know part of a defamation suit is proving what was said was untrue and that the untrue statements hurt the reputation of the one filing. So how else would they prove what she said wasn’t true but opening up their records for public scrutiny? Even worse, however, is that EC is demanding the anonymous commenters’ true names be revealed.

Here’s the thing, though. This suit isn’t about EC’s reputation.  Not really. It’s about is instilling fear in a community of authors and bloggers. Engler has been rumored to be notoriously vindictive when it comes to authors speaking out against her company. As bloggers, we’re often threatened by authors when we write bad reviews/report about the goings-on with the community, etc. That’s a scary thing for those of us who aren’t lawyers and don’t treat our sites as a business venture, but rather a hobby. I don’t know about you, but spending thousands on a legal battle isn’t my idea of a good time. Especially since this site doesn’t make any money on its own.

The Chilling Effect, defined by Wikipedia as:

In a legal context, a chilling effect is the inhibition or discouragement of the legitimate exercise of natural and legal rights by the threat of legal sanction.

Basically, I think EC filed this lawsuit as a scare tactic. They want bloggers and their authors/staff to be scared of speaking out against them. Sunita wrote a post about it that goes into more detail, but essentially EC  is saying “we’re watching you”. As Sunita says in her post:

EC picked the wrong person to sue, no question. But by filing at all, they’re also reminding their authors and editors that they have no compunction about publicizing the personal information of anyone they see as an adversary. It’s not necessary to sue an individual person in this case; suing Dear Author LLC would have taken care of their needs.* But it wouldn’t have sent the same “we know who you are” message. EC has already stipulated in internal communicationsthat authors “include both legal name and pen name when communicating with Ellora’s Cave.” This just ups the ante.

Author Courtney Milan wrote about not being cowed by EC and their tactics. In her post, On Limited Purpose Public Figures #notchilled, she discusses the effect this lawsuit has already had in terms of the Chilling Effect and says she is Not Chilled (#notchilled).

CM notchilled 2

 

Jane has hired a lawyer and plans to fight this. I say good for her. Good for all of us. We shouldn’t be silenced. We shouldn’t be afraid that speaking out about a publisher or author will result in the worst possible outcome. We’re saying we won’t be silenced and we hope you won’t be either.

Today Jane asked for a bit of help. If anyone who worked for or with EC has any information they’re willing to share, please contact her.

DA Request for Info

 

Also, if you’re an EC author, be sure to take a look at the Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support Thread, hosted by author Deirdre Saorise Moen.

For those interested in following the story, here’s a compiled list of links detailing the troubles at EC and the coverage of the suit against DA.

Also, LATimes Jacket copy picked up the story.


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Avon Announces NaRoWriMo!

Posted November 5, 2012 by Rowena in Discussions, News | 0 Comments

Publisher: Avon, Harper Collins

Our friends over at Avon have some news and we’re sharing it with our lovely readers. If you’re a writer and want to participate, Avon wants you to bring sexy back!

Straight from our friends at Avon:

Announcing “NaRoWriMo,”
National Romance Writing Month
This November, Avon Books, in conjunction with NaNoWriMo, Encourages Aspiring Romance Authors to Set Goals High: Finish Your Manuscript and Aim to Publish!

NEW YORK, NY, November 5, 2012 — November is National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo”), the world’s largest writing event. It is not for the faint of heart: participants pledge to write 50,000 words in a month, starting from scratch and reaching “The End” by November 30. Last year, more than 250,000 unique participants proved they were up to the challenge; and this year might even bring more happy endings. If you look at NaNoWriMo’s online forums, it’s plain to see that one of the largest, most passionate segments of the NaNoWriMo writing community is comprised of aspiring romance writers. It is for this audience that Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, dedicates “NaRoWriMo,” “National Romance Writing Month.” Here’s the news that may make hearts start pounding during the month of November, Avon editors will make themselves available to the author community via online forums at www.nanowrimo.org, and by sponsoring “NaRoWriMo,” the publisher hopes to acquire original works of romantic fiction, to be released in 2013 by Avon Impulse.

“NaRoWriMo” romance fiction submissions should be submitted by December 10, 2012 to Avon Romance’s online submission portal (www.avonimpulse.com), and tagged “NaRoWriMo.” All novel and novella-length submissions (50,000 words and above) will be reviewed, and will be considered for publication through Avon Impulse, the publisher’s digital-first arm.

“The energy around National Novel Writing Month is infectious and exciting,” says Shawn Nicholls, Senior Director of Marketing for Avon Books. “We understand a huge percentage of the writers participating are aspiring romance authors, and we want to help incentivize them to finish their projects this November.”

Lucia Macro, Vice President and Exectutive Editor of Avon Books and Avon Impulse agrees, saying, “Avon Impulse is actively looking for fresh and exciting talent, and so many great ideas for books are nurtured through NaNoWriMo — Avon’s NaRoWriMo initiative encourages writers to submit those ideas to us for possible publication. We are looking to acquire many great manuscripts this November. Our digital-first publishing program has grown to an aggressive two-book-a-week publishing schedule, so we have plenty of opportunity to foster talented romance writers and launch careers!”

Macro, who editorially directs Avon Impulse, recently posted this “wishlist” for content at the Romance Divas website (www.romancedivas.com):

Send me your bachelors, your ranchers, your billionaires. My background is in contemporary romance—I miss the 21st Century! And while I’ll always love a good duke, I sometimes feel I’ve been hanging around with the Ton for too long. Seriously—send us sexy contemporary romance with some really good-looking heroes. (And no, they don’t all have to be bachelors, ranchers or billionaires!)

I love drama! Everyone’s always telling me that Avon books have to be ‘funny.’ This is so not true! There’s a reason I’ve been watching all those Lifetime TV movies all these years—I clearly need more drama in my world. (But your book doesn’t have to be like a LTM, I promise!)

Bring Sexy Back. Please. Enough said. I think you know what to do.

Stop overthinking. I mean it. Stop it right now. You’re the romance readers. You know what you like. I’m not here measuring indentations, or taking point off for point of view, or counting every word. Make it end happily and make sure ‘no animals are harmed’.

More new writers please. I like working with new writers. I wish I could do it more often. But this is the chance to do that—for both of us.

“NaRoWriMo” is an open call to new writers: Avon is actively acquiring for Avon Impulse. “Set your goals high this November,” Macro says. “Aim to publish.”

For more information on how to submit a completed “NaRoWriMo” manuscript this November, visit www.AvonImpulse.com.

If you’re interested, go forth and check it out.  Thanks to our friends at Avon for the heads up on this awesome writing adventure!

Good luck!


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Romance Is Not Dead Writing Competition

Posted August 13, 2010 by Holly in Discussions, Reviews | 0 Comments

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a published romance writer? Well, now may be your chance to make that dream a reality. Mills and Boon will be hosting a writing competition in September. Check out the details at romanceisnotdead.com.

At Mills & Boon, we believe that there’s a romance in everyone – and we want yours! Have you ever dreamed of becoming a published author and writing your way into readers’ hearts? Well, this is your chance!

What is New Voices?

In September 2010 we launch a global search for fresh writing talent to join Mills & Boon’s galaxy of romantic fiction stars.
A celebration of romance, New Voices will put entrants through their romantic fiction paces – and we want you to have your say every step of the way!
The winner of the competition will win some fantastic prizes, including publication of the winning entry by Mills & Boon and a Mills & Boon editor for a year!

 Good luck! Click here for a full list of contest rules and regulations.


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