Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Support Your Local “Pornographer” or Why Does Blogger Call My Blogs “Porn”?

Here's my upcoming book cover. Are you shocked?

You think you’re an average citizen following the rules of civilized society and then something hits you from out of the blue to convince you of your true criminal intent. Yesterday I opened an email from Blogger (Google) saying that my blog has “adult content” and that it can be taken down (or made “private” against my will) so that no one can see it but me unless "sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video" aren’t taken down by March 23, 2015.

Okay, my romantic fiction book covers feature mostly clothed individuals and any “skin” you see on my erotic-romance covers is legal at any beach or poolside in North America. My publishers make extra-sure our book covers aren’t breaking the rules of decent society so that Amazon and other online retailers won’t list our books. What’s the deal?

I went to a Blogger forum to ask for clarification. “Why were my particular blogs targeted for this treatment?” I asked, and this is the answer I received:

The policy is designed to remove porn from Blogger.  It's a fuzzy policy.

Several questions from me (and others) later, and there was no one who could tell us what “pornography” our blogs contained or what Google means by “porn that it wants removed”. Frustrated, I stated, “I think there's just blatant censorship happening here.” And the reply to my statement was:

            No, there really is a problem.  You just make sure that your blog does not contribute.

I’m not saying that there are no blogs on Blogger that contain images or text that could be considered in violation of pornography laws of local jurisdictions—because there are millions of blogs out there and I’ve seen only a handful—but I am saying that indiscriminately labeling blogs with “adult content” as “porn” is painting a picture that many bloggers are somehow social deviants and possible criminals who produce “porn” for an unsuspecting audience. Does this mean our readers are “deviants”, too?

I don’t know about you, but I despise being labeled with a word that carries so much hate and negativity such as “pornographer”. I hate not being able to defend myself and my writings against a faceless corporation who gladly takes our advertising revenue but tells us what we can or cannot post. Why am I and other bloggers being labeled “guilty until proven innocent”? Isn’t Google located in the United States of America? I thought it was “innocent until proven guilty” here. My mistake!

I take the statement, “Make sure that your blog does not contribute,” to mean that at least some of my blogs contain “porn” and, essentially, Google is prepared to censor all blogs it feels qualifies as such. So, what is exactly constitutes “porn” for Google, Inc., and how are they measuring these “adult content” blogs for “porn”? Are they using a computer algorithm or program? A human being with half a brain? A political group with an agenda?

And what exactly is “adult content”? Adults read romantic fiction, so all romance novels could be labeled “adult content” in the broadest sense, including my PG rated books, but so could true crime novels with horrifically graphic murder scenes. You wouldn’t want your children reading those sorts of stories, would you? And non-fiction about war and war crimes…ugh! That’s not G rated stuff, is it? 

Why am I hearing the Rev. Lovejoy’s wife from The Simpsons crying, “Think of the children!” over and over in my head? 

Why aren’t parents doing their jobs and keeping the kids off the computer and away from things they shouldn’t be seeing until their old enough to understand them? Why is Google so anxious to play “Net Nanny” for these lazy parents? Will they make money off of the exercise?

The more you think about it, the more abusive and potentially dangerous this new policy of Blogger sounds.

Do you believe Google, that is Blogger, has the right to censor blogs just because they (or whatever or whomever they’ve hired to screen blogs) consider them pornographic? Who gets to decide how narrow or how broad the definition of “porn” is when it comes to freedom of speech?

Please leave your comments below. And please sign up for my e-newsletter on the sidebar so we can keep in touch because you never know… This could be my last public blog post. I’m a “pornographer”, you know?

UPDATE: Blogger announced on February 27:
This week, we announced a change to Blogger’s porn policy. We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities. So rather than implement this change, we’ve decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn.  

Blog owners should continue to mark any blogs containing sexually explicit content as “adult” so that they can be placed behind an “adult content” warning page.

Bloggers whose content is consistent with this and other policies do not need to make any changes to their blogs.

So... I guess the majority of my blogs are "safe" from being shut down for the time being. Of course, Blogger probably still sees a blog that features erotic-romantic-fiction as being "sexually explicit" even when an individual blog post isn't necessarily "adult" in nature. This means I've placed the "adults only" warning interstitial page on Celine Chatillon's blog and web site. I suppose it's a small price to pay to continue blogging via Blogger. What do you think?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Please join my new e-newsletter mailing list

 Because I miss creating and sending out my monthly e-newsletter full of  my latest book release news, excerpts, contest events, Q & A for writers and other fun stuff, I've started a new mailing list with the very cool MailChimp program. SORMAG publisher and all-around promo-diva, LaShaunda Hoffman, informs me this is the way to go nowadays to connect with readers. And if the smart and savvy LaShaunda says it works, I believe her! ;-) So, please sign up below and feel free to tell your friends, too. Thank you.

Subscribe to my "Triple C" mailing list today!

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Sexy Saturday -- Sexy Duncan from Driving in England

The theme this week for My Sexy Saturday is "You're so sexy!" And who else fits the bill other than our handsome hero Duncan from our latest contemporary romance, Driving in England? I mean, Susannah certainly can't wait to see if the reality lives up to her wild and sexy dreams! ;-)

Driving in England 
by Cynthianna and  A J Matthews

Susannah travels to England to discover her boss’s relatives. Renowned genealogist Duncan realizes he’s the lost relative Susannah is seeking. They meet and can’t deny their attraction, but Duncan lies to protect his family’s reputation. Can Susannah pierce Duncan’s armor to find the loving man within?

An excerpt: 

He looked down at her hand on his arm. He slowed his breathing and willed himself not to act too impulsively. “You think it foolish a man of my age keeping a library of erotic literature to himself?”

“I don’t know. Do you think it’s foolish for a woman of my age to want to read a library of erotic literature.” They shared a laugh. Before he could utter a reply, her next words nearly floored him.

“I, uh, had quite an erotic dream about you the other night.”

She raised her face to his. Her words sent an endorphin rush through Duncan’s veins that made his ears tingle. His heart began to pump harder as he moved closer and stared at her flushed face and bright eyes for a long moment. “Really?”

“Oh, yes.” She reached out and took his hand, cupping it with slow deliberation around her left breast. “And I’d like to find out if the reality matches the dream.”

He felt the warmth of Susannah’s body through the cloth of her blouse and brassiere cup. Her nipple hardened against his palm. She licked her lips. Without further ado he leaned forward and kissed her, gently rolling her breast in his hand as he did so. Her response was eager. Susannah opened her lips, and he felt her tongue meet his. Passion burned in his veins as a genuine fear raced through his mind.

It’s been so long... Is it like riding a bicycle? Do you ever really forget how to make love to a desirable woman? Perhaps she will show me how—if I forget.

Driving in England is now available at Devine Destinies Books:

and soon wherever fine ebooks are sold! 

Have a great My Sexy Saturday! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Driving in England now available from Devine Destinies Books

It's a first! My husband and I wrote a book together, and here's an excerpt from it as well as the purchase link. Feel free to share the news with other readers of contemporary romance. Thank you!

Driving in England 

by Cynthianna and  A J Matthews

Susannah Koenig travels to England on an urgent mission to discover her boss’s relatives. Duncan Balfour, a renowned genealogist, doesn’t think he’d like to meet the woman who nags him online for help. Then he realizes he is the long lost relative Susannah’s boss is desperately searching for. Once the pair meet, they can’t deny their mutual attraction, but Duncan can’t help lying to her to protect his family’s reputation. Can Susannah pierce Duncan’s armor to find the loving man within and reveal the truth that could save a life?

From Chapter One, an excerpt from Driving in England:

“Oh. My. God.”
    Susannah Koenig smothered a laugh behind a hand, staring at the headline splashed across her laptop’s screen. Unfrocked Vicar Eaten by Lion! She couldn’t believe her eyes. That kind of thing only happened in the movies or on some poorly written sit-coms—not in real life—and most certainly not in some staid English village circa 1932.
    She rose from the sofa and walked away from the coffee table littered with the remains of half-eaten bagels, dusty genealogy volumes, and various papers she’d gathered over the past two weeks. There’s no way on earth I can tell the boss about his ancestor, the unfrocked vicar who was consumed by a large beast of prey. No way. I value my job too much.
    But what could she do? Harold Spalding paid her good money to graph out his family tree in minute detail. How could she avoid mentioning the former Reverend Titus Spalding, a man accused of sexual misconduct who was stupid enough to stick his head in a lion’s gaping jaws?
    “I can’t believe this.” She switched on the kitchen light and began automatically stacking dishes into the dishwasher. “Who in his right mind would knowingly walk into a lion’s cage at a circus to prove his innocence? In the twentieth century no less! The man was a first class idiot!”
    Shit! The sudden realization of the horrible revelation hit her hard in the stomach. She gulped and put down the dish she was stacking. I can’t tell Mr. Spalding that he had a complete lunatic for a grandfather. It’ll kill him.
    And then she’d be out of a job.
    A very good position with responsibility and prestige, one that she had slaved and suffered long enough to land... Women hit the glass ceiling in the good ol’ boy oil industry all the time, so Susannah felt rightfully proud of her accomplishment, even if it had taken many years and more than a few gray hairs. Nothing was going to stand in her way of keeping her job until they forced her into retirement. Nothing.
    “Damned if I do—damned if I don’t.” Susannah sighed. She could think of only one thing to get herself out of this dilemma. She needed help—professional help. She’d have to email that stuffy, stick-up-his-ass Duncan Balfour and ask for his assistance once again. Maybe the genealogist par excellence could find some other worthy tidbits of information about the crazy vicar, suggest some way to sweeten the news, to make it more palatable for her boss to swallow?
    “If I’m lucky, there might be two Reverend Titus Spaldings in England, and the boss is related to the more normal fella. Please, Lord, let that be the case!”
    Swallowing her pride, and a few dry crumbs of bagel, she headed back to her laptop to email the uptight Brit.
    Dear Mr. Balfour:
    I’m in need of your assistance. I’m working on a genealogy project on behalf of my employer, Harold Spalding, and may have discovered a link in his family tree to a Reverend Titus Spalding of Understrand, Norfolk County, England. As I recall reading online, you’re a resident of the area. Could you check your own and local sources to enlighten me as to the true character of this individual? Could his name have been confused with any others of same or similar name? Your help in the past has been most appreciated, and I thank you in advance for this undertaking.
    All the best,
    Susannah Koenig
    Tapping send, she glanced at the computer clock. Britain was six hours ahead of Texas, so Balfour would receive her missive first thing in the morning local time. Good enough. She’d check her email in the morning to see if the priggish academic felt her request for information worthy of an immediate reply.
    Give the devil his due, Balfour always replies in a timely manner with hard factual material, even if his tone is patronizing. But somehow, Susannah got the impression the man found addressing a lowly American amateur beneath his dignity. Hadn’t she paid his fees promptly? Hadn’t she been businesslike and fair in all her dealings with the man?
    Glass ceilings existed everywhere—in business, in genealogy circles, in life in general. In spite of the odds, she had marched forward, throwing herself against the walls of prejudice erected to keep women in their place, particularly women of a certain age as she had been labeled in the past few years. Her success had been hard won and all of her own doing. No silver spoons were ever placed in her mouth!
    Susannah rolled her eyes heavenwards as she rose from the sofa. Some people! It’s like they don’t know what it’s like to earn a living. Spalding Oilfield Solutions paid her good money, and the chance to advance offered by the boss’s interest in her family tree hobby had been too good to ignore. She headed back to the kitchen to finish filling the dishwasher and sighed. “I just wish I didn’t have to depend on some old-money, snobby jackass I’ve never met in the flesh to get me through this rough patch.”

Driving in England

now available at Devine Destinies Books.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Book Review: The Graveyard Book Volume 1

The Graveyard Book Volume 1The Graveyard Book Volume 1 by P. Craig Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nobody Owens (or “Bod” for short) seems like a mischievous young boy in the manner of Huckleberry Finn. Bod loves to explore. He’s curious about the people and the world around him. He gets himself into serious trouble from time to time and has to use his wits and tenacity to extricate himself from danger. The real difference between him and a normal boy? Bod is a human child who dwells in a graveyard with ghosts for adopted parents and a tall, dark guardian, Silas, who is neither living nor dead.

But can Bod’s extended graveyard family keep him safe? Silas provides food and clothing since he can roam outside the gates at night. Mr. and Mrs. Owens give Bod a home in their crypt, as well as love and discipline. Miss Lupescu’s lessons in paranormal creatures and Mr. Pennyworth’s lessons in fading from view like a ghost come in handy when Bod deals with evil ghouls and greedy humans searching after buried treasures. A friendly witch Liza buried right outside the graveyard gives him tips as well, and Bod repays her in kind by giving her the headstone she never had.

Neil Gaiman’s Newberry Medal-winning The Graveyard Book has been beautifully adapted to graphic novel form by illustrator P. Craig Russell. The first volume of the fantasy series features seven excellent illustrators with five chapters and a cliff-hanging interlude that leaves the reader dangling as to whether Bod’s ultimate fate will be among the living or the dead. Volume 2 can’t come soon enough!

View all my reviews