Performing in Spamalot

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, I welcome you to attend a performance of Spamalot, the fantastically funny musical theatre production that I’m dancing in this summer.

Camelot

The show runs from June 29 to August 3, 2013 at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre at 2627 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica. Showtimes are at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2pm on Sunday. You can buy tickets online or at the box office (which is open Wed-Fri, 4-7pm; phone: 310-828-7519).

Lovingly ripped off from the classic film comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot was the 2005 Tony winner for Best Musical and tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they embark on their quest for the Holy Grail. Flying cows, killer rabbits, taunting Frenchmen, and show-stopping musical numbers, this production has it all.

Alone

The original 2005 Broadway production, directed by Mike Nichols, won three Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical of the 2004–2005 season and received 14 Tony Award nominations. During its initial run of over 1,500 performances it was seen by more than two million people and grossed over $175 million.

Salsa

I’ve been having a blast performing in this production, and would love to see you there.  My husband, Matthew Sheehan is serving as the Stage Manager (which means he gets to “assist” me with my many costume changes, something he’s thoroughly enjoying).

I hope you can come check it out! Remember, what happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot.

Morgan Wixson Spamalot

 

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Amazon’s New Review Policy: A Mountainous Solution to a Molehill Problem

If you’ve been following the happenings in the world of publishing over the last few months, you’ll be familiar with the phrase “sock puppet reviewing” and the recent controversies regarding such.

If you haven’t been paying attention, in short: sock puppetry refers to published authors using “pseudonymous handles to post positive Amazon reviews of [their] own books and one-star reviews of others” (Carolyn Kellogg, LA Times, Sept. 4, 2012).  A handful of authors, a few of whom were somewhat high-profile, recently admitted to such abhorrent behavior, and the news has spread like wildfire.

Unfortunately, in Amazon’s frantic attempt to contain the flames, they’ve managed to burn down the entire forest.

Forgive me for being dramatic, but I maintain that my analogy is not that far from the mark.

To prove to their customers that the Amazon rating system has not become corrupted, they’ve decided to forbid authors from posting reviews of any other author’s work.

That’s right.

Authors, most of whom became writers because of their passion for reading, are now denied the right of other readers by being prohibited from reviewing books on Amazon.

Readers who frequently discovered new authors through the recommendations of authors they were already familiar with will no longer have that opportunity on Amazon.

New authors who are struggling to be heard in the cacophony of the e-book world can no longer solicit honest reviews from their fellow authors in an effort to get their books off the ground.

One of the saddest conclusions I’ve come to when researching Amazon’s new policy is that Amazon considers authors to be in “direct competition” with each other.  They are treating us as if we are bitter enemies, cats and dogs that can’t be trusted to be alone in a room together.

Now, some people might agree with that assumption, but I bet you that most of those people have no idea what they’re talking about. An outsider might look at the writing business and presume it is like any other commercial enterprise: the author who gets the most readers wins, and the rest of the authors lose.

But it doesn’t really work that way with books.

Unlike TV shows, authors are not fighting for the same 1-hour slot in primetime. A book doesn’t “go out of theatres” if it doesn’t outsell other new releases during it’s opening weekend. In other words, if my book sells, it doesn’t mean your book won’t.

Authors rarely “steal” readers from another author; readers just add new authors to their To-Be-Read pile.  In fact, a reader is more likely to try out a new author from the recommendation of another author than from advertising (RWA Readership Statistics, 2012).

I may be relatively new to the publishing world, but from what I’ve seen within the Romance Writers of America and Los Angeles Romance Authors, the publishing world is not dog-eat-dog. We romance authors are incredibly supportive of each other. The biggest names in the business (Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jayne Ann Krentz, etc.) regularly frequent the annual RWA conferences to share their knowledge with amateur authors and encourage them to become successful. Hundreds of mid-list authors donate their time to mentoring newbies and guiding them through the perils of the publishing world. We have blogs, newsletters, conferences, critique groups, and review sites, all created with the intent of helping each other become the best authors we can be.

I know of no author that would intentionally sabotage another author in the hopes that their own work would become more successful.

OK, apparently, there are a few writers out there who would do such a thing, but the keyword here is “few.”

But instead of searching for a tailored and efficient solution to this isolated problem, Amazon has thrown the baby out with the bathwater. They’ve branded all of us authors as untrustworthy, greedy, immoral money-grubbers who can’t be trusted to share our opinions in a responsible manner.

But there are so many other, better, solutions that Amazon could pursue.

For example, Amazon could add a disclaimer to reviews posted by authors, which identifies that reviewer as a writer. (In fact, that would be a win-win-win for the reader, the author of the work in question, and the reviewing author.  If the review was negative, readers could take that review with a grain of salt, recognizing that perhaps the reviewer was biased [especially if said review was poorly justified]. And if the review was positive [and well-written], then perhaps the reviewing author would pick up new fans from other readers.)

Other options include flagging strongly negative (1- or 2-star) reviews by authors who have been published in the same genre, so that readers can be aware of a potential bias or conflict of interest.

Perhaps the content of negative reviews from fellow authors can remain, but the star ranking would not be counted, therefore allowing the reviewing author to make their argument, but not allowing the work’s author’s ranking to be unfairly diminished.

One of the biggest problems with Amazon’s new policy is that it dramatically inhibits new authors from widening their readership.  Established authors won’t feel the impact of this new policy, since the loss of a handful of reviews won’t make a dent when you already have hundreds of reviews. But new authors often struggle to get even a dozen reviews, and so the loss of just a few can be devastating.

New authors can’t get family members to read and review their book, because Amazon considers them to have “financial interest in the product.” And they can’t get fellow authors to review their book because they have “financial interest in a directly competing product.”

Where is the line drawn?

What about friends, are they unfairly biased too? How about friends of friends, are they OK?  Friends of friends of friends? If a family member from outside my immediate household reads my book, are they allowed to post an honest review?  What if I give a free copy of my novel to a reviewer, is that considered bribery? My boss’s, sister’s, step-brother is thinking about writing a book, is he disqualified for being a biased acquaintance with a financial interest in a potentially competing project?

I’ve never been a fan of slippery-slope arguments, but since we’re already sliding down this mountain Amazon made from a molehill, I figured it was appropriate.

~ Laura Sheehan

[NOTE: This article was was originally published in the November 2012 issue of LARA Confidential, the newsletter of the Los Angeles Romance Authors chapter of RWA, for which I serve as Newsletter Editor.  It may be reprinted with proper credit to author and chapter.]

Romance Junkies Haunted House Giveaway!

Romance Junkies is hosting a Haunted House Giveaway!  If you dare, come explore the spooky halls of their mysterious mansion and take advantage of the opportunity to win dozens of free books and prizes.  (If you’re looking for the chance to win an e-copy of DANCING WITH DANGER by yours truly, I suggest checking out the Magic Shop!)

Romantic Junkies Halloween Contest

“Dancing with Danger” Reviewed by Long and Short of It Reviews

Long and Short of It Reviews has given my novel, Dancing with Danger, 4.5 Stars!

Dancing with Danger Cover

I loved these characters so much and wanted more, the story was a very enjoyable read. I’ll definitely look for other titles by Ms. Sheehan and I’d even love to see more of Marc and Lily. If you love a good romance, mixed with the potential danger of an unknown stalker, this is a perfect title to pick up!

- Asher, Long and Short of It Reviews

Check out the full review here.

Long and Short of It Reviews

I’ve been Interrogated by an LAPD Officer!

Kathy Bennett, former L.A.P.D. Officer and authentic crime/romantic suspense author, has me in the hot seat today over at her Interrogation Room.  I told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but I think some of my answers might have gotten me in trouble…

Kathy Bennett's Blog Kathy Bennett's Interrogation Room - Laura Sheehan

You can’t leave any comments (what did you expect? It’s an interrogation room, not a guest blog!), so if you have anything to say in my defense, please do so here!

Dancing in “Crazy for You”

You’ve heard all about my novel, DANCING WITH DANGER, and maybe you’ve read that I’m a dancer myself in real life… well, now you have a chance to see my dancing skills in action!  I’m currently performing in a production of Crazy for You at Santa Monica’s Morgan-Wixson Theatre, and I’d love to see you there.  It is a six-week run, and we are currently in our second weekend. We have shows every Friday and Saturday night at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm until Aug 4th. Here is the show’s website, where you can learn more about the production and buy tickets: http://morgan-wixson.org/?p=665.

That’s me on the left! This picture was (illegally) taken during one of our shows, but hey, I’m not complaining!

We’ve received some fabulous reviews, and yours truly was even mentioned in one of them! I’m rather proud of this particular mention, because I do not have a speaking role in this show.  To be singled out from the rest of the fabulous ensemble is fantastically flattering, so forgive me as I brag all about it!

Dress rehearsal. This candid is from one of our big dance numbers, Slap That Bass.

Curious to know more about the show? Here’s the blurb from the Morgan-Wixson website:

Crazy For You is the story of Bobby Child, a well-to-do 1930′s
playboy, whose dream in life is to dance. And despite the serious
efforts of his mother and soon-to-be-ex-fiancee, Bobby achieves his
dream!  Memorable Gershwin tunes include “I Got Rhythm,” “They Can’t Take That Away
from Me,” “But Not for Me”, “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” “Embraceable You,”
and “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

Crazy For You was nominated for nine Tony Awards in 1992 and walked
away with three, including the coveted Best Musical — and when you
come see our production at the Morgan-Wixson, you’ll
know exactly why. If you haven’t seen this show before, you’re in for
a real treat. This show is fun for the whole family and has it all – hilarious comedy, beautiful
romance, mistaken identity, plot twists, cowboys, gorgeous dancing
girls, fabulous dance numbers, and or course, classic Gershwin music.

Who Could Ask For Anything More ?

Backstage at the show during dress rehearsal

If you are interested in seeing the show, comment here and I’ll tell you how to get a special 2-for-1 deal!

Everyone is Beautiful at the Ballet

I’m guest-blogging at Jennifer Lynne’s blog today about self-image, mean boys, dance, and confidence.  Please join me, and feel free to share a story about your own personally inspirational moment.

http://jenniferlynne.com.au/guest-author-laura-sheehan

Jennifer Lynne Blog - Laura Sheehan Guest

Guest Blog: Action Movies are Really Romance Novels

Join me on Roz Lee’s blog today as I discuss how the best action movies are basically just romantic suspense novels on film.

Check out the blog to see my Top 10 Best Action Movies that are really Romantic Suspense Novels on Film.  Agree? Disagree? Comment today (May 8, 2012) for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card! (Which you will hopefully use to buy my novel, DANCING WITH DANGER, wink wink nudge nudge)

http://www.authorrozlee.blogspot.com/2012/05/laura-sheehan-dancing-with-danger.html?zx=4b22e3135254d521

Dancing with Danger (cover art) - by Laura Sheehan