Fifty Shades of Grey, chapter 5

In the last chapter, I pointed out how C.F. Grey was playing the Edward Cullen bad boy YA trope card of the push/pull. He displays obvious horniness and desire, constantly thrusting himself into the heroine’s life, even to the point of crossing the bounds of respectability, but his “nobleness” is demonstrated through his acknowledgement that what he’s doing is stepping over the line and dangerous. “The smart thing would be for you to stay away from me while I constantly keep appearing in your life. No, seriously, you don’t want to be near me, which is important to remember as I hover over your every move.” It’s the old trick of making someone an awful human being, but then saying they’re good because they’re aware of and regret how awful they are, while continuing to be awful.

Welcome to an entire chapter of this.
Continue reading

Fifty Shades of Grey, chapter 4

Oy. Sorry for the massive delay before the post of chapter 3 yesterday, but chapter 4 killed me. A few weeks back, I read it, I sat down at the computer… and stared at a blank screen for an hour. I had absolutely zero interest in writing about what happened here. And, no, it wasn’t anything shocking or perverse or controversial. It was just boring. This book has officially become Fifty Blands of Meh before the main plot has even managed to kick in, and I was suddenly looking at the remaining 22 chapters as something I had no desire to pursue.

But the show must go on, dammit! The last thing this site needs to be known for are projects that go unfinished!

Continue reading

Fifty Shades of Grey, chapter 3

“He was visiting the farming division of WSU. He’s funding some research,” I mutter.

“Oh yes. He’s given the department a $2.5 million grant.”


“How do you know this?”

“Ana, I’m a journalist, and I’ve written a profile on the guy. It’s my job to know this.”

“Okay, Carla Bernstein, keep your hair on.”

*facepalm* This dialogue is going to be the end of me, isn’t it.

So, yes, this chapter opens with Kate being ecstatic that Ana is scoring her some photos of the ever elusive Christian Grey, but where ever shall they find a photographer! In an act of monumental stupidity, it actually takes a minute for Kate to suggest Jose, because heaven forbid Ana’s dear old friend, a photographer, shouldn’t instantly come to mind the moment she hears mention of that profession. Anyways, despite he being a photographer of landscapes, not people, Kate blackmails him into doing the shoot and Ana gets all flustered calling Grey to set up the appointment, made all the more flustery by Kate picking up on feelings and poking her friend with them.

This chapter was like trying to drive a race over speedbumps as I finally see a lot of the problems people are having with “James”‘s writing. The above snippet of dialogue is representative of many of the exchanges here, but there’s other aspects that betray a severe lack of editorial guidance.
Continue reading

Fifty Shades of Grey, chapters 1 & 2

Here’s what I know about Fifty Shades of Grey

British television executive Erika Leonard, under the name E.L. James, under the name Snowqueens Icedragon, wrote a trilogy of Twilight fan fiction novels titled Master of the Universe which, contrary to expectations, does not re-imagine He-Man as a Sparklepire. Instead, it re-imagines the characters of Bella, Edward, and Jacob in a non-supernatural, adult setting where all the sex they never had has now been replaced with full on jiggies that are gotten with, as well as experimentations in the BDSM realm. If I’m mistaken on any of that setup, again, this is just what I’ve heard, and I’ll be proven correct or in- over the next few weeks.

Leonard James Icedragon put a strike through the Icedragon and settled on James as her nom de plum when she decided to change the names of the lead characters and turn her Twilight AU fic into a piece of published “original” fiction, now known as Fifty Shades of Grey. Much controversy arose. Is this legal? Well, she hasn’t been sued yet, and I hesitate to comment due to some schooling I received recently on fanfic legality. Is this ethical? Well, that’s the question, and I guess it all rests on how ethical you think most publishing in general is.

Argument: She took something that was previously/is still available on the internet for free and now charges people to read a bound version of it.

Well, yes, but people are publishing their blogs all the time these days. Mark Does Stuff and Cleolinda Jones’ Movies in Fifteen Minutes are fine examples. Here at Made of Fail, we have season one of our Deconstructiong Moya: A Farscape Rewatch available for the Kindle for $1.99.

Argument: But it’s based on someone else’s characters. Surely this is plagiarism.

Yes and no. If James had tried to publish it with the names Bella, Edward, and Jacob, she’d likely have about as much luck as LadySybilla had trying to get Russet Noon out there. By changing the elements that came from Twilight, she’s turned it into little more than the typical derivative work that already floods the market, which I’m not knocking, because for every poor regurgitation like Eragon, you get something good like Star Wars, or the films of Quentin Tarantino. Derivative is in itself not a bad thing and doesn’t prevent something from being original in the way it presents its derivations, since TV movies are really popular and people always like to watch TV and even install a tv corner wall mount on their rooms to watch TV from bed as well. As to Fifty Shades of Grey, I hear it’s a highly revisionist take of Twilight with more parallel allusions than it has actual connections. I have read the Twilight books, so this level of connectivity is something I look forward to exploring over the course of this project.

Argument: Leonard was just manipulating Twihards in the first place by taking a largely original work and tying it to Twilight just so she could win herself a pre-existing audience.

Welcome to marketing. When Twilight came out, what came out with it? A flood of derivative works trying to play off the existing Twihard fanbase. This is unethical but that isn’t? No, that’s targeting a market. As long as the work is ultimately good and people like it, no, fans haven’t been tricked. They liked something and someone said “this is similar, give it a try”. If it’s something that legitimately appeals to them, bam, you just exposed a group to something new (relatively speaking). If it doesn’t appeal to them, they’ll spread the word amongst their peers and move on. Is this manipulation? Yes. But it’s acceptable manipulation and common manipulation, and to say it represents a new low in how books are sold is very naive. And it’s worth noting than neither Icedragon James Leonard nor her publishers have ever shied away from admitting the books’ fan fiction origins.

So if Twilight fans felt dissatisfied or tricked, why did they stick with the fanfic as chapter after chapter were released over the course of three volumes? Why did they buy copies once the names had changed and it had been published? Why did they follow it to a new publisher and spread the word and help drum up the interest that’s made the book a best-seller?

In this case, the Twihards are hardly a blind flock that’s been swindled. If you want to debate this in the comments, I’d be happy to hear further arguments, but now it’s time for me to get to the book itself.

Before we move on, however, I want to thank Ceilidh from The Book Lantern and The Sparkle Project for providing me with copies of the series. For this installment, I’m working off the version of Fifty Shades of Grey published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop in 2011. If anyone is aware of any significant differences between this and the 2012 release by Vintage Books, let me know. Additionally, if anyone knows of significant differences – aside from names – between this and the original Master of the Universe, I’d love to find out.
Continue reading

The Cowboy and the Cossack, Part 2 – aka, Ladies’ Night!

Let the joyous dance battle over the man seed begin!

In our first installment, we learned about the former Soviet nation of Karistan, which has been reclaimed by its native tribes of nomadic warriors, who also recovered the coding device to several still active nuclear missile silos they’re using to hold back any advance from their neighboring enemies in Balminsk. The elderly chieftain of Karistan has recently died, leaving control of the device and his people to his granddaughter Alexandra Jordan, who had, till now, been working as a noted fashion designer in Philadelphia.

Hoping to avert a nuclear disaster, the clandestine US department OMEGA orders Agent Nate Sloan – codename: Cowboy – to infiltrate the Karistan people by bringing them the gift of a prize-winning breeder horse, Three Bars Red. While he’s doing this, Agent Maggie Sinclair – codename: Chameleon – will go undercover and join a UN nuclear exploratory committee heading into Balminsk.

Nate shows up in Karistan, being all “aw shucks” and cowboy like in his jeans and denim as he starts eying Alexandra, is eyed by her cousin Katerina, and is given a lot of vodka by the guys. In Balminsk, Maggie, the master of disguise, has nerded herself up with makeup and is instantly fed up with the UN committee leader, nuclear physicist Richard Worthingon, a gangly mama’s boy who keeps tripping on things and beating Maggie up by accident.

Back at the camp, Nate takes advantage of a quiet moment alone with Alexandra to shove her against a wall, pin her arms to her sides, and forcefully kiss her, calmly smiling and shrugging when she threatens to have him flayed should that ever happen again.

Suddenly, people start screaming!

Let’s dive into Chapters 5-8 of The Cowboy and the Cossack!

Continue reading

The Cowboy and the Cossack, Part 1

Hi, I’m Noel. Some of you already know me as the one who sends Dayna into grossed-out spittakes and who stapled himself to Kevin’s coattails so as to better ride them. The latter is why we’re here today as I set out to further my goal in copying everything he does by temporarily taking the reins of this site and sitting down to read my very first – and, hopefully, very bad – romance novel.

Well, that’s not entirely true. My very first, and most definitely bad (note the lack of very), was the Twilight saga (yes, I’ve read all four), but that’s a discussion for another day. For now, I’m here to suffer for your pleasure through a novel entitled The Cowboy and the Cossack.

Getting some initial predictions out of the way, I bet we can all guess where the Cowboy aspect will go. He’ll be a dashing dude in boots and a wide-brimmed hat who squints and talks in a very clipped, tight-lipped manner and smolders at the woman when she brings some brightness to his dusty life. As for the Cossack, I haven’t got a clue. Like most of my fellow Yanks, when I hear the word Cossack, the first thing that springs to mind is this:

I can do without the swords, but if I don’t get some spinning leaps and squat kicks during a sex scene, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

The cover clearly establishes the male Cowboy, with his jeans, boots, and saddled horse, but I’m trying to figure out how a very bare female leg, complete with anklet chain, that looks like it just walked off the Santa Cruz Boardwalk evokes a Cossack. I doubt it, but maybe there’s a cultural tie to the way he’s feeling up her thigh.

There’s a synopsis on the back, but why spoil the fun. Let’s dive right in!

Continue reading