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Sunday, December 4, 2011

A sample from "Unfinished Business"

I'm very close to finishing, so here's a sample to keep you interested. Historical fiction with romantic elements, set in Boston in 1912:

Alone now, James looped through the memory of the morning meeting. Lilith's dress had been conservative, a high-necked white cotton Gibson Girl shirt and v-cut jacket made to emphasize broad shoulders Lilith lacked. The gray heather jacket, made of a fine cloth James couldn't afford even if he spent a year's salary, nipped in tight at the waist, her ribs narrowing to a point so simple in diameter that he wondered if he'd even need both hands to close the space. The three-quarters sleeves showed she was a modernite, not afraid to show wrist, and James wondered how free thinking she was in bed.

Her skirt dropped off from under the tight waist, made of a fine white materials that he thought was linen, as it was an off-white color and slightly wrinkled. Three horizontal stripes along the hem of the skirt, perfectly matching the heather tone of her jacket, finished the look. She was a fashion plate, but an odd mixture of old-fashioned Boston style and progressive dress.

The woman was as tiny as he was big. He was close to triple her weight, he assumed, and would just as well be able to eat her entire head as plant a passionate kiss on those poisoned lips. He wondered what she looked like without the armor, or wearing a simple, flowing silk dress. Again, arousal plagued him, and he cursed his lack of undergarments. The morning had been a blur of hangover and plying last night's woman from his bed, and in the rush to do his hair and find a presentable business suit he'd found himself without anything clean. The thick wool of his buttoned suit pants scratched against his hard bulge and he willed thoughts of Lilith Stone away, thinking instead of the night's lecture before him. Dr. David Burnham was in town, talking about Ellis Havelock's findings on the sexual invert and its importance in human development and society.

The erection lingered until he found himself on the edge of an enormous hole in the middle of the road, nearly pitching down a good twenty feet into an open sewer pit. That did the trick. Construction on the Charles River Dam had been ongoing for months now, and his bosses bemoaned the interference in the roads, making the commute to the office damn near impossible.

The water table rose and runoff from Beacon Hill flooded some of the lower parts of the Back Bay, leading to flooding. Getting from South Central Station to the common was hard enough. Avoiding these unmanned pits was harder. What wasn't hard, anymore, was the other brain James' body used for the wrong thoughts at the wrong times. He thanked God he hadn't absentmindedly fallen down that enormous hole, for he'd surely have broken a leg. Or worse. Such an ignominious way to harm oneself while being distracted by Lilith Stone.

Note: like that little dig at Seth? Heh.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Two Words: T-Rex Shifter


I've been exploring BookStrand, another eBook publishing platform. I came across The Mark of Cain: In Their Own Skins 2.

So a T-Rex shape shifter? Do they make condoms that big for safer sex?

Monday, October 3, 2011

More from my upcoming prequel to "Legs"

Here's a sample:

Nothing to fear. Nothing to fear. She chanted the words in her mind like an Eastern yogi muttering to himself along a verbal journey to nirvana. Of course, a yogi would not need to ruminate over the silly phrase. He would simply be enlightened.

Lilith held no illusions of her own enlightenment when it came to this strange fluid.

She was frightened. No chant would cure it.

Perhaps Dr. David Burnham could.

His office was as peculiar as his receptionist. Both were large, dark, and shabby. While Burnham seemed to have taste – the oak-lined walls in the reception area and New Hampshire granite floors attested to that – the anteroom was a man's room, decorated by and for men. An oddity for a doctor who treated women for the most part.

“Who is your decorator?” Lilith asked the receptionist, using a finely-honed, clipped voice. Leaving people no choice but to answer an authoritative question had served her well for years. She didn't really care about the answer. How the subject replied, though, revealed everything she needed to know.

Silence. Her face was bent down over a manuscript. Thick black waves of hair streaked with the occasional craggy grey, like broken guitar strings, were twisted into a knot at the base of her head. Tea-stained cotton covered the woman in a tent-like dress, her bosom rising over a misplaced drop waist. The effect made her appear to have stuffed a pillow in a bra the size of a saddlebag.

Tipping her face up slowly, the receptionist's sharp eyes belied her mollasses demeanor. Raven black, pupils blending into the iris like spilled ink. An angry scar from right nostril to ear, covered with a sad attempt at pancake powder.

“I wouldn't know. The doctor has kept his office as such since I began working here, Miss.” Gravel mixed with sand came forth in her voice, the words infused with an Irish lilt. Lilith wondered who gave her that scar.

And then the receptionist stood, towering a good foot over Lilith. “Excuse me while I attend to a pressing concern,” she said. Limping away, the woman's gait appeared to cause her great pain. Lilith snatched a glance at the desk. A small placard read “Mary Murphy,” a name you could shout in south Boston and hear fifty women cry “aye!” on any given day.

And concern she held for Mary dissolved when Dr. Burnham stepped through a door that was built into a wall panel. He seemed to materialize from nowhere, a spirit at a séance.

“Miss Stone? Do come in. I apoligize for my tardiness.”

She glanced at the clock. He was two minutes late.

“If two minutes is tardy, Dr. Burnham, then you are as exacting a physician as I would wish to see. You inspire confidence.”

“I seek only to find answers, Miss Stone. The rest is a byproduct.”

An arched eyebrow was her reply.

She had come to the right place.

Nothing to fear, indeed.

Writing romance novels pays off, finally!

I just received this email:


Attn:Winner
AMOUNT WON: 790,000.00 (Seven Hundred and Ninety Thousand Great Britain Pounds).

Your e-mail address was selected and confirmed by our co-sponsor Bank Of England, through their latest internet software. You are therefore been approved by Coca cola ® /International® Award Promotion UK the sum of 500,000.00 (Five Hundred Thousand Great Britain Pounds).

CONTACT CLAIMS ADMINISTRATOR
NAME: Dennis Barrios
Email: cocacolaclaimsdepmt@w.cn
Phone #: +447045707432

Coca cola ® /International® Award Promotion Department

Do email the above Claims Administrator, at once with all the claims requirements below. To avoid unnecessary delay. They are needed to proceed.
Claims Requirements:
1. Full Name:___________________________
2. Address:_____________________________
3. Nationality:___________Sex:____________
4. Age:_________________________________
5. Occupation:_________Martial Status______
6. Cell Phone Number:____________________
7. Country:_______________________________
8. Your comments about Cocacola:_____________

Contact the Claims Administrator with all your claims requirements well filled.Congratulations once more.

Secretary,
Barbara H. Bond
Coca cola ® /International® Award Promotion(UK)
---

I'm so excited! I sent my Social Security Number and bank account to them right away. Coca-Cola: It's the Real Thing!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A new review for Legs!

A month (or so) break isn't right, so pardon my absence. It's been an interesting month, for various reasons with which I will not bore you (but that include Hurricane Irene. I hate that bitch.).

I was wandering the Interwebz and found that Legs received a lovely review on The Paperback Pursuer blog! Read it here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Romance Kills Science -- for Women?

So when a girl wants to find herself a romantic partner -- specifically, a male partner -- she becomes less interested in science, technology and math.

Huh. I must be a weirdo, then, because science and math brought me closer to my now husband.

What say you?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kindle Authors: You need 3 Different Author Central Accounts: US, UK, DE

Someone on a Kindleboards.com thread posted a link to the Amazon.de Author Central account. That made me realize (duh! doh!) that my frustration with being unable to customize for DE (my husband and MIL are fluent German speakers and are offering to translate my description/bio/etc.) is not a function of Amazon, but of my own ignorance!

For anyone else who didn't know this, here are links:

US version
UK version
DE version

If you don't speak or read German (I read enough to find a bathroom, order a beer, or upload a bio and picture), I suggest you have one of the other two versions open in a separate tab, and then toggle between the two pages to make your way through the German site. The interface for the UK version is similar to the DE one (the US version has more features), so that's your best bet for being able to understand the DE version.

I've now updated all three with my bio, Twitter feed, picture, etc. I can't wait to get my German description and bio up -- maybe I'll make a sale, finally, there LOL.

FYI -- hope this helps someone else!

Can you hear me screaming across the globe? Lost work.

I back up my files. I email copies of work to myself. I make duplicates of everything. I really do.

I lost my entire master's thesis a week before it was due, back in 1993. Back then, we used 1.44" disks and a megabyte was BIG. Like, as in, MEGA byte. Now it's a quaint notion that you stack thousands of in a two year old's toy phone so the device can light up and talk and do math.

But in 1993, my life was in that disk, and in the hard drive of the Apple IIe in the grad school office. And, somehow, I lost both.

All I had was a hard copy, well-marked from three different professors' comments. 70+ pages, plus bibliography. All painstakingly written and developed long before it was due.

OCR scanning was miserable, so when the wonderful folks at ITS helped and scanned it, it read like this:

"WH&i~le Sen543ederiiiiio Lumi*&^!!@~noso @rem@~`ins popular !n"

Oh, you get the point. I just retyped and reformatted (1993 software for graphs, tables, and footnotes was archaic) the entire document and got it in at the very, very last minute.

So two days ago, I was working frantically to finish a piece for a contest (The Golden Pen). I'm working on a regency historical (who isn't?) for the contest. Needed 11,000 words or so, plus synopsis. Was down to my final 1,000 words. I'd just finished writing some of the BEST work I've done in ages and hit "save."

Two seconds later, my laptop's battery died.

When I rebooted, it was gone. 0 bytes in file. My software developer husband gave me a highly technical explanation for what had likely happened.

Basically, gnomes ate it.

Well, um, ok. So I'd lose 500 GREAT words, but it wasn't the end of the world...until I learned that my backup system hadn't been working.

And that email I sent myself? It was only the first 5,000 words.

So I've lost 5,000 carefully-honed, beautifully turned words. I know I can "recreate" but it's not the same. And not with a deadline tomorrow.

My message? Back up, back up, back up some more, and don't trust your laptop battery!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Six reviews for Legs on LibraryThing

Nice! If you haven't joined LibraryThing, it's totally worth it as an author and, of course, as a reader! Meet other people who share the same reading interests, get free copies of print and eBooks, and more.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reviews for Legs are coming in!

Quirky-Gurl Media just gave Legs a 5-star review, and I've received a total of 11 reviews on Amazon: 5 five star reviews, 4 four star reviews, and 2 three star reviews.

Average: 4.5 stars.

Love it! Keep the reviews coming in! Feedback is important, and I'm wrapping up the prequel now, so I like to know what people think of Legs as I work on James and Lilith's story.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sample from "Unfinished Business," the prequel to Legs

It's #SampleSunday on Twitter, and that means serving up some fun for readers. I'm working furiously on Legs' prequel, whose working title is Unfinished Business:


Lilith Stone never expected to be staring into her father's eyes when she lost her virginity.

But she was quite pleased. At first.

The early autumn evening was the perfect setting for John Alastair Stone's annual Beacon Hill event, the party that would fuel the society pages of newspapers within one hundred miles for weeks to come. Though Stone now lived in Toronto with his wife, Anna, and daughters, Lilith and Julia, he'd been born, raised, and machine-honed by the Mayflower pedrigreed family that had lived on Beacon Hill for generations.

The Harvard-Boston Aero Meet was the topic of choice, as most of the party's guests had attended the airplane show. President Taft had been in town, and John Stone had met with him, a fact he worked into every handshake, each conversation, and any offhand comment he could. Former Mayor Fitzgerald monopolized as much of Stone's attention as possible, discussing a business venture with the billionaire. Lilith gratefully took the opportunity, out from under her father's surveillance, to achieve her goal.

That night, Lilith positioned herself with Jack Reed, her father's new lawyer, and flirted until he knew exactly how to get her.

And then she let herself be caught.

The gardens were lush with ripe, turned Japanese maples and oak trees pregnant and laboring to drop their gold, pumpkin and adobe leaves on the New Hampshire granite stone floor. A bundle of mature hostas under a small maple tree provided ample ground cover and shade for Lilith and Jack.

“Are you sure?” he murmured into her lips, his mouth a buffet of red wine and garlic.

“Of course,” she purred, irritated by the question. She was done with her maidenhead, ready to discard it like a broken pen or an old, torn towel. It did her no good, and at twenty-eight was a nasty reminder that she'd held onto her virginity for all the wrong reasons. In the beginning she was a good girl and stayed pure because her mother insisted. After a few years, though, she found that remaining a virgin was easy; finding a man worth sleeping with was the hard part.

No man met her standards.

And now her hymen was a niggling bother, something that she'd likely lost years ago riding horses at Daddy's country estate, but whether the actual membrane was intact did not matter to Lilith. The symbolism was critical.

She needed to free herself from the straightjacket of her untouched vagina.

Jack seemed nice enough. A social-climbing lawyer, she knew he'd view this as a conquest but would, if need be, remain discreet. She also knew that she would not be discreet, and that she could trigger her father's temper with one careful whisper hissed within hearing distance of the worst Boston gossips.

Having a twenty-eight year old, unmarried daughter was a source of great embarrassment to John Stone. Knowing she'd given herself up to a lawyer, a near servant in her father's eyes, would be unforgiveable.

Lilith smiled through another sloppy kiss. Jack took it as encouragement and a slow hand slid up her ribcage, searching for a breast. His other hand slid up her leg, past the garter clasp and under her panty line to find her already wet.

He groaned and she threw herself into the kiss, less from passion and more as an object lesson. This is how you kiss someone when you make love. This is how it feels when his hand caresses your inner thigh. This is how it feels when he places your hand on his clothed bulge. This is how you grasp an erect –

And then he was in her. Her thoughts stopped as she hitched, her maidenhead suddenly reporting in, nerve endings screaming as something deep inside her tore. The pain brought tears to her eyes. Lilith hadn't cried in years, but this was a keening pain.

So slight and light, like a bird, that he could hold her against the tiny tree trunk and enter her, then withdraw slowly, then enter again, Lilith's body tensed under his command. Which wasn't much of a mastery, really, but more the practiced hand of a man used to drunken encounters at parties. He seemed to know what he was doing, though her panties chafed against the joint of her groin and now his grunts quickened. She knew, from reading and talking with female friends, that he'd be done soon.

And then her father's voice boomed into the open air above their heads.

Now she began to enjoy herself.

“What a lovely night for a party, Fitzgerald.” A voice replied, its tone accented with an Irish lilt, but Lilith couldn't make out the words.

“What's the return on investment, then?” her father asked, his voice conspiratorial and cunning.

He paused, then his tone changed, a smile coming through his words as the sound of his voice pitched downward. “And, apparently, young love is in bloom, even in this late autumn!” They were caught.

His baritone laugh carried through the garden and Jack froze, deep inside Lilith, holding one hip in his hand, helping to widen her.

She pulled back and Jack's face made her laugh, his features a mask of horror, a guttural, yet silent, scream trying to come out. If her father, the richest man in Toronto and one of the richest in Boston, learned he'd slept with his daughter, not only would Jack lose his job, he'd likely be blackballed forever.

“Lilith!” he hissed.

“Kiss me,” she said, shifting her head to the right, the light from a gas lap on the upper balcony spilling over her forehead and eyes.

Jack stayed still.

Lilith looked up, her head bent back, and met her father's eyes.

She wiped the smile off his face. Saw red coals of anger ignite in his eyes. Watched him whip around and stomp off the balcony.

Regret flooded her veins just as instantly as the triumph had flushed through them.

Jack pulled out of her and began tucking himself back into his pants. “Your father! He heard us. What was I thinking? What were you thinking? I was drunk. You, you...tricked me!” Jack hastily made up his clothing, buttons half done and jacket askew. He wouldn't meet her eyes and she hardened.

“How did I trick you? Did I cast a spell and force you to place your penis inside my vagina?” She arched one eyebrow and now viewed him with disdain. For all she'd thought she would feel about losing her virginity, she'd not expected to find the man she'd slept with to be so mousy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#1 Bestseller on Amazon! For...Chile travel books?

Take a look. Legs is, currently, the #1 bestseller for Chile travel books.

While that's GREAT, and a source of endless amusement, it's not really accurate. Gotta love Amazon's algorithms LOL.

So I've changed my book description and added it. Hey! We're NUMBER ONE in something!

:)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How to Upload and Sell eBooks on All Romance eBooks

So I asked around at Kindleboards and got some ideas and help from Courtney Milan, Jill Myles, Debora Geary and Liliana Hart.

That turned out to be easier than I thought! Legs on ARe.

A few minor hitches for anyone considering ARe:

1. You need an ISBN or just email ARe and they'll give you a 13-digit number you can use in lieu of the ISBN. Email them BEFORE you fill in your book forms and try to add the files! I wasted some time there LOL.

2. Your cover must be *exactly* 200 x 300. But...

3. if you're opting in for the iBookstore, THAT cover image must be *exactly* 453 x 680. So you need two cover image sizes to those exact specs.

4. Don't try uploading more than 2 file formats at a time.

5. The whole process is FAST. My book was available within 10 minutes, and I bought it, downloaded it, then checked my publisher report and saw the sale instantly. On a $.99 eBook my royalty is $.59. On Kindle it's $.35 and for Nook it's $.40.

And, UNLIKE NOOK, you can gift eBooks on ARe -- and the recipient can select the file format. Brilliant!

I'm very impressed overall. Calibre is great for converting to weird formats. So far I've done ePub, mobi, lit, prc and html. More to come!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Do You Buy from All Romance eBooks?

I'm contemplating selling Legs at All Romance eBooks. The site gets about 4 to 5 million hit per months, which is strong. I can upload and sell Legs in up to 9 different formats (ePUB, HTML, PDF, etc.), which I'm assuming helps with worldwide sales, people reading on uncommon eReaders, etc.

And, from an author's standpoint, the 60% royalty structure is enticing! I earn 35% on Kindle sales of Legs and 40% on Nook sales.

But here's my concern: will I go to all the work to provide different formats and only sell a few a month on ARe? Can romance readers chime in and let me know whether they buy on ARe? I'd LOVE to be part of the pack there, but this is a time/benefit analysis.

Readers, please weigh in!

p.s. One aspect of ARe I adore is that the author can assign heat levels to books, on a scale of 1-5! Readers looking for less heat or more heat (or smokin'!) can browse by this category. LOVE IT!

Friday, July 15, 2011

LibraryThing -- Why You Should Be a Member

A friend who reads widely, and blogs on book topics, recommended LibraryThing to me about a year ago. LibraryThing allows you to catalog your book collection, meet friends via their book collections, and most important -- receive advance review copies of new books in exchange for reviews, or simply receive free books in exchange for reviews.

I'm running a Member Giveaway for Legs right now -- 100 free review copies released via Kindle. 61 LibraryThing members have signed up to get their free copies. All I ask is that recipients write a review on LibraryThing, Amazon, Nook, GoodReads, on their blogs -- wherever.

Join LibraryThing now and, if you're a steamy romance fan, consider requesting (and reviewing!) Legs. Giveaway ends July 19!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Legs is featured on Indie eBooks today

Indie eBooks is featuring Legs today on their site. Nadine Earnshaw interviewed me about the book -- loads of fun to think through how to explain why I chose to write about two star-crossed lovers, Chile, Toronto, and gushing!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sales have quadrupled for my contemporary romance, Legs!

20 hours ago I lowered the price on Legs. Sales have quadrupled!

Now $.99 on Nook AND Kindle.

Bob Mayer's Indie Publishing Success in a Chaotic World discussion

So I visit Bob Mayer's blog regularly and am involved in a comment stream right now on the issue of chaos and indie publishing. Should traditional authors self-pub? Should new writers go for a digital-first imprint or a traditional publishing career and view self-publishing as a last resort? Go straight to self-publishing and build a backlist as fast as possible? Aim for single titles or a series?

No one has the answers, and in a field that changes by the week, it's a "stay tuned" environment.

Great discussion on his blog. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

RWA Nationals! And...we're off!

I'm about to board the train for Penn Station. A four hour ride with WiFi and no children, no husband, no distractions. Ahhhhhh....

This is going to be quite an adventure. More than 2,000 romance writers, editors, publishers, etc. all at one convention in Times Square. Book signings, workshops, critiques, bar pitches, orgies (OK, not really. Right? RIGHT?), and all sorts of other mayhem.

Good luck to any man at the RWA trying to find a bathroom. I'd suggest the Starbucks nearby.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why No eBooks for Goodreads Giveaways?

I adore Goodreads. Love it. But unlike LibraryThing, I can't offer a giveaway until Legs is out in print (that's a fall project). Anyone know why? If it's because readers just plain old want a print book in their hands, I'm surprised -- most rabid readers don't care how they get a book. eBook, PDF, whatever. They just want the damn story!

If it's to cut down on a rush of indie publishers, that I understand, though I think there are a few babies being tossed out with the bathwater with such a policy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

1 million Kindle eBooks sold by self-publishing author

According to this Publisher's Weekly article, John Locke, author of nine mysteries on the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, is the first self-publishing author to join the 1 Million Club on Kindle.

Congratulations to him. How is he celebrating? By writing the eBook How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months. Enterprising fellow, eh? I bought the book. At $4.99, I couldn't resist. Anyone savvy enough to sell 1 million Kindle eBooks should have some decent advice for others, and even if I never follow his advice (or already *do* follow it), it's worth learning more about what fellow writers are doing to drive sales.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sample Sunday! Legs Excerpt

So it's Sample Sunday -- just go to Twitter and type #samplesunday and read to your heart's content as writers provide samples from their published and unpublished works.

Here's a taste of Legs, from Chapter 5:

Her comment about the professor who received the grant for Japan was a gut punch. He knew that Jill viewed anyone who didn't earn his way through the maze of professional academia as a lightweight. “It's not what you know, it's who you know” infuriated her, and so he'd kept his mouth shut for months, applying for his grants to do overseas research without telling anyone that he had a secret weapon.

He couldn't tell her that his ex, Claudia, worked for a corporation that held critical archives for his research. A few emails and a phone call or two and he'd been able to get her help to do pre-dissertation research, documenting exactly which records he needed. When Seth and Jill had struggled through “grant season,” tweaking statements of purpose and getting letters of recommendation at the last minute--often sprinting to the post office to send a thick application out in overnight mail to barely meet a deadline--he'd stayed silent about his connections. She would view his work as less, his intellect as wanting, if she knew he used an old girlfriend to get ahead.

But there was more. Even his advisor was in awe at Seth's uncanny ability to find the exact records at the right moments as he navigated digital archives and handled research the old-fashioned way. When Seth needed a critical set of government ministry records he had picked up the phone, called the right official and spent an hour on the phone, guiding the young clerk through a maze of card catalogs, paper files and computerized databases to secure the location of a set of mining maps that perfectly illustrated a portion of Seth's project. When his advisor questioned him he had no honest answer. The records were laid out in his head like a mindmap, and as he'd sat down to write proposals and outlines he just knew the next step, as if it were programmed into him.

Deciding to apply for the Fulbright to spend a year in Chile had been a smart career move. He'd been destined to apply for it, just as he'd been inexplicably drawn to the exceptionally tedious topic of saltpeter mining interests. Even fellow social science and humanities grad students found his research interests a snorefest; compared to studying the bat shit fertilizer industry in 1880s Peru or frozen food technology and its impact of the 1940s ice industry, though, Seth's topic was Hollywood material.

He'd also handled the good-natured teasing that came with picking such an odd topic. Saltpeter was a fertilizer and food preservative, and a very popular export that propped up the Chilean economy in the early 1900s. It was also an anti-arousal agent that killed erections in men, the subject of urban legends and myths. G.I. during WWII claimed the U.S. Army laced their food with saltpeter to reduce sexual impulses during basic training and in combat. This was a myth, but most of his professors and fellow grad students knew only the myth and he was the butt of ongoing jokes.

When he'd first met Jill and told her he was studying the sodium nitrate industry in early 20th-century Chile, she got the same glazed-eye look he saw so many times. Miles had leaned in and stage whispered, “That's a soft topic there, Seth. I can't quite get it up for such a boring project,” the other grad students had laughed.

“Am I missing something?” Jill had asked, uncomfortable with being out of the loop.

“Sodium nitrate is a fertilizer and a food preservative commonly found in hot dogs,” Seth had started to explain.

Miles had interrupted him. “It turns hot dogs into cocktail wieners,” he chortled.

“It's known as saltpeter,” Seth had sighed, and Jill bit her lower lip, trying not to laugh, now getting the joke.

“Ah,” she said slowly. “Well, it sounds like an impotent–I mean, important topic.” She'd patted him on the back while the other students howled.

Seth had leaned in and whispered, “You know there's no scientific basis for the connection between saltpeter and impotence.”

Jill had shrugged. “Never let the facts get in the way of besting Miles at a joke.”

Buy Legs for just $2.99 on Amazon or Nook. Or -- get it FREE! I'm still offering free copies to folks who email me at aromanceofthebody@gmail.com with your email address for a free Kindle copy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm a Kindlevangelist -- Are You?


This week I introduced 7 people to the joy of the free Kindle app for iPhone/PC/Mac/Android and -- yes! -- even Ubuntu. These are folks who said they couldn't read my book, Legs, because they didn't own a Kindle.

All have gone on to read my book and to download free and paid eBooks from Amazon, all because I spread the word and taught them how to use the free apps. One person even bought a Kindle (she'd been on the fence and I tipped her over).

This got me thinking about the fear that Amazon will somehow close the doors (or create significant barriers) for self publishing. I don't think it will happen, precisely because of "Kindlevangelism." Whether you publish and sell 10 books a month, or publish and sell 10,000, every single writer who published on Kindle will, at least once, teach a person how to download the free software for Kindle, thus opening Amazon's customer base.

Amazon pays nothing for our marketing their products for them. We do it out of self interest. Even if we don't sell a single eBook, the new customer we introduce to the Kindle technology represents business development. So why would they cut off their own unpaid force of authors who do this for them?

Amazon might add a small fee (a few dollars per title, for instance) or take other measures to weed out true spam books. But the brilliance of making eBook publishing open to all is that Amazon has turned us all into Kindlevangelists, converting non-eReader users one person at a time.

I haven't become a Nookevangelist, however, because somehow that just sound dirty. What's a good word for spreading the good word about the free Nook app? Leave your ideas in the comments. Best name wins a free copy of my book ;)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Free romance eBook giveaway! Get your copy of Legs!


Legs is now live on Kindle and on sale for $2.99!

If you're reading this and want a FREE copy, email your Kindle email address (your Amazon account email under which you buy and download Kindle eBooks) to aromanceofthebody@gmail.com.

I'll gift you a free copy of Legs. All I ask in return is an honest review posted on Amazon :)

The first 25 readers who email me get a copy!

New blurb for Legs

Legs will be fully live on Kindle sometime today. Here's my new blurb (description):

A chance encounter on a mundane morning bus commute leads history scholars Jill Knowles and Seth Hines into a spontaneous, uninhibited romantic encounter that leaves both reeling -- and destined for more.

Determined to become a respected historian in her field, Jill's entire career path is thrown off by a love that seems like deja vu. Meanwhile, Seth has wanted Jill since the first day they met, nearly two years ago. When she makes the first, unexpected move he leaps -- and falls far harder than he ever planned.

But Seth has a secret that will keep them apart, and when Jill finds out she turns her razor-sharp mind against him by day, yet channels her anger into passion-filled nights. Archives in Toronto, Canada and Santiago, Chile hold the key to their reunion, but Jill and Seth may be too late when each discovers the same century-old secret that could bring them together -- or tear them apart forever.

Fans of "Dead Again," "Somewhere in Time" and Possession may enjoy the ride as as Legs covers three continents, two centuries, and one fiery journey of two souls destined to make history together.

Legs is a full-length novel of 50,000 words with two excerpts at the end: a preview of a prequel for Legs, and a section from Arms, the next book in the "A Romance of the Body" series.

What say you? Comments, praise, and rotten tomatoes all gratefully accepted.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crunch, crunch, crunch...

Legs is now crunching through the grinder, making its way into a Kindle eBook right now. Within 24 hours or so it will be officially up and ready for purchase. Stay tuned! Pisco sours on me!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sample from Chapter 8 of Legs

So here's a nice sample from Chapter 8 of Legs:

She was so tired – tired of holding it together, tired of all work, no play, tired of second-guessing how she handled things with Seth, and just tired of carrying the weight of the Munson grant on her shoulders, the expectations it brought with the award. In a quiet voice she spilled the whole story, going back to Joe's leaving her, Seth's interest, their bus encounter, the two months they spent together, his omission, and her disappearance and move to Toronto. When she mentioned Seth's moving to Chile Toby had started to say something, then stopped and let her resume her story.

“Damn, Jill, you're hardcore!” he said when she was done, his baritone resonating in his chest, her ear pressed against his neck. He pulled back from her and she could see he was surprised and a bit befuddled, as if she'd destroyed an impression he had of her.

Toby shifted in his seat, hugged her again, and asked, “How's that? Feeling better?” She nodded and he placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. The affection startled her and she pulled back, suddenly aware of the physical change in their relationship. Faltering, she started a sentence a few times and then finally blurted out, “I can't, Toby. I can't.”

A confused look filled his eyes. “It's just, you're really wonderful, but I'm not looking for anything-”

He held his hand up in a gesture that said 'stop' and answered, “If you think I'm hitting on you, then let's just get this out of the way. I'm more your ex-fiance's type than yours, honey.” He crossed his arms and let the words sink in.

“You're gay?” she asked.

“Yes, Captain Obvious. I am. But apparently you're not, and I was getting a little Gold Star lesbian vibe off you, you know? What good is a gay man with broken gaydar?”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rock Hard, sequel to Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning, only $.99 on Kindle!

Ah - if you LOVED Backstage Pass like I did, then you'll squeal with delight and push the 1-click button on your Amazon account lickety-split to get Rock Hard, the second book in Cunning's 4-book series on the rock band The Sinners.

It's only $.99 as part of the Amazon.com Kindle Sunshine sale. GO BUY IT NOW.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

NEW free romance novels on Kindle right now - May 31

Yet again, here's a running tally of the romantic fiction freebies on Kindle right now. All are romance or erotica, and all are free as of this posting. Some of the free titles stop being free quickly, though, so I strongly recommend you enable 1-click on your Amazon account and just go through and buy them. They're free!

Happy reading!

One True Love

A Tailor-Made Bride

Private Games

Bound by the Heart

Foreplay

Fire Dance

Ecstasy -- I've read this already and strongly recommend it! Bella Andre does a great job again, as usual.

Slow Hands (Harlequin Blaze)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Belated Winner Announcement!

Life intervened and my blog didn't make the cut. Now life is calmer, so here we go. Congratulations to a reader from Massachusetts for winning Bella Andre's Candy Store. Enjoy!

I'm busy editing Legs, which has an official publication date of June 10-11 now! My Monday Review Contest is suspended until Legs goes out - the only book I'm reading these days is my own!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Sample from Legs: Chapter 4


Another sample from Legs from Chapter 4:

Mocha almond fudge never announced it was leaving for South America for a year. Mocha almond fudge never declared it was gay and leaving her. A spoon, a pint, and a good Hugh Grant movie was enough. Eventually she'd add a vibrator of some kind; she wasn't afraid to have a battery-operated boyfriend. It, like ice cream, was always there when she needed it and it didn't talk back.

After the fiasco at the department meeting, Jill had slept in her advisor's office for three hours. She'd dragged herself home on the bus, blinking back tears and focusing on her breathing to keep the headache at bay.

She finished drying her hair with the towel and threw it on the floor, carefully untangling her long, brown hair with a wide-mouthed comb. What a wasted day. The sleepless night, destroyed by her recurring dream, and her one day to bask in the acknowledgment of winning the Munson had been hijacked by her ravenous encounter with Seth. The emotional high and the ripening of possibilities with him made the day so perfect. Then, all of it, destroyed by his skulking, his lie by omission.

She shouldn't be so upset. She zeroed in an on old strategy from high school: self-pampering followed by plenty of ice cream. She'd bathed in bubble bath, shaved and plucked, used a mud mask and painted her fingernails and toenails a nice light pink. Never a girly-girl, these were part of her friends' activities, but she grudgingly admitted to herself that she felt better.

As she'd bathed and washed away the sex, rinsing all traces of his body, his passion, she'd teared up–but wouldn't let herself cry. She soaked out the anxiety, part of getting control again. Leaving for Toronto in two months would complete her process to achieve order.

Briefly, she'd wondered if she were overreacting. Was she making more of this than it really was? Was she writing Seth off prematurely? He'd be gone for eleven months. If this were – longshot of longshots – meant to be, couldn't they try to make it work from a distance?

A bitter laugh escaped as the thought went through her mind. For nearly two years she'd seen relationships end–even long marriages involving kids–when one person went overseas for dissertation research. The long hours in the archive, the new friends. The growth that comes from mastering a new language in context, and the exotic feeling of becoming involved with a native from the country all wrapped up into one neat package why so many grad students were eager to do a year abroad for study. It was a rite of passage to go away and come home with notches on your belt. Once in a while the men even came home with fiances or wives.

Jill's face hardened and she dug into her ice cream, grabbed the remote, and pushed “play” to start her movie.

Someone knocked on her apartment door.

She stood up and cinched her robe, then paused. Maybe she should ignore it. Her apartment building was a large high-rise with a few hundred studios and one-bedrooms like hers. It could be a mistake. The clock read 8:14 p.m. Who would knock on her door at this time on a Friday night?

Whoever it was knocked again. Jill put down her ice cream, paused the movie and sighed. She looked through the peephole and her upper body flushed. There stood Seth on the other side of the door.

She froze. A rush of heat ran through her, standing there in a robe and nothing else, her wet hair a half-tangled mess. The chocolate taste in her mouth went metallic and her hands felt like they were owned by someone else as she undid the chain and deadbolt and opened the door.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Image Desperation - Are You Guilty?

Cathi Stevenson from Book Cover Express designed my cover for Legs. She's worked with Big 6 publishers and has more than 1,000 covers to her credit.

She has a great article about self-publishing and book covers, titled "Image Desperation: The Kiss of Death for Independent Publishers," and it's a timely post.

The Kindleboards Writers' Cafe is awash with threads about covers. Spend hundreds or DIY? Spend $50 for basic image manipulation? Is this cover good? How awesome is my cover? No on should ever, EVAH spend more than $75 on a cover. No, a hand-illustrated cover is worth $500-$1,000...

And so on. Cathi makes some great points, but I love this section:

Another big mistake is the cliché image. Using chess pieces on books about business strategies has been done — to death! One book production company recently published a book that not only used the old chess cliché, it actually had the pawn featured on the book cover. Whose goal is to be a pawn? Other overused cliché’s that smaller presses can’t seem to let go of include puzzle pieces, people shaking hands and locks and keys. Unless you’ve thought of a completely fresh way to use these elements, come up with another idea. They have simply been used too often.

But cliches are a step above "image desperation":

That’s when a novice publisher is so desperate to have an image, any image, that he or she will “make do” with completely unsuitable photos or amateur illustrations that virtually shout, “self-published.” Sometimes the publisher simply doesn’t have the “eye” that can discern a good image from a bad one; Sometimes he or she does not understand what the image should be; Sometimes it’s a budgeting issue. No matter the reason, it’s not only unacceptable, it’s completely unnecessary. It costs just as much to produce a bad book cover as it does to produce a good book cover.

I have the art skills of a 5 year old with olive oil smeared in his eyes, so I chose to hire a professional to handle my cover. The Dunning-Kruger effect is alive and well for some indie publishers; people often overestimate their graphic design/book cover design skills, then wonder why their book isn't selling well.

While there are many reasons, outside the cover, why a book might not sell, eliminating a poor cover as an obstacle is critical for success. Don't fall into the "image desperation" trap.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Portia Da Costa's A Gentlewoman's Ravishment Certainly Is!

While I read indie romance novels and review them each week here, I also read across traditional publisher's lists, both old and new (The Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase is in my "currently reading" e-pile).


I just finished reading Portia Da Costa's A Gentlewoman's Ravishment, a Harlequin "Spice Briefs" title, and I cannot get the novella out of my head. Set in Victorian England, the book is part of Da Costa's Ladies' Sewing Circle series. The Ladies' Sewing Circle involves a group of refined Victorian-era women who have some revealing chats about sex, intimacy, and the steamier side of life. We didn't invent sex in the 1950s, after all.

Reasonably priced at $2.39 on Kindle, this book, somewhere between a short story and a novella, describes Mrs. Prudence Enderby's sexual fantasy of being abducted and ravished -- and her shock when it comes true!

I can't give away more without spoiling, but suffice to say that Da Costa has mastered the art of writing well, incorporating good historical cadence and tone in the dialogue without overwriting (or overwroughting), and she gets the pacing, periodization and details right. I had to look up numerous words for, uh, devices...well, I won't spoil the plot.

This is a story I will read again and again. Readers might find it, well, multiply engaging (as did Mrs. Enderby). It's a perfect short that makes me want to go out and buy all of Da Costa's backlist, and made me search out her website. Fortunately, she has quite a list of forthcoming titles with Harlequin as well, making Da Costa an author to follow.

Buy A Gentlewoman's Ravishment on Kindle now.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Review Contest: Bella Andre's Candy Store

So yesterday I wrote about Bella Andre's success as an eBook publisher. She earned more than $116,000 in her first quarter. Now, to be fair, she had quite a few books under her belt and got some of the rights back to her backlist, but $116K in 3 months is astounding for anyone.


Candy Store was one of the first indie romance books I read when I joined Kindleboards and started exploring the Writers' Cafe section. I'm glad her eBook was one of my first.

Candy Store makes no pretense at being anything other than a novella with a cute story and plenty of hot sex. And that is true for many of Andre's eBooks. They are what they are - solid, engaging reads with hot leads and hotter conflicts and sex scenes.

Callie Moore is the owners of Callie's Candies, a small-town candy store in Saratoga Springs, New York. Her business is failing, though, in part due to her generous nature. She's the candy store owner who gives kids freebies and has a heart made of dark chocolate cream.

Desperate to save her business, Callie turns to The Candy King, Derek McNear, a business consultant known for turning around struggling candy businesses. A chance meeting at a wedding and one hella hot scene in a kitchen cooler leads to a hot romance that would melt the chocolate off any Lindt truffle.

What I enjoyed most about Candy Store is that it's not formulaic, yet the checklist of romantic/erotic elements is omnipresent. Sympathetic, fiery heroine? Check. Alpha male with a sensitive side? Check. Hot, semi-public locations for incredible sex between near strangers drawn to each other as if by an unseen magnetic force? Check. The Happily Ever After (or happy for now) we all want? Check.

Chocolate?

Check.

Check out Andre's book, and if you want to take a chance on getting a free Kindle copy, just friend me on Facebook. I'll pick one of my friends randomly to win.

To buy Candy Store, go to:

Amazon
B&N

Come back next Monday to see who won, and to read my next indie romance review.

Monday Review Contest Winner of Gretchen Galway's Love Handles

So it's Monday, which means I get to announce the winner of last week's Monday Review Contest. A lucky winner from Ohio receives a copy of Gretchen Galway's Love Handles!

Hang on and read my new review, coming up soon, for Bella Andre's Candy Store.

Thanks for reading and entering, and be sure to enter the next contest!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bella Andre's Success Story as an Indie Publisher

The Washington post has a 5-page article about Bella Andre (pseudonym for Nyree Belleville) and her success with indie publishing. After flat sales in print, Belleville turned to Kindle in Spring 2010 and, now, is earning a healthy 5 figures per month as she uses her backlist and new books to make outstanding sales.

I want to be her.

Well, my version of her.

Belleville's is not an overnight success story. Years of print publishing, using fan mail to contact fans to help promote new books, developing a strong social media platform -- Belleville puts in the hard work.

She also writes 6,000 words per day, which I've done. My brain is currently on vacation on the Croatian island of Hvar, desperately working to recover. I can't imagine 6K/day ongoing, but if she can do it, my hat's off to her.

This is why so many romance writers are entering indie publishing. Read the entire article. It gives the ins and outs of this new frontier and also stresses that there is no happily ever after guarantee. But there is a new option, and taking the risk is key.

(Plus there's a picture of Jimmy Thomas in there. The photos from my cover for Legs are from his stock image site!)

I loved her book Candy Store - and just realized that I'll review it, here, tomorrow!

Friday, May 6, 2011

First Chapter of Legs - Sample!


OK, so here goes:

Chapter 1

The heels of her buttoned boots caught in the crevices between cobblestones as she erratically click-clacked her way down an unnamed street. Her corset felt like a vice and although she increased her pace, she seemed to be walking through water, her feet clawing the rocky bottom of a clear lake. A thin wrist reached up to check her hat and adjust the pin, the feather damp and limp now as the fine mist slowly turned to a full deluge, the incongruity of bright sunshine and sheets of rain giving the stone-lined street with its row houses and gas lamps the feel of an impressionist painting.

Spine stiff and straight, she walked faster, cursing herself for failing to bring an umbrella but tucking the thought away. A slight smile played on her lips as she thought of him, and she willed her tiny feet to walk faster, each step closing the gap of thousands of miles, a journey she'd begun weeks before. The long buildings sectioned into row houses with differing facades, some a pale stone with black iron detailing and others with painted wood exteriors, offered no asylum from nature's wrath. She would appear before him with the countenance of a drenched match girl. He would have to help her out of her wet clothes to prevent a case of the chills. The thought aroused her, but she kept her face set like a stone statue, neutral and unyielding.

Beggars reached toward her and asked for money in a foreign language she didn't know yet spoke fluently, and at one point she stopped a man in uniform and asked for directions to a building. The police officer replied and she thanked him, changing direction and seeing the church steeple, knowing her destination was just around the corner. Soon she spotted the grey stone building, the thick wooden door, and she walked into the lobby, a feeling of relief and excitement blending at once in her chest.

She asked at the reception desk for James' room. Without warning, as if time fast-forwarded, she was in front of a door, knocking. The door slowly inched backward and a gorgeous Latina woman with long, black, wavy hair answered, her skin the color of fine, pure spun silk, red lips lush with smudged makeup and chafed from activity.

Next she saw her face in an enormous mirror edged with color, her eyes wild and mouth twisted in a tortured expression, a chandelier glittering in the backdrop. But the face wasn't hers; it was a small-boned blond woman, with red-rimmed China-blue eyes and a sharp jaw, her wet hat hanging on an unkempt hairdo by a loose pin. Her heart slammed in her chest and she clawed at her collarbone, digging through the fabric of her bodice to find air.

Suddenly she was running back down the street, holding up skirts and struggling on the cobblestones, running and not caring that she made a scene as onlookers stared. Tears streaked her face and she found a small park bench many blocks away and sat and cried until a small child placed his filthy hand on her gloved arm, offering her a sweet in his other hand.

A ragged sob filled her lungs, and that was the point in the dream when Jill woke up every night.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Amazon.com launches Montlake Romance imprint

Amazon.com is shifting from distributor to publisher with the creation of Montlake Romance. Publishers Weekly's article focuses on the business end of the new imprint, but what will this mean for indie publishers who write in the genre? Will Amazon algorithms favor its imprint's writers?

And how aggressive will Montlake be in pursuing new authors? According to the article:

Another insider said he thinks Amazon will likely start to “acquire big names in the editorial ranks as well as make runs at big authors.” He added: “And I think agents would sell to them, especially since they’ll probably spend big money.” Amazon has proven recently that, for the right author, it is willing to pay a lot. After St. Martin’s Press closed a reported $4 million four-book deal with self-publishing sensation Amanda Hocking, word leaked that Amazon had put in a competitive bid in an attempt to land the author.

Watching this unfold will be interesting.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Monday Review Contest: Love Handles by Gretchen Galway

OK, OK, it's not Monday. But we're going to pretend it's Monday, just like I'm going to pretend that I did not just spend the last three days dealing with a deer tick embedded in my 1 year old's chest, or the GI- tract virus that turned him into a little Mount Vesuvius O'Stuff.

(This is why we read and write romance fiction, right? It's a nice escape.)

So forget all that and pretend it's Monday, and here I am reviewing Gretchen Galway's new full-length romance novel, Love Handles. As you may recall, a while back I reviewed her novella, Quick Study (and a lucky reader won a copy of her book). Once again, one reader who enters my giveaway contest will receive a free copy of Galway's $2.99 eBook, so read this review through to the end to learn how to enter.


I have one criticism to levy on Love Handles: it starts out a bit slow. Not plodding, and certainly not boring at all. It's more that around page 50, and definitely by page 80, the book takes off in such a compelling and engaging manner that by comparison, the first 50-80 pages seem slower. But do not let that stop you from reading this well-constructed, beautifully-characterized romance fiction novel that takes us through the emotional ins and outs of a San Francisco fitnesswear company, Fite Fitness.

The main female character, Beverly Lewis, is a preschool teacher who considers reaching through her car window for the donut bag at the drive-thru to be a workout. Liam Johnson, the male lead, is a gold medal Olympian with the fine-tuned swimmer's body to match. Liam is a senior vice president at Beverly's grandfather's fitnesswear company. When her grandfather, Ed, dies and leaves her the business, a series of plausible events brings Beverly into the company and -- eventually -- into Liam's arms.

This is a fully-developed novel with real people I want to have over for a BBQ or invite to share a pitcher of margaritas. Beverly isn't your typical female romance novel lead, but she's also not some overblown anti-stereotype, either. She's a real human being who has been underestimated for far too long and finally reaches her breaking point.

Same with Liam. He's tired of being the pretty jock and underneath his cold work persona there is a softy who indulges his kid sister, loves his mom and protects his younger brother. Love Handles is long enough to flesh out these characters (nearly 375 print pages) and the length works well with this story. In many ways, this is more a novel with romantic elements than a "romance novel." Yes, it has the required HEA (happily ever after) but it gets there by treating the characters (major and minor) with respect, letting them be real.

It's evident that Galway has some experience in the apparel industry. I love to learn something new when I read, and even the most formulaic romance novel (which this is not) holds the potential to teach and show. Galway does this well, avoiding too much jargon while patiently explaining how the fitness fashion industry works, and these details move the plot along. They aren't there just as notions.

Without revealing any spoilers, a handy epilogue gives the readers some resolution, but if I may, I'll add one more point of criticism: rather than an epilogue, I'd like to see a sequel. Love Handles is that good, and the characters endure in my mind.

So, to enter to win a Kindle copy of Love Handles, please leave a comment! I'll announce the winner next Monday!

Available on:

Amazon
B&N

Monday, May 2, 2011

Learn who won a copy of Ellen Fisher's All I Ever Wanted!

A reader from Michigan won a copy of Ellen Fisher's All I Ever Wanted. Thanks so much for all who entered, and stay tuned - tomorrow I'll be reviewing Gretchen Galway's new indie romance, Love Handles.

Yes, it will be on a Tuesday, but I'm raising three boys and at some point one of them needs more than a carpet-covered wire monkey and Snickers bars as a mother substitute. So tune in tomorrow!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Review Contest: All I Ever Wanted by Ellen Fisher


This week's indie romance novel review is Ellen Fisher's All I Ever Wanted. Dr. Drew Cooper is a Barbie look-alike with a Ph.D. in English Literature who wants to be worshipped for her rhetoric and comp skills, not her looks. Maxfield Sinclair is a popular sci-fi writer who is worshipped for creating an imaginary world ala Gene Roddenberry. The two meet under unusual circumstances at a sci-fi convention and, as is so often true in romance novels, get off to a rocky start.

The first page of Fisher's book used so many adverbs that I began to literally groan when I flagrantly noticed the seemingly endless number of abundantly ubiquitous adverbs. By page two, though, they thinned out and the characters came into sharper focus. By page four I was hooked.

The story line is simple (I like simple sometimes): she's a gorgeous, uptight, elitist intellectual and he's a mainstream slob with cultlike fans. There's a mystery thrown in, a wedding (or two), a kidnapping, and Max has a secret about his ex-fiance that softens Drew. Overall the characters are well drawn and the romance is your standard together-conflict-tension-more tension-together pattern.

The sex scenes are interesting, as Max isn't your standard "alpha male," though he doesn't act like a man as gorgeous as he's described in the book. Not to stereotype, but stunning men tend to have the sexual experience to match the chiselled look. Fisher has departed from convention and it makes the book all the better.

Aside from the abundantly abundant adverbs, which make an unexpectedly frequent appearance here and there, All I Ever Wanted is a nice, light romp.

Available on

Amazon ($.99)
B&N ($.99)

To win a free Kindle OR Nook copy of All I Ever Wanted, just leave a comment here. The winner will be announced next Monday on the blog!

(Edited to add: I can do a Nook eBook for the winner as well!)

Last Monday's contest winner!

Congratulations to a reader from North Carolina for winning a free Kindle copy of The Fashion Police by Sibel Hodge. A big thank you to everyone who entered!

Stay tuned - a new Monday Review Contest is about to be posted, so enter and try again for the new romance novel.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday Review Contest: The Fashion Police by Sibel Hodge


Yes, I know it's Tuesday, but I'm stubbornly sticking to my Monday Review Contest theme. And yes, I know I missed last week, so I'm reviewing TWO wonderful indie romance titles to make up for it this week (wait for the next one and check back soon!).

Sibel Hodge's The Fashion Police (Amber Fox Mystery) is the first book in a series of romantic mysteries starring Amber Fox, a former policewoman who turns to detective work between jobs.

Hodge uses first person for The Fashion Police, and after reading a bazillion (yes, I counted) romance books written in third person, with tons of head hopping, it took a few pages for me to shift to reading in first person.

It's all tell in The Fashion Police, and Amber Fox is a spunky police officer/detective with a (kinda, sorta) weak spot for her former fiance, Brad Beckett. Brad hires her to do some insurance work for him at Hi-Tec and when the owner of a fashion company she's investigating goes missing, the mystery and suspense develop into a humorous, goofy romantic suspense ride.

Hodge writes Amber with stream-of-consciousness, non-stop observations. A model is "so thin she looked like she'd been photocopied" (I laughed out loud at this). At times, though, she has Amber telling us about the emotions of others - emotions that would be better explained through description. A character doesn't give Amber a once-over - Hodge has to have Amber noting her "disdain." The showing works better stripped down, without the exposition.

This is a $3.49 eBook and a full-length novel. Hodge bucks the $.99 trend and I admire that; any good novel under $5 will likely sell well, and writers need to carefully weigh out their financial and marketing options when looking at price points.

While I'm not, personally, a big fan of first-person fiction, Hodge has done well with this point of view within the genre, and I can respect the style - readers who do enjoy viewing the world of Amber Fox through her own eyes and observations will find this a likeable journey. The Fashion Police is the first in Hodge's series, with follow-up book Be Careful What You Wish For (Amber Fox Mystery) just released.

Also available on B&N ($3.99) and Smashwords ($3.99).

As with all my contests, one lucky blog reader will win a Kindle copy of The Fashion Police this week. You don't need to own a Kindle to read a Kindle eBook - remember, you can use an iPhone, iPad, Android device, PC, Mac, etc.

All you need to do is comment on this post! I'll announce the winner next Monday. Thanks!

Legs has a COVER!


I've started the next book in the series, Arms, while I wait for edits on Legs. Then life becomes an intriguing mixture of writing the second book while editing/revising the first, then getting the cover going for the second while getting a revised draft for Legs out to a bunch of beta readers, with a goal of May (May 31 at 11:59 p.m. counts as "May," no?).

I'm thoroughly enjoying this process.

And here's a larger pic for your enjoyment:

Friday, April 15, 2011

NEW free romance novels on Kindle right now

Many of the free romance novels from last week have gone to paid, so I hope you downloaded them for free while you could!

Here are the freebies right now - be sure to act fast and download before they start charging:

Almost Perfect (Perfect Trilogy)

Irresistible Forces

Slow Ride: A Rough Riders story

A Fool Again: A Novella

13 Little Blue Envelopes Free with Bonus Material

Delivered With Love

Howling for My Baby

Stolen Hearts

Masks

Slow Hands -- This title is a Harlequin Blaze book.

Fools Rush In

Destiny by Design

Dancing in the Moonlight

Ghostly Awakening

The After Party

Many of these are repeats from last week - if you've read them, please comment and share your opinion! The new freebies are listed first.

Happy free reading!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Better Late Than Never: Winner of Last Week's Monday Review Contest

A reader from Colorado won a copy of Kiana Davenport's House of Skin on Kindle.

It's been a crazy week in the Alibeck household, so my Monday Review Contest will be a Wednesday review contest this week! Check in tomorrow. Hot new romance to be reviewed and one reader wins a copy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning - get it FREE NOW!


I'm reading a wide array of books, and am only halfway through Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning but I have to say - buy it. Now. Don't wait. Now. I'll write a proper review later, but it's FREE right now on Kindle, so go download it. Do it. And then read the first two chapters and don't forget to respire.

Friday, April 8, 2011

TONS of Free Romance Books on Kindle Right Now!


I've never seen so many free romance books in the Top 100 on Kindle before. Here are a few I've downloaded already to my iPhone for convenient reading later. In many cases the freebies get pulled fairly quickly, so don't hesitate - buy with 1 Click and move on to the next one, then read away later!

Slow Hands
Ghostly Awakening
Fools Rush In
Dancing in the Moonlight
The After Party
Stolen Hearts
Destiny by Design
Truth and Consequences
Masks
Howling for My Baby
Delivered With Love
A Cottage By the Sea
Backstage Pass
50 Ways to Hex Your Lover

Many of these titles are from Samhain and Ellora's Cave, while others are from a smattering of different publishing houses. Indie publishers cannot list their eBooks for free on Kindle (yet), so if you're looking for free indie romance novels, these aren't.

Download now, and FAST, and enjoy. Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One of the Greatest Romantic Movies Has a Sequel: When Harry Met Sally 2!



In 1989 I must have gone to the movie theater at least 10 times to watch When Harry Met Sally. We own it on DVD and I have practically worn a hole in my CD soundtrack. It was - and remains - one of my absolute favorite romantic movies of all time.

Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal are pitching a sequel to When Harry Met Sally. When Harry Met Sally 2 is making the rounds - squee! Enjoy this short film about it!

Romance Writers of America - Joining and Attending Local and Regional Events



At the end of the month the New England chapter of Romance Writers of America is holding a regional conference in Salem, Mass. I'm going. Romance Writers of America is the biggest organization of writers in the romance genre, and their reach is astounding. The local chapter here in Mass. meets at Brandeis University in Waltham once a month, and I'll attend my first meeting in a week and a half; the topic is guns and firing guns.

I started laughing when I saw that, but then it really hit me how much sense it makes to have a gun demonstration/discussion for authors. When I'm writing a scene (there are no gun scenes in Legs or Arms, though), I strive for realism. With the exception of writing paranormal sections of books, or fantasy elements (in which case writer's block is cheerfully fixed by handling plot obstacles with a simple "It's magic! I can make s%!t up!" fix), the work has to be as plausible as possible, or you can feel the reader's eyeballs rolling out of their collective heads from hundreds of miles away. Not wishing to be responsible for a mass ophthalmological catastrophe, I'll attend the gun workshop, because who knows when a character might need a firearm?

I'm more intrigued by the RWA's stance on membership. You can attend up to three meetings as a non-member, and after that they cut you off and membership is required. No problem. I'm amazed you can attend three meetings without membership - I can't think of another writer's organization I've been part of (SCBWI comes to mind) where that's the case. The New England chapter is thriving, with plenty of members securing book deals and publishing independently each month. Behind the scenes romance is big business, and the RWA is a pivotal part of that $1.3 billion that readers shell out each year for the genre.

Most writers I know are fairly reclusive. Not in some J.D. Salinger way, but more in a busy mom/shy sort of way. I don't fall into this category; standing in front of college students for 17 years on and off as I taught, plus four years of speech team in high school means I can talk before large groups, and sometimes it's hard to get me to shut up when I'm discussing a favorite topic. But asking a writer to walk into a meeting where all the other people:

-- know each other
-- are writers
-- have been writing in the genre longer than you
-- are probably better than you
-- will laugh hysterically at your poor writing ability
-- and plan to kill and roast you as a sacrifice to the great god Harlequin

is a bit intimidating.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Review Contest: House of Skin by Kiana Davenport


I normally don't jump on bandwagons, but I followed the J.A. Konrath blog post on Kiana Davenport with great interest. After Davenport, a well-received writer of literary fiction that touches on the erotic and romantic, wrote a touching email to Konrath about her depression and experience as a writer, Konrath encouraged his readers to discover her work for themselves.

While much of the writing blogosphere focused on the power of a Konrath consideration (her short story collection, House of Skin, moved up by 40,000%+ within a day of Konrath's post), what I found most amazing about her book, House of Skin, is that I had never read any of her work before, and wondered why on earth I'd never heard of her.

Priced at an obscene bargain at $1.99 on Kindle, House of Skin is one of those books that gets - pardon the pun - under your skin and slinks into your mind, inhabiting it during quiet moments and mulling over the stories from different angles. Davenport's stories have appeared in some of the best anthologies in literary fiction, from The Pushcart Prize Stories to The Best American Short Stories and Story Magazine itself.

The title story, "House of Skin," is worth the $1.99 cover price alone (really, it's worth so much more...). Lyrical and sensorial, yet stripped down like a Ray Carver story, it conveys so much with such economy of words, but a plethora of images. I was not expecting the end (no spoilers, so don't worry) and my emotional response was in tandem with that of the main character - Davenport evoked in me, the reader, what she shows in her protagonist. Remarkable writing.

In "Her Walking Stick," Davenport's imagery in sentences like "Mama hears them in bed at night, frenzied bodies shaking the wall so Jesus turns sideways on his crucifix" build instant pictures in the reader's mind carrying the story forward frame by frame like a story board with rich narrative as an added layer, each playing off the other.

Amazon classifies House of Skin as erotica, and I can see why, yet it is literary erotica, with an elegance and simplicity that conveys timelessness and a foreign enchantment to all Davenport describes. House of Skin inspired me to buy more books by Kiana Davenport, and in this brave new world of indie publishing, Konrath has not just done one writer a great service, but he has also served readers well by bringing Davenport to the attention of so many.

Available on:

Amazon

Enter to win a free Kindle copy of House of Skin - all you have to do is friend me on Facebook: Harper Alibeck.

That's it! One winner will be randomly chosen to receive a copy of the book - I'll use the Kindle book gift program to do it, so make sure you either have a Kindle or that you've downloaded the Kindle free app to read books on your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android or Blackberry.

Good luck! Winner will be announced here on Sunday, April 10!

Excerpt from Legs - please read and critique

One of the hardest aspects of being a writer involves letting people actually read your work.

::Blink. Blink. Let that sink in.::

I've hesitated to put any of my writing out there, so I'm cleaning up a nice 5-page sample to post later this week. Today I'm focused on getting my Monday Review Contest review ready, but in the meantime, here's a one-sentence excerpt:

She buried her hands in the thick curls at the back of his head and kissed him so thoroughly he was sure she'd lick her own palm.

There you go. Literary fiction at its finest.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Winner of a free copy of Intentions of the Earl!

A reader (and commenter) in California won the free copy of Rose Gordon's Intentions of the Earl. Yay! She's been contacted already and if she chooses to post here, that's up to her - I won't name her.

Stop back tomorrow for my new Monday Review Contest post and enter - you may win the next one. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Review Contest: Intentions of the Earl by Rose Gordon


It's Monday again, which means sometime today, if you work in an office, you'll drag yourself into the building, find your desk, have a cup of lukewarm coffee, curse the fluorescent lights, and spend the hours from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. reading email and goofing on the Internet before buckling down and working a solid half hour before lunch.

It's also Monday Review Contest time here at A Romance of the Body, and that means I get to go out and have a facial, a 90-minute massage, a mani pedi and a date with my real husband, Colin.

Ah, a girl can dream, right? Escape is one of the many reasons readers enjoy romance novels, and over the weekend I thoroughly enjoyed reading Rose Gordon's historical romance novel, Intentions of the Earl. Set in 1812, the story revolves around Brooklyn Banks, a young woman from the United States who travels to England and meets Andrew Black. As a Regency-period novel, this book involves, of course, the traditional arc: boy meets girl, boy works to seduce girl, girl tries to preserve her honor, magic gnomes enter the story and create conflict, boy is an 19th-century nobleman with the sensitive emotional and sexual development of an enlightened 21st-century man, and in the end, the gnomes make everything better.

OK, that's not quite the plot.

In fact, Gordon has written a lush novel, one that puts the reader squarely in the frame as Andrew Black rises to a challenge (literally, when he's aroused by Brooke): to earn back his earldom's prized estate after losing it to debt, he must seduce - and disgrace - the daughter of John Banks for reasons not revealed to Andrew until the end of the novel.

Most of the book involves Brooke's proto-feminist sensibilities and Andrew's internal struggles as he attempts to be a rake and fails, falling in love with her. Benjamin Gateway serves as the antagonist and the issuer of this challenge, with the goal to force the Banks family to return to the former colonies with tails tucked between their legs. The twist at the end that explains the relationship between Andrew and his challenger is a doozy, as are a few other plot twists, but all are believable.

While the plot is interesting, it's Gordon's writing that makes the book that much stronger. The sexual allusions and tension aren't just described - they are felt. Gordon's writing draws the reader into the minds and bodies of Andrew and Brooke, not simply describing but also explaining the emotional impact of each movement. While "show, don't tell" has been beaten into the minds of all good little creative writing students from 8th grade through MFA programs, Gordon demonstrates that a strong writer can "tell" - and make the scenes all the better for it.

From a design angle, Intentions of the Earl has one of the most attractive and interesting book cover designs I've seen on a Regency-era romance novel. It's a bit incongruous, as the lighting makes the image seem very modern, yet at the same time it's not your typical "bodice ripping" cover. To be frank, the cover caught my eye and led to my purchasing the $2.99 eBook; while you can't judge a book by its cover, in this case the contents delivered far more than even the gorgeous design.

These characters have lingered with me all weekend, and this is a book I'll read again and again as its understated elegance beckons. This is as much a character-driven historical novel as it is historical romance, and Gordon has written one of the best Regency-era books I've ever read. I look forward to reading more of Rose Gordon's work.

Available on:

Amazon
B&N

Enter to win a free Kindle copy of Intentions of the Earl - all you have to do is leave a comment on this post!

That's it! One winner will be randomly chosen to receive a copy of the book - I'll use the Kindle book gift program to do it, so make sure you either have a Kindle or that you've downloaded the Kindle free app to read books on your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android or Blackberry.

Good luck! Winner will be announced here on Friday, April 1.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Winner of the first Monday Review Contest

Congratulations to the winner of the first Monday Review Contest - a reader in Massachusetts. I won't be posting names, but will let winners post in comments if they wish.

Good luck to Gretchen Galway and her book, Quick Study.

Check in tomorrow - I have another GREAT romance, in a completely different genre (historical romance! Bodices and chemises and everything!) to review tomorrow, and once again I'll be giving away a FREE copy of the book on Kindle to one lucky contest winner.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How do Amazon affiliates help with Kindle sales?

I have a background in SEO, and I've become fascinated with the algorithm Amazon uses for determining sales rank, "customers who bought this book also bought...", and for understanding what it takes to reach a tipping point - we've seen the "6 month rule" here and it's fascinating. From an analytical standpoint, we can make some educated guesses on how many books one needs to sell to reach X ranking, and we can also make educated guesses on how many co-sales you need to have with high-ranking books to be one of the featured "customers who bought this book also bought..." options.

But I also think that Amazon affiliates - people who use the Amazon affiliate links to earn about 4 to 8% of the book's sale as a commission - plays a huge role in this. I've had an Amazon affiliate account since 1997/98, back when I taught myself how to hand code in HTML and used to make $10 a month selling from it, and I still throw it on a few blogs I write.

One of the simplest features is a banner for bestselling books, that any Amazon affiliate can upload. It rotates bestsellers. Once your book reaches a certain point, it will be featured on there - not just on Amazon, but on tens of thousands of blogs and websites, in graphic form via banner.

That familiarity and exposure likely plays as big a role as the "customers who bought this book also bought..." feature, because readers may very well see the book cover 2, 5, 10, 20 times in different reader communities, blogs, etc. before going into Amazon to make a purchase. In addition, some of the widgets for Amazon affiliates let you show ONLY Kindle Books for a specific keyword.

If, as an affiliate, I want a rotating banner of thumbnails for books using the keyword "time travel romance," I can do that - and the 9-book, large banner is filled with Diana Gabaldon, but H.P. Mallory pops in there as well. It uses bestselling to rotate, so this is, I think, where a little SEO (or, perhaps, just algorithm optimization) comes in with indie publishers and product description.

If your book is one of the top selling for an obscure term, you may get into more of these banners. So making sure you have many variations of keywords might be important for getting maximum exposure on affiliate banners - which in turn could drive sales, and help strengthen you in the larger subcategories, which in turn drives up rankings and, hopefully, sales.

"Vampire time travel romance" gives nearly all indies, for instance, in the affiliate banner. "Zombie time travel" gives plenty of indies and, oddly enough, the U.S. Army Survival Manual from the Department of Defense (hmmmm.....).

Using different variations in your description might help to get picked up by very targeted ad campaigns from affiliates and help with building momentum toward the tipping point.