Monday, 20 December 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas


One the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

The twelve days of Christmas is between the 25th January (Christ's birth) and 6th January (Christ's baptism). All the way back to the 4th century, the celebrations included pagan beliefs such as the burning of the Yule log throughout - it was a bad omen of things to come in the new year if the log burnt out before the 12th day. Indeed, the period of 12 days mapped out originally bracketed a few pagan and raucous roman holidays which were certainly celebrated. It is believed that the the big day itself (25th) was a pagaon holiday and that Pope Julius I chose this day as Christmas day in order to replace pagan with christianity.

Often a Lord of Misrule was appointed during this celebration, turning the powers of the establishment upside down. A servant might be made lord of the manor and preside over revelries, even command the lord to do his bidding... naturally, that servant might take care in exactly how he commanded the lords and nobles, because it wouldn't be long before he was a mere servant again and subject to his lord's will and punishment.

Throughout these twelve days were celebrations of feastings and drinking and games and plays and silliness as well as more seriousn observations such as the lighting of the special mass candle each night and the sermons.

With the industrial revolutions, these 12 days were gradually lost due to increased pressure to work more days...welcome to the present world. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to take 12 days off each year for one long party?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

What am I reading this week

Strictly non-fiction this week and next. Right this minute, my heroine is making her way up to Queen Mary's court in Edinburgh, so it's time to freshen up on the facts and detail. Medieval history is often more exciting and fantastical than any fiction one could dream up, a twisted mix of intrigue, assissination plots, scandalous affairs and romance. Unfortunately, the romance seldom ends in happy-ever-after and even more so in the life of Queen Mary. Her great romance ended shortly after the honeymoon period, her husband Henry Darnley murdered by her powerful barons and Mary fleeing across the border to seek help from her cousin, Queen Elizabeth...yeah, that didn't end so well, either.

Of course, my heroine will get her happy-ever-after, but I've a few heart-breaking paces to put her through yet.

Besides a ton of other research, here's what I'm plowing through....

Mary, Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser
This tomb is over 700 pages and I've already read it front to back twice. Third time's the charm, as they say, although I doubt this will be my last read-through. Mary's world is just so fascinating and Fraser does a superb job of balancing political facts with scrumptous details of Mary as a young, vulnerable woman standing up to her power-hungry barons.

The Castles of Mary, Queen of Scots by Charles Mackie
Haven't started this yet, but hoping for a mind-tour of the various castles Mary either lived in or visited.

Mary, Queen of Scots by Jacob Abbot
Just to balance Mary's story out from another researcher's point of view.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

HO HO HO

Santa just arrived, our tree is bulging, and my feet are aching from a marathon shopping spree. I'm not much of a shopper, but I do love the wrapping and watching the pile grow underneath the tree.

This is our first santa-free year. My boys are 10 now, so I guess we had a pretty good running. For the last 2 years, they were a little under-decided - not trusting this whole Santa thing but worried that there'd be no prezzies if they stopped believing. This year they laugh and wink right along with us when we mention Santa. Another era gone in our household and I'll have to box the red suit until the grandchildren come along

So a big HO HO HO to everyone, the season of mulled wine, snow, fairy lights and prezzies is here

Thursday, 2 December 2010

New blog on the block

Some of us Carina Press Historical authors have launched a brand new blog Romancing the Past to discuss and share all things historical. Come check us out :)

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

While I was sleeping

It's been a while since I've been TV shopping. Our last tv was inherited from a friend leaving the country for better/brighter voltage and our second tv was a one ton box. So, it was time... plasma, lcd, led, hd, 3d... what? 3D?? When did this happen? Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago when these were on display at one of those 'Science of the future' exhibs?
Not only is 3D here, but there's a dedicated sky 3D channel. If you can't appreciate my shock, you should know that our household still hadn't taken the step to HD. But this 3D thing? I wanted one!!!

"Certainly not," says hubby. "The kids watch way too much tv as it is. No ways are we all going to be sitting behind glasses in our own little worlds all night long."

No problem. I shoved a pair of 3D glasses on his face and forced him to watch 5 mins of Avatar in 3D

"Oh, okay," he says, "maybe we need to investigate this a little more."

And off we went to the next shop.

"What? Plasma?" gulps the shop assistant. "But what about the burn-in?"

"Burn-in?" I frown suspiciously. "Isn't that, like, last century's problem?"

Apparently not. So we came home with a very ordinary, rather large, HD tv, but listen up 3D tv, I know your're out there, you can't hide from me, one day soon...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

What am I reading this week

It's gonna be a white run up to Xmas, according to the weather man. Snow predicted this week, which means it's definitely time to cuddle close to the hearth with a good book.

What am I reading this week?

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices) by Cassandra Clare
My first venture into steampunk (at least, I think, still not quite sure of all the parameters that define steampunk - I know, and I call myself a writer!) Edited: So, apparently I still haven't read a steampunk. Into chapter 3 and really enjoying the story, but this is paranormal with the same world builing as her immortal instruments series, just different time period. The title made me think steampunk, lol

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Loved the Southern twang in this small town series.

What am I listening to this week?

Burned (House of Night) by P.C. Cast and Kristan Cast
This is my first audio book, loving it and trying to remain disciplined by only listening to it while I jog. The theory is that the deeper I get into the story, the longer I'll stay off the couch and on the road. I'll let you know how that turns out, lol

And also, fellow Carina Press Inez Kelly is throwing a Big Birthday Bash today and giving away a long, long list of books (including a copy of Betrayed) Always nice to go to a party where you're the one walking away with gifts :)

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Breaking News

Betrayed is now available in audio and you can listen to a sample at audibles. I love the narration, especially the Scottish brogue of my villian, lol. Unfortunately I could only listen to the sample, as for some weird reason the Carina Press audibles are geo-graphically limited to US right now. This is being looked into, because our titles are available world wide, and hopefully I'll soon be able to download Betrayed and hear what my hero sounds like as well.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Analsysis of a Romantic Superhero

When the November squalls start to blow in, it's time for me to curl up in my armchair with my annual dose of Smallville's latest season on DVD. I admit, I'm a fan, but what really got me thinking this series is what makes a hero and is Clark Kent alias Superman a hero as well as being a superhero. Are the two synonymous or can you have one without the other?

And no, I can't believe I'm actually doing a post on superman, but there you have it! And where am I going with this?

Clark has two well known *weaknesses*, Kryptonite and what is often bandied about as too much compassion for the evil humans/aliens he comes up again and his refusal to take a life. The Kryptonite weakness is great, because no superhero can really be a genuine hero if they're infallible, right? Part of being a hero comes from acting in spite of the risks to yourself.

But what about his no-kill rule? As a romantic, how do I feel when he refuses to avenge his family honour? All in the name of fantasy, of course, in real life I'd be horrified at the notion. But in our fantasy world, don't we want the hero to have enough darkness in his soul in order to avenge things like honour? I think maybe I do. I hate Zod, he's going to destroy the world, and yet in that moment when he bloodied his own hands avenging Clark's family honour, I was more drawn to him than the actual 'hero' of the story. I turned the telly off, disappointed in my fav superhero and feeling he was more coward than hero...

After stewing this over for a few days, though, I realised that Clark could not be the superhero he was if he murdered cold-bloodedly. He could not take vengeance, he could not be touched by that darkness. I relaxed, smiled, and turned the telly on again and went to my happy place.

But this does make me wonder if that's why we don't have many superheros in romance. With all the paranormal fads raging, the superhero hasn't found a place. Is it because a true superhero can never really be a true romantic hero?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A blast of words

I have only to look at the word counts racked up by people in my various writing groups to know why I don't participate in Nano. I'd be the horse that doesn't make it out the starting box!

On a good day, I'm happy to clock up 1.5k words, most days I'm delighted with 2 pages. I love the idea of completing a first draft in a month, probably because I love editing so much and there'd be so many juicy bits to dig into. Which is the root of my problem.

I can't skip scenes and my story staggers to a halt if there's something in an earlier chapter bothering me. I re-read from the start at least once a week, editing as I go before continuing to the new stuff. And if I'm writing a historical, I take long pauses in between for research. This used to drive me nuts and I tried to wean myself onto better, more productive habits, but I finally realised that creative streams are very much like the proverbial river, you don't get far when swimming against the natural flow.

On the brighter side, once I'm finally done, I really am done and there's not much left to edit--at least until my editor gets hold of it!

Happy Nano to everyone out there, I might not be particpating, but I'm cheering from the sidelines and swallowing down my awe.

Monday, 25 October 2010

After the Sale - Chapter Marketing

I'm going to avoid the whole social media marketing topic other than to say (a) I'm still trying (and failing) to find the balance between family, work, writing and online socialising with a marketing slant and (b) I did the obligatory blog tour in my release month and I do think it was a success and (c) there are plenty of other writers out there who have this down pat and offer loads of excellent advice.

What I really wanted to talk about in this post was paid marketing, as in advertising. Not giving advice here, mind you, just a ramble of what I did, why, and my conclusions.

First up, I decided right at the start that I wasn't going to spend more on advertising than I could potentially earn from the sale of my debut e-book. The range of ebook sales is so up and down, and as this was my first release I had nothing to go on, so putting a number to this was impossible. I cut off my budget at about $130... that includes all my ads put together.

I participated in a treasure hunt (LASR) which had a minimal entrance fee, but I also donated a copy of Betrayed for their competition. This brought viewers to my blog, but from what I could see from the stats, these viewers came to get the URL link and didn't stay to browse or click through to any links for my book. Still, I hope my name lurked in their heads a little while longer, lol.

For the other ads, I had a dilemma with what buy-link to use. Taking the viewer directly to Carina Press means they're limited to shop there. I want them to shop there, because I get much higher royalties straight from Carina Press sales than from thirdparty vendors. But I do think many readers have their preferred choice of vendor, usually linked in with their e-reader, and could this be a stumbling block? My website, on the other hand, gives a quick on-hand blurb of the book (the ad is usually just a cover) in addition to a list of links to thirdparty vendors of their choice - but this requires an extra step in the buy loop. For the most part, I ended up directing viewers to my website - also for the reason so that I could monitor click throughs from the various sites.

My budget wasn't huge, so I was limited to cheaper advertising sites. Should I have aimed higher? Probably, and next time I'll splash out on at least one or two of the more expensive sites, if only for comparison. I don't have the data for comparions now, but common sense dictates that the more expensive sites have better click through rates - even the cheaper sites had excellent reading stats.

Monitoring click-through rates to my site, I noticed that the worst performance was my rotating banner ad. The site I used had unlimited ads in the rotation, which meant you could click for days without actually seeing your ad come up. Other sites put a limit on the number of ads in their rotation, and this probably has a much better success rate.

Static ads, especialy on the web site's main page, got the best click through rate. These are more expensive but well worth it. Still, I was looking at maybe 2-3 click throughs from that link per day. And also, to get these spaces, you have to plan ahead and get your booking in early, they fill up really fast and long in advance. I only started looking at advertising once my book was released, and got lucky on one site where they'd had a cancellation. Next time I will start booking these slots the second I have a release date.

Do I consider the poor click-through rates a failure? NO, not at all. As a reader of many of these online sites, I'm bombarded with cover ads and seldom click through myself unless something really jumps out at me or if I know the author and see they have a new release out. But as a debut author, I have to get my name out there, and the more times people see my name, my cover, the better for it to trigger something in their head when they're browsing through bookselling vendors for something to read. If this exposure sparks something in them to take a second look, I'm happy - of course this is not anything that can be monitored, but I do believe in paid advertising as a neccessity.

My publisher, Carina Press, also do a lot of their own marketing and advertising, and I was delighted to see my book in some of their bundled ads.

The sites I used for advertising were Long and Short Romance and Romance Junkies. I shied away from Smart Bitches and Dear Author because of their more expensive rates, but I'll definitely look at advertising on these sites next time round.

There are so many paid advertising opportunities out there, and my conclusion is that next time I'll make much greater use of them, selecting on or two expensive options and plenty of the cheaper options.

Monday, 18 October 2010

After the Sale - Chapter Reviews

Probably one of the most emotional sides to the entire process - when it comes to reviews, rejection is no longer about an editor's personal taste, publishing schedules and/or a story that doesn't quite fit what they're looking for right now. Rejection here is direct from your readers, on a large scale and *bang* right there in the public eye for everyone to witness.

Still, a stinging review is a thousand times better than being ignored altogether. Betrayed got the full range, from avid excitement about this *new author* and lavish praise to *okay, loved some parts BUT...* to *yawn* and even a few *slaps across the knuckles*. The advice (and excellent it was indeed) from multi-pubbed authors is to by and large ignore the reviews and concentrate on writing. Hmm... as a debut author, this wasn't gonna happen despite my best intentions. A singing review blossomed rose petals in my breast and a scorcher blocked the sunlight from my day (LOL) But you know what I'm getting at, each review really affected me (and still does, as some are still coming in). It didn't matter than one reviewer swooned at my hero's brogue while another found it difficult to read - personal opinions, I know, you can't please everyone - but I still felt each and every one.

And still, to be totally honest, the worst review sting comes when you offer your book to a reviewer and they say 'No thanks, I'l pass on this one.'

Which brings to me the business of reviews. Being new to all this, I wasn't sure how much or little to do in this regard. Many review sites request a 3 month lead time in order to synchronise their review with your release date - this is difficult with an e-book because the publishing schedule is much faster than traditional and I, for one, only got my production copy of Betrayed about 6 weeks before it's release date. But, I was suprised to see that some of those reviewers got their review out on time anyway and another thing to keep in mind with e-books - the shelf life of your book is not as rigid as print copies and it doesn't really matter if that review comes out a few months after your release.

Carina Press uses NetGalley for reviews, this means that any reviewer can request your book directly from NetGalley if they're interested. This means a lot of unexpected reviews appearing and it also means a lot more coverage and a lot less work from me - I didn't have to go out and troll for each and every review.

But it also raises the question of whom to send your book to or not. Most of the smaller reviewers use NetGalley, but what if some don't? And it looks like some of the larger sites will also go to NetGalley now and then, but more often than not they're inundated with publishers sending them ARCs anyway. Also, there's the question of sending them an email to alert them to your new book coming as opposed to hoping they'll find you in the masses of other releases - a debut author can easily get lost here. I sent about two emails to these smaller sites, one reviewed Betrayed and the other hasn't--yet. Next time I do think I'll take a more aggressive approach.

I did send Betrayed out to about 7 of the larger review sites - some did my review in time for the release month and I'm still waiting on the others - they have a general policy that if they haven't reviewed your book in x months, then they're not going to - another waiting game, lol 

For the rest, I relied on NetGalley and got some lovely reviews from that.

But there was another dilemma and that was the more acerbic review sites. These site don't hold back on pulling you work to ribbons and then shredding up the pieces. These sites also garner the most interest and even a bad review will reward you with loads of publicity. To send or not to send? I chose not to. It was a coward's approach and I'd the same again if I could go back in time. Not for my first book, but I'd seriously reconsider for consequent books when I've built up a little courage.

And there concludes my not so helpful ramblings on reviews. I think this is a very open area where every author must stick to what they feel comfortable with.

Friday, 15 October 2010

TGIF

Not least of all because my boys finally get home tonight after a long, long week on a school trip in Wales. They should have arrived hours ago, but there were problems with the bus and now we're waiting, waiting, waiting...This is the first time they've been gone from home and the empty nest syndrone hit hard - an abrupt reminder that having only one set of twins means everything changes in a quick swoop, no easing in with a littlie still at home when the oldest flees the nest.

On other news, Angela James (executive editor for Carina Press) has kept us on tenderhooks for weeks now with big, big Carina Press news. You can read all about it here ... http://carinapress.com/blog/
It's really huge and, although I'm not directly affected because it's only aimed at Romantic Suspense and Mystery, it's great to see the muscle of Harlequin always has our backs... the fun never stops!

Enjoy the weekend

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

After the Sale - Chapter Edit, Edit & Edit Again

For those of you who have received and R&R (revise and re-submit) and feel it's a rejection - DON'T. Betrayed was one of those. I revised according to the suggestions and concerns of my editor, re-subbed, and a few weeks later received that wonderful "Call" email from Carina Press.

My editor had seen something in my voice, a spark in my premise, something that grabbed her interest enough to commit to the hard work ahead... because Betrayed was far from perfect even after that first round of revisions and even after I'd been offered a contract. There was a second round, a third round, and yes, a fourth round, and after that the copy edits.

My initial draft of Betrayed was about 160k words, I'm sure my editor was extremely relieved that by the time I subbed to Carina Press, I'd dwindled that down to just over 100k... that's an awful lot of reading, careful edit-type reading and commenting and suggesting and fixing and debating back and forth with me over, five times over. My lovely editor even took the time to jot down joky notes that had me laughing out loud at times- I'm sure she wouldn't mind me sharing one...

I'd written (and no, sometimes I have no idea where these words come from, lol)
Before she opened her eyes and sucked his willpower dry with the green fire that seemed to burn from deep within her secret places.

My editor's comment:
Delete the “secret places” because readers may start seeing green pussy-fires J

I laughed so much, I ended up choking and had to cover my tracks when my 10 yr son wanted to know what was so funny.

There was not much time between the round of edits, sometimes as little as one week, and I must admit that the process consumed my time and thoughts. I admire authors who can juggle editing one book while continuing to work on their next. I tried that, but every time I sat down with my WIP, my thoughts would wander to the set of edits I'd just handed in, second-guessing the changes I'd made and wondering if it would be enough or whether more edits would be required. Not productive, but I don't bang myself up about it. This was all so new to me, new and exciting, and in a manner I'm glad I took the time to enjoy and worry over everything.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

After the Sale - Prologue

I've been wanting to do a series of posts on my experience post-sale and post-publication, specifically as a debut author. The leap from aspiring author to published author was both exhilirating and terrifying and I quickly realised that no one's experience is the same. When published authors are afraid to give specifics on what works and what doesn't work, in what path you should follow and what pit falls to avoid, it exactly because of that. There's plenty of wonderful advice out there, but it was quite frustrating to not have a set of easy peasy established rules to follow. Figuring it out as you go makes for many... maybe mistakes is the wrong word, so I'll just say 'things I'll try to do differently next time'.

The editing process, the time wasted, the marketing and review process... Writing I can do, but the rest was a steep learning curve and it's not surprising if I didn't get it right first time. Maybe by my 3,4,5 book I'll start getting the hang of it (if I ever get my next book finished, lol)

I'm no expert and there is some excellent advice out there -- this will just be ramblings of a debut author as she muddled through the murky waters

Friday, 24 September 2010

When assumptions go awry

I usually keep a keen eye on books coming up that I want to read, and I used to pre-order the print books and stack them on my teetering TBR pile so they were there and ready for when the mood grabbed. Since my Kindle, however, I've gotten lazy... actually, one of the great joys of my kindle is that I don't have to buy in advance, a touch of the button gives me what I want, when I want, when the mood strike.

This week, all that went wrong. I've been eagerly awaiting the release of Mockingjay but didn't see the need to order a copy asap to wait for when I was ready. Last night at about 11pm, I had finished my commitments for the week and it was time to read. Joy oh Joy, at last I was about to find out what happens in the final Hunger Games book!
NOT.
Mockingjay, for some wierd and not wonderful reason, is not available to Kindle UK readers. Why not? Why, oh why not? I'm prepared to pay hardcover prices, but I was not prepared to have to order print copy and wait 3 days for delivery!
I understand publishers having reservations about ebooks, but if a book is globally available in print, why is it only available in certain countries as an ebook?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Lazerquest, traffic and other things that go bump in my head

So, today was a typical Saturday, kids off to a Lazerquest party, me rushing them into the car and them groaning, "Aw, mum, we've still got a whole hour, we're gonna be way early again."

And we were.

But time and travel make my head go bump. How on earth does anyone ever co-ordinate travel to arrive at a place on time? If I leave with just the right amount of time planned, I hit a traffic jam and get there twenty minutes late. If I leave twenty minutes early, it's smooth sailing and I get there... twenty minutes early.

Okay, my head's sore now - I need a coffee and I need to start planning what time I should leave to go and collect them - because they hate it when I arrive too early and stand at the back of the party room, smiling my goofy smile at the fun they're having

Saturday, 4 September 2010

PICS FROM FRANCE

I can't believe we've been back two weeks already, my holiday to Brittany feels like months ago. I'm ready for another one! But we had a lovely time with all the family.

Saturday morning early, we caught the ferry across the channel and left the shores of Britian behind

We had the cutest,most gorgeous house in Guidel, right on the coast. It looks a little like a ginger bread house, doesn't it? deceptively small but large enough to fit the whole family in!


We swam... sort of



We ate... A LOT!


We saw the most magnificent fireworks display that reflected and resounded across the bay in a dazzle of senses


We did the cultural thing


We did the fishing thing

And then it was time to go home, with a small detour to check out the postcard-picture-perfect Mont Michel


Of course, we did a whole lot more and made a spectacle of ourselves up and down the French coast line. I raised a few eyebrows asking perfectly nice restauranteers if they have calamari on their menu - I think the French consider calamari the equivalent of bait.

We sent the boys off to a circus for 2 hours and hubby and I enjoyed a picnic for two on the beach - just a small practice run for kife in a few years time when our fold has left the nest. It didn't go too bad, not bad at all :)

So goodbye France, we'll back, maybe a little further south toward Bordeaux and a little closer to the sun!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

'ALO 'ALO

Just back from two blissful weeks in France. I slipped off quietly as we'd specifically hired a villa with wifi (or as the French say, wee-fee) access, so I was expecting to be on-line. The sleepy seaside village in France (Guidel) didn't seem to understand my concerns when we arrived to *broken* line. The first two days were panic and chaos, you should have seen our house. We had blackberries, laptops and Wii and no connection to the outside world. In our search, we arrived at a McDonalds about 20 miles away, and their wee-fee was down. At that point, I was wondering if some global catastrophe had struck, some evil internet chewer had taken over the world, lol.

By the third day, a strange calm settled on the house. We were no longer checking access on the hour, every hour, just in case. We started talking to each other, you know, small things like 'Good morning, sleep well?' The dark circles beneath our eyes faded slightly...

okay, okay, it's not normally so bad, but I did discover that there are many, many more hours in a day when one is not connected. We played cards, we swam, we strolled along the beach, we lazed in the sun for the few hours it appeared (my next French visit will be a lot further south, say Nice?) and by the second last day of the holiday when our wee-fee magically re-appeared, we barely noticed.

I'll be back later to post some pictures

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Pesky Characters and when to dump them

If you're a writer, or know a writer, you'll know that us writers hate to cut anything out. All that time spent on a gorgeously crafted scene? Every word, sentence and plot arc is a blood testament to my art. Right?
So, I've been nitpicking my last chapter over and over and over. Re-reading, editing, tightening... staring at the page for hours on end. I just couldn't seem to move on. The problem? There was this character, a delightful character with a walk-on role earlier in the book but with big plans for later. Round about the time I got stuck on that chapter.
Now, as wonderful as she was, as much time as I spent defining her personality, looks, objectives, entry and exit points, the problem is that she simply didn't contribute anything vital to the story. Worse? She kept on getting in the way.
Being stubborn as I am, it took me three weeks of moving forward a few words a day to make the decision. She had to go.
This wasn't easy. My stories are totally character based, I build the characters first and let them lead the plot. So, for me, dumping a character is akin to a meteorite crashlanding in my story and leaving a big 'ol crater right in the middle of it.
But I pulled on my big-girl boots and snipped her out. Amazingly, the chapter I was working on needed very minor changes to do this - which just goes to show how unneccesary she was. And suddenly I'm steaming ahead again - the storyis working again.
Maybe I'll miss her a few chapters down, maybe I'll regret dumping her, but so be it. If I'd dumped her 3 weeks ago, I'd be 3 weeks closer to the end of this book. A lesson hard-learned, but I don't consider it wasting time. Every book I write, I learn something new about the craft and about my personal writing.
Maybe next time I won't be stubborn quite so long - although I doubt it :)

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Fear is a five letter word

I've been resisting, truly, but apparently the strength and length of my willpower is 1 day. But seriously *shakes head* what is it about every small success or growth in the EBOOK market that immediately causes an outcry and vehement denial?

Once again Amazon mentions how well their digital devices and ebooks are doing and once again there's an outroar about how skewered their figures are and it cannot possibly be true. Close eyes. Dig head in ground. If we don't acknowledge it, then it isn't happening.

Now I have no idea how Amazon derives their figures and I'm not privy to details so I won't approve or disapprove their marketing ploys. But I do think, and this is personal opinion, that the publishing world is changing at a rapid pace and professionals in that field would be better off embracing it and changing business models with the times than denying it's happening.

Totally showing my age now, but I got into computer programming at around the time pcs had just started taking off in SA, and the doom and gloom forecasted smells and looks very much like what publishing is going through now. And you know what? Millions of people didn't get replaced by computers and millions of people didn't lose their jobs and the world didn't drop straight into hell. Jobs were created, dull and repitious chores were replaced by inspiring, creative tasks and everyone prospered and was happier. And the only people who got left behind were those refusing to embrace the new technology, for (almost) everyone else a spot was found.

Do I believe ebooks are taking over the world? LOL, certainly not, at least not until ereaders drop to a price that everyone can afford without cringing. But change is definitely in the air and it's all good. And yes, I will miss brick bookstores and I really hope they find a way to evolve and find their place, but I also believe the true death knoll of book stores is on-line retailing and not ebooks.

I'll still be reading all my favourite authors and I'll still be relying on all my favourite publishers to be my gate keeper and I'll still squee with joy if I one day land myself a NYC agent, and yes, I've pretty much committed myself to going green with ebooks.

and to go out on a lighter note, I came across the snippet about the recurring newspaper and thought it hilarious. Apparently the exact same newspaper template has been used in movies and tv shows for the last 15 years, and I never noticed. You can bet that every time I see someone reading a newspaper on tv now, I'll be checking it out... http://www.slashfilm.com/2010/06/04/lol-the-reoccurring-prop-newspaper/

Monday, 12 July 2010

Coming up for air...

Feels as if the last couple of weeks sucked me down a black hole, but I'm finally seeing the sunlight.

And I've finally got an e-reader. After more than a year of reading ebooks on my netbook, I made a decision. Well, I was actually rooting for a nook, but Barnes & Noble customer service informed me they don't ship internationally, baaah! So I got a Kindle and I'm loving it! I was mostly relieved to find that I could still buy my drm-free books at other sites and upload them to Kindle effortlessly - this was a big fear for me. I've even gone and bought some drm books from Amazon. Mostly I only read a book once and then it goes to book-charity-heaven. If I want a book from one of my auto-keeper authors, then I'll buy elsewhere.

So, yes, Amazom might be the big bad wolf, but in some cases it's just so convenient and tempting and I'm glad I succumbed!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Introducing Rae Summers

It's very exciting for me to have Rae Summers here, a fellow South African and a writing friend. Rae's debut book, Let's Misbehave, releases today from Wild Rose Press. I was priviledged to read this in raw form, and absolutely loved it.

Gabrielle is the quintessential Flapper, a wild child who turns her back on home and a resentful and unloving mother to become a nightclub singer. She wants nothing more from life than freedom and pleasure.

Sebastian is a dutiful son, following in his father’s footsteps and on the verge of marrying a suitable bride. But as the Twenties roar to their conclusion, he finds himself torn between duty and the urge to indulge his adventurous streak.

From the moment Gabrielle and Sebastian meet, the tension between them simmers. When he rescues her from a boorish suitor, Gabrielle discovers a kindred spirit beneath Sebastian's serious demeanour, and she sets out to seduce him into one last passionate fling before he settles for a loveless marriage.

But the fire that burns between them threatens to consume her. Will Gabrielle survive falling in love with the one man she cannot have?

Now available from Wild Rose Press

Want more? Want to see the trailer? Here you go!

Rae's first grade teacher was so seriously concerned by her day dreaming that she called her parents in for a conference. Fortunately, her parents staunchly defended Rae's right to daydream and these days she's able to prove their faith right by turning those day dreams into novels. She hopes her stories bring as much pleasure to her readers as they bring to her.

Rae Summers lives in South Africa where she works in television advertising, a line of work that is only glamorous on very rare occasions. When she isn't working or being mom to two young daughters, Rae can be found with her nose in a book.

Rae, can you tell us a little about the making of Let's Behave?

The characters for this story came into my head fully formed as I was driving home from work one day and singing along to the song 'Let's Misbehave' from De-Lovely (the biopic of composer Cole Porter). That song not only sparked the idea, but is also integral to the story - you'll have to read it to find out how. After that, the novella practically wrote itself in less than a week, the words pouring out of my fingers. It's taken considerably longer to get to publication.

Is there a character in your book that you love to hate? If you had to pick just one (the worst) and invite her to tea or him to the pub for a drink, what's the one question you're dying to ask?

My least favourite character in this story fortunately never made it onto the page, and that was Gabrielle's mother. There are hints of Gabrielle's unhappy childhood and her relationship with her mother, a hard, unloving woman jealous of her daughter, but she is already history by the time the story starts. I'd definitely ask her to the pub rather than to tea.

And how would he/she answer?

She'd refuse to come to such a den of iniquity, and Gabrielle and I would breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy ourselves instead

If your editor told you that, while she absolutely loves your work, your next book had to be in another genre… which one would you choose?

That would be a tough choice simply because I have so many stories floating around in my head that I wouldn't know which one to choose. One of the stories that's clamouring loudest right now is a light paranormal.


What's next? Next book in sequel or in the same genre or something totally new?

I'm putting the finishing touches on another novella set in the 1920s, this time set on the Amalfi coast of Italy, and I'm also rewriting a full length contemporary while I wait for a response on the partial I've already submitted. More immediately, I'm attending the RNA conference in Greenwich this weekend and expecting to come away more inspired than ever!

Thank you so much for this opportunity,

Rae Summers
http://raesummers.wordpress.com/


Thanks for stopping by Rae

Monday, 5 July 2010

Happy Release Day to BETRAYED

It feels a little like Betrayed's 21st birthday today.

I nutured this book through draft mode and many rounds with my critique group to get it edited and polished. I worried when I sent Betrayed out on submission and I might have shed a tear or two when it came back rejected, I smiled when it came back with gracious comments and I squealed in excitement when Carina Press loved Betrayed and wanted to publish it.

I took a small step back, relinquising my possessive hold on every last word and comma I'd crafted during editorial revisions and line edits.

Now it's time for Betrayed to make its way out there in the wide world of readership. I've done all I could, it's time to let go and leave the rest up to Betrayed , although I'll  always be around to hold Betrayed's hand whenever I'm needed.


On Tuesday, 6 July, I'll be doing an author spotlight on the Carina Press Blog. Please stop by for a visit.
There's bribery involved!
I'll be giving away a free copy of Betrayed :)

Betrayed releases today and is available right now from
Carina Press
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
and most places where ebooks are sold.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Guest Author: Alice Gaines with Miss Foster's Folly


I'm very happy to have a fellow Carina Press historical romance writer here today. Alice Gaines is a multi-published author and I'm looking forward to hearing more about Miss Foster's Folly.

Manhattan, 1886
Juliet Foster has just become the wealthiest spinster in town. Her domineering and thoroughly unpleasant father has died and left her millions. She's free to be her own woman and seek a life of adventure.
David Winslow, Marquess of Derrington, is in search of a wife who can break the Winslow Curse. Every second-generation heir inherits a restless, defiant nature that can only be tamed by a mate as independent and rebellious as himself.
Miss Juliet Foster is perfect—and eager for seduction. But when he wants more than a few nights of passion, Juliet runs like the devil's on her heels. Can the marquess convince her that marriage isn't a trap, but the greatest freedom of all?

Available now from Carina Press

And now, over to Alice

1) The making of Miss Foster’s Folly: What inspired this story?
Miss Foster’s Folly started out as an answer to a question that came up in my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. Someone asked, “What would be a good hook for a historical romance?” and I blurted out “A wealthy American spinster decides to sleep her way across Europe.” That went over well, so I thought I’d write the book.
2) The character in your book that you love to hate? If you had to pick just one (the worst) and invite her to tea or him to the pub for a drink, what's the one question you're dying to ask?
There are really only three disagreeable characters in the book -- Juliet’s brother and sister and one of Derrington’s former lovers who mainly lurks around a hat shop checking out Juliet, his current love interest. Juliet’s brother considers himself a titan of industry and wouldn’t give me the time of day. Juliet’s sister is a total airhead, and I wouldn’t give her the time of day. As to Derrington’s former lover, I guess I’d ask “Is he really that good in bed?”
3) And how would she answer?
Derrington’s lover would say, “Yes, he’s really that good in bed,” which would make me intensely jealous. And I made him up!
4) Why are you so excited about Carina Press?
Launches are always great. There’s huge enthusiasm among authors and editorial staff. Everything’s new and shiny, and everyone has great plans.

The most fun of signing with Carina was getting a great, new editor, Jessica Schulte. What an utter joy when an industry professional gets what you’ve tried to do and loves your book as much as you do. I’m always happy when I find Jessica in my inbox.
5) If your editor told you that, while she absolutely loves your work, your next book had to be in another genre… which one would you choose?
Probably out-and-out erotic romance. I’ve done a lot of that and love it. I’d also love to do some fantasy. I’ve only done one straight fantasy, and I’d love to do more work in that genre. I’d especially love to have Jessica’s help during the learning process.
What I’ve always wanted to write (and have done in some short pieces) is fantasy romance. I’m basically a romance writer and reader, but I also want to create my own worlds. I wish there were a greater market for fantasy romance.
6) What's next? Next book in sequel or in the same genre or something totally new?
There’s no one in Miss Foster’s Folly who needs his/her own story. Millie and the vicar are happily on the way toward their own wedding at the end of the book. Lady Harriet and Jack are off on their own explorations, but she’s old enough to be his mother, and he’s gay, so I don’t think I have a romance there. More like Auntie Mame
Maybe I’ll think up a fantasy romance and pitch it to Jessica…hmmm.
And now, for something completely different -- an excerpt:
One lone candle hardly lighted more than a foot or two in front of Juliet, but she’d come this far and wouldn’t give up before she reached her destination – the Marquis of Derrington’s bedchamber. She’d opened several doors only to find cold silence inside. Typical of him to put her as far away from him as he possibly could, but she’d find him, and when she did, she’d get what she wanted.

She tried another door and found another empty room, curse it. That left only one more before she’d have to double back and check them all again.

The moment she turned the knob, the sound of breathing told her she’d found him. The tone was deep and masculine, just like his speaking voice. Dark. Sinful. The mere fact that she’d found his bedroom sent a little thrill through her. She tiptoed inside and closed the door silently behind her.

Now that she’d come so close to her goal, she’d allow herself some anticipation of her victory. And, of her reward. Derrington was everything any woman could want in a first lover. Handsome, gentle, and oh, so talented with his hands and mouth. If any man could make her ready to accept the bulk of his cock inside her, this man could.

And he would. Now.

She crept to the bed. He’d set his candle on a table there, so she lit it with the one in her hand. That gave her a bit more light to study him, and she gasped. His arms and shoulders above the covers were naked. Did he sleep in the nude? He might have some type of pants covering his lower regions, but everyone – women and men – wore the same type of nightshirt.

Oh, my. Oh, my, my. She stood, drinking in his male beauty. Besides never having looked at so much male flesh before, she’d also never watched a man sleep. With his eyes closed and his features relaxed, he looked almost innocent. His chest rose and fell gently with his breaths, his lips parted as they had been when he’d kissed her the first time. Dark hair framed his face, and she carefully reached down to touch one lock. Warm silk against her fingertips.

He seemed a creature of myths and dreams, so entirely foreign to her experience he might have been another species. And yet, nature had made their bodies to fit together in the most basic way. Miraculous, really. She’d waited so many years for this – from the day she’d turned marriageable age until she’d grown too old to attract multiple offers and then to spinsterhood. This would be good. She’d will it so.

She’d find some way to please him, despite her lack of experience. Honestly, she shouldn’t care, as she wouldn’t stay in London once she’d known him. But, somehow it did matter for that she could do a good job of satisfying him. She didn’t have feelings for him. Not at all. Feelings complicated things. She’d have this one night with him. They’d both remember it for as long as they lived, and then, she’d exit his life for good and follow her own adventures.

Damn it all. Why was she worrying about something like this now when she’d gotten so close to what she wanted with every inch of her body?

He gave out a soft snort and rolled over, clutching his pillow against his chest and presenting the width of his back and the spread of his shoulders. Suddenly, he appeared huge, even though he stood only a few inches taller than she did. What did she know of men’s bodies? More important, what would she learn in the next minutes?

She set her candle next to his and took a steadying breath. She’d removed all her clothing except for her chemise, and that came off easily. It pooled around her feet on the floor, and she stepped out of it. The chill of the night air made her shiver, so she quickly lifted the covers and slipped into the bed. His body’s warmth clung to the sheets, surrounding her. He must have had a furnace in him to produce all the heat he put out.

And yes, he was completely naked. Her hip snuggled up against his bare bottom. How odd it felt to lie with him this way and yet how right. Even in marriage, she’d wear something to bed. Decency would require that he do the same if he was to sleep with her. No wife with any sense could bear to send a husband to another room if he felt like this next to her.

She ought to wake him up and get things going, but why rush this heaven? Maybe if she touched him softly, she could feel his flesh without waking him. She’d never get the chance again, at least, not with this man. Besides, she’d need to know her way around a male body if she was going to pretend to sophistication.

She started with his shoulder. Broad, strong, firm. His skin was softer than she’d expected of a man. Smooth and stretched over the muscle beneath. From there, she traced her palm over his shoulder blades and along the furrow down the center of his back. When she reached his buttock, she savored the firmness of it. She’d called his cock magnificent when, in truth, the word described all of him.

Suddenly, he turned over, and his arm flopped on top of her. She bit her lip before a cry escaped, but he roused. For a moment, his eyes opened but didn’t focus properly. Then, they closed again and he was everywhere on her. His weight pinned her to the mattress and his mouth captured hers. No niceties, just a savage kiss as if he’d devour her.

Finally. She’d come for this. She answered with her own mouth, although she could hardly keep up with the pace of his caresses. His hands moved over her, stroking her flesh, molding her body to fit against his own. Just the friction of their bodies was enough to ready her for the joining that would follow.

“Yes, David,” she whispered against his lips. “Yes, oh yes.”

“What?” He propped himself on his elbows and shook his head. Finally, his eyes came into focus. “Bloody hell, Juliet. What are you doing here?”

Thanks for stopping by, Alice :)
Alice’s website is http://www.alicegaines.blogspot.com/.
She loves to hear from readers at authoralicegaines@yahoo.com

Friday, 25 June 2010

Guest Author: Toni Anderson with Sea of Suspicion

It's great to have another hot author from Carina Press here to tell us a little about herself and her latest release.

Marine biologist Susie Cooper traded her life in America for a dream job on the rugged Scottish coast. Now all she lacks is the right man to start a family with. After their first meeting, she knows sexy Detective Inspector Nick Archer isn’t what she’s looking for. He’s the type of guy whose idea of commitment is staying the whole night.
Nick has returned to St. Andrews for one reason only—to fulfill his vow to find his wife’s killer. Relentless in his twelve-year quest for justice, he has no problem using Susie to get close to his primary suspect: her boss. But the passion between them smolders, and as it ignites, Nick finds himself torn between his past and his present—with Susie.
When one of her boss’s students is murdered, Nick’s investigation draws Susie into a web of madness and betrayal. They will have to learn to trust each other if they’re going to catch a killer…and come out of this alive.

Sea of Suspicion is available right now from Carina Press

Toni, what inspired Sea of Suspicion?
SEA OF SUSPICION was inspired by the intense emotions you experience when you become a parent, combined with a bone-deep love of the area where the story is set. The east coast of Fife doesn’t get the same amount of press as the Highlands or Islands of Scotland and yet it is beautiful with its tiny fishing villages and ancient ruins. I needed to use this setting in a murder mystery J. And marine stations are filled with such an interesting mix of characters it was impossible not to use it.

Any rituals while writing? Trips to exotic islands in the name of research? Hiccups? Hair pulling?
My only ritual is putting my backside in the chair when the kids are at school and writing. I do listen to music when I write and create a specific soundtrack for each book to sink me straight into the mood of the story. I also drink copious amounts of tea J.
I did request a special tour of the Police Station in St. Andrews as I’d never had cause to visit it for nefarious reasons—I loved that. As for hair-pulling that goes without saying—I should be bald.
Why are you so excited about Carina Press?
I love their professionalism and the vast amount of experience they bring to such a new enterprise. Everything they have done so far has been of such high quality I can’t wait to see how the launch goes and to read some of the books!
 
If your editor told you that, while she absolutely loves your work, your next book had to be in another genre… which one would you choose?
Good question J. I’d probably go for something with a paranormal/fantasy twist. Or a straight mystery/police procedural. Tricky question.
 
What's next, Toni?
I just contracted my second title with Carina Press—STORM WARNING (working title) which is also set in Fife although predominantly down the coast in the fishing village of Anstruther. I think I pitched it as Medium crossed with Titanic without the latter’s tragic ending.
 
Sounds great, Toni. I absolutely love Scotland and it's wonderful to know we'll be getting some good stories set there for the next long while :)
 
Now a little bit more from Toni Anderson...
 
My first Romantic Suspense, HER SANCTUARY, was released in 2009 to some great reviews. I write about my travels on my blog and update on Twitter. Readers can sign up for my newsletter on my website, or friend me on Facebook. I’ve also set up a fan page for SEA OF SUSPICION with location photographs and anecdotes. Let me know what you think of it!
 
Thanks for letting me be here on your blog today, Claire. My book SEA OF SUSPICION is released by Carina Press on the 14th June, 2010 and I’m so excited! I’m a former marine biologist and conducted my Ph.D. at the Gatty Marine Laboratory in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland where SEA OF SUSPICION is set. I was born and raised in the U.K., but now live in Canada with my husband and two children. I set my stories in the stunning locations where I’ve been lucky enough to live and work—the blustery east coast of Scotland, the remote isolated mining communities of Northern Labrador, the rugged landscapes of the U.S. and the Red Center of Australia. I escape the long brutal Canadian winters by writing Romantic Mystery and Suspense stories.
 
Excerpt from Sea of Suspicion…
They turned into her drive and a security light flooded the gravel yard, revealing the beautiful old stone cottage flanked by patches of heather and herbs.

Home. Thank God.

Grabbing her purse, she shoved open the door before they’d stopped. Dormant wheat fields stretched behind the cottage, which bordered a golf course. Emily and Lily’s cottage topped a low rise three hundred yards away, tall hedges giving both houses seclusion and privacy.

Nick stood beside the car door, one foot on the sill, hands on the roof, looking delicious. His eyes darkened as they met hers. “Still want me to call a taxi?”

The air between them crackled with possibility, but Susie nodded. She wasn’t some easy lay for a stranger. She needed to believe she was worth more than that.

“Can I at least walk you to your door?”

Susie looked over to the French doors twenty yards away up three uneven stone slabs. Nick’s request was a baited trap, but he wasn’t that irresistible. She nodded.

Fog billowed along the lilac hedge that marked her property, enfolding them in a soft mystical silence. He fell into step beside her and handed her the key fob. She moved ahead up the steps, brushing an old lavender bush that released its fragrance through the night air. Fumbling, she dropped her keys and Nick bent to retrieve them before she had chance.

“Nice place,” he commented. “Secluded. Wouldn’t have to worry about upsetting the neighbors with loud music or screaming sex.”

Her skin sizzled and every sense felt electrified as if someone had plugged her in and flipped a switch. Her eyes widened, her chest tightened. This was dangerous. She was too aware of him, too interested in the idea of screaming sex, and too damn drunk to run as fast as she should.

And he knew it.

She pressed back against her door, her shoulder blades drawn up tight together. Nick slipped the key into the lock and took a step forward, bringing him close enough to touch if she so much as took a breath. So she didn’t. The lock clicked and he took a step back with a grave expression on his face.

“I’d kiss you goodnight if you didn’t look so scared,” he said softly.

“I’m not scared.”

“Good.” His eyes sparkled as he lowered his mouth to hers.

Mistake! Her mind screamed but it was too late. The breath whooshed out of her as he pressed the gentlest kiss to her lips—as fine a sensation as the stroke of a feather across sensitive skin. And the world stopped. Then every sense climbed to high alert as he took a half step closer, the bulk of his shoulders blocking the wind, and heat coming off his body like rays from the sun. He smelled spicy and male, the leather of his jacket creaking as he shifted his stance. He took her by surprise as he slipped one hand beneath her coat, resting it possessively on her hipbone. Startled, she opened her eyes.

But he kissed her again, this time less gently. Sliding his hand to the base of her spine, the burning impression of each finger pressing through the cotton of her T-shirt, brushing bare skin. His lips were teasing and coaxing, not what she expected from a man who screamed danger. Her palms braced against the muscles in his chest, but they weren’t exactly beating him off. He eased her toward him, enticed a trembling response from her body, but all of a sudden he jerked away and stuck his hand in his pocket.

“Bloody hell.” He pulled out a cell phone, adjusting it to read the display in the poor light. Swearing, he looked at her with an apology in his eyes. And regret. Because she was a sure thing. “I’ve got to go.”

“You’re on call?” Susie couldn’t believe the disappointment in her voice. Go! Please go.

His smile was a slash of white. “Criminals always know when I have a night off.” His eyes slid to her car. “Can I borrow your Mini?” He gripped the back of his neck, looking up at her from under heavy brows. “I’ll get it back to you before morning.”

“Take it.” Susie wouldn’t be accused of getting in the way of law and order, plus it would get him away from her faster. Next time she saw him she’d be sober and prepared. “I’m not planning on going anywhere tomorrow so there’s no rush to drop it off.”

She opened the front door, pulled the keys out of the lock and twisted off the ignition key from her octopus key fob.

“Here.” She threw it to him, not surprised when he snatched it out of the air without even moving his gaze. His intensity was unsettling.

“Susie…I’m sorry.”

She dashed inside and closed the door. Locked it. He could have her car, no problem. But he couldn’t have her. She wanted a relationship, a future, a family. Nick Archer was a lousy bet for anything except orgasms and heartbreak, and not even the orgasms were guaranteed.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

A quick Update

Sneaking in between all my wonderful author spotlights to give you a quick update on Betrayed.

It's almost time, Betrayed is up at NetGalley for reviewers and also on some e-shop sites for pre-order! I can't wait for 5 July when Betrayed goes live.

I'll be doing a series of author interviews and spotlights in the upcoming weeks. I've added a "Betrayed Goes on Tour" section to my side bar so you can keep up with where I am, if you wish to stop on by

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Guest Author: Abby Wood with Consent to the Cowboy


Howdie Abby :) I couldn't resist it!

It's great to have you here to answer some questions and tell us about your new Carina Press release, Consent to the Cowboy.

Surrounded by beer-swilling, skirt-chasing cowboys her whole life, barmaid Daphne Norris has no intention of ever settling for any of the men in her Podunk hometown. So when bronc rider Will Hanson sends shock waves to her core with just one glance from his striking green eyes, no one is more surprised than her.
But Will is no ordinary cowboy, and he can see that Daphne is no ordinary small-town girl. He can sense in Daphne the quiet strength and devotion needed to satisfy a man like him, a man who needs to be on top, in every aspect of his life.

Daphne hasn’t ever succumbed to her submissive desires before, and Will awakens her in ways she never imagined. While she’s not prepared to give him her heart, she agrees to Will’s offer of three days of intense pleasure, and then she’s walking. But Daphne falls hard and fast, and now she has a decision: return to a normal life, or give up everything for Will…

Consent to te Cowboy releases 28 June and available for pre-order from Carina Press
Over to Abby and some questions...

The making of Consent to the Cowboy What inspired this story?

Living on a hobby farm, in a rural area, the cowboy lifestyle that I read about in books is just normal life for me. It's no big deal to drive to the neighbor's house down the road and come back with a couple chickens and the recipe for their Granny's buttermilk biscuits. Delving into the book, I found myself using real life situations to make the story believable. The geese in the story? Yep, those are mine. The Kleptomaniac St. Bernard? Yep, mine again.

The character in your book that you love to hate? If you had to pick just one (the worst) and invite her to tea or him to the pub for a drink, what's the one question you're dying to ask?

Oh, I'd love to answer this question, but I'd give part of the book away by answering. I'll just say that the person I hate in the book isn't all bad. Inside every bad action, there is a good action waiting to come out. *cue the music* lol
Why are you so excited about Carina Press?
I think Carina Press is taking ebooks to a higher level. What impressed me the most is how much they support their authors. From personal telephone numbers, emails, to providing us with everything we need to promote our books and letting us know what is happening each step of the way.

If your editor told you that, while she absolutely loves your work, your next book had to be in another genre… which one would you choose?
Wow, let's see…I've also written books in the genres of paranormal, contemporary, fantasy, suspense. If I couldn't pick contemporary western, I'd have to go with suspense. No one has asked me that question before, and my answer even took me by surprise. I find suspense the hardest to write, but very fulfilling when you pull it off. It is definitely a challenge that I find appeals to me.

What's next? Next book in sequel or in the same genre or something totally new?
I'm in limbo right now. I've recently contracted four new books that I am beginning edits on, and working on another western when I can find any free time. These days I bounce from one project to the next, and heaven help me if I get a wonderful idea for a story. Lol

Thank you so much for having me here today, Claire.

The pleasure's all mine, Abby :)

You can connect with Abby at
Website: http://www.authorabbywood.com/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/MsAbbyWood.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AbbyWoodFanPage

And here's a little excerpt...

Will moved around the front of the truck. She pulled on the door handle. His hand came out to hold the door from opening wide enough for her to exit the truck. “Stop. From now on when you’re with me, you never open your own door.”
She cocked a brow. “I think that died out about the time women burnt their bras and began to have sex out in the open.”

“I’ll repeat it once more. Never open your own door when I’m with you.” He pulled the door open, held out his hand and helped her step down from the truck. He gazed into her eyes. “It’s a simple request, okay?”

She stood in front of him, her face mere inches from his mouth. His hat shaded his face from the sun setting in the distance, but she recognized the seriousness etched into his brow.

“Okay.”

His lips curled up. He leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead. “That’s my good girl.”

With her hand in his, he pulled her around to the front of the house—a ranch house that exceeded any of Daphne’s preconceived notions of how well off he might be. It spread out across the land, forming a rather stately manor. It made the two-bedroom cottage she’d inherited from her mother look shabby and quaint. This house rose from the ground and meshed with its surrounding in a way that left her jaw slack and her eyes round.

“You live here alone?” She began her appraisal from the right side of the house and swung her head all the way along the length.

He chuckled. “Yes.”

“You’re not just an ordinary cowboy, are you?” She followed him up the steps and through the front door.

He shut the door behind them. “Nothing about me is ordinary.”

He’s right about that.

Inside, the decor revealed a whole other side to the bronc buster. Intricate dark wood furnishings lined the elaborate entryway. Black, shiny tile gave off a grand entrance to high ceilings and a very masculine house.

Daphne wandered past him into a living room. Cast in shadows, two floor lamps on dim emitted enough light to take in the leather couch and chairs. Saddles, antlers, and a barbed wire sculpture of a horse head filled the corners. Yep, a man’s castle if she ever saw one.

His fingers slipped inside her hand and he pulled her forward. “Come.” He led her to the corner of the couch. “Sit.” He deposited her on the sofa and strolled over to a mini bar in the corner of the room.

Behind the counter, he raised his gaze. “Relax, sweetheart.”

“I’m not nervous.” She lifted her chin.

Will poured a drink she didn’t recognize over ice, carried it to the couch and sat down. “Here you go.”

“What is it?” She held the glass under her nose and sniffed. A mew leaked out and she giggled. She sipped, afraid whatever alcohol he served would hit the back of her throat and burn. She might serve beer for a living, but she’d never developed a taste for the bitter stuff.

“Oh God, it tastes of caramel!” She raised the glass again and swallowed a bigger amount. “That sends tingles right through my body.”

He nodded. A pleased smile curved his lips. “Much better than beer, huh?”

“Oh God, yes.” She drank from her glass. “This is…this is simply wonderful.”

He leaned forward, his lips so close to her mouth. “You are simply wonderful.”

Her tongue wet her bottom lip. Positive he’d kiss her, she moved the glass and arched her neck. The drink swirled inside her tummy and created a ball of fire. It’d take one kiss from him to blow the fire into a million little pieces and send her jumping onto his lap.

Her eyelids lowered and she gazed at the way his full lips opened. Moist and tempting, the heat inside her pussy grew hotter and dampened her panties. A moan bubbled forth. His breath smelled sweet from the drink and fascination pushed her forward.

One little move and she’d capture his mouth and drink from the very lips that teased her dreams. She sized up the space between them, closed her eyes, and threw inhibitions to the wind.

Instead of coming into contact with his lips, she met thin air. She opened her eyes. He slouched back on the couch; his drink hovered in front of a smile that seconds ago tempted and teased.

“Not yet, sweetheart. We have a few things to talk about first.” He raised his glass and downed the rest of his drink.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Guest Author: Leah Braemel with Texas Tangle



Welcome Leah, and thanks for stopping in to tell us a little more about your upcoming Carina Press release, Texas Tangle.

I love the name, it conjures up all sorts of things :)

Thanks to her cheating ex-husband and her thieving brother, all horse breeder Nikki Kimball has left is a bruised heart, an overdrawn bank account and an empty home. When sex-on-legs Dillon Barnett and his brooding foster-brother Brett Anderson start showing more than just neighborly attention, Nikki is intrigued…and a little gun-shy.
Dillon and Brett have a history; back in high school, the two friends fought a bitter battle over Nikki. Now, ten years later, Brett still longs to be the man in Nikki’s life, but he’s determined to stand back and let Dillon win Nikki’s heart.

Society says Nikki must choose between the two men she loves. Is Nikki strong enough to break all the rules in order to find happiness?

Releases 28 June and available for pre-order from Carina Press



And now, over to Leah and a few tasty questions I've made her sweat over *evil grin*

The making of Texas Tangle: what inspired this story? Any rituals while writing?


I did take a trip – though it wasn’t to an island, it was fairly exotic to someone not used to prickly pears and roadrunners. Back in 2007 I visited one of my critique partners’ in Texas. She breeds Arabian horses so I got an inside look at everything from the personalities of her horses (and her pet donkey Gandalf) to the daily chores required to care for a farm all done in the “damned Texas heat.” She took me horseback riding; she participates in endurance races of 50 to 100 miles a weekend, but I settled for a ride around her back forty. I soaked up the experience, including listening to the speech patterns and noticing the differences between Texans and Canadians. How could I not be inspired in that setting?


While there was lots of hair pulling, I’m not quite needing a wig yet thankfully. Texas Tangle was originally supposed to be a novella, but the three characters, heroine Nikki, and the two heroes, Dillon and Brett, just wouldn’t shut up (talking to me or arguing with each other) which had me cursing them out quite a few times. Before I knew it—oh all right, it took a few months—Texas Tangle had far surpassed novella length and grown to a full length novel.
The character in your book that you love to hate? If you had to pick just one (the worst) and invite her to tea or him to the pub for a drink, what's the one question you're dying to ask?

Ooh, character that I love to hate – the ones (yes, that’s plural) that I love to hate never actually appear in the book, they’re all off stage. First off there’s Phil, Nikki’s deadbeat brother who has taken everything she owned, including the money from her bank account and sold it for anything he could get. Then there are her parents who are more concerned about Phil than her. But since you say “the worst” I’m thinking the one I’d have to sit down with would be Phil. I’d have to ask him “Did you not think about what you were doing to your sister? Are you going to pay her back, or at least apologize for what you did to her?” Oh, dear, I guess that’s two questions isn’t it? Oh, and did I mention I’d deliver both of them with a swat up the back of his head? Maybe with a baseball bat. I’d also possibly introduce my knee to his not-so-manly parts.

And how would he/her answer?

“She owes me.” He’d probably expect me to pay for his beer too. He’s got a big entitlement issue going. (Unfortunately, I’ve met some Phils in this world who just don’t “get it” and think everyone else should pay their way.)

Why are you so excited about Carina Press?

Because they’re part of Harlequin, which is a huge name in the romance publishing industry. To be associated with them is thrilling. I get to work with some amazingly talented and very driven people who want Carina to be the best. They’ve been totally professional and their editors (both Angela and Rhonda Stapleton, as well as the editor who did the line edits) pushed me hard; I know Texas Tangle is much stronger for it. Being part of the launch is exciting because Carina Press is drawing the attention of people who may not have seen my name or read my writing before. It’s also nerve-wracking because Carina Press is drawing the attention of people who may not have seen my name or read my writing before and who will be judging Carina based partly (or maybe in some cases wholly) upon Texas Tangle’s merits.

If your editor told you that, while she absolutely loves your work, your next book had to be in another genre… which one would you choose?

If you mean not romance, then I guess I’d be writing..hmmm...historical fiction. I’ve been puddling around with a story idea set in early 1800s Upper Canada. Trouble is I keep getting told that American publishers aren’t interested in locations outside of the US, and since my storyline would be during a time in Canada where the United States were the enemy...well, I’m guessing I’d be limited to submitting it to Canadian publishers.

If I could stay within the romance genre, just something other than contemporary western, well, I’ve got a contemporary non-western going with Samhain...I guess you want me to go further afield than that—as in not contemporary--don’t you? All right I guess I’d say I’d choose historical romance too.

What's next? Next book in sequel or in the same genre or something totally new?

I’m working on the next in a series I’ve got going with Samhain at the moment, but I’m outlining a couple stories to follow up on Texas Tangle. I’ve got a novella outlined that is the story of Dillon’s great-grandparents—in Texas Tangle there’s a scene where Dillon’s grandmother relates how her grandparents were in a permanent threesome. And I’ve got a couple other ideas for following Dillon’s brothers, but that’ll take some more planning. Not to mention, I still have to sell Carina on them.

Thanks for inviting me, Claire. Your interview was great and got me thinking -- especially that "character you hate" question.
 
You can read the entire first chapter online or pre-order Texas Tangle here.


If you want to know more about Leah's books, you can visit her website or her blog
You can also follow Leah on her Facebook Page or on Twitter

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Guest Author: KS Augustin with In Enemy Hands

Welcome KS, it's wonderful to have you here. In Enemy Hands is the first SF author I'm spotlighting from Carina Press and once again it's great to see the diversity of their titles.

Available now from Carina Press

The Republic had taken everything from Moon—her research partner, her privacy, her illusions. They thought they had her under control. They were wrong

Sirin, Moon's new research partner, is a chemically enhanced math genius whose memory is erased every two days. He's also a charming, fascinating man who is attracted to her anew after each memory loss cycle.
Escape from the regime that treats them like tools is impossible. There are too many walls around them, too many eyes watching. But when you've got nothing left to lose, running becomes the only option.

 
 
 

Kaz Augustin is a Malaysian-born writer of science-fiction, romance, and permutations of the two. Her website is at http://www.ksaugustin.com and she blogs at http://blog.ksaugustin.com You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter; just look for “ksaugustin”.

And now, over to KS...
 
Claire sent a wonderful list of questions to answer, so here are my contributions.
Claire: Let's talk about the making of IN ENEMY HANDS. What inspired this story? Any rituals while writing? Trips to exotic islands in the name of research? Hiccups? Hair pulling? You get the picture… :)

KS Augustin: I'm fascinated by memory and its basic unreliability but, at the same time, what would we be without it? What could we do without it? Those thoughts formed the genesis of the book's hero, Srin Flerovs. And, of course, once I had him pinned down, I realised I needed a strong capable woman he could both trust and love.

Unfortunately, while I'm still hoping for affordable inter-galactic flights, the only trip away I took for this book was inside my head. Maybe in the future sometime.... ;)

Claire: Do you have a character in your book that you love to hate? If you had to pick just one (the worst) and invite her to tea or him to the pub for a drink, what's the one question you're dying to ask?

KSA: Even worse than Consul Rosca Moises, who's just a ruthless political animal, the person I can best understand―yet have contempt for―is Hen Savic. He's the man who's kept Srin on a two-day memory cycle for twenty years. If I could speak with him directly, I'd ask whether he thought his actions were worth it.

Claire: And how would he answer?
KSA: Of course he'd say yes! It's all part of the banality of evil.

Claire: Why are you so excited about Carina Press?

KSA: Well, of course, because it's backed by Harlequin and they are a company full of very savvy and forward-thinking people. They make the trends so I'm very happy to be associated with them.

Claire: If your editor told you that, while he absolutely loves your work, your next book had to be in another genre… which one would you choose?
KSA: Oh, that's a tough one. Can't choose a sub-genre, huh? Probably a political thriller.

Claire: What's next? Next book in sequel or in the same genre or something totally new?
KSA: I have an exceedingly low boredom threshold, so something new. Not too new, it's still a science-fiction romance, but in a completely different universe.

COMPETITION: Kaz is giving away two copies of IN ENEMY HANDS at her blog, Fusion Despatches. To be in the draw, stop by and comment at the Competition post, telling her at which blog you read about her book. You have till 30 June

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Guest Author: Dee Tenorio with Tempting the Enemy

Hello Everyone! Claire was kind enough to let me hijack...er, borrow her blog for the day. :) Thanks so much, Claire!!


Well, I guess I should tell you who I am...and what I'm doing here, right? Well, my name is Dee Tenorio and like Claire, I'm a Carina Press author. :)

What I'm doing here is answering some fun questions Claire sent my way while telling you about my newest release, "Tempting The Enemy". :)

 Ready? Here we go.

1) The making of "Tempting The Enemy". What inspired this story? Any rituals while writing? Trips to exotic islands in the name of research? Hiccups? Hair pulling? You get the picture…

Well, the story started with this strange little idea to write a story about a shifter. I wasn't really hot to do it because paranormals require so much world building and I'm not afraid to admit, this scared me. Then one of the victims started talking to me and I got sucked into the story. I promised myself it would be a short story. Little. A novella, even. Well, the characters had other ideas, lol. Sadly, this did not result in a trip up to Big Bear for research, but there was plenty of hair pulling as the story consumed my whole life for a few months. But when it was done, I knew it was special. I'm hoping you all have the same feeling too. :)

2) The character in your book that you love to hate? If you had to pick just one (the worst) and invite her to tea or him to the pub for a drink, what's the one question you're dying to ask?

Oh, that would be Verda-Rouge. Verda is a very powerful member of the Sibile, in the story, a group of magical mercenaries, if you will. She has this awesome power of controlling sound. She can whisper and knock down buildings if she wants. Verda is demanding, kind of vicious, and though you only see her for two scenes in the final product, she's seriously, deliciously hateful and it's all hidden behind a veneer of propriety. Something about the evilly uptight just gets me going, you know? Assuming she'd deign to sit with me, the one question I'd ask her is..."When you rule the world, what is it that you expect will happen?"
3) And how would he/her answer?

Honestly, I don't think Verda knows. She's power hungry and threatened by change. Not having anything left to conquer would be a very confusing time for her.

4) Why are you so excited about Carina Press?

Starting a new publishing company is an exciting venture. I'm working with my longtime editor and Carina is very author-conscious. That's always something to be excited about and I can't wait to see where this adventure takes us.

5) If your editor told you that, while she absolutely loves your work, your next book had to be in another genre… which one would you choose?

Well, I already write romantic comedies, dramas and light suspense. "Tempting The Enemy" is a step in a whole new direction for me and my editor is relieved because we actually had a similar conversation. She loves that my work is normally very internally conflicted. She wanted me to expand my external conflicts skills. I sent her "Tempting", which is a serial killer mystery with paranormal characters. It's chock full of external, lol. My editor was very happy and so am I. :)

6) What's next? Next book in sequel or in the same genre or something totally new?

Well, my next release is actually a contemporary erotic dramedy called "All Or Nothing", which is a sequel to my April release, "All Or Nothing". It's a really emotional story that I just love. Then a novella called "Shaken", about a divorcing couple trapped together in an elevator after an earthquake. But after that, I'm hoping to have a sequel to "Tempting" sometime in 2011. Cross your fingers!

Thanks so much for having me, Claire!!
Dee
If you'd like to know more about the book, please click the cover.
To learn more about Dee, please visit her website or Blog. She just loves company!

Thanks for stopping by Dee

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Guest Author: Ann Bruce with Parker's Price

Welcome, Ann, it's wonderful to have you here to tell us a little about your new  release.

She was sexy, smart...and not for sale. But that won't stop him.

When Parker Quinn is forced to accept an outrageously high bid at a charity auction, she has no choice but to go out with the last man on earth she wants to spend time with. Dean Maxwell may be one of Manhattan's most eligible bachelors, but he's also the man who had an affair with her sister and abandoned her when she became pregnant with his child.

Dean doesn't know why Parker hates him so much, but he's determined to show Parker the type of man he really is. Whisking her away to a private island in the Bahamas for a sensual, sun-drenched week together, Dean leaves Parker's preconceptions shattered and her desires inflamed.

But even as their passion reaches irresistible heights, Parker has a decision to make. Can she allow herself to fall for the seductive magnate, or will family secrets and a dangerous ex tear them apart?

Available now from Carina Press

And now, over to Ann :)

PARKER'S PRICE by Ann Bruce or a Writer's Job Is to Embellish

At my high school, we used to raise money by holding slave auctions. Students, girls and guys, would volunteer themselves as slaves for a day and be sold to the highest bidder. A lot of the girls volunteered to be slaves knowing their boyfriends would be obligated to buy them. Me, I preferred to do the buying because there was too many people in high school who would've loved to humiliate me as payback for my smart mouth.

One year, at the end of an auction, someone ran up onto the makeshift stage and made a bid for me. I glared at him but he didn't take back the bid. I remember thinking that he probably wanted me to do his homework or some such nonsense because while he was--and still is--very, very cute, he wasn't gifted academically. When I said, "No way in hell," but in much nicer terms because teachers were present, he upped the bid. And I, rather ungraciously, gave in.

Turns out, he only wanted to see me take my hair down--and walk two steps behind him all day.

Many years later, I took that high school incident, wildly embellished it because that's what writers do, and turned it into Parker's Price, a contemporary romance that has "all the alpha-male goodness of a category romance combined with all the hands-on, sizzling attraction heat of an erotic romance" (Night Owl Reviews).

To celebrate my first contemporary romance, I'll give away an e-copy of Parker's Price to one commenter here.

If that's not enough, I'm also giving away three (3) $50 Amazon gift certificates on my blog, The Not-so-deep Thoughts.