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10/10/15 A Walk in the Sun , Uncategorized # , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WalkinSun HC

COMING MAY 3rd FROM HARPERTEEN

 

Advance Praise for A WALK IN THE SUN

“… a story about love of all kinds, including love for oneself.” – School Library Journal

“… immediate chemistry…”  – Kirkus

 

Katie Cotugno meets The Bridges of Madison County in a magnetic tale about summer love that stays with you long after the seasons change.

Rose Darrow never wanted to spend her life working on her family’s farm. But when her family is rocked by an unexpected tragedy she has no choice but to put her plans for the future—and dreams of escaping her small town—on hold.

Bodhi Lowell left home as a kid and never looked back. Years of working farm jobs has given him the one thing he wants most: freedom to travel without answering to anyone. He’s already looking past his job at Darrow Farm and plans on leaving in September — until he meets Rose.

Neither Rose nor Bodhi can deny the sparks flying between them, but with the end of summer looming, they must decide if it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. . .

Preorder Now

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Kobo

PREORDER A SIGNED HARDCOVER

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06/09/16 A Walk in the Sun , Book News , Events

Event Reminder

B-Fest_Social_Twitter_date

 

Just a reminder that I will be talking about A Walk in the Sun, writing, and pretty much everything else at Barnes and Noble as part of their Teen Book Festival this weekend.

I have two events, one in Tribeca and one in Kingston, NY the following day. Hope to see you at one of them!

<3

 

 

 

 

Friday June 10th @ 5pm
Barnes and Noble Tribeca
97 Warren Street
New York, NY 10007
with Amy Ewing and Jordana Frankel

Saturday June 11th @3pm

Barnes and Noble Kingston
1177 Ulster Avenue
Kingston, NY 1401
with Jeff Hirsch and Julie Chibbaro

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05/17/16 A Walk in the Sun , Book News , Events

Two New Signings

WalkinSun HCHi, friends!

I wanted to let you know that I’ve added to two new signings to my calendar, one in NYC and one in Kingston, NY to celebrate B:Fest, Barnes and Noble’s Teen Book Festival. I’ll be signing copies of A Walk in the Sun and anything else they have in stock and/or you bring with you, and I’ll be joining some other awesome authors to talk books and writing and who knows what else.

These events sometimes have a mind of their own.

😉

I’m especially excited to talk about A Walk in the Sun in New York, because the book is set in the Hudson Valley, and it feels a little bit like home.

Hope to see you there!

 

Friday June 10th @ 5pm
Barnes and Noble Tribeca
97 Warren Street
New York, NY 10007
with Amy Ewing and Jordana Frankel

 

Saturday June 11th @3pm

Barnes and Noble Kingston
1177 Ulster Avenue
Kingston, NY 1401
with Jeff Hirsch and Julie Chibbaro

 

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02/18/16 Indie , Lawless , London Mob , Mob Boss Series , Romance , Ruthless , Savage , Self-Publish , Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , , ,

Indie Publishing: Truth Versus Myth

It’s hard to believe I’ve been publishing Indie for six months. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when everything was so new and scary. I had no idea how FB ads worked or how to format my own books, pricing strategy was a mystery, and it seemed like I would never have more than a book or two in my catalog.

Fast forward six months and I have a solid grasp on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to ads. I format all my own books. I’ve recently made Ruthless permafree after running a BookBub ad that sent sales of the next two books into the stratosphere. I’ve self-published seven books. Savage, the most recent, was released last week and begins a whole new series.

But one thing remains the same; there is always plenty to learn.

This will be a year of continued learning for me on the Indie side, and also a year of reaching out and getting to know other Indie authors. My Indie releases are now spread out two months apart instead of one with the goal of more time to work on non-Indie projects in between. In general, everything is smoothing out. I’m more financially secure than I’ve been in a long, long time, and I feel like I have a handle on how to keep all this going. I’m learning to plot more thoroughly on the front end so I can draft faster. Most importantly, I feel FREE. I’m writing what I want, whenever I want. I can put out one book a year or twelve. I’m no longer worried about whether my books will be appealing to bookstores or editors — only whether they will be appealing to readers.

Liberated. That’s my word for 2016.

To be honest, I’m so ridiculously happy with how my Indie career is shaping up that I only have one regret; I wish I’d done it sooner. Preferable three years ago when I first started thinking about it. In the end, I only have myself to blame for waiting so long. Having said that, there were (and still are) some blanket statements that serve to discourage people from going Indie. And hey! Maybe it’s not for you. But if it’s not, I want you to be able to make that decision based on fact, not speculation or fear.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of Indie Facts and Myths from some of the best Indie authors in the romance genre.

51xvhB8kK1L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_MYTH: You won’t make enough money to pay your bills.

FACT: “I was making enough to pay my mortgage by my second month in indie publishing (Oct 13) and that has remained true every month since.” – Jessie Evans, author of Good Girl VS. Bad Boy and formerly traditionally published under another pen name.

Of course, there are never any guarantees. But this was an oft-repeated phrase similar to the ones I heard when I was trying to get traditionally published. You now the ones I’m talking about. Things like, “Only 15% of manuscripts will find an agent,” and “The average first time advance is $10,000 so why bother?” I never let those statements stop me on the trad pub side, and I went on to work with one of the best YA agents in the business, and to sell my first series in the very high six figures.

But for some reason, I let these kinds of comments discourage me on the Indie side. It seems a little crazy now, but it almost felt SAFER to keep doing what I was doing — writing books, hoping they would sell to trad pub, hoping I would get an advance that would make it possible for me to keep my family going for another year.

The thing that made the difference for me was reading the personal accounts of authors who were doing it successfully. That disclosure required a lot of bravery on their part. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to take the leap without their inspiring stories. I remain grateful for their candor, and it’s part of the reason why I was so transparent in the early days when I had no idea if this would be a successful or failed experiment.

So yes, not everyone will make a ton of money publishing Indie. But if you can check off a few key things — great writing, compelling and professional cover, a willingness to market, and the ability to release content fairly quickly in the beginning — it’s more than possible to make a living on the Indie side.

MYTH: You’re going to spend a lot more time marketing Indie than with traditional publishing.

FACT: It depends.

If you are one of the lucky few in traditional publishing whose deal came complete with a giant marketing budget, you might spend more time marketing on the Indie side. If you’re among the other 99.9% of writers who have published traditionally, you’re not going to spend any more time, and you might actually spend less.

I’ve been on both sides of the equation. The Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy had a massive marketing budget. There were two tours and print advertising and pitching at foreign book fairs like Frankfurt, Bologna, and London. Still, I busted my ass marketing. I did giveaway upon giveaway. I tweeted. I posted. I shared. I liked. I went to every event within an hour of my house, and many within three, even when it was a school night and even when I really couldn’t afford the time. I accepted every invitation to books fairs, festivals, and conferences, no matter how small or little known. I personally answered every email, every comment on Facebook, every tweet. I posted constantly to my blog. I did it all, even when my editor at the time said, “You’re not going to be able to keep this up forever.”

I did it despite the large marketing budget because I never wanted to look back and wonder if I didn’t do enough. Whatever happened, I wanted to know I did my best, and I repeated the actions, give or take a few, with every book I sold thereafter until fairly recently when I began to suspect it wasn’t moving the needle.

Did it make a difference? I don’t know. If it did, it probably wasn’t enough of a difference to mean success or failure. But I can definitely look back and say I did everything in my power to make those books a success, from writing my very best to marketing my heart out.

The truth is, I do much LESS marketing now. Or more accurately, more of my marketing is automated on the Indie side. I run Facebook ads constantly, but once I hit on an ad that performs well, I don’t really have to do anything with it. This is in large part thanks to AuthorBuzz, who handles the day to day minutiae of monitoring the ad results, making changes to the audience, etc. It’s also a product of the kind of marketing that works best on the Indie side. It’s no surprise that readers of ebooks are found online. They like to talk about the books they’re reading, get and give author recommendations, and generally commiserate with other readers on the internet. All of which means reaching them there is pretty easy. Other than that, I don’t do much but keep in touch with my readers on my Facebook author page, which I enjoy. I’ll be attending RT in Vegas this year, and hopefully a couple more conferences, but that’s strictly for fun and to connect with other authors. The truth is, I have a lot more time for writing now than I did when I was publishing exclusively traditional.

51hoZLkcv6L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_MYTH: Indie publishing is a last-ditch option for those who couldn’t get a traditional deal.

FACT: “Authors who write for a living, like all business professionals, have choices about how to conduct our business and with whom we’d like to partner. Indie publishing is a choice, just like the choice to seek out a traditional deal. There are pros and cons to both options, but many authors — including those of us who have successfully published traditionally in the past — are choosing to go indie for all or some of our projects. It’s not a choice made out of desperation, but one made from a place of empowerment, good business sense, and the excitement that comes from having the freedom and flexibility to try something new.” – Sylvia Pierce, author of the Bad Boys on Holiday series and an Indie romance author who also publishes traditionally under another pen name.

An extraordinary number of Indie authors actually published traditionally FIRST. Many of us started out the old fashioned way — querying agents (sometimes via mail before email was accepted everywhere), waiting for a response (sometimes for months), going through rounds of edits with our eventual agent that sometimes lasted close to a year, waiting while our books were “subbed” to editors, and if we were lucky, waiting a year or two to see our book on shelves after it was acquired. Some of us had successful careers in trad pub only to be winnowed out as the marketing emphasis became more focused on a few big blockbusters a year. There was a time when it was expected that most authors would take time to build their audience. Publishers invested in them long term, even if their books weren’t big out of the gate. Those days are mostly gone as publishers invest the vast majority of their marketing budgets into a handful of high profile titles that all but guarantee the slow death of even mid-list authors. Some trad authors write in a less high profile genre. Or maybe their work crosses genres and that make it difficult for a publisher to know how to market it. There are lots of reasons for going Indie. However, I know surprisingly few Indie authors who have done it because they tried and failed to get a trad pub deal, and I know quite a few who were offered trad pub deals but chose to go Indie instead.

MYTH: If you have a traditional publishing career, your agent/editors won’t let you self publish other titles.

FACT: “My agent has been nothing but supportive of my diving into self publishing while continuing to pitch other books to traditional publishers, and none of those publishers have raised any concerns either.” -Eva Chase, author of Caught in the Glow, and an indie pen name for a traditionally published author.

My agent always erred on the side of caution when I was thinking about trying my hand at publishing Indie. He wanted to be sure I knew that it wasn’t necessarily easy, and that there were no guarantees. But he never threatened to stop representing me if I did it, and we work together to this day on my traditional stuff.

I was SO nervous to mention that I was considering writing Indie under a pen name to my editor. I thought maybe she would look down on it — or me. But now I feel foolish, because she was wonderful about it. She understood my financial concerns, and she encouraged me to do whatever I needed to ensure my family was okay. Her support was a very big deal to me, because I love working with her. If she had discouraged me, I might have thought twice. Thankfully, she didn’t, and I have high hopes that I’ll get to work with her again on future projects.

1lmjjffMYTH: You need a traditional print deal to sell globally.

FACT: Selling globally is as easy as clicking a button on your computer.

As Natasha Boyd, author of EVERSEA explains, “Platforms like Kobo and Amazon and iBooks reach mobile devices in countries your publisher has never heard of, nor will ever market even a print book to.”

Uploading a book to an online store is like getting a glimpse of the entire reading world. Making your English language book available to virtually any country is as easy as checking a box on the Rights page, and if you’d like to take it one step further, you can even find translators that will translate your book into any number of languages for sale to native speakers in any country. In fact, many Indie authors are finding whole new audiences by investing in translations for Germany, Spain, and many other countries.

A large number of my readers are from the UK and Australia, and those territories have become key in terms of ongoing royalties. Plus, it’s so fun to connect with readers all over the world, and to know that your work is inspiring people in far away places.

MYTH: The Indie market is saturated now. It’s too late to take advantage of it.

FACT: Nobody knows.

Make no mistake about it; there are A LOT of Indie books out there. Like, a lot, a lot. But the truth is, no one knows where the bottom of this market is. I’ve been hearing the “Indie books are on their way out” refrain since 2011, but I’m doing more than fine in this market. There are two things I know for sure, though.

  1. Indie books – and the online reading platform – are here to stay. There is evidence that print books are experiencing a rebound, but this in no way means ebooks are out. Millions and millions of ebooks are sold every year, and many of those ebooks are also represented by print version in bookstores. The digital platform is now a way of life for many readers, so while I do believe readers are becoming more selective, I don’t see a time when we will ever go back to strictly paper content.
  2. You’ll never know unless you try. See, this is kind of like the trad pub thing. We can sit around and try to predict what’s going to happen. You can spend a lot of time talking about it and guessing at your odds of success. But you just won’t know unless you take the plunge, and all that talking and guessing takes away from time you could spend researching and writing and learning. I’m glad I did it when I did, but if it hadn’t worked out, at least I would be able to say it didn’t work firsthand.

None of this is meant to sway you either way. These are personal decisions, weighted with things like family and money and time and career and other commitments. But I’m by nature a positive, action-oriented person, and I know how demoralizing it can be to feel like nothing is changing. Like no matter how hard you write and how hard you try and how much you learn, you just can’t get to a place of even relative comfort and security. I know what it means to feel powerless even in the face of the knowledge that your art belongs to you.

That’s right.

YOUR ART BELONGS TO YOU.

These are the things I know.

I can’t control whether traditional publishing buys any more of my books. I can’t control whether readers will like my books. But I’m a writer. That’s what I do, and I do it whether I get paid or not, whether anyone else is reading what I write or not. I don’t know who I am without it. As writers, we’re finally we’re at a place where we have some options.

And that counts for a lot.

 

 

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12/09/15 Book News , Indie , Mob Boss Series , Romance , Savage # , , , ,

SAVAGE Cover Reveal

Savage_front_coverWith The Muscle Part Three wrapping up next week, I’m super excited to reveal the cover and blurb for SAVAGE, the first book in the London Mob series featuring Farrell Black and Jenna Carver. Those of you with eagle eyes and a great memory will be able to place Jenna from the Mob Boss books, and of course, no one can forget Farrell, my biggest, baddest — and dirtiest — main character yet.

 

If I was Superman, Jenna was my Kryptonite.

Farrell Black is dirty, dangerous, and holds nothing sacred. Growing up on the mean streets of London, he clawed his way to the top of a criminal empire with nothing but sheer force of will and the determination to need no one.

Ever.

Then he met Jenna Carver, and all bets were off — until the day she walked out of his life without a backward glance.

Leaving him was the hardest thing she’d ever done.

As a kid, Jenna knew how people looked at her. Like she was stupid. Worthless. Poor. So she spent her life working to become someone else. Then she met Farrell Black, and their all-consuming passion blew a hole in everything she thought she knew about herself.

Until she was forced to make a terrible choice.

Now Jenna is back in London for her father’s funeral, desperate to avoid the one man who can banish her hard-earned reason in favor of red-hot ecstasy. But when her father’s death is tied to an abuse of power at the highest levels, she has no choice but to ask Farrell for help.

As they work together to find answers to a puzzle that could have dangerous implications, desire threatens to undo them both — and forces Jenna to choose between keeping the secret of a lifetime and possessing the only man who has ever commanded her heart and soul.

Preorder Savage Now

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11/24/15 Book News , Lies I Told , Promises I Made , Reading # , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Promises I Made Release Day!

PromisesIMade HC CToday’s the day I’ve been waiting for – the day readers will finally get to know the outcome of Grace’s story from Lies I Told. This books means so much to me, and I’ve already been getting mail from advance readers saying it’s my best book ye, the highlight of which was a reader who emailed to say, “Of all your books, Grace’s story is the one that moved me the most.”

Add that to praise from Kirkus – who called the book “riveting” – and it’s an understatement to say I’m excited for this story to be out in the world. I so hope you enjoy it! As always, please consider adding it to your Goodreads shelf and leaving a review on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc.

They help more than you know!

<3

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11/13/15 Book News , Reading # , , , , ,

A Walk in the Sun Cover Reveal

La-di-da! Oh, happy day!

I finally get to reveal the cover for my Summer 2016 book, A Walk in the Sun. This book has a very special place in my heart. It’s about love, loss, family, and the risks we all have to take to really live. It’s a quintessential summer love story with heart, and I could not be more excited to share it with you.

So without further ado…

WalkinSun HCI just love this cover for its simplicity, and for the fact that it really highlights the setting, a family farm in a small town in upstate New York. There’s a wounded female with a spine of steel and a tough-talking cowboy with scars of his own who works on her farm for the summer, peach pie, old orchards, swimming holes, small town fireworks displays, and lots of questions about legacy and loyalty, and how much of ourselves we should sacrifice in the name of those things. Most of all, it’s a love story in the truest sense of the word. I think it will speak to the uncertainty a lot of young people feel at the end of high school, and to the healing power of love in all its forms.

You can preorder it now (even though the cover isn’t up yet), and stay tuned here for more information as we get closer.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Also, if you’d like this kind of news first, plus free bonus content and chance to win a Tiffany necklace every month, please subscribe to my email list on the right sidebar. I actually revealed this cover early for email subscribers. You can easily get in on that action.

😉

 

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10/21/15 Fearless , Indie , Lawless , Lies I Told , Mob Boss Series , Promises I Made , Reading , Ruthless , Self-Publish , Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Three Months Indie: An Update

Lawless_front_6ix9i_RGB

Well, I did it. Lawless released last night, bringing my first full-length Indie series to a close. It’s hard to believe less than three months ago I hadn’t even released Ruthless. I was nervous and scared, wondering if I was going to look back on my decision to go hybrid as a huge mistake.

Thankfully, that is NOT how I’m feeling.

Like, at all.

😉

I’ve sold over 20,000 books in less than three months. At least one of the Mob Boss books has been on at least one of the Top 100 lists almost the entire time, and I’ve met hundreds of new readers, all of them passionate and enthusiastic about modern romance. I’ve also met countless Indie and hybrid authors who have been incredibly generous with their information and beyond supportive of this newbie. I lost track a long time ago of the dumb questions I’ve asked along the way, but there hasn’t been a single time that someone hasn’t offered me an answer.

To give you an idea of my progress, here’s a 90-day graph showing you my sales from August 1st when Ruthless released to today.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 8.47.53 PM

You have to ignore that REALLY big jump at the end — that was my 2300 preorders for LAWLESS dumping into the system. It makes it look like I wasn’t selling well before, but my sales actually held steady between 200-300 a day from August 10th onward. I had a quite few days where they were over 300 —  one where I inexplicably hit 411 — and fewer where I dipped to 175, usually after the 30-day sales cliff that follows a new release. But it’s been pretty steady, with sales of around 6,000 books my first month and close to 9,000 my second month. October will probably see me around 10,000 when it’s all said and done. You can see little jumps in early August and the beginning of September which coincide with new book releases, proving that new content goes  a long way toward keeping you visible. I’m very happy with these numbers, even if they don’t grow, but I see no reason why they shouldn’t with a consistent new release schedule.

Financially, this is the best decision I could have made. I’m not going to be quite as transparent here as I was in my last update, but I will say that if you know I’ve sold over 20,000 books in less than three months, and you know I’m typically making a 70% royalty on the Indie side, you know why I am pretty ecstatic. I haven’t discounted my books at all up until now, so they’ve all sold at $3.99.

For the first time in a long time, I feel like my feet are under me, and it’s hard to explain the relief I feel knowing I’ll be paid once a month instead of twice a year (or less if I haven’t earned out) on the traditional publishing side.

But the biggest gain of all is in creative choice. If you’ve been following my posts, you know that I’ve spoken before about the necessity of writing what’s selling when you make your living writing. “Write the book you want to read” is great advice — but not always sound if one must bring home a paycheck from said writing. I’ve always loved the books I write. I pour my heart and soul into every one, and I have a powerful, lasting bond with every character and every story.

But there are other stories. A near-future sci-fi thriller. A coming of age YA novel set against the backdrop of travel on the cheap. A contemporary story about sisters that deals with divorce and mental illness. An adult thriller about eco-terroism. These are all stories that I’ve shelved at one time or another because I was told the market wasn’t ripe for selling them, or that my particular brand wouldn’t support a sale in one of these areas. To be clear; I am GRATEFUL for this advice. The people looking out for me know I make my living writing, and they know I support four people with that income. There hasn’t been much margin for error.

But here’s the thing; the kind of can’t-sleep-I’m-so-excited passion I have for certain projects doesn’t come along every day. It was the way I felt about Prophecy of the Sisters when I was writing it, and it’s a voice I’ve tried to listen to ever since. Having to shelve those ideas because financial concerns forced me to play it safe was hard and sad and creatively demoralizing. Because the financial noose has loosened, I’ll be able to take more writing risks on the traditional publishing side — with the bonus of having an Indie readership who may read those books if they don’t sell to traditional publishing.

I feel like I can breathe again. Most importantly, I’m starting to dream again. Of the books I can write (even if no one thinks they will sell) and the things I can do for myself and my family and others with this bit of financial blessing. I think that’s one of the worst parts about being in survival mode; you’re so focused on getting through it that it’s hard to remember to dream. Dreaming feels like a waste of time and energy when you’re struggling to survive, but what a loss it is when we stop. It’s so wonderful to feel hopeful and excited again — about my writing and about life in general and the opportunities I might have now to travel and write ALL kinds of stories.

That I owe to the people at Authorbuzz who spearheaded the marketing campaign that started sending traffic to my book pages right out of the gate, and to my readers, who have been so lovely and wonderful and excited about these books, and whose enthusiasm has carried me forward through a difficult three month writing schedule. I also owe a thank you to my mom and my kids, because they have been right there with me, game for anything, urging me to take the leap after talking about it for years. Having people who have your back, people who believe in you and cheer for you and make you feel like you can do anything… Well, that makes all the difference.

Now that things have stabilized, my focus is expanding. I have books lined up for both Indie publishing and traditional publishing for the foreseeable future, and I’m working on a schedule for 2016 that will allow me to continue releasing my Indie stuff no more than 6-8 weeks apart with time to work on two speculative projects as well. I plan to attend a few conferences and/or workshops next year, and I’m looking forward to meeting more awesome authors.

On the traditional publishing side, PROMISES I MADE (sequel to LIES I TOLD) comes out November 24th, and my first YA love story, A WALK IN THE SUN, will be out next summer. On the Indie side, THE MUSCLE, my new serial featuring Luca, a character from the Mob Boss series, launches November 17th and will b complete by Christmas. I’m excited to share them with you!

And there’s always more to learn! I’ve found the marketing and business side of Indie publishing to be fascinating (color me surprised!), and I can spend hours reading about it or watching videos or talking to other Indie authors about the things they’ve done. I also need to work on maximizing my exposure on Nook, Kobo, and iBooks, because right now, I’m only selling a tiny fraction of my total there. I have a feeling I’m missing some promotional opportunities and methods for connecting with readers on those platforms, and that’s something I want to be better about. I’ll also be creating a dedicated website for Michelle St. James so I can further separate my two writing names and the books that go with each.

Most importantly, there’s craft, something that has always fascinated and challenged me. I want to continue getting better, and I’m excited to keep working toward that goal. Writing MORE has always been my proving ground, and I’m so very excited to know now that I’ll be able to do so for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for joining me on this crazy ride!

And if you’re curious, you can buy Ruthless, the first book in the Mob Boss series below;

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

iBooks

Fearless, the second book, can be found here;

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

iBooks

And LAWLESS, the final book is out now;

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

(iBooks is still in review)

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10/14/15 Contests & Giveaway , Lies I Told , Promises I Made , Reading , Uncategorized # , , , , , , , , , , ,

Promises I Made ARC Giveaway

PromisesIMade HC CI can’t believe we’re only a little over a month away from the release of Promises I Made. It’s so nice to have this duet released nine months apart instead of a year, which is more standard for series. It’s always hard to wait such a long time for a book!

I’m especially excited to share the conclusion to this story. It’s a story that really speaks to a struggle I think many of us share — the struggle to believe that we are really worthy and deserving of love and hope and all the beauty that life has to offer. You can preorder it here (and with any book retailer), and if you haven’t read LIES I TOLD, you can do so here (also available at B&N, Kobo, Ibooks, and local Indie).

In the meantime, I have two very coveted ARCs available for giveaway. There are lots of easy ways to enter, and if you already follow me on Twitter or Instgram, or you are part of my Reader List, you may already have entries in the bank.

😉

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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09/11/15 Indie , inspiration , Life , Uncategorized # , , ,

A Head Full of Fear

Head_Fear_QuoteI saw this quote about a week ago and have been thinking about it ever since. I’ve always had a saying that has served me well;

Never make a decision out of fear.

You’d be surprised how many decisions are fear-based when that is your litmus test.

Now because this is the internet and the internet is full of trite sayings that, when dissected under the magnifying glass of critical thinking, aren’t helpful and might actually be harmful, I’m going to give you a disclaimer.

Fear can be good. Fear makes you look both ways before crossing the street. It makes you think carefully before making a career decision that might have lasting implications for you or your family. It keeps you from driving too fast and eating too much junk food.

That’s not the kind of fear I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the kind of fear that paralyzes you. The kind of fear that keeps you from taking a step in any direction because something might go wrong. Like many people, I struggle with that fear on a weekly basis. The burden feels greater because I am responsible for other human beings, and I don’t want to fuck things up for them.

But friends, I am so, so, SO glad I have not let fear rule my life. I didn’t let it rule my life when I got out of two bad marriages. (yeah, my track record there isn’t so great, but you know what? Everyone is happier now, my kids included). I didn’t let it rule my life when I ditched a very high paying but unsatisfying job in my home state of California for a quieter life in rural New York where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t have a job. I didn’t let it decide whether I should write back in 2004, when I got serious and started writing the books that led me to Prophecy of the Sisters and my first deal with Little Brown. I haven’t let it rule my life while I’ve experimented with a bunch of different genres – from YA Gothic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, Steampunk, and contemporary fiction to adult romance and psychological thrillers.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been scared. It doesn’t mean I haven’t made mistakes either. But I haven’t regretted any of them, because I’ve been in motion. I’ve been MOVING. And even the things that seemed like mistakes at the time, later looked like exactly the thing I needed to lead me to the next good thing that WASN’T a mistake.

Isn’t life funny that way? I’ll bet if you look back on the “bad” things that happened to you, you’ll find that the vast majority were precursors to something good that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been confronted with the “bad” one. If you think about taking away that one negative experience, what would you lose that was good?

And I’ll let you in on another secret; almost always, the thinking about doing something scary is worse than the actual doing. That’s because we build up all these scary scenarios in our head, and statistically, they aren’t ALL going to come true. Plus, when you’re moving, you don’t have as much space in your brain for worrying and being scared. You’re too busy taking steps, looking around, making something happen.

For the first time in a long time, I feel in control of my situation. Wanna know my one regret?

Not taking control sooner. Being so scared that I stood still for so long, or if not still, that I didn’t move in the one direction that offered the most promise.

So look your fear in the face, dear friends. What’s the worst that can happen, really? What’s the best? Is your avoidance of the worst worth sacrificing the possibility of the best? Will you be satisfied later, when you’re still in the same place because you were afraid to take a step? Because here is one absolutely universal truth; nothing in your life will change if you keep doing the same things over and over again.

And you know what? Taking a step isn’t very hard. It’s just one step. Take one today and another one tomorrow. You will be two steps closer to the thing you want, and you’ll be so busy moving, you’ll be surprised by how your fear recedes into the background. Free up all that space in your brain and psyche and imagination for something better. Because there is always something better than fear.

<3

 

 

 

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09/06/15 Fearless , Indie , Mob Boss Series , Reading , Romance , Ruthless # , , , , , , ,

FEARLESS is Now Available!

Fearless_front_V2Technically, it’s not out until tomorrow, but I’ll let you in on a little secret; I always pad my release dates by a day or two when I don’t set up a pre-order. That’s because each retailer has wildly different upload times.

Amazon is always the first to make a book live, so those of you reading the Mob Boss series on your Kindle are in luck; FEARLESS IS NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.

I’m still waiting for B&N and iBooks to make the book available for sale, and the paperback is also in processing, but those should be available tomorrow on the technical release date.

In the meantime, happy reading to those of you who are able to pick it up today!
<3

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09/02/15 Fearless , Indie , Lawless , Mob Boss Series , Reading , Romance , Ruthless , Self-Publish , Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , , , ,

A Big First Month for RUTHLESS

front_6ix9i_RGB_300dpiIt’s September 2nd. A month ago today, Ruthless, my first self-pubbed novel wasn’t out yet. I had no idea what was in store, how well (or not) the book would sell, if going hybrid would change the landscape of my career like I hoped by giving me more control over my work and how it’s published and marketed.

Hard to believe that so much can change in a month.

But it did, and I’m happy to report that Ruthless sold over 6,000 copies in August. It’s a number that was far beyond my wildest expectations back when I was hoping royalties from the first month would just cover the money I spent on covers, formatting, marketing, etc.

One of the biggest reasons I decided to give self-publishing a try is because of all the Indie and hybrid authors who went before me. For context, it’s important to note that discretion is highly valued in traditional publishing. One doesn’t talk openly about advances or royalties, about the editors we find difficult, about publishing houses who have reneged on promises (it’s okay to shout from the rooftops about those we love, and we do!).

I get it. Being professional is important in any business, and much of this information is of a highly personal nature. Still, it’s been difficult not having easy, timely access to sales numbers and earn-out rates over the past few years. It’s hard to know if you need to make changes to your marketing plan or do something different without data.

One of the most refreshing things about going Indie with my adult work has been the utter transparency, both among many Indie authors and with regards to real-time data. It’s been a little exhilarating to watch my numbers climb, and those moments were well worth the few times when they dropped and I was left wondering if it was a trend, if it was due to everyone going back to school, if maybe I’d simply reached the end of RUTHLESS’s novelty as a new book. In a way, those moments were good for me, too. They were a reminder that you can watch your numbers all day long, but when push comes to shove, you need to keep your head down and write more books.

Anyway, I’m not sure I would have taken the plunge if not for all the authors who were generous and brave enough to report their experiences before me. Because of this, I feel like I owe a debt to pay it forward for anyone else out there thinking of going this route. This is where it gets a bit squicky for me, because I don’t like talking about my personal income any more than the next person, but it’s impossible to share sales numbers without talking royalties (mostly because anyone can figure it out knowing that the standard royalty on a self-pubbed book at $3.99 is 70%), and it’s impossible to give you an idea how life-altering this experience has been without talking sales numbers.

With that in mind, I’m going to be totally straight with you, with the caveat that I will probably not do this again, at least not to this degree of detail. I’m sure there are lots of ways I can screen shot and post graphs, but it’s the first day of school and I’m running on three hours sleep, so I’m going to keep it simple

August 2015

Total Books Sold (all formats) – 6,218

Print Copies Sold – 13

Digital Copies Sold (iBooks) – 19

Digital Copies Sold (Nook) – 41

Digital Copies Sold (Kindle) – 6,145

Total Royalties – $15,198.69

These numbers are with only one book – RUTHLESS – for sale. I never once discounted it, because I feel strongly that authors (and all artists) should be paid fairly for their work. This means all 6,000+ copies of the book were sold at my current full price of $3.99.

This is what it looked like;

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 11.26.51 AMThe vast majority of sales were from Amazon for the Kindle platform. To be honest, I wasn’t very surprised. I had heard that Kindle sales compromised a majority of the digital marketplace — I just hadn’t realized how much. And while I know this isn’t going to be popular with some, I have to say; I can see why.

Buying in the Kindle store and reading on a Kindle device is so easy, and from an Indie author’s perspective, Amazon is by far the simplest to work with in ease of upload, speed of listing, access to foreign markets, and resolution of problems/questions. Like anyone, I feel a little nervous knowing that so much of my income is tied up with one distributor, but if another retailer wants that to change, they need to do better to compete in this space. Because frankly, Amazon is killing it on every level. I don’t always love the decisions they make, but the truth is, I haven’t always loved the decisions made in traditional publishing either.

Another interesting trend; RUTHLESS killed it in the UK Amazon store. Even now, nearly a month after it’s a release, it’s sitting at 503 in all Kindle books and 29 in New Adult Romance. The book also did well in Canada and Australia, with a few copies sold in Europe, and even in India.

If you read my post two weeks into the month, you know that the Facebook ad set up by AuthorBuzz was instrumental in giving the book the push it needed to get more visibility (you can see on the graph the crazy turn things took when the ad kicked in). That continues to be true, and I can’t say enough how much I recommend them for marketing and ad consultation. The ad image was just one part of what gave the books legs. Without the design expertise of the people at AuthorBuzz (they know how to work within Facebook’s parameters for maximum success) and keyword knowledge, the ad may very well have sat in the sidebar with no clicks. As it is, I have received thousands of clicks on the ad, and it’s still going strong. That traffic to the book got me more sales, which pushed Ruthless up on the list of Hot New Releases on Amazon and gave me yet more visibility. For a long time, the book was on pages 2-4 in several categories, and that really helped as well. As more people read it, more people reviewed it, talked about it, added it to their Goodreads shelves. It was a beautiful circle of momentum that began with the ad, and I plan to continue using AuthorBuzz for marketing on an ongoing basis for both my Indie work and my traditionally published work.

There was a bit of a learning curve — and a courage curve — with preorders. I didn’t list FEARLESS (the second book in the Mob Boss series) for preorder because Amazon has some rules about preorders that made it scary for me. Namely, you have to upload the final file ten days before the release or lose your preorder privileges for a year. As someone who’s sometimes tweaking small things right up until the book goes live, I just wasn’t ready to commit to it, especially since I was working to get the books out close together for my readers.

But I decided to do a preorder for LAWLESS, the final book in the series. I want readers to be able to see that the final book will be available the month after Fearless releases, and I wanted to be able to put the link in the back of Fearless to make it easy. This meant I had to upload the Lawless preorder before Fearless is even out in order to have the Buy link for my formatter. I’m sure it’s a little confusing for anyone digging around on Amazon for book two to find only books one and three available, but it will all make sense in a few days when Fearless is up on Monday. Next time, I’ll build in lots of time and list each book for preorder before publishing the first one.

I can’t tell you how much fun this has been, and how, well, RELIEVED I feel. I don’t think I realized how scared I was all the time. Scared that I wouldn’t be able to keep selling books to trad pub, scared that my advances there would dwindle, scared that I had zero control over the fate of my career and my ability to support my family. For now, I still hope to sell my YA stuff to trad pub, but for the first time in a long time, I am resting easy in the knowledge that there are people who want to read my stories — and that I have the ability to get those stories to them for the foreseeable future. I’m excited to write the next series (based on characters introduced in Ruthless), and maybe to play in the serial space, too.

I know not everyone will get these results out of the gate. I’ve been lucky to have a career in traditional publishing that gave me a platform, and some of those readers have followed me to my adult work. But there is a place for good books that might not find a home in the traditional publishing marketplace, and there is some comfort to that. For you, too, I hope.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me and cheered me on. Biggest thanks of all to those of you who bought, read, reviewed, and recommended RUTHLESS. None of the stories would matter if you weren’t there to read them.

<3

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08/25/15 Book News , Fearless , Indie , Mob Boss Series , Romance , Ruthless , Self-Publish , Uncategorized # , , , , , , , ,

FEARLESS Cover Reveal

Fearless_front_V2You guys! Ruthless has raced to the top of the Amazon rankings in both the UK and the US. I’ve been absolutely stunned by the response, and I can only hope this means you’re ready for the release of FEARLESS on September 7th (less than two weeks away!).

Assuming you are… I thought you’d all like to see the cover. I’m sure you’ll notice that Nico looks a little rougher around the edges. That is intentional (because…. story), and I think you’ll be really excited by the continuation of Nico and Angel’s story in this next book. You can add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read RUTHLESS, now’s the perfect time to do so. Thanks so much to everyone who has read, reviewed, and recommended to friends.
<3

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08/20/15 Indie , Mob Boss Series , Reading , Romance , Ruthless , Writing # , , , , , ,

Romance Readers… I <3 You!

Just a quick thank you to the many readers who have recommended and reviewed RUTHLESS. The book continues to defy in convention in how well it’s doing during its debut month, and I’ve been especially gratified by the number of favorable reviews that have been posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

Reviews are so super important to a book’s success, and it’s always felt a bit like an uphill stubble to get people to leave them, even when they’ve loved my books. I get it! We’re all so busy now. I actually had to make a pact with myself about a year ago that I would leave more book and product reviews, because I noticed that I relied heavily on them when making my own purchases, then never bothered to leave them for others.

D’oh!

Now I do try to leave reviews as often as possible, and I see that YOU GUYS DO, TOO!

So thank you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

For being part of RUTHLESS and this first foray into self-publishing, for cheering me on, for leaving reviews and recommending the book to friends online and IRL, and for inspiring me to write more stories from my heart.

<3

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08/16/15 Fearless , Mob Boss Series , Sneak Peek Saturday , Writing # , , , , ,

Sneak Peek Sunday; FEARLESS

I know, I know. It’s supposed to be Sneak Peek Saturday. But better late than never, right?

😉

While RUTHLESS is killing it in the Amazon rankings, I’m already ramping up for the release of FEARLESS, book two in the Mob Boss trilogy. The cover is currently being redesigned for the September 7th release of the book. In the meantime, maybe this sneak peek will tide you over.

 

The car was more animal than machine, its undulating curves sensual even rendered in steel and fiberglass. She shouldn’t have been surprised. Nico was all man — not exactly the type to drive a low-key sedan — and this car wasn’t about subtlety.

“Shouldn’t we be laying low?” she asked.

“We are laying low,” he said. “I had someone change the plates.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Someone? I thought the point of meeting Luca here was to stay under the radar.”

“Trust me. I’ve covered our bases. And when in Rome…” He took her elbow and guided her to the car.

“We’re not in Rome,” she said drily.

“No, we’re in Miami. Now get in the car.”

She slid into the seat with a sigh, sinking into the plush leather interior. He reached across her and buckled her seatbelt, just like he had the night they’d fled New York for Maine. His touch was no less electric now, and she breathed in the scent of him as his fingers brushed her skin, imagining the way he laid his big hands across her naked belly just before he spread her legs to enter her.

He clicked the buckle into place and retreated from the car. A moment later her door slid shut with a quiet hum, and he got behind the wheel. The powerful engine came to life somewhere between a roar and purr.

Like Nico.

He put his hands on the wheel slowly, like he was savoring the feel of it under his hands. He shifted into gear, and then they were flying through the parking garage, Nico taking the turns sharp and smooth until they exited into the Florida sunshine.

They got on the highway and headed south. It was like being in a different world, the bright colors and fast cars standing in sharp contrast to the wild Maine coast, the historical solemnity of Boston. Nico rolled down the windows and looked over at her with a grin, then accelerated through traffic. The wind whipped back her hair, and she was surprised to hear laughter bubble up from her throat.

She wasn’t a car person, couldn’t have cared less about what she drove at home, but the speed and agility of the machine connected with something deeply erotic inside her. She looked over at Nico — his muscled thighs moving as he shifted gears, dark hair ruffled by the wind, eyes hidden behind sunglasses — and grew wet with desire for him. She felt her old life falling away with a startling lack of fear.

A half hour later, Nico pulled into the Coral Gables address Angel had given him. The house was one of many owned by her father — now owned by her and David  — and occupied only sporadically. It wasn’t one of her favorites — she’d always thought it was a little garish — but now she could appreciate the gated entry, the long driveway that led to a brick courtyard at the front of the house. It wasn’t a fortress — as far as she knew it had been built for privacy, not impenetrability — but at least they would have a warning before someone made it through the gate and up the driveway. She didn’t expect anyone to know she and Nico were hiding out here, but they couldn’t afford to take anything for granted.

Nico pulled the car to a stop in the courtyard. He leaned forward, his arms on the wheel, and gazed up at the Spanish-style mansion. It didn’t look huge from the front, but Angel knew it was an illusion. The house was enormous, with eight bedrooms, a wine cellar, and a gym, among other things. The exterior was faced with ivory stucco, the windows framed with blue shutters, and palm trees offered just enough shade to the interior without blocking the sunlight.

“Nice,” he said approvingly.

“Thanks,” Angel said. She heard the note of sarcasm in her voice and felt like she should explain. “I still don’t know how I feel about all of this stuff.”

He turned to loo at her. “What stuff?”

“All the stuff bought with my father’s blood money.”

He nodded. “How do you know the house wasn’t built with legitimate income from Rossi Development?”

She thought about it. Everything was all tangled up together. The good and bad, moral and immoral, love and hate.

“I guess I don’t.”

“Maybe that’s a blessing,” he said, taking her hand.

“Maybe.”

They went inside, and Angel opened the windows and the doors leading to the balconies and terraces. The house was just like she remembered it, with soaring ceilings, expansive rooms, and an elaborate iron banister that wound upward with the curved staircase to the second floor.

When she was done airing out the house, she returned to the ground floor to find Nico standing on the terrace, looking out over the infinity pool and lagoon, and beyond that, to the open ocean in the distance.

“Will this work?” she asked him.

“It will,” he said. “Thank you.”

She reached up to smooth the crease in his forehead. “What’s wrong?”

“I wish you’d go back to New York.”

She dropped her arm, stung by his words. “You don’t want me here?”

“That’s not it.” He pulled her into his arms. “Sometimes I think I can breathe without you.”

“Then why?” she asked.

He looked down at her. “I won’t be able to live with myself if something happens to you. You know that, right?”

She nodded, then stretched to kiss him. “Which is why nothing is going to happen to me. We’re going to meet Luca, get a handle on what’s going on, and decide what to do next. No one even knows we’re here, and it’s not like anyone would suspect I’m hanging out with my former kidnapper.”

A brief flash of misery crossed his features in the moment before he was able to hide it, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?” his voice was gruff.

“Don’t torture yourself over the past,” she said. “Trust me, it doesn’t change anything. And I don’t think I’d want to change it anyway.”

He shook his head. “You can’t mean that, Angel. If I hadn’t had Luca and Dante kidnap you, your life would be just as it was before.”

It was what she’d once wanted. Her old life back. Her old naivety. But that meant not knowing Nico. It meant never feeling the mysterious and powerful connection to the man now who felt like part of her. Would she wish him away? Wish away what they had? The answer was obvious; she wished her father hadn’t died in the flat in London, wished she and David had a chance to talk to him about all the lies he’d told. She wished finding out the truth hadn’t been so painful. But that was where her wishing ended. To wish anything else would be to undo what had happened between her and Nico, and whatever the future held, she was surprised to realize she didn’t want to undo what had happened between them.

“What I had before was a lie. I’ll take the truth.” She pressed her body to his. “I’ll take this.”

<3

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08/16/15 Fearless , Indie , Mob Boss Series , Romance , Ruthless , Self-Publish , Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , ,

Self-Publishing; Week Two Lessons

You guys… it has been a CUH-razy couple of weeks. After a modest start, things EXPLODED about a week ago. I was selling about 25 books a day (if you remember from my first week blog post, I was happy with those numbers), and then one night, it jumped to 37. By the next day, it was a 158.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 11.33.02 AMThis is what my ranking looks like today.

Monday is the start of my third week, and I’m currently selling about 300 books a day (it’s 11:30am as I write this, and I’ve sold over a hundred books today).

This is way, WAY more than I expected for this first book, written under a pseudonym (albeit an open one), in a genre for which I am not well known. And the really cool thing is that I can share my experience with you, because in this case, there was a definite turning point connected to a very specific marketing tool, namely a very well-designed, very well-targeted Facebook ad.

I’ve heard SO many people say they tried FB ads to no avail, but I can only conclude that my experience was due to A) a gorgeous looking ad (I didn’t design it, so I can say that), B) a pretty kick ass cover and tag line (Not Your Mother’s Mob), and C) knowledgable targeting by the folks at Authorbuzz, who have been managing my ad. I’m not sure I would have had the same results on my own, but frankly, the people at AuthorBuzz know their shit. They took charge of my ad, and within four days I was seeing crazy click though. As of now, I’ve sold over 2,000 books and have only spent about $110 on the ad itself.

So right now, that’s where I’m putting all my marketing money, and I can’t recommend AuthorBuzz enough for this and other marketing services. I know it’s hard to go out of pocket with this stuff, but if you can at all afford it, IT IS SO WORTH IT. There’s a lot of nuance to making the ad (and marketing campaign in general) work, and in my opinion, it’s harder to get the same result without the services of a company that really knows their way around this stuff.

That said, I know money is sometimes an issue, so following are some things you can try on your own;

1. Spend the money to get an excellent design from a designer who knows FB’s parameters. When I say excellent, I mean this ad has to look professional, like something you’d see in a trade journal. It has to have a super compelling tag line. And if you’re writing romance, it should be HOT (not necessarily to be confused with nakedness, because my model is in a tuxedo). Hiring a freelancer to do these ads is cheaper than you might think, usually between $25-$50.

2. Once you have an excellent design, do a ton of research on FB targeting, because it doesn’t matter how great your ad looks if it’s popping up for the wrong people. If you write romance, for example, thinks about your readers; what would they list as things they like to do on Facebook (be specific)? Which authors might they list as favorites? Probably they’re women, so target females to avoid wasting impressions on middle-aged dudes are unlikely to read in your genre. Author buzz did most of this for me, so I can’t speak to the specifics of my ad, but hopefully this will give you a start.

3. Encourage people to leave honest reviews, because again, the more people interact with your Buy page, the more the algorithms are going to work for you. I always forget to do this! People post on my author page that they loved one of my books, and I say, “Thank you so much!” Then later I face palm when I realize what I should have said is, “Thank you so much! Would you be willing to leave a review?” For readers out there; please leave reviews for the books you love. It makes such a difference!

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 5.58.14 PMAfter about five days of very heavy traffic to the Buy page on Amazon (reason enough to run your FB long enough to gain some traction), Ruthless landed on the first page of Hot New Releases for Romance > Contemporary, and I saw a big spike in sales right around that time. So it pays in more ways than one to get people engaging with your book’s Buy page. There’s no way to know exactly what caused this amazing string of events, but I’m told by those who know more than me that it’s probably a combination of the FB ad, a compelling cover and tag line, good reviews and word of mouth, the kicking in of Amazon’s algorithms, etc. Basically, the more people engage with your book on Amazon – – by buying it, reviewing it, etc. — the more you’re worked into Amazon’s algorithms, and that increases your exposure exponentially.

Lastly, I know there is a camp in trad pub that thinks Amazon is the anti-christ, but I have to be honest; they have been the easiest and best to work with by far, from ease of upload and revision of files to number of books sold (I’ve sold 17 books on Nook and 15 on iTunes, the rest of that 2,000 came from Amazon). My questions and problems (minimal!), have been addressed promptly and pleasantly, and they have really made the whole process so easy.

So, thanks, Amazon! And thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, and recommended the book. It is so gratifying to see RUTHLESS reach so many readers, and I’m totally DYING to share FEARLESS with you on September 7th.

<3

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08/12/15 Indie , Mob Boss Series , Romance , Ruthless , Self-Publish , Writing # , , , , , , , ,

RUTHLESS on the Rampage!

You guys! It’s 12:09am and I still have A LOT of writing to do before I can go to bed, but I have to give a quick shout out to those of you reading RUTHLESS. After posting last week about how happy I was with my numbers, I’ve watched it steadily climb in the Amazon rankings.

Right now, it looks like this;

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 12.08.16 AMBasically, Ruthless is killing it at #1,182 Paid in the Kindle Store, #69 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Romance#277 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Contemporary, and #296 in Books > Romance > Contemporary.

For the record, I was VERY happy when it was hovering around 12,000 overall. This is far beyond my wildest dreams for a book published under a pseudonym in a genre that is fairly new to me.

There are a couple key things that have happened to make this a reality. I’ll share those in a longer post later in the week, but for now, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who is reading/has read/plans to read RUTHLESS, and for all of you who have spread the word and reviewed the book. And if you haven’t done those things and are willing to do so, I’d be forever grateful.

Now someone pinch me!

<3

 

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08/08/15 Fearless , Mob Boss Series , Ruthless , Sneak Peek Saturday , Writing # , , , , , , , , ,

Sneak Peek Saturday – FEARLESS

Giving you guys a sneak peek of FEARLESS, the second book in the Mob Boss series, as part of Sneak Peek Saturday!

FEARLESS will be out in less than a month (wheeee!). I hope you all get a chance to read RUTHLESS, the first book in the series, before then.

In the meantime, here’s a Nico and Angel fix to tide you over.

😉

She stepped onto the porch and made her way toward the shadow. He came into view a little at a time, and she had to resist the urge to sigh when she finally saw his face. The chiseled line of his jaw, the sharp planes of his cheekbones under a shock of dark hair so lush she had a sudden memory of it, silky and thick, in her fingers. But all of these were nothing compared to his eyes. In an instant, they pierced the armor she’d built over the past six months, and she was again willing prey to Nico’s predator.

Except now she was under no delusion that she wanted to escape.

She almost forgot to breathe while she was held captive by his gaze. His body was mere inches from hers, and she caught his scent — raw masculinity, leather, and soap — on the ocean breeze.

He headed for the back of the house, then turned to look at her. “You coming?”

They entered through the glass doors off the living room. A fire burned in the hearth, and she had a memory of Nico, his naked body entwined with hers on the sofa while rain pelted the windows. She forced her eyes away from the fireplace, taking in the sweep of wood floor, the stone walls, the glass that made the ocean feel like it was part of the house. She’d forgotten how much she loved this place, how at home she’d felt here.

Nico reached for her bag, and a shock of desire winged through her body when his skin brushed her cold fingers. He set the bag on the ground and crossed the room to pull a blanket off the back of the sofa. She watched as he made his way toward her, his eyes locked on hers while he leaned in to wrap the blanket around her shoulders. She hadn’t realized she was shivering until the warmth settled over her skin. He let his hands rest on her arms for a moment before turning away, and she exhaled a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

She had forgotten how hard it was to breathe around him.

“Drink?” he asked, already heading for the bar.

“Please.”

He poured something into a glass and returned to hand it to her.

“Thank you.”

He nodded, and gestured at the couch. “Please, sit.”

She took a seat on the sofa and felt the sting of rejection when he sat at the other end. Complicated was an understatement for all that was between them, but she couldn’t deny that all the old feelings were still there. Was it simpler for him? Had his feelings for her changed?

“How are you?” he finally asked.

She took a drink, then looked down at the whiskey in her glass. “I’m… okay. Still getting used to everything the way it is now.”

“And David?”

She looked up, somehow surprised that he would mention her brother. “He’s okay, too,” she said softly. “Dealing with all the unfinished business between him and our father.”

“I’m sure that’s very difficult,” Nico said, his voice full of regret.

She nodded, then took a deep breath. “I’m sorry about Carmine.”

“Thank you.”

She looked into his eyes. “What’s going on, Nico?”

“I thought you might know,” he said.

“Me?” She shook her head. “I’m not involved in the Boston operation, but I doubt Frank has the ambition to come after you.”

“I thought the same thing,” he said.

“Besides,” she said, “why would someone kill Carmine? Wasn’t he just a Consigliere?”

She was still learning the terminology of her father’s illegal businesses, but she knew that Carmine had been a kind of advisor to Nico, the same way Frank had advised her father. Consigliere’s weren’t supposed to be part of the battlefield.

“I’m not sure I would use the word “just” to describe Carmine — or anyone in that role.”

“You know what I mean.” It came out sharper than she intended. She didn’t know much about the business, but she wasn’t stupid.

She thought she saw a flash of appreciation in his eyes. Figures. Nico wasn’t the kind of man to be turned on by complacency, however much he might have railed against her stubbornness.

“I do,” he said. “And you’re right. Someone in Carmine’s position isn’t usually a target for this kind of message.”

The whiskey and blanket conspired to make her more comfortable than she should have been, and she let the blanket slip off her shoulders. “What kind of message is it?”

“If I had to guess, I’d say it was designed to remind me that my allies are rapidly decreasing in number.”

“Why would someone want to do that?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “There could be a hundred reasons.”

She thought about it. “If why isn’t the place to start, how about who?”

“If I knew that,” he said, “I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

“There isn’t anyone you can think of who would want to hurt you?”

A smile touched the corners of his lips. “There are a lot of people who want to hurt me.”

She took a drink of the whiskey, savoring the way it worked its way into her system. Already everything seemed a little less intense. Nico was so close. It would be nothing to cross the space between them, to take his face in her hands and touch her lips to his.

“What are you going to do?” she asked.

He stood, then walked to her end of the couch.“I’m going to go to bed.”

He held out his hand.

 

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08/07/15 kindness , Life , quotes # , ,

Morbid… But True

Dead_Midnight_QuoteSeriously. What would happen if we did this? Would we all be kinder?

Because that would be nice.

<3

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Michelle Zink is the award-winning author of over seven novels. She lives in New York with too many teenagers and too many cats.
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