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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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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

Buy RUTHLESS on Amazon

Buy RUTHLESS on Barnes & Noble

Buy RUTHLESS on iBooks

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06/06/15 Book News , Life , Reading , Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , , , , , ,

Newsletter – Incoming!

After much deliberation I have decided to join the ranks of newsletter-bearing authors. One of the hardest things about authoring in the modern age is knowing how much to share, how often to share it, and whether people are REALLY interested in hearing it. Here, I’m my own worst enemy, because my assumption is always that people are busy and overloaded with information, and it takes something pretty special to compel them to read something else on their computer.

Do I have stuff to share that’s something special? I’ll let you decide. But I do have stuff to share — about reading, writing, and life.

And sometimes I even have NEWS.

😉

So after taking an informal Facebook poll and confirming that a good number of my readers would like a semi-personal, once-monthly, quick and easy to read account of what’s going on — with my writing and everything else — I decided to give it a whirl. My plan is to include a couple of real life things (recipes, things I’m loving that month, etc.) with a personal snippet and a book recommendation or writing tip. I’m planning to keep it one page, and only put it out once a month.

But the big thing is that I’m going to make as many announcements as possible to newsletter subscribers first. And that includes my next book announcement.

If you’d like to stay in the loop, you can sign up for the newsletter here in under ten seconds. And if you decide to opt out at any time, all you’ll have to do is hit the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of each newsletter.

<3

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03/06/15 Contests & Giveaway , Lies I Told # , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PROMISES I MADE Cover Reveal!

You guys! I honestly feel spoiled these last few days. I’m not sure anyone has a right to so many fun, exciting things in one week. I’ve shared another AH-mazing review for LIES I TOLD (that makes three out of three, including that starred review from Kirkus) plus the absolutely gorgeous beyond-my-wildest-dreams finished copy of the book. And while that may seem like a small thing, covers are SO IMPORTANT to a book’s success, and the amazing design team at HarperTeen really pulled out all the stops, surprising me with a treatment on the back cover that I can only describe as badass (follow me on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram for a look).

But wait! There’s more!

I also get to reveal the cover of PROMISES I MADE (FALL 2015), the sequel to LIES I TOLD. And those of you who have read an ARC of LIES know why getting your hot little hands on the PROMISES ARC is a big deal.

I’m zipping my lips now.

Nope. Not saying one word!

😉

Suffice it to say that after you read LIES, you’re going to want to get your hands on one of these babies.

So without further ado…

 

PromisesIMade HC C

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t she a beauty? I love this cover because it really captures Grace’s fear and isolation in the second book. She looks hunted – and she is.

To celebrate the reveal of this amazing cover for PROMISES, I’m giving away one of my very first ARCs. It’s a precious commodity, guys! But I’m willing to part with it if you’ll help me spread the word. And with that in mind, I’ve set up an easy-peasy giveaway below.

There are tons of day ways to get entries, some of which you can do more than once a day, and some of which are as easy as tweeting or following me on one of my social media platforms (which I know a lot of you already do). Just pick the one(s) that suit you and you’re all set!

P.S. because of Rafflecopter’s rules, this giveaway won’t officially start until Midnight tonight. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you to come back and enter. I was just DYING to share the cover.

🙂

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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06/17/13 Reading # , , , , , , , , , ,

Precious Blood, Seduction, and Five Book Swag!

Precious Blood, Seduction, and Five Book Swag!

I know, I know. We all get tons of book news from Publishers Weekly, Publishers, Marketplace, SLJ, ALA, and the New York Times.

But there are TONS of authors busting their asses every day running contests and giveaways, self-publishing books, promoting their work when all they really want to do is pull the covers over their heads. So I’m going to make an attempt at spreading the word for them. I’ll do a shout out on Facebook every Monday and will troll my Feed for news. No promises I can fit it all in, but I’ll do my best.

And this week is filled with book awesomeness;

WBLI.com is giving away a signed copy of Tonya Hurley’s, PRECIOUS Blood, the first book in a series about Lucy, Agnes, and Cecilia, all of whom may or may not be modern day Saints. I’ve read the first two books and loved them for the dark, Gothic tone set against the celebrity culture of contemporary New York City. Tonya will be at Books of Wonder in NYC on June 23 from 1 -3 PM for a Sunday Bloody Sunday launch party and book signing. In the meantime, entering to win the signed copy from WBLI.com is just a click away.

 

 

 

Seduction, by M.J. Rose, was included in a USA Today Fiction Roundup. I adore M.J.’s writing, and USA Today seems to agree, saying, “Readers will be enchanted by M.J. Rose’s supernaturally charged novel Seduction, inspired by Victor Hugo’s self-imposed exile on the British island of Jersey in the 1850s. Great elements of suspense are present — a remote, misty island teeming with century-old Celtic ruins, an unreliable narrator who may or may not be going crazy.” Sounds amazing, right?!

 

 

 

Lastly, you can win five – count ’em, FIVE – books, including Nazarea Andrew’s upcoming THIS LOVE in a massive swag giveway from five authors. Like this Facebook page to enter! And you can find Nazarea on Facebook here!

 

 

 

 

 

Megan Curd will release her first Steampunk novel, STEEL LILY, in August. Megan is also the author of Bridger, Traitor, and Forbidden. STEEL LILLY is the first book in the Periodic Series. AND she designed the cover herself. Isn’t it gorgeous?! Watch for it on Amazon and B&N!

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04/30/13 Contests & Giveaway , Reading # , , , , , , , , ,

Win a Fantine Necklace and Manuscript Page from Seduction!

Win a Fantine Necklace and Manuscript Page from Seduction!

This week’s recipe is being pre-empted by a contest announcement. Because sometimes great books and amazing freebies at better than food.

😉

 

Seriously, though. I know I haven’t done a giveaway in a long time, and for someone who was once legendary for them, I feel bad about that. So I’m sending you to M.J. Rose’s giveaway instead. If you haven’t read M.J.’s previous books (The Reincarnationist and The Book of Lost Fragrances among them), you’re missing out. She’s so talented at weaving historical mystery with modern characters. Her books are incredibly atmospheric, and I know I can always count on them for a really immersive (I think I just made up a word!) read.

M.J.’s newest book, SEDUCTION, comes out very soon, and to celebrate, M.J. is giving away signed manuscript pages AND the amazing Fantine necklace you see on the cover of the book.

Take a look at her website for more info! And to tide you over, here’s the summary for SEDUCTION;

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, still grieving, Hugo initiated hundreds of séances from his home on the Isle of Jersey in order to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published.

Or so it has been believed . . .

Recovering from a great loss, mythologist Jac L’Etoile thinks that throwing herself into work will distract her from her grief. In the hopes of uncovering a secret about the island’s mysterious Celtic roots, she arrives on Jersey and is greeted by ghostly Neolithic monuments, medieval castles and hidden caves. But the man who has invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different— transcripts of Hugo’s lost conversations with someone he called the Shadow of the Sepulcher. Central to his heritage, these are the papers his grandfather died trying to find. Neither Jac nor Theo anticipate that the mystery surrounding Victor Hugo will threaten their sanity and put their very lives at stake.

Seduction is a historically evocative and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, written by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists. Awakening a mystery that spans centuries, this multilayered gothic tale brings a time, a place and a cast of desperate characters brilliantly to life.

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02/02/13 Reading , Sneak Peek Saturday , This Wicked Game , Writing # , , ,

Sneak Peek Saturday – This Wicked Game

Sneak Peek Saturday – This Wicked Game

This week I’m giving you the first chapter of THIS WICKED GAME, in honor of the gorgeous cover, revealed just yesterday.

I’m super excited about this book, which features a moody setting (New Orleans), creepy subject matter (voodoo!), and an awesome, multicultural cast. It’ll be out this November form Penguin/Dial.

Stay tuned for more details!

 

Claire was at the front of the store, uploading a new batch of photographs while a pot of wax melted behind her, when the woman entered through the unmarked door.

Claire pulled her eyes away from the pictures flashing across the computer screen. It wasn’t unusual for customers to use the private entrance. Other than the staircase leading to the house, the door was the only way in, and there were plenty of people in New Orleans who had a key.

But Claire had never seen the woman before, and that was unusual, especially since she had been working in the store since before she was tall enough to see over the counter without a step stool.

Still, rules were rules. The fact that the woman had a key meant she was authorized to make purchases, no questions asked.

Claire turned down the temperature on the wax and closed her laptop as the woman approached the counter. She was startlingly beautiful, her milky skin contrasting with the red lipstick that shaped her full mouth. Her clothes were expertly tailored, the white button down nipped in at the waist, the hem of her navy trousers just grazing the floor as she walked.

Claire wiped her hands on a towel as the woman stopped at the counter. “Hello. What can I do for you?”

“Good afternoon.” The woman’s voice was low and gravelly. Claire figured her for a heavy smoker. Either that or a time-traveling 1940s film star. “I have some things I’d like to purchase.”

“Sure.” Claire pulled out the yellow notepad they used for orders.

The woman opened her slim black handbag, pulling from it a folded piece paper. She pushed it across the counter with her neatly manicured hands.

Claire opened it, glancing at the long list of items. It was a big order, and Claire immediately started transferring the woman’s list to the notepad.

“This is your family’s establishment?” The woman asked the question with the certainty of someone who already knew the answer.

“Uh-huh.” Claire had to resist the urge to add “unfortunately” at the end of the sentence.

Frankincense, black cat oil, anise seed, aloeswood powder…

“It’s quite a store. It seems you have everything.”

“Just about,” Claire said. A strand of her long blond hair fell forward. She tucked it behind one ear and continued transcribing the woman’s list to the notepad.

“And how long does it usually take to fill an order?” the woman asked.

“It depends on what you need. Let’s see…” Claire scanned the list. Everything on the front page was in stock. She turned the paper over to the back. “We should be able to do this while you…”

The words stopped coming out of Claire’s mouth as she came to the last item on the list.

Two (2) vials Black Panthera Pardus Plasma.

She felt her face flush as she searched her memory, wanting to be sure.

“Is there a problem?” the woman asked.

Claire didn’t know if it was paranoia or something else, but she thought there was something new in the woman’s voice. An undercurrent of acceptance, as if she’d known the Kincaid’s wouldn’t have the plasma all along.

Claire shook her head, resisting the urge to call out for her mother. Pilar Kincaid had little patience for Claire’s “lack of commitment” to the family business. Calling her would only highlight Claire’s inability to handle the store on her own. Besides, her knowledge of the craft wasn’t exactly encyclopedic. Maybe she was wrong.

“Um… not a problem. But one of these items might take us a while to get in. I think it’s a special order.”

“And which item would that be?” the woman asked, her voice frosty.

“The black panther plasma. We don’t keep it in stock.”

No one keeps it, Claire thought. As far as the Guild was concerned, there were some things you just didn’t mess around with, even if you were an experienced practitioner.

The woman tapped her manicured nails on the wood counter. “How long do you expect it will take to get it?”

“I’m not sure.” Claire didn’t have time to really think about it. “Maybe a week?”

The woman didn’t hesitate. “Fine. I’ll take the rest of the items now.”

Claire nodded, turning to fill the order. Everything else on the list was in stock, and Claire busied herself filling vials with the powder and herbs and wrapping roots in brown paper. She could feel the woman’s eyes on her back while she worked. It made the tiny hairs at the back of her neck stand on end and caused a prickling sensation behind her eyes. She felt vulnerable, exposed.

Once the order was filled, she turned around, half expecting the woman to have transformed into some kind of monster.

But she was just the same, her gaze unflinching, her eyes so dark they were almost black.

“Here you go,” Claire said, pushing the package toward the woman and turning to the calculator. She consulted the notepad, her fingers flying over the keys. “That’ll be $357. 42, without the panther plasma.”

She had a hard time even saying it. Questions were drumming through her mind. She needed to get upstairs to her mother. She would know what to do.

The woman nodded slowly, pulling a wallet from her handbag and removing four hundred dollar bills.

Claire took the money and made change from the lockbox they kept under the counter. “Would you like us to call you when we find out about the special order?”

“That won’t be necessary. I’ll see you one week from today.” She took her change and picked up the package, her unsettling gaze resting on Claire. “Goodbye, Claire.”

She turned and left through the private entrance. Claire watched the door shut behind her, listening for the click of the automatic lock. For a minute, she was rooted to the floor, wondering if she’d imagined the whole thing. Then she looked down at the list of items.

Two (2) vials Black Panthera Pardus Plasma.

She took the stairs two at a time.

* * *

The Kincaid’s living quarters were separated from the store by one floor and a two level staircase. Just a few months ago, the door between the two spaces hadn’t even had a lock, but after a rash of break-ins, the Guild families who had stores on-site had taken measures to protect their private quarters from the customers who had access to the supply houses.

The world was changing, Claire’s mother had said as the locksmith installed a heavy deadbolt on the door that separated the store from the two floors above it. Once a secret society of old-school voodoo suppliers and their clients, the Guild of High Priests and Priestesses had become too large to allow for intimate knowledge of each and every member. Now, it was up to the regional leaders to vet and approve new members based on lineage and practice.

Claire reached the top of the stairs and fumbled through her keys for the one that fit the new lock. When she found it, silver and strangely shiny compared to the old ones that went to the house and store, she unlocked the door and spilled out into the main hall of the house. She locked the door behind her and moved down the first floor hall.

“Mom? Where are you?”

She checked the drawing room first. The floor to ceiling windows were open to the terrace, the sheer draperies moving slightly in the barely-there July breeze. But her mother wasn’t there.

There was only one other place her mother would be if she wasn’t in the drawing room going over the accounts for the store or writing notecards to Guild members who lived outside the city, and that was upstairs. Claire headed for the main staircase.

When she reached the second-floor landing, she continued down the hall past her bedroom, her parent’s room, two guest rooms, and an extra bathroom.

She stopped at a closed door at the end of the hall and listened.

She heard the gentle murmur of her mother’s voice a second later, smelled the incense she burned when practicing the craft.

Claire hesitated. It wasn’t that she was afraid to interrupt her mother. She just didn’t like the ritual room. She never had.

She’d been about four-years-old when she’d first come upon her mother in the room. She had been wearing a white floor-length garment that Claire would later learn was standard ritual garb. The simple cotton tunic made her mother look taller and younger than she did in her everyday clothes. Her hair was long and loose around her shoulders as she kneeled in front of the alter, covered with burning white candles, wax figures, and dried herbs.

Her mother hadn’t looked like herself at all. Not to Claire.

She had waved Claire forward without speaking, silently inviting her to join in the ritual.

Claire had been afraid. The strange words that came from her mother’s mouth frightened her, however softly they were spoken, and the flickering candles cast unfamiliar shadows.

Claire had shaken her head and retreated. She’d avoided the room ever since.

But she couldn’t avoid it now, and she wrapped softly on the door, turning the knob without waiting for an answer and pushing the door open quietly, so as not to disturb her mother.

She was there, in the same position Claire had found her all those years ago, kneeling in front of the tea table that served as an alter. This time she was in her regular clothes. The alter was alight with purple candles that meant her mother was either working a spirituality rite or trying to channel her power more effectively. Two sticks of incense burned on either side of a bible, their smoke rising into the air in abstract swirls.

Her mother didn’t look up or in any way acknowledge Claire’s presence. Claire waited for a few seconds before she finally gave up and started talking.

“Mom, I-”

“You know I won’t speak to you until you come in properly, Claire.” Her mother didn’t look away from the alter. Her hair, still long and black as a raven’s wing, tumbled down over one of her shoulders. “Besides, aren’t you supposed to be working the counter?”

Claire stepped into the room, but just barely. “I am working the counter, but-”

Now her mother looked over at her. “Then what are you doing up here, for heaven’s sake? You know you’re not supposed to leave the store unattended.”

Claire crossed the room, her throat closing against the heavy scent of sandalwood. She held out the piece of paper with the list of ingredients the woman had ordered.

Turning toward her with a sigh, her mother took it, her gray eyes traveling the front page.

“These are all basic ingredients, Claire.” She turned it over. “Surely you know how to…” Her voice trailed off. She shook her head, her face two shades paler than it had been when Claire entered the room. “Where did you get this?”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you,” Claire said. “A woman just came in. She gave me this order to fill.”

Her mother rose to her feet, pacing to the fireplace. “Which client was it?”

“That’s the thing,” Claire said. “I’ve never seen her before.”

Her mother turned to face her. “Then how did she get in?”

“She had a key,” Claire said simply.

“Are you sure the door was latching? That it was locked when she came in?”

Claire sighed. She didn’t blame her mother for doubting her. She wasn’t exactly attentive on the job. But still.

“Yes, Miss Julie was the last person to place an order, and the door locked behind her, just like always.”

“Did this woman give you a name?”

No, Claire almost said, but she knew mine.

She didn’t say it. The woman had probably been told about the Kincaid’s by whoever referred her to the store.

Claire shook her head. “And I didn’t ask. You’ve always told me not to. That if they have a key, I honor the policy, fill the orders, and that’s it.”

Her mother consulted the list again before looking up to meet Claire’s eyes. “But this is… this is impossible. We’ll have to call a meeting.”

She was still standing there, a look of shock on her face, when the phone rang from the hall.

“I’ll get it.” Claire left the room and picked up the phone that sat on a table in the hall. “Kincaid residence. How may I help you?”

“Hello, Claire.” She immediately recognized the voice on the other end of the line. “May I speak to your mother or father, please? It’s urgent.”

“One moment.” Claire covered the mouthpiece and went back to the ritual room, holding out the phone to her mother. “It’s Aunt Estelle,” she said quietly. “She says it’s urgent.”

Estelle Toussaint wasn’t a blood relative to the Kincaid’s, but all the women in the Guild were Claire’s “aunts” just as her mother was “Aunt Pilar” to the other Guild members’ children.

Pilar smoothed her skirt, as though Estelle could see her through the phone. “Hello, Estelle.” Her mother paused, turning her back on Claire. “Well, I… When?” Another long pause. “Today?”

She didn’t say anything else for a couple of minutes. Claire was beginning to wonder if her mother was still on the phone when she murmured a few quiet words. Then she turned around, avoiding Claire’s eyes as she finished the call.

“Yes, I understand. We’ll see you then.” She hung up the phone, staring at it like it was something she’d never seen before.

“Mom?” Claire finally said. “What’s going on?”

Her mother looked up like she’d just realized Claire was still there. “We weren’t the only ones who received an order for black panther plasma today.”

“What do you mean?” Claire asked.

But Pilar was already rushing from the room. “An emergency meeting has been called. Be ready to leave at six.”

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09/05/12 Life , Reading # ,

Travel by Book

A couple of years ago I started a tradition of reading travel books over the summer. It arose out of an inherent love of travel and my inability to take a real vacation that year. Sometimes, it’s just too expensive to travel with kids, but the magic of books is that you can go anywhere and “see” anything with the flip of a page.

I love all kinds of books, but the nature of my work means that I’m almost always reading YA or adult fiction as research, for blurb, to help a friend, as part of my freelance editing work, etc. Having a finite time period to binge on travel books is something I really look forward to every year.

This summer I read three amazing ones. I highly recommend them all!

The first book I read was WILD, by Cheryl Strayed. A profoundly moving account of a young women who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail alone, it inspired and touched me. One of the things I loved most about the book was its intensely personal voice. Totally untrained and spiraling into serious self-destructive behavior following the death of her mother, Cheryl wasn’t a typical candidate for a hike of this magnitude. But you know what? She did it. And she was transformed. I was completely addicted to this book and highly recommend it to anyone – but particularly women – at a crossroads.

Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman was next. I was so riveted to this book that for two solid weeks I actually wanted to give up my writing time for reading (*gasp*). I think this book spoke so loudly to me because Rita didn’t start traveling until she was in her 40s and because she did it entirely alone and with no real experience.

Another thing I loved about Rita’s account is that she ended up living full time, essentially, as a nomad on very little money. The thing that she valued most about travel was the opportunity to meet and learn about people and their cultures up close and personal, so she spent most of her time in hostels, backpacker hotels, and living with friends she made in other countries along the way. It was a glimpse into the kind of life I’ve dreamed about post-kids, and I’m inspired by the fact that Rita is still living abroad today (in Turkey, as of now). If you’re looking for proof that there IS another way to live, this is your book. Rita is now a big proponent of a gap year for American students (I say “American” because many other countries already advocate gap years). After reading this book, I’m in total agreement.

My final book of the summer was The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman. While geared to a younger crowd (Rachel was in college when she begins traveling), I got so much out of this book. Mostly, it just added to the increasingly-large amount of anecdotal evidence that it IS possible for women to travel safely alone. This was a book I wish I’d had when I was seventeen. It might have changed the course of my life (not that I want that NOW). Rachel spends a lot of the book trying to reconcile the very American push for her to get a college degree and a “good” job with the glimpses of another kind of life she gets from young Europeans she meets traveling abroad – young people for whom travel is an integral part of their life education, not the mark of a loser who isn’t in school. I recommend this for any young person, but especially those not sure what they want to do and not sure the traditional path of college is for them, at least not right out of high school. I gifted it to Rebekah before she left for college because I thought it would inspire her in this newly independent phase of her life.

It was a bit sad to reach the end of my summer travel reading! I still had books I wanted to read and places I wanted to (virtually) visit.

But don’t worry. They’re on the list for next year,

😉

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01/21/12 Reading , Things I Love # ,

Things I Love – The Fever Series

This week’s Thing I Love is the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. And actually, saying I love them is kind of an understatement.

More like I’m obsessed with them.

I read the first book in the series, Darkfever, because I kept hearing people talk about it in my Goodreads reading group (where I mostly lurk). These people were CRAZY for the Fever series, so I decided to check it out.

Now I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting much. I figured they would be a quick, fun read.

And they are, but they’re SO MUCH MORE. The world building is incredibly detailed and fascinating, the characters are three-dimensional and experience genuine growth and change through the series, and the pacing is dead-on, grabs-you-and-doesn’t-let-go. Moning takes the story everywhere you DON’T expect, and that makes you think, “Oh! Right. That’s exactly what’s supposed to happen. How could I not have seen it?!” Part of me is so absorbed in the story while I’m reading that I can’t stop and the other part, the writer part, is thinking, “How does she DO this? How am I on the edge of my sit with unexpected things happening every three pages?!”

Basically, I’m super impressed that a series can rate so high on the commercial enjoyment scale and still have such great writing. This is one of those VERY few series where I found myself ordering the next book before I was done with the one I was reading because I didn’t want to go ONE DAY without knowing what was next.

One word of caution; this is NOT a YA series. It’s very much adult, and there are a lot of sexytimes.

😀

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10/12/11 Contests & Giveaway , Reading , Uncategorized , Writing # , ,

Let’s Talk About Self Publishing; An Interview with Self-Published Author Katie Klein

As readers, I’m sure you all know how quickly the publishing landscape is changing. The rise of online shopping and digital ebooks has changed the marketplace forever. But while some believe we’re doomed, others see it as the opportunity of a lifetime.

As with most things, my views are more philosophical.

Things change, that’s the truth of it. If I could hide out in a house with an abundance of beautiful old lamps, candles, and music from a Victrola, I might. But that’s just not our world, is it? With that in mind, I’ve always believed it’s better to embrace change. Only by embracing it can you help shape it. Otherwise, you’re dragged kicking and screaming into it long after all the decisions have been made.

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I believe there’s room for both self-published works and traditionally published works. As with the battle between Indies and big box stores like Borders and B&N, it was only after Borders closed that I think many of us realized we were all on the same side.

The book side.

I don’t believe authors are going to stop making money (or even that publishers will stop making money, if they can adapt and harness these changes). I hate to see self-published authors and online-only merchants like Amazon vilified, because the truth is, writers want to write for a living (who can blame them?) and online retailers have fulfilled a need that was obviously there. If it wasn’t Amazon it would have been someone else.

I like to think there’s a way this can all work together. The publishing cycle for traditional publishers is notoriously long. I see tremendous opportunity for authors to fill in the gaps of their publishing schedule by producing shorts stories, writing outside their brand, etc. This is good for publishers, too, because it keep an author’s readership interested in between books. In addition, digital content offers some very cool opportunities to make reading appeal to younger generations that have been so saturated with digital media, they have trouble sitting still to read a book.

Would I like it if all young people just LEARNED to focus. Sure! In my perfect world, we could all go back to a time when kids had very little to do but play outside and read. But that’s not going to happen. There’s no going back. We can only go forward.

So the idea of offering up illustrations, music, sound effects, video and other digital content and maybe sucking in a whole new group of reluctant readers? Well, I think that’s a win.

The one gap in all of this is the Indie. I think we MUST find a way for Indies to make money on digital books. I don’t know what the answer is (I keep wondering if there can’t be coded gift cards or something that Indies can sell but that’s probably a whole other post), but I would hate to live in a world without Indie bookstores and I have to believe there’s a way to make them a part of this change.

As all of this has unfolded, I’ve had to change, too. My dad gave me a Kindle as a gift, and while I still read a lot of paper books (and I buy anything I really love for my physical library), I have to say that I’ve come to love the things that ereaders bring to the table. I love being able to carry all my books in one little device. I love being able to try new authors without plunking down $20-$30 per hardcover (and then going out and buying their paper books for my shelves). I love supporting traditionally published authors in the digital formats (authors make more on their digital copies than on traditional ones).

And I’ve been giving some self-pubbed authors a try, too. I was curious; Was the quality THAT different from traditionally published books (answer; as with published books, there are good ones and bad ones)?

One of those authors is Katie Klein, author of Cross My Heart, The Guardian, and Vendetta. I met Katie on one of the many author forums I belong to and was intrigued with her story. I purchased Cross My Heart for my Kindle and was surprised. Because I kind of loved it, and this was a book that had been rejected by seventy-something agents.

I thought you all might be interested in what went in to Katie’s decision to self-publish and how the journey has been different from her traditionally published one, so I was super happy when Katie agreed to an interview. As part of this discussion, I’m giving away one copy (for Nook, Kindle or whatever) of Katie’s books – your choice! – to three winners. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. Giveaway runs from now until Friday 10/14 at Midnight, EST. Winners will be chosen at random from the comments.

And if you’d take the quick poll at the end of the interview, it would be awesome (though no required to win).

Without further ado, here’s Katie!

You also write and publish traditionally under another name. What led you to consider self-publishing under a pseudonym?

At the time, I felt like I’d hit the end of the road. I’d recently parted ways with my literary agent, and began querying new agents with The Guardian. After a few misses I started querying again with Cross My Heart. Seventy-five rejections later I’d had enough. I knew that epubbing was a viable option thanks to the Kindle, and I figured I’d upload it and let the market decide if it was “too saturated” or not. The pseudonym was for protection: I assumed this little experiment of mine was going to be an abysmal failure, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself if it didn’t work out.

How does the self-publishing process differ from that of a traditional publisher?
It’s time-consuming. I put a lot of work into designing covers, formatting the books, and keeping my blog updated. My husband keeps my website going, but otherwise I am, quite literally, a one-woman show.

The best parts? No “waiting rooms.” I work on a story, and, when I think it’s ready, I upload it. I also love the control I have. No tears shed over editorial demands or cover angst. The bad news? If something’s not working, it’s all my fault.

What has been the greatest challenge of self-publishing?

Time management, without a doubt. It’s up to me to keep the readers happy and coming back for more. This fall, especially, I’ve struggled with staying active via social media, balancing the day job, and squeezing in writing time. I don’t think this is limited to self-pubbing, though. I think all writers are desperate for “more time.”

What has been the greatest surprise?

The greatest surprise is how awesome readers have been. As a traditionally published author, I was very low on people’s radar, it seems. People have totally embraced Katie, though, and the tweets, email messages, and reviews have been so positive and inspiring. The readers confirmed that I made the right decision to put my work out there.
Another huge surprise is the number of ebooks I sold this year. Since January, I’ve sold more than 15,000 copies of my ebooks. I never expected Cross My Heart to take off like it did, and it spent over 100 days on the Amazon Teen Top 100 this summer. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. It was all very surreal.

Teen readers have been slower to jump on the ereader bandwagon than adults. Why do you think that is? Do you see it changing?

To be honest, I was kind of slow jumping onto the e-reader bandwagon. I finally bought a Kindle this past spring (which I love, btw). I still read more print books than ebooks right now, but the Kindle has been great for travel and trying out new indie reads. I do get fan mail from teens, so I know they’re out there, but I think we’ll see even more teen readers after Christmas. The basic Kindles are coming WAY down in price, so I predict a popular Christmas present, and the Kindle Fire seems appealing as an “all in one” device, too. I know plenty of readers who were “anti-ebook” until they saw how easy and convenient the Kindle was. Once teens realize there’s a device out there that gives them access to books almost instantly, there’s no going back.

In your perfect world, what would the future of publishing and self-publishing hold?

I’d like to see everyone getting along. The “ebook revolution” happened so quickly (yes, a lot of romance and sci-fi readers have been reading ebooks for years, but they didn’t really hit the mainstream until a year or two ago). I think this left a lot of publishers and agents reeling, and everyone is still trying to find their place. A lot of traditionally published writers are uploading backlists or publishing books outside their genre, and unpublished writers are finding readers for the first time. We’re no longer dependant on “New York” to get our books in reader’s hands. In a perfect world, authors, agents, and publishers are working together to bring new and exciting works to readers in a variety of formats.
I’d also love to see a shift where the author is given precedence again. I’ve heard too many stories of writers being manhandled and mistreated by their publishers (both big and small). Without the author, there are no books, and some pretty important people have forgotten that. Authors are artists, too, and all artists deserve to be compensated fairly for the work they do. I want to see all aspects of publishing tip back to the author’s favor.

Any predictions for the self-publishing market over the next 12 months?

I think it’s impossible to predict anything when it comes to self-publishing. We had no idea the Kindle was going to revolutionize the way people read books, and that epubbing was going to be accepted so quickly. In the midst of the “gold rush,” though, we also couldn’t predict the changes that Amazon would make to their site to keep their bestseller lists moving. We’re already seeing a shift, and Indies are going to have to work as hard as traditionally published writers to keep their books in front of people. This is a big change from six months ago, even. Right now, I’m focusing on the upcoming holiday season. This will be my first full season of sales, so I’m interested in seeing what happens.

What do you think is the biggest misconception of self-published books?

That they’re poorly formatted, rife with errors, etc. Yes, those kinds of books are out there, but they usually fall flat pretty fast. You can tell by a cover and a description whether or not a book is for you, and the Kindle “sample” feature makes it easy for you to test the first few chapters before you buy. Don’t write off a novel because it didn’t make it past the “gatekeepers,” because there are some real gems out there.

What advice would you give to traditionally published authors who are considering self-publishing?

For All Writers: Do your research. Know what you’re getting into. It’s okay to set certain goals, but make sure they’re realistic. You CANNOT predict what sales will be like from month to month, so don’t even try. You will have ups and downs: expect the downs. Never upload a first draft of ANYTHING; part of writing is revising. Make sure you’re submitting your best work: your reputation is on the line. This isn’t a way to “Get Rich Quick.”

For Traditionally Published Writers: Fill your literary agent in on what you’re doing. Make sure you check any contract clauses that would prohibit you from epubbing works under your current name. Be prepared to use a pseudonym (and keep it quiet) if you have to. Check to see if your agency has an epubbing division, and ask what your agent expects in terms of compensation (if any), if you choose to go through them. Consider the pros and cons carefully, though. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but there’s nothing your literary agency can do for you that you can’t do yourself when it comes to self-publishing. Paying a flat fee for something like editing or cover design is much better than paying an agency royalties on a work for the rest of its shelf life (which, for ebooks, is FOREVER).

What can we look forward to from Katie Klein in the future?

More books! I’m currently working on the final book in my urban fantasy series. Ideally, I’d like to have it available in early 2012. After that, I plan to go back to YA contemporary romance. We’ll see how things go, I guess. I’ve always said that as long as readers are enjoying my books, I’ll continue to write them. I’m not against going a more traditional route, but the right opportunity hasn’t presented itself, yet. I’m happy epubbing for the foreseeable future.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS!

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09/30/11 Firday Poll , Reading # ,

Friday Poll – To Eread or not to Eread?

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard Amazon’s’ announcement about the Kindle Fire, the tablet that combines an ereader with much of the functionality of an iPad at a $199 price point.

Of course, you DO get what you pay for, and there are things that the Fire won’t have that the iPad does. But it’s impossible to deny the appeal of a $199 device that allows for reading ebooks, listening to music, watching movies and videos, surfing the internet, and participating in social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. The device also has a touch screen and is in color, which allows for the reading of magazines, a big selling point for me because I hate seeing magazines pile up on my coffee table and hate thinking of all the tress that were cut down to print them.

This could be a real game-changer in ereaders, especially for young people, whom I think have seen ereaders as things for old people who read a lot. And in all fairness, much of this functionality can already be had in the Nook Color, but for some I haven’t seen teens rush to the Nook as of yet. I’m super curious to see if the Kindle Fire brings more young people into the ereader market. Teens will be able to read, listen to music and check their Facebook on the same device and at a price point that makes it a viable holiday gift.

Most of all, I’m curious of all to know what YOU guys thinks. So weigh in with the Friday poll, will you?!

And please note that there are two different polls for different age brackets. Choose the one that’s appropriate for you!

 

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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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"This arresting story takes readers to other planes of existence…"
- Booklist (starred review)


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- VOYA (starred review)


“A fresh and engaging cast of characters, a page-turning plot and lyrical prose add up to an accomplished feat of storytelling…”
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Republicans: suppressing the vote to win @ any cost. Supreme Court strikes down NC congressional district maps https://t.co/AI9ky9jJGW
Blackstone was founded by DeVos' brother. Saudi Arabia pledges $20 billion to Blackstone for American infrastructure https://t.co/yfLgoKZ3f3
Don’t care if Melania wears head scarf, whether Trump bowed, UAE donation to nonprofit. It’s hypocrisy re: Obama/Clinton that’s appalling.