Reading.

August 20th, 2014

I’m tidying up A Notorious Ruin before I get it copy-edited and proofread, but in between I have read three books I have really enjoyed.

The first is The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley. It’s set in modern England, but with a secret governmental society that deals with paranormal threats. The members of the society have various powers and as you can imagine, there’s a dark-side, too. It’s delightful and fun and really, I’m looking forward to more! Get the book. I have a theory about the story and its future, and I can’t wait to see if I’m right.

I resisted buying this book for a really long time because the eBook is $9.99 and that is a price that makes me unhappy.  However, if you are going to buy an overpriced eBook, this is the one to get.  (The author in me says, what a shame, a lower price would probably have put the book on a bestseller list. I know for a fact I’m not the only person who didn’t buy in the initial buzz period because of the price. I didn’t buy until I heard from two people I trust that it was worth the money.)

The second is The Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas. This book is a prequel to the upcoming Romance. Disclosure: Sherry is a friend. We have the same agent. We were both in the Midnight Scandals Anthology and have books in the upcoming box set Seven Wicked Nights.

The Hidden Blade is not a romance. It’s set in England and China. The writing is wonderful (doh) and reading it was an unusual experience because I kept thinking, this book is pulling me alongm and I don’t understand why. I just know I was engrossed and invested in the characters and it was just a wonderful, wonderful story and all the time while I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about the characters and how I needed  NEEDED to get home and find out what happens to them.

Another thing I loved was the Wushu. I love martial arts movies. The ones set in China that draw on the magical powers and effects of Wushu are among my favorites. Chinese martial arts films have a strong tradition of women fighters. It’s not even right to say “strong tradition” it’s that women were also fighters who could kick anybody’s ass and did so. It’s normal. Normal. (One of the best, most easily accessible movies for Westerners that demonstrates this is Jackie Chan’s The Legend of Drunken Master. If that film had been American, the parts of the women would have been eviscerated and/or replaced by men. But instead, you see Chan playing opposite a female fighter who is never a love interest and who also cannot be disentangled from the plot. It’s hilarious, by the way.)

So, I loved loved loved the martial arts in this book and that it played out through the women. Hell yeah. Plus, at the end, if the main book were out, I would have one-clicked it. I have it pre-ordered. I can’t wait!!!!

The third book is The Hunt For Red October by Tom Clancy. Yes. That’s right. Somehow, even though I LOVE thrillers and read them all the time, I’d never read this one.  ::Head Smack::  I loved it. I really did. It’s everything I love about thrillers and it was engrossing the whole time.  It made me think lots of writerly thoughts, too, but not when I was reading it. When I was reading it, I was too busy going, oh my god now WHAT!!!

What have you read, lately?

 

Share

Misha Saves The Queen

August 16th, 2014

God love a Glock. Keep a stiff wrist, and they never jam.

Misha shoved his last mag home. Snick.

Firm two-handed grip.

Smoke drifted from the robotics clean room. Fully contaminated now, with half a body leaking blood in the doorway. The guy wasn’t going to get any deader, but a carbon-fiber tentacle squeezed the corpse’s neck with all the joy of an elopus fresh from the cryotank.

Misha flicked the juice. The electric charge that shot up both arms never got old.

The creature bounded out of the lab like a ballerina on tentacles; fast, coordinated, strong. He aimed, locked on three centimeters above its elephant trunk, and squeezed.

Boo-yah, baby.

“Is it always this messy?”

“Your Majesty.” Elopus gore oozed down his left shoulder, but when the Queen walks into a room, you bow, motherfucker.

What the??

A participant in GISHWHES asked me to help her in her scavenger hunt. One of the tasks was to get a published Sci-Fi author to write a story with the parameters below. I qualify, it was felt, because my books in the Crimson City series are Sci-Fi romance. So, I said, sure!

The Instructions

140 word Sci-Fi story involving an elopus, Misha Collins and Her Majesty, the Queen of England.

Boom.

To be safe, I counted hyphenated words as two.

Enjoy.

Share

Who We Are

August 14th, 2014

“The worsening situation in Ferguson is deeply troubling, and does not represent who we are as Missourians or as Americans.” Missouri Governor Nixon.

Except no. That’s the whole problem. What we must accept is that this DOES represent who we are.

Until those of us who look in the mirror and don’t see brown skin admit that, this will never change.

Ferguson happened because of who we are. Let’s change that.

Share

Secret Project Revealed!

August 11th, 2014

This project came about very suddenly. As in something like just hours after Sherry Thomas floated the idea to me and Courtney Milan, this happened:

 

Cover of Boxed Set: Seven Wicked Nights

Seven Wicked Nights

About Seven Wicked Nights

September 16, 2014

Seven bestselling historical romance authors offer seven sexy stories featuring dukes, lords, rakes, scoundrels…and the unforgettable heroines who bring them to their knees. These stories range in length from long novellas to delectable little bites.

Unlocked

by New York Times bestselling author Courtney Milan

Elaine Warren has resigned herself to life as a spinster and a wallflower…but when Evan Carlton, the Earl of Westfeld, returns after a long absence, she’s afraid that he plans to torment her as he did before. This time, though, she vows to show him that wallflowers can fight back…

follow Courtney on Twitter | Like Courtney on Facebook | Read an excerpt from Unlocked

When I Met my Duchess

by USA Today bestselling author Caroline Linden

Everyone expects the Duke of Wessex’s wedding to be the society event of the Season. But when the duke meets his future bride’s sister, he realizes he’s about to marry the wrong woman…and his wedding is about to become the scandal of the year.

Follow Caroline on Twitter | Like Caroline on Facebook | Read an excerpt from When I Met my Duchess

How to Catch a Wild Viscount

by New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare (originally published as The Legend of the Werestag)

Luke Trenton, Viscount Merritt, returned from battle a changed man, but Cecily Hale won’t be pushed away. She has only a few moonlit nights to reach the real Luke…the wounded heart she knows still beats inside the war-ravaged body…or she could lose him to the darkness forever.

follow Tessa on Twitter | Like Tessa on Facebook | Read an excerpt from How to Catch a Wild Viscount

One Starlit Night

by award-winning author Carolyn Jewel

Ten years away from Doyle’s Grange isn’t long enough for Viscount Northword to forget Portia Temple or their passionate adolescent affair. Portia, however, is about to marry another man…and Northword cannot help but interfere, with his words, his body, and the truths of his heart.

More About One Starlit Night

Claiming the Duchess

by two-time RITA® winner Sherry Thomas

Clarissa, the widowed Duchess of Lexington, has two great loves: the reticent and reclusive Mr. James Kingston and her faithful correspondent Miss Julia Kirkland, whom Clarissa has never met. Now both Mr. Kingston and Miss Kirkland are due to arrive at Clarissa’s house—and Clarissa is about to find out that neither is as she has been led to believe…

Follow Sherry on Twitter | Like Sherry on Facebook | Read an excerpt from Claiming the Duchess

The Misbehaving Marquess

by award-winning author Leigh LaValle

Having awaited the return of her husband for half a decade, Catherine Raybourne, the Marchioness of Foster, has no intention of reconciling with her misbehaving marquess. But when he insists he needs an heir—immediately—she must confront her own lingering desires. Can she protect her heart while attempting to win his once again?

Follow Leigh on Twitter | Like Leigh on Facebook | Read an excerpt from The Misbehaving Marquess

Ruined by a Rake

by award-winning author Erin Knightley

Eleanor Abbington has always had a contentious and competitive relationship with Nicolas Norton. But when her uncle orders her to marry the man of his choosing, her old adversary becomes her only ally, and she may very well find herself…ruined by a rake.

Follow Erin on Twitter | Like Erin on Facebook | Read an excerpt from Ruined by a Rake

More!

As soon as the pre-order links are live, I’ll get them posted. I’m thrilled to be participating in this. What a great way for people to get stories by some really fantastic authors.

Release date is Sept 16.

Pre-Orders!

iBooks

Share

Coming Soon

August 10th, 2014

I occurred to me there’s a lot going on that I haven’t mentioned. Here’s an update.

  1. I am doing the final revisions for A Notorious Ruin, Book 2 in the Sinclair Sisters Series.
    Target release date: September 2014
  2. My story in the historical romance anthology Christmas In The Duke’s Arms is off to the copy editor. The title of my story is In The Duke’s Arms and I love it lots. The other authors are Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, and Miranda Neville.
    Target release date: October 2014
  3. I have a surprise project to announce very shortly.
    Target release date: Soon. Super Soon
  4. I should have a solo version of Dead Drop, My Immortals Series Novella No. 2 ready soon.
    Target release date: November 2014
Share

Cover!! A Notorious Ruin Revealed!!

August 4th, 2014
Cover of A Notorious Ruin. Purple dress. Blue Background. Hot dude with open shirt.

A Notorious Ruin

I’ll probably shortly write up a post about the process I used to arrive at this cover. I did several rounds of A/B testing… So this cover represents my belief that how a cover looks in thumbnail is crucial and the sometimes surprising, to me, results of A/B testing using pickfu.

I’m diving into final revisions now, so, assuming it’s not way worse than I think, I should have the book on sale in 4-6 weeks.

September.

Share

The Fork is Out!

August 4th, 2014
Fork against a blue sky with white clouds

The Fork

My story for the anthology In The Duke’s Arms is done. It’s being read, and will be off to copy-edits in a couple of days, I imagine.

Brace yourself for the other authors in the anthology: Grace Burrowes, Miranda Neville, Shana Galen. Yeah.

Here’s the blurb for the story as it stands now — subject to improvement:

In Love With the Wrong Woman

The Duke of Oxthorpe leads an intensely private life far from the social whirl. He well understands the risk he takes when he sells a property bordering his to Miss Edith Clay, but he’s hopelessly in love with her. Oxthorpe knows he has no facility for sweet words, and that Edith does not much care for him. As the local village’s Christmas Assembly nears, can the duke prove to Edith that his heart is worthy of her love?

Find out more about In The Duke’s Arms.

Read chapter 1 of my story in the Anthology: Hope Springs.

Share

Post RWA Roundup

July 27th, 2014

I am back from RWA14. Tired. Happy. Glad to have a couple more days off. Here are some highlights for me, in the order I remember them.

1. My friend and writing pal critique partner and all around wonderful person Carolyn Crane won a RITA for Best Romantic Suspense, for Off The Edge. The novel was self-published. Carolyn is an amazing writer.

2. At the RITAs, I refrained from taking a picture of Hugh Howey crawling under one of the tables. All the way under. It would have looked…wrong, but someone dropped their cellphone and it went well underneath the table, and he was retrieving it for her. Which was a very nice thing to do.

3. At the RITAs Hugh Howey and I were in line together and table mates. Oddly enough, we ran into each other several times at the conference, which was why we were table mates. I think he was glad to see someone he recognized.

4. The day before the RITAs, Carolyn Crane, Molly O’Keefe, and I sat at a table yakking. The next day, they both won RITAs. Anyone up for a RITA next year may wish to schedule a meeting with me. Just saying.

5. My roomate, Megan Frampton, is awesome, hip, and the best roomie ever.

6. There is no such thing as too many donuts or too much coffee.

7.  These words came out of my mouth: “You’re probably wondering why this css for the p tag has display-block: yes when the p tag is itself a block level element.” And then I realized, that, actually, no. Probably no one was wondering that.

8. When I said, “xml stands for extensible markup language” someone actually wrote that down. I reminded him there wasn’t going to be a test.

9.  There was a workshop about data about data about the publishing business, and that was awesome. We need MORE workshops like that.

10. I learned that the Grace Burrowes cover on one of the elevators in the hotel was altered so the guy had a shirt. The original cover has a shirtless guy. The hotel could not deal, so the shirt was added.

11. I had terrible tacos at a restaurant in San Antonio.

12. It’s kind of funny watching several directionally deprived authors attempt to find a bar. I was among my people. None of us knew where the hell we were.

13. It is possible to walk for 20 minutes along the Riverwalk and come out across the street from where you started.

14. I finished my first round edits for the In The Duke’s Arms Anthology.

15. Courtney Milan and I arrived at a restaurant to meet up with Elizabeth Hoyt and Jennifer Ashley. See No. 12 and 13.  They had left by the time we got there. I did get a few minutes to chat with Jennifer earlier, so that was nice. Later, I saw Elizabeth walking the opposite way in the crosswalk and we waved at each other, so it’s all good because we did fancy waves.

16. San Antonio is too hot for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Did You Dig Up The Chicken Grave?

July 19th, 2014

File that under “Things I never thought I’d text.”

This post is morbidly amusing, YMMV. You might choose to click away.

So, the other day, someone’s dog got into the chicken enclosure and killed half the chickens. If it had been a predator, the chickens would have been eaten, and they weren’t. So, it was someone’s dog. Not any of ours as it was a hot day and they were all of them inside during the entire time the incident occurred.

I helped my sister bury the chickens in a mass grave. The next day there was this scene:

Buzzards at the chicken grave. Seen from a distance.

Party!

So, okay. This is what buzzards do. It’s the circle of life, people.

It was sad to lose so many of the chickens, and I chose not to think about buzzard snacks.

Today, my sister asked me to lock up the chickens since we are babysitting my brother’s dogs and she is babysitting their cats and it all gets complicated. But I went down to lock up the chickens, and I counted them. Five. Which you, know, good. Because there should be five. Then I turned around and saw this:

Distant shot of unexpected dead chicken.

Extra Dead Chicken

Don’t look too closely. Trust me, it is a dead chicken.

This was unexpected. I recounted the chickens in the chicken coop. Five. At this point, I was missing certain important facts. Like, the day we lost the chickens, a sixth one did not expire until the next day– OK, I knew that, but I did not know my sister buried that one in the chicken enclosure instead of in or adjoining the mass grave. So I could not figure out how there could be the correct number of live chickens plus a bonus dead one. I decided I must have mistaken the correct number of live chickens and so texted my sister:

Text Exchange 1 of 5 (Words to follow!)

Text Exchange 1 of 5

ME: How many chickens do we have?
Sister: Five
Sister: Why?
Me: Ok there are five in the chicken coop and a dead on in the pen.
Sister: Unburied one? Cuz we should have five live ones
Me: Am going to count again
[I recounted. Still five. Below is a rotten picture. If it were less terrible, there would be 5 visible very alive chickens.]

Terrible photo of 5 live chickens.

Live chickens

[Then I walked over to the chicken grave and saw that it was empty. There was a crater where we buried the bodies. This is the opposite of a grave.]

Me: did u dig up the chicken grave?
[I texted her this picture]

Empty mass grave

Empty Chicken Grave

The night we buried the chickens, I covered the MOUND of dirt with the cinder blocks to keep the dogs from digging them up. You will notice that there is no mound of dirt. There is a crater full of cinder blocks. There are also no chickens, dead or alive.

Please refer to picture number one. Buzzards are efficient bastards.

Take a note, never ever ask me or my sister to bury bodies. We suck at it.

More texts. written out in post.

Texting continued. 2 of 5

Me: Did u dig up the chicken grave?
Sister: No how many chickens.
Me: Five live chickens.
Sister: Gross something digging them up.
Sister: Q
[Because she can barely use her phone, that's why.]

Texts continued. Written out in post.

Badger???

Me: 1 dead one back in the chicken pen. Also badger hole.
[Because at this point, I still do not know the last chicken had been buried in the chicken enclosure. I was trying to figure out how a dead chicken got from the mass grave back into the chicken pen. And this hole, it looks a lot like a badger den, which we had like 10 of in the other field when the young badger was learning how to dig a proper den. I was exceedingly confused and creeped out.

Sister: |
[Because she cannot use her phone]
Sister: Ignore last two text.
Me: Badger is bringing them back???
Sister: Maybe? I buried one in the pen.

Oh. So not a badger hole. An excavated grave. That is somewhat less horrifying than the thought of a badger somehow burrowing around from the mass grave to the chicken pen and then throwing a dead one back.

Texts continued. Written out in post.

Texting continued

I had by then gotten a shovel and the wheelbarrow and had scooped up the dead chicken… which, by the way, did not stink until I moved it.

Me: What????
Me: Because stinky !!!
Sister. I bet burying ?
Sister: I really don’t want to rebury hens.
Me: Ok I put the unburied chicken in the wheelbarrow and left it outside enclosure covered with grass.
Me. Maybe the buzzards will eat it.

More texts, written out in post

More texts

Sister: Ok gross again would that be re unburied?
Sistser: On my way home
Me: OK. I am not burying that chicken tonight. It stinks and has no head.
Sister: It is going to stink tomorrow too.
Me: Yes but Nathaniel can rebury it.
Me: I am the best mom ever
Sister: Yes you are pls it is only fair.

That was my night tonight.

Jesus.

I’m filing this under “writing” because I can totally use this somewhere. Somehow.

 

Share

Subscribe?

July 18th, 2014

Amazon’s book subscription program is called Kindle Unlimited. For $9.99 a month, US-based folks can read all they want — from the books in the program. For an indie author, the only way to have your books in the program is to have that book enrolled in KDP Select, and that means your book must be exclusive to Kindle.

I think Amazon must be very confident that this program will benefit authors. At the moment, there is much FUD among authors, some of whom are convinced this is the end of self-publishing at a reasonable return.

At the moment, I think there are a lot of Indie authors who see this as yet another disincentive for Select.

The Fine Print

The TOS for the Unlimited program says this:

When your membership is cancelled, the titles you have selected from the program will be removed from your account, devices and applications.

And this:

We may take reasonable actions necessary to prevent fraud, including placing restrictions on the number of titles that can be accessed from the program at any one time.

A few preliminary observations

No subscription model with the word “unlimited” in it has EVER remained unlimited or actually been unlimited. There have always, eventually, or even from the start, but hidden in the small print, redefinitions of the word “unlimited.”

See above. The service is not, in fact, actually unlimited. Unlimited would mean, technically, that you could download ALL the books. Which, right. Not gonna happen.

Trad publishers get the wholesale price when a reader reads 10% of the book. But what about indies in Select? That’s less clear.

Amazon says this as to Indie Authors in Select:

When your book is selected and read past 10% from Kindle Unlimited or borrowed from KOLL, you’ll earn your share of the monthly KDP Select Global Fund.

The email sent to authors is vague on two key points:

1. It does not actually say that the Unlimited program is for Select only. It says that if you are in Select, you will get payments from the Global fund.

2. It does not say how payment are calculated.

However, the updated Select TOS says this:

Only books enrolled in KDP Select are eligible to be included in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

So, that’s answered.

Another vague point; Amazon refers the curious to this page: Kindle Owners’ Lending Library FAQ for more information about how payments to Unlimited participants are arrived at. So, already, confusing, but it’s plain the information has been updated.

We base the calculation of your share of the KDP Select Global Fund by how often Kindle Unlimited customers choose and read more than 10% of your book, and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library customers download your book. We compare these numbers to how often all participating KDP Select titles were chosen. For example, if the monthly global fund amount is $1,000,000, all participating KDP titles were read 300,000 times, and customers read your book 1,500 times, you will earn 0.5% (1,500/300,000 = 0.5%), or $5,000 for that month.

I have heard other authors saying the Unlimited program also pays Select authors a percentage of price, that that is NOT what this says. This says Select authors are compensated for Unlimited reads via the Global Fund only, and those payments are not tied to price but to the amount of money in the fund.

If it works like the lending, then some authors will do quite well and others, not. The Global fund is a cap that limits Amazon’s liabilities to Indie authors.

There is at least the potential for this payment method to reduce income to authors. Amazon says this:

The size of the global fund is calculated to make participation in KDP Select a compelling option for authors and publishers. We will review the size of the fund each month to consider adjustments.

You could still come out behind in a given month, with no guarantee you’ll recoup any loss the next month — you might have fewer borrows or reads.

Is This the End?

While Bezos has been on record as saying he is willing to incur a long term loss for a longer term benefit, their model is similar to already existing ones. If you are paying authors/publishers a percentage of price, then for your business to be viable, that payout amount per month HAS to be less than 9.99 * (number of users subscribed).

This means a profitable user will read a number of books N per month where the payment due to venders is less than 9.99. The more books they read, the less the wholesale price has to be (obviously), and, at 9.99 per month, the wholesale price has to be less than 4.99 for 2 books per month, 3.99 for 3 books, etc.

Profit Model

The only two ways to make a profit from a subscription model are (assuming this is the only source of revenue — we all know it’s not for Amazon):

1. Most people read 1-2 books per month or fewer and/or go on to buy books anyway.

2. You find a way to pay authors/publishers a smaller amount per read.

The important thing is that trad pubbed authors are likely to be squeezed the most, because they are only getting 25% of NET. It will be important, I would guess, to read contracts carefully to find out how royalties are calculated on those “sales” — if they are even counted as sales.

Self-pubbed authors may be in a better position, depending on things like, does the subscription model bring in more casual readers (the profitable ones) — this may mean more readers. Or will voracious readers subscribe AND stop buying such that the program causes an effective reduction because there are more authors/more readers and a fixed fund for distribution.

Possibilities for indies include things like:

1. Everyone subscribes and nobody buys books anymore — royalty rates effectively lowered to whatever Amazon sets in the subscription model and authors not in Select see a drastic reduction in sales.

2. Readers continue to buy books, especially the voracious readers.

3. More readers in total because casual readers exhibit the same increased reading/buying pattern we saw with the shift to digital: they read more books.

4. Purchases increase because readers who loved your book want to own it. Note that the TOS says once you unsubscribe, you lose access to the books you read in Unlimited.

Is the Sky Falling or Not?

Probably not, I think. Hard-core readers tend to buy authors, not books. The requirement that Indies be in Select to participate means that the most popular, best-selling indies will NOT be in Unlimited– assuming Amazon hasn’t cut a separate deal with them. They may well have. It would be smart to do so.

Non-bestselling indies not in Select are unlikely (were they in Unlimited) to have been found by the casual Unlimited reader — those readers will be looking for “something” to read. Algorithms are unlikely to put those books before those readers.

What might happen is that a casual reader, through Unlimited, becomes a genre fan. Because so many indie Romance authors are not in Select, once that casual reader is looking for more good Romances (let’s say) they will have to read outside Unlimited. Thus, it’s possible buys go up outside Unlimited.

Post Sample Suck?

It’s also possible that Unlimited becomes a way to avoid Post-Sample Suck (TM). Post-Sample Suck describes that condition where a book’s quality takes a steep dive into rotten after the sample percentage. A reader who buys a lot of books might feel quite justified in spending $9.99 per month to be able to read books beyond the sample point. They can abandon reading at whatever point the book starts to suck. Assuming that’s beyond the 10% point, the author still gets paid. Other books by that author (presumably) would not be placed into that reader’s Unlimited shelves.

You can bet that Amazon will be paying attention to abandonment points because now it matters to their bottom line.

Prediction: at some point the payment percentage point will increase. Given that payment comes from a fund, it may be too complicated (though doable) to calculate payments amounts linked to percentage read.

Usually it’s the less experienced authors who are in Select. Once you get traction as an author, it does not make sense to be in Select. The downsides are too big. You give up too much by not being at other vendors.

Worst Case?

For indie authors, the worst-case scenario is that all the voracious Romance readers go to Unlimited and stop buying other books.

This is not the typical behavior–those readers know their authors. Since (among indie authors) Unlimited will only have books by Indies in Select, a lot of really great authors will be omitted. Not to mention, $9.99 is not budget busting for those readers. They’re likely to still buy other authors. I believe.

Interesting Thought

Given the potential benefit of a Casual Reader finding you and being converted to a fan, it might make sense for an Indie author to have one very good, non-series, book in Select. Fairness would dictate that you’d have another, very good, non-series, book that you do not sell at Amazon at all.

There you go, my initial thoughts on the matter.

Share