Happy Frogs. Also Owls. 12 seconds of sound (as video)

December 19th, 2014

I went outside tonight and ended up taking a 12 second video of what it sounded like. You may need to turn up your audio. That’s frogs. And then owls hooting. The video is black because, well, it was dark out.

I love listening to the frogs and the owls and it’s been so long since the frogs were this loud.

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Winners from the Christmas Hamper Contest!

December 19th, 2014

The winner of the Fortnum&Mason’s Hamper of Awesome is:
Karen K

Three gift cards were added. Those winners are:
Michelle V R
Linda L
Toni J

Emails have been sent to the winners!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered. I’d told Miranda, Grace, and Shana that I wished we’d asked for recipes, too, because every time I read the comments, I came away hungry!

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Interview and giveaway with Cecilia Grant!

December 18th, 2014

Interview and Giveaway!

Headshot of a smiling Ceilia Grant. She has curly hair


Cecilia Grant

Today, I am thrilled to have historical romance author Cecilia Grant visit my blog.

Woo-hoo!

I love her books more than is reasonable. I wish she wrote faster, but hey, no pressure, Cecilia!

As I put together this post, I’ve just finished reading her Christmas novella, A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong and I loved it so hard!! She’s one of my favorite historical authors and if you haven’t read her yet, you should. Really. She’s here to answer some questions, tell us about her book, discuss the Bigfoot problem, and offer a giveaway, so stay tuned! Details coming.

Cecilia Grant makes her home in the Pacific Northwest. She likes semicolons, chocolate-covered raisins, and historical sites with costumed reenactors. Her books have earned starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, Seal of Excellence and Reviewer’s Choice awards from RT Reviews Magazine, and Desert Isle Keeper designation from All About Romance.

Where to find Cecila

Website: http://ceciliagrant.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/cecilia_grant
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ceciliagrantauthor

About A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong

Cover of A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant - A smiling young woman in bed.

Cover of A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant

IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SIMPLE. . .

With one more errand to go–the purchase of a hunting falcon–Andrew Blackshear has Christmas completely under control. As his sister’s impending marriage signals the inevitable drifting-apart of the Blackshear family, it’s his last chance to give his siblings the sort of memorable, well-planned holiday their parents could never seem to provide.

He has no time to dawdle, no time for nonsense, and certainly no time to drive the falconer’s vexing, impulsive, lush-lipped, midnight-haired daughter to a house party before heading home. So why the devil did he agree to do just that?

IT COULDN’T BE MORE DELICIOUSLY MIXED-UP. . .

Lucy Sharp has been waiting all her too-quiet life for an adventure, and she means to make the most of this one. She’s going to enjoy the house party as no one has ever enjoyed a house party before, and in the meanwhile she’s going to enjoy every minute in the company of amusingly stern, formidably proper, outrageously handsome Mr. Blackshear. Let him disapprove of her all he likes–it’s not as though they’ll see each other again after today.

. . .or will they. . .When a carriage mishap and a snowstorm strand the pair miles short of their destination, threatening them with scandal and jeopardizing all their Christmas plans, they’ll have to work together to save the holiday from disaster. And along the way they just might learn that the best adventures are the ones you never would have thought to plan.

Did I mention I loved this story?

The Interview

Cecilia was gracious enough to answer a series of the kind of probing, insightful questions you can count on from Yours Truly. So, let’s get to it.

Q:   You have pets. They are un-literary, you say. How do you know they aren’t reading your WIP when you step out? Do you have pictures? We love pet pictures here.

Louise, a black cat with gold eyes lounging on a desk top

Louise The Cat

A: I’m reasonably confident the pets aren’t reading my WiP. My (daughter’s) cat is neither brawny nor motivated enough to try to get the laptop open, and my dog, whose cleverness only extends to getting a dog biscuit out of a Kong, would never be able to crack my passwords.

They’re good pets, though! Zorra (like Zorro, only female) is the dog and Louise  is the cat.

DogZorra_CG

Zorra the Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q:  You are given a choice of the following all-expenses paid (including taxes) vacations, including everything taken care of at home while you are gone. What do you choose and why? Which one is least appealing and why? In case you hate the traveling part of travels, please assume that you are instantly transported to your destination.

  • Nepal
  • Manhattan
  • Glam-camping
  • Narnia
  • Tahiti


A:
You know, I’m not a fan of camping and I was all ready to say that I suspect there’s no such real thing as “glam-camping” and that it’s just a scheme to trick people who should know better into going camping…

…but then I remembered this episode of Oprah I saw where Oprah and her friend Gayle went camping in Yosemite. They opened up a bottle of wine and toasted marshmallows and invited the people from the next campsite to come hang out, and I thought if I could sit around toasting marshmallows and drinking wine with Oprah, it would be about the best day ever. So I pick glam-camping, as long as you can guarantee Oprah will be next door.

Worst vacation would be Narnia, hands down. Anyone who thinks it would be fun to go to Narnia must never have read the books. Half the time your life’s in danger and the other half it’s like being in Sunday school. What kind of vacation is that?

NOTE From Yours Truly, Carolyn: There is such a thing as glam-camping– Glamping as I was reminded when I looked for this link. I want to go glam-camping in this yurt. It’s in the Trinity Alps here in California. It has wi-fi. Writing Retreat is written all over it. You in, Cecilia? Who else?

Q: You live in the Pacific Northwest. How do you deal with the Bigfoot problem?

A: What is this Bigfoot “problem” of which you speak? Bigfoot is a feature, not a bug.

Q: If someone messed up the space-time continuum such that the Regency period never happened, what historical period might you write in instead, and why? Assume that all other historical eras remain unchanged.

A: This is a surprisingly tough question! I grew up reading the Little House books, and I love reading memoirs of life in that era/setting. But any story of US pioneers is also a story of Native people losing their land and way of life, and for me that would cast a pretty big shadow over any HEA I might write.

Maybe mid-19th-century Boston and environs, when Hawthorne and Emerson and the Alcotts and Margaret Fuller and Frederick Douglass were all around. That seems like a time of so much exciting fermentation and cross-pollination, with lots of ways for women to be active out in the world.

Q: Your lovely Christmas novella features falconry. Can you talk a bit about why you chose that? What research did you do?

A: My local zoo has a raptor exhibit, with a rotating cast of whoever they happen to be rehabilitating at the time: I’ve seen owls, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, and even a turkey vulture. If you’re there at the right time, a docent will come out and talk about the birds, and maybe even give a flying demonstration. (And no, they don’t always come back! A few years ago a gyrfalcon took off and two weeks later they found her scavenging at the city dump.)

It’s just a super-cool thing to see, so when I started writing Regency I knew I’d eventually want to write a character who had that hobby.

As far as research, there are lots of falconry clubs in the UK that maintain helpful websites, and lots of history sites that cover falconry too. I wish I’d been able to work in more details, like the stylish leather hoods they wear when they’re being trained. Maybe in some future book.

Q: Fun fact about your book?

A: I came up with the opening scene – he encounters her on a road and is poleaxed at first sight – long before I knew what hero and heroine it belonged to or what their story would be. It’s sort of a mashup of two movie scenes that stuck with me:

1. At the beginning of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, when Jeremy Irons first spies Meryl Streep out on the seawall at Lyme Regis. She’s got a hooded cloak on, she’s got her back to him, waves are splashing dramatically over the wall and then she turns and looks back at him. The camera zooms slowly in on his face and you can see he’s a goner from that moment.

2. God forgive me for this problematic source material, but Captain John Smith’s first sight of Pocahontas in the Disney cartoon. Disney Pocahontas is about six feet tall, broad-shouldered, standing with her feet apart, fearless, in her minidress with her long dark hair wafting on a convenient breeze. And you know that this guy, whose experience of women up until now has probably been of dainty corseted types with hair pinned up and floor-length skirts, is in that moment having the doors blown off everything he thought he knew about what a woman could be.

So, yeah. I dialed it all down a bit, and the story headed off in its own direction, but those two threads are definitely in that scene.

Q: Best and worst thing about writing books?

A: I think the best thing is finding out that something you wrote connected with someone. It’s this sort of sidelong style of communication that just really appeals to me.

The worst is when it’s not working. Not being a plotter, some days I feel like a rat in a maze, coming up against a dead end and not knowing at what point I made a wrong turn, where I should have gone instead, or whether there even is a way out of this one. When it’s not working I wake up in the middle of the night feeling sick.

Q: Favorite dessert? You can name up to three because sometimes dessert is contextual. So, the context might be important along with your answer.

A:
3. Trader Joe’s cookie-butter candy bars.

2. Really good creme brulee in a creme-brulee-appropriate context, like Paris.

1. A friend of mine makes chocolate lasagna. She actually makes chocolate pasta, and layers ricotta cheese and chocolate chips and other stuff I don’t even know in between the chocolate noodles. It’s to die for. At one point in my life I moved 1400 miles just to be closer to it.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m superstitious about discussing specifics before a project is locked in. But I will say I’m working on several related books, they’re all Regency-set historical (no desire to venture into contemporary or erotica at present), and as of now they don’t feature dukes. So, more of the same, I guess

Thanks again for having me, and for compelling me to spend time contemplating my favorite desserts.

Giveaway!

Cecilia is giving away a Kindle version of her novella and a backlist book of the winner’s choice in print or eBook format of choice. To enter, read and follow the rules below:

The Rules and How to enter

No purchase necessary. Must be 18 to enter. Void where prohibited. Family and/or employees of Carolyn Jewel or Cecilia Grant may not enter. Winner randomly selected from among the qualified entrants. The winner will be notified by email. An alternate winner will be selected if the winner does not respond within five (5) business days. Contest closes at 11:59:59 PM PST on Saturday December 20, 2014. International OK.

To Enter: Leave a comment to this post before the contest closes. It would be awesome if you completed the following question, but any comment will do:

Glamping sounds like it would be . . . .

Go!

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Dead Drop is On Sale Now!

December 17th, 2014

Dead Drop, My Immortals Series, Book 6. Demons and Witches for your Reading Pleasure

A hot, sexy, shirtless demon against a blue background. He's awesome. Dead Drop by Carolyn Jewel

Cover of Dead Drop

Palla is a demon warlord’s deadly assassin who has no idea how to behave around humans. Wallace Jackson is a pacifist street witch with power she can’t access. He’s desperate to unlock her magic because only she can help him rescue his former lover from unending suffering. Their unlikely, volatile partnership transforms their lives and their hearts.

This is NOT the novella version. This is rewritten, reordered, and significantly expanded. Go forth and buy. And read. And enjoy. The print version is ready, too. Who wouldn’t want demons and witches to read about over the holidays?

All Romance | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Nook | Print

 

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Miscellaneous Whining and a Contest Over There

December 3rd, 2014

Where else can I whine if not here at my blog?Last night we had a huge enormous rain storm that was actual weather with thunder and lightning thrown in just to scare the bejeebus out of all the dogs, all the cats, and all the people. At 11:00 PM onward, which is well past my bedtime, I’ll have you know. Then the lights went out which had the extremely ironic effect of waking me up because when the lights came back on, the lights in my room came on. Because the Hue lights mean the switch is in the on position all the time. So, electricity goes out when the lights are “off” no change. It remains dark and I sleep blissfully on. But when the electricity comes back on?  My lights turn on and I am no longer sleeping blissfully. And then KA-BLAM!!!!!  More lightning and thunder.

So, yay for lots of rain because we need it. But I had to drive into San Francisco today for a conference thing and …. flooded roads. sloooooooowwwwww traffic and rain coming down so hard the windshield wipers were essentially useless. But no worries! Traffic was moving at a nice, safe 2.3 miles per hour.

But now I’m home and hey. Over at the Riskies I giving away some books. Click here to go enter.

There. I’m done whining.

 

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Updated Cover for My Darkest Passion

November 27th, 2014
Hot Southeast Asian (Indian) man with no shirt. He's a demon.

New Cover for My Darkest Passion

Here’s the new cover for My Darkest Passion. This brings the cover in line with the new look for the series. Woo-hoo! I’ve loaded updated files everywhere.

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Christmas In The Duke’s Arms Giveaway

November 21st, 2014
Hamper of Awesome Gifts

Hamper of Awesome

The authors of Christmas in the Duke’s Arms, Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel, and Miranda Neville, are giving away this lovely Fortnum & Mason hamper filled with British goodies guaranteed to make your Christmas merry and bright.

Entering is simple! In the comments to this blog post, tell us your favorite Christmas food or beverage. The winner will be announced and contacted on December 19, 2014. Please review the rules below.

Those of you who may see this via a feed from another source (Facebook, Goodreads, etc) you must enter at Carolyn’s blog post here.

But Wait! There’s More! Sweetening The Pot

For every 10 reviews (not just ratings) of Christmas in the Duke’s Arms that post to Amazon or Goodreads between now and 9:00:00 PM Pacific on Thursday December 18, 2014 we’ll give a $50 AMEX gift card or other prize (other additional prizes may be added at our discretion) to one of the qualified entrants. You do not need to do anything. You are not asked or required to post a review.

Gift Card Count:

Number of gift cards added: 4

About Christmas in The Duke’s Arms

Cover of Christmas in The Duke's Arms

Christmas in The Duke’s Arms

The Duke’s Arms is an undistinguished little inn in the tiny village of Hopewell-on-Lyft. But one Christmas season sees both inn and village seething with adventure, intrigue, rabbits, and, above all, love as four couples find Yuletide happiness.

All Romance | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Trade Paper

RULES

Void where prohibited, no purchase necessary. Must be 18 to enter. Winner selected at random from among the qualified entrants. If the winner does not contact Carolyn Jewel within 5 calendar days of notification, an alternate winner will be selected. Contest closes at 11:59:59 PM Pacific, Thursday December 18, 2014. Your comment must be posted by 11:59:59 PM Pacific December 18, 2014.

For the purposes of eligibility, only your first comment is valid as an entry.

The winner of the hamper must provide a US shipping address to receive the hamper. We are unable to ship outside the US.

The winner(s) of a gift card must be eligible under the card originator criteria to use the funds on the card. (EG, AMEX, etc.)

Assuming the criteria for adding the non-Hamper prizes are met, for each additional prize added, there will be a new winner until all additional prizes have been awarded or all eligible entrants have won. That is, if you already won a prize, you won’t win another unless or until all other eligible entries have won.

The total number of reviews posted at Amazon and Goodreads as of the original posting is: 57

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The Self-Publishing Delusion

November 18th, 2014

So, there was this article: Second Thoughts about Self-Publishing over at Publisher’s Weekly.

This article is an example of what I call the Self-Publishing Delusion. It goes like this: someone who did not do anything like enough research into the new publishing landscape self-publishes a book and is disappointed that he’s not a NYT Bestselling author. Follows from this, an article all about how Self-Publishing isn’t all the thing after all.

As is the case here. The author, in 2012, decided to self-publish his novel. In print only. A novel he seems to have marketed only to friends and family and only using traditional methods to gain attention. His second novel did not do as well as the first and now he is sad and disappointed because apparently books must be marketed. My God, the crass commercialism.

Dude. Are you serious?

Who the hell, even in 2012, would think self-publishing = CreateSpace? Five minutes of mediocre Google-fu should have uncovered the limitations of CreateSpace as a vehicle that reaches traditional outlets OR readers. If you want to be an author, then there is no justification for not doing due-diligence. And due diligence would have meant a month or more (and you’d need less, to be honest) researching the heck out of your publishing plans. The kind of research that justifies making any dollar investment in a business decision should have included things like, who are the leading self-publishers and what/how/why are they doing?

If he’d done that, here’s what he would have found out:

  • CreateSpace does not = traditional print publication.
  • By doing ONLY a print book, he did not each the core avid reader, because they read digital.
  • By choosing ONLY CreateSpace, he was unable to get into traditional print outlets.
  • In 2012, the dual strategy of CreateSpace and Lightning Source was still a viable work-around to the Book Store problem. The fact that he did not do enough research to find Alan Shepard’s site is a huge red flag.
  • Writing careers rarely have trajectory after only two books. Research beyond what’s said in the traditional publishing space would have uncovered that his expectations were unrealistic in any publishing venue. A self-publisher should reassess after 5-10 books under-perform. Not two. (Snarky aside: a traditionally published author won’t have that luxury.)
  • If he’d paid any attention to what traditionally published authors experience in the business he would have found out that all authors, traditionally published or self-published, carry the majority of the marketing burden.

And that’s just a response to what he says of his experience in “self-publishing.”

Inform your Decision

You, the author, need to investigate every aspect of the business of New Publishing. You, the author, are solely responsible for understanding the disconnect between what traditional publishers say and what authors say. You, the author, must understand who is succeeding in all spheres of publishing and figure out why and what that means for your strategy.

The traditional publishing space has a vested interest in perpetuating several myths about the business of being an author. Places like PW and DBW put out an astonishing amount of disinformation about that. Likewise, there are people and companies who have a vested interest in selling services to authors. All those claims must be examined, parsed, and dissected.

There’s a reason many, many mid-list authors are leaving traditional publishing or diversifying their careers with both. You, the author, must understand why that is. How can you make a sound business decision without knowing the pitfalls of both?

Of course he did not have the results he wanted and hoped for. If he’d done his research, his self-publishing plan would have looked very different. Instead, he approached the business of being an author as an ill-informed newbie who stayed ill-informed. His lack of research means he didn’t do any of the things known to increase book sales and build a career. He gave up too soon.

In short, he fell prey to traditional publishing delusions about self-publishing.

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November! Update.

November 9th, 2014

OK, so I am failing miserably at NaNoWriMo again. I’m busy pulling together an excuse. I’ll let you know when I have one. Feel free to provide an excuse in the comments.

I have finished turning Dead Drop into a novel. I’ve given it Book 6 in the My Immortals book order, by the way. It’s 42,000+ words and will be on sale December 17, 2014. Pre-order links are going live now. Also, it seems I have not yet shown you guys the cover. Here it is!

A hot, sexy, shirtless demon against a blue background. He's awesome. Dead Drop by Carolyn Jewel

Cover of Dead Drop

The print version is ready to go. I’ll just need to pull the on-sale trigger. Here’s the pre-orders I have so far:

Amazon
iBooks
Kobo
Google Play
Nook

Just a reminder that I set up a newsletter-subscriber only section of my website. I’m currently serializing Dead Drop there. We’re up to chapter 8!

My last newsletter included everything you need to know to login to the subscriber only section. If you believe you’re a subscriber and didn’t get the email, then check your spam. I know Yahoo mail and Gmail both do a good job of reducing spam and “Promotion” but that also means that my newsletter is likely getting caught up in that. You may need to check those folders and whitelist me. If you don’t have the information, email me and I’ll get you the details.

Other News

I will be on vacation beginning Wednesday. ::me dancing:: Thursday I leave for New York and my first RWA Board Meeting. I’ll have all the following week off and hope to make major progress on My Immortals Book 7, which is Kynan’s and Maddy’s book.

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Winner!

November 2nd, 2014

The winner of the copy of Rogue Spy is…

Jennifer!

I’ve emailed you further details.

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