Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Interview and giveaway with Cecilia Grant!

Thursday, 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!

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Thursday, 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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November! Update.

Sunday, 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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Open Position: Minion

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Work from Home!

Minion

Make extra cash in every spare minute while working from home. Do you have a poorly functioning moral compass? Apply immediately!

If your moral compass sometimes gives you pause, you’d probably be a great fit for our junior minion position. Check back in a month. We’re waiting to see if the intern quits.

Pay: Bit coin and free books.

Benefits: Every day is casual day.

Requirements: Able to start immediately. Limited ability to work unsupervised. Must be able to copy and paste. Familiarity with Word a plus but not required.

Duties: Carry out tasks on approved schedule. Set up internet alerts and take proscribed actions per provided flow chart.

To apply: Please copy and paste your resume into a comment to this post. Include a link to a video of you dry-washing your hands and laughing in an unsettling manner. Equal opportunity Employer.

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Jo Bourne, Rogue Spy, and a Giveaway!

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Interview and Giveaway With Jo Bourne

I’m thrilled to have Jo Bourne here at the website! She’s a wonderful, RITA winning author of historical romance who is also one of the nicest people ever. She’s also one of my very favorite authors. If you haven’t read her yet, you really, really should. Rogue Spy, by the way, has been getting amazing reviews.

About Jo Bourne

Author Photo of Jo Bourne. She has curly hair and glasses

Jo Bourne

 

Joanna lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with her family, a medium-sized mutt and a faux Himalayan cat.

She writes Historical Romances set in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars.

She’s fascinated by that time and place – such passionate conviction and burning idealism … and really sexy clothes.

 

 

 

 

About Rogue Spy

Cover of Rogue Spy by Joanne Bourne

Cover of Rogue Spy by Joanne Bourne

Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever. . .

Read an excerpt: http://www.joannabourne.com/

The Interview

Q: Rogue spy. Uh oh. Without spoilers, what happens and why does she/he go rogue?!!!

You know how I write my stories with some French spies and some English spies and then there are one or two who turn out to be both.

Pax is both.  He gets himself unmasked and heads back to London, where he just about immediately steps in the middle of a super-huge-evil-plot ™ (of course).  He also runs into Cami.

Cami is another ambiguously double agent . Cami and Pax  go way back — to when they were children.  They meet. They notice they aren’t kids any more.  And ba-zoing!!  (Sound of Sexxy Times coming.)

Cami has one agenda. The British Spy Service has another agenda.  Pax gets to choose.  (He even has his own agenda, come to think of it.)

Cummon. It’s a Romance. What do think he chooses?

A deer standing in a snowy field with trees

Deer. In The Snow

Q: You live in the wilderness. In a log cabin with no running water and no electricity. I heard you wrestled a bear for nuts and berries. Obviously, you won. Tell us about your thrilling battle. One time there was a huge stir here in my town when someone spotted a young bear walking along one of the creeks that run through town. I did not wrestle the bear. If I had, though, do you have any tips for me?

The bear wrestling — and, indeed, certain pre-technological details of the old domicile —  may be just a tad  exaggerated.

A possum and a dog. In snow. It looks cold.

Dog Encounters Possum

We do have a nice selection of possums/dog encounters.  Here they are discussing interspecies relations through the door.

And we have deer. The dog chases them to the property line and then stops.  Our grass is safe.

The deer walk off, sniggering to themselves.

 

 

 

 

Q: Pets. Tells us about your pets and how they help you write. Or not.

A Cat Sleeping on Important papers

Helping Cat Helps

I have a writer cat.  Everybody needs a writer cat.

She is particularly generous with her fur.

I find it everywhere in the crevices of the keyboard.

 

 

 

 

Q: You get a phone call from your agent. You’re being offered $10 Million to write any screenplay you want, movie is guaranteed to be made by the director of your choice. What story would you pick and why?

Of my own books?  I think Forbidden Rose is the most cinematic.  Maybe the only cinematic one.

I’d start it at the gates of Paris and go for a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ vibe..

Q: Favorite meal? Assume you don’t have to cook it or clean up afterward.

Pasta in brodo for soup. Broiled lobster with asparagus and maybe a nice beet-and-burrata salad. Lemon ice for dessert with a little thin lemon wafer cookie planted proudly in the top.

Yum.

Q: What’s next for you?

Séverine’s story.  It’s fairly late in sequence.  1820 and some.  I had to research a Long Time  to find the political background here.  And having set Rogue Spy in London, I’m putting Séverine in Paris.

Where to Find Jo

Website  http://www.joannabourne.com/
Blog  http://jobourne.blogspot.com/
Facebook    https://www.facebook.com/joanna.bourne.5
Twitter   https://twitter.com/jobourne

Giveaway

Jo is giving away paper copy of Rogue Spy to a US winner.

Rules: Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 to enter and have a US mailing address. Winner chosen at random from among the commenters at my blog. Comment before midnight Pacific, Thursday, October 30, 2014. An alternate winner will be chosen if the winner does not reply to my notification after 10 days.

To enter, answer this question in the comments: If you were a Rogue Spy, what would you wear?

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Christmas in The Duke’s Arms

Sunday, October 19th, 2014
Cover of Christmas in The Duke's Arms

Christmas in The Duke’s Arms

Find out more at my book page

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Book Covers and Branding

Friday, October 10th, 2014

As some of you may know, I’ve been rebranding my book covers with a more consistent look. I’m also using a custom name font. My name is the same on every single new cover. I have given my cover artists very specific instructions about what I’m going for, and one of those instructions is that my name should be big. Bigger than the title, even.

Today, I saw a great illustration of why that’s a good decision. Amazon (as of Oct.10.2014) is now showing pages of top selling books in categories with two sections to the right that look like the below. Take a look. Which authors are in that Hot New Releases category?

Well, the ONLY author name you can read is Eloisa James. If you are a fan of historical romance, and you were thinking, maybe I’ll buy something else, how likely are you to click on a cover where you don’t even know the author?  I think it’s very likely that buyers will say, oh, hey, I’ve heard good things about that author ….

Who's on First? No name shown

What’s in a Name?

And, of course, the image above illustrates the problem with covers in the digital space. The two boxed sets have issues. Yes, the images convey boxed set, but nothing else. The first one is just a blobby mess. The second one is partially saved by a recognizable image. This is the reason I’m not wild about boxed set covers like this… They are a design challenge that is not currently being met.  So. The 3rd book in the top row. What the hell is that background? I can’t see the name OR the title. This cover is a fail. Truce — I can’t even tell what the eff that is. The title is big but you have to stare, and cheat with the title text below. All I really see is T[something]UC.

The Eloisa James cover is a win. Not only can you read her name, you can read the title, too! AND the image is recognizable. I would have asked for a fix at the upper left corner, which is too dark, but over all, that cover works.  That last one? I can read the title, I have no hope of reading the author’s name. But the image is compelling and atmospheric so it I’d give it a marginal pass.

These books are doing well, that’s why they’re in that corner, but this corner real-estate is not doing the authors any favors. I imagine the click-throughs are disappointing because Amazon isn’t showing the author name and so loses a key reason for clicks. (I’ve heard good things about that author….)

There are six books there, and yes, a click will get you a Hot New Release, but there is nothing here to compel the user to click any given title (aside from rank).  The publisher (whoever that might be) needs to provide a cover that will compel clicks on THEIR book over the other five.

I ask you, which book, other than the Eloisa James book, does that?

I expect Amazon to redesign this real-estate. They should remove “Kindle Edition” and show the author’s name so that buyers have more reasons to click. Plus, all these authors, except James, are losing name recognition moments. Free advertising that, in this set of covers, only accrues to  James.

So, the image above was directly to the right of the one below. And you should be able to see why I was looking at this page.

 

Image showing book covers with author names of varying readability

Names. Yeah. Who can you Read?

 

Right. So at least these images have text that includes the author’s names. But that’s going to be the second or third thing people look at. Even if you have no interest in Scandal because you never heard of me, you see my name.

Miriam Minger has a similar success even with a cover that looks cramped. Those horizontal lines are a problem for Bolen’s books, too– whose name is barely legible and has a further problem with a busy background that distracts.

Now, I heartily dislike that P&P cover, but here I will give a pass on author name because the title is so famous. Yes. It’s Jane. Have we learned our lesson about horizontal lines? None of them are well done here.

The other two, well. The leftmost author’s last name is Cook. That’s really all you can read. And, I fear, someone seems to have actually tried to make Mary Campsi’s name invisible. It’s actually possible to look at the cover and think the author’s name is Sophie Seacrest.

The take away? I’m outselling Jane Austen in free books. Read it and weep. And who the hell is giving Jane fewer than 5 stars?

 

 

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Scandal is Free!

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

I have set my RITA finalist historical romance Scandal to free:

Here are vendor links:

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

 

Cover of Scandal by Carolyn Jewel

Cover of Scandal

If you haven’t read Scandal yet or don’t own a copy, here’s your chance… I hope you enjoy the book.

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