Here. Pretty Flowers

May 1st, 2016

While I’m working on finishing up a completed first draft of Surrender to Ruin, Sinclair Sisters Series Book 3, here are some flower pictures I took.

picture of jasmine. If there were smells this would smell awesome

Jasmine

Yellow Freesia close up. Also would smell great if there were smellorama.

Yellow Freesia

A closed new pink tulip with bits of orange.

Pink tulip

Pink Pearl Apple Blossom from the side. It's pink and very delicate.

Pink Pearl Apple Blossom

This is a purple flower, possibly clematis only mostly i have no idea. Kind of Passion Vine ish. It's light purple.

Clematis thingee? I don’t know. Flower names are not my job.

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Books From Yours Truly

April 23rd, 2016

It’s been mad busy here at Jewel HQ and it occurred to me that I have neglected to mention books that are available to buy or pre-order. I have more coming your way so stay tuned for more exciting news.

A Seduction in Winter – On Sale Now

A Seduction in Winter, my novella from Christmas in Duke Street, is available as a standalone purchase.

Pretty Regency Lady against a dark blue wintery background

A Seduction in Winter – Pretty!

 

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

He’s an artist and a duke’s heir. She’s sheltered and scarred. Can he show her by Christmas that love can be theirs to share?

As the holidays approach, Lieutenant Leoline Marrable, now Lord Wrathell, travels to London where he’s expected to fulfill longstanding expectations and propose to his former commander’s daughter. Wrathell longs to ease the strained relationship with his ducal father. The key may be an unfinished portrait of his late brother.

Honora Baynard has a terrible facial scar as a result of a childhood injury. She has never forgotten Leoline, who came to her defense when other children tormented her. Now, her over-protective artist father keeps her indoors, creating the beautiful detail work that makes his paintings so sought after.

As Wrathell and Honora spend more time together, mutual interest becomes mutual attraction. Can Wrathell convince Honora that for Christmas, he’d like to give her not only passion and pleasure, but his heart to keep for her own?

If you like sensual romance, complex characters, and witty dialogue, you’ll love Carolyn Jewel’s latest refreshing Regency tale.

Buy A Seduction in Winter to experience the passion today!

My Immortals Series Box Set

I’ve put together a box set of four of the books from the My Immortals Series. It’s on pre-order now and will release May 10, 2016. The pre-order price increases May 17th, so a pre-order locks in the lower price of $7.99 US.

The first three remain with my traditional publisher so I’m unable to include them. But with this box set you’ll get four books in the series: Free Fall (a novella), My Dangerous Pleasure (a novel), My Darkest Passion (a novel), and Dead Drop (a shorter-ish novel).

I’m not able to get a pre-order at Nook, alas. In addition, I have no plans for a print version. The cost would be prohibitive since the total word count would be well over 250,000 words which would push 1000 pages.

 

Box set cover with hot shirtless demon and the covers of the 4 included books

More Demons! Who Doesn’t Want More Demons?

 

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | All Romance

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Miscellaneous Updates

April 14th, 2016

I guess first I’ll mention that Emily and Devon’s story is going well. Last year’s decision to rent offsite office space has made a huge difference in my ability to get words written. There is nothing I can do about the situation that made this necessary, but now I’m able to meet word count and stay on track.

Another bit of news is that despite my poor production in 2015 (see paragraph above) my writing income was up significantly. This was about 50% due to the anthologies I was in.  They did very well.

At the end of last year and through now, I was concentrating on covers for the individual novellas from the anthologies, the covers for My Demon Warlord, covers for three special projects, managing the coding work for a data-management project, and getting ready to outsource all my formatting.

Yes, I can do the formatting myself. I absolutely have the technical skills, but I need to concentrate of maximizing my writing time, and that was one of the things that I decided needed to be outsourced. I’m in the process of sending all my books to be reformatted so they’re all the same visually. Several are done and ready to upload.

Why yes, I DID say there are three special projects that needed covers. I guess stay tuned!

 

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I Survived the Ides of March

March 27th, 2016

Life has been busy here at Jewel Central. I attended the RWA board meeting this month. We got a lot of important work done plus I got to spend time with some really smart women and men. The RWA staff is just amazing. The Board meeting was the weekend of the time change, so Sunday was super fun, getting up extra early. I don’t know what I’d do without espresso in my veins.

Then I came home from that and was tired the entire following week.

On Saturday the 19th, I was on a panel on behalf of the EFF with some of the authors from the anthology the EFF put together.

side shot of Dave Maas of EFF at a podium

Dave Maas of EFF getting ready for the panel

name tags at the EFF panelist table. Carolyn Jewel, Annalise Newitz names are readable. EFF banner too.

Yes! I was there! Next to Annalise Newitz omg

My adventure with arriving at the location of the panel at the Internet Archive in San Francisco began with me locking my keys in the car while I was getting gas. Fortunately, the gas station owner let me use his phone, and CSAA came really really fast and got my car unlocked. This used up all my time allotted for being lost so I was worried I’d be late. But I DID NOT GET LOST! It was a miracle. (No worries! I took two wrong turns on the way back.)

The panel was really fun and interesting. What a great group of authors. I got to shake Cory Doctorow’s hand and he was so, so gracious. As were all the panelists. They were so fabulous that I was just hoping to hold my own as we answered questions etc.

There was Romance in their midsts and everyone was fine with it, which as Romance authors and readers know, is often not the case in the mainstream. We talked about speculative fiction and civil liberties, and answered questions from the audience and everything everyone said was fascinating and thought provoking.

I did feel I had to apologize for my boring hair. I’ve decided to go purple-tinted platinum and in preparation for that, my hair was not dark purple, but a dark, dark, brown because that will be easier to bleach than the purple. So much colorful hair among the attendees!

By Sunday I was sick but needed to pick up my son who was home for Spring Break. Naturally, traffic was terrible and I got lost. Again.

I was sick most of the following week but it was great having my son home. Friday was a holiday from the EDJ. I got to make calls to the RITA/Golden Heart finalists which is pretty much the best thing ever.

My son went back to school today. I did get a little behind on my word count for Sinclair Sisters Book 3 because I was sick, but I’m coming up on the halfway point which is pretty exciting.

In writing-related news, I’m having all my books reformatted because I need not to spend time doing things that aren’t writing books. Ironically, this requires some work that is not writing, but as soon as everything is ready for Formatting Version 2.0, I’ll spend much less time obsessing over it.

And this means I can hint about some upcoming Exciting Things for Readers that are dependent on certain books being reformatted first. All that work went out Saturday and it’s in progress.

And so, March has been very busy, including writing.

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Preorder A Seduction in Winter

March 10th, 2016

A Seduction in Winter, Available for Pre-Order

It doesn’t have to be the holidays or even winter to enjoy my Regency novella about Honora and Lord Wrathell. I promise! This novella originally appeared in the anthology Christmas in Duke Street.

cover of A Seduction in Winter, 3D. Pretty Regency Lady in a blue gown against a snowy--ish background

Cover of A Seduction in Winter – in 3D

 

Pre-Order A Seduction in Winter Now!

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

He’s an artist and a duke’s heir. She’s sheltered and scarred. Can he show her by Christmas that love can be theirs to share?

As the holidays approach, Lieutenant Leoline Marrable, now Lord Wrathell, travels to London where he’s expected to fulfill longstanding expectations and propose to his former commander’s daughter. Wrathell longs to ease the strained relationship with his ducal father. The key may be an unfinished portrait of his late brother.

Honora Baynard has a terrible facial scar as a result of a childhood injury. She has never forgotten Leoline, who came to her defense when other children tormented her. Now, her over-protective artist father keeps her indoors, creating the beautiful detail work that makes his paintings so sought after.

As Wrathell and Honora spend more time together, mutual interest becomes mutual attraction. Can Wrathell convince Honora that for Christmas, he’d like to give her not only passion and pleasure, but his heart to keep for her own?

Read Chapter 1

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A Slightly Funny Story

March 5th, 2016

So, at the day job, we’ve just moved into new office space. I 99.98% love it. All the lights are LED and set to a really lovely, relaxing white. The walls are beautiful colors and there are areas where you could, conceivably, sit and pretend you’re at someone’s home about to have tea and cookies. There are tables with runners and vases and there’s lots of artwork most of which I like. Total win!

Except.

Almost everything is slightly off center. Most of the pictures are crooked to some degree or not hung in a way that doesn’t make me think, hold on here…. something is off. There’s a large space with a beautiful table in the center, and a couch and mirror in the center of the wall at one end. The table is placed off center to the mirror, and literally, everyone who walked by the first few times would stop and cock their heads … because it wasn’t quite right. Plus, the table has a fabric runner down the middle, very pretty, and a large vase in the center. Except the runner was not aligned to the exact center of the table. And the vase was not aligned in the center of the runner. There are, in fact, two other tables with runners and vases, also not aligned. And at the end of the one corridor that ends in a wall, they hung a tapestry, so so pretty! And it was crooked.

I discovered that my colleague also noticed the off-centeredness of everything and it was also driving him crazy. We had several conversations about the pictures that weren’t hung so it wasn’t just…. off. Anyway, I straightened all the vases and runners because it was driving me batty. My colleague helped me align one of them. Because he too was so bothered by it. He straightened some of the artwork. I couldn’t safely reach the tapestry so it continued to be just so slightly off center.

Then the painters had to put another coat of paint on the walls and all the artwork came down. Everything went back up, still mostly crooked. The tapestry, however, was now noticeably crooked. I said “Hey, colleague, look at that!” And we both were deeply unsettled.

And then!

One day I saw that the tapestry had been straightened. Yay!!! When I returned to my desk, I said to my colleague, “Good news! They straightened the tapestry!”

And he says, “Oh, I did that. It was driving me crazy.”

And that is why I like where I work.

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Upcoming Releases

February 21st, 2016

I’m going through all my books and sending them out for reformatting by someone who isn’t me because I’ve decided it’s not a good use of my time. The changes will be exceedingly minor — basically just the formatting. I’ve got some pretty custom dingbats for the interiors and a nifty newsletter icon to include in my books.

In the next two months I’ll be releasing two historical romance novellas that previously appeared in anthologies and uploading new files for the two novellas already on sale. All four will have print versions. In addition, I had all four re-edited/copy-edited/proofed so they’re consistent as to punctuation etc. There are no changes to the stories, but they all went through slightly different editorial processes and I wanted to make sure everything was consistent.

I’m planning a boxed set of these, to be priced competitively compared to purchasing all four individually.

The four novellas are below.

A Seduction in Winter – April 2016

Pretty Regency Lady against a dark blue wintery background

A Seduction in Winter

An Unsuitable Duchess – March 2016

Regency Lady with reddish hair gazing pensively at a fan

An Unsuitable Duchess

In The Duke’s Arms

Regency Couple. Woman's dress is falling off. Man in open necked shirt and breeches. Shennanigans.

In The Duke’s Arms

One Starlit Night

Pretty Regency Lady in a dress that is unfastened down the back. She's not wearing proper undergarments and she's outside with stars.

One Starlit Night

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When Worlds Collide! Kapow! Writing and Database Design

February 14th, 2016

I continue to marvel at the intersection of my writing life and my tech life. One of my job functions is to architect databases that will hold the information that runs websites or pays bills or, report on the information in the database. It’s remarkably easy to get wrong. Because I’m a data architect and not a software developer, my approach is always, how would I set this up so we meet the users needs and protect the data?

Every software dev is now slapping her/his forehead and groaning.

Dude. We’ll negotiate the joins later, OK?

But no. We’re not doing it your way because your way is fast on the app side and 30 days later we can’t report on the data. Or it’s not actually what the user needs.

So. Authors who write series, often more than one, need a way to show readers the order of the books in the series. Sounds simple, right? Let the author number the books from 1 through a bazillion.

(And now all the authors are now groaning, going, wait! What about prequels, novels and novellas? where I didn’t write them in chronological order or where readers want Novel order interspersed with Novellas … without having to number Book 7 in the series 9th in the order because there are intervening novellas or short stories.)

Readers are doing much the same.

I know, I know. And I’m so sorry.

surprise/not surprised

I’m surprise/not surprised that ALL the book vendors have gotten the design of this wrong. It SOUNDS easy, but it’s not. We all see the huge disconnect between all the vendors who went “Let them number the books IN WHOLE NUBMERS!” and what authors and readers actually need.

A structured database, like SQL Server or Oracle could do this of course. So could a NoSQL db, but either way you still have to understand this isn’t just a numbering problem. NoSQL probably makes this easier to achieve.

But is OBVIOUS no one at the vendors actually talked to enough authors or even publishers about this. If they had, they’d know they were about to design it wrong.

Painful Lessons of Bad Data Architecture

One of the early lessons for any database person is that when the structure doesn’t provide users a way to do what is needed in real life, they will find workarounds that fuck up your data.

Like when there’s no field to hold (easy example) a middle name and someone goes by their middle name. Users will enter the middle name in the first name field OR the last name field, or a field for Company name. And then you are fucked because you have no way easy way to know that Roberta Ellen Smith is in your database as

firstname: Roberta Ellen
LastName: Smith
CompanyName: Acme Widgets

AND/Or
firstname: Roberta
LastName: Ellen Smith
CompanyName: Acme Widgets

AND/OR
firstname: Roberta
LastName: Ellen
CompanyName: Smith/Acme Widgets

Now get me a list of all the people whose last name is Smith.
Oops.

I’m not making this up, except the names. I’ve seen databases like this.

Real World Reading and Writing

In the real world of reading and authoring books, a series can have:
Novels
Novellas
Short stories
Something else we didn’t think of yet.

And the order might go like this:

Book 1
Book 2
Novella 1
Book 3
Short Story 1
Book 4
Novella 2

AND it’s possible the author wrote these stories in this order

Short Story 1
Book 2
Book 3
Book 4
Book 1
Novella 2
Novella 1

So that by the time they’ve written novella 1, which in the chronology of events in the SERIES places Novella 1 chronologically before Book 3, they will need to reorder their books.

How do I know this is possible? Because I’m a data architect and I’ve seen stuff like this before but also because here’s the story series order of my Sinclair Series books:

Books in chronological order according to the World
Mary’s story
Anne’s Story
Lucy’s Story
Emily’s Story

Here’s the order I have written or will write them in:

Anne’s Story
Lucy’s Story
Emily’s Story
Mary story

Why? Because PUBLISHING doesn’t commit to series and sometimes neither do authors. A book that was intended as a stand alone turns out to have characters in it readers are dying to read about, and some of those characters’ stories would be BEFORE the time setting of the book that was published first.

Authors commonly want to number books like this:

Prequel (Book 0)
Book 1
Novella 1.5
Book 2
Book 3
Novella 3.5

Which is a fairly obvious solution from their point of view, but with clear issues on the backend if you only allow the number field to accept whole numbers which everyone except All Romance eBooks does.

That’s the problem with the simplistic notion that Books are ordered 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . . N

Authors and Readers – in the same leaky Boat

Readers might want to read the books, regardless of length or nomenclature (novel, novella etc.) in the order they were written. Or chronologically according to events in the series. Or in some order the author has provided for the series.

So, on the backend, book order is actually considerably more fluid than any vendor currently provides to authors who would like to number their books so readers can figure out which stories they want to read first.

So vendors end up giving us this, which is completely inadequate for authors and readers alike.
Book 1 = Book 1
Book 2 = Book 2
Book 3 = Novella 1
Book 4 = Book 3
Book 5 = Short Story 1
Book 6 = Book 4
Book 7 = Novella 2
Book 8 = Book 5

Because to get the books listed in reading order authors have to say Book 5 is Book 8 when it isn’t book 8.

Obviously, you should allow the author to provide a reading order that does not link reading order to nomenclature.

1 = Book 1
2 = Book 2
3 = Novella 1
4 = Book 3
5 = Short Story 1
6 = Book 4
7 = Novella 2
8 = Book 5

So, you show the end user this:

Vampire Flowers Series – Reading Order

Flowers in My Garden, prequel
Flowers in my Sock drawer, Book 1
The Gnome Attack, Novella 1
Flowers in my mailbox, Book 2
Gnome Attack!!, A short story
Bees Knees, Novella 2

Reading Order, as a numbering concept unrelated to any other order, would also permit a reader to get a list of just the novels, in reading order.

But nobody asked me.

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Movie Review – Roy (The Smoke Got In My Eyes)

February 7th, 2016

Yesterday on twitter, a fellow Arjun Rampal fan asked why I hadn’t blogged on the subject lately. His tweet reminded me that I have been remiss, and that Rampal’s recent movie, Roy, has been sitting unwatched in my stack of DVDs. Which means it’s been unwatched since before there was any hope of streaming movies here at Jewel Central. I used to have to buy all the Indian films I wanted to watch. Now, though, I can do Prime or Netflix.

It so happens, though, that Roy recently won Best Music at the 61st Filmfare Awards, which I actually knew already because I follow several Bollywood related accounts.

Having just watched the movie, I can represent that the music IS really good.

And so, @arjungrg  (He has the same first name as the actor we admire) herewith my review of Roy.

Roy was directed by Vikramjit Singh and stars Rampal and Jacqueline Fernandez.

The trailers I saw for this film were smoking hot scenes of Rampal and Fernandez in a pool and I guess I blanked out everything else. So, what I thought the movie was about and what it’s actually about? Two different things. Also, keep in mind this paragraph, because I’m going to circle back to it.

Smoke Got in My Eyes

Except for the two minutes while the final credits were rolling, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie with such an overt male gaze. There were maybe two minutes out of the three some hours where there were two women on screen at the same time (excluding extras).

Besides Fernandez, the only other woman (Shernaz Patel) who has more than a couple of lines of dialogue, is there for the sole purpose of providing moral support to Rampal’s character. It’s like whoever wrote this film thinks women spring to life only when there’s a man around. Which was kind of ironic because Patel’s role could have been played by a man, so kudos to casting a woman. I guess. She did a great job letting us know Rampal’s character was in emotional pain and that she was there to support him.

Upfront, I’ll just say that plot of this movie was so convoluted it started to feel like the screenwriter was trolling me. There wasn’t enough shirtless Rampal to make up for that. The master of “I AM IN SO MUCH PAIN SHE BROKE MY HEART!!!!” could not rescue a confusing script. Which is a pity because there was so much potential, and twice it broke out and I was all “Oh, whoa, that’s interesting!” and then I think the director was all “WAIT! I have to make this even more confusing. DO NOT FOLLOW THAT THREAD!” Right, because if he did, there would be a movie worth watching.

Smoke? What about the Smoke?

EVERYBODY smoked. And, for this film, that means every man smoked. Whenever someone was smoking there was this tiny little notice “smoking kills” in the lower right corner of the screen. It was there a lot. I now believe all the smoking is the reason the movie opened with two anti-smoking ads. All that smoking was distracting. I think the director must not have trusted his actors to actually act.

Plot

Rampal plays Kabir Grewal, a screenwriter (with writer’s block when the love of his life isn’t there) and director who is a playboy. He’s writing/directing the 3rd movie of a trilogy. Singh’s (Roy’s director) conceit is to make us unable to figure out that the subplot is actually the movie that Rampal’s character is writing/directing. In doing so, Singh seems to have forgotten that confusing movies ::cough::Inception::cough:: need a story hook that won’t let you go.

Confusing isn’t enough and the writing forgot to give us a reason to care about Kabir. The fact that I cared even a little speaks to Rampal’s ability to emote. But there was so little script for him to work with.

To be honest, when you forget that Women Are People Too, it’s understandable you might not realize you should give the women in your movie actual acting to do. Fernandez is a beautiful woman and director Singh never lets us forget that. I’m pretty sure she can act, but when your main function is decorative and to reflect the hero of the movie, it’s hard to be sure.

Surprises?

Well, I was surprised by the martial arts scene in the movie within the movie. Totally surprised. There wasn’t actually any martial arts. It was more like Movement, jump to post movement so no one actually had to do any martial arts. American movies take the same dreadful shortcuts, I’m afraid.

Sum up

This wasn’t a total waste of time because Arjun Rampal. If you like movies with women that exist only in the minds of men, this is the movie for you. But it was a waste of some talented actors. My recommendation is to watch only the final credits because those scenes were combustible. Actual acting!! The pre-release trailers I saw were entirely made up of scenes from the final credits and it made it look like the movie was about heartbreak and true love. Nope. It could have been. Loads of Indian films successfully do that. Not this one.

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My Demon Warlord – On Sale Now

February 2nd, 2016
Cover of My Demon Warlord. A hot shirtless guy who looks exactly as you image Kynan Aijan would look.

Cover of My Demon Warlord

Where to Buy

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | All Romance eBooks | Print

It’s done! It’s on sale! I hope you’ll read and review it. If you’d like a review copy, let me know!

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