Saturday, August 27, 2011

An amazing contest!

My critique partner and super talented author Nara Malone has a unique contest she's holding at her blog to introduce more people to the wonder of virtual worlds. Nara says: "Inner space is the true final frontier, and the Internet is an amazing example of what can happen when we use technology to facilitate a meeting of creative minds. Virtual worlds are shared inner space, a creative collective’s vision made real in a way that allows one person to walk through another’s dream, to interact with it, to reshape it into a new vision. I’ve spent weeks constructing worlds that will be easy for beginners to navigate and fun for them to explore."

Six Weeks!

Six Worlds to Explore!

Six Ways to Win!

Each week players will have multiple activities to engage in to earn points. These could be as simple as earning points for tweets or comments, or as challenging as finding hidden items in a virtual world. At the end of each week everyone who has obtained the minimum level of points for that week’s prize will be entered in the weekly drawing.

Week One: The first week is easy. You only need to enter the contest to get into that drawing. The prize is a $10.00 gift card (winners choice of Amazon or B&N).

Weeks Two- Six will present contestants with new challenges and new ways to earn points each week. Each Thursday I’ll count up points earned for the week and draw the winner for a gift card. Value of the gift card goes up each week. On the sixth week, every contestant with a score of 1000 points or more will be entered into the drawing for a NookColor.

You’ll need a Facebook account to play along, so if you don’t have one, get signed up.Nara will be posting daily contest detail updates at www.naramalone.com leading up to launch day so check there for more.

Here's a video Nara made as a preview of the first world being explored:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I have a release date!

Faceoff will be out September 9!


Faceoff is a spin-off story from Breakaway. As you may know, the hero in Breakaway, Jason Heller, has three brothers. This is oldest brother Tag Heller's story. It's set in the off season, so there isn't a lot of hockey in it, but it's still about a hot hockey player during a hot summer week at the cottage.

I wrote this novella for the "Oh Canada" theme series at Ellora's Cave and it is a true Canadian fantasy - not just the sexy fantasy but the HOCKEY fantasy! The story features the long-awaited return of an NHL team to a city that was devastated to lose their team years ago. Yes, it's based in reality, and as I was writing the "fantasy" the story actually came true! Okay, not exactly as it is in my book, but the book is fiction after all.

Here's a tiny sneak peek at Faceoff - here are Tag and Kyla at the beach after he's just rubbed sunscreen onto her in a super sexy massage:


He went to his knees beside her, scooped his arms beneath her and lifted her. “Tag! Put me down!”


“Want to get dropped into the water or want to walk?”


“I’ll walk!”


He lowered her until her feet touched the soft warm sand. “Okay.”


She followed them into the water, wading through it up to her knees, the shallow water pleasantly cool on her heated skin. She kept walking, the water climbing higher and higher, and when it touched her stomach, she tightened her belly muscles and went on her toes. Tag turned to look at her, the water still at his thighs because of his height. He grinned. “Coming, Mac?”


She gave him a look, up through her eyelashes, as if to say, I just did, remember? His eyes darkened and her heart fluttered. Was she really going to go to his tent tonight?


“It’s cold,” she said.


“Yeah, and I need that,” he muttered. And he strode further out, then jumped to do a shallow, perfect dive. She sighed once more at the male perfection of his body, his athletic grace. And taking a deep breath, she too dove under. Cool water closed over her head, shocking her body, stealing her breath, and she emerged with a gasp. But it didn’t take long to get used to the water and she rolled to her back and floated, staring up at the blue sky and the clouds gathering right along the horizon.


“There you go,” he said. “Swimming’s good exercise.”


She kicked her feet and splashed him a little. “Why are you trying to get me to exercise?”


“It’s good for you. It’s good for your body and your mind. And your soul. Actually the best exercise for all that is sex.”


She almost sucked in a mouthful of lake water. “Okay then!” She rolled and dove beneath the surface again, kicking hard. When she came up for air, she heard him laughing. She couldn’t resist turning to look at him, at the water glistening in his hair, his eyes gleaming, his wide mouth parted in a sexy smile that tugged a curl of heat inside her.


Oh god. What was he trying to do to her? He’d practically seduced her there on the beach, touching her like that, so intimately, and her pussy clenched at the memory. Now he was flirting with her.


Maybe he was right. Maybe some hot sex in a tent was just what she needed.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A rant about hypocrisy



I blogged about this once before on another blog but today I am once again struck by how social media seems to make some people immune from the "filter" we use when we speak to people face to face. Or maybe some of the people I see on Twitter don't have that filter even face to face. There's no way of knowing with people I've neve rmet in person.

Today a prominent review blog reviewed an independently-published book and gave it a fairly scathing review. There were a lot of details about the story included in the review. I will admit this would not be the type of book I would read. Apparently it was never touted to be a "romance" but rather historical fiction and apparently included some scenes of rape including repeated rape of a child that would definitely turn some readers off, me included.

But the Twitter chatter immediately began vilifying the author for writing this stuff. There were comments about not just hating the book but hating the author. And yet some of these same people have also commented that they are not the books they write. Authors of erotic romance have often had to deal with perceptions and assumptions about who they are because of what they write, and have often spoken out about this in social media. But yet they do the same thing to someone else because of something that person has written.

If someone chooses to write about subjects many people find abhorrent, does that mean he or she is a bad person?  There are very likely are people offended by what I've written. And they may have made assumptions about me because of that. I don't have to read about things I find abhorrent. But should I tell people they can't write those things? Should I make assumptions about who that person is because of what they've written? I don't want people doing that to me...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I write stories, not books

Reading this article in the guardian.co.uk yesterday got me thinking more about the publishing business and the price of ebooks and a whole lot of other random things. I noticed in the comments that a lot of people who read the article were misinformed about ebooks and digital publishing. Many of the comments on the article turned to the ebook vs print book debate, about the loss of the “richly sensual experience” that reading a print book is, etc. etc. I’m so over that debate, so I skipped over those comments.

I tried to talk to my husband last about it last night, but like many people not involved in the publishing industry there were weird things about it that he also didn’t get. Like when I talked about the price of ebooks and how so many people think they should be so much cheaper than print books, he was all in agreement because you know, it costs nothing to produce an ebook.  

Wrong.

I also thought about how maybe I’m different than many readers (and certainly many of the commenters on the guardian article who clearly aren’t talking about genre fiction books). 

Before I purchased my Sony reader, I made regular trips to the bookstore and often dropped a hundred bucks at a time. I thought nothing of shelling out $18 for a trade paperback by one of my favourite authors. That was the price they were and that’s what I had to pay if I wanted to read them. However, I rarely bought hardback books because of the price. When a book by a favourite author came out in hardback, I’d put my name on the waiting list for it at the library and wait out whether my name came up before the paperback version of the book came out.  

Another way I may be different is that I rarely sold my books to used book stores. I keep many of them, but I’m not sure why because I also rarely reread them. I have donated ones that I don’t want to keep to charities. I’ve also shared books with friends, my mom, my aunt but most often we have different tastes in books/authors.  

So having a “physical” book to keep or sell wasn’t something I missed when I got my Sony reader. Also I was thrilled to discover I could buy those $18 books for $9.99. Sometimes even less. And since I was published with smaller digital publishers, I started devouring their books at usually about $5 a pop.  

What are you getting when you buy a book? The guardian article talks about what costs going into producing a hardcover book and claim that it costs a publisher about $3.00 print and distribute a hardcover book, which might then be priced at $30 in the bookstore. Apparently there’s not much difference in costs between a hardcover book and a paperback book, but publishers produce those “premium” editions because there are people who want to buy them.

The article says “Most people instinctively feel that ebooks should be substantially cheaper than paper books, because an ebook is not physically "made": there are no printing costs. But if, says (author Robert) Levine, the real value of a book resides in the "text itself", then the delivery method shouldn't much matter. The fixed costs – acquiring, editing, marketing – remain unchanged.” 

This is very true. Here I also have to mention that many commenters on the article (and my own husband) seemed unaware of the amount of work (and expense) involved in formatting books into digital formats. You are not reading a Word document on your Kindle. With some readers, you’re reading a PDF. Other readers use other formats. When my digital publishers produce ebooks, they have to produce them in numerous formats so that most any customer can purchase that book and read it on whatever reader they happen to have. This is not easy or cheap and often gets overlooked in discussions about pricing of ebooks.

But even so, whether you buy a hardcover book that you can hold in your hands, or a digital book that you load on your reader, what are you really paying for? In the article, “Levine points out, what you're really paying for when you buy a book is something different. You are buying the "text itself". And why is that so expensive? Because the publisher will, in many cases, have paid the author a considerable sum for the right to sell it.”

Yes, the author gets paid something to write the book. Whatever kind of book it is you can be sure a lot of work and that includes blood, sweat and tears often literally, has gone into producing that “story”. And yet  I’ve seen fellow authors say they would never pay more than $3-4 for an ebook.  

Really? 

I can’t believe some authors think their work is worth that little.  

Well, maybe a short novel or novella. But a full length novel? Really? 

The guardian article points out how much Amazon has influenced this line of thinking, with their free reads, .99 books and the 2.99 price point that many self-published authors go to. They also deeply discount prices on other books. “When they first started selling ebooks, publishers argued that they should cost pretty much the same as physical books, and tried to set prices accordingly. Amazon, though, has always been in the business of driving prices down, and sought to sell them as cheaply as possible in order to gain as large as possible a share of the ebook market. In their efforts to drive prices down, Amazon has been hugely assisted (Levine points out) by the fact that they also manufacture the most popular ebook reader. Because Amazon makes big profits from its Kindle, it doesn't need to bother about making profits from its ebook sales. Indeed, if it sells ebooks at a loss, it may still be better off overall, because this will drive up sales of its Kindle.” 

One commenter made what I thought was a very salient point: “… as a writer I keep on having to say I don't write books, I write stories.”

Yes! This! I write stories. My publishers produce books! In different formats! And to me, the value is in the story that I’ve written, not the format that it’s produced in. I don't know what the right price for an ebook is, or even a print book I suppose. The market will decide that, but in the end it has to be enough for the bookseller to make money so they'll keep selling books, for the publisher to make money so they'll keep publishing books, and for the author to make money so she'll keep writing books.



Monday, August 1, 2011

The Perfect Man Event

This week begins The Perfect Man Event at Day Dreaming and Scorching Reviews. Up first:  Men in Uniform. Check out these hot hot authors and their hot heroes!