The Myths of Working from Home by Liana Brooks

If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “It must be so nice to do nothing all day and just sit at home!” I could actually sit home all day doing nothing.

America’s office culture makes most social interactions for a writer weird.

Them: “So, where do you work?”

Me: “I work at home.”

Them: “Oh, like, massage therapy or something?”

Me: “No, I actually write books.”

Them: “Oh…” *long and unhealthy pause* “Like TWILIGHT or like dinosaur erotica? I mean, not that I’m judging or anything, but is it angsty teen vampires or dino peen? ’cause I’m tweeting this and people want to know.”

Yeah, it’s awkward.

Of course there’s the people on the other side of the fence. The ones who know I write books.

Them: “It must be so great to be a writer and do nothing all day but create!”

Me: “Yeah, it’s really fun. I love my job!”

Them: “You know, I’m going to write a book too one day.”

Me: “That’s awesome!”

Them: “I can’t right now because I have a kid, and well, you probably don’t know what it’s like having kids at home. Or friends. Or a social life. But I’m way too busy to write books!”

*awkward pause as one of my four kids comes up to demand my attention*

Me: “Oh, those gosh darn kids. I can see why no one with children has ever written a book. Ever. At all. I may be lying…”

When you become a successful writer (or even a desperately-working-to-become-a-successful-household-name writer) people like to come up to you and ask what your schedule is. If you go to Google you can search for daily habits of famous authors.

10am – morning whiskey and eggs

11am to 3pm – write

3:15pm – adulterous affair with parlor maid

3:30 pm to 6pm – read newspaper

6pm – supper with other gentlemen of means

7pm – diatribe about women getting above their place and acting like humans

8pm to 11pm – objectify women and criticize their clothing

12am – try on women’s drawers

1am – dual with Lord Soinso on Parliament lawn wearing skirts

3am – fall in bed in drunken stupor

At least I assume that’s how all the literary greats lived out their days. They certainly didn’t spend them raising children, at least not according to their diaries. I dunno… there’s this assumption that men who write have a loving (possibly wealthy) wife who handles the domestic and wordly affairs while they commune with their muse (usually in the form of alcohol), and that women who write are either spinsters (looking at you Jane), childless, or older women with no familial obligations. This is based largely on the very outdated and misogynistic idea that a man’s parental duty ends at conception and that women with children can’t think about anything but diapers.

This attitude more than anything accounts for all the “I want to write a book but I’ve never found the time…” daydreamers in the world.

If you keep telling someone they can’t do something they’ll eventually believe you.

Let’s bury those myths and mountains, shall we?

Myth #1: You need to be independently wealthy to write

… lies! Most authors are either supported by a significant other or a full-time job, but very few of them are trust fund babies rolling in money. Some of the most famous authors you know were single parents and working poor when their first book came out.

Myth #2: You’ll never find time to write if you have kids

… lies! I four kids and I still find time. More to the point I make time to write. The real difference between daydream and reality here is that the people who get things done make the time to do it. If writing is important to you, you will find time to write, even if it’s sending yourself 15 minutes worth of badly spelled writing you typed out on your phone on a bumpy bus ride into work.

Myth #3: The only way to make money publishing is to know someone

… lies! Unless you’re talking about knowing yourself. That much you need to have. Know what you love, know how much work you can reasonably put into self-promotion, know your limits, and know your strengths. Line those up the right way and you can do anything.

Myth #4: There is only One True Path to publishing and it is __________

… lies! Self-publishing, publishing with a small press, and publishing with a big press are all fabulous options. What works for you isn’t what works for anyone else. What works for one book of yours may not work for your next book. Research all avenues of publication and then decide where you belong.

Myth #4: If I don’t have my family’s support I can’t write

… lies! Mostly. Listen, in April my 8th title comes out. Since 2009 I’ve published three novellas, four short stories, and in April my first novel comes out. Guess how many of those titles my parents have bought or read? Mind you, several of those short stories are free. Go on. Guess… did you guess zero?

Guess how many books my loving and supportive spouse of thirteen years has read (he doesn’t buy them because I load them on the e-reader for free)? He’s read two.

There are different kinds of support. It’s hard to write if your spouse/roommate/lover/kids/whoever shares the house with you doesn’t give you time and space to write. It’s frustrating when they question why you’re wasting your time, or ask when you’ll get a real job. But you don’t need them cheering you on. There are amazing online writing resources for authors of all ages. There are strong writing communities on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other social media sites (check out the #amwriting hashtag sometime). You can get feedback from writing communities like Absolute Write and Critique Circle.

In a perfect world your family would fully understand what you do, buy all your books, and expertly critique your work. In a less than perfect world you have to make do with what you have. Tell your loved ones that writing makes you happy and healthy, ask for 30 minutes a day (or make that time when they aren’t around), and get the rest of your support from the community of writers that is already out there and ready to cheer on new authors.

What does my day look like? It’s getting up hours before dawn (less impressive now that I live in Alaska), getting four kids out the door for school, entertaining the 3-year-old, walking the dog, dodging moose, cleaning house, running errands, volunteering for local charities, emailing people about a million crazy things, spending far too much time on Twitter (@LianaBrooks), making a to-do list before I go to bed, and carving out time to write every day, plus edits as needed. A majority of my day is spent thinking about books, but not doing any physical writing. I plot things while I clean the kitchen. I make up dialog while I’m waiting at the school carpool line. I scribble down ideas for scenes on my to-do list so that when I wake up the next morning I can write my 1000 words for the day without hesitation.

Next time you’re facing your Wall of Nope, kick it on down and remember that when you want something, nothing can stop you.

So, what are you going to create today?

Liana

 ***

evenvillainshaveinterns_600x900Bootleggers, drug dealers, crooked cops, and dirty politicians… Chicago has always had a reputation for indulging in the finer vices of life. That’s why Doctor Charm’s favorite daughter found America’s second city so appealing—criminals are never boring. As second in command for the powerful Subrosa Security group, Delilah Samson finds opportunities to use her superpowers at every turn. Whether it’s stealing a priceless French painting from a mobster or stopping a drug deal, she’s game.

In fact, the only thing she doesn’t care for is Chicago’s favorite native son, Deputy Mayor Alan Adale, the man who made Lucifer jealous. Sinfully handsome, or possibly just sinful, Adale has been pursuing Delilah since she first arrived, and she’s been dodging.

When she finds ties between the new kingpin in town and a drug The Company wants to buy so they can create more superheroes, Delilah takes the gloves off. Teaming up with the spooky Spirit of Chicago, she aims to take down the dealers, the mobsters, the kingpin, and The Company. All without falling in love with the one man capable of capturing her heart.

Buy: Even Villains Have Interns (Heroes and Villains Book 3)

***

Liana Brooks would like to SCUBA dive Europa (that moon around Jupiter), but with the NASA shuttle program shut down she’s resorted to writing science fiction instead.  She likes southern beaches, warm weather, sharks, and striped socks.

Her superhero romance series started with Even Villains Fall in Love and continues with Even Villains Go To The Movies and Even Villains Have Interns. For those who prefer their romance without a side order of spandex she’s written PRIME SENSATIONS (part of the Tales From the SFR Brigades anthology) and FEY LIGHTS. Her first novel, THE DAY BEFORE, is coming out April 28th and is available for pre-order anywhere e-books are sold.

You can find Liana on the web at www.lianabrooks.com, on Twitter as @LianaBrooks, or on Face Book under the same name.

An Author By Any Other Name by Raven ShadowHawk

Hi folks, my name is Raven ShadowHawk, thanks for having me here today. I want to talk about pen names and how (I feel) they can (and should) be used.

First off, I suppose I should mention that Raven ShadowHawk is a pen name. Ha, so this topic is close to my heart. I should also mention that it’s not my only pen name.

OneRaven ShadowHawk

I also write fantasy under Ileandra Young and the two names are yet to meet (though I’m beginning to think a cross over is imminent). I work (write) from home while caring for my young boys (twins) and my older boy (who probably wouldn’t appreciate being called ‘boy’ as he is my partner and father to my sons :-p).

Two

Ileandra Young

I should also mention that I have a plethora (man, I love that word!) of other names too: Leah (on my birth certificate), Trya (when I’m LARPing) Oi You (when I’m with friends), Sexy Balls (when with my old house mates – don’t ask) and Diavian / Shaniqua / Ilanyë / Lupa / Catarina / Yuvina / Minnie / Myst / Isys / Taithin / Michael (when I’m playing RPG games like Dungeons and Dragons). I have many names. Each of them has special meaning to me and that is the first thing I want to talk to you about.

Three

Trya

Why Have A Pen Name?

Not for the hell of it, that’s for sure. Not just because you fancy a different name on the spines of your books; I honestly feel that your name should mean something. After all, it’s how you’re going to become known.

There is a (very) long story about how I picked the name Ileandra for my fantasy pennings, but the one for Raven is much shorter so I’ll tell you that. There was a man I met at university with whom I had a brief (thankfully) fling. It was intense and sexy but ended quite sharply when I told him it would be nice if he stayed the night rather than ‘partying and bailing.’ He told me I was a ‘typical woman’ and I told him to ‘get the fuck out.’ True story.

But… (!)the point of this tale, is that he used to call me his Nubian Princess (which I thought was pretty sweet). Then as he got more irritated with my insistence for an actual relationship, it became his Raven Princess (before downgrading to Typical Woman).

I liked (and continue to like) the name Raven. It has weight now, as it reminds me (on a low-key level) that all the smexxy-hot-times in the world (because they really were!) are no substitute for an actual relationship.

See? A name that means something.

Do You Need A Pen Name?

Not really. Unless you’re writing an exposé about your life with the Russian Mafia just as you’re stepping into a high profile political career. You can probably just use your own name. After all, isn’t it must easier to market/promote yourself if people know who you are? Using a pen name makes it even harder for the people who know you to find you in a saturated market, let alone the people who have no idea who you are.

Similarly if you’re writing personal, sensitive material then sure, you could use a pen name. I have a writing buddy who writes a column in the local paper. Since it’s about her life with her children, everyone has a different name to protect their identities and privacy. Not really a safety thing – it’s far too easy to find information on people these days – but if surface-level privacy is something you’re concerned about, then why not?

Is It A Marketing Thing?

I’ll be honest, it can be. Though I write with you here, now, as Raven ShadowHawk, until mid-2013 everything I wrote came under the name Ileandra Young. Now because I’ve separated the two names, I’ve made a bit of a spectacle out of it. On my blog, I refer to myself (Leah) in the third person since both I (Raven) and I (Ileandra) talk about myself (Leah) during the course of my blog posts.

Confused yet? :-p

Four

Examples of savvy marketing with pen names range from hugely positive (JK Rowling and Robert Gilbraith) to vastly negative and fury-inducing (I won’t name these authors because they don’t deserve any attention from me for what they’re doing). Some authors use a pen name to distance themselves from the work or test the waters without the weight of their own name behind them (Stephen King, Shaun Hutson). Others use pen names to hide their gender (George Elliot, JD Robb, Harper Lee).

There are lots of reasons people feel the need to use pen names and these are just a few. I touched on this topic briefly on my own blog while discussing character names, but I would love to talk to you guys about it here. Any of you writerly types have a pen name? May I ask why? Does it have a special significance to you or, like some other writer friends of mine, is it because your true name is impossible to spell or pronounce easily? Why not hit me up in the comments and let me know?

Raven ShadowHawk can be found on her blog talking about all things writerly, or on her website. She appreciates comments and friendly discussion and takes the time to answer any and all questions.

***

SugarDust-200x300After an unwelcome family visit highlights romantic insecurities, Dan takes Karen to exclusive fetish club, Sugar Dust. Will the trip rescue or destroy their relationship?

Dan loves submissive women and longs to build a harem of willing females to fill what he lovingly calls his “Slave Library.” He shares his plans for sexual bliss with Karen, the first of his submissives in both his mind and his heart. But when an unexpected visit from his mother leads to uncomfortable questions about his ex, Dan realizes that past mistakes are catching up to him, faster than he can run.

The first D/s relationship to blend comfortably with her vanilla life is the one Karen shares with Dan. She treasures the freedom in the act of submission and wants nothing more than to share it with her Master for as long as possible. Why then does he insist on bringing other women into their beds? And why can’t he say he loves her?

As Dan battles his inner demons, Karen hopes a sexy mini break at the exclusive fetish club, Sugar Dust will allow them time to relax and reconnect. There she meets Beth, the personification of Dan’s past, storming in to demolish her present. Can Karen show Dan that their relationship is strong enough to break the chains of his past, before Beth drives an immoveable wedge between them with her tales of what once was?

Buy: Sugar Dust (Slippers and Chains Book 1)

What I Look for in a Publisher

Pippa Jay Author PicHi, I’m Pippa Jay, author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. Die-hard Whovian, Scaper, and Sith-in-training, and mum to three redhaired little monsters. I’ve not been published three years yet, but I’ve learnt a lot in that time – some of it the hard way, lol. One thing I have is a list of things I hope for from a publisher, and I thought I’d share some of the reasons I choose a particular publisher to submit to.

  1. Covers. Some might think going for a publisher with pretty covers is shallow. WRONG! As authors we know how important that cover is. It’s the first impression a potential reader gets. It’s the first thing to catch their eye. There are over 10 million books on Amazon, and more published every day. If you don’t have a cover that grabs a reader on a casual glance while browsing (and you may well be competing against favourites that reader already has), you’ve probably lost that person before you’ve had any chance to hook them. So if an author’s book or a publisher’s website full of covers grabs your attention, that’s a good start.
  2. Social media presence. I like to see that a publisher has one, and relatively active. Most publishers will expect their authors to do so – I expect the same from a publisher. Twitter is my favourite platform (BTW, that’s the best place to find me if you want to chat and hang out) so I’ll often find and follow a publisher there, and any links they post will lead me elsewhere. An active blog and FB presence is also good, plus engagement with their readers. It shows they’re committed to promoting their books and their authors.
  3. A good sales site. Something that not only looks good but is easy to use. These days people want gratification of some kind straight away, so being able to find and buy what they want with a click or two is necessary.
  4. Editing. All authors need editing, no matter how good they are. As an author I take great care in putting out the absolutely best book that I can, and a publisher that provides a good level of editing is essential. It also shows they’re just as committed to putting out a polished project as the author. I’d also advise reading a few books by a publisher that you’re interested in to get a feel for what they’re looking for and what their work is like after publication.
  5. Happy authors. You can check out Absolute Write and Preditors and Editors for any warnings or happenings with publishers, but it doesn’t hurt to talk to a few of the authors too (I know for a fact that one disgruntled author can make a publisher look bad when the other 99% of the authors are very happy there, and that ‘bad’ publishers may not get a mention on either site). Most authors will be willing to answer your questions if you approach them politely, or you can get involved with a few author groups where they discuss the publishing industry.
  6. Clear guidelines. Always, always read the guidelines carefully and follow them, otherwise you’re wasting your time and theirs. Most will answer questions if something isn’t clear, but I avoid publishers where the guidelines leave me with more questions than answers.

I look for all of these things before I submit, and I tend to follow a publisher and some of its authors around for a while beforehand. Like everything else, ALWAYS do your research! Do you have anything else you look for from a publisher?

Website: http://pippajay.co.uk

Blog: http://pippajay.blogspot.co.uk

NOANGEL_200x300Blurb:

How far would you fall for love?

Centuries ago, guardian angel Lucien committed a terrible sin. He gave into his own desires and revealed himself to the mortal woman he’d been charged to protect. By kissing her, he condemned himself. Torn of his wings and his angelic powers, thrown down into the City Below, Lucien now serves Satan as an incubus who claims souls for his master from the City Above, and who feeds on the energy stolen from his mortal lovers. Dark, sexy and charming, he’s been top of his league for decades uncounted.

Until His Infernal Highness decides to send Lucien looking for a lost angel. Lucien has no idea what he did to deserve such a punishment, and the touch of an angel could destroy him. Yet the challenge and the potential kudos of seducing one of his former heavenly kin leads him on.

But when he finds the angel, he learns he still has more to lose than his already forsaken soul.

Buy: No Angel

Please add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE, or sign up HERE for my no-spam newsletter for special previews on cover reveals, new releases, the latest giveaways and discounts, and upcoming news.

Excerpt:

A new burning consumed his body. He wanted to reach out and hold her. Wrap his arms around her, and drown in her kiss. But even as he took one shaky step toward her, the light and goodness within her scorched him and he staggered back a step, one arm thrown up to shield himself.

“Lucien.” Her voice washed over him like a sweetly scented summer breeze. He dared to drop his arm and look at her again.

“Miranda.” Her name came out as a growl, and he cursed himself for it.

Her frown deepened. “Lucien, what’s happened to you?” She took a step closer and he shied away. No matter how she’d come to him, welcomed him, her angelic powers could still be deadly. “Oh, my love, what have you become?”

My love. The words cut him as deeply as the priest’s forgiveness. The pain stirred his resentment. She had been the cause of his fall. The reason for his torment. And now she was scolding him for it?

“What I am is what you helped turn me in to.” He raised his head, glared at her. “What I am is because of you.”

She shook her head. “Is that really what you think? That it’s all my fault?” Tears glimmered in her eyes. “I’ve watched you for a long time now. Waiting for the right time to come to you. I’ve seen how your existence has come to trouble you more in the last decades. How the tasks set to you have crushed what remains of your soul.”

Lucien snorted. “My soul? I lost that with my heart. And my wings.”

“No. You didn’t. You hate what you do. You sealed your heart in stone to protect yourself, but you can’t bring yourself to fully give into the darkness, no matter what.”

Lucien shuddered. “You’re wrong.”

“You know I’m not.” She took another step toward him, and though he tried to back away he found himself trapped against the brick wall. She put up her hand, palm outward, as if to touch him. His breath stalled in his chest and his whole body might just as well have become stone. He couldn’t move.

Buy: No Angel

Writing That Sequel

dawnbrowerGuest blog by Dawn Brower, author of A Crystal Angel

Over the summer my plan was to write my second cowgirl book. I started writing the series intending it to be three books. Looking back it seemed like such a good idea. Now? Well I’m thinking I’m never committing to such a thing again. Why? Well because now I HAVE to write them. Panic has set in and I’m digging in my heels. Readers are expecting me to write the next one. So what did I do? I avoided it, set it aside, and wrote a standalone book (still in the revision process) and a flirt (which is my December release). Of course this did nothing to solve my problem. I still needed to write the second book in this series. Putting it off only made it worse. The book was planned and what would happen already mapped out, so why was I avoiding it? I’d backed myself into a corner and now I needed to find a way to get out of it.

Enter November and national writing month. Write 50k words in thirty days—absolutely I can do it. NaNoWriMo gave me motivation and a goal. What better way to force myself to write something I’ve been actively avoiding. It worked. I not only wrote that 50k I exceeded it. A rough draft of my next cowgirl book got written and I had one less thing to worry about. I only hope it doesn’t take until next November for me to write the final book. I may need someone to stand over me and make me type it.

The lesson I’ve learned is I don’t want to commit to writing another series. If it happens—great, but I’m not going to dig myself into another hole. The reason being is I get tons and tons of ideas. I have at least five other books mapped out I want to write, but have to push to the back burner because of this series I planned. I’d much rather keep the readers guessing what might come from my imagination. Trust me it is extensive.

To wrap it up I’ll give you a small look into the unedited draft of Cowgirl Indulgence. The second book (Wes and Tori’s book) in my Novak Springs trilogy. Feel free to let me know what you think of Wes and Tori. What do you think Tori is going to do to Wes for invading her space?

“What the hell are you doing in my room?” A horrified expression fell across Vitoria’s beautiful heart shaped face. She stood just outside the bathroom door with only a towel draped around her slender frame. Her caramel blonde hair fell around her shoulders in wet ringlets.

Wes lounged on the bed, his back resting against the headboard and his legs crossed at his feet. He lifted his arms and folded them behind his head as his eyes travelled down Vitoria’s body from top to bottom. She sent him on a bit of a wild goose chase. When he realized she wasn’t following him anger soared through his veins. He stormed back into the airport but had no luck locating her through the crowd of people. He turned back around toting her luggage back to his vehicle. He tossed it in the trunk and started making calls to figure out where she could have run off to.

“Isn’t it obvious?” he asked.

Tori flashed him an irritated look as she made unmistakable movements to tighten the towel around her body. “Evidently not since I just asked you why you’re here.”

“I brought you your luggage. You ran off without it.”

“If you hadn’t hijacked it I’d already have it.”. “You can leave anytime.”

“And deprive you of your righteous indignation? Why ever would I do that?” Wes fought to hide a smile of triumph. He liked the feeling of one upping her.

A Crystal Angel 200x300Blurb: A drunken promise of betrothal has turned Thor’s family against him. Will Thor earn Pia’s forgiveness and find their runaway children in time for Christmas?

After a night of cards and drinking, Thor’s splitting headache is the least of his worries. When a messenger arrives with a contract for him to sign, his wife Pia discovers he’s agreed to betroth their son to the Earl of Devon’s daughter. Pia’s beyond furious and demands he fix it—or else. After overhearing the argument between their parents, the twins Liam and Lily decide to runaway in protest of the contract. Thor and Pia set out to find their rebellious children before something dreadful happens to them. Will Thor convince Pia to forgive him and find the twins before Christmas, or will their family fall apart forever?

Buy: A Crystal Angel

Excerpt:

“Don’t see the point. Besides I think we need to discuss what I overheard.”

“If it isn’t about school, I don’t care.”

“You should, Liam. I told you it would impact your life.”

“Well, what is it then?”

“Father agreed on a betrothal contract.”

“Failing to understand how this might concern me.” Liam waved his hand dismissively and turned back to his game. “Who is he going to marry you off to?”

“Not me you, fool. The Earl of Devon sent one over for him to sign. He’s going to marry you off to his daughter, Lady Gemma Kemsley.”

Liam’s face turned stark white and he swayed in his chair. He swiveled to look at Lily as the shock settled in. His blue eyes glazed over as the astonishment of her words became clear. “Pardon me, what did you say?”

“You’re betrothed, as in when you both come of age, you’re getting married. Congratulations, brother of mine.”

Buy: A Crystal Angel

Bio:

Dawn Brower holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, a Master of Arts in Education, and is currently working on a Master of Arts in Liberal Arts with concentrations in Literature, History, and Sociology. She works as a substitute teacher and enjoys the flexibility it gives her to concentrate on her other endeavors.

Growing up she was the only girl out of six children. She is a single mother of two teenage boys; there is never a dull moment in her life. Reading books is her favorite hobby. There is nothing like a nice glass of wine and a good book to relax with at the end of the day.

There are always stories inside her head; she just never thought she could make them come to life. That creativity has finally found an outlet. If you want to contact Dawn you can visit her webpage at www.authordawnbrower.com, her facebook page at www.facebook.com/DawnMarieBrower, on her blog http://dawnbrower.wordpress.com or her twitter page at www.twitter.com/dawnab33.

The Business Of Spinning Sexy Stories – A Slightly Different Take On The Traditional Start-Up

KL UVMy name is Kristen Luciani, a self-proclaimed fashionista and momtrepreneur of three. As a deep-rooted romantic who prefers juicy drama to fill the lives of anyone other than me, I created a fictional world of enchantment, sensuality and intrigue and finally uncovered my true passion…and a brand-new venture.

The unknown is daunting and fraught with risk.  Most people feel comfortable knowing what their future holds.  Predictability is settling.  They are very happy living and operating inside the box.  The box represents safety and security. If they stay inside the box, they can maintain.  Everything remains status-quo.  But settling inside the box means they’ll never catapult their potential to the next level.

Others want more.  Risk doesn’t frighten them, it only drives them harder.  Overcoming obstacles gives them purpose.  They are not fulfilled with the normal day to day.  Ideas incessantly swarm their minds and the prospect of implementing those ideas excites them. They are on a perpetual quest to achieve and ugly friends don’t deter them.  Admittedly, they may be a little blind to the trials and tribulations of launching an idea (yes, this is classic me!) but they are passionate and that will pave the way for their eventual success.

These people are entrepreneurs.  The rogues.  The ones who are going to shake things up and disrupt normalcy because everyone knows that’s how you evolve and improve and progress.  They want more and are propelled to chase it, no matter what the risk.

The words start-up and entrepreneur conjure up visions of geeky guys in hoodies and flip-flops – I mean, who didn’t see The Social Network?

News flash!

Entrepreneurs don’t need to have a degree from MIT or an idea for a cutting-edge app.  They need a business venture requiring some degree of investment and a hell of a lot of initiative.  And they need to work tirelessly to create demand and brand awareness so the public will embrace their idea and subscribe to the belief that they absolutely need to buy it.

There are certain qualities that all entrepreneurs possess which inevitably bleed into all their future endeavors.  Persistence, determination, faith and strategic vision, maybe a little bit of cock-eyed optimism – just to name a few.

Entrepreneurs eagerly take a bite out of the unknown and savor it, all the while brainstorming various ways to keep that taste alive and thriving.

The key components to success are consistent – regardless of your business idea.  I’m now an indie author-entrepreneur in the business of writing contemporary romance with a tinge of sexy.  Okay, maybe more than a twinge…

Now you may ask me why I think indie authors have the capacity to become hugely successful entrepreneurs.  The answer is simple.  They create a story (product) branded to fill a gap or need in the market (readership).  Because they don’t have the big footprint-slash-budget of a traditional publisher behind them, they need to be brilliant marketers and create demand for their product as innovatively as possible.  They need to invest in their own ideas and highlight awareness with potential readers.  But they have to be savvy in their efforts.  This is what separates the authors from the entrepreneurs.

Too many times, indie authors get caught up in the comfort zone where their fellow brethren congregate.  There’s a lot of camaraderie in those circles but I liken it to a funnel cloud.  It’s a self-contained environment where everyone is doing basically the same things to heighten awareness, gain new readers and peddle their wares.  What most of them don’t realize is that there is a great big world out there within their reach, right beyond the cloud.

And the only way to break out is to be innovative, to come up with alternate paths for success.  Because while it’s great to network and connect with like-minded authors, what you really need to do is network and connect with like-minded people – those who are interested in what you have to say as an author and are willing to take a chance on you as a storyteller.

Here are a few tips for indie authors who are ready to take that leap from keyboard to cyberspace.

  1. Write what you love, but remember to serve your audience – develop a product that has mass appeal and satisfies a need. It’s not all about you anymore, and if you’re going to resist that fact, cut your losses and find a new venture.
  2. Be passionate and never let rejection hold you down – there’s always a way to get your story out to the masses. You let your creative juices flow when writing; now unleash your inner-innovative to break out of the funnel cloud.  Bestseller status is not all about giveaways, swag and five-stars on book review blogs.  Those tactics, while beneficial, won’t help you come close to tapping into your potential target market.
  3. Collaborate and network with constituents - until you can make a name for yourself outside of that protective family and stand on your own two feet, you’ll never succeed.

There’s nothing traditional about success these days.  The more risk you’re willing to take, the greater the potential for reward.  If you believe in yourself and what you set out to deliver, you can convince people that you are a force to be reckoned with.

Yes, the prospect of failure is daunting, but entrepreneurs never think that way. Embrace fear and plunge forward.  Be strong in your convictions, have faith in yourself and never let anyone make you doubt your talents.  You may stumble quite a bit along the way but you’ll learn a heck of a lot.  And the success you experience will be that much sweeter.

Can you share any instances where “out-of-the-box thinking” yielded great returns as an author?  Have you gotten caught in the funnel cloud?  Do you have recommendations for an escape?  How do you get readers to take notice?

unlikely ventureBlurb:

Here’s the thing about keeping secrets…they can only protect you for so long before threatening to destroy everything you hold dear.

After learning Jessica’s been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, her fiancé bolted out of her life as if he was on fire. She finds solace in her career–no distractions or romantic entanglements there!

But the universe has its own agenda.

Three thousand miles away from home and in the most unlikely of circumstances, Jessica meets Silicon Valley rising star James Callahan and her world is instantly turned upside down. Things go further awry when she encounters a ghost from the past. That one night of reckless abandon is back to haunt her and the control she fought so hard to regain is now in the hands of another.

Plagued by betrayal and guilt over his dad’s untimely death, James left Cambridge in search of a new beginning. With laser-focus, he built a cutting edge technology company now on the brink of financial success. Romance is the last thing on his mind…until he meets Jessica.

Fate brought them together, awakening their dormant emotions. But Jessica’s scandalous secret consumes her and threatens the very happiness she feared she’d never find with another man. Can James handle the truth about her past? Or did she pick the wrong guy yet again?

Buy: Unlikely Venture (The Venture Series Book 1)

Author Secrets: What Makes Us Want to Read a Romance?

AwakewnedByTheMinotaur_ByErinMoore-800x1200 Guest blog by Erin Moore, author of Awakened by the Minotaur

Marketing people speak a lot about “conversion” – the point when a shopper turns from a browser into a buyer. For novels in general, and romance particularly, a lot of that conversion happens when we see the cover of a book.

But what, specifically, are we (as readers) looking for in that cover?

A book should fulfill a need or solve a problem for us. Perhaps it is a need for stimulation, or fantasy, or even just an exciting diversion from the hum-drum of our normal lives. If an author can tap into those needs in a story – and better yet, in that story’s cover – then our readers will be drawn in and want to come back to us again and again.

Our covers tap into biological needs, too. Psychologists have discovered that many of the words used to describe men in romance novels are also the most (rightly or wrongly) biologically desirable traits of men. Most often used: wealthy, fit, fertile, and committed.

So when we look at the cover, we are looking for a man who is all of those things. He’s got to look fit, and he’s got to look as if he knows what he’s doing beneath the sheets. Of course, he’ll be changed by his interaction with us (because the reader is always the ultimate heroine, not the girl that is in the story), and turn into that amazing, wonderful husband and dad that we always knew he could be.

Because we all know – love does conquer all.

About the Book:

When man becomes minotaur, dark passion takes hold…

Lara Castille always plays it safe in both love and life. But when she arrives on vacation in Crete, she is determined to enjoy herself. Old habits die hard, though. Drawn to her tour guide, the enigmatic and sexy Teo Lambros, she cannot let down her guard—until she takes part in the ancient and sensual rites at the ruins of Knossos. She dreams of the minotaur who takes her upon the altar, and wonders if it could be Teo who brought her to ecstasy.

A gray haze clouds Teo’s memory of the rites; he knows only that the bull has chosen him for his own. He fears that the land will once again need a sacrifice, as it did when it claimed his fiancée the year before. Though he cannot deny his need for Lara, he knows that protecting her from his desire is the only way to keep her safe.

As the island’s magic demands everything they have, Lara and Teo must discover what’s real and what’s imagined if they’re to survive the passionate sexuality that draws them together…

Buy: Awakened by the Minotaur

Excerpt:

She imagined that the stones beneath her feet hummed with intensity, preparing her for something. The nearness of Teo, the scent of him filling her nose, reminded her of the taste of his kiss, and she felt more alive than she had in months.

“Do you feel it?” His breath was warm and minty on her face and she realized he was standing directly before her,

She nodded and then opened her eyes to put her palm to the side of his face. “I feel it,” she whispered. His green eyes stared into hers.

“Lara,” he said simply and brushed the back of his hand against her mouth. It sent tremors through her body, evoking warmth between her legs. She reached out and twined her fingers in his silky hair and pulled him toward her. Enough. The night with the bull had changed her.

With an intensity that she matched, his mouth found hers and took her measure with his tongue, his lips, finding her again and again ready, open. Exploring, teasing, he tasted her, taking her bottom lip between his own. He suckled, making her lips throb and a small mew escape her throat. The skin at the nape of his neck was covered in soft, silky hair, and she tugged at it, wanting more of him, finding the tendons there tensed and throbbing beneath her fingers.

She shifted her body, pressing against him. As if in understanding, he pulled her roughly to him with one hand, cupping her bottom. He pried apart her legs with his own so she could feel the hard evidence of his arousal against her. He lifted her before sitting with her astride him on the bench behind them.

Atop him, his erection pressed against the fabric of her panties, and the heat between them matched the summer’s warmth. This was what she wanted. Fevered, hot, she explored his mouth with hers, delighting in the intensity and urgency of his kiss. Trailing kisses over his neck, his collarbone, the deep brown of his skin hot beneath her tongue. His skin tasted like his scent—cloves and dark earth. She bit his neck as if she could devour him.

Her skin tingled and her body and mind were open. Primal, hot, sexy, her body was enflamed, like the night of the rites. The rites. Her eyes flew open, and she knew. Oh, God, how had she not known, not recognized it immediately? As understanding flooded her she knew now that she would recognize his body anywhere, even if her eyes were closed and they were in a dark room. Because she had seen him, had tasted him, had taken him into her mouth. He may have been the bull that night, but she still knew him.

Buy: Awakened by the Minotaur

DSC_0306colorAbout the Author:

Erin’s writes sensual paranormal romances that challenge the conventional “shifter” tropes.  She lives in Atlanta with her two little paranormal beings and one unruly husband. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Her free novella, To Love a Shaman, is available on her website. She’s also giving away a critique of a first chapter with a subscription to her newsletter!

Writing Sensuality into a Story

no ordinary homeGuest blog by Mary Sullivan, author of No Ordinary Home

I’m so happy to be here! Thank you loveromancepassion for having me.

I want to talk today about raising the sensual stakes in a novel without littering the book with endless love scenes. To my mind, it’s important to have the characters yearn for each other long before the consummation of their attraction. It makes that first sex scene so much more satisfying to read. The concept of delayed gratification is a sound one on so many levels. LOL

In my October Harlequin Superromance, No Ordinary Home, it was hard to envision what that attraction would look like and how it would grow because the characters were so very different from each other.

While the hero, Austin Trumball, might have had a rough start in life, he was saved with the help of a good-hearted sheriff and left behind those bad habits that surely someday would have led him to a jail cell. He’s grown up to be a deputy sheriff in my fictional town of Ordinary, Montana. The heroine, Gracie Travers, is a drifter. She’s been living the homeless life for six years. She has her reasons and feels no need to share them with law enforcement.

So, how was I to make their attraction to each other believable? How could a deputy sheriff ever find a homeless woman attractive? I started with character. Austin grew up to be salt-of-the-earth dependable, a trustworthy man on whom anyone can rely. Gracie has known so little of that in her life. Fiercely independent, she is nevertheless tempted by his dependability and stability.

Gracie might appear to be rough around the edges, but she has an innate kindness that life hasn’t managed to beat out of her. During her travels, she stops at nursing and old folks homes to give free manicures and pedicures to the aging residents. Then she sings old classic songs that they all love. Austin likes that about her. As a child, he was asked to grow up too quickly by an extremely dependent mother. He admires Gracie’s staunch independence even as he wants to help her.

As far as their physical attraction went, I built it in slowly, in small ways.

Austin has given her a few meals and her pride compels her to pay him back somehow. She has no money, so offers to cut his hair.

She approached uneasily, regretting now that she’d offered to do this. In her need to pay him back, she hadn’t realized this could be dangerous to her.

Touch. Six years of deprivation. She’d been starving. She craved touch. Had known too little of it, even before she’d run away.

She settled the towel across his back and broad, muscled shoulders. The warmth of his body seeped into her through the slightest touch.

Good-looking, fit, kind, generous, decent. The man was perfect in every way, or would have been in another time, under different circumstances.

Guard your heart, Gracie.

Then, in another scene, Austin drops her off in a small town where she is going to pick up money owed to her. It will (they think) be the last time they will see each other.

 “I guess this is goodbye,” he said and grasped her hand in his much larger one, engulfing her fingers with his calm, sure strength.

Why did she feel like crying, as if maybe she was walking away from the best man she would ever know? Certainly, he’d treated her well, but so had others. Some others. Not all. Not many.

Holy mac and cheese, how could a handshake be so devastating?

He tugged, gently, and she yearned forward. He leaned close, closer, his breath a caress on her cheek. Then his lips were on hers, warm and tender and firm.

In his kiss was the heat of summer, the shimmer of sheet lightning, the earthiness of morning dew.

His palm cradled her cheek, his thumb and forefinger angled her chin where he wanted her. His tongue played hide-and-seek with hers, so sweetly.

A dangerous kiss, it whispered intimate promises to her naïve daydreaming heart, promises that would hurt when they weren’t fulfilled.

She slid her lips and hand from Austin’s, slowly, memorizing the feel of him, to take out one month, one year, one decade from now when she was living alone and hiding from the world, and feeling the lack of love in her life. She almost certainly would live alone. In the future, how could she possibly ever find another man as good as Austin? She would need a memory to sustain her. Like this. Of him.

In the end, there was only one thing to do. Walk away.

She gets out of the car and walks away, but we see a little of what Austin feels about that kiss…

 “Goodbye, my left nut,” Austin muttered. After that kiss? That bit of perfection that should have been a beginning instead of an ending?

The beginning of what?

He didn’t have a clue, but he couldn’t leave her to walk away, not until he knew for sure she was safe. Then he would consider it.

Then, and only then, he would really say goodbye. Maybe. After he explored more of whatever it was that had built between them.

Later still, long before their first sex scene, Gracie ends up in terrible danger and Austin saves her. She has been able to save herself while on the road for six years, but the man attacking her is drunk, high and too strong for her. For once in her life, she is glad that someone else is there to help her. Gracie had let her pride get the better of her common sense. Austin is furious that she put herself into such a dangerous situation by sleeping in a back alley when she could have been safe in a hotel room with him, no strings attached. He loses his precious control around her. He takes her back to the hotel and she is glad to go.

 “What are you doing?” she whispered.

“I’m going to kiss you.”

“Why?”

“Because I have to do something or I’ll yell this place down. You frustrate me, woman.”

“Woman? You sound like a caveman. I have a name.”

“Quiet. You talk too much.”

Before she could protest, his lips were on hers, seeking and demanding.

Gracie felt his kiss to her toes, felt it everywhere, as though bubbles were dancing in her stomach and diminutive fairies were jumping for joy in her brain.

More, they shouted. Give us more. They danced jigs. They threw fairy dust into her bloodstream.

When he pulled back, she said, “I don’t talk too much.”

“You do.” He kissed her again. Just what she wanted.

The fairies whooped and danced some more. The fairy dust in her blood floated and twirled. The fairies sang love songs. “A kiss is just a kiss,” she told herself.

But no.

Not this one. This was THE kiss, the one that would go down in every history written from this point on, in the annals of romance, as the best kiss ever.

Austin drew away and Gracie sighed. He knew his way around a woman’s lips. “You’ve been practicing.

He picked up his shaving kit and dropped it into this bag then walked toward the door.

What—? Where—?

“What are you doing?”

“Going to get a room of my own. I can’t stay with you tonight.” He walked out of the room.

His rejection stunned her. It shouldn’t hurt. It did.

Fine. She didn’t want sex with him, anyway. Truly.

The fairies disagreed. They pouted, railing against the unfairness of life that they should be left excited and eager and wanting, while Austin had apparently felt nothing. They crossed their little arms and stomped their tiny feet.

Holy Hannah, how was she supposed to sleep tonight?

Again, Austin’s reaction to that kiss. We get his POV the following morning…

 After he’d kissed her last night, he’d had to leave the room because he wanted to make love to her badly, but not like that.

The first time he and Gracie made love—and they would—it wouldn’t be with him full of anger. It wouldn’t be while he was ready to burst with frustration because of how much she pissed him off.

It would be because of how much he liked her, just honest to God liked her spirit, her honesty and her generosity.

That day when he’d seen her singing with the senior citizens, he’d seen an angel in action, a woman who cared.

It will still be a while after this scene before Austin and Gracie make love and I hope that I built up the tension enough that it is as satisfying for the reader as it is for my hero and heroine.

NO ORDINARY HOME is in bookstores today!

Currently, I’m writing a short Christmas story, a free read to send out in my December newsletter. I have a real weakness for many of the romance plotlines that are considered clichés. The short story is about a man and a woman stranded in the middle of a snowstorm in a small cabin in the woods, alone, without electricity, with only a quilt in front of the fireplace to keep them warm. Well, you can guess what happens next!

You can sign up for my newsletter through my website. I send it out only three to four times a year.

MY WEBSITE: www.marysullivanbooks.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/mary.sullivan.1460

TWITTER: @MSullivanWrites

Buy: No Ordinary Home

Why Listening is Important

TouchOfAGhost_200x300Guest post by L.M. Brown, author of Touch of a Ghost

First of all, thank you for having me here today.  I’m L.M. Brown, a writer of MM and MMM romance novels, often with a paranormal twist. I believe that there is nothing hotter and sweeter than two men in love with each other… unless it is three!

For my writing tip of the day I am going to share with you the reason why I learned the hard way that reading out loud is sometimes a necessity when it comes to writing.

Now, I am the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of audio books.  I have listened to many in the past, particularly abridged versions of the classics, but these days I prefer the written word.  I find when I am listening to audio books I am far too easily distracted by what  is happening around me and I have to keep going back to play things again because I completely missed what was being said.  I suspect this comes from the habit I have of tuning out noise to read, write, or even just concentrate at a very noisy day job – I am tuning out the audio books instead!  Unfortunately, it means that I find it very difficult to listen to them at all.

You are probably wondering what this has to do with my new release.

Well, for those who have followed my writing since the very start, you will recognise that Touch of a Ghost is a re-release of my very first published story.  The eagle-eyed amongst you will also note that there is a slight name change of one of the main characters.  Andy, which although never actually specified in the original story is short for Andrew, has now become Drew, also short for the same name.

The reason why is the audio book which, although no longer available, came out the year following the initial ebook release.

At the time Touch of a Ghost was initially written, edited and polished, I wasn’t reading the stories out loud.  This is largely because of certain young ears that shouldn’t be listening to such stories hanging around me at the time. Then the audio book was sent to me for proofing.

Yikes!

Andy and Benji, whilst both being names I like, just didn’t sound right together.  For some reason, when I look at the names in a lot of my stories, there are many which end in the “ee” sound.  Jamie, Cody, Cory, the list just goes on and on.  Thankfully I don’t think any of the others have been put together as a couple, but after hearing how Andy and Benji sounded when spoken together it started to irritate me.

So, when the rights to this story were returned to myself and I began to look for a new home for the story, the first thing I did was alter Andy’s name to Drew.

I hope this doesn’t cause too much confusion for readers.  Chances are most people won’t notice, or will realise that the story is the same purely from the blurb, but I guess there might be a few who are unsure.  I note it clearly on my website/blog that the story is a re-release and have a note to say why the name has changed, so hopefully no one is caught out.

But, this experience did teach me an important lesson.  Even if you don’t think it is necessary, sometimes things can be picked up when you hear your story read out.

So, there you have it, my tip for all writers is to take the time to read aloud your manuscript before you send it anywhere.  It may also help to highlight errors like where a character might have accidentally had a sex change (*cough* Driving-Me-Crazy *cough*).

Yes, I have had two audio books out in the past and while there wasn’t any error, as such, in Touch of a Ghost in the other one there was an instance where “he” became “she” and it was way too late to change it.

I hope my tip is a useful lesson for those of you who don’t read out loud.

Oh and feel free to share any of your own written/audio experiences – especially the goofs. I would love to know it isn’t just me doing daft stuff like this!

Blurb

Drew Jessop wants a life without ghosts. He doesn’t want to see, hear, or talk to them. Ignoring them should be relatively simple.

But Drew soon finds that Benji Richards, an eternally gorgeous ghost from the fifties, is not so easy to ignore.

Halloween night is approaching and both Drew and Benji know what it could mean for them. From sunset to sunrise, it is the one night of the year when a mortal can feel the touch of a ghost.

Buy: Touch of a Ghost

Excerpt

Drew leaned forward and put his empty bottle on the table. The match had finished and the commentators were recapping the highlights, so Drew reached for the remote control.

“Well, thank you for having us.” Flora stood up and stretched, as though her joints were still giving her grief as they had apparently done in life.

Drew turned off the television and picked up the crisp packet together with the nearly empty bowl. He tossed the last few crisps into his mouth as he stood up and walked into the kitchen. He left the beer bottles on the table as he contemplated whether to have another. Remembering he had an early start in the morning, he decided against drinking too much. He had a feeling Flora might have an opinion on alcohol intake too. However, when he turned back toward the living area, Flora had vanished.

Benji, on the other hand, still lingered. He remained on the sofa, his arm stretched along the back and his chin resting on it as he stared at Drew directly.

“You’re very rude, you know?” Benji commented idly. “Not saying a single word to us all evening like that. You could at least have said hello.”

Drew ignored him as he turned off the lights.

“I know you can see us. Your eyes give you away.”

Drew suspected Benji might be guessing, but if he said a single word in response that guess would be confirmed. He had to keep quiet. That way he could still maintain a normal life.

“Not going to admit it, huh?” Benji said. “Well, I’ll stop by again tomorrow. Maybe you’ll be more talkative then. If you are, I might just tell you how I know you’re gay, if you ask nicely.” With that comment, Benji flashed Drew one final killer smile and vanished from the room.

Drew reacted to Benji the same way he would any other handsome man. His mind may tell him Benji was off limits, but his body thought otherwise. Drew wondered whether he could keep up the pretense of not seeing and hearing the ghosts who were as real to him as the rest of the human race. If this evening was anything to go by, it might not be as easy as he thought.

Buy: Touch of a Ghost

Where to find L.M. Brown

Website & Blog – http://lmbrownauthor.wordpress.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/L.M.Brown.author

Twitter – @LMBrownAuthor