Guest Blog by Liz Crowe, author of Conditional Offer (Stewart Realty)
What makes you want to read a new author? Good Reviews? Friend’s recommendation? “Meeting” them on Facebook, Twitter or other online medium?
Or is it the “Oh My God What Is THAT” uber sexy or super compelling cover art on a book?
As I have made my journey through the publishing forest I’ve learned a few things.
- Every first draft is sh*t (with a tip of the hat to Papa Hemingway)
- Every one thinks they can write a book
- Get your books in the hands of READERS
- Believe in your voice and do not sacrifice for a formula
- Becoming a successful author is a full time job
- Covers sell—but my cover could look just like yours
There are or course other things but I won’t bore you with the petty jealousies, strange bedfellows and severe social networking gaffes that can occur in this business right now.
Let’s talk covers. Early on I learned that of all the romance e-book covers there are out there, there are essentially 5 good looking dudes and about as many women who end up on every cover at some point. Tall, dark, light, fit, slight, athletic, dreamy, emo, intense, dressed or in some stage of dishabille it’s the same guy – and we can all name them now.
The key it seems to me is to dig deep and find some guys who are NOT gonna show up on the book that comes out right after yours, that is either a mirror image or with one or other of the couple cut out of it. This is harder than it looks too. We all want new readers to drool over our covers and the vast majority of us do not have the wherewithal to purchase exclusive rights to any stock photo. And so we search and even though we think we have it, it is inevitable that some helpful reader will send me an email or a facebook message with “Hey look! Somebody ‘stole’ your cover!” which forces me to explain how the whole thing works for those of us toiling the fields and whose last names are not “Ward” or “James” or whatever.
I thought about this as I was writing CONDITIONAL OFFER, the 5th Stewart Realty series book. My young and handsome hero, Craig Robinson ends up with (yet another) woman in his bed/life—but this one has a camera, and after one hot, slightly drunken night he finds out not only did she pose him and take his picture, she sold it to a stock site—and did not credit him with any of it! Now, this is a hot cover (and totally made up, as part of the CONDITIONAL OFFER story) but…hey, I’d probably buy it.
Conditional Offer: Stewart Realty Book 5 (not meant to be read out of order or as a stand alone)
Craig Robinson and Suzanne Baxter had no reason to meet, no real excuse to be friends. But when heart calls to heart...blood to blood...should two people who seem destined to be together heed the spin of Fate's wheel?
Craig spent years floating through life on cruise control, using directionless jobs, his rock band, swimming, and a string of older women in his bed to smother feelings of loneliness and loss. He finally thought he had found his true love in one Sara Thornton -- A sexy, beautiful, fellow real estate agent and mentor. But his self-doubt and innate sense of failure is only reinforced when he realizes her heart belongs to another man.
When Sara introduces him to Suzanne, a woman fighting her own demons from an abusive marriage and subsequent feelings of inadequacy and deep unhappiness, that chance moment snaps Craig's hazy existence into crystal clear focus. A bond born of instant physical attraction is nurtured by time and shared experience, and plenty of erotic energy.
As Suzanne's past continues to haunt her, making her push Craig away just as he thinks he’s getting closer, each of them must come to terms with their true selves and face their ultimate realities.
Liz Bio: Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great middle west, in a Major College Town. Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry) has prepped her for life as erotic romance author. When she isn't sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications. Her ground breaking romance sub genre: “Romance for Real Life” has gained thousands of fans and followers, interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”)
Her beer blog a2beerwench.com is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high-powered real estate offices. Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury.
Other Books in the Stewart Realty Series:
- Floor Time
- Sweat Equity
- Closing Costs
- Essence of Time
- Conditional Offer
- Escalation Clause (November 2012)
- Mutual Release (January 2013)
- House Rules (March 2103)
- Due Diligence (May 2013)
- Good Faith (September 2013)
HOT Excerpt (NOT suitable for under 18 or anyone easily twitter-pated)
"Take 'em off baby. C'mon." Lindsay giggled and rolled over onto her stomach, gripping the camera. "You are just this side of photo shopped. Lemme see it."
Craig rolled his eyes, picked up his guitar and tried to ignore her, but he knew she would not be. She was fucking insatiable, and he'd spent the better part of the last three months playing walking dildo for her. His cock was rubbed raw, but the distraction did manage to shut up the constant mental reminders that he should not be here, but back in school. That alone was worth it. He strummed, sang, and she snapped his picture constantly. He had on shorts and nothing else. His phone buzzed on the table next to him, but he ignored it in favor of staring at Lindsay: the amazing lean line of her bare legs, the way her long black hair draped over her shoulders as she clicked away, keeping the camera between them.
He already regretted agreeing to a video camera in the bedroom. She'd come over to his place with it along with some of the most amazing pot he'd ever tried. They drank cheap wine, smoked, and had gymnastic sex that he barely remembered the next morning, other than her smell lingering all over his face. But the camera was there, blinking, ominous and a little intimidating, whenhe awoke the next morning nearly stumbling over it in his quest for coffee. He'd stood, his body quivering, staring out the kitchen window, half of him wondering how he got to this odd point in his life – nearly twenty-four years old, no college degree, making decent money selling motorcycles. playing in a half-assed rock band, and fucking a woman nearly fifteen years his senior, but unable to stop any of it.
"Craig, sweetie, humor me," she purred, rising from the bed in her full naked glory and running her hands through his hair, down his face, and settling on his lap. She set the guitar aside and slanted her lips over his. He drowned in her kiss, tried very, very hard not to make this into anything more than sex. He loved every single one of the women who'd taught him, who'd been drawn to him like bees to a bright flower. But eventually he'd let them go. Lindsay, however, made his whole body shiver and his ears get hot. He wanted her, all of the time. Love? Not likely. But it would do for now.
He smiled at her, stood and slid his shorts off, fisted her dark hair when she got to her knees and sucked him down her throat. He groaned at the absolutely incredible sensation when she slid her expert fingers under his balls and stroked him there, then inched her way towards his ass. He thrust into her mouth grunting with the simple exertion of getting off, yet again. His brain clicked in for some reason at the last minute and he groaned and bent over her, trying to stop about ten seconds too late. He gripped her hair harder, but she kept up her exquisite suction then her finger slid deep into his ass.
"Fuck!" he cried out, and pounded down her throat, furious at himself but helpless to stop. He came for what felt like an hour, groaning with the effort-slash-pain-slash-pleasure.
She released his cock with one last lick, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and grabbed that infernal camera again. "Craig," she sighed, "show me."
He sighed, ran his hands through hair, his cock still hard and throbbing. "Jesus. Whatever," he flopped down onto the couch and caught his breath. He heard the camera clicking away but ignored it, reaching for his guitar as a sort of shield. He plucked out a tune, sang, his voice croaky with exhaustion and frustration.
She climbed around him, had him sit up, move the guitar so it was just covering his crotch. She kissed him a lot, ran her hands up and down his bare torso, teasing his nipples to hard peaks then backed off to take yet more fucking pictures. She set the camera down and lit a joint as he strummed and tried to convince himself to make her leave. He'd never been to her place once in all their torrid time together. But had managed to fuck her in every room of his condo, in his cubicle at the dealership, in the rooftop pool, after hours on top of another motorcycle in the dealership. He took a drag, held it in, and then resumed playing. She climbed up on the bed, draped her arms around his neck, and held the joint to his lips. He smoked, played, and before he knew it he was naked, with a cowboy hat on his head, holding the guitar and doing whatever the hell she wanted him to while she snapped away with her infernal fucking camera.