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Posts tagged with: writing romance

Boxing for Our Servicemen

If you’ve shopped at Amazon lately, you can’t have helped but notice the host of multi-author boxed sets for sale­­—many for only 99 cents. I’ve watched a lot of these bundles hit major bestseller lists. So when Chris Keniston, one of my GH sisters from 2010, invited me to take part in a promotional 99-cent boxed set (featuring a total of SEVEN steamy contemporary romance novels by award-winning authors), I—Laurie Kellogg–eagerly hopped on board. I was particularly excited to be part of the project because our set includes only full-length novels rather than novellas and short stories that many other boxed sets contain.

Fast Men, Slow KissesI was thrilled to learn USA Today bestselling author Nancy Warren, author of over 50 novels, would be the lead author. I read my first Nancy Warren book, Whisper, released by Harlequin’s Blaze® imprint, back in 2002. The sizzling love scenes in this secret identity story are all set completely in the dark and left me still fanning myself over a decade later. (Well done, Nancy!)

Chris has been a masterful coordinator, and Sandy Lloyd did a wonderful job formatting the boxed set for the various venues. It’s been great fun teaming up with the other talented authors, Linda Steinberg, Barbara Lohr, Pamela Stone and, Sandy Loyd who are also featured in  Fast Men, Slow Kisses

Collaborating on this kind of the project can be quite time-consuming since it requires a consensus of opinion and vote on many specific decisions about things like a cover artist, cover art, marketing blurb, finances, etc. It quickly became evident the accounting to distribute royalties to seven authors could become a chore, and at only 99 cents, each of our shares wouldn’t amount to a fortune, separately. However, together, profits could become a sizable sum to donate to a charity—especially if Fast Men, Slow Kisses is successful.

We  immediately agreed no charitable organization would be more appropriate for a group of romance authors to give to than one that helps the real-life heroes who’ve defended our freedom and been left in need of assistance for themselves and their families struggling at home. Since we have both American and Canadian authors participating in our boxed set, we’re contributing our profits to military veterans’ charities in both countries.Wounded Warrior Project BannerToday is release day for Fast Men, Slow Kisses at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo. So don’t miss this great opportunity to simultaneously get SEVEN great steamy contemporary romances and help support our servicemen in need for only 99 cents.

Are you part of a multi-author boxed set or considering contributing to one? If so, please share your experience or feel free to ask questions about the process.

SPOTLIGHT: Boudreaux’s Bookworms

bookwormLast year I was invited to participate in an online Facebook book club by my sassy Cajun friend Karla Boudreaux. As thrilling as it was to be invited (because I LOVE to talk about books) I had reservations as a published author. I didn’t want anyone in the group to feel as though she HAD to read my books or feel uncomfortable by the fact someone who has a vested interest in books would be entering the fray. But because these ladies weren’t going to be dissecting and ripping apart literary works but instead squeeing and oh-my-goshing at fun, fabulous books, I put out a disclaimer and waded in. And I’m so very glad I did – it’s been a fun year of discovering new books and celebrating the ones I love. And as an author, because I live in the industry daily, I constantly share Dear Author and SBTB links for the kindle sales. I’m pulling my weight as a member and love being part of these fun gals.

So last week, one of our members posted this:

Why do you read books?….I do because I like to get in the sack with vampires…oh and Jamie Frashier!!! Hahaha just saying ;)

How Different is Too Different?

My latest book in the Muses of Mayfair series, The Marquess Who Loved Me, just came out last week (yay!). You can see below for the cover and description, if you’re so inclined. I’ll also give an ebook copy (Kindle or Nook) to a random commenter today – good luck!

However, as excited as I am about my new release, my mind is already churning with ideas for the next book (The Earl Who Played With Fire). Because I’m still in early brainstorming mode, it feels like everything is possible. Even though I write Regencies, I’m considering having my main characters travel outside of England. Which leads to my question for all of you – how much do you think an author can get away with in terms of stretching readers’ expectations?

I know that the stock answer is that you can get away with anything as long as it’s well-written. But if it’s clear from the book description that the book doesn’t match your expectations of the genre, would you as a reader even pick it up long enough to determine whether the writing was good? Or would you move on to another book that meets your expectations?

I’ve heard that the commonly accepted industry wisdom is that historicals (and particularly Regency historicals) don’t sell if they’re set outside the UK. Obviously, our very own Ruby Sister Jeannie Lin is an exception to this rule, since her books are set in Tang Dynasty China. But what’s behind this belief?

And I suppose the real question is this – did previous non-UK historicals not sell *at all*? Or did they just not become massive bestsellers? And in that case, should an independent author take that risk and write for the smaller, unsatisfied niche of readers who want non-British historicals? Or are the publishers right in their assessment of the market?

I realize that this post is more of a survey than a statement of fact – but I’m curious to hear your thoughts. What makes you pick up a book – something unique or something comfortable? And what are your views on how setting plays into purchasing?

As mentioned above, a random commenter gets an ebook copy of my latest release – cover and description below!

The Marquess Who Loved Me - Cover

A not-so-merry widow…

The widowed Marchioness of Folkestone is notorious for her parties, her art collection, and her utter disregard for the rules. But Ellie Claiborne knows her destruction is near. The new marquess is her first lover – the man whose sculpted body and sardonic grin haunt her every time she picks up her paintbrush. If he ever returns to claim his inheritance, her heart won’t survive seeing him again.

A man determined to destroy her…

Nicholas Claiborne hasn’t stepped foot in England since watching Ellie marry his cousin. He has no use for the gorgeous, heartless girl who betrayed him, or the title she abandoned him for. But when his business in India turns deadly, Nick must return to London to uncover a murderer – and take revenge on the woman he couldn’t force himself to forget.

A love they can’t escape…

Nick hates Ellie’s transformation from sweet debutante to jaded seductress. Ellie despises him for leaving her behind. Still, the sparks between them reignite the passion that should have been their destiny. As their demands of each other turn darker and a potential killer closes in, they must decide whether to guard the fragile remnants of their hearts — or find a way to fall in love all over again.

If you want to read it right now, you can find The Marquess Who Loved Me on Kindle or Nook (other formats coming soon!).

Season Sense

If you’re thinking this blog is about setting, you’re totally wrong.  Maybe I should’ve changed the title so you wouldn’t have thought so, but after I started brainstorming ideas for a blog it actually fit.

My original idea was to write about two lessons I learned many years ago from my creative writing professor which, yes, would’ve pertained to setting, but then two of my Ruby sisters had also mentioned on our private loop that they planned blogs about the subject. Although I knew we’d approach the subject matter from different angles, I kind of figured our readers would say enough already.  So I’ll save my thoughts on setting for another time.

Anyway, going back to my creative writing classes— since I know you’re all dying to know what they were—the first one was free writing. We all know what that is, right? You just write whatever comes to mind without stopping for a length of time and the writing doesn’t need to follow rhythm or reason. It’s a way of freeing your muse. Thinking about that lesson helped me put a twist on the second lecture, which was setting sense and had to do with experiencing your world, and ‘Wala’  I think I came up with unique tutorial for our awesome followers.

Story Alchemy

In the middle of May, I took some time off from my hellish work schedule for a retreat, up in the mountains of North Carolina.  The occasion was a weekend hosted by singer-songwriter David Wilcox.  As always, listening to David’s music recharges my batteries.  But I have to say that the most surprising and inspiring moments of this year’s retreat came during a workshop for songwriters given by Laura Hope-Gill, a North Carolina poet.  (http://laurahopegill.blogspot.com/)

Laura spoke of the alchemy of the writing process.  And her discussion of alchemy has led me on an interesting writer’s journey.

Ruby Release: Superlovin’ by Vivi Andrews

I’m thrilled and delighted to host the release party for Superlovin’, the latest novella from Vivi Andrews. Vivi shared an advance copy of this book with me, and I ADORED it…and then kept trying to recommend it to people who were looking for things to read, only to be reminded that it still wasn’t out.

But now it *is* out, and you can find out how amazing it is for yourself! Superlovin’ is all about an evenly matched superhero and supervillain who have to get over their preconceived notions (and their own reputations) to recognize that they just may be perfect for each other. It’s fast-paced, fun, and thought-provoking, and I loved every second of it.

Enough gushing from me, though — you’re here to see Vivi. Even though she’s holed up in her secret lair in Cannes (lucky woman), she took the time to respond to a few of my questions (which let me pretend to be an intrepid newspaper reporter – every superhero story needs one of those, right?). And if you leave a comment, you have a chance to win an ebook of Superlovin’!

Sara: What drew you to superheroes after spending so much time with your more paranormal-tinged Karmic Consultants series?

Vivi: I don’t think of them as so very different – psychic powers and super powers.  The super world really is just turning up the volume and taking everything to the extremes, and I do love me some extremes.  I’ve always loved superhero stories – good versus evil!  With great power comes great responsibility! – and so when my editor put out a call for superhero stories, it seemed like the perfect time to try my hand at writing one.  And I got addicted.  I absolutely love playing in the super gene pool.

Sara: I love how you played with traditional superhero tropes – particularly the idea that people get typecast as ‘good’ or ‘evil’ and then can’t shake their reputations (deserved or not). What was your inspiration for these characters?

Vivi: I’m totally fascinated by the Good Guy/Bad Guy polarity and the PR maneuvering that goes into public perception.  Yeah, Superlovin’ is a romance about superheroes, but I wanted it to also be about the grey areas.  Lucien and Darla are both legacy supers – their parents are famous… or in Lucien’s case, infamous.  As I was playing with the idea, I couldn’t stop wondering what life would be like as the kid of a supervillain… or the daughter of the world’s most famous superhero power couple.  How much choice would you have about who you grew into?  How long would you fight against being typecast before giving in to your inevitable role?  How would a super kid rebel?  The odd blend of celebrity and righteous crime-fighting duty was just too tempting to ignore.

Sara: Lucien and Darla are so evenly matched – it’s really refreshing to see a hero and heroine who can match each other. They fight each other rather aggressively while trying to meet their goals, which I haven’t seen in a lot of romances – the only scenes I could think of that would come close are in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (and just to be clear, I adored both that movie and this book!). Did your editor or beta readers have any issues with the hero and heroine’s fight scenes?

Vivi: Dude. I LOVE Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  And you know, none of my betas or editors seemed to have a problem with the fact that Darla and Lucien wale on each other.  It probably helps that the two of them are pretty much impervious to harm so the beat down is all chaos, no bruises.  Interestingly, one advanced reviewer was bothered by the fact that Darla is initially very superficially attracted to Lucien’s mega-strength (though she said I pulled it out in the end, despite her initial reservations).  But nope, so far no one has been wigged out by the fight scenes.  At least not that I’ve heard about.

Sara: Superlovin’ was tightly plotted and well-crafted, and I didn’t feel like it was missing anything – a feat that not all novellas (or novel-length works!) achieve. I’m in awe at how you get such a tight, cohesive story into a novella-length work. Any tips for those of us who struggle to write short?

Vivi: Thank you!  I try not to think of it as cramming a whole book into a novella.  Writing short to me is an opportunity, not a limitation.  An opportunity to write a more tightly focused story – really zeroing in on the hero and heroine.  Or an opportunity to skip the parts that I don’t feel like writing.  ;)  You can’t wander with a novella.  Each scene has to have a purpose – preferably two or three purposes.  It’s a great way to force yourself to stay focused as a writer, knowing you only have so many words to tell the story you want to tell.  Big stories need big books, but not all love stories are massive and epic.  I think of novellas as pocket-sized romances.

Sara: I’m super jealous of your current escapades – spending a few weeks in Europe sounds way fun. How do you balance your writing with your amazing traveling lifestyle?

Vivi: It’s easier than you might think.  And it probably helps that I’m a compulsive list-maker.  Mostly, I just bring my little mini laptop with me everywhere and when I feel like I’m falling behind on writing tasks I’ll take an apartment for a week or a month to get myself caught up and then I’m off again.  Right now I’ve got a cute little apartment in Cannes to use as my home base during release week (and do laundry) then next week I’m off to Italy – with plans to work on edits on the train.  I’m a lucky brat.

Sara: What’s coming out next? More superheroes, or something else? Is Lucien’s sister Mirabelle going to get her story?

Vivi: Yes!  There are more superheroes on the way – including Mirabelle’s story, Superbad, which will hit ereaders in July – but in the mean time, just next month actually, I have a sexy reboot of Rumpelstiltskin coming out called Spinning Gold, in which the prince is the villain and a studly gold-spinner steps in to save the fair maiden.  Not your everyday once upon a time.

Sara: I cannot wait for Spinning Gold! Or for Superbad, but I’ll take whatever I can get as soon as possible :)

Vivi, thanks for answering these questions!

And now, here’s an excerpt from Superlovin':

He heard the distant electrical whine of a train coming down the tracks. Three minutes, give or take…

Lucien let the icy-hot pain starting to spike in his temples show on his face. “I could come quietly,” he said, making his voice tight with strain. “For a price.”

“I don’t negotiate with supervillains.”

“Not even for my surrender? My complete surrender.”

Interest lit her up-tilted emerald eyes, but her jaw remained clenched in an unyielding line. “No deals. I won’t bribe you to play nice when you’ve already lost.”

“But all I wanted was a kiss.”

She went motionless above him, as if she’d forgotten the need to breathe.

“One little kiss,” he purred. “And I’ll go meekly to my jail cell. No tricks. No trouble.”

He couldn’t read her expression. Something odd and almost hopeful colored the suspicion in her gaze. She hesitated. The train rattled closer. Her fingers eased their death grip on his hair.

“Why?”

“Are you kidding? I’ve always wanted a shot at the great Darla Powers. Who hasn’t? That Maxim spread changed my life.”

Her eyes darkened. “That damn magazine—”

“Hey, don’t damn that magazine. I could compose sonnets to that magazine. Especially your issue. I think you single-handedly launched a generation of twelve-year-old boys into puberty with that spread.” The picture had become a cultural icon. Darla Powers, the super answer to Marilyn Monroe. “Tell me you still have the bustier and I’ll die happy.”

She blushed. “That is none of your business.”

Dear God, she still has it. Unwholesome interest stirred below Lucien’s belt. He’d been joking, but now he couldn’t get the image out of his head. Her incredible figure overflowing the snug black lace with a shimmering red D curled under one breast in a parody of her suit. Maybe she still wore it. Maybe she put it on for the schmuck boyfriend who’d let her walk out on their date. Jealousy gave his gut an ugly twist, but he ignored it. She wasn’t with her schmuck boyfriend now.

“One kiss,” he said, the words coming out as more of a demand than he’d intended, his voice so dark and hungry he barely recognized it. “One kiss and I’ll do whatever you want.”

The words were supposed to be a lie, but at the moment he almost believed them himself. Darla Powers was a woman who could own a man’s soul if she put her mind to it. If she could let herself be that bad…

Hot, right?! Comment to win an ebook! And thanks again, Vivi!

If you can’t wait to buy Superlovin’, it’s available on Kindle, Nook, or at Samhain.com. Go! Go now!

Sara Ramsey writes fun, feisty Regency romances. Her latest book, SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES, is out now, and features a secret Gothic romance novelist and the earl she’s forced to marry (because nothing says love like being compromised). To find out more about her books, visit www.sararamsey.com.

Harlequin Presents: A Master Class in Internal Conflict

Billionaire heroes so domineering, hard-headed, and Alpha that they dismiss all women as silly, dangerous distractions that must be avoided. Ugly duckling heroines so sweet, shy, and virginal that they are actually virgins.

You guessed it: I’m talking about Harlequin Presents novels.

Meet 2011 Golden Heart Finalist Aislinn Macnamara

Over the course of the summer, the Ruby-Slippered Sisters are giving the 2011 Golden Heart finalists an opportunity to introduce themselves and share a bit about their writing life. Today’s guest is Aislinn Macnamara, a finalist in the Regency category for A TALE OF TWO SISTERS. Please join us in congratulating her and welcoming her to the blog!

TWO Confessions of a Former Fanfic Author

On my website bio, I have referred to writing as my mid-life crisis, and in a sense, it’s true. I haven’t been writing down stories since I was old enough to hold a pen in my hands. Back in high school, I used to run screaming whenever the teacher mentioned creative writing. Well, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but I did slink down in my seat.

I only started writing about ten years ago, and then it was fanfiction. Yes, fanfiction.

When I first joined the RWA, I kept quiet about my possibly dodgy origins. I was afraid people would look at me funny and back away slowly. Turns out I was wrong. I’m not the only author to come to writing my own characters and settings through fanfiction. In fact, I think fanfic makes for excellent practice.

Fanfiction first taught me I could write. It gave me confidence that I could post my writing in a public venue and not have everyone immediately scream at me to take it down. Not that the comments I got were purely complimentary. Some were harsh, but, like everything else writing-related, that kind of thing is subjective. What one reader hated, another loved. It was a good start to developing the thickened skin I need now to endure less-than-glowing judges’ comments and critiques. I’ll need it again once I’m published, because I know every reviewer isn’t going to love me, either.

Speaking of reviews, comments or reviews are the currency of fanfiction. Fanfic authors can’t, obviously, be paid real money for our writing, since that would infringe on all kinds of copyright laws, so our payment comes in the form of comments readers leave at the end of our chapters. It’s easy to become addicted to these comments, and I fast figured out that the best way to garner myself a few more reviews was to leave every chapter on a cliff-hanger. I didn’t know it at the time, but fanfiction taught me how to write an effective hook.

Fanfiction also showed me I could take on a novel-length project and complete it. The first story I ever set out to write came in at just over 80,000 words according to the word count on fanfiction.net (no, I’m not going to tell you my screen name—good luck finding me). Two others were even more ambitious at 144,000 words and 198,000 words respectively.

I managed to get a little epic there, but at the time, I had no clue what the typical word count of your average paperback was. It’s probably also an indication that fanfic most definitely ingrained me with some bad habits. It clearly didn’t teach me to write tight or how to avoid passive language. If there’s a reason I’m not giving you my screen name, that would be it—I look back on those early efforts and cringe a little.

We all have to start somewhere, though. My efforts just happened to be somewhat public. But on the upside, when it comes to pitching to an agent on a blog or some other public forum, the idea doesn’t intimidate me at all. It’s not that much scarier to me than updating my fic.

And if, some day, I’m well enough known that I come across some fanfic author slashing my heroes, I already know how I’ll handle it. I can hardly protest, since my own writing roots are similar. The most I can say is, “Rock on with your bad self.”

Aislinn Macnamara is a first-time Golden Heart® finalist for her Regency A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, which has recently sold to Ballantine Bantam Dell. Somehow in the course of writing, the story turned into a retelling of Sense and Sensibility, only with love scenes. She loves historical romance in all its forms, but never set out to become a Regency author. Many of her other manuscripts are set during the American Revolution, a period she loves for its adventure, inherent conflict and idealism. In her Regencies, she prefers to explore society and its foibles. After all, what do we live for but to make sport of our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn? You can find Aislinn on her website, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Cate Rowan Talks Indie & Writing

“Rowan is definitely an author to watch!”
~  Alyssa Day, New York Times bestselling author.  

Cate Rowan is a successful Indie author whose latest fantasy romance novel, THE SOURCE OF MAGIC, releases today.  Cate has generously agreed to share her knowledge of the much-discussed, little-understood world of Indie publishing and her accomplishments in that arena. 

In addition to a Ph.D. in the biological sciences, Cate has washed laundry in a crocodile-infested African lake, parasailed over Cabo, had monkeys poop in her hair, and swum with dolphins, but she says her best adventures occur in the worlds she creates in her lush fantasy romances.  Her novels about magic, danger and passion in faraway realms have won more than thirty awards, including the esteemed Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® contest—twice! 

I was eager to discover just what magic Cate had discovered in this new realm of Indie publishing and she was generously eager to share. 

 


WIN:  Comment to enter the drawing to win 1 electronic copy of The Source of Magic or 1 3-day coupon for Smashwords discounting The Source of Magic on that site.
 

Joan:  Cate has won enough awards to make me dizzy!  Between 5 manuscripts, she’s placed or won in more than 35 contests, including a double RWA Golden Heart finalist with her previous release, Kismet’s Kiss.   

Cate, what experience have you gained from your successes with contests?  What advice would you give other authors in consideration of entering or not? 

Cate:  I’m a very practical gal, so after the first few times I entered, contests became a means to an end for me. I entered them to try to get my work in front of particular editors, so I choose contests based on the final round judges. Even though feedback and suggestions weren’t my main focus, they were a terrific bonus.
 
I never entered contests judged by agents because I wanted to enter ones in which the final judge could actually buy the book. Query letters were my solution for agents, and over the years I received six agent offers and hired three. I also sent queries to editors and didn’t rely solely on the contest circuit. Those queries got me two small press contract offers, though in the end I decided to self-publish.
 
 (Joan:  I also have to add a note from Cate’s website that states “…when NYT and USA Today bestseller Alyssa Day read the opening of Kismet’s Kiss in a contest, she loved it so much she offered a cover blurb for it.”  Definitely a fringe benefit of contests, IMHO.)

 Joan:  I have to admit, I know very little about “Indie” publishing.  Not for lack of interest, but for lack of time to investigate.  Can you give us the nuts and bolts of it?  What it is exactly?  How does it differ from self-publishing, small-publisher publishing and/or e-publishing? 

Cate:  I’m an indie author, which means I’ve chosen to self-publish my books. Some people feel that the word “indie” should be reserved for “indie publishers”–that is, small publishers outside NY–but, well, that battle over semantics seems lost already.

Joan:  I have heard very positive results from authors who have gone the indie or self-publishing routes.  What benefits do you feel you’ve experienced by going the indie route over traditional publishing?  

Cate:    

(1) Control. For example, I get to choose the title and have total say over the cover. Of course, having full control also means full responsibility! If something goes wrong, it’s up to me to fix it. 

(2) Flexibility. I actually can fix it! If I decide to tweak a wording or I spot a typo, I get to change it. I don’t have to worry about whether there will be another print run so it can be corrected. I simply do it, and the update will be available within a day at most of the e-stores. 

(3) Information. I know my sales figures at the major stores to the minute and can see if a marketing strategy is working and would be worth pursuing again. 

(4) Money. At Amazon, for example, I get between 35 and 70% of the purchase price for every copy sold. For books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, Amazon pays 70% for every US, UK or German sale, and 35% for sales to other countries. (Rumor has it that Canada will be added to the 70% list soon.) 

I don’t have tens of thousands of books available on physical bookstore shelves, but I do make a larger chunk of money per sale and need far fewer sales to make X amount of money. Many romance readers have fallen in love with their e-readers now prefer digital books, so it works out well. Although I have a print copy of my first book available, I sell about 100 digital copies for every print sale. That kind of ratio is pretty common for indies. 

(5) Focus. I don’t need to spend time seeking agents or editors now. The time I invest in my writing pays off directly in sales. 

Joan:  Who would you say indie authordom is suited for?  

Cate:  Do-it-yourselfers like me love indie–but I think every author should keep an eye on the benefits of modern self-publishing. Cover art and formatting can be done through freelancers if you don’t have the DIY gene. Established authors can make great money with their backlists and other books NY doesn’t think it can market, and newer authors (with polished and edited manuscripts, ahem!) can now reach readers directly.  

For me, that’s the very best benefit for authors–readers gaining access to the work we’ve loved and slaved over. After more than a decade of writing alone, my first fan letter sent me into joyful sobs for a good fifteen minutes. Talk about validation! And I didn’t need an agent or a publisher to get it. 

Because of the proliferation of self-publishing, I see many genres shifting and blossoming and marketing boundaries breaking down. Readers can now find a much wider variety of storylines than there used to be, and I think that change will continue. 

But I beg of all the potential indie authors out there: please don’t put your book up for sale until it’s ready! Get some professional editing, or at the very least a really thorough critique group that pushes you about things to correct and improve long before you consider going indie. Yes, you can fix things later if you must, but you don’t want to ruin your reputation with readers before you have that chance. 

Joan:  If you’re willing, Cate, would you give us more information on your sales figures for other authors considering the indie route?  

Cate:  I’ve had an interesting time with sales. (In a good way, not in a “may you live in interesting times” kind of way.) It took me a little over five months to sell 557 copies of Kismet’s Kiss and earn my first $1000. Sales were accelerating, and it took me only a month and a half to earn the next $500.And then something even more fantastic happened. I needed surgery and was going to be away from home for a few weeks, so I worked hard to get The Source of Magic up before I left. I wasn’t planning to do any marketing for it, or really even to tell anyone until today during the official release; I mainly put it up in case readers wanted it as soon as they finished Kiss. I uploaded it on April 17 and basically left it alone. It sold a few copies, probably based on the excerpt in the back of Kiss–and then somehow the B&N sales fairy blessed it. Suddenly I was selling 70 copies a day there. With no marketing at all, and no reviews up. I still don’t know what happened, but I’m grateful!

 The surge didn’t last forever, but now I’m selling four times as many copies each day as I did with just Kismet’s Kiss alone, even though I only have two books available. Put up a second book and get four times as many sales? I like that math.

 More math: As of yesterday, I’ve sold 2181 copies of my books (1330 of Kismet’s Kiss and 851 of The Source of Magic) and made close to $4000. The vast majority of those copies have been ebooks sold at $2.99, though I’ve toyed briefly with $.99 and $3.99 for Kiss. That’s fantastic to me, but if you want to see more numbers, check out those of my friend Theresa Ragan. Prepare to have your socks blown to the stratosphere!

 So even though this is the official release day of The Source of Magic, I guess it’s an early bloomer. Or a late one–see below!

 Joan:  What is it about the genre of fantasy romance draws you? 

Cate:  I’ve always loved the idea of magic in alternate worlds, not to mention the idea of how inborn magic could change the interpersonal dynamics between a heroine and hero. Plus, with fantasy romance I get to make s…, um, stuff up. It’s pretty freeing. (grin)

Joan:  What heat level would you rate The Source of Magic? 

Cate:  On a scale of 1-5, it’s a 3 or 3.5. It’s definitely not chaste, yet the main focus is on the love story outside the bedroom. That being said, the particular inborn magic of this hero and heroine, um…adds to the flavor of the love scenes. ;) 

Joan:  How long did it take you to write The Source of Magic? 

Cate:  Gosh…great question. I might need an outside verdict on that.  

It took me a week or two to write the opening chapters, which I then entered in the Winning Beginnings contest (now known as The Sheila). That was my first contest, and I was gobsmacked that Source became a finalist, and then placed second and got a request. 

I like having outside deadlines, and suddenly I had one! I got my butt into the writing chair and finished the book in about three months. I stocked up on microwave dinners and literally didn’t leave my house for a month, except to walk downstairs to the first floor of my apartment building to get my mail. When I was finally done, driving to the post office to send the manuscript to the editor was a freaky experience. Suddenly I was reminded that other people existed in the world! 

Of course, that was in 2001, and I’ve made plenty of revisions to it since then. So to answer your question, the writing time could either be a few months or more than a ten years. :) 

Joan:  Are Kismet’s Kiss and The Source of Magic linked?  How? 

Cate:  The Source of Magic is a prequel to Kismet’s Kiss, though both stand alone. They take place a couple of decades apart and in different settings on the same fantasy world–in a medieval “Europeanesque” realm for The Source of Magic and a medieval “Middle Easternesque” realm for Kismet’s Kiss. Because the people on this world live long lives (hundreds of years), I was able to share some characters in the two books. 

Joan:  Would you say The Source of Magic is the book of your heart?  Why? 

Cate:  Hmm, I’d probably have to give that mantle to Kismet’s Kiss, just because it’s such an unusual romance in terms of setting and storyline. But The Source of Magic was my first book, so it’s definitely my baby. Heck, if it hadn’t been for Source, I’d never have dreamed of this particular fantasy world, and now I could easily write twelve or thirteen books in it! 

I’d like to thank Cate for her insight into indie publishing and her candid information regarding sales figures–valuable information to authors which is notoriously difficult to come by–but most of all, congratulate Cate on her new release: The Source of Magic. 

Enter to win a copy by leaving a comment.  Cate will be popping in and out to respond to questions and comments.

Things we’ve learned since publishing

My critique partner, Elisabeth Naughton, signed me up to speak on a panel at the Emerald City Writer’s Conference near Portland, OR in October and the topic is…you guessed it, What I’ve Learned Since I’ve Published.  (In my case it’s sold, because my book doesn’t come out until April 2012.)

And it occurred to me that I’d love to hear what all the RUBY SISTERS have learned since they’ve sold and/or published.  So, I’ll start the ball rolling with one element and I hope everyone who has been down that publishing road will give the ball a little kick and add one thing they’ve learned that hasn’t been listed yet.

Mine:  FLEXIBILITY

I’ve learned that the published arena in a much bigger place, and I’m trying to please a whole lot more people, and to do that, I’ve got to be flexible.  About everything.  Title, cover, character names, the way a plot branches, etc.  Being flexible with your time is important because everyone moves at a different pace based on what else is going on in their schedules.  Flexibility extends to your marketing plan, your marketing budget, where your career goes after this contract is fulfilled and/or what you write next.

I’ve dealt with the title changes, the long waits, the altering marketing plans.  And while I’m still waiting for the edits, copy edits and cover changes to come, right now I live in what-comes-next village. 

With the two book contract complete and the option proposal written, I am in that phase of…now what?  It’s…an interesting place.  The freedom can make you a little giddy — but only for a while.  Then it gets a bit dicey.  Especially if what you want to write isn’t what’s selling or something you don’t have the voice to master.  (There is a fantastic article on this topic written by literary agent Laura Bradford here.)  Or maybe you are venturing into a genre that your current agent doesn’t represent, maybe staying in a genre that is saturated and struggling to find a “different” or “fresh” angle or concept to develop.

I recently submitted a proposal to my agent for a paranormal romance.  It was rather different from what I write currently, which is a touch more romantic suspense with paranormal elements.  How is that for pushing around a genre to fit?  But the concept didn’t completely sit right with my agent.  Some aspects worked for her, but some didn’t.  She couldn’t envision how I would be able to make the premise unique enough to stand out from what had already been done.

Interestingly enough, I wasn’t crushed.  I think because my subconscious knew something wasn’t quite right, or maybe I wasn’t completely in love with it.  I don’t know, but I went back to the idea stage.  Pieces of this story had come from an idea I’d had a long time ago, something quite different–dark and gritty.  I took the original idea, fused it with some elements of the newer idea and of course, those two combined created elements unique to this book.  As I developed the book, I could see where it would open up into a series of related books.

Luckily, my agent really liked this version.  We talked over some issues she had, which if changed would make the idea stronger.  Once again, I altered the story and the characters, rewrote the synopsis and am waiting to hear back.

So, that’s just one of the big things I’ve learned since I’ve published…you’ve got to be all kinds of flexible.  Try things you never thought you’d try.  Think in ways you never thought you’d think.  Trust ideas you’d never thought you’d trust.

Think Gumby.

I can’t wait to hear what all of you have learned!!

Tell!  Tell!

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