Posts tagged with: fantasy

BEFORE SHE WAKES release and giveaway!

Today I’m very pleased to be celebrating my fourth release since my Ruby Golden Heart final for GHOST PLANET back in 2009. In some ways this book represents a change for me—it’s my first release of aBeforeSheWakesCovern erotica title. But BEFORE SHE WAKES is full of romance, fantasy, and sci-fi (in other words, plenty of geeky bits), which have all been part of my author brand since the beginning. Also, while my other titles were published by Tor Books, this one comes from the Penguin Random House romance e-print, Loveswept.

BEFORE SHE WAKES has a fun history, in that I wrote the first scene of the first story, The Garden Rules, as an experiment (when I was supposed to be working on one of my other books, ahem). I had no idea whether I’d be any good at erotica. A couple of beta readers liked it and encouraged me, and I even got a manuscript request from Kindle Singles, but still it was more than a year before I worked up the nerve to finish it. When I did, my agent was so enthusiastic that I decide to write and indie publish a series. 

So with the help of my agency, I published two shorts. But I quickly found I did not have enough time to put into promotion to make the stories a success. I also wasn’t sure about the market for short stories sold individually. So we decided to pitch the collection to a couple of digital-first lines. I was very pleased (and frankly, stunned) that we quickly got back two offers. And everything moved pretty quickly from there. 

The best thing about this collection (that ended up being six stories) is it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a writing project. I didn’t start it with the intention of seeking a traditional publisher, so I sent my internal critic on extended leave and I wrote whatever I wanted to. Every time I’d think of a scene or plot twist and that critic crept back to whisper in my ear, “That’s TOO much, TOO weird, tone it down,” I very deliberately went right ahead with whatever it was. (So if you read the book and come to a scene with a purple fairy and think “whoa!”,  you’ll know exactly what happened.) And as I expected, what you’ll see in reviews are a number of comments such as:

For those readers with a sense of adventure who are looking for a change of pace and aren’t afraid to go thereBefore She Wakes is a wonderful, sexy, titillating trip to the other side of speculative fiction, that side you’ve been curious about but until now, haven’t been brave enough to try. Be bold. Take the plunge. And have some fun.  (Books, Bones & Buffy book blog)

If your curiosity is piqued by all this, name your favorite fairy tale in the comments for a chance to win one of two e-copies. (Leave contact info, or plan to come back and check comments to see if you won.) Also you can check out a story for free (The Dragonfly Prince) on Instafreebie. 

And now I’m off to mix the cocktail I’ve chosen in honor of the day, The Green Fairy.




Experimentation and a Ruby Release: “Swords and Scimitars” by Cate Rowan

I have a new release to tell you about, but first, let me get this out of the way: I used to write to please others.

It’s not that I don’t take other people into account anymore—not at all. I have a readership, and their opinions of my work matter to me.

But I no longer write to please the traditional publishing industry. I’ve learned a fine lesson about that.

A panel of editors and agents once shot down my query letter at the RWA conference. It was a query letter workshop for Golden Heart finalists, and the panelists were to say “stop” when they reached the point in a query where they wanted to quit reading. The entire panel yelled stop as soon as they learned that my book’s hero, a sultan, already had six wives.

The industry consensus was that a book like that wouldn’t succeed. Under the paradigm of that time, they were likely right to shoot it down.

I hired several agents over the years who did their best, but Kismet’s Kiss was a tough sell. Despite two Golden Heart finals, it clearly didn’t fit the New York marketing boxes, and editors were afraid it wouldn’t make the publishing house enough money. That’s understandable; it was a risk. I was pushing boundaries.

But I knew romance, and understood my contract with the romance reader. I felt my book could flourish, and I was crazy (= stubborn) enough to try. After two small presses made offers, I decided to self-publish Kismet’s Kiss.

Instead of selling it to a publisher, I sold it to readers—more than 2600 of them to date, at prices from $2.99-5.99. And another 3600+ readers have bought my second book, The Source of Magic. While the number of copies sold is lower than what many trad-pubbed authors can expect, I earn much more per copy. I’ve made nearly $13,000 already. This is far beyond the average advance for two books from a debut author, and Kiss and Source are still in the marketplace earning more each day. They’ll never go out of print.

It’s funny to look back on my journey and realize what’s happened. It was not quite a year and a half ago that I published Kismet’s Kiss. I was the first Ruby Sister to self-pub, and alas, it wasn’t because I’m a visionary or a psychic. (I only wish.) I’d just realized going indie was my best chance to succeed and find readers for stories I loved.

Ten Rubies have now tested the indie path, and there are more Rubies planning to try it. Some of our agent-approved, contest-winning, misfit books that would otherwise be lying abandoned in darkness have found life—and readers—and in many cases, have revived their authors’ enjoyment in writing.


This world also lets authors experiment with prices, covers, descriptions, book length, and subject matter. That’s part of the fun for me with my latest release. It’s a short story of 7,000 words, a length that has very few traditional markets. I’m pricing it at a mere 99 cents to see if that will entice readers. And although it’s a prequel to Kismet’s Kiss, which is a fantasy romance, I consider “Swords and Scimitars” to be a historical fantasy. It brims with emotion and love, but it’s far more a hero’s journey through an exotic culture (think “Arabian Nights” or “The King and I”) than a traditional romance.

A few months ago, Amazon offered indies another way to experiment: the Amazon Select program for Kindle books. Select allows the author/publisher to set the book’s price to free for up to five days out of every 90. Free books get lots of downloads and greater exposure, which helps generate paid sales afterward. The author/publisher has control over when the free days are scheduled, making it easier to arrange promotions. The downside is that the Select program requires Amazon exclusivity for the full 90 days. I’ve been reluctant to add Kismet’s Kiss or The Source of Magic to the Select program for that reason. I’ve made about a quarter of all my sales through Barnes and Noble.

Still, now that I have a new release, I thought I’d try Select for “Swords and Scimitars” and see what happens. Hmm… have I mentioned my dislike for that exclusivity thing? Yeah. So before I sign up for Select, I’m making “Swords and Scimitars” available for the next five days at Barnes and Noble (nook) and Smashwords (all formats), as well as at Amazon, and all for just 99 cents. This way non-Kindle readers can get their hands on “Swords and Scimitars,” too.


Swords and Scimitars: A Fantasy Short Story

Immortal twin brothers. One enchanted sword. A tragedy that propels them into legend.

The lives of well-born twins Kismet and Taso are easy and carefree—endless days of bedding women and fighting battles among the gods—until sorcery drives a wedge between them that slices deeper than flesh. Kismet has striven to be the ultimate warrior, but a mistake costs him his brother, his family, and his homeland.

He carves out a new life in the desert, rising to the command of a realm and an army, yet can’t escape his past. When two women beg for his aid against tyranny, he must sacrifice his freedom and his long-scarred heart to help them.

“Swords and Scimitars” is a short story of the immortal founders of verdant Teganne and desert Kad, two rival realms divided by magic—yet bound by blood, mistrust, and love. The chronicle continues in the award-winning fantasy romance novels Kismet’s Kiss and The Source of Magic.


I used to write to please others… but I wrote “Swords and Scimitars” to please myself and my readership, and with luck, to attract new readers from a different genre. It’s an experiment for sure, and one of which I’m proud. As a writer, that’s the best feeling of all.

Thank you for stopping by to celebrate the release of “Swords and Scimitars.” To add to the festive mood, I’m giving away three copies to non-Ruby visitors. Leave a comment to enter, and good luck!

The Latest Comments

  • Elizabeth Langston: You’re right–and it is a powerful lingering impression as the last phrase....
  • Darynda Jones: I like what you did here, Beth. I also like the first one. I like the line “determined to...
  • Elizabeth Langston: So I said to lead with city-keeper, and I didn’t do that. Let me take another stab....
  • Darynda Jones: Great pitch, Jenn! I love what you did with it, Beth. This stuff is so hard. LOL
  • Elizabeth Langston: I think this pitch is in good shape. But if I could try anything, I’d want to lead with the...