Bookmark Wednesdays: L. M. Somerton

I read The Invisible Man, by Ralph Waldo Ellison, as an undergraduate and if it had not been on the syllabus of my degree, I doubt I would have ever come across it. First published in 1952, it is a book about oppression and prejudice and their effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators. It is a book about what happens to a person’s individuality in the face of prejudice. The nameless narrator, or invisible man, is a black American and he explains his predicament in one of the most impactful prologues I’ve ever read:

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids–and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

Over the course of his life–from college and then on to Harlem–the narrator comes up against different experiences that eventually prove to him that people around him don’t really see him as an individual. In fact he isn’t necessarily treated as a human being at all. If a person’s individuality is stripped away by prejudice, it is easier for an oppressor to see that person as no more than an object to be treated and used accordingly.

Although Ellison’s book focuses on the black experience in America, bigotry and its effects are universal. As I write in the MM genre, a history of prejudice is always in the back of my mind along with the knowledge that there is still a long way to go before some parts of our society become truly visible.

* * * * *

L. M. Somerton can be found on her blog and on Twitter.

* * * * *

tarotstouch_800This is book three in the Investigating Love series, see the full series listing here.

Can truth be found in the cards?

DI Alex Courtney and his lover, DC Conor Trethuan are under enormous pressure as their team investigates an arson case and a murder.

It soon becomes apparent that the two cases are linked and the race is on to find a vicious killer. A tarot card is placed with the first victim and the detectives are left to interpret the clues it provides. When Conor receives a note from the killer making reference to another card, the whole team is shaken. Their worst fears are realized when a second body is discovered, along with another tarot card.

Conor suspects he has been followed then a hit and run leaves him injured. Alex wants nothing more than to wrap his lover up in cotton wool and protect him from the world. But is Conor the killer’s target or just a pawn in a much more sinister game? As the clues come together, it seems that the motive for murder might be revenge.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of genital bondage.

* * * * *

Available at Totally Bound.

Posted in Bookmark Wednesdays, LM Somerton | Leave a comment

Cover art and self-publishing news

Some cover art and publishing news now. Last Thursday I received cover art for Bring Me to Life. Why haven’t I posted it before now? Because I’m a lazy bugger, that’s why. I know, I know. I’ll get right on that. While I’m dodging the world of blogging and making out I have other things to do, you have a look at this:

bringmetolife_800Nathan Stephenson died seventy years ago and he’d like the world – or at least one person – to think he stayed that way.

In 1940s London, Sergeant Nathan Stephenson ignored his rank and the expectation that he’d wait for the war to be over and find a nice girl to settle down with, and took a lover. Not only was Cian Ambrose unashamed of his bisexuality, he was also proud to be a vampire. Back then, he was certain that his and Nathan’s relationship would last forever, refusing to take no for an answer.

One evening, Cian went too far in his attempts to persuade Nathan to become a vampire and left a mutual acquaintance, Jonathan Cutler, to deal with the aftermath. What Cian doesn’t know is that Nathan didn’t die – Jonathan brought him back to life, agreeing to keep Nathan’s continued existence a secret.

It’s now the twenty-first century and Jonathan’s back to call in the favour. Nathan’s an honourable man and can’t say no, but the trouble is, wherever Jonathan goes, Cian Ambrose can’t be far behind…

Preorder: 6th February 2015
Early download: 20th February 2015
General release: 20th March 2015

* * * * *

Also, I self-published! I heard from someone I hadn’t spoken to in a while recently, and as we were catching up, she was telling me that she’d self-published on Kindle Direct/Kindle Unlimited. How easy it was. How simple. How lucrative! Well, that got me. I’d been considering self-publishing for a while for reasons outlined in this blog post.

Said friend talked me through it, and I’ve resurrected a book I had sitting on my hard drive. I got the rights back to Long Time Coming a few months back, and now I’m releasing it as a serial, available for 77p each (or your country’s currency equivalent). The first two parts are out, and by the time you read this, the third part should have gone live. Long Time Coming will be complete in four parts, and the 4th should be out by this weekend.

The cover art varies slightly from episode to episode, to enable readers to distinguish between each one in thumbnail form on Amazon. Each part of Long Time Coming has a differently-coloured opaque number behind the title. Here’s the blurb:

LTC

Piper Holt’s only after one thing: a man who’s only after one thing.

Previous lovers demanded either subservience or her heart, neither of which are up for negotiation, so Leo Carson’s attitude makes him her ideal match. Handsome, shameless and equally impulsive, he appears to want nothing more than a white-hot overnight liaison.

‘Overnight’ somehow develops into the entire weekend but come Monday morning, pride keeps her back turned and Piper walks away. Denying her own feelings doesn’t mean that Leo has none though, and if she’s going to atone for hurting him she’ll have to admit the ‘one thing’ she now wants is the man she’s in danger of losing forever.

* * * * *

Part One – Amazon UK – Amazon US

Part Two – Amazon UK – Amazon US

Part Three – Amazon UK – Amazon US

Long Time Coming is, of course, also available in other Amazon territories. Here’s hoping you enjoy it! More self-published projects are on their way. There will be one or two re-releases, but the vast majority of my self-published projects will be all-new material, so keep watching for further news.

Posted in Bring Me to Life, cover art, Long Time Coming, self-publishing, Totally Bound | Leave a comment

Kathleen Hale and the right to privacy

You’d have to have been living on another planet not to have heard of Kathleen Hale revealing herself to be a special snowflake. After receiving a less-than-stellar review, she decided she couldn’t handle it, and stalked the reviewer. Nope, I’m not kidding. Here’s the article that kicked off the internet shitstorm:

Twitter exploded in a war between the fangirls and the sane people who realise that what she did was immoral and more than likely illegal. Other bloggers…well, blogged, surprise surprise, about it, and numerous counter-articles appeared online:

Now, lest you’re still wondering about what kind of person Kathleen Hale is, here she admits to serious acts of animal abuse: Catch Me If You Can, ASPCA.

Ah, but that’s not all. Here she seems to think that her critics have reading comprehension problems:
Hale 1
Why yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I thought when I read that article, that it was written by a bunch of animals.

Wait, no I didn’t. I thought it was written by an unrepentant animal abuser.

But then came this:
Hale 2

Oh. Oh. Well, that’s okay then.

No word of whether this it was all fiction that she poured peroxide over the head of a girl who’d accused Hale’s mother of sexual abuse. I asked, but strangely, Hale didn’t get back to me.

One of her supporters did, though.

Hell Morte 1

And people still ask why an honest person would want to use a pseudonym. After all of the above. Of course, a pseudonym wouldn’t stop a truly determined nutjob tracking you down, but it puts another obstacle in their path, giving you time to either call the police (more on this later) or charge up the chainsaw.

The Dear Author article I linked to above mentions pseudonymous activities and this whole matter got me thinking about the right of authors (or, indeed, bloggers) to “hide” behind pen names.

Now, you might wonder why an honest-hearted person would change their name for online activities, but there are many different reasons, especially when it comes to erotic romance authors. Those who are parents may be trying to protect their children from teasing or even bullying. Some authors write in multiple genres and use different names for each. Others have difficult-to-spell or hard-to-pronounce real names. There may be another author already using their real name.

And me personally? Well, I’ve had an experience that proves if someone’s determined to find you, a pen name won’t stop them. Why use one? I think because it puts up an unspoken barrier of “You are not entitled to my private life. I am a writer, not your property.”

I have no doubt there are breadcrumbs leading back to me. I think those who mean well respect any speed bumps or barriers I put in their path. Those who mean harm advertise their ill-intent by ignoring these metaphorical stop signs. (Kinda like Kathleen Hale and her paying for a background check into the reviewer who didn’t like her book.) This would, one hopes, prove to a court or any investigating body that they ignored my wishes and failed to respect my boundaries.

Yes, I share from my real life, but to the extent that I choose. That’s the kind of line Hale crossed – she didn’t respect anyone else’s boundaries.

And it could be said that pseudonyms are boundaries beyond which another person should not attempt to go without invitation. It could also be said that Scarlett Parrish is merely another character I write about and that relative anonymity affords me the opportunity to be more honest than my real life persona would allow me to be.

So am I acting? Worse, lying? I don’t think so. We wear different clothes for different things. Bikinis to go swimming. Pyjamas for sleeping. A pseudonym for how we present online in our guises as erotic romance authors.

I may not go into excruciating, privacy-shattering, reckless endangerment-level details, but when I choose to discuss something “real”, I always tell the truth. It’s just that I choose what to share. No-one else makes that decision for me, or at least one would desire that to be the case.

Years back, I was on MSN – remember that? – and a guy for reasons I won’t go into here told me to get offline. I had asserted myself in the face of his overbearing personality, let’s say, and he didn’t like it. He ordered me to get offline. “If you get offline now, I won’t do anything.” Oh really? Naturally I refused, asking who the hell he thought he was. The internet police?

“No,” he said. “But I am a police officer.”

“Whoop-de-fucking-doo,” I remember saying, with my usual level of respect when it comes to pomposity.

The conversation came down to him saying he could track me down if he wanted. I didn’t believe him.

Then he told me my real first name, and my exact address. Right down to which flat in my tenement block I occupy.

Now that made me sit up and take notice. Either he was a corrupt police officer putting a trace on me or he had someone with him or speaking to him online, who knew me and was feeding him the information. This latter is a distinct possibility, but as well as my name, address, phone number, everything else, he was able to give me my I.P. address. Something I still don’t fully understand even after years of computer and internet use, but there you go.

He knew who I was and where I was, and he threatened to “Send the boys round for a visit,” to beat me up and gang-rape me unless I did what he said. Failing that, I was to get offline and never use a computer again.

So what did I do? I told him to fuck off.

Oh, and I checked all my doors and windows were locked.

And I said, “You should know I’m keeping a record of this conversation, and I’m currently emailing it to everyone I know. So if anything happens to me, they’ll know who’s responsible. If you think I’ll get offline as punishment for not being obedient to your bad self, you can suck my fat hairy cock.”

Or words to that effect.

Now, I’m not saying I wasn’t scared. Of course I was. But as you’ll know from my tweets and other blog posts, I’m a great one for blagging my way out of a difficult situation.

I stayed online.

Nothing happened.

(No, I didn’t report the incident to the police. I was scared that he really was a police officer and his brother officers would back him up.)

Would a pseudonym have stopped all of the above happening? No. Remember, he knew everything about me. My genuine, real-life details.

Why bother using a pseudonym if I’m not protected, if no-one is truly protected? Well, as I said, it puts an extra barrier up. Makes it clear this is my public life, this my private.

Respectful people will be okay with that. Bent coppers or special snowflakes like Kathleen Hale won’t, but the reaction she’s currently getting online show the general feeling is that she’s in the wrong.

If my experience with P.C. Plod recurred, how would I react? Likely in the same way. I’d go on Twitter, tell people what was happening. Email everyone in my gmail contacts.

It was a scary experience. And being Scarlett Parrish wouldn’t have stopped it. At the end of the day, writing is what’s important to me, and I wanted to name myself in a way, as well as titling my books. If that guy ever reads this blog post, he could link the “real life” me with Scarlett and cause a whole heap of trouble, but you never know – by going as public as my conscience and legality will allow, I actually might be protecting myself.

Because linking public Scarlett and private me would prove to the world that he was the guy who threatened my life years back. How else would he know my real life identifying details?

After all, if I haven’t authorised someone’s knowledge of my identifying details and they go public with them, they’re kind of advertising that they’re breaking the law, going against another person’s wishes, putting their safety in danger and being an all-round bunglecunt.

A bit like Kathleen Hale, really.

Posted in badly behaved authors, Kathleen Hale needs to be arrested and charged, online stalking, pseudonyms | 14 Comments

Bookmark Wednesdays: Anais Morgan

First, a big thank you to Ms. Parrish for having me.

Here in the Midwest it’s getting cooler. The leaves are starting to change. It makes me cringe. We get some pretty wicked winters here, and the forecast looks like it’s going to be worse than last year. I’m not a snow person by any measure. If I could skip that season, you bet I would.

I think the best part of the bitter cold is more time to curl up and read a good book. I’m sure everyone has a “go to” book. One that no matter what, you smile. For me, it was the first true adult fiction I’d read. Most of my early life had been reading the Bible and middle grade books. When I got into high school, my English teacher kept at least 100 books at all times. One was And Then You Die by Iris Johansen. My friends and I laughed at the title, although I have no idea why. However, something about the book pulled me in. The blurb sounded good, so I borrowed it.

The rest of the school day I read. I couldn’t put it down. In science class, my partner and I were supposed to do some kind of experiment, but I didn’t help. I just had to find out what happened next. Keep in mind that I’m a slow reader, but I finished the book in two days. It had everything: action, romance, mystery, death.

I went looking for more of Iris’ work. To this day I get every one of her books-money permitting. I even tracked down some of her Loveswept books from the 80’s.

That was my introduction into adult fiction, and I’ve never looked back. That book taught me so much about plot twists and suspense. I hope that one day I’ll be able to write something so perfect or get a reader addicted to my work like I was.

So, I say a big thank you to Ms. Johansen. Her book And Then You Die changed not only my reading habits, but introduced me to a new world of books.

And yes, I have both a physical copy and an ebook copy of said novel.

* * * * *

Anais Morgan can be found on her blog.

* * * * *

B&Gcover1She will feed them or die. Or both.

Just when eighteen-year-old Mary Scott is ready to go to culinary school, she’s captured and held prisoner by The Order-a religious group that sells humans to vampires. Mary is sent to become the blood slave to the Wictreds, a family of three vampires. There’s Deacon, the gentleman with a short temper, Solomon, sarcastic one with some serious mood swings, and Cain, the child-like one that has a problem with self control. Her only hope is to escape, but she has a single chance. If she’s caught she’ll be killed to keep her silent.

As time passes, Mary’s days become numbered. After all, she has only so much blood. The longer she’s in the house, the more time she spends with Solomon. When he’s not toying with her, he’s actually a nice guy and protects her from his brothers. Mary loves his company and soon his presence makes her heart flutter. But humans and vampires must be separate, and Deacon will do anything to keep the family honor intact.

* * * * *

Available All Romance eBooks, Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Posted in Anais Morgan, Bookmark Wednesdays | Leave a comment

So this is what a panic attack feels like. I think.

Yesterday I sold a book and today I decided I want to die.

Bit of a blunt way of putting it, but that’s how things worked out.

Okay, so what happened was, I had word from my Totally Bound editor that she’d love to contract Bring Me to Life (now rewritten so it’s a sequel to A Little Death, with some of the characters from ALD making guest appearances). I’d been fighting a bit of a headache all day and thought I’d be okay, but later in the evening it became a migraine and I retired to bed around half eight. Super early even on a work night, but I took some painkillers and thought I’d be able to sleep it off.

Not so. I was up through the night with the pain. Every so often I’d drift off into a brief painkiller-induced sleep, to be woken up less than half an hour later with the pain. Again and again and again. Every few hours I’d take more painkillers, but they never worked. Not totally.

And at 6am I started throwing up. Bear in mind 6am is when I normally get up, but when my alarm went off this morning I was already in, on, around the toilet, barfing my guts up and spraying from every orifice.

I dithered about calling in sick, but instead of a sickie pulled a ‘latey’. Shut up; that’s a word. Anyway, I took some time having a bath because if I go near hot water too soon after throwing up, the steam makes me feel sick again. How do I know this? Because during a migraine, I feel dirty. I puke, I soil myself, I sweat, I pee myself…so I feel dirty. I smell dirty. And I want to be clean again. I run a bath, strip, try to get into the bath and…nope. The puking starts again. For some reason, the steam in my face turns my stomach.

Eventually I managed to have a bath and get clean clothes on. That was all I could manage. I went into work with unwashed hair, and without bothering to take sammiches with me. I knew I wouldn’t eat them. For days after a puke sesh, I can’t manage solid food. I’ve just had a bowl of watery chicken soup, as it happens, and that’s about all I can handle. Such will be the case ’til the weekend, possibly.

All of the above is, I think, relevant to how I ended up feeling later on in the morning. It was certainly a contributory factor.

I left for work later than I normally do, so it was properly daylight by then. Or…as daylighty as it could get, because the day was overcast and cloudy and threatening rain. Depressing, huh?

Within a couple of hours, something happened. My low physical state, empty stomach, completely dehydrated body and the fact I’d had little to no sleep, conspired to convince me that every piece of work I did would prove to be a massive, liable-to-get-me-fired mistake. In fact, I was going to be fired. Probably before the week was out.

I want to make something absolutely clear here – the migraine did not cause the moodsink. It never has done. Or at least, it’s not the sole factor. And not every migraine (or other physical illness) causes a panic attack. But it makes it harder to fight when the panic does hit. This anxiety has bothered me on and off for around three years now. I call it anxiety because it’s louder than depression. For me, anxiety has triggers. A focus. A start point. Depression just is. Depression makes me sleep. Makes me tired. Makes me slooooow. (I was – am – tired, but there’s a difference between lack of sleep tired and mood-related tired.) Anxiety, on the other hand – it makes me panic. It doesn’t say “You should be dead.” It’s more active than that. It says “Go kill yourself. Go on, just do it. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about X, Y and Z any more. God, imagine how peaceful that’d be. Then I’d shut up and you wouldn’t have to listen to me any more.”

It’s much more intense. And it’s exhausting. Oh, I don’t hear voices. But it’s as if there’s something inside my head putting these thoughts there for me to contemplate. Whereas depression tells me what an unutterable cunt I am, anxiety tells me to do something about it, and offers suicide as a marvellous solution for every problem.

I just didn’t want to have to deal with it all, and I guess overwhelmed is the best word for it. Everything I have to deal with (even selling a book!) was suddenly too much for me to even think about, and I cried, and panicked, and worried. What about? God knows; after a while my thoughts didn’t make any sense at all.

In this sort of state, I have a tendency to catastrophise. Every teeny weeny slightly negative thing that happens is the end of the world, it’s all my fault, everyone hates me, I’ll never be successful. And if there’s no teeny weeny slightly negative thing to obsess over? Well, I just imagine something. That’ll do.

From anxiety to depreession. The intensity of the mental panic attack rarely lasts longer than a few hours, a day or two at most, before it segues into something that puts a fog over my entire being. I don’t think anyone could keep up that level of mental energy for long without flopping. And that’s what happens – I flop. I sleep more than usual, or at least ‘lie in bed wishing I could sleep, because I don’t have the energy for anything else’. I eat less. I conserve my energy for simply getting through the day and don’t waste it on non-essentials like socialising or even speaking to people if I can help it.

Sometimes depression creeps up on you. At other times, as today, it announces its arrival with a bang.

Posted in depression, panic attacks | 3 Comments

Bookmark Wednesdays: Amanda Bretz

In Classic and Modern Romance, Love Always Prevails

Hi Scarlett, thanks for having me today!

Here in my corner of the world the leaves are beginning to show autumnal tones and the air has the faintest hint of crispness. Of all the seasons, it seems I get most nostalgic during fall. The clear blue sky and light breeze made today perfect for reminiscing on what books inspired me to write about love.

I’ll never forget the day I picked up my first category romance. I was 17 and spending the afternoon at a friend’s house. While I was perusing the bookshelf in her bedroom I couldn’t help but notice that the shelves were lined with paperback after paperback by one author in particular.

“You sure do like Sandra Brown,” I commented.

“Yeah, she’s one of my favorites. You can borrow one if you want.”

So I pulled a title from the shelf at random. The book was Tomorrow’s Promise, a story about an unexpected spark that ignites between a radio personality and a congressman while on a flight to Washington D.C. Both are en route to D.C. to speak at a congressional hearing about soldiers from the Vietnam War that were still listed as MIA. Both have a vested interest in the outcome of the hearing, but is always the case in romance novels, love prevailed and the hero and heroine found a way to be together in the end.

After reading Tomorrow’s Promise, I was hooked and spent the next year devouring Ms. Brown’s backlist—which at the time was around 40+ novels. Her stories contained all the chest-clutching drama that old school romances are known for: secret babies, marriage of convenience and of course, the virginal heroine. Likewise, her heroes were larger than life and completely swoon-worthy: sheikh, cowboy, bad boy and the mysterious loner.

Even though I’ve read all her books and followed her career, I tend to shy away from using words like “idol.” There’s no doubt that reading Sandra Brown had a major influence on my decision to try my own hand at writing romance. While I’ve never written a plot that contained a marriage of convenience or a secret baby, there is one thing I took away from all those romances by Ms. Brown: love always prevails.

I explore the swoon-worthy blue-collar hero in my latest release. There’s just something about a man in—and out of—uniform.

* * * * *

Amanda Bretz is on Twitter and Facebook and has a blog.

* * * * *

specialdelivery_800Who says good things come in small packages? Corina believes beauty isn’t about size—it’s about attitude—and Zach can’t get enough of her confidence or her curves.

Curvy and proud of it, photographer Corina Saunders seeks to empower other females by shooting boudoir photos of plus-sized women in her home studio. When a charity needs a photographer to photograph twelve sexy men for a hunk-of-the-month calendar, she gladly volunteers her services. During one photo shoot, sparks fly when she snaps pictures of sexy delivery man Zach Moreno and his strategically placed package. When the two cross paths again at a charity ball and bachelor auction, Corina surprises everyone—including herself—when she wins a date with Zach, the sexiest bachelor up for grabs. The pair soon discovers that the attraction between them is too great to ignore and give in to their passion.

* * * * *

Available from Totally Bound, All Romance eBooks, Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Posted in Amanda Bretz, Bookmark Wednesdays | 2 Comments

Bookmark Wednesday: Morticia Knight

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Books have always been a major part of my life – I know that most of you out there feel the same way. For me to write about one is near impossible, but I will make a choice. Just know that this is only one of many that have affected me in a profound way!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

I am absolutely in love with this book. I have seen every single adaptation of this book on TV or in film. The tragedy against the backdrop of the carefree, roaring twenties is a unique representation of that era. There was a very brief period in history – all of nine years – where Fitzgerald’s themes were relevant. But oh what a master storyteller he was. I think the tragedy of his own personal life informs his work, but ironically, much of it occurred after his greatest literary achievements.

Gatsby as a character sticks with me. He is a man who possesses a pure and unconditional love for Daisy Buchanan. He worships her, would do anything for her – exists only for her happiness. He’s the type of lover most women would sacrifice all to have. Yet, Daisy is so lost in her own selfish world that she can’t give herself to him completely. Or is it that she doesn’t really love him the way she professes she does, that she’s really been using him to get her cheating scoundrel of a husband to turn his attentions back to her?

The ending is a gut punch of despair, but it’s one of those that you can’t help but be captivated by. No matter how many times I read it or see the film, I always go back to “But what if he had done this?” or “Why didn’t she just do that?”. The ending never changes – of course – but I can’t help but wish I could make it all better. Fitzgerald did a magnificent job of bringing these spoiled, immoral people to life in a way that you still root for them.

In my Gin & Jazz series, I pay homage to Fitzgerald’s era. His stories are based in New York in high society as mine are centered around Hollywood filmmakers and contain a mixture of those desperate to make it big to those who have scraped their way to the top or are on the verge of tumbling to the ground. In the final installment, Play Acting, silent film star Roman Pasquale has had a fall from grace. He’s been through a lot of heartbreak in his life and is now bordering on destitute. He’s also had the chance to reflect on how his bad behavior contributed to his current state of despair. But he sees a second chance at happiness in the fresh young playwright, Max Vogel.

* * * * *

Morticia Knight is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MorticiaKnight

and her blog is here: http://morticiaknight.blogspot.co.uk/

* * * * *

playacting_exlarge_PNG-210x336Play Acting is book seven in the Gin & Jazz series.

Former screen idol, Roman Pasquale, struggles to survive in Hollywood as the silent film era comes to a close. But a fresh new playwright is in town and he wants Roman to be more than just his star.

The past few years haven’t been kind to fading film star, Roman Pasquale. But then again, he was never very kind to anyone else either. He’s had time to reminisce on his mistakes and to accept responsibility for how he hurt others. Now that Global Studios has turned its back on him, he’s had to sell his grand estate and start over in a modest apartment.

His former co-star, actress Maude Simons, suggests that he meet with new playwright, Max Vogel. Not only will he get the chance to be the star again, Roman can really use the money. What he doesn’t expect is how strongly he’s attracted to the easygoing, confident young man—and the very wicked thoughts he has about him.

Playwright and director, Max Vogel, is delighted that the great Roman Pasquale has agreed to star in his play. What he was unprepared for however, was the intense physical spark that ignited the moment they met. He’s been warned of Roman’s reputation for being difficult to work with, but he’s willing to take the risk—even though his career depends on the success of this one play.

Max needs to coax a heartfelt performance out of Roman, and Roman needs to live up to his resolve to be a better man. But maybe the real issue is whether or not the director and actor can resist the passion they have for one another, a lust so strong that it catches them unaware. Is their lust really love? Or will the drive for success destroy any hope for a happily-ever-after?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of fisting and references to childhood rape.

Publisher’s Note: This book is best read in sequence as part of a series but can be read as a standalone.

* * * * *

Available from Totally Bound here, and from Amazon UK, Amazon US and All Romance eBooks.

Posted in Bookmark Wednesdays, Morticia Knight | 1 Comment

How to help out this writer

I’m seeing a lot of tweets and blog posts – written by authors, naturally – on how to help out writers.

A popular (and by “popular” I mean “terrible”) method for supporting your local writer is to review their books on sites such as Goodreads, adding the same review to the reader’s personal blog then possibly even adding the review to the publisher site, giving it five stars and hey, while you’re at it, tweet about how great the book is and mention on Facebook how everyone should read it because rainbows and kittens and unicorns ‘n’ shit.

No. Just no.

Actually, I should clarify – nothing wrong with reviews. I likes ‘em. And I read them too. All authors do. You know all this high-and-mighty “Oh, I never read the comments and I avoid reviews because they’re for readers, not writers,” bullshit? That’s all it is. Bullshit. All writers read reviews and comments, then they go on Twitter and boast about how they don’t.

Anyway, reviews. Yeah. They’re cool. They help spread the word. But what I object to, what’s actually “terrible” is writers putting the onus on readers to “help them out”. It’s very street-teamy, this notion that readers should help spread the word. And we all know how I feel about street teams, don’t we?

If you want people to recommend your book, write a good one. If you want people to review your book, that’s something I think should be left up to fate. (I’m talking about private readers here, not book bloggers and such; it’s okay to approach them and ask them to review a book if you send them a copy.*)

I’m going to tell you exactly how to help out your favourite writers, and I bet you’re already doing it.

Buy our books.

That’s it. That’s all, as a reader, you’re required to do. Not even required, because that makes it an obligation. You can buy my books if you want. Don’t, if you don’t want. Either way, it’s up to you.

It’s not your job to publicise my work. I’d say that’s my job, but again, that’s something I’ve blog ranted about before. (Here, in The snake oil that is paying for promo, I touch on the subject of publishers absolving themselves of all responsibility for promoting the books they publish.)

I’ll make this absolutely clear.

If you buy and read my books, thank you. I’m not going to be asking you to do anything else. I’m a writer. I write books. You’re the readers. You read them.

That is how you support writers.

* * * * *

*That’s what I did with Nix at Scorching Book Reviews. Leave a comment after this review to stand a chance of winning a signed copy of Plus One. See? A writer giving away free stuff instead of asking you for something. You know you want some of this…

Posted in everything you ever thought you knew about promo is wrong, giveaway, Plus One, promofail, review | Leave a comment

Bookmark Wednesdays: Raven McAllan

Return to Yesterday by Robyn Donald

It might sound so silly when I tell you a book that’s influenced me is an old Mills and Boon. Oh I could say Arthur Ransome  and Swallows and Amazons (true I wanted to learn to sail and I did) Doreen Tovey, Cats in the Belfry ( I had cats for 30 years) or Miss Read Village School (I decided not to teach).

But I read Robyn Donald’s Return to Yesterday, and decided there and then I wanted to visit New Zealand. Her descriptions were amazing. You could smell the freshly cut grass, hear the dog bark, see the evening shadows, and watch the moon rise.

Many years later I was lucky enough to visit the country. Our daughter was on a gap year and we went to visit. The minute I realized I was actually going, I emailed the author and told her how pleased I was to be able to experience her descriptions first hand. To my surprise and pleasure, she invited me for tea.

She was lovely, and gave me some very valuable advice.

“Write that story inside you, in your own words and your own style. That’s your voice and yours alone. Don’t give up, and the more you write the better you’ll get.”

She was correct on every point.

Thank you Robyn.

Sixty odd stories later, I agree with her wholeheartedly.

Diomhair—Gaelic for Secret, is down to her. A BDSM club in a Scottish Castle. What happens there, stays there.

Book one, Secrets Shared, and Book two, Secrets Uncovered, are out from www.totallybound.com, as eBooks and together as one lovely paperback.

* * * * *

Raven McAllan is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RavenMcAllan
Website: http://www.ravenmcallan.com/

* * * * *

diomhair_vol1_print_800Secrets Shared

They say never share a secret. Sometimes though, it’s the only thing to do.

Jess is looking forward to her night out clubbing with her best friend, but her anticipation turns to dismay when she realises the venue is a BDSM club not the disco she’d envisioned. After a disastrous experience with the lifestyle in her past, she’s adamant she wants nothing to do with it now.

David agreed to pick up his friend’s sister as a favour, and is surprised to find himself instantly attracted to the fiery Jess. The experienced Dom recognises Jess’ bluster for what it is—fear. There is no doubt in his mind that Jess is submissive, but getting her to accept that fact will take some doing.

David is determined to help her, but it is up to Jess to accept. When Jess does give in to her secret desires, can she truly let go and be the sub David is looking for, or will she hold onto her secrets?

At Diomhair you never know what will happen in the end.

Reader Advisory: This book contains reference to sexual abuse.

Secrets Uncovered

Convincing a Dom that pregnancy doesn’t mean the end of all play can take some doing. Kath is horny and determined, but what does Jeff think?

Pregnancy should be the happiest time of your life. What’s a sub to do, however, when her Dom won’t touch her? Kath can’t understand why Jeff is being so difficult. After all, she’s pregnant, not ill, and she’ll combust with sexual frustration if she can’t seduce Jeff into play.

Jeff can’t help but worry over Kath’s health. It doesn’t matter what anyone, including the doctor, says about sex being okay, his mind tells him otherwise. It’s his duty to protect his sub, even if he’s giving himself blue balls in the process. He’ll do anything to keep her and their baby safe.

With the two of them at an impasse, tension runs high, especially when the future of Diomhair is threatened by an unknown enemy.

As they pull together to secure their home, and their workplace, can they also resolve their personal problems, or does pregnancy spell the end of their Dom/sub relationship?

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of light BDSM.

* * * * *

Available from Totally Bound. (Print edition.)

Posted in Bookmark Wednesdays, Raven McAllan | Leave a comment

Why I am seriously considering self-publishing

I know. Me, giving serious consideration to self-publishing. Who’d’a thunk it?

Given that I’ve previously been dead-set against it, why the big change? First of all, I should clarify – I’m only referring to self-publishing erotic romance ebooks. I have plottering and scheminating going on behind the scenes with regard to another genre that I plan to sub to agents and publishers under another name. But when it comes to erotic romance, I’m happy to experiment with self-publishing. Why?

Length of books.
Erotic romance comes in all shapes and sizes. And I’m told novellas sell pretty well. However, novellas just aren’t cost effective to print, so e-format is good for them. And when it comes to longer books, 80k words plus, the same applies, in a way. Novellas would mean shelling out for cover art, editing and so on, and seeing very little return on your investment unless you price the book way above what its word count is worth. And with long novels, obviously you’d have to pay for more paper and ink. Consumables.

With ebooks? Your book can be any length you want it to be. Or should I say, any length it needs to be.

But okay, ebooks are a matter of format, not publication. Why self-publish erotic romance in ebook format when there are plenty of publishers around who’ll take care of all the technicalities for you?

Royalties.
30%, 35%, 40% royalties are pretty common in this game. But wouldn’t 100% of the profits be better? Sure it would!

Hold on. Editing would come out of that 100%, wouldn’t it? And cover art. And publicity. Wouldn’t it be better to let a digital-first publisher cover all of that?

Maybe. If you could be sure you’d get a fair return.

Let’s talk about editing first. I’ve had the experience of an editor defining a word to me, and getting that definition wrong. In case you’re curious, the word in question was anodyne. Eventually I deleted it from the manuscript because said editor said that publisher’s readers wouldn’t know what it meant. Fair enough, seeing as even the editor didn’t. But I thought it was rather patronising of her, to assume readers wouldn’t be familiar with a word she had defined incorrectly.

Why not get another editor? Well, with a publishing house, you can’t. You work with the one you’re assigned and that’s it. When you self-publish, you get to choose who you work with. And if you end up working with an editor who knows less about the English language than you do, well…that’s your lookout!

(Seriously. I’ve had to educate editors about punctuation. If I’m telling them how to do their job in line with the English language and correct grammar and punctuation, there’s something wrong. Might as well do it myself.)

Cover art.
Some authors do their own. I wouldn’t, because photoshop sucks cheesy donkey dick in the hands of yours truly. Besides, I know of a site that sells polished cover art for very much cheapness and I’d be happy to use it. Less than fifty bucks apiece, and judging by the samples I’ve seen, that’s a bargain.

Publicity. Oh, this is a good one.

Even a small, digital-first press would have more of an ability to publicise my books than I would alone, right? Because they’d have more contacts. They’d have the ear of review bloggers and such. Well, you’d think.

However, I’ve worked with a publisher which didn’t seem to do anything for its authors except tweet once in a blue moon, and even then, they didn’t do it for each book the house released. When asked exactly what they did to promote each individual book release and where said books were sent for review, I was met with a stony silence, broken only by the “Rah rah rah!” of cheerleaders who’d drunk the Kool-Aid. Oh, maybe if writers were lucky, we had it suggested to us that we could do this or that online to promote our books.

Spot the problem, there? What we could do to promote our books. Well, if I have to do all the promotion work myself, why on Earth would I sign away more than half the profits? What exactly is the difference between publishing at Publishing House X, and just doing it myself anyway?

I’ve had the formatting of my work all mucked up one week before publication and had to drop everything to correct it according to someone else’s schedule. If I were self-publishing, I could see to such things according to my own timescale. Of course, I very much doubt I’d take great chunks of my novel and fuck about with the formatting just for shits and giggles anyway. And I wouldn’t have to worry about rapid staff turnover destroying lines of communication between people who are working on a book – or were supposed to work on a book.

I’ve also met with hiccups with regard to series/books with recurring characters. Some publishers believe (incorrectly, in my view) that readers won’t cross over from M/F to M/M and vice versa. A series should either be hetero or gay. (Bisexuality doesn’t even come into the picture; make of that what you will.) If I were self-publishing? I wouldn’t have to worry whether or not Character X’s sexuality fit in with the rest of the series or my readership, because there’d be no-one to say I couldn’t. Would that put some readers off? Undoubtedly. But I believe for each reader who was put off by the “wrong” genitalia in “their” series, I’d gain another who accepts sexuality isn’t something any human being can regulate. We might be hetero, we might be gay, we might be bi. And guess what? Whatever your sexuality, I bet in your everyday life you associate with people who aren’t exactly the same as you. So too I want it to be in my books.

Aside from all of the above, I’d just have less of a headache when it comes to contracts and payments. One publisher introduced a restrictive non-compete clause into their contracts so I left, because I didn’t want my manuscripts to be promised to one particular publisher before they were even written. (And I didn’t want to have to wait for them to knock a book back before I could even consider self-publishing.) I know of other publishers who expect you to gift them ROFR (right of first refusal) on any books rather than just those which are part of a series, and they are not publishers I would ever want to work with.

Payments? One publisher sent the cheques later and later each month until they’d have been as well not sending them at all. Indeed, the money person admitted to forgetting to send my payments out more than once. Yep, you read that right. Forgetting. Each month I had to nag to get my money, until I was told by one of the higher-ups that I’d agreed to being paid quarterly. I hadn’t. I mentioned this on a public forum and the publisher emailed me privately to ask me to say it had all been a misunderstanding.

Yes, again, you read that right. A publisher who wasn’t paying me, asked me to lie in public to cover it up.

I kept those emails. Still have them.

No matter how good the royalties statements look, that doesn’t mean Jack shit if the cheques never show up.

(Funnily enough, they started paying up after that, but I’m never writing for the publisher concerned again. If your day-job boss kept “forgetting” to pay you, you’d walk out, and don’t tell me you wouldn’t.)

It’s my belief that a lot of digital-first publishers are getting worried, knowing that authors now have other options. So they panic, and introduce clauses into their contracts that don’t favour the authors. ROFR clauses that cover all works, not just series/recurring characters. Clauses that forbid you from self-publishing while with this publisher. (Yes, really; I’ve seen this and walked away, thinking “Oh do fuck off.”) Clauses that lay claim to meta-data, and by that I mean the blurb the author wrote him- or herself. I mean, what use is a blurb to a publishing house if the author pulls their book and leaves? Are they going to use the same blurb on another book? I think not. Plus, it’s the intellectual property of the person who wrote it, a bit like the book itself is. Now, apparently you can negotiate that clause out, but…why would you do that, when you can go elsewhere, either to another publisher, or down the self-publishing road?

One publisher (which invited me to submit a manuscript to them HA HA HA NO I DON’T FUCKING THINK SO) doesn’t offer an author’s rights back after a set length of time. No, they do so when sales drop below a certain level. So what do they do? Put their books on sale, which bumps up sales of said books, thereby taking them above the level specified in the contract. So the authors can’t get their manuscripts back, because their novels and novellas are selling “too many copies to invoke the rights reversion clause”.

THIS. HAPPENS.

So, if an author writes erotic romance, it seems to me that such a genre is made for epublishing. But the world of epublishing is riddled with corrupt practices that simply aren’t fair for the author.

Am I saying all publishers are like that? Good God, no. Some are excellent when it comes to editing, promo, paying up what’s due when it’s due. It’s just very difficult finding one publisher that covers all of those bases at the same time. And what puts me off a particular publishing house might not bother someone else.

So really, my reasons for considering self-publishing boil down to “Bad experiences with publishers, and a desire for more freedom when it comes to what I write about, and how much money I charge for my stories.”

That’s it, really. At first, it’ll be an experiment. Just seeing how it goes. (I couldn’t earn much less doing it myself, put it that way.) Will report my progress as I go along.

Then again, I may not make any progress – or money! – at all. But at least I’ll have tried.

Wish me luck! And buy my books. I really need some new furniture and a holiday. :D

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment