Thursday, March 20, 2014

Smitten by a Kitten

Smitten by a Kitten  by Maree Anderson  (for Writers Gone Wild)

Hi y'all,

I know, I know: the inter-webz abound with all things feline *eye roll*. So heartfelt apologies for adding one more kittenish post to the squillions already out there. Because, after a year of no pets at all and me being truly alone in the house during weekdays when kids are at school and the hub is at work, I finally caved.

Yep. There was a little fur-beast who needed a home so the Anderson household has a new baby... who is as yet unnamed, because even though I'm the one who feeds her, entertains her during the day, and cleans her litterbox, everyone else in the family seems to think that they have a say in naming her... and no one can come to a consensus. Sigh.

(Confession time: I've never had a kitten before -- I usually take on older cats who need homes -- so I was woefully unprepared for this little bundle of energy.) Anyway, I'd like you to meet our 10-week-old kitten, who's temporarily being called "Missy", short for Mischief. Though I'm telling ya, "Dora" is on the cards, because she certainly is an explorer!

As you can plainly see from where she likes to hang out, it's just as well I made my deadline before we got this little minx -- it's not exactly easy typing with one hand while cradling a purring kitty in the other and trying to convince her to nap! But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.

Gotta go play with my kitten do some work now.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Great Amazon Take Over

The Great Amazon Take Over by Jennifer L Hart

It's bedlam out there, I tell you, sheer chaos! Dogs and cats living together, pandemonium!

Okay, now that we got the freak-out out of the way let's discuss Amazon's impact on publishing in a calm and rational manner. Or try to at least. There are many strong feelings on this topic, which make sense as it's talking about people's livelihoods. Authors, editors, cover artists, proof readers, pretty much anyone who makes a dime off of selling books. Big publishing has been cautioning that it's ill-advised to let Amazon take control of the ebook market. While Amazon doesn't hold a monopoly as of this post, it's looking more and more likely that the online giant will come close to that in the near future. And what will that mean for readers and writers alike? Time to do as nature intended and adapt.

A little over a week ago, I received an email from ACX, stating the change to their current royalty rates starting on March 12 (tomorrow.) If you don't know what ACX is, put simply it's Amazon's audiobook arm where authors/ publishers can turn their books into audiobooks that are then put up for sale on Amazon, Audible and iTunes. There are several ways to do this, but one of the most popular is a 50% royalty share deal. Today, that deal means the audiobook producer/ narrator splits half of whatever the audiobook earns with the publisher/ author. The more audiobooks you sell, the more money you each make.

Starting on March 13th that deal is changing, meaning narrators and publishers split a flat 40% in half. Which yes, that's less. Tagged on to this email was the caveat that the bounty program which rewards publishers and producers for bringing new blood into the audible membership program is increasing from $25.00 to $50.00 when they sign up for the contract.

Okay, so let me see if I'm getting this right. You want to reward me for selling my own books? You killed Kenny, you bastards!

No seriously, it irritated me at first. I was in touch with both of my fab narrators and plots were hatched to get contracts in under the wire so we would all continue to make more under the terms of the old contract, at least for the next seven years. And I'm sure I wasn't alone in this. Considering my audiobook royalties make up almost a third of my income, of course I want the bigger piece of the pie. I'm writing this with a tech hangover because I was up furiously waiting for Amazon to update a book so I could claim the rights on ACX and get that contract in. Something that was comfortable, almost leisurely for me turned into a mad scramble and it hacked me off. I was forced to adapt to something I thought I had in the bag. It's really not any different than early man catching some rays out on the savanna and then a freaking lion shows up he has to deiced between running away or being eaten. Okay, slightly different consequences but you catch my meaning.

I'll survive and thrive because I recognize that I need to adapt. Amazon can be a total pain in the ass about certain things, I'll admit it. Pesky lion always stalking closer and wanting to eat me. But 40% of however many audiobooks I sell is still better than where I was a year ago, with 100% of 0 audiobooks up for sale. I'd wager Suzanne Cerreta and Hollie Jackson would agree.

This isn't about loyalty to Amazon, it's about making the best decision for my career. If another audiobook production company springs up tomorrow with the old 50% structure and same or better distribution options you bet your sweet ass I'd jump ship and drag Hollie and Suzanne with me so we could all make more money. That's adapting, not just surviving but thriving. And guess what, if Amazon acts like a big overblown tyrant, someone will come up with a better option. Frankly, I'm more upset that I have to pay state sales tax on anything I buy from Amazon now (Thanks a heap, WalMart.)  As for the future of the publishing industry? I write, you read, 'nuff said.

What are your thoughts? One random commenter will receive an audiobook credit from the lion,
 errrr, I mean audible.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Opal's Wish is (almost) here!

Opal's Wish is (almost) here!  By Maree Anderson  (for Writers Gone Wild)

Hi y'all,

Yeah, I know: it's been a while. Because I've been busy busy busy! with the fourth book in my Crystal Warriors series, Opal's Wish. And I'm pleased to say it's here... well, almost!

I have a cover:

I have blurbage:

Opal’s Wish

Book Four of The Crystal Warriors Series 

When the Crystal Guardian, Pieter, handed over the danburite crystal to eight-year-old Sera, he intended her mother be the one to release the cursed warrior from the crystal. But Sera’s heartfelt wish upon the crystal somehow frees Danbur from his prison. Worse, she bonds with him. Danbur now has no chance to break his curse, and despite all the magic at Pieter’s command, this is a mess he has no idea how to resolve.

Danbur is entranced by the little girl. In the weeks remaining before the crystal takes him again he resolves to protect her— even if it means clashing with her mother, Opal, a damaged young woman who doesn’t trust any man… let alone a warrior struggling to make sense of an alien world. Danbur is drawn to Opal, and if he had more time he would do his utmost to thaw a heart frozen by fear of pain and betrayal. But his priority must be helping her young daughter cope with the side-effects of the bond.

Resisting this complex, compelling stranger is taking all the willpower Opal possesses. And then her past catches up with her, catapulting her back into the media spotlight and bringing her to the attention of the powerful man who once ruined her life. With Sera in jeopardy, Opal is forced to turn to Danbur, the man she can’t bring herself to fully trust. All she can do is hope his claims about his mysterious ‘connection’ to Sera aren’t the stuff of fantasy after all. But what Opal doesn’t realize is that the clock is ticking. And Danbur’s time is about to run out.

I have a release date:

31 March 2014

I have a pre-order!

So you can ...

Pre-order Opal's Wish now for US$4.99

(or foreign currency equivalent)

I don't have an official sample/excerpt available quite yet, but that's on the way.

And don't forget:

The Crystal Warrior (Book 1 of the Crystal Warriors series) is currently FREE at a bunch of stores where eBooks are sold; download links to all the stores are available on my website Books page.



Monday, February 24, 2014

And The Bee Goes Buzz, Buzz, Buzz...

This year, project wise, is off to a fantabulous start for me. Not just in the writing arena (which, let me tell you, my creative juices are floooowing), but also in the audiobook scene. I've got some incredible projects in the works with some of the most amazing authors! Honestly, if I have this much awesomeness only two months into the year, I can only predict 2014 will be a year FULL of greatness!

Now, the question on my mind today, and it's a weird one... what do you do when you literally loathe your main character? I'm not talking about the momentary, potentially story-driven, dislike of a new main character. One who is meant to evolve, overcome, and adapt to becoming a better person.

I'm talking full-on loathing, wishing nothing but bad things upon said character because you literally cannot see HOW they have any redeeming qualities. That... moment, when you're in the middle of a scene, and you find yourself wanting to just drop an airplane toilet on them to put them out of your misery?

I ask, because I've had a few characters like that. Those tend to be the stories that never see the light of day, despite some of the plots being really quite good. But it's not the plot that's the problem.

I'm sure few of us actually start off hating our characters (even the baddies have to have SOME substance there to make them compelling) but when faced with a character you really can't stand, do you simply write them out? This sort of thing rarely happens from the outset, it's something you notice only later. After spending so much time on them, do you change them completely and start over?

How do you salvage a character that started out plausible and interesting when you began, but lost their shine somewhere along the way?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A street team you say?

Jennifer L. Hart for Writers Gone Wild

Until recently, I'd heard of a street team in passing but had no real concept of what one entails or how to go about building one of my own. I know authors who have done them and succeeded and others not so much. I was curious though because the ones that work looked like excellent ways to promote. And any writer who has ever published a book knows promotion is a bottomless abyss you throw your time into and will never get back.

So, was a street team for me?  I did what a writer does, and researched the ever loving shit out of the subject. Here's what I've uncovered.

1: A successful street team is an author's reader based support network. I have a fanfreakingtabulous author support network. (Shout out to the Wild Ones, the Divas and all the rest of the talented minxs I play word games with.) A street team is the reader end. These aren't just fans of books who run rampant with promo. A street team is boots on the grounded, dedicated to spreading the word about an author and her books.

2. Not all street teams are created equal. Some of them form and then do nothing, either because the author recruited the wrong sort of members, like those only interested in the swag the author hands out OR because the author really didn't know how to utilize the dedicated fans she had recruited.

3. Like any other promotional venture, it's enthusiasm that sells books. The best street teams out there are friends with the author they represent. They love the author, love the books and genuinely want to share them with others. And yes, this is another reason an author should vet the members of her street team carefully. Because these people are representing you and your brand.

4. It's better to have a small but dedicated force than a glut of  random readers who are just after the free stuff. Yes, an author wants to reward her street team for a job well done, but promising hundreds of dollars in free merchandise will attract the wrong sort who won't really help and could end up costing the author more than she gets back in sales.

5. The most successful street teams have flexible goals. Reviews on release day, promo dropped off at the local library or coffee shop. Five new recommendations per book. Some authors take it to extremes, rewarding street team members for each retweet/ facebook share. Honestly, that sounds more involved than promoting, but to each her own.
(Click for more info about Hart's Hotshots) the end, I decided that yes, I wanted to start a street team. The next step was a name, something catchy and memorable that would look fricking awesome on a jacket yet still represent my romance/ mystery brand. Hart's Hotshots. That badge still gives me shivers because it personifies my mystery, mayhem, laughter and love tagline so perfectly.

I'm not starting up a Facebook group or Yahoo loop at this time. I may or may not hashtag. This isn't about big public scenes, it's about connecting with readers. Members of Hart's Hotshots receive an individual welcome letter and are subscribed to the Hotshots newsletter, which will go out about a month prior to my next release. We'll see how it goes, but I'm happy with how it's turned out so far and glad to have something new to aim for. (Pun totally intended.)

Monday, February 3, 2014



Today the wild writers welcome my RWA chaptermate Roe Valentine, who’s on a three week blog tour promoting her debut romance novel, Almost Married. 
GH: Congratulations on your debut! How long had you been writing before you sold Almost Married?

RV: I've been writing since I was about 6 years old or so. But I completed my first full romance manuscript when I was 19 years old and the second and third ones last year. Let's just say I went on a very long break. Almost Married is my third manuscript.

GH: Describe Almost Married in a nutshell.

RV: Almost Married is a fun, fast-paced contemporary romance with some steamy moments. It's an entertaining read for a night in with a glass of wine (or bottle).

GH:  We’ll drink to that! How did you come up with the idea for Almost Married?

RV:  A lot of my friends were engaged at that time, and I started to think about my previous failed engagement. One thing led to another and I had an outline for Almost Married, which was titled Left to Forever initially.

GH: What makes the relationship between heroine and hero of Almost Married, Carla and Jacob, special?

RV: They are drawn to each other by their goodness, and not for any reasons that go against their natural inclinations.    

GH:  Almost Married is a contemporary romance. Do you plan to stick with contemporaries or are you thinking of branching out into other genres?

RV:  I have a historical romance coming out this year by The Wild Rose Press called Love Easy. It’s set in the 1920s Chicago. I loved writing this one! There’s some history in it too—a little. In addition, I am working on an erotic romance titled Deviant Heiress (the first in a trilogy). Hopefully I can find a home for that. Yeah, I’m all over the place!

GH:  What’s your writing schedule like? I know you have to work around a day job.

RV: *Sigh* It’s tough. But, I attempt to write 1000 words every evening. On the weekends I usually do about 3500 a day. Basically, my life is writing.

GH: What’s the most useful piece of writing advice anyone’s given you?

RV:  Don’t stop writing.

GH: Where can readers find you on line?

RV: I'm on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

GH: And finally, our WGW wildcard question – boxers or briefs?

RV:  Boy that’s a hard one. What about boxer briefs?!!

GH: Ah, a woman who believes in having it all!
Almost Married Blurb:
Realist Dr. Carla Harris believes that people create their own fate through hard work and careful planning. She believes in playing things safe. But while preparing for her upcoming nuptials, she’s forced to confront the most reckless thing she’s ever done, her estranged husband, Jacob.
Idealist Jacob Moreau believes in soul mates, as much as he believes in saving endangered companies. When his long lost wife reenters his life seeking a divorce, he’s convinced more than ever they are meant to be together. And he will do—and lose—anything to have her again.
She thought she had her life planned to perfection. He thought they made perfect sense together. Would marrying Jacob be the craziest thing she’s ever done, or divorcing him?
Purchase Almost Married here.

“You shouldn’t be here.”
Jacob shut his eyes. “According to?”
The door pulled open, and there she stood. But that time, she wasn’t so smoothed down. In fact, she was barefoot and her long hair was tied in a bun on the top of her head. Her gray dress was wrinkled as if she’d been rolling around in the bed. His heart pounded. Beautiful didn’t begin to describe her.
“Your lawyer.” Her eyes lifted to meet his. Had she been crying?
“He doesn’t tell me where to be.”
She gazed passed his body, eyebrows slanted. “You should go.”
He didn’t step closer, though he desperately wanted to. Taking her in his arms was all he could think about. Especially if she was crying because of him. “What if I don’t want to?”
As her lips parted, he could see her deep sigh. She was tormented, and it was enough to make him steadfast in being there, while before he wasn’t sure why he ended up knocking on her door. Something had happened between them at his house, on the patio. He was more certain than ever.
She stepped aside, the hotel room coming in full view.
Stomach fluttering, he walked into the room. First thing he smelled was her vanilla perfume. The bed was unmade, pillows thrown. Clothes thrown over the wingback chair near the window. Shoes lined up near the dresser, though the flat ones she wore earlier were near the side table. He took it all in, remembering her hotel room from many years ago.
“I don’t know what else we can talk about, Jacob.”
He turned to her. The door shut with a loud snap. “Do we have to talk?”
Her eyes widened. “What else would we do?”
I have an idea.
There’s a tour-wide giveaway for the Almost Married blog tour. Two e-copies of Almost Married and a $25 Amazon gift card are up for grabs! Click here to find the rafflecopter giveaway.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rekindled Is Out!

Well, the fifth and final book of my Titanium Security Series is now out, so it's time to celebrate!One of my very favorite things about this book is that the main characters are 46 and 51, respectively. We don't see middle aged characters enough in romance!

Blurb: He left her when she needed him most… Four years ago, Dr. Grace Fallon lost everything that mattered in a terrorist attack she barely survived. Now she’s stronger than ever and in Pakistan with a UN-sanctioned team for the most important assignment of her career. She’s dedicated her life to eradicating the world of chemical weapons, and long ago accepted the inherent risks associated with her job. Until the man whose memory has haunted her for so long suddenly reappears and inadvertently makes her the target of one of the most dangerous terrorists on the planet. Forced to accept Alex’s protection, it’s impossible to deny the white-hot attraction still burning between them. And while she trusts him to guard her from this new threat, Grace must once again decide whether to risk her heart to the man who once shattered her entire world.

Now he’ll risk everything to win her back… Four years ago, NSA agent Alex Rycroft left Grace because had no choice. But never again. Malik Hassani has escaped custody, he’s on the run, and has locked onto Grace as a means to target Alex. This time Alex will do whatever it takes to protect her—and convince her to give them another chance. Walking away from her nearly destroyed him and now that she’s back in his life, he can’t let her go. When the unthinkable happens and Grace’s life hangs in the balance, he’ll sacrifice everything to save her—including himself.

Also, I'm hosting a Facebook party tonight from 7-9pm EST, so feel free to come by and leave a comment on one of the posts to enter the giveaways. 

Happy reading!

Kaylea Cross :)

Made by Lena