Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Muse

Hmmm. I thought and thought about which muse to show you today. The logical choice is Severin, since his and Arion's book, Heart of the Warrior, comes out at the end of the month. Since I showed you Arion last week, let's show you my Severin muses this week:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Self-Publishing Prejudice (a mini-rant)

I was talking to a photographer last week about the use of one of her photos for the cover of one of my books. She was interested until she found out I'm self-published and only e-publish right now (no print). I haven't heard from her since. Same thing happened with a model I was talking to a while back. There was lots of interest on his part until he found out that I am self-published and currently have a small budget.

I guess these two determined I wasn't important enough to waste their time on. Or maybe they assumed that as a self-published author, I'm not good enough to be in print. They haven't even read my work, but for whatever reason made assumptions about my abilities and stopped talking to me. And they're not the only ones. There is a purveying opinion that self-published authors aren't good enough to get into print, and that only crappy writers go the route of self-publishing.

And that's not the case.

Let me point out the fallacies of this line of thinking:

1) Print publishing is going the way of the dinosaur, so anyone NOT looking at e-publishing isn't tapped in to the trends and, in my opinion, setting themselves up to fail.

2) My decision to self-publish was a conscious business decision. I could have taken my AKM novels to an e-publisher or marketed them to a big print publisher. I have been told my writing is good enough to get an agent and be in print (a published author who was my writing instructor for two years told me this), but why would I want to go that route? It would take a minimum of two years to get picked up by an agent and a publisher, and for my books to finally end up on a sales rack somewhere. And then I would be lucky to see $1 for every $10 sold. And I would have to bend to the creative whims of the publisher, thus losing creative control over my work. As a self-published author, I maintain all creative control. I determine the price point and when to put my work on sale. In two years, I can have 16 pieces published (unlike the 1 I'd have published through a print publisher). I have a more direct hand in the entire process than I would with a publisher. And the kicker? I make anywhere from $5-$8.50 for every $10 sold. It's just smarter all around for me to self-publish. And being unemployed, I don't have two years to wait for a print publisher to get off their ass and take me on. I won't put out crappy work, but I can sure put out more work self-publishing than going with a print publisher.

3) If I am good enough to be in print, a print publisher will discover me while I'm e-publishing/self-publishing. They do look for what I've seen them refer to as "cream that rises to the top." If I am cream, they will find me. If I'm not, then I'll keep doing what I'm doing, because I do it well, with or without a print publisher backing me. Many self-published authors have been discovered by print publishers and now find their books in print. One day that could be me, and where will those naysayer photographers and models be then? Eating crow, I would imagine.

What just irks me is that there is this underlying attitude that if an author self-publishes, they aren't good. They suck. They're crap. And that's just not the case. Not anymore. Once upon a time, vanity presses churned out that kind of rubbish. Oh sure, you still find poorly-written self-published works, but you also find extremely well-written self-published works. There are self-published diamonds just waiting for a Big Six print publisher to discover them.

To automatically assume that everyone who self-publishes sucks is short-sighted and ignorant. For me, it was a calculated and conscious business decision. Anyone who wants to assume the worst about me and my talents will get left behind. Because I'll make it with or without them.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Snack

An excerpt from my book, Rise of the Fallen. If you haven't bought the book, yet, this is what you're missing. It may not be Fifty Shades of Grey, but it's still hot as sin.  And it gets hotter as the series develops:

Sam couldn't explain it, but holding the knives in her hand and catching the tone of his voice as he said he knew how to use them turned her on.
"Show me," she said, flipping the Bowie in her hand so she could hand it to him handle first. "Teach me something."
Maybe Micah could show her how to disembowel someone. That way, if Steve ever did find her, she could have some fun. The thought immediately filled her with guilt. Could she really do that to someone? Even an abusive ass like Steve? Put a bullet between his eyes, maybe, but cutting him up like she was Jack the Ripper? Okay, so under the right circumstances, she probably could. Better to be prepared if it happened.
Micah's gaze shot to hers and he reached out almost tentatively to take the knife. It was as if he wasn't sure he should.
"Oh, go on," she said. "I won't hurt you."
With a smirk, he took the knife and flipped it around, the blade shimmering as it danced in the light. He tossed and sliced it through the air then grabbed it backhand and lunged for her, pushing the blade toward her throat and stopping a couple of feet away. She barely flinched, knowing in her heart that he would never hurt her. Their eyes met and he seemed almost as breathless as she felt, and not from exertion.
Biting her lip, she clutched the Big Brother with the same grip he was using on the Bowie.
"Like this?" She batted his arm away and surged toward him.
He fell to his back as she cut the knife through the air and stopped within inches of his throat. She loomed over him, feeling her pulse quicken as his eyes smoldered up at her.
"Where were you a few days ago?" he said, his voice deep and seductive.
"Apparently waiting to rescue you." She barely pressed the edge of the blade to his skin, biting her lip, liking the thrill she got from the look in his eye. It was a mix of fear and lust, the way she imagined a cuffed masochist looked as he prepared for his master to flog him.
"Any regrets?" he asked.
She shook her head, heat pooling like warm honey low in her belly and between her legs. "No."
Sam felt him relinquish himself as the Bowie thudded to the floor. His free arm swooped around her and pulled her on top of him. She had to swing her leg out from under the covers, but with the knife still held to his throat, she straddled his hips and skimmed her other hand over his smooth, bare chest, as surprised at her reaction to him as he was.
"Tell me you're not using some mind trick on me to make me feel this way," she said.
His hands crept up her bare thighs and inside the legs of her shorts. "I'm not compelling you, if that's what you mean."
Raking her blunt nails across his pec, she smiled as he hissed and pushed his chest toward her hand. He looked good, still thin but more puffed up, like someone had hooked him up to a hose and blown air into what had looked like a deflated body the other night.
"You look better, by the way. The other night you looked like you needed a couple or a dozen sandwiches."
"Oh?" His hands pushed further inside her shorts and she shifted her weight so he could explore further if he wanted to, but he only went so far before pulling his hands back out to continue exploring her elsewhere.
Sam hadn't reacted to a man like this in a long time. Actually, she had never reacted to a man like this. Was it just the danger Micah represented, or how safe she felt with him despite all the peripheral shit she still wasn't sure she had wrapped her head around? Or was it the knife at his throat, or just the fact that she had been through a lot in the last twelve hours and simply needed an outlet for all that unspent adrenaline? Maybe it was a combination of everything. Who knew? What she did know was that her body craved his in a way that felt almost criminal.
Shifting her hold on the knife, she dragged the tip of the blade lightly over his skin, to the hollow of his throat, down his sternum, and over to one dark, gathered, quarter-sized nipple.
Normally so straight-laced and proper, Sam wanted nothing of either right now. Some would say that after so long without, her body now felt the need to make up for lost time, spilling over with arousal. A dark, mysterious man, possibly – probably – a vampire, lay under her, bent to her will as she flicked the tip of the knife across the puckered hardness of his nipple.
"Aren't you scared?" She bent forward so that her face was directly over his and her hips rose from him. His hands skated up the sides of her legs and into her shirt to blister her skin with desire.
"I'm scared you'll stop." His hips thrust upward to keep the connection between their lower bodies, and his hardness pressed against her.

Where to buy:
Barnes & Noble
All Romance ebooks

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sneak-Peek Friday - Heart of the Warrior

This is an excerpt from the beginning of book two of the AKM series, Heart of the Warrior (FYI: HOTW is a M/M erotic romance):

Sev turned his gaze toward the dance floor and the wind nearly blew out of him when he saw Arion lip-fucking a blonde with tits the size of melons. Through the shifting crowd, he caught sight of her hand giving his swollen crotch a slow, persistent rub.
Well, Ari was certainly enjoying himself.
Sev turned away and grabbed the Lag as soon as it was placed in front of him and downed it in one gulp. He slammed the glass on the bar and gestured toward the empty glass. "Another. And leave the bottle."
Coming here had been a mistake. A big one. He could see getting shit-faced was in his very near future.
"Whoa, guy. Slow down. Micah and Trace aren’t even here, yet." Malek turned and looked around the club.
Fuck. Micah. Six weeks ago, he had hated Micah for a whole other reason than why he hated him now. Back then, Micah had used Arion for a punching bag every chance he got, and Sev had wanted to kick his ass for messing with the object of his affection like that. Now, Micah was a fully and happily mated male. And that mad Sev feel about as happy as a dying fish. He glanced in Ari's direction again, but a mass of bodies prevented Sev from seeing him, which was probably for the best, being that Ari was lost in that blonde he had been lip-locked to when Sev had arrived. Still, being unable to land eyes on Ari didn't stop Sev from being consumed by despair, and he kicked back another drink.
"Ah, there they are." Malek looked toward the entrance.
Sev turned and saw Micah walk in with a smile on his face, his arm pulling his mate, Sam, close as they looked at each other with what Sev could only describe as complete love and devotion. He glanced back to the dance floor, and the sea of bodies parted just enough that he saw Arion still kissing the blonde. Sev swiveled his gaze back to Micah as Trace shouldered through the door behind him. Sev would never have what Micah had, would he? A mate of his own and the happiness that seemed to ooze out of every pore because of it.
Micah was a changed person from when Sev had first met him. He had been a dick, a real sonofabitch who did what he wanted when he wanted, without a care for his own safety or the safety of others. When Sam happened along, all that had changed. Micah was still a lethal fucker in the field, but what made him so dangerous now seemed to be his undying love for Sam, whereas before it had been a total disregard for his life.
Sam leaned up and whispered something in Micah’s ear and he smiled wide and turned in to nuzzle her neck. From what Sev had overheard, Micah had never smiled before. Now he smiled all the time.
That was what love and being mated did for you. Or at least it was supposed to. Sev thought about his unrequited feelings for Arion then kicked back his second glass of Lag and poured himself another as Malek held his hand out to greet the three newcomers.
"You two look good." Malek looked between Micah and Sam.
They did look good, which made Sev hate Micah even more. Lucky fucker finding true love and all that shit. And he worked the color black like a fucking supermodel, too. Sam had on skin tight faux leather pants and a modest top that showed just how a woman’s body was supposed to look. She had smaller breasts and wore more clothes than any other woman there, but she was by far the sexiest. And that was something for Sev to think being that he wasn’t even into women.
He looked up and noticed Micah scowling at him as if he was reading his thoughts. And, hell, maybe he was.
Trace reached past Sev and flagged down the waiter for a glass then picked up the bottle of Lag.
"You don’t mind, do you?"  Without waiting for an answer, Trace poured himself a triple and set the bottle back down.
"Apparently not." Sev wished he had just gone home.
"What did you meatheads do tonight?" Trace said to Malek, ignoring his retort. Trace sipped his drink then handed the glass to Micah, who took a healthy swig and handed it back.
Malek glanced at Sev then said, "Popped Sev’s cherry and broke up a cobalt deal and bagged a couple of drecks."
"Nice. Did you bag the buyers, too?"  Micah looked at him, his arm tightening around Sam as if he was trying to prove a point: Eyes off my woman.
"Nope." Sev downed another glass before pouring more.
Malek reached for the bottle to pull it away, but Sev snatched it from him and gave him a warning look.
"Well, did you at least mark them?"  Micah took the glass from Trace again and drank.
"Of course I did, asshole. Do I look like an idiot?"  Sev squared Micah up.
"Do you really want me to answer that, newbie?"
Malek held his hands up between them. "Hey, Micah, Severin’s promoted up. You know that."
Micah chuffed. "Yeah? Well, his attitude is for shit. I think he needs to get laid." The last he said softly, almost lethally soft, and with an edge as if he was laying down a dare or a challenge or something.
Sev's eyes narrowed, and he wondered what game Micah was playing. "Like you’re one to talk about attitude." The alcohol was making Sev bold. Or maybe just stupid. He would decide the answer to that in the morning.
"Fuck off, newbie." Micah handed the Lag back to Trace, and Sev could feel waves of aggression coming off the male as if he was ready to throw down. Micah was one of only a few males who could hold his own against Severin, and he knew it.
Trace chuckled low and deep, but otherwise didn’t get involved, sipping his drink instead, watching the two of them with a secret smile on his face.
The air bristled between him and Micah, and it looked like fists were going to fly for sure until Sam pressed into Micah’s side and stroked her fingers down the slope of his neck as if trying to calm him down.
"Sshh, baby," she said. "Don’t I feel good against you? Huh? Look at me, baby. Micah? Come on, look at me."
She must have been through this with him before because he did seem to cool off, turned toward her, then pulled her close until she nuzzled the place her fingers had just caressed. And just like that, Micah was a kitten again, grinning and purring into her ear as the two of them formed their own little island of harmony. Severin was suddenly forgotten in their world. A nobody.
Again, that was what a mate did for a male. A mate kept him in check, cooled him off and heated him up when necessary. Sev’s eyes lingered enviously on Sam and Micah then drifted back to the dance floor. Ari was just breaking away from his blonde hussy and turned directly toward Sev as if he had known he was being watched. Their eyes suddenly met. Sev held his breath as Ari’s gaze locked to his, and the other male flushed as if he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
But for just that moment, with their eyes locked together on a level that felt more than intimate, everything was perfect. He and Ari were the only two people in the room and all was wholly blissful. Then the reality slammed into him with a nauseating punch to the gut. Yeah, he was a nobody all right, and not just to Micah.
Sev grabbed the bottle of Lag, his glass, and shoved his way between Trace and Micah as he departed for a table in the back. Hopefully where no one would bug him so he could get good and shit-faced drunk.
How could he have even thought he had a chance with Arion? He had no chance. The night they had shared had been an anomaly, a joke, just a heterosexual male satisfying his homo curiosity. It had been anything but something real, serious, and with actual emotion behind it. Hell, maybe it hadn’t even really happened and Sev had daydreamed the whole thing. Whether their time together had happened or not, Sev knew in his heart he was utterly lost to a male he apparently couldn’t have.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What I'm Reading Thursday

Fifty Shades of Grey

Yes, I have succumbed to the feeding frenzy at the trough of Mr. Grey.

As an author, I think I need to stand up and take notice when another author attains this level of success. What has she done that sparked such a buzz? Is the book a literary marvel, or is it just blind luck the book is as popular as it is?

I think 50 Shades is a perfect example of how a book doesn't have to be technically sound to be entertaining. The dialogue tags are, at times, distracting, and the words the characters use sound like they were pulled from a thesaurus (who uses the word profligate in everyday speech?), and Mr. Grey's behavior as a Dom master doesn't always line up with how Doms treat their Subs. Not that I'm a practitioner, but I have been doing a lot of research in this area, because I have a couple of hardcore BDSM characters in my books, as well, and I definitely want to represent them accurately. But I digress. With these small foibles aside, 50 Shades is quite an entertaining read. I love how well the author brings Christian Grey to life. I can see him, hear him, and I feel like I know what he would do in any circumstance.

I will say this: I am almost finished with the book (about 80 pages left), and the amount of sex is getting a bit much. I love a good sex scene, but I want story, as well, and as of last night's reading, I feel that we tipped the scale to the this-is-too-much-sex side of that equation. Does that mean I won't read the other two books? No. I will read them. I'm just saying that I want more focus on the STORY between the characters. I know the sex is part of it, but I'm beginning to feel like Mr. Grey is a bit of a sex addict and it's disturbing me. Seriously: morning, noon, and night? Every day? And isn't Anastasia sore by now?

I know Mr. Grey is a Dom, but being a Dom does not automatically mean a person wants to have sex all the time. That is not what being a Dom is all about. BDSM does not automatically mean "wanton sex fiend who needs and thinks about it 24/7." I've even heard true practitioners say that in the true art of Dom and Sub, sex isn't even the end game. Meaning that the Dom/Sub relationship has more to do with control, giving/receiving pain/etc, than sex.

So my post sounds more anti-50 Shades, but that's not the case. I really have enjoyed the book. It is very entertaining. I'm just pointing out that I don't feel it represents the BDSM community quite accurately and that the balance between story and sex is a tad too sex-heavy for my usual tastes. BUT! The sex and physical displays between Ana and Mr. Grey are creative. I actually read things I've never read before in an erotica piece. So, kudos there!

Overall, I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, and that's saying something since I am usually a very picky reader. I mean, hell, I gave Lover Reborn 3 1/2 stars, and J.R. Ward's BDB is my favorite book series. I obviously see something in this book to give it 4 stars if I gave my fave author 3 1/2 on her latest venture.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Meet The Muse

Meet Richie Nuzzolese, the muse for my AKM character, Arion. Arion is one of the two main characters for book two of the series, Heart of the Warrior.

Funny Advertisement

This is totally and unapologetically not related to writing, but I simply had to share it. I laughed my ass off when I saw it. Here I was, finishing my lunch and getting read to get to work on a guest blog post for my upcoming blog tour, and I pulled up Moby's, One of These Mornings, on You Tube. I was greeted by the most entertaining, sexy, and funny ad I've ever seen on a You Tube video. This was the first ad I didn't skip on a You Tube video. So, what made me alter my usual course and got me sidetracked from the task at hand? Take a look:

Sauza Tequila: Make it with a Fireman

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Showing My Age

I just spent a couple of hours redesigning my blog. I like the new look, however, I can't help but wonder if someone half my age could have taken 1/4 the time to do what took me two hours to figure out. Seriously. LOL.

The good news is, I did figure it out and I have now loaded book links to my blog. I have given it a new background and a new "feel." I even added a banner, although I think I will need a lot more practice before I truly learn how to make it LOOK like a banner. But that lesson is for another day.

But I am proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Not that I'm that old, but I grew up in the pre-cell phone age. I took notes in a notebook -- and not a computer notebook, but a notebook with paper in it that required the use of a - gasp - pen or pencil and left you with cramps in your hand from writing for so long and so fast.

At any rate, my two hour self-taught workshop on blogger has left me with a gratifying sense of accomplishment. Aaahhh! I welcome any advice that others can provide as I continue learning how to tweak my blog. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Was vs. Were


I used to post these writing tips on a regular basis, and I want to get back to it, so here goes: My renewed endeavor to get back on track. J

I have recently identified that was vs. were is one of my personal writing challenges. Until just a few minutes ago, I wasn't (or weren't) really sure which version of the verb "be" to use and when. Is it I was or I were? Hmm.

As with everything else I'm unsure of in my life, I decided to do some research. For this, I went to the Grammar Girl. I've used her a lot and she didn't fail me here, either.

It seems that when the thought or idea being written about is wishful, likely to be false, or is otherwise reminiscing in nature, you use "I were." If the thought or idea is true or based on fact or supposition that it is true, you use "I was."

1. If I were a man, I would never hit a woman. (I am a woman. This would be "wishful thinking" so we use "I were.")
2. If Sara was to order a pizza, we could stay in for lunch. (Because Sara mentioned she would be ordering a pizza, this is likely to happen, so "was" is used)

Same sentence, written two ways:

If John was to come home early, we could go to a movie. (Because it's a holiday and John's boss hinted that the office was going to close early, this is likely to happen. Hence: "was")

If John were to come home early, we could go to a movie. (Because it's a week day and not a holiday and John NEVER comes home early, this is wishful thinking. Hence: "were")

To summarize:
Wishful thinking or false: "I were."
Likely to happen or based on fact: "I was."

I've attached Grammar Girl's link if you want to read more in-depth about this topic.

Happy writing!