A New Era In Publishing & Lots Of Prizes, Too!

I have a fabulous author guest blogging with  me today.  She’s Joan Swan, and she writes romantic suspense for Kensington Brava.  Her debut book, Fever, has gotten great reviews and received tons of attention.  Trust me – if you like gritty romantic suspense, you will love this book.

But like many authors, Joan is also branching out into self-publishing or, as it’s often called, indie publishing.  In fact, she’ll be releasing her first indie book in May.  You can check out all the details on her website.

Joan and I have something in common.  We’re both members of Rock*It Reads, a collective of print authors who are also indie publishing.  I blogged about it a few weeks ago, and Joan is here to give you the latest update, which includes a very exciting announcement.

Over to you, my friend!

The publishing industry has turned the corner into a fast and furious new era.  The changes are undeniably exciting…and daunting.

For authors a whole new area of choices await—how your cover will look, which editor you’ll choose, what story you’ll write next and in what genre.  But there are also more worrisome concerns, like how you can make your work stand out in this overflowing market.

For readers, this new era gives you an amazing body of work to choose from that would not have been available even just a year ago.  Many talented authors, both previously unpublished and traditionally published, have a new outlet for their work—both new and backlist titles.  The low prices associated with most epublished books certainly helps out in tough economic times as well.  Add to that the portability and flexibility of ereaders and you’ve got a near-heavenly situation.

Why just near-heavenly?  Because you, the reader, have to wade through the millions of books available to narrow down your choices.  Might sound easy, but it only takes a few duds to the tune of $3-$5 to make those “off” choices add up pretty quick.  And I have to admit that’s one of my pet peeves – taking a chance on a book — spending the money, investing my time, my hope…and being let down.  For a romance reader, there is not much less disappointing than this.

This is a conundrum that the authors at Rock*It Reads also found troubling.  Rock*It Reads is a group of NY traditionally publishing authors who are also venturing out into indie epublishing.  The coop we’ve created supports a group of authors who get not only goes into a quality read—editing, design, proofreading, etc., but what it takes to stand out in an ocean of unknown titles.

So when you see the RIR, Rock*It Reads logo on a book cover, you’ll know each book has been professionally handled from cover to cover, by authors who have done this many time before in the professional realm of New York publishers.

As authors who appreciate amazing writing and long for an awesome story as much as the next reader,  we have partnered with Barnes and Noble to bring outstanding self published titles to readers’ attention through a brand new review column: Love Rocks.  At Love Rocks, Rock*It Reads authors will showcase a fabulous Indie read they’ve discovered and review the book.  We’ll be focusing on the lesser known authors and titles whose brilliance has yet to be recognized, which I personally find thrilling.  What reader doesn’t love to find a talented new author to read?

Our very first column launches today!  So, swing by Barnes and Noble Review.com, catch Love Rocks and stay to chat!  We look forward to seeing you there.

Come back here and leave a comment on your thoughts about the Love Rocks column and you could win one of the following fantastic prizes – donated by many of the RIR authors.

Love’s Portrait by Monica Burns

Skin Deep by Pamela Clare (Available May 2012)

Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare

Sweet Release by Pamela Clare

Undone by Lila DiPasqua (Available May 2012)

Hot Number by VK Sykes (aka Vanessa Kelly)

Fastball by VK Sykes (aka Vanessa Kelly)

Hardball by VK Sykes (aka Vanessa Kelly)

His Wicked Revenge by Vanessa Kelly

Claiming Her by Kris Kennedy (Available May 2012)

Stolen Fury by Elisabeth Naughton

Fever by Joan Swan (print copy)

Intimate Enemies by Joan Swan (Available May 2012)

Vanessa, here.  I have to tell you, I’m very excited about LOVE ROCKS.  So what do you think, readers?  Do you like this new world of indie publishing?  What do you think about this leap into the future?  Leave a comment for a chance to win one of these great books!

We Have Winners!

And I’m one of them!  I spent this past weekend in Atlanta, at the Moonlight & Magnolias conference sponsored by the fabulous Georgia Romance Writers (GRW).  GRW also sponsors the prestigious Maggie Awards, and I’m thrilled to announced that my second book, Sex And The Single Earl, won the Maggie Award for Best Historical Romance.  It was particularly exciting to win because I love this book so much.  If you haven’t read it, it’s no longer available in print but it is available in e-book format.  You can find it on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or at your favorite e-book retailer.

And the other winner today is Sheila, who won a copy of Sophie Jordan’s latest historical romance, Wicked In Your Arms.  Congratulations!  I’ll be in touch soon.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by the blog.  My guests this week are the fabulous historical romance writers, Tina Gabrielle and Ashley March!

#SampleSunday: His Wicked Revenge by Vanessa Kelly

For #SampleSunday, I’d love you to read an excerpt from my Regency short story, His Wicked RevengeCaptain Anthony Barnett has roamed the seas for thirteen long years, seeking his fortune.  Now he’s finally returned to London and to the woman he could never forget…

It started with a woman and it would end with a woman.  This women.  The one Anthony Barnett had been dreaming about for thirteen years.  The same one who would now be the instrument of his revenge.

Lady Paget—Marissa, to her close friends and family—studied his somber office, taking in the dark, heavy furniture and the stacks of bound shipping ledgers.  She looked everywhere but at him.

Not that he could blame her.  His summons, directed to her brother, Lord Joslin, had been carefully worded.  But the threat had been clear, nonetheless.  Marissa was to appear in Anthony’s office at Nightingale Trading by noon today or else the entire Joslin family would suffer the consequences.

Anthony maintained his silence, knowing the victory would be sweeter when Marissa finally came to him of her own volition.  Step by reluctant step. She had already made the first one by coming to down to his warehouse on the docks.  The next would be when she worked up the nerve to look him directly in the eye.

The long case clock by the door ticked out the seconds as she inspected everything in the room worth inspecting.  But eventually, like a disobedient child dragging her feet, she slowly lifted her gaze to meet his.  Her pale eyes, the color of a summer sky over the Indies, fixed on him with reluctant attention.  A hint of shame pooled in those cool blue depths.  At the sight of it, a grim satisfaction settled in Anthony’s chest.  She could no longer ignore him, and had now stepped willingly into his carefully-laid trap.

Marissa was finally where he wanted her, or, at least she would be very soon.  And there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it.

“The light is poor in this room, but I think you are greatly changed,” she said in a flat, toneless voice.  “I hardly recognize you.”

He frowned.  What had she expected?  The last time she had seen him, he’d been nothing more than a callow youth, and a weedy one at that.  Years spent at sea had toughened him—hardened him in ways she couldn’t imagine.  But he could say the same for her.  She had changed as well, and in ways he had not expected.

She still retained the feminine power to command his complete attention, of course.  But Marissa had always chattered and sparkled like a rippling brook, full of laughter and mischief.  Now she was subdued, even colorless—a muted reflection of her youthful self.

Reluctantly, he recalled the last time he had seen her, on that night when his life had come to both a beginning and an end.  She had been full of life and beauty—so joyously in love that his heart had well nigh burst with glory of it.  The beauty remained, with her tall, slender figure and hair spun from moonlight.  But the glow that had lit up the world—well, his world, anyway—had faded.  Now her allure had an unearthly, remote quality to it.  Lovely but cold, like an Alpine lake before the spring thaw.

Anthony moved from his post by the window overlooking the docks and his small shipping empire.  He prowled across the room, coming to a halt in front of her, deliberately crowding her against a bookcase.  This close, he could smell her perfume—faint, and scented with jasmine—and the sweetness that was always Marissa.  That, at least, had not changed.  His body recognized the subtle scent, responding with a flash of heat and a quick sharpening of all his senses.  Almost unconsciously he leaned into her, wanting more.

She flinched and took a step back.  Anthony frowned.  Marissa had never cowed before anyone, not even her father when he was in one of his towering rages.

He waged a brief internal struggle to ignore the impulse—long and lamentably ingrained—to protect her.  She had forfeited such a right years ago, and his current plans called for exactly the opposite.

“Lady Paget,” he said.  “Please sit down.  I’m sure you’re as eager to begin our discussion as I am.”

She muttered something under her breath and stepped around him to the hard cherrywood chair in front of his desk.  With a spine as straight as an oak mast, she perched on the edge of the seat, looking as anxious as if she were facing a roomful of Barbary pirates.

Well, he wasn’t a pirate, but he was her first lover.  The man she had sworn to love forever but instead had betrayed—breaking all the vows they had made so many years ago.

His Wicked Revenge is available on Amazon, and at Smashwords and Barnes and Noble for only 99 cents!

It’s (Mostly) Fun And Games At The Bookstore

I stopped by my local Barnes and Noble yesterday to pick up a few books.  Four great-looking reads in four genres:  a contemporary romance by Toni Blake, a paranormal romance by Angela Knight, a historical romance by Jennifer Haymore, and a romantic suspense by Laura Griffen.

My idea of a good time

Angela Knight and Toni Blake are on my auto-buy list, and I love Jennifer Haymore’s elegant and heartfelt historical romances.  Since my latest project is a Christmas historical romance, I thought I could pick up some tips from Jennifer and enjoy a great read at the same time.  I’m new to Laura Griffen, but I’m always looking for a good romantic suspense.

It wasn’t all fun and games at the bookstore, though.  Every time I stop by one of the big chains, I notice less shelf space for books.  At Barnes and Noble, some of that space has been given over to the NOOK display, which is all about reading and buying books.  So that’s great.  But more and more floor space seems to be going to kid’s toys and games, and lifestyle products.  In the romance section, shelf space for authors’ back titles is really contracting.  There’s quite a bit of room for new releases, but if you’re not one of the big dogs, forget about seeing back titles.  And even for most of the big dogs the bookstores only carry a few back titles for each author in stock.  Unless you’re looking for a book by Nora Roberts or Fern Michaels, good luck finding an older book.

I have mixed feelings about this.  More romance readers are buying on-line, either at Amazon or from e-book retailers, and that’s great.  But I really like to browse for back titles and it frustrates the hell out of me when I can’t find them in the bookstore.  I guess that most stores have just given up trying to compete with Amazon, and I think that’s a crying shame.  I adore hanging out in bookstores, but there’s less and less incentive for me to go there.  Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What about you?  Are bookstores still a place you like visiting, or have they become an exercise in readership frustration?