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  Many talented authors, both previously unpublished and traditionally published, have a new outlet for their work—both new and backlist titles.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!


Launching Rock*It Reads!!

It’s here!  The launch day of Rock*It Reads, the exciting new project I’ve been working on with a group of fabulous writers whose names you will surely recognize.  Here’s the scoop:

Rock*It Reads is a group of New York-published authors who are also self-publishing romance.  We’re not a publisher—more like a coop or a brand, and we’ve made a commitment to put out only high-quality self-published works.  No second best at Rock*It Reads!  Our RIR logo, featured at the top of this post, will appear on the covers of all our self-published books.  It’s our ‘seal of quality’  and our commitment to readers that we care as much about writing great stories as you do about reading them.

My Rock*It Read partners are:  Pamela Clare, Cheryl Holt, Elisabeth Naughton, Monica Burns, Kris Kennedy, Margo Maguire, Lila DiPasqua, Sharon Page, Joan Swan, and Mia Marlowe.  What a lineup of talent, eh?  I’m thrilled and honored to be included in this group.

For all the details and a list of our books, please stop by our beautiful new Rock*It Reads website.  We’ve got gorgeous covers and some of the best-indie published romance on the market.  I know you won’t be disappointed with the fantastic selection of books we’ve already got listed.

In fact, I’ve got a new book up this week, all bright and shiny for the RIR launch.  It’s called Hot Number, and it’s another one of the sexy contemporary romances I write with my hubby under the pen name of VK Sykes.

In Hot Number, a geeky math professor determined to have a wild week in Las Vegas soon runs into trouble with a hard-nosed but very sexy casino security chief.  The ensuing mayhem leads to a whole lot of fun and romance.  I love this book, and my husband and I had a great time writing it.  For more details, check out my VK Sykes website.

But, wait!  There’s more news.  The Rock*It Reads gang will also be doing a twice-a-month column with Barnes & Noble, which will spotlight indie-published romance.  We’ll help you sort through the tidal wave of books to find the quality reads that really stand out.  The column is called Love Rocks and it launches April 23, 2012, at Barnes & Noble Review.com.

Now you know the scoop, so drop on by the Rock*It Reads website and let us fill up your Nook, Kindle, cellphone, or e-reader with all the best in indie romance.  I guarantee you won’t regret it!

And for my visitors to the blog today, I’ll be giving away three copies of Hot Number to celebrate its release.  Just tell me what books you’re looking forward to reading this month – three people who comment will win a copy of my new book!


Our Brave New Digital World

My good pal and historical romance author Kris Kennedy is in the house today.  She’s here to give us a preview of an exciting new digital project, and also talk about her upcoming indie published novella.

Take it away, Kris!

It’s a brave new world in there. In your ereader, I mean.

Over the past few years, the reading/writing/publishing world has gone through seismic shifts. So many e-reading devices, so many e-published stories. It’s a readers’ cornucopia, and it is seriously overflowing.

If there’s a downside to all this plenty, it’s figuring out a way to navigate this new world. A map, a compass, some way to find quality. Something like...Rock*It Reads.

Rock*It Reads is a group of stellar New York published authors who are also self-publishing romances. We’ve each made a commitment to put out only high-quality self-published works, and the logo is intended to communicate that. When readers buy a Rock*It Reads-logoed book, they can know they’re getting a story that has been tended with the same level of attention and professionalism as we give our New York works. The logo is meant to be a sort-of ‘seal of quality,’ because we care as much about writing great stories as you do about reading them!

Who are Rock*It Reads authors?
Vanessa Kelly (Our fabulous hostess)
Me, Kris Kennedy
Pamela Clare
Cheryl Holt
Elisabeth Naughton
Monica Burns
Mia Marlowe
Margo Maguire
Lila DiPasqua
Sharon Page
Joan Swan

Now, Rock*It Reads is not a publisher. Not in any way. These are 100% self-published works, done by each author, on her own dime, on her own time.

We’ve simply banded together to form Rock*It Reads to help our readers find other high-quality self-published works. We’re hoping that the logo will be a like a little beacon or guide though the vast world of self-published romances.

For me, I have 3 1/2 books out from wonderful New York publishing houses (the fourth, DECEPTION, with Pocket Books, is on its way in late July!) and I hope to have lots more.

And . . . I’m self-publishing my first romance novella, CLAIMING HER. It’s shorter than my single title stories, hotter, and set in Elizabethan Ireland. All those things set it off the beaten track in enough ways that it’s hard to imagine how it could ever reach a bookstore in the traditional route. But by self-publishing, I get to write a story that’s been wanting to be written, and readers get to read a story they might never be able to the traditional way. Win-win!

It’ll be out late spring/early summer, and it’ll be proudly bearing the Rock*It Reads logo. Because I want to help readers to find other great stories they might love just as much.

So, come by and check us out, and find a romance to rock your world!


Guest Author: Mia Marlowe & Giveaway!

I’m so pleased to have my pal and super-talented author Mia Marlowe visiting with us on the blog today.  Mia writes passionate and wonderfully evocative historical romance.  In fact, Publishers Weekly recently named her latest book, Touch Of A Rogue, as one of the Top Ten Romances for Spring 2012.  Congratulations, lady!

Like many authors these days (including moi), Mia has branched out into indie publishing.  Let’s find out all about that, shall we?

Mia, you have a very successful career in traditional print publishing, yet you’ve recently branched out into indie publishing. Why did you go this route? 

It all started in 2010 when I began to write a serialized novella on my website called A DUKE FOR ALL SEASONS. Each month I added another chapter and invited readers to send in suggestions for which way the story should turn. About 6 months in, I found myself under contract to deliver 6 novels to 2 different publishing houses (Kensington and Sourcebooks) in a 15 month period. All extraneous writing had to go by the wayside.

But I always felt guilty about not finishing A DUKE FOR ALL SEASONS. I felt I owed it to my readers to let them know what happened to Sebastian and Arabella. So when I was able, I wrote the rest of the story and offered it as an eNovella last fall. No one was more surprised than I when it hit the Top 10 in historical romance on Amazon and stayed there for weeks.

Then when my agent negotiated the reversion of rights to several of my books from Dorchester, it seemed only natural to epublish those stories as well. I love writing for my NY editors at Kensington and Sourcebooks and am very happy to have one foot in tradition publishing and another in the brave new world of indie.

Two of your books, Erinsong and MaidenSong take place during the Viking period, but your other historicals are set during the 19th Century. Why such a spread?

I’ve always had a passion for history that isn’t limited to Regency England. I wanted to write some dramatic, epic stories of seduction, betrayal and redemption. The world of the vikings is just the kind of broad canvas I wanted for a backdrop. Readers who enjoy my Dark Ages romances will be pleased to hear that a third “song” book is coming this fall—DRAGONSONG, my never-before-published finale to the viking series.

I’ve also written stories set in 16th century Scotland (SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER, Sourcebooks, Jan. 2012 with New York Times bestseller  Connie Mason) and Victorian era London-Paris-Hanover (TOUCH OF A THIEF, Kensington, May 2011). I love the historical research that goes into my books, but it’s the story that’s most important to me. That’s why I’m not married to one particular setting.

What can you tell us about your upcoming book, How To Distract A Duchess?

In HOW TO DISTRACT THE DUCHESS, an artistic widowed duchess mistakes Her Majesty’s covert agent for her next nude model. Since my Victorian ‘James Bond’ needs the information he believes the duchess possesses, what else can he do? He blithely strips down, whistling ‘Rule Britannia’ through his teeth.

It’s funny, sexy and was a delight to write.

This story was first published in 2009 as Distracting the Duchess, but has been vigorously revised since then.  I hope to have HOW TO DISTRACT A DUCHESS ready for your ereader in a few weeks.  😉

What’s this fab new indie publishing venture you’re involved in?

I’m so excited about this and it’s been so hard to keep mum about it, but now the cat is about to scratch its way out of the bag. I’ve been lucky enough to be included in a very talented group of NY published authors (included the fabulous Miss Vanessa Kelly!) who are also branching out into indie publishing. The list of authors reads like a “Who’s Who” of romance—bestsellers, award winners, and exceptional storytellers all! Ok, I’ll give. Here they all are: Monica Burns, Pamela Clare, Lila DiPasqua, Cheryl Holt, Vanessa Kelly, Kris Kennedy, Margo Maguire, Elisabeth Naughton, Sharon Page, Joan Swan and little ol’ me.

We’ve banded together to form Rock*It Reads, an eBook brand that offers readers a sort of “Good Reading Seal of Approval.” We’re committed to bringing the same high standards of writing, editing, and cover art to our indie works that we provide for our NY publishers. Check out what we offer at our website.

But that’s not all. There has been an explosion of self-pubbed works into the marketplace. We’re going to help you navigate the minefield of indie romances and find some real gems in our bi-monthly column for B&N.com. The kick off article is April 23rd! Hope to see you there.

Thanks for having me here today, Vanessa. I’d like to offer a random commenter their choice from among my Rock*It Reads eBooks.  Just answer the following question to be entered in the drawing.  Is there a time period/setting that would cause you to absolutely refuse to read a story that lives there? What unique venue do you wish an author would choose?

Find Mia online at http://www.miamarlowe.com , at Facebook http://facebook.com/MiaMarloweFanPage and Twitter http://twitter.com/Mia_Marlowe.

Great interview, Mia!  Thank you so much.  And I can’t tell you how happy I am to be included with so many talented writers in Rock*It Reads!


Winners & Contests!

The winner of Lex Valentine’s book, Kissing Joan Collins, is Yvette, and the winner of Jody Wallace’s book, Pack and Coven, is donna ann.  Congratulations, ladies!  I’ll be in touch.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by the blog.  My guests next week will be historical romance author Heather Snow, contemporary romance author Jenna Bayley-Burke, and romance/thriller writer Leslie Langtry.  You won’t want to miss any of them!

And don’t forget I’m running a fabulous contest with a group of truly terrific authors.  Elise Rome, Shana Galen, Lila DiPasqua, and Heather Snow are joining me in giving away the ENTIRE, signed backlists of some of your favorite authors.  I’m giving away the fabulous Cynthia Eden’s backlist – Cynthia writes very sexy paranormal romance and romantic suspense.  She’s one of my personal favorites, and if you haven’t read her books you’re in for an incredible treat.

The other backlists will be from the following authors:  Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Hoyt, Julie Garwood.

Okay, so what do you have to do to enter this contest?  Elise, Shana, Lila, Heather, and I are running a special facebook application on our individual pages where you can enter to win the complete, signed backlists from the amazing authors I’ve listed above.  For those of you who are already following me on facebook, just check out the Indulge in Our Favorite Authors tab on my facebook page sidebar to complete your entry.

Again, all you need to do is hop onto Facebook and follow the authors who want to give away these books:  Elise Rome, Shana Galen, Lila DiPasqua, Heather Snow.  And moi, of course!  Again, if you’re already following me, you just have to complete the very quick and easy application – click on the Indulge Our Favorite Authors tab in my sidebar to do that.

Please note, you must follow and enter on each of the five Facebook pages to be eligible to win each backlist. The giveaway will run till the end of February, when we will then select the winners. Even better, this contest is open to US and international residents! All books will be in English as print books; if any books in the backlists are currently our of print, used books will be purchased for those titles so that the backlist will be complete

Those are the rules! Tell your friends, tell your family, tell any fellow romance fan you know. And get out there and start liking those pages!


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