Why Little Red Hen, or How I Found Unexpected Success as a Self-Published Author

hen-logo-goodIt always seems that I’m posting in my blog when the world just becomes too much.  Today isn’t really an exception but I think that I will rekindle some hope by the end of it, so here goes.

I’ve been a published author since October of 2010.  Yep, I’m coming up on my five year anniversary as a “real” writer.  If you’ll notice, I’m writing this post from the computer at my day job.  I’d like to say that I was reciting it to my assistant while I sat by a pool in some tropical locale, but alas I’m still a peon.  I have lots of irons in the fire and I’m still pretty excited about my career as a whole, but some days I just wonder why I bother.  Case in point….

I spend an awful lot of time on social media.  Most of us do, but to an author, social media becomes extremely important.  You find yourself perusing Facebook because you HAVE to, not because you want to.  I actually had to force myself on to Twitter the other morning.  Social media is a great way to get your name out there as an author.  Unfortunately it’s also a cesspool of depraved and broken idiots an awful lot of the time.  It’s really easy to fall into a black hole of thinking that you’re alone in a room full of goldfish.  People have fabricated intellect on nearly every topic.  Their misguided and uneducated opinions that ten years ago they would have kept to themselves are now all out in the open for everyone to see.  And everything feels justified because even if you say that putting babies on spikes is a great idea, there will be a thousand people to rush to your cause in the all-powerful “comment” space.  There are days when I feel as if Facebook, Twitter, Google+, tumblr, etc. are the death knell of life and civilization as we know it.  Days like today when I was perusing my feed and noticed that someone was in a group trying to sell me a book that had a cover with a picture of a woman with her nether regions almost completely exposed and a title that I won’t repeat but had the phrase “bitch ass” prominently featured.  And if memory serves, a woman wrote this book.  And was selling it as a romance.  Another had a teaser with “enticing” lines from the book that were full of grammatical and spelling errors, degrading phrases and just terrible writing.  And this was what the author wanted to FEATURE on her advertising.  On days like today, I start to wonder why I’m even bothering.  If my stuff is going to be drowned in a sea of crap, what is the point??!!

This conversation is not new.  My sister, author Lucy Blue, and myself have had this discussion ad nauseum.  In fact, our brother-in-law told us one day if we didn’t stop that we couldn’t sit at the table with him anymore.  And I’ve also talked about this quite a bit on the blog (see archive).  But today, I’m going to pick myself up by my bootstraps and tell you what Lucy and I have decided to do about this.

Now, I’m giving ALL the credit to Lucy here.  This whole thing was her idea, I just jumped on her bandwagon.  In case you didn’t know, Lucy’s been around for quite some time.  Back in the mists of time she wrote a tie-in novel for Forever Knight, a series of medieval fantasy romances for Simon & Schuster, and another series of vampire romances for Pocket Books.  In other words, she ain’t a newbie.  But several years ago people in positions of power decided that romance was either pornography or nonexistent and she took her ball and went home only to re-emerge as an indie author two years ago.  And what an eye-opener that was.  Suddenly she was dealing with social media and a really strange market.  A market where people weren’t buying good stuff.  They were buying crap because it was either really cheap or so outrageous that it was funny.  A market where people just aren’t willing to spend 8 bucks on a book anymore.  So she did some research in that most unlikely of places:  the beauty salon.

If you’ve never been to a beauty salon in the South, I highly recommend it.  In the small town where we live, we don’t need a newspaper, we’ve got Cuttin’ Loose.  Anyway, while sitting in the beauty salon she could hear some women talking about what kinds of things they were reading on the new Kindles they got for Christmas.  The things that all of them kept saying they wanted:  good stories, without “nasty” language, explicit but not “gross, romantic, things they could read fast, authors that produced a lot of material to feed their appetite, easily accessible, and cheap.  And thus, Little Red Hen Romance was born.

The Coop opened it’s doors in May of this year and since then I’ve seen more success there than I have in the five years I’ve been writing professionally.  So what’s the deal?  What is it?  Little Red Hen stories are short (except for some coming releases that I’ll tell you about later).  They only take about an hour (the space of your lunch break) to read.  They’re extremely romantic stories.  Nobody will be degraded, “hit and quit,” spat on, cursed at, etc. in an LRH story.  The hero and heroine may not be in love when the story begins, but they are by the end.  The writing is strong.  Really strong.  NYT Bestseller strong.  You don’t have to worry about plot abysses, unbelievable turns of events, bad vocabulary, poor word choice, horrendous dialogue.  It doesn’t exist.  We only accept the most talented writers we can find.  Our stories are love stories that are funny, sexy, and have excellent dialogue.  LRH releases 3-4 NEW stories each month, so your appetite is constantly fed.  Even better than that– the first weekend they’re released they’re FREE. And if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you can read on Kindle Unlimited for FREE anytime.  And once they go off promotion, the shorts are never more than 99 cents.  Never.  In the coming months we’re looking to expand into novels and anthologies but those will still be sold at a rock bottom price.  Most subgenres are represented, but historicals seem to be our bread and butter lately.

So give us a try.  You can peruse our selection at the website by clicking on the picture above.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  We’re constantly having release parties, livetweets and just having a great time.

Just in case you still have any doubt… here’s a sample:

He winked and bid her to sit.  “Please.  Sit with me here.”  She was very careful as she lowered herself on the end of the queenLRHbench, arms crossed over her chest.  He was close, making her anxious.  As he sat she realized that she was actually leaning away from him.  She didn’t want him to see how her hands trembled even weighed down by the magnificent ring of diamond and sapphire.  “You can sit by me, Joanna.  I don’t bite.”

“Of course,” she said, inching closer.  “You’ll have to forgive my nature.  I’m not used to much company.”

“Well, in a convent…”

“…not that they were a silent order.”

“…but what could nuns possibly have to talk about?”

“Indeed.” 

“Our Lord Jesus, hellfire and the virgin Mary are pretty much their repertoire of conversation topics.” 

Joanna giggled, covering her mouth with her hands.  She’d been taught that a lady should never laugh out loud, but she was just so relieved to find that Will was not the wretched king from a child’s story.  “You mustn’t be blasphemous.”

“Oh I should warn you now, then.  I am the most wicked of blasphemers.” He placed his hand atop hers and squeezed affectionately.  “But I hope you’ll forgive me, my queen.”

Joanna looked down at his hand, so large and calloused against her own small and delicate fingers.  She laced hers between and admired the contrast.  “Your Grace is always forgiven.”  She moved closer to him, and he welcomed her into his side, sliding an arm around her shoulders.

Once Upon a Time: An Interview with C. L. McCollum

CLICK ME to buy!
CLICK ME to buy!

I’m so excited about my guest on The Belle today.  Author and editor C. L. McCollum is going to be talking about her newest endeavor:  Once Upon a Time, A Cliches for a Cause Anthology to benefit RAINN.

Introduce yourself and tell us a little about why you’re visiting the blog today. 

Hiya! I’m Caitlan aka C.L. McCollum (@C_L_McCollum on Twitter), and I am one of the co-editors and authors for the Clichés for a Cause anthology series. The newest book in the series, ONCE UPON A TIME, was just released on June 19th, and Lexxx has been gracious enough to offer to interview me about the book!

As far as me, I’m a 30-something Texas girl currently living in Austin. I’m a fan of SFF and most of my work tends to fall into that genre with occasional dabbling into magical realism. I also am most comfortable writing in the YA and NA categories. Those age groups just seem to be where my writing fits best.

 

 What is the “Clichés for a Cause” project?

The Clichés for a Cause project is a series of anthologies sponsored by Herding Cats Press with the proceeds from each book in the series going to a different charity. The first book was the brainchild of Mitchell Lehnert, another member of our writing group, but it’s since grown into a full series. There are only two books so far, but we hope to continue to add installments as time goes on.

 

 How did Herding Cats Creative Writing become involved with RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) and why did you choose this particular charity?

We aren’t directly involved/affiliated with www.rainn.org – it was chosen simply because it’s a charity that is close to our hearts. Of the contributors, there are more than one of us who have personally experienced abuse or have family and loved ones who have. I personally hadn’t known RAINN existed during the abusive relationship I was in several years ago, but knowing that there was an organization to help people find their way out of those situations would have been a huge aid at the time. Now, I like to hope that our contributing of the proceeds of this anthology, no matter how much those proceeds actually end up being, might help RAINN to keep providing that aid to those who need it.

 

 Tell us a little about your process as editor of a large anthology like this.

We actually had four editors working together on this anthology: myself and August Clearwing as lead editors, and two associate editors, Gerald Sallier and Elaine Titus who helped with the content/copyediting tasks. We actually had several group sessions where we all signed into the same google doc and all four of us could confer/add comments/point out sections of the story we had questions about. It definitely helped to have four sets of eyes on each story; it made me a lot more confident that we didn’t miss major issues/errors since each of us had completely different grammar/content things that we were really good at catching. We also did several rounds of editing, focusing first on content and then on copyedits, which I think worked well for us. It was still a learning experience, though, so hopefully we’ll be even more thorough and efficient with the next book in the series.

 

 What can readers expect from Once Upon a Time?    

ONCE UPON A TIME contains 15 illustrated re-told fairy tales from 29 different authors and artists. The only rule we gave our authors was that their story must start with the words “Once upon a time…” Beyond that, they could go wild. We have everything from steampunk to sci-fi to contemporary to epic fantasy to satire, and the illustrations from our artists are just as diverse. I really can’t pick a favorite story or image frankly (though admittedly I’m partial to the illustrations for my stories LOL).

 

 Once Upon a Time is a follow up to last year’s It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.  What did you learn about producing an anthology from that experience?

What didn’t we learn from IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT? LOL We’re all incredibly proud of the fact that we got it put together and finished, but there were quite a few hiccups and mistakes along the way. We also definitely got overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things we needed to accomplish. I feel like we had a much better idea of the overall work that goes into putting an anthology together with ONCE UPON A TIME. Even little things like having group editing days planned and scheduled before the actual story due date were a huge help to our sanity.

We learned things from this anthology, too, honestly. I don’t think we’re ever going to have an anthology where we don’t look back and think “OK we could have done that thing better – let’s make a note for the next one.”

 Art seems to be a big part of these anthologies.  Beautiful, original illustrations are featured with each story.  How did you go about bringing together such great visual artists to participate in this project?

Honestly most of it was long-term networking that ended up having amazing side effects. A couple of the artists from DARK & STORMY were friends I’d known for years either in real life or online. When the time came to put together a pool of artists for ONCE UPON A TIME, one of those original artists, Angela Sasser (www.angelasasser.com), asked if she could mention the anthology to a small Facebook group she was part of. We said sure, and the next thing I knew, I had 12 emails in like 15 minutes. I heard over and over again that everyone was 1) a fan of fairy tales and 2) thrilled to get to be involved with a project earning money for RAINN.

It was incredibly humbling to have that kind of support from strangers just rolling in that way. The authors were all at least known to one or more of the Herding Cats folks so no one was a complete unknown, but most of the artists were people I’d never worked or talked with before. With several of them, I’d seen their art before and was a fan, but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable approaching them regarding the anthology. So having Angela step in was just a huge part of how incredible the anthology turned out. She wasn’t able to contribute art to this book which we were all bummed about, but I can’t wait to get to collaborate with her on the next book. So yeah, so, so much thanks to her for that!

 

 Once Upon a Time is available right now!  Tell us where we can get it!!

The physical copy of the anthology is currently available on Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Time-Charity-Anthology/dp/1514326493/  The eBook will be released within the next week. For more information about Book I: IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT or upcoming anthologies in the Clichés for a Cause series, please visit www.herdcatspress.com or our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HerdingCatsPress. Herding Cats Press is also on Twitter: @herdcatspress

COVER REVEAL: “Mr. Hollywood”

So the first batch of releases from Little Red Hen Romance was a rip snorting success!  Every single title hit the FREE bestsellers lists for short romance!  I’d call that a win!  So over at The Coop, we’re already preparing for next month’s #newreleases!  First up, a cover reveal for a little contemporary we like to call “Mr. Hollywood.”

Stacie is a romance writer that no longer believes in romance.  Her agent sends her off on a working vacation to Bora Bora in an attempt to rekindle her creative fire and meet a pressing deadline.  It seems an impossible task until she’s saved from the clutches of disaster by a beautiful stranger.

COMING MAY 29TH!!
COMING MAY 29TH!!

“Mr. Hollywood” is the fifth release from Little Red Hen Romance, a publisher with a completely new concept in romance:  short, sexy, romantic stories that are never more than 99 cents!  Click the image for more!!

Little Hen Romance Is Alive!

Lexxx Christian:

Me and Lucy Blue have a little side project: ROMANCE FOR THE REST OF US!!! Read on for FREE and cheap shorties!

Originally posted on lucybluecastle:

And this weekend, all the books are free to read on your handy-dandy Kindle device. Wanna see what we’ve got? (Click the image to go to the Amazon page.)

dragon gold

Celtic witch Rowan is taken from her Saxon captors by the Romans and given as a spoil of war to Titus, a Roman general.He treats her tenderly, but she is determined to be free. But when Titus is surrounded by traitors, she has to decide. Should she take advantage of the confusion and escape or use her magic to save him? Possible trigger warning: Some of the sexual activity described is not what I’d call consensual. While it falls far short of rape, readers with a particular sensitivity in this area might find it upsetting.  Paranormal historical/fantasy.

playing hamlet

A conversation with sex. Nick and Tara were drama school sweethearts before Nick became an international sensation and every geek girl’s dream. Now…

View original 177 more words

NEW RELEASE: Erotic Takeover by Tina Donahue

CLICK ME to BUY!
CLICK ME to BUY!

Hey kids!  I haven’t featured a new release on The Belle in quite a while, so I thought– what the hell.  And boy did I pick a scorcher this time.  My friend and colleague at Ellora’s Cave, Tina Donahue, has just released her latest, Erotic Takeover.  It’s a story about the curvaceous and beautiful Jodi who is longing for the attention of her boss, sexy photographer Mac.  Take a look at this smoldering excerpt and I promise you’ll want to read more…

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True to his word, Mac didn’t touch her in any inappropriate places while he strolled the aisles, pulling boxes and cans off the shelves, reading the ingredients as if he’d never done anything like this before.

Jodi suspected he hadn’t, finding her life an adventure he’d never had to face. For someone like him, it was a fun challenge to budget money, clip coupons, search for all the specials. At least until it became a bore, which would happen eventually.

Her heart cramped at the thought that this would be their first and last grocery trip together. Never had she wanted him more. He was so damn hot and adorable. Like a little boy with his first puzzle, trying to put all the pieces together.

Bent at the waist, Mac studied the store labels beneath the spaghetti sauces. Each showed the cost-per-ounce comparison between the brands.

Two middle-aged women reached past him for their choices. He apparently didn’t notice.

They stared at his luscious profile then gave Jodi the once over, dismissing her as though she had nothing to do with him. She could read their thoughts in their expressions—a hottie like him surely wouldn’t be with someone like her.

Sighing, Jodi checked the time. They’d been here forty minutes already. Mac looked as though he could go all night at this.

“This one,” he said, tapping the bottle of Prego. “It’s three cents cheaper than the other—wait, I think we have a coupon.” He checked his iPhone and beamed as if he’d just inherited Garner’s. “Fifty cents off. Awesome. I’m adding it to your shopping cart.” He put the Prego in her basket. “Where’s the cheap wine?”

“Why?”

“We can’t have spaghetti without booze. What kind of cook are you?”

Jodi lifted her shoulders, her mind stuck on how he’d said “we”, as though they were a couple…or maybe just friends. That had to be it. Mac had fun when he was with her, just as he would with a guy, with the added bonus of sex.

“You can’t cook?” he finally said then sighed. “Looks as if tonight’s on my shoulders.”

“You’re going to make a meal for us?”

“Sure. How hard can it be? If I hit a problem, I’ll Google it on my phone or call Joe.”

She frowned. “Who’s Joe?”

“The chef at Garner’s. Great guy. He can talk me through anything.”

Jodi laughed. “You do know there are cooking instructions on the packages.”

Mac picked up the box of spaghetti. His eyebrows lifted as he read the directions.

God, he was beautiful when he was clueless. “Do you eat out for every meal?”

“Nope.” He tossed the box back in her cart. “I get delivery or takeout sometimes.”

“You don’t even have coffee at your place?”

“There’s a Starbucks less than a mile away.” He leaned into her and murmured, “That’s why God made them, for guys like me.”

Wow, he really was a virgin at this. Tonight was going to be something.

***********************

Whew… I think I need a Mac in my life.  Here’s a bit more about Tina…

I’m an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Kensington, Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Siren Publishing, Booktrope, and indie. Yay! Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised my work, and trust me, I’m forever grateful for that. I’ve had my books reach finals in the EPIC competition, one title was named Book of the Year at a review site, and others have won awards in RWA-sponsored contests. I’m actually featured in the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Talk about feeling like a freaking star. Before my writing career, I was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company. Outside of being an admitted and unrepentant chocoholic, I’ve flown a single-engine plane (scary stuff), rewired an old house using an electricity for dummies book, and have been known to moan like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally whenever I’m eating anything Mexican or Italian. Yeah, I like to eat (burp).

You can check me out here – yes, I am everywhere!  J

 FB Fanpage: http://on.fb.me/1ChWdD7

Email: tina@tinadonahue.com Website: http://bit.ly/15Xy6LI

Blog: http://bit.ly/1yRB9k9

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1wFmIu6

Twitter: http://bit.ly/1ziy4IU

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1Dl8DHy

Triberr: http://bit.ly/1CE2ec7

Pinterest: http://bit.ly/1yFLeMx

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/1ChWFkO

My page at TRR: http://bit.ly/1vb7eEc

EC Author Page: http://bit.ly/1Dh9wor

Samhain Author Page: http://bit.ly/1Bvw6mL

Sweet ‘n Sexy Divas: http://bit.ly/1ChWN3K

Romance Books 4 US: http://bit.ly/1JPtfeS

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Now, down to brass tacks— Tina’s also hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway.  You can enter to win a whole slew of eBooks (40 eBooks by 30 different authors)!  Just go on over to Tina’s site and enter to win!  http://www.tinadonahue.com/massive-e-book-giveaway-contest/ 

 

Amazon Reviews: Proceed With Caution

beautykingdomGood morning, Dear Readers!  It’s a beautiful day here in sunny South Carolina.  I do hope it’s sunny and warm where you are.  I thought I’d begin this latest rant (yes, brace yourself.  it’s going to be a rant.) with an exclamation of how excited I am to see the newest chapter in A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice for those that might not know)’s Beauty series.  If you know anything about me at all you know that part of the reason I do what I do is because of the original Beauty trilogy (don’t worry, I’m going to put a link up later so you can get them for yourself). If you’ve read my novel Beast of Burden, you probably recognize that I was very much influenced by Rice.

I read the original Beauty Trilogy for the first time at probably twelve or thirteen years old.  I smuggled them out of my sister’s room (sorry, Lucy Blue) and read all three in a weekend.  They opened my eyes to a world of not just kinky sex (I already had a rudimentary knowledge of sexy stuff at that point) but to a world where the act of reading was actually a sensual experience.  With every word in those books I was shocked, delighted, aroused and utterly intoxicated.  By words.  The descriptions of the people and places and experiences are so visceral and those images have stayed with me all these years.  I owe Ms. Rice a tremendous debt of gratitude.  She made me a reader, a writer and a woman in that single weekend with just under a thousand pages of text.  Since then I’ve read those books all the way through at least a dozen times.  I had to purchase a new set a few years ago because the ones I had were missing pages and the covers were torn.  I consider them to be my personal reference.  When I’m writing an erotic book and I get lost, I read Beauty’s Punishment (my favorite of the trilogy) so that I can remember that erotic stories are not just about sex, but about the people and the story.  The words. Nowhere in those books does anyone talk about dripping wet love holes. Nor does the dialogue make you cringe.  (“I fuck.  Hard.”  What?!!)  The world in which Beauty and her companions exist is a world where sexual slavery is not only accepted, but longed for.  It’s a symbol of status.  Therefore, there are no silly contracts or instructions on how to properly flog your sub. Rice has no interest writing a BDSM instruction manual or a treatise on how to properly engage in an abusive relationship.  It’s a FANTASY.  It seems with all the erotic fiction out there, we’ve forgotten that these are FANTASIES that are supposed to entertain and titillate.  Not inspire a lifestyle.  But I digress…

Now comes the rant.

I was reading the Amazon reviews of the new book, Beauty’s Kingdom, this morning when I got to work.  I plan to go and get my copy this weekend, but I was curious as to what others were saying.  They were all pretty positive, but I’m having a hard time believing any of them.  NONE of the reviewers on that first page had ever read the first books.  NONE.  One of them claimed that “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty” came out in 1999.  Another said that she hadn’t read the originals because she didn’t think that they would be her cup of tea, but she got an ARC of this and thought what the hell. I get the distinct impression that all of these folks picked it up and thought, “I wonder if this is as good as 50 Shades?”  Which just cuts me to the core for a number of reasons that I’m sure you can guess based on past posts.  The reason why this is annoying to me is because what I really want to know is— will Beauty’s Kingdom stand up alongside the original trilogy?  Is it edgy and sexy and dripping with raw sensuality like the originals?  None of these folks who I’m sure are very intelligent people could tell me because they hadn’t done their research.  And if they’re getting ARCs, then they aren’t just the “average reader” anymore.  They’re a pro reviewer, for lack of a better term.  The “average reader” is looking to them for guidance before they spend the money.  They have a responsibility, in my opinion.  It would be like Roger Ebert reviewing Star Wars after only having watched the last fifteen minutes.

At any rate, despite the purist rage, I’m really excited to get my copy of Beauty’s Kingdom in a couple of days.  I’ll be sure to post my review here when I’m done AND on Amazon.  If for no other reason, then I believe in supporting authors– even superstars like Anne Rice.  And I wouldn’t be a true indie author if I didn’t remind you…

HEY!  If you like erotic retellings of fairy tales, try Beast of Burden by Alexandra Christian!  Don’t believe me?  Try an excerpt…

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His words were cut short by another booming of thunder so loud it echoed off the stone walls, throwing the oil lamp tobeastofburden_original the floor at his feet. Without care for who he was or how he frightened her, Sascha leapt from the bed and threw herself into his arms. At first he was paralyzed with shock, having no idea how to react to this sudden change. After a few moments of her sobbing into his shoulder, he found himself wrapping his arms around her protectively.

“It’s alright,” he soothed. “You’re safe.”

“No I’m not,” she cried. “I’m as unsafe as any one girl could possibly be. Locked up in this castle without a soul that I know. A slave that has no idea what to do or say!” She burst into another torrent of sobs that left her shuddering against him. In a swift movement, he lifted her into his arms and carried her to the chaise by the fire.

The embers had burned low, but still offered some illumination and warmth. He cradled her body against his, tucking her head under his chin. “You’ve nothing to fear, little one,” he purred into her ear softly. “No harm will come to you here.”

“I wish I could believe you, My Lord,” she sniffled.

“Why can’t you?”

She hesitated, the words catching in her throat. How could she tell him how he frightened her? How the slightest glance from him brought terror and arousal in one crushing wave. It was too humiliating and shameful to admit. “I just…I mean…you…”

“Are you afraid of me, Sascha?” He asked this question so matter-of-factly that she nodded before she could stop herself. She blushed deeply and he chuckled. “Put your mind at ease, girl. I promise that it’s not my intention to hurt you.”

They sat on the chaise for several minutes, neither one speaking. The only sounds were the crackling of the fire and the storm raging beyond the walls. Finally, Sascha stared up at her new Master and realized the absurdity of their situation. “My Lord?”

“Cianan.”

“What?” She looked up at him, clearly confused.

“My name. Cianan. Anyone who awakens me in the middle of the night should call me by my given name.” He smiled warmly then tensed again. “But only here.”

Sascha nodded. “Cianan,” she began, her voice still trembling. “Why are you suddenly being so kind to me?”

“You thought me unkind before?” She could only stare at him. “Perhaps I can be a little rough around the edges,” he admitted. “I never meant to be unkind. I beg your pardon if it seemed so.” She seemed to accept this and their silence resumed. She relaxed into his embrace and he sighed, relieved she wasn’t going to run. He inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of her, committing it to memory. Every breath made him believe in her more and more. She was his mate and he would do everything he could to convince her of that fact. “I can feel more questions burning on your tongue, little one.”

Sascha blushed again. “Well…I was wondering…the library…”

“What about it?” His jaw tensed.

“Might I borrow a book? I like to read,” she asked nervously. She kept her eyes trained on the flames before her, not wanting to see any anger on his face. “And I noticed you had a beautiful library.”

“As I’ve told you, you may go anywhere within the castle grounds you like…”

“Except for the cellar,” she finished. “But why not there?” This was the real question that burned on her tongue. The greatest mystery that had grown in her mind.

“It is none of your affair,” he answered stiffly, moving her carefully aside and standing by the fireplace. “It’s my place and you are never to enter. Do you understand?” His eyes flashed with a sudden fury and Sascha cowered.

“Of course, My Lord,” she replied, her eyes cast downward. “I will respect your wishes.”

He looked down at her, trying to smile reassuringly. “Of course you will.” The clock on the other side of the room struck the hour and Sascha yawned. “We should get you into bed lest you be exhausted in the morning.”

“And what should I expect in the morning?” she asked, allowing him to help her to her feet and lead her toward the bed. “Shall I report to the kitchens or the stables?”

He looked puzzled. “Neither.” He pulled back the covers and gestured for her to climb into the bed.

She obeyed and continued. “Well… I was sent here as your slave. But looking around me and the clothes given for me to wear, I just can’t figure what my duties should be.”

“To do whatever I require,” he answered simply, tucking the coverlet around her body. “And right now I require that you sleep.” He turned to leave, but was stopped with her hand on his arm.

“Couldn’t you just stay with me, My Lord?”

He raised his eyebrow. “Of course not. It wouldn’t be appropriate…”

“Please,” she pleaded. “Just until I’ve gone to sleep.” Her eyes looked past him to the window where the wind and rain still pounded at the stone walls. “Storms frighten me so.”

He sighed, defeated by her eyes again. He looked around and pulled a chair from the other side of the room to her bedside and sat down. “It seems that of the two of us, I am more slave to you.”

Because life is too short to read crap

Lexxx Christian:

A new project from Lucy Blue and YOURS truly! Take a look at what’s going on in the Hen House…

Originally posted on lucybluecastle:

the king's tutor coverLike more than 20 million other people, I read e-books on a Kindle, and my favorite genre is romance. A quick search on Amazon for romance titles this morning yielded me 365,065 options to choose from. I know from experience that there are treasures to be found all the way up and down the charts. But the vast majority of these 365,065 e-books calling themselves romances are total, unmitigated, stinky, slimy, sloppy crap. The Wild West world of e-publishing combined with a media that continually broadcasts romance as that world’s most popular and therefore most potentially profitable genre have shaken stuff out of the bushes that would make Grace Livingston Hill say “Fuck this noise” and switch to thrillers. Well-meaning amateurs who couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper sack with a box cutter and a blowtorch have unwittingly conspired with cynical assholes who say flat out they…

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Reblog: Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work

Lexxx Christian:

*shouting*

Originally posted on Armand Rosamilia:

This post pretty much sums it all up… and makes me want to buy the author’s book(s) now… so there!

http://www.whimsydark.com/blog/2015/4/13/please-shut-up-why-self-promotion-as-an-author-doesnt-work

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Introducing Diverse Sword & Sorcery Series-Minister Knights of Souls

Lexxx Christian:

I’m already in love with these books. We need more diversity in fiction, kittens and Nicole Kurtz is doing it so freaking well. Go grab her Minister Knights series!

Originally posted on Other Worlds Pulp:

Soul Cages c (2)

Available in Ebook: $3.99 | Print $12.00

Enjoy elves? Magic? Sorcerers? Swords? Allow me to introduce my series, The Soul Cages: A Minister Knight Novel. The series’ first installment is The Soul Cages: A Minister Knight Novel. The second short story, Marshall, the Minister of Souls, is set to be published by Mocha Memoirs Press in May.  The other stories in the series have been written and will be published bi-monthly over the next three months.

The novel has received 5 Star-Reviews from Amazon.com. Here are some excerpts:

“Nicole Givens Kurtz has written an awesome tale of valor, love, greed and sibling rivalry around a brilliant story about good versus evil. She does a good job with a host of characters and lots of suspense and drama. She made each character in this saga seem very human although you are aware that they have some superhuman tendencies. Each page seems…

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OPEN SUBMISSION CALL: AN IMPROBABLE TRUTH, THE PARANORMAL ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

SUBMISSION CALL!
SUBMISSION CALL!

It’s been a busy spring so far and I hope that continues.  Not because I particularly like not having any time to myself, but because busy means that good work is being produced.  I’ve finished a novel and thrown three different shorts out there for publication in the very near future.  Stay tuned on that front.  But today, kids, I’m not going to talk about me and my exciting projects.  I know– shocker!  Well, I suppose this one IS one of my exciting projects.  Probably the MOST exciting project that I’m working on right now because this one is near and dear to my heart.

Recently, I was working on a story for another anthology call when this idea hit me like a ton of bricks!  My husband and I were talking about said anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories and how the market is going to be so ripe for those right now.  Both of us are avid Sherlockians and are very excited about the upswing, due to the release of the copyrights.  We both expressed a desire to write a new and different sort of Sherlock story that hadn’t been seen before.  Something horrific and bloody and paranormal.  And then it hit me– do your own, Lexxx!  So I managed to sweet talk my amazing publisher at Mocha Memoirs Press to let me put together an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories that were specifically horror.  The mystery should be paranormal and should NOT have the Scooby Doo moment.  You know the one.  The one where Holmes solves the mystery and pulls the mask off the ghoul only to find Old Mr. Frederickson underneath.  No masked men, but actual vampires, ghosts, demons or elder gods.

So if you think that this might be something you’re interested in, CLICK on the tab marked “An Improbable Truth” to see the specifics on submissions.  The short version is this:

Submission Window:  April 1- July 1, 2015

Payment:  Split Royalties + 1 contributor copy

Word Count:  3,000- 8,000 words

An Improbable Truth is looking for stories that set Holmes on a paranormal adventure.  The settings may be any place and time from the original Victorian England all the way to modern day, future and any fantasy world in between (weird west, cyberpunk, steampunk, noir, Lovecraftian, dystopia).  The only catch is that the stories must have a distinctly dark and paranormal edge.  Push the envelope and let the mystery run wild.  Ghosts, serial killers, vampires, zombies, monsters of all types are welcome.  Keep in mind:  if this book were on the shelf at your local bookshop, it would be in the HORROR section (sci-fi is great as long as it’s Aliens-type sci-fi and not Star Trek-type sci-fi).

…oh, and we are NOT looking for erotica.  I don’t know why I felt I had to mention that, but well… there it is.

So that’s it!  Get those creative juices flowing and pen me a story, Authors.  Don’t worry– it can be your first time. We’ll be gentle.  If you have any questions, you can contact me at animprobabletruth.mmp@gmail.com and I’ll be glad to take a crack at it.

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