COVER REVEAL: The Captive Queen

So I’m just a cover revealin’ fool the last few weeks.  What can I say?  I’ve been working diligently all year on books and shorties that they’re finally coming to fruition.  Plus, my friends all seem to have these wonderful new books coming out.  So the good news is, we’ll all have something to read over the holidays!

As you all know, my book Huntress is about to release, becoming Little Red Hen Romance’s first full length release.  But lest you think we’ve abandoned the shorties, have no fear— a new batch will be releasing in December. And yes, they will be holiday themed.  Of course they will.

So I thought it would just be too much fun to do the next medieval Joanna story as a Christmas-y treat.  When we last left King Will and his lovely bride, she’d just revealed that she was pregnant.  Well, being a pregnant lady in the Middle Ages was nothing short of torture.  And being a pregnant medieval lady at Christmas… But our dreamy king will conspire with his closest confidante to make Joanna’s Yuletide wishes come true.

So without further ado (I love saying that!)…

Joanna3Cover

More on the release date and an official blurb that’s not nonsensical will be coming very soon! Until then… have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday to everyone that celebrates!

NEW RELEASE: Huntress by Alexandra Christian

Well kids, it’s been a productive year for The Belle.  I know it doesn’t seem like it.  You haven’t seen the name “Alexandra Christian” on anything since last November.  But I have kept busy with Little Red Hen Romance and the anthology of paranormal Sherlock Holmes stories, An Improbable Truth.  But FINALLY, I have a new NOVEL releasing under my own name!  Yes, the chicks over at Little Red Hen thought that dragon porn sounded like a GREAT idea.  No, I’m kidding.  It’s not porn.  In fact, Huntress is a fairly tame mainstream heat level romance with lots of high fantasy action to go with it.  Think Game of Thrones if there was no rape and they actually liked women.  In fact, the main character Thalia is a kickASS heroine.  But I don’t want to give too much away.  Here’s a blurb—

Every girl dreams of a fairy tale prince.       

Thalia is the Huntress, a dragonslayer from a barbarian tribe. But her dreams are haunted by her prince, a dark shadow who whispers delectable taunts in her ears and smells of crushed roses and ash. When she is captured and sacrificed as a symbolic “bride” to the most fearsome dragon she has ever seen, she wants only to escape into the endless dream of death where she and her dark prince can be together forever.

But princes aren’t always what they seem. And neither are dragons.

Huntress_1If you’d like to read more, there’s an EXCERPT here.

You can order Huntress NOW from Amazon, but the release is Dec. 1, 2015!  Just in time to fill up those holiday Kindle Fire HDs.  Guys will love the action, gals will love the smoldering sexiness of alpha hero, Malik. That is, if you’re like me and went to see The Hobbit movies just for Smaug.

What I’ve Learned About Editing

me and amy (2)OMG… can it be that The Belle herself is posting on the blog today?  Why yes!  Your eyes don’t deceive you.  It’s really me this time.  I figured that I should share my genius with you since it’s been a while (tongue placed firmly in cheek).  The truth is, I’ve been really busy the last few weeks.  I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I really have.  I’ve got two new releases with Little Red Hen Romance this month and I literally finished the edits on one of those stories the day before release.  I’ve also been knee-deep in the edits for the Sherlock Holmes anthology, An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which will be hitting eBook shelves on October 27, 2015.  And speaking of editing, that’s the purpose of my article today.

I’ve been a part of several anthologies as an author but An Improbable Truth is the first time that I’ve been on the other side of the editorial desk.  Yes, my evil alter-ego, A.C. Thompson is the editor of this collection.  And lemme tell you, kittens– it’s been a learning experience.  It’s had its ups and downs but I like to think the process has been pretty smooth for all those involved.  But now that I have something to compare it to, here are some things that I’ve learned.

  1. Have a schedule in place.  This is actually good advice for most endeavors, but it’s really essential if you’re going to take responsibility of other people’s work.  Before the call ever goes out, you should have a clear timeline in your head of not just when the release date is but other important things like:  when will the submission window close, when will everyone’s stories be accepted or rejected, how are you going to let them know, when do contracts go out, when do you project having your first round of edits done, your authors turn in those edits by what date, when is the deadline for cover art, etc.  Now these dates don’t need to be set in stone, but you should have some idea.  No one should be floundering at the last minute.
  2. Be a professional.  Let me say that again.  *In her best Christian Bale voice* BE A FUCKING PROFESSIONAL.  Ahem, that felt good.  Anyway, remember kittens– this is not the church bake sale.  This is someone’s hard work that you’re screwing around with here.  These people are not donating their work to your cause, they’re giving you something for publication that they will hopefully make a little money from.  That means that you cannot keep their work indefinitely in limbo never telling them whether their story got in or not or never sending them a contract.  Authors should NOT find out that their story wasn’t accepted by reading the release announcement. Nor should you keep them on a mailing list that constantly says “just because you’re getting this doesn’t mean you’re in the anthology, just fyi.”  It’s rude, it’s confusing, and it keeps an author’s story on the hook for ages when they could be submitting it to someone that might accept it. Rejections are the most un-fun part of the process, but they’re just as necessary as the acceptances.
  3. Don’t become an editor if you don’t have any credentials other than you’ve read a book before.  I decided to pitch the idea of An Improbable Truth because I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, the copyrights had been released, and there weren’t any other paranormal/ horror Sherlock anthologies out there.  Before I made the decision to pitch to my wonderful publisher, Nicole Kurtz, I thought about whether or not I was equipped to edit someone else’s work.  So here it is:  I graduated from Winthrop University with a degree in Education.  Part of that program required that I complete college level work in writing and grammar.  Up to this point I’ve published two novels a slew of short stories and novellas, and a magazine article with several reputable presses.  I’ve written five novels.  I have also been through a hard edit with a professional “big 5” author and editor.  Do I think I know it all?  Hell no!  I have called on the help of my sister who has a Master’s Degree in English as well as other editors many times.  Trust me, commas are not my friends. But if you don’t have a grasp of language in your own writing, you probably shouldn’t be an editor.  Sadly, this is an epidemic in the self-pubbing/ indie world.  We scream that we want to be taken seriously, but kids– big time publishing is never going to take us seriously until we hold our authors to the same standard as they do.  And that means good writing and professional editing.
  4. I am your editor, not your mama!!  Therefore, it is not my job to teach you to write or completely re-write your first draft.  I actually overheard an author tell someone, “It doesn’t matter if I can write.  That’s what the editor is for.”  WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!! It is your job as the writer to write a great story, polish it up (DO NOT SEND YOUR FIRST DRAFT), and edit– not write a ten page dissertation on why the editor is wrong and you’re right.  The editor is an unbiased third party whose only interest is in making your story the best it can be.  Don’t fight them every step of the way.  If you disagree with something, discuss it.  Don’t stomp your feet like a toddler and refuse to change it.  Or make up some silly excuse as to WHY you can’t edit.  It is worth noting that I did NOT have this problem on the Sherlock anthology.  Every single author I have is the picture of professionalism and talent.  I may be slightly biased, but seriously… these guys and gals rock!
  5. Have a plan for promotion.  This is particularly for the editors of anthologies.  Now you might say, “That’s not my division.”  Well Lestrade, yes it is.  If you’re editing an anthology for a small press it IS your division.  Finding as many places to get the word out about your authors and your book is part of your job description.  You don’t just send these things out into the world and expect them to swim on their own!  You have to be creative.  Think outside the box.  While you’re sitting here reading this ridiculously long diatribe, five anthologies just hit the shelves.  You have to make your book stand out.  Why should people buy YOUR anthology and not the other one.  And don’t worry, you aren’t alone.  Your publisher and all those lovely people who contributed to the anthology are there to help you.  They should have a plan for what they’re going to do as well.  And you’ll, hopefully, all succeed together.

So that’s it. That’s what I’ve learned so far and trust me– it’s a process.  I don’t know it all and probably never will.  And of course, these are all just my opinions.  We’ll see if they work at all in a few weeks.

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.

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!!