Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Come see me in 2010 to see how I did

Yes, I have resolutions for the coming year. I'm such a masochist. Really, I don't ask for much, maybe another month tacked on to the year so I can finish everything on time - I'll call it Maytember, and every Friday will be a mandatory holiday.

So here are my goals for 2009. Snicker all you want. I've had wine, that's my excuse for my loftiness.

1) Lose weight - Will go more smoothly if Obama can ban carbs.

2) Complete one full-length Dareville novel - Most likely it will be Dare Devils

3) Increase Phaze Books sales by 50% - We did it this year, why not?

4) Redo website...again - I am so fickle

5) Get new cart installed at Phaze - put that off long enough

6) Increase promotion efforts - more blogging and tweeting, less whining

7) Save up for Rush's next tour - and there will be a tour. Oh yes, there will.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The End is Near?

I honestly don't know what to think right now about the publishing industry. Yes, there have been layoffs in the big houses, and I've heard rumors that some editors have put a freeze on acquiring titles. On the few author boards on which I lurk I sense the wringing of hands as my peers wonder aloud if their careers are over before they have a chance to begin, thanks to the economy. Just today I'm sent this article on the growing shift in reader habits - where people are turning to the Internet to purchase from resellers to save a buck. Good for them to be thrifty in this economy, one might argue, but authors don't receive royalties on resells.

With all of this happening, however, I note that Phaze Books has had its best year yet. Other ePubs are also reporting increases over the last year. Another house with whom I'm published boasted a 40% increase, while Ellora's Cave is actively looking for more editors to continue their success. My calendar for 2009 is filling with offline engagements for signings, and despite the gloom and doom I get from one side, the other radiates only with optimism.

Of course, you might think I'm comparing apples to oranges, that perhaps the independent eBook industry doesn't count when talking about publishing as a whole. I say, why not? Many smaller e-Houses edit, proof, and format books. We attach ISBN numbers to each title and register them with Books in Print. We sell the titles through our own carts and through resellers. Some of us also offer titles in paperback and, in the case of Mundania and Ellora's for two, hardcover. If the items we offer aren't books, what are they?

I read the article linked above with some interest, but not with trepidation as I gather others have. The concept of the resale is not new, especially where books are concerned. I admit I'm guilty of it myself many times over. I've talked here before about shopping at the Chamblin Bookmine in Jacksonville, Florida, just a wonderful labyrinth of a store carrying titles that probably have never graced the shelves of a chain. As an author, I do feel some worry that interest in my books may be limited to readers who seek out used copies or (naughty, naughty) pirated digital versions. As the article points out, a used book sale won't net the author a royalty, but it may gain readership. Indeed, I have purchased used books in the past and later bought new from the same author. I have to continue writing with the hope that the same could happen with me.

Honestly, if used book sales could foretell the demise of publishing, the setbacks we are seeing now would have happened many years ago. I don't believe we are witnessing the end of anything, so if you're an author go right ahead and polish that manuscript for submission. This is evolution we are witnessing now, the transition of the industry into a new era. Think about the early days of literacy, and I don't mean the first Harry Potter.

I'm talking about Shakespeare and his quill, monks in a dank cellar transcribing elaborately cursive Latin over and over again. You think the people of this time were freaking out when Gutenberg invented movable type? Did you know in Colonial times when you bought a book you actually had to cut the pages first before you could open it? I can only imagine the people of that era were relieved when that was no longer a necessity.

Publishing now is not like it was fifty years ago, and it won't be the same fifty years from now. As things evolve, we must learn to adapt. If we stop changing, it probably means we are dead. I for one will not see recent store closures and layoffs as the end. I was a casualty of the dot-bomb era, yet the Internet hasn't failed. Nor will publishing - there will always be people who buy new and those who buy used, and those who sample from Columns A and B. Perhaps in the near future as eBook emerge deeper into public consciousness, we'll see Column C more often on the menu. And you know what, I'll still buy new.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kanoodling with Kindle

A not so secret Santa gifted me with the Kindle this year. I haven't actually used it yet, but I'm already in love with it. I tested it with a download and everything seems to look good. I went a bit nuts, too, at Project Gutenberg trying to fill in gaps on the Modern Library Top 100 list - books I have yet to read. Don't worry, I don't intend for this marvel to be used entirely for free books. Now that I have an eBook reader I can take advantage of a whole new library open to me.

As much of an advocate for eBooks as I am, I unfortunately have not bought any in a while. Mainly this is because I have so little time to read. What time I do have for eBooks is spent editing and proofing and formatting the ones Phaze releases, then I need to read and evaluate submissions from authors. Every week I see titles that look appealing, from publishers large and small. Of course, I always had the ability to buy, but having the Kindle gives me the option to carry many titles easily without having to lug my laptop anywhere. I'll like that I can go to the coffee shop with my husband with just the Kindle in hand and enjoy a good book. Maybe having this, too, presents a viral opportunity. It's my hope to catch a few interested glances - my magnetic personality is certain to help. Ha.

As you can see, Dare to Dream is up in the Kindle store. Ordering it was a snap, as will ordering any Phaze title from the Kindle store.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

A blessed Christmas and New Year holiday to you all. May your next year be filled with joy, happiness, and success...and hot romance

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More, More, More - Star, Star, Star

I must have missed it in the actual magazine, but RT did review More, More, More! Three stars, and the review reads in part:

Size doesn't matter in these enticing tales of big, beautiful women who find love in strange places. One of the stories doesn't have a happily ever after, which makes it seem rather hit-and-run. The sexual acts include M/M/F and light bondage.

Not sure what to make of the hit and run remark, or if the non-HEA story cost us a star. FWIW, I know the story referenced, and it's well-written and sold rather well in solo eBook form. Of course, my Daringly Delicious is part of this quartet, and I'm curious to know what the reviewer thought of that one in particular. I suppose we'll never learn, ah well. I haven't heard any complaints yet, aside from the one reviewer who didn't like Lupe's sister, Lola. But that's okay, she gives me a headache, too.

And when you do buy your Kindle, I have some books to fill it

More readers are picking up eBooks, sayeth The New York Times. An interesting article if you want to peruse. All the proper buzzwords are there: Kindle, Oprah, etc. Harlequin Spice Briefs are mentioned, but that's about it for romance eBooks. I like especially how the article notes how heavy-hitters like Danielle Steel and John Grisham had been hesitant at first to venture into e, but now we'll see their titles up. I imagine that might have had something to do with royalties and eBooks. Find out how much they can expect, then make a decision.

What I don't disagree with is this quote:

“The perception is that e-books have been around for 10 years and haven’t done anything,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division. “But it’s happening now. This is really starting to take off.”

Not necessarily. I submit that the Spice Briefs wouldn't be in existence now if not for the smaller eBook presses encroaching on their audience. You look at the strides Ellora's Cave has made in the last several years, and how they have influenced the industry - with the technology and the content. Would we have seen the Spice and Aphrodosia imprints without EC? Would we see Kensington and Harlequin offer eBooks if not for the growing popularity of houses Loose ID and Samhain and, dare I say it, my humble HQ? Phaze is up and coming, you watch. I may drive fast at times, but I can see the course.

Now if we can just get on Oprah.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Today's, tomorrow's and next year's chocolate

So we're getting close to the end of our signing at the MacArthur Mall in Norfolk when Phaze's promotions coordinator stopped by to check in on us. She hands me this ginormous bag. "Merry Christmas from the Phaze authors."

Yes, I was stunned. Totally unexpected to receive this:

Do they know me or what? The picture doesn't do it justice, but it's a gift basket from Lindt Chocolates, with an array of yummy truffles, two chocolate reindeer and a chocolate snowman. Haven't bit his head off yet. So far I've enjoyed one red wrapped ball (a very sweet milk chocolate), one snowman truffle (milk shell, white filling), and one blue wrap (white with dark chips, mmmm).

So far I've mentioned balls and head in this post. Well, we know where my mind is tonight.

The accompanying bracelet that came with it is gorgeous, too. I tried a cam picture of it, but it didn't come out well. Will keep trying.

So, to all Phaze authors, thank you thank you thank you. 2008 was a great year for us - and here's to 2009 and another great year of chocolately-covered sexy fiction goodness!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

For those about to drink, we salute you

This is the very brief, very funny Australian Table Wines monologue by Monty Python:

A lot of people in this country pooh-pooh Australian table wines. This is a pity as many fine Australian wines appeal not only to the Australian palate but also to the cognoscenti of Great Britain.

Black Stump Bordeaux is rightly praised as a peppermint flavoured Burgundy, whilst a good Sydney Syrup can rank with any of the world's best sugary wines.

Château Blue, too, has won many prizes; not least for its taste, and its lingering afterburn.

Old Smokey 1968 has been compared favourably to a Welsh claret, whilst the Australian Wino Society thoroughly recommends a 1970 Coq du Rod Laver, which, believe me, has a kick on it like a mule: eight bottles of this and you're really finished. At the opening of the Sydney Bridge Club, they were fishing them out of the main sewers every half an hour.

Of the sparkling wines, the most famous is Perth Pink. This is a bottle with a message in, and the message is 'beware'. This is not a wine for drinking, this is a wine for laying down and avoiding.

Another good fighting wine is Melbourne Old-and-Yellow, which is particularly heavy and should be used only for hand-to-hand combat.

Quite the reverse is true of Château Chunder, which is an appellation contrôlée, specially grown for those keen on regurgitation; a fine wine which really opens up the sluices at both ends.

Real emetic fans will also go for a Hobart Muddy, and a prize winning Cuivre Reserve Château Bottled Nuit San Wogga Wogga, which has a bouquet like an aborigine's armpit.

I love wine, but I don't normally go for Australian vintages. Now, I've been to wine dinners that featured only the finest of Aussie vines, but after all is said and drunk I tend to drift back to domestic and European treats. Last night, however, we took a chance on an Australian label by virtue of the unusual blend and sale price. Zonte's Footstep has a 2007 Shiraz/Viognier blend that looked intriguing enough to taste. On the nose, it was bold and peppery, and presented a very spicy flavor with a lingering finish. You could really only taste the sweetness of the viognier at the end, understandable since the Shiraz to Viognier ratio was 95% to 5%. Overall a good wine to try with meat, but it didn't pair with the coconut curry seafood dish I had. So I have to say the wine choice was a disappointment for me.

Yet, the evening wasn't a total loss. The wine did resurface memories of this skit and prompted us to add more relevant vintages.

Chateau Russell Crowe Red - grabs you by throat and slaps you silly.

AC/DC Pinot Gris - for those about the drink...FIRE!

Merlot at Work - It comes from the land Down Under, and should go back soon.

They were funnier when we were drunk.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My interview with All Romance eBooks

In case you missed my riveting interview about Dare to Dream and my engaging excerpt reading, you can download the archived show for your listening pleasure.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Phaze Books signing - December 20, Norfolk, VA

When: December 20, 2008 from 1:30 to 4:30 PM (Saturday)
Where: Barnes and Noble, MacArthur Center in Norfolk, VA (Google map) - We'll be on the second floor of the mall, which is the first floor of the store
Who: Phaze Books Authors

Join us for a big holiday booksigning at MacArthur Center in the heart of Norfolk! You'll meet some of Phaze's hottest romance and erotica authors:

  • Leigh Ellwood - Truth or Dare, More More More!
  • Monique Lamont - Healing Hearts
  • Yvette Hines - Phaze Fantasies, Vol. VI
  • Alessia Brio - ArtiFactual, the Coming Together series
  • Will Belegon - Artistically Bound, Phaze Fantasies, Vol. II
  • Barbara Donlon Bradley - Star's Destiny
  • Sammie Jo Moresca - Smolder, More More More!
  • Sapphire Phelan - Shifting Desires
We'll have chocolate to share, a few stocking stuffers, and free gift wrapping with your purchases. So come on down and share some holiday cheer with Phaze.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Books and Bling Event - Richmond, Virginia

Here is the info from Virginia author JB Stanley. If you love to read and love to support local businesses, be sure to mark your calendars for this event. I'll see you there.

Books & Bling: Reader Rewards from Creatures ‘n Crooks
Come to buy books. Leave with an armload of treasure!

When: Saturday, January 31st from 1-4 p.m. Mingle with authors, eat sugar-laden treats, win incredible door prizes and buy books in support of the most charming book store in Richmond.

Where: Creatures ‘n Crooks – 3156 West Cary Street, Richmond, VA

Buy Books in January! Over 100 authors from across the country have contributed to the incredible reader reward prizes to be given away throughout the month of January. That’s right!
Whenever you shop at Creatures ‘n Crooks, you have a chance to win a fabulous prize! Prizes will be given out each week and you’ll never know which reader will receive a reward!
(This includes phone customers).

Reward prizes include signed books from authors in the field of mystery, fantasy, horror, nonfiction, and children’s fiction.

Contributions include a vampire basket from Charlaine Harris, a character donation from Margaret Maron, gold and sapphire earrings from Denise Swanson, a Carolyn Hart basket,
a culinary basket with goodies from Joanne Fluke, a historical mystery book prize including a vintage Tiffany necklace, a fantastic fantasy book crate with signed books by George R.R. Martin and much, much more.

Some of the authors attending the January 31st event are Katherine Neville, Donna Andrews, Ellen Crosby, Maria Lima, Ellen Byerrum, Andy Straka, Joseph Guion, John Gilstrap, Austin S. Camacho, Maggie Stiefvater, Kristy Tallman, Dennis Danvers, Elizabeth Blue, Tee Morris, and J.B Stanley. We’ll all be there to shower you, the reader, with attention and prizes!

For a complete list of reader reward prizes see Creatures ‘n Crooks website or the organizer’s site:

Preserve this independent bookstore! Call or stop in today! You could walk out with an armload of treasures!

Creatures 'n Crooks Bookshoppe
3156 West Cary Street
Cary Court Park & Shop
Richmond, VA 23221
or toll-free (888) 533-5303

Today's Chocolate

Been a while since I've posted my chocolate exploits. In truth, I haven't had time to enjoy much of it. Traveling and job transitions didn't exactly leave me craving the sweet stuff, but when I stopped at Linens and Things to see if anything was left worth buying, I found they had a few chocolate bars. The Ghirardelli Duet is combination of milk and dark chocolate, and possesses significant qualities of each. The bar has the decided snap of a dark, but the sweet, creamy taste of a milk. Really, I couldn't detect any bitterness in this bar at all, because the milk chocolate just overpowers. It's like the dark portion isn't there at all, not much of a balance. I suppose the one advantage to have the dark is that it changes the nutritional value of the chocolate, but of course I don't pay attention to that sort of thing when I'm trying to enjoy myself. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Virginia is for readers...I hope

I received word from another Virginia author, Pam Kinney, that the Creatures and Crooks bookstore in Richmond is in danger of closing. Sign of the times. Despite Phaze having a decent November, that wasn't typical of the publishing scene. With NY publishers laying off workers and slowing down on submissions, it makes sense that the hurt would eventually trickle down to more consumer-populated areas. In an economy where we once had to pay four bucks for a gallon of gas, I imagine many of us didn't have much left to buy a book after buying gas to get to the store.

There is going to be an event at C&C in January to stimulate readership. Lots of authors signing and meeting folks. I don't have all the details, but I plan to be there in some capacity, and I'll be donating some signed books to the giveaways they're planning. C&C specializes in genre fiction - mystery, horror and sci-fi, so it's right up my dark alley.

Because the shop is in Richmond, I haven't had the opportunity to visit and patronize the store often. Indie bookshops, particularly those devoted entirely to specific genres, are few and far between these days. Once upon a time Norfolk had two indie shops - Broad Street Books (so named because it used to reside on Broad Street in Portsmouth, but moved to 21st Street in the Ghent area), and Lambda Rising, a GLBT store just down the street. Both were small but cozy, and offered a nice selection - none of them mine, but it wasn't for lack of trying on my part. Yet, both fell victim to declining business and the growing need to compete with chains that deep discount titles.

I used to work for Bookland in Athens, GA (now closed), so I can understand how difficult it is to keep up. When you're selling Harry Potter at cover price to break even and Sam's Club has it for 40% off, what do you do? As a reader, you want to save a few bucks and I can't fault you that. As somebody whose living depends on the sale of books, it's my hope you'll keep the local business in mind when you shop, and that you'll ask yourself if it's worth the few extra dollars to keep a spiffy place alive.

And indie bookshops are the spiffiest of all. Chamblin's Bookmine of Jacksonville, Florida is labyrinthine in its construction. The aisles are narrow and bursting, the air is thick with dust, and it seems every time I visit they've annexed yet another city block. We have a credit account there that's been active since before Malc and I married.

I miss the Old Black Dog in Athens, Georgia. I don't know if it's there anymore, but it shared space with a nice little cafe and had an incredible selection of children's and travel books. When we didn't shop there, we made the drive into Atlanta to the Oxford Bookstore (RIP), this enormous circular building filled with books. Even though there was a Barnes and Noble a mile away, the Oxford attracted all the big names. Sue Grafton, Dick Francis, Rita Mae Brown, Colin Powell. Anne Rice before she returned to the Church. She was brought into the store in a coffin. I waited three hours to get her signature on Servant of the Bones. The line was wrapped twice around the store's interior. Quite a contrast from when I worked at B&N in Jax in the early 90s and management actually discouraged author events.

Where else? Well, the Book Mark in Jacksonville Beach hosted James W. Hall, with whom I shared a college professor and an acquaintance with another writer. They also hosted John Berendt when Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil had just released. The night he was to sign there, he stopped into our B&N store and offered to sign what copies we had. All the books sold that day (I got one myself). Imagine if he had signed there. The opportunities you miss.

If you're in Richmond, I hope you won't miss the party at Creatures and Crooks. I should have the scoop soon, so be thinking about BYOB (buy your own books).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Getting Leia'd

Back in the late 70s / early 80s, I imagine there were two types of people in the world: those who wanted to be Princess Leia and those who wanted to do Princess Leia (more so after that metal bikini scene that launched a thousand wet dreams). Many years and many special editions later, I hazard to guess some people's desires haven't changed - maybe some of us have vacillated between wanting to be and do, but that's a blog for another day.

Anyway, I've been a fan of Carrie Fisher's since the Star Wars days, and I've read everything she's written. She's damn funny, she's survived, and despite all the crap she's endured and shot up her nose or in her veins or however she did it, I'd still want to be her...if only to have the opportunity to say, "I'm still here, and I'm still damn funny."

Her latest book, Wishful Drinking, is damn funny in spots, but I'm dismayed that the overall package is somewhat disappointing. For a memoir it's a rather slim book, and the print is quite large, so that should tell us one thing - after all the drugs and electro-shock therapy and Paul Simon, Carrie can only remember so much to put in a non-fiction book. We seem to hover constantly on the outer fringe of something especially juicy without getting into the dirty, Hollywood Babylon style detail. I already knew she and Paul love/hated each other, that her father ran off with Liz Taylor and that she did drugs. I've seen the Star Wars Holiday Special, and I'm guessing they all had to be high to agree to that. I guess I just wanted more from the stories hinted at in the book. How much of an asshole was Chevy Chase while filming Under the Rainbow (God, even I remember that one, I should envy Carrie's memory lapse here), and why didn't she tell Lucas to f*** off when he ordered her to remove her underwear for the first movie (see, now you want to buy the book)? And what happened to the film adaptation of Surrender the Pink? Hopefully nobody's forgotten.

The Gals are back in town

That's me: novelist, publisher, mom, editor, marketer, comic strip gag writer. I do it all, except mix drinks. Well, I do that, too, but not with the precision of Bryan Brown in Cocktail. Wasn't that a terrible movie? If I have to hear that damn "Kokomo" song one more time I think I'll shove a fireplace poker into my ears.

Well, it appears I also excel at babbling, but back to the comic strip.

Ged's Gals was conceived last year, after a thread on my Rush board about artistic talent. See, I have none, but I write well when I have the opportunity. An online pal on the board, seeking an outlet for her artistic skills, pitched the idea. Let's put on a show - an extremely hilarious one. I laugh at the strip, anyway. We get the occasional reader who doesn't get the joke, which confuses me sometimes. It's not like I'm Ernie Kovacs.

The strip is not a regular feature - it's sort of an "update when we can" project. I have my writing, E. has her painting, so until our stars align and we can devote more time to it, we will. I have many stories to tell through this medium, and it would be nice to wake up to an email from a syndicate wanting to give us a wheelbarrow full of cash to merchandise the hell out the gals. Their faces on coffee mugs, a given. Condoms? Well, it's good enough for KISS...

So visit to read the entire strip so far. Now that Opus has retired, somebody has to fill in.

Friday, December 5, 2008

When ePublishers Collide

Just heard over the wire that one of my publishers, Samhain Publishing, has acquired another eBook press, Linden Bay Romance. Samhain, of course, is the publisher of my outrageously sexy M/M sci-fi romp, Taste This. And yes, I still have that sequel planned. When time stops and people leave me alone I'll write the damn thing. But that's another blog for another day.

Since this news has literally hit the air, it's too soon for me to gauge the overall reaction in the ePub world. Already, though, I've found at least one concerned note from a Linden Bay author, and there are some valid points made there. If, as an author, you wish to be a part of a particular publisher, you submit to that publisher. Where eBooks are concerned, authors have choices. Some might choose to establish a partnership that allows them to be a big fish in a little pond - take a look at some smaller ePresses and you might find the same 4-5 authors dominate the bestseller lists. If you can set that following, you can really build a readership.

The other option, shoot for a big gun like Ellora's Cave, and if you're lucky you'll have the popularity of the brand behind you. As I see it, larger houses like this have their bestsellers and mid-listers - if you can't reach the upper echelon, then perhaps you can use the relationship as a springboard to better things.

Getting back to Samhain. They are a proven company. In a very short time they established a readership, strong sales, and an agreement to work with a NY house. It took Ellora's Cave a bit longer to achieve those same things, but as the folks from Samhain had experience with EC previously, they had an advantage over other houses. I don't much about Linden Bay, other than I know the owners and respect them, and I know a number of authors there who have been very happy so far. How they will take the news of their house moving to another house to be an imprint remains to be seen, but it will pose a number of questions:

Will having your LB book under the Samhain umbrella mean an automatic spike in sales? This is a tough one to answer. Working on the assumption that Samhain will leave Linden Bay untouched with regards to logos, Web site infrastructure, etc., these books won't necessarily be reprints. Phaze Books' parent company, Mundania Press, recently acquired Awe-Struck eBooks, and plans to keep operations there separate. If this is to be the case, there is no guarantee once this sale happens that book sales across the board will explode. In my experience with romance publishing, I have noticed a brand loyalty you don't see in other genres. Readers tend to gravitate toward specific houses for specific things. Harlequin readers know what to expect when they buy a Blaze, Spice, or other imprint. Ellora's Cave readers know to look for their alpha male novels there. Of course, these publishers will continue to massage those niches as long as sales are strong.

When I last saw Angela James at a conference in Virginia, she advised the group that menage stories were hot at Samhain. I don't know if Linden Bay has a particular genre niche - though I've noticed they have a fair amount of M/M books - but I imagine if Samhain lets Linden Bay run independently of the Samhain brand, it might just be business as usual for both houses. Readers will go to Samhain for the books they want, and readers will go to Linden Bay for the books they want there.

Is it good that Samhain is buying Linden Bay? Ultimately, I think so. This has been a rough year for all businesses, and publishing felt the heat as well. Shelf Awareness delivered grim news of the print realm with a number of layoffs, and rumors have abounded of houses closing submissions. Were I to learn one of my publishers experienced problems, I think I would prefer they be acquired by a reputable house than close altogether. With a purchase, an author is given more options - ride it out or pull away - than if a publisher folded altogether.

If I had offer any advice to authors affected by this coming transfer of power, it is this: know the advantages and disadvantages a move like this will have on your books, then take what you have learned and use it toward promoting your work. If you can reach a new audience, do it. If you feel you won't be affected, continue exploring how to get the best exposure for your books.

My best to all the Linden Bay authors, and the hope of a great sales future for your works.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Phaze has the connections!

Congratulations to the wonderful art staff at Phaze Books for taking various honors in the Romance Erotica Connection annual polls. Just a brief glance tells me that Shifting Desires was voted Cover of the Year. We also took top honors for Cover Artist of the Year, and Best Cover Art Service (I suppose that refers to the artist's relationship with the author in terms of delivering the vision). Let's see, how did we do elsewhere...

Beth Wylde got F/F Author of the Year. You'll see her in the upcoming Sapphistocated anthology. Jude Mason's Shoon Joining won Best Erotic Sci-Fi, Bridget Midway got Erotic Interracial Romance Author of the Year. The Sons of Amber print cover got Best Erotic Sci-Fi Cover, and Phaze won overall Best Erotic Sci-Fi Publisher...over Mundania Press. Imagine that.

Hot Couture by Tilly Green won the Erotic Romance Novel - Other category, and Phaze also won Best Customer Service for the second year running. Damn straight, I have the IM on Sundays. If that isn't an indication of dedication to service...I could be out surfing.

So congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to the readers for your support!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'm featured at TRS this month!

Head on over to The Romance Studio Blue to read an interview with me! I talk about Dare to Dream and the Dareville series with Phaze Books, and keep an eye out at TRS later this month because I'll have one of the Book a Day Giveaway prizes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Daring Duo

Not once, but twice. I've made the Phaze Top 20 for November with two "daring" titles. Dare to Dream peaked at number nine, number nine, number nine...sorry, John and Yoko moment there. Daringly Delicious clocked in at 20th. I'm so happy for both, it's a great way to start a new month, and new inspiration for plugging forward with The Dares That Bind. I haven't had time to work on it lately, but now that my work schedule is different I need to readjust so I can get back to the business of writing.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Free Dareville Christmas story!

It is our pleasure to wish you a happy and healthy holiday season, and to thank you for four wonderful years. When Phaze Books launched in late 2004, we had no idea how quickly and how grandly we would grow, and we are grateful to all of you for your continue support. It is our hope to continue offering the best in erotic romance through 2009 and beyond, and we hope you will enjoy this free gift.

Several of our authors have penned holiday-themed “quickies,” sexy flash fictions based on available Phaze titles. So if you’d like to see what some of your favorite characters are doing during the Yule season, grab yourself an egg nog and a plate of cookies and cozy up to his special holiday collection. Click here to download and enjoy!

Peace and blessings,
Kathryn Lively
Publisher, Phaze Books

Included in the collection is "A Daring Kiss," a sexy Dareville freebie!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

When Black Friday comes...

...something something that Donald Fagen sings.

I don't do Black Friday shopping. I realize I could stand to save more money taking advantage of the sales, but I honestly do not like being stuffed in a crowded mall with the rest of the world, all looking for the same ticklish Elmo doll or whatever. As I do not plan to buy much this year, per mutual agreement with the husband, I won't worry about it much. However, if you are type who loves to shop, for books in particular, this is your lucky weekend.

Over at Phaze we've been trying to come up with something unique for a Black Friday sale. We just did a code-generated discount for our birthday, but rather than do that again I decided to discount some old favorites. And since my net time is sporadic this weekend, I set up the sale right now. So you get a head start!

Now through Cyber Monday, check out our Black Friday sale page. We have discounted most of our S HeatSheets and all the Phaze Fantasies volumes, plus a few select titles, including Phaze in Verse. Now is the time to stock up on our HeatSheet backlist, because if you hadn't bought them before, they are new to you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Release - Excitable Gals at Loose ID

Now available from Loose ID: Excitable Gals! Click here to purchase this exciting eBook today!

Leading Lady
Cult TV star Dina Joseph doesn't mind working the sci-fi convention circuit, so long as every day of signing autographs ends with a night of out-of-this-world sex with a well-hung Mission: Jupiter fan. Naturally she's eager to take on two "elves" with phasers set to stunning, but when Kray and Lane reveal they actually are elves--come from an alternate universe to claim the missing link in their triad--Dina must decide between the adoration of many in this world or the eternal passion of two in a different reality.

Nobody seems to believe Jenna McCoy's claim that her boss, Dina Joseph, was kidnapped. Private detective Jeremy Vanderkellen couldn't care less, either. He's concerned about becoming Head Wolf of his pack. When he's passed over he threatens to tear Toronto apart, but his superiors have a way of taming the beast. So Jeremy must learn to respect others as a good leader should, and find a love to sustain him. But, can the lovely Jenna be consoled by a selfish, obnoxious man who transforms during the full moon into a vicious, fang-bearing...Chihuahua?

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, ménage (m/f/m).

Read an excerpt now!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Me want local food.

When we travel to a new city, we avoid the chain restaurants. Hubby asks the concierge, always, "Tell us where you would eat." Nine times out of ten we enjoy a local hangout that isn't too pretentious or pricey, and we're glad we went. This week I'm not eating out much because I'm staying with family, but it doesn't mean I'm not interested in the local food. I don't necessarily mean farmers' markets or co-ops, but local/regional brands I'm not likely to find back home. While exploring the grocery stores today, I came upon Grippos Chips, a Cincy trademark for nearly a century but I wouldn't know it from having lived on national brands like Lays for most of my life. On the way in, through Kentucky, I made sure to stock up on Ale81, which I think kicks Canada Dry's ass any day of the week. This afternoon, I stopped at Skyline Chili for a 3-way (not what you're thinking), then onto a local market for some Ohio wine: a Lakeside Vineyard red and a Valley Vineyards Vidal Blanc. We'll see how they compare to Virginia's juice soon enough.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vintage Geddy Lee Friday

Rare live video of "2112" from a '76 concert. Ya'll can have your Hannah Bananas and Cheetah Dolls or whatever.

It would have to happen on a sale

We're having a discount sale at, and the site is wonky. Bleh. Never fear, you can take the back door to the cart site we use:

and buy your books that way. Don't forget the code: BIGFOUR to get your 25% discount.

Insomnia sux

Things to do in Virginia Beach at 4AM:

Waffle House - no thanks

Watch funny videos on Youtube - better

Stare at the ceiling - taking up all my energy right now

I had the flu, it kicked my ass. I spent all day Thursday in bed, mustering enough strength to get G from preschool in the afternoon. Though the fever and headache are gone, there's still a bit of nausea and now I can't sleep because my internal clock is fucked. This before I leave to visit family for Thanksgiving. I've lost valuable editing time, and to top it off my Internet wigged out around 9 so I missed the ARe Book Club chat. I feel so awful, I was really looking forward to it. So my apologies to all who showed expecting me to come. I tried for twenty minutes to get the chat room to load.

I'm going back to bed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fourteen more years, and Phaze is legal, baby!

Phaze Books is having an anniversary sale! Starting Friday, use the code BIGFOUR when you check out of our cart to get 25% off your order!

I've been remiss in my hostess duties. It's common knowledge around our merry Satellite of Love that Phaze Books is four years old this month. Unfortunately, the exact date of our launch escapes me, but I want to say it was around the middle of the month, maybe later. That month in 2004 we launched three books, among them Truth or Dare. I don't believe I had ever been as excited about a book release as I was with that one.

Not only did Truth mark my first steamy romance release, but this was the first time I helped "open" a house. True, Phaze Books was and remains a part of Mundania Press, but the imprint has always operated separately from the parent company. Mundania had given Phaze a good amount of autonomy from the beginning - it worked in some ways and didn't in others, but four years later we are still here. In a time when a number of eBook houses have opened and closed and others are under scrutiny for various issues, I like to think we've done well for ourselves.

I didn't start out as Phaze's publisher, nor was it ever my intent to take on the job. Things just happen, I believe for a reason, so it's up to me to continue steering this ship. That we had a decent few months in the midst of economic uncertainty is comforting to me, but there are still areas which need work.

At RT Houston, one lady remarked to me that Phaze was a one-woman show. Hardly. We have so many wonderful people working behind the scenes. Four years ago we did have one person taking up the bulk of the work. Now we have an Art Director in charge of several on-call designers, a promotions coordinator who has actually been offered freelance work by outside authors to do their PR, a staff of editors and proofers who love our authors, and the wonderful authors themselves. We have Mundania for support, and of course our readers, without whom we wouldn't still be here.

The face of erotic romance has changed over the last four years. You might think it's an odd thing to say, but if you have followed the trends you will have seen changes in buying and writing patterns. The first erotic romance of the eBook generation I read was Jaid Black's The Empress' New Clothes. Pure alpha male capture seduction. Hulking aliens gods come to Earth to claim their sacred mates, because apparently women on their own planet just don't cut it. The sex is hot and plentiful and keeps us watching the skies at night in wishful thinking. I don't know if Jaid expected to create a sensation when she started the company that sells this book, but it's because of her that many ePubs have embraced the steamier side of fiction. Mundania had been around as long and recognized the market potential, so here we are.

Lately, I find that while capture/bondage still has its audience, there is growing demand for M/M fiction for women. Some authors I've known who wouldn't have touched the genre a few years ago are now trying for a slice of the action. Four years from now, however, the trend could shift to something else. What do we do but keep riding the waves and staying afloat? It's my hope we do better than that.

So here's to four years, two RT Top Picks, three ARIANAs, one EPPIE, three ARe Book of the Month Club picks, several reviewer awards, and some great times. We'll see you in four years, the next four after that, and so on.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good clean promo

When I shop the deep discount sales of a store about to close, I find it difficult not to think of those about to lose their jobs. Especially so close to the holidays, to think there are people faced with looking for work in a chaotic time, needing to worry about rent and Christmas. I don't know that retail workers get some kind of severance, but hopefully those I met today at Linens n' Things will be able to bounce back soon.

Much of what was left was marked down 20% and, starving author that I am, I took advantage to pick up a few things for use as promotional items and giveaways. Cleaned up on some nice reed diffusers and scented candles, plus I found some potpourri sachets I plan to use for something. Get some stickers made and pass them out at signings. I'll certainly smell better than Gore Vidal.

Also bought some discounted chocolate for The Stash - two milk Ghirardelli bars, a crisped rice and a hazelnut. The way this day has gone, I'm surprised their both still intact.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I got yer numbahs right here.

I should be working. I have a long list of edits, stories, and prints to complete, yet part of job is also comprised of watching sales and making notes for the future. Given the rough ride Mr. Dow Jones took us on a while back, one would think my little corner of the business harbors sobering news. Well, yes and no. If you heard the gossip at NJRW, the romance genre did weather the storm, and hopefully a new administration will see an upturn in business all around. However, we can't until January, we must keep moving forward. For me to plow ahead, I occasionally have to look over my shoulder.

Last night I rounded up some numbers, sales by unit for Phaze Books for 2008 through the end of October. By Halloween we had far exceeded the unit (eBook only) sales of 2007, which I expected since we have more product this year. Now, if you want actual numbers, I'm sorry to disappoint you. However, if you are interested in eBook publishing and are curious about what is selling, I will do my best to give you an idea.

I am looking at unit sales in a ten-month period for close to 400 titles. Of the top 50 titles for 2008:

  • Six titles were reprints
  • Thirteen titles were published prior to January 1, 2008
  • Fourteen are part of an author's series
  • Thirty-two titles were written by an author with more than one title in the Top 50 (eight authors have multiple titles so far)
  • Twenty are print-length (35K words and longer)
  • Thirty-three are currently available in print or about to be printed
As for percentages:
  • 47% are primarily M/M
  • 24% are interracial, all BW/WM
  • 9% are fantasy
  • 7% are primarily shapeshifter stories
  • 5% are Regency historicals
  • 5% are primarily BDSM
We still have two more months to go, one of which hosts our annual half-off eBook sale, so I expect these numbers to change a bit. In the meantime, what can be learned from this survey?

1) It is possible to find continued success with a reprinted book. If revised or lengthened, and placed with the proper house, you may be able to renew interest in an older title. The Loveswept titles by Janet Evanovich are currently all over romance bookshelves, for example. Just remember, if somebody hasn't read the book, it's new to them.

2) The best method of self-promotion is the next book. Once you have captured your audience, keep them in thrall with a new story. The more you write, the better for your skills and your visibility in a crowded market where the average book sells 500 copies. Rise above the average by becoming prolific.

3) Write a series, and you can boost interest in your backlist. Build a world, build a readership.

Now, what I won't tell you is that writing M/M or Interracial will land you among our bestsellers automatically. As it happens, these are strong genres with us, though not every title we have pubbed has performed well. I should note, too, we continue to have the occasional stand-out performer that fits none of the above categories. Write what you write best, and the sales follow because readers will recognize and recommend the quality.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sexy Stocking Stuffers - Seriously

It's important to think positive as the weather becomes bleak. In the midst of my transition from job to job, I'm witnessing changes within the organization I'm preparing to leave. Happy tidings aren't being spread, unfortunately, and it's indicative of a certain industry: publishing. I've read some recent posts on message boards about layoffs at media and publishing corporations - houses big and small are feeling the pinch, despite word from the NJRW conference (hearing this second hand, mind you) that the romance genre experienced good sales throughout the economic difficulties.

Understandable. Readers want to escape the doom and gloom. I certainly would rather think about sex than a plummeting Dow, yet I realize I also need to watch my pennies. Through all this, too, I still need to sell. How to do it, though? We are in the sunset of an administration, with promises of prosperity on the horizon. Can we wait that long? How soon after Obama takes office will we recover?

Okay, now I'm getting depressed. That wasn't my intent when I started this post. I want to talk about how you can have a good time this holiday season, and help a few talented authors, without breaking the bank. Buy an eBook, and support the romance genre, romance authors, and help the environment. Give a Phaze Books Gift Certificate this season. For as little as one dollar you can bring joy to a fellow romance lover this season with a download code good toward any product on the Phaze cart. Do I sound like Sally Struthers yet?

What I like best about the Phaze Gift Certificates is the variety of available denominations. you can purchase codes good for $1, $2, $4, $5, $6, and $7, plus $10, $15, $20, $25, $50 and $100 if you're a very generous friend of romance. You might be thinking, what is the point of buying such a small denomination...what can be had a buck. You would be surprised.

One dollar gives you a choice of several sale items in our catalog, mostly older titles you might have missed if you've only recently starting shopping at Two dollars can get you any of our many themed HeatSheets - from the scorching Sparklers to the seasonal Oh! Oh! Oh! stories. Four dollars buys you two HeatSheets, or perhaps one hot novella, like Myc and Shayne's Kitten or Selena Kitt's Blind Date.

For five bucks, well....there is Dare to Dream. And for six did you know you can get any of the other three Dareville novels? Incredible sex, unforgettable characters, and exotic locales, all for mere pennies! And buying an eBook spares a tree, so you're giving the planet an extraordinary gift as well.

I plan to do some escaping myself this holiday vacation. I'm overdue for a long reading session. Will let you know what I pick up from eBook world soon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Iowa Stubborn

Professor, her kind of woman doesn't belong on any committee.
Of course, I shouldn't tell you this but she advocates dirty books.

Dirty books!


Yes, we got trouble, right here in River City, with a capital T, that rhymes with P and that stands for PORN!

Sorry, couldn't resist. Every time I hear about something happening in Iowa I conjure that blasted Music Man movie, particularly the "Iowa Stubborn" number. I haven't been to Iowa in twenty years, and even then we just drove through on the way to someplace else. For all I know people are still picking a little, talking a little, and picking a little more there.

Right now, Brenna Lyons has reported the people of Greene, Iowa are picking and talking about a small publisher to whom they have denied housing, presumably on the basis of the nature of her books. Summarizing part of Brenna's post:

Terri Pray and her husband Sam are part owners of Under The Moon/Final Sword Productions. Terri and Sam were set to buy a house in Greene, Iowa. They had their loan approved, the bid on the house accepted, but Greene has a requirement that they have to have the final sale approved by the town. They weren't approved.

Now, why were they turned down? Terri and Sam, as I noted, are part owners of UTM/FSP. A portion of the business is run out of their home and a part out of the office, as it is with many indie presses. Between the two sides of the company, they have dozens of books out and contracted, everything from straight genre military fiction, horror, and fantasy to erotic romance of all sorts. To be honest, the lion's share of their books aren't even erotic. They have several major gaming franchises, including Honor Harrington gaming. They sell t-shirts and even audio CDs.

ONE book, out of their entire stock, is a M/M erotic romance anthology, titled SACRED BANDS. While the townspeople of Greene, Iowa found the M/F erotic romance perfectly acceptable, they called the M/M erotic romance "gay porn." Some of them further stated (now, mind you...these aren't older people...these are 30-45-year-old people, which makes it all the more deplorable, in my mind) that publishing SACRED BANDS was "morally corrupt" and that choosing to publish the anthology demonstrated "questionable business practices."

They lost their house, because (out of hundreds of items available from their business) one book is M/M erotic romance. The deliberations ended with the comment that Greene, Iowa didn't want to be "known for harboring a publisher of gay porn."

Now, let me assure the fine folks of Greene, Iowa that one homoerotic anthology does not a gay porn empire make. From what I know of Under the Moon, gay romance and homoerotica is not their focus. Assuredly, when I think about gay porn I'm not associating it with any particular locale, much less Iowa. I'm usually thinking of two hot guys humping each other. The backdrop is immaterial. If anything, Iowa is know more for corn, not porn.

Yes. Juicy, sweet, phallic corn. Slathered in creamy butter and served by a shirtless man-god with a six-pack off which I could bounce quarters.

Sorry. Iowa. Right.

Never mind that I find it odd an entire town has to approve of a potential homeowner's purchase, the mere wording of their rejection bothers me. "Harboring a publisher of gay porn" lends an unnecessary seediness to this situation, as though the town were being asked to allow released convicts inside their borders. The Prays are simply people with their own business. They ask only to buy a house, not for all to Greene to buy their products. Regardless of whether or not you like to read books of an explicit nature, it is not illegal to write, publish, or sell erotic works to consenting adults.

Hearing news like this concerns me. I, too, am an author of explicit books. Much of my work is done inside my home. I would certainly hate to be turned away from buying a home or renting office space because of the nature of my books. If you've seen my house, too, you'll know it doesn't look any different from other houses in the neighborhood. There are no twinkle lights shaped like scrotums hanging from the eaves, I host no wild orgies, and my typical work wear is not a corset and fetish heels, but sweatpants and a t-shirt. The imagination aside, my life is pretty boring.

Damn it.

I don't know if the Prays and Greene, Iowa will come to a reconciliation, or if they'll "touch noses for a week and a half and never see eye to eye," but I do hope the Prays will be able to find a community that will welcome them. I hope, too, I can get the score of this frickin' movie out of my head.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Give the gift of Dareville

Just in time for the holidays, you can purchase a signed, personalized copy of any of Leigh Ellwood's available print novels, including the first three Dareville romances and the anthology More, More, More!, featuring Leigh's short, "Daringly Delicious"!

Visit Leigh Ellwood's site today to order. Paypal and Google Checkout accepted.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Choco Nachos - it's what's for dinner, breakfast...

You try walking past the chips display of your local organic grocer without picking up a bag of chocolate-flavored tortilla chips. You read it correctly. Food Should Taste Good has a line of eclectic tortilla delights, including chocolate. Now before you cringe, at least give them a try. If you're expecting the taste of Hershey's in a wafer thin crunch you will be disappointed. The chip retains more of the salty corn flavor a normal chip has - the chocolate is very mild, almost faint, yet just enough to bring a unique nuance to the snack.

I couldn't tell you how to serve chips such as these. Are they meant for savory salsas, or sweet syrups? I suppose you could try both and see which complements the chip's flavor best, but the little one and I seemed to enjoy them right out of the bag.

Nevertheless, I've been racking my brain coming up with a suitable "choco nacho" recipe built around these chips. I wouldn't add too much chocolate so as to bury the saltiness and bold corn taste. I suppose if I had to create something, say, for a party or maybe a book release celebration (would like to have one of those soon for some of our Phaze authors), I might throw something like this together...

One layer of Food Should Taste Good chocolate tortilla chips, spread on a platter
1/2 cup of strawberry preserves "salsa"
1/4 cup of shredded coconut "cheese"
1/4 cup of diced mango
dollop of whipped, not so sour cream

Good stuff.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Don't fear the reaper, either

Please enjoy this post in the light-hearted spirit in which it was meant to be presented. In communicating with a number of authors in recent weeks, and reading up on certain news in the eBook world, I feel the desire to offer my perspective on some things. The challenge here is to be as objective as possible, but I am certainly not one to judge any motives or endeavors, nor do I wish to. Being a publisher puts me in an unenviable position at times. As eBook houses appear then fold, and promise the moon but deliver only dirt, the actions of many put the rest of us under a microscope. Some will praise you, others will have people believe we're all sitting in a nice lodge in leather wingback chairs, twirling our Snidely Whiplash mustaches and drinking brandy, chuckling over how the royalties of the great unwashed are fueling our BMWs.

I don't have a BMW or a mustache. I don't chuckle over author/ePub misfortunes because I've been there myself. I don't know that I'll be there again. I'm often careful about the words I post in public because it's simple for somebody to misinterpret or twist words to mean different things. By no means am I the perfect publisher, either. It is something at which I continue to work. You might find some authors appreciate what I do. Others might grumble - if they do, I wish they would just tell me what's on their mind. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Still with me? Good. Whether you are an established author or trying for that first contract, I hope you will bear this in mind throughout your journey as a published writer:

Publishers are not clairvoyant: Trust me, if I knew the future I'd be sitting on tons o' lottery winning right now. eBook Publishers, too, primarily work within the realm of the Internet - of the many authors I publish, I think I have only met about 10-20 face to face, a small percentage. All of my communication is done via IM or e-mail, so if an author has an issue and does not use either to contact me, I don't know that there is a problem. If authors let weeks and months pass without saying anything to me, I still don't know there is a problem.

In reading online surveys of ePublishers, some have complained about lack of response. We write to our publisher and receive no answer. It's happened to me, too, which is why I try to answer every mail I receive. Sometimes, too, I respond to an author and get no response. So if you are using Yahoo or Hotmail, check your junk mail often. I do now, only because I had been finding messages from authors and customers there. Nothing is 100%, sometimes those filters let good stuff slip past. If your issue must be resolved, continue to contact your publisher or whomever is in charge of answering your questions. Chances are if you are with an ePub, you are involved on some kind of author-only mailing list. If you are not heard by private message, post to the list that you need to talk.

As for the mind-reading, I'll work on it, but I already have a long list of things to do. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Dares that Bind

Close to 7K words on the latest WIP for Dareville. Far behind the ideal NaNo schedule, but at least work is getting done.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Outside today, it appears to be same world in which we have lived for years. There are no more political ads on the radio, and I like that, and I have noticed that after these results and this historic moment, the world continues to chug along. I like that, too. There is serenity in my little blue state, and I'd like to believe that, regardless of which candidate we supported, we all can look toward the future for light and hope.

I keep thinking I would like to do something special with to commemorate Inauguration Day. Although President-elect Obama is identified as an African-American, he is the product of an interracial marriage. Some might think it's no accident that Phaze plans to release both volumes of our anticipated Coming Together: At Last anthologies the same week Obama takes office, but to be truthful we aimed for January 19 because that is the Martin Luther King holiday, and it was from King's famous "I have a dream" speech that we get our books' subtitle. That a part of the dream comes true the next day is inspiring for all people.

So how will we launch these books in a week that celebrates freedom and harmony, coupled with the result of our freedom to vote? Not sure. I'll have to ponder that a bit.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today's Election Day Chocolate

Today I elected to break into a bar I've had in the stash for a while: the Sharffen Berger 62% Semisweet Dark. Man, what a sweet bar. I don't mean "sweet" as in the Peter Griffinesque "frickin' sweet". Like, tasty sweet. It's a flavor that seems to override the cacao. I'm wondering if I've hung onto this bar too long. It's not tempered much, and the snap was crisp and loud. The aroma I get after the rub is somewhat buttery but not entirely there. Dunno, maybe 62% is not my ideal cacao consistency. I might have to find a dark S-B bar for comparison one day.

Yes, I did vote today. I got lucky and hit a lull at the poll during lunch hour. In and out in five minutes. Tonight I'll claim my free Starbucks and Ben and Jerry's. After that, we'll probably settle back and drink all the wine we bought from our trip down the Heart of Virginia Wine Trail and watch the results. I won't reveal for whom I voted, but I can say it is always an interesting experience. My workplace is also a polling place - not mine. This morning the line to vote was wrapped around the building! Very proud to see it - regardless of your choice, that you would brave this rainy weather to make this important decision gives me hope for the country.

Monday, November 3, 2008

On the radio, whoa whoa whoa...

Be sure to log on to Blog Talk Radio tonight at 9:30 PM. Phaze Books publisher Kathryn Lively (moi) will be on to discuss what's hot with Phaze right now and what to expect in the future. To listen in, click on the URL below.

No heavy breathing please. I don't have Prince Albert in a can, my refrigerator is running but not moving, and I know who I am voting for, thankyouverymuch.

Life in Dareville: New Covers, New Friends...

Aren't they just freakin' gorgeous!? Truth or Dare and Dare Me are getting print cover makeovers, just in time for the release of the fourth book in the series, and the pending launch of the Dareville site. This is something I had wanted to do for a while. Mind you, it's not that I didn't dislike the original covers - the occasional blog snark aside. Quite the contrary, when I sent Stacey King the ideas for the first two books she gave me what I had envisioned. Though the debate rages on over Poser-like covers versus photography and artwork, I still look back to when I first saw those two books, and I smile.

So why the new look? To be truthful, there were a few reasons. For one, now that Dareville is four novel-length works long, I wanted to bring a continuity to the series that extended to visual presentation. When you look at other series books, you might find they are cut along a similar template: Rita Mae Brown's mysteries have the large cat silhouette, the Kinsey Millhone books have the letters emblazoned huge on their covers, etc. I would like for the Dareville books to be as recognizeable.

Which brings me to the other reason: customer attraction. I've been doing quite a few signings lately. I plan to do more. Over the few years I have worked stores and festival booths, I have noticed one thing about the present Dareville covers: they get quite a reaction. Unfortunately, it isn't always the reaction I want. Erotic romance is hot right now, and the books sell well. One reason I think they sell well is because they can be purchased with discretion. Now, this is just my perception of things, based on experience, but when I display the original Dareville covers on a table I see double-takes, widened eyes, and the occasional embarassed chuckle. What I don't see is anybody coming closer to pick up the book. While a reader of romance may pass my table and show some degree of interest, I wonder if the idea of being seen holding a book with a naked man concealed only by a bass guitar is too much. I mean, what if a string of nuns should happen to walk past?

So wonderful Debi of the Phaze Books art department designed these replacement covers. Both are sexy and tasteful, and hopefully will draw more readers to my table than inspire what I call the "fearful crabwalk" - when a shopper is obviously trying to get away from you lest you whip out the silver lasso. Look for them soon.

Whip it Good!

I'm on a sugar high right now, mainly because of this review of Daringly Delicious (a Top 20 Bestseller from Phaze Books) from Whipped Cream Reviews. Four cherries on top, don't spare the wet nuts (HA! I kill me). If you read the review, you'll notice some interesting points I'd like to clarify. For one, unfortunately, the reviewer mistakenly identifies Dom as Lupe's husband. He is actually her father in law, Robbie is the husband. You'll meet all three in Dare to Dream. You have bought it, right?

Second, the reviewer didn't care much for the character of Lola, calling her the "obligatory office slut." Now, some authors might bristle at that, thinking it a swipe at their characterization abilities. I, however, don't mind. In fact, that was part of the plan. If you read Delicious and Dream and find Lola sort of one-dimensional, it's because she is. She has a one-track mind, sex and lots of it. She doesn't care where or with whom, so long as she gets off. If you don't like her, that's okay. I suppose in the back of my mind I arranged it for her not to be wholly liked, because I would then have the challenge of helping her be redeemed.

It is my intent to see Lola through a transformation, from a spoiled young lady to a focused, selfless lover. When Dare Devils is finished and released, I hope you will see and appreciate the results. Until then, read the other books.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vote for Why, Why, Zed?

Why, Why, Zed? is up for best GLBT short story at the annual Romance Erotic Connection Awards. Lots of Phaze titles up for honors this time, but this is my only finalist. Click here to vote today! Thanks!

Dare to Dream is here!


Dare to DreamDARE TO DREAM

ORDER TODAY from Phaze Books!

All Romance eBooks Book Club pick!

An act of pure humiliation drives Claire Walker from the big city to her native Dareville, and a tearful reunion with family and friends. Everyone is overjoyed to see the prodigal daughter return, and Claire contemplates making the visit permanent, but there's just one score to settle.

J.J. Marbury never stopped loving his high school sweetheart. Seeing Claire again after nearly fifteen years sets his passion to overdrive, and he's determined to make sure that Claire doesn't leave again.

Can a love lying dormant be revived? Will Claire find the closure she needs in her personal and professional lives so she can start over? Is there room for J.J. in this future? Welcome back to Dareville, the little town that proves Virginia is for romance lovers.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Daringly Delicious Halloween Treat

Five Angels for Daringly Delicious! Read all about it!

I'm trying to convince Little One that M&Ms don't make a suitable breakfast. It's not working.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Testing function.

Do you write to live or live to write?

This question has bugged me for a few days, since I've followed a thread on a writer's message board about writing for the masses versus writing for yourself. The initial post summarized an author's thoughts of one publisher's assertion that in order to be a bestseller of erotic romance, you have to write a specific sub-genre. Using my incredible skills of deduction, I figured out the publisher and paid a virtual visit. Sure enough, eight of ten top sellers listed for the month were that sub-genre. This revelation left the author pondering whether she should try the sub-genre - one she doesn't write - for herself and see if it makes a difference.

Naturally, the publisher in me considered the subsequent posts from other authors. I contributed briefly, yet there was much more I wished to add. However, as a publisher, I do become skittish at times for fear somebody might misinterpret my words. It's difficult to smoothly switch author and publisher hats, even when you are not as prominent as other eBook pubs. Let's see if what I have to say makes any sense, or waves.

In reading the thread, I don't think the publisher was trying to dictate what an author should write in order to sell well. If anything, the assertion to new authors (I was told the initial advice was directed to that audience) might have served as a guide to selling well with that particular publisher. The sub-genre in question isn't one that breaks records with us, though some of our authors have done well with it. Phaze has two sub-genres of erotic romance that perform extremely well. If you have kept track of our bestseller lists, you have an idea of what they are. However, not every title in those sub-genres has done well.

I believe in order for a title to perform well, you naturally need more elements than the sexual preference. For the sake of clarity, let's say Incredible eBooks, Inc. does a bang-up (heh) business in menage romances, particularly MFM. Everytime a new bestseller list is posted, all the titles are heavy on the MFM threesomes - some HEA, some not, but three is the magic number. It would be expected that the publisher, wanting to stay in the black, tends to call for more similar stories to keep readers coming (double heh). A new MFM from an established IeI author is released and sells well. The publisher then banks on another author, new to IeI, with an MFM, expecting good results. Instead...flop.

What happened? The books was well-written, chock full of three-way action, and the publisher sent the book through the same PR channels as other titles. Why did it fail? There could be a number of reasons. Perhaps the author did little to promote the book, or maybe regular IeI readers overall felt skittish taking a chance with a new author as opposed to an established one. Maybe the book was historical as opposed to contemporary, and that combination turned off readers. So perhaps the scope of the publisher is further limited by this discovery?

I would hope not.

Please bear in mind I'm not saying that all new authors will stumble the first time out of the gate, or that new authors aren't apt to succeed in self-promotion as established writers. In my experience as a publisher, I have seen debut authors roar up the lists, and I have seen them fizzle. I have prepared books I on which I would have bet the farm to explode, only to seem them actually explode in my face. I have seen established authors release a book to middling sales compare to backlist titles, only to come back again with another book. I'm sure, too, some authors could tell you that their titles perform better at Publisher A than at Publisher B - stories of similar genre, too. Why do the readers not cross to buy the rest? Is it bias? Is it cover art? I wish I knew.

I have experienced this myself. I have titles with Phaze, Samhain, and Liquid Silver. My Phaze titles bang then plateau into a comfortable monthly pattern. My Samhain title did the same, but my LSB book...poof. I do take responsibility for that, however. The timing on Love's DoMINion was overshadowed by the abrupt exit of Phaze's publisher. Just as I signed the contract for LD, I was issuing contracts to new Phaze authors. I wasn't prepared to balance both hats on my head, and unfortunately this nice, hot little romance I adored suffered as a result. The planned sequel has gone unwritten and more than likely may not come to light.

Am I off topic yet? Was I ever on?

Getting back to publishers dictating what to write in order to sell, I wouldn't do it myself. Yet, I won't fault a publisher for doing so. A publisher needs to sell in order to survive. Give the readers what they want. If a publisher finds the M/M is selling like hotcakes, they are going fire up the griddle. Case in point, I have seen quite a few authors who once wrote a specific genre now venturing into M/M. I don't blame them - it is a hot genre in erotic eBookdom right now. Would I tell an author she/he needs to write M/M to be a Phaze bestseller? No. Like I said, not every M/M title we do lights our sky with sales, and I won't guarantee success. I don't promise the moon, but I do my damndest to help build a good rocket to get there - editing and proofing, cover art and promotion. The author, I hope, will co-pilot the ship well.

I like to believe that the books that sell well are those created with passion. An author who puts everything into a book, regardless of subgenres and sexual situations, will find that passion can extend to readers if it's radiated correctly. You wrote a book, tell the world! I suppose that's why my Dareville stories do better than other works - not necessarily because there are more of them, but because I love to write them. I love that little town I created, and the people therein. I want to explore Dareville further, and I think as I do readers will follow.

So, should you write a menage or an M/M or an interracial because that is what is selling with your publisher right now? Look at it this way: write the menage, M/M, whatever because it is what YOU want to write, because THAT is your passion. If you're going for the brass ring, reach with both hands.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Virginia is for Luv-vahs

After much tinkering with Paint Shop Pro, and in anticipation of the new Dareville site, I've been poking around CafePress, making all sorts of promo goodies. You can see a preview of the Dareville shop via Phaze's CafePress store. I have a few designs up now, but in the future I plan to have some buttons and bumper stickers made for RT and other signings.

I'm really looking forward to doing more with the series. I wrote another thousand words at lunch today, bringing the total for The Dares That Bind to 2500. The target is HeatSheet length, around 10K, but I have a feeling it will be a bit longer. I realize in order for the kink to be believable there should be some interaction between the characters that doesn't involve the whips and chains. In reading some feedback on erotic romance, one common gripe is that stories often work like this:

"Hi," she said.
"Hi," he said. "Wanna fuck?"

Well, not like that, but you get the idea. In this age of hotter, faster, sexier we may tend to ramp up the sex at the expense of the story. Of course, readers buying an erotic book expect erotica, so you can't leave them hanging too long to the point that they are checking their watches as they read. With this story, I will try to maintain that balance between spice and reality.

As real as one can get with nipple clamps, anyway.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's the Great Pumpin', Charlie Brown

Thanks to you, YouTube, we now have the opportunity to look back and cringe upon shows watched that we once thought cool, or unique. Yesterday's hip is today's cheese, yet when I look back I can still find a modicum of intellect that isn't present in the contemporary fascination with reality television. Case in point, a timely topic: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. One could argue it doesn't get any weirder than this. Never again are we going to experience a more diverse cast of characters than Paul Lynde, Gene Simmons, Margaret Thatcher, and Tim Conway sharing the same soundstage. It's like The Surreal Life on acid, dusted with rhinestones:

It's gaudy, it's bewildering, and the jokes are corny. We watch Paul Lynde, a man once described as "gayer than Christmas" trussed up like Liberace and hitting on Pinky Tuscadero and we accept it as plausible. We think to ourselves, "What in holy hell were Gene and Paul smoking to agree to something like this?"

And yet, compared to something like E's The Girls Next Door, this is something I'd prefer to watch. I think I've seen two episodes of that show, where cameras follow Hef's three bunny girls around Europe. I'm watching the youngest roll her eyes and offer such thought-provoking insight as, "Yeah, we were in Rome last night. It was nice, but the buildings are like, old and junk."

Stunned pause here.

Consider the civilizations, the learned men who once sat in those hallowed "old buildings and junk." All I could do was watch and hope Hef left enough in his will for her to get by later in life. Have to wonder if Margaret Hamilton would have appreciated the trip more.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Porno Inferno

The first X-rated film I ever saw (outside of a "legitimate" film like Midnight Cowboy and Last Tango in Paris) was this Ged-awful beach romp called Baby Cakes. I don't recall too much of the storyline (such as it was), but I remember it was about this young girl who aspired to be a bicycle racer. She had two really horny friends - what biker doesn't? They rent out a beach cottage and the horny chicks hook up with two horny guys. Kismet. The two horny guys have a friend who experiences a meet-cute with Biker Chick, and...the memory is fuzzy, but I'm sure there was a lot of sex. A hotel maid gets nailed somewhere along the way, too.

Baby Cakes looked and sounded as though it were filmed in the 70s. The credits boasted talent with names like Misty Dawn and Seymour Cox, and everybody either sported hairspray flybacks or bushy 'staches. I saw the film probably a good twenty years after it was made at a drive-in called the Playtime. By day, it was this shit-hole of a flea market. By night, ooh la la. For years we had driven past its omnious sign, white with bold red letters, advertising some clever blue title. Interestingly enough, the place was a quarter mile from my church. We used to joke about it.

When I did finally take the opportunity to go, however, I was very disappointed. The sound speakers were of poor quality, and thanks to the state's blue laws the films had to be heavily edited - the Playtime had been raided often back in the day. In other words, no money shots. Not even Monopoly money shots. Just miles of chicka-wa-wa music, skinny bobbing asses, and O faces tinged with rouge. The next movie I saw there was the sequel to Debbie Does Dallas. I estimate we didn't even get past Grapevine on that one.

Eventually, the Playtime stopped peddling the Swiss-cheese porn and showed second-run movies. Triple feature for a few bucks per car. Sounds like fun, but the grainy films and bad sound (even when they switched to using the AM band in car radios), provided no improvements.

So I learn today an Anglican church bought the old Playtime, which now borders a Catholic nursing home built on the property of my old church. While cleaning up the place, they unearthed about 100 vintage X-rated reels and decided to have a good old fashioned celluloid BBQ. Yee haw! There were singing, I'm sure, and kids got to take turns holding the fire hose. We never did stuff like that in CYO. I feel cheated.

Also, I feel a bit sad. Not because the Playtime inspired me to write erotic romance. Like hell it did. If anything, the need for me to prove that sex could be written better than the crap at the Playtime prompted me to enter this double life. To me, it's the end of an era. For years I watched that section of the Westside develop to the point I no longer recognize the sights of my youth. Use to be there was absolutely nothing between our church and the town of Orange Park going down Blanding Blvd. except the Red Barn BBQ. A Ford dealership sits there now, and the street is bloated with strip malls and other curiosities. Throughout college and occasional visits home, I'd still see that fading Playtime sign and think it was nice that something still remained, even though the Playtime was never really a part of my life. It was a drive-in theatre, one of the last in the city, and to see that go just hearkens the death of something we may never reclaim.

I wonder if Baby Cakes was among the films burned. Maybe it's a fitting end to a really bad film, yet there's a part of me that would like to remember how it ended. I'm sure sex was involved.

Today's Chocolate

While at this nice wine store in Chesapeake, I picked up a package of Taza Chocolate, vanilla flavored. This is organic, stone ground chocolate, created in the manner of old Mexico. It comes in two thick discs, wrapped in wax paper. The idea is to grate a disc into hot milk to make drinking chocolate, though the wrapper implies that it may be eaten as well. Having just sampled half a disc, however, I'd be more inclined to make the drink.

It is not that the chocolate is bad. It is dark and has a decided quality snap. It is very sweet, which could be from the vanilla, but I am guessing the "stone ground" nature of the chocolate accounts for the gritty texture. Imagine somebody taking a scoop of Folger's Crystals and packing them tight into bar, then biting into it. Not the same flavor sensation, but you might expect to feel a bit of sand between your teeth.

I'm going to try the second disc in a drink, now that the weather is colder. I did also get a traditional Taza bar (70% cacao) so I will report on that shortly as well.

Friday, October 17, 2008

She's just an excitable gal...

Here's the new cover for the upcoming omnibus, Excitable Gals, due from Loose-ID on November 25. This is a collection of two stories, interracial with paranormal elements. The first story is a menage as presented in the cover, the second a werewolf romance. Both stories are connected through the two "excitable" gals who work together on the sci-fi con circuit. I'm working on second edits this weekend and excited myself for the outcome.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm November's Book Club Pick!

Now it can be told: Dare to Dream is the November Book Club selection at All Romance eBooks! Have to tell you, I was dead shocked when I got the e-mail with the good news. Considering that the past selections this year have included titles by Debbie Macomber, Bianca D'Arc, and Lynne Connolly, I feel honored to be included among the great titles chosen by ARe. When I sent the work in I was curious if DTD had a shot, considering it is the fourth in a series. But it is written to somewhat stand alone (you don't have to do too much research to enjoy it), and hopefully this pick will generate some backlist interest as well.

This is the third Phaze title to be picked, the other two being Sammie Jo Moresca's wonderful Smolder and Sarah Winn's delightful For Old Times' Sake.

So thank you, ARe, for the honor. I'll be happy to chat with readers at the Book Club on November 20. Thank you, Debi, for the awesome cover, and thank you, Denise, for your editing skill, and thank you, Loukie, for your eagle-eye proofing.

You don't know what this means to me. There was a time I thought this book wouldn't be written, because of the increase in my workload and my parenting duties. I came to write DTD following a massive case of writer's block and depression. I sat in the library of the A.R.E. writing this story in spiral notebooks, then transcribing everything to the computer. How weird is that - writing the book at the A.R.E. to be chosen by ARe? This book saved my sanity, in a way, and from this I've written Daringly Delicious and outlined two follow-up stories. Just goes to show when you dare to dream, good things happen!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This Week's Chocolate

I may not blog it daily, but I'm certainly enjoying it. :) I've been going back and forth on two bars: the Dark Chocolate Santander (65%) Colombian single origin, and something from Nestle simply called Nestle Black. I haven't been able to find a decent picture of the latter on the net. It is an import, that I know from the foreign scribbling riddled with umlauts and accent marks on the back label. From what I can pick out, this bar is 51%, though it's bitter and therefore tastes darker than the Santander. It's weird to try them side by side because of the multitude of flavors that come.

Where the Santander is sweeter and milder, the Nestle Black is comparable to the Choco-diffusion minis I had earlier this year. There is almost a coconut aftertaste to it. I can't say I would choose a favorite among these two - neither one particularly knocked my socks off, but the Nestle might make for a good palate cleanser should I need it.