Thursday, August 28, 2008

Coming Together At Last





August 28, 2008

Celebrate the Diversity of Desire with Coming Together and Phaze Books

Cincinnati, OH – The latest in the critically acclaimed Coming Together anthology series, Coming Together: At Last, will debut in January 2009 from Phaze Books. Due to the overwhelming number and quality of the submissions, it was decided that two volumes of this title would be published simultaneously, both containing the stirring Introduction penned by New York Times bestselling author, L.A. Banks. A complete list of the contents can now be found online at the Coming Together website: www.eroticanthology.com/atlast.htm.

The release of these collections of interracial erotic fiction and poetry will coincide with the celebration of the birth of one of history's most passionate proponents for human rights and equality, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and it is from his famous speech given forty-five years ago on this day that the title words "At Last" are taken. Accordingly, proceeds from sales will benefit Amnesty International.

Having published four of the nine currently available titles in the charitable anthology series, Phaze Books is now poised to release its fifth and sixth. The diverse collections of erotic fiction and poetry feature the work of many well-known authors in addition to fresh new voices in the genre. Previous Phaze titles in the series include Coming Together: For the Cure, Coming Together: Under Fire, Coming Together: Special Hurricane Relief Edition, and Coming Together: With Pride. Each is available in both ebook and print from all major online booksellers.

All proceeds from the sales of Coming Together publications are donated to charity, with the authors and its EPPIE Award-winning editor, Alessia Brio, donating their time and talents.

Coming Together anthologies have received many accolades including the 2008 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Erotica as well as Top Pick and four star reviews from the romance industry's premier publication: Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine. In its most recent review, Romantic Times favorably compared the series to Susie Bright's Best American Erotica series. In addition, the organization was a finalist for the Electronic Published Internet Connection's 2008 Friend of ePublishing Award for what Ms. Brio has termed "erotic altruism."

Phaze Books, the erotic imprint of Mundania Press LLC, is one of the fastest growing and most recognizable publishers in an exploding genre. Its unprecedented support for Coming Together, a voluntary nonprofit association, puts Phaze on the cutting edge of philanthropy in the publishing industry, a commitment that will continue with its upcoming releases in the series. Coming Together: Against the Odds will have a mystery theme and will benefit Autism Speaks, while Coming Together: Into the Light will include stories about the revelation of secrets and will benefit V-Day. Both are currently open for submissions and will see publication in the coming year.

For more information about Coming Together, visit www.EroticAnthology.com or email editor Alessia Brio at alessia [at] eroticanthology.com. For more information about Phaze Books, visit www.PHAZE.com or contact Promotions Manager Crystal B. Bright at crystal [at] phaze.com.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Diva Pimpage Thursday - Crystal Jordan

In the spirit of helping the community of writers, I hereby decree Thursdays to be Diva Pimpage Day, where all manners of book pimping will be had. Fun for all! Woo!

So sit back, grab a drink, and enjoy the ride...

In Ice - Sexy Beast VIN ICE

SEXY BEAST V anthology -- Kensington Aphrodisia -- Genre: Sci-Fi/Future; Paranormal; Shifter
ISBN-10: 075821989X -- ISBN-13: 978-0758219893
Order NOW: Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Chapters.ca

Read an Excerpt



They're primed and primal, untamed and unstoppable, always ready to go further, harder, longer to bring a woman pleasure that's wild, fiery, and out of this world.

When Jain Roberts' ship crashes on a distant, futuristic planet, she's rescued by Kesuk, the lusty clan leader of the Arctic Bears. This magnificent creature with white-blond hair and a potent masculinity haunts her dreams--dreams he intends to make deliciously real, as he draws her into a realm of complete sexual abandon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm 37, I'm not OLD!

Well, I can't just call you man.

You could say Dennis.

And you know how the rest of that goes.

Today I turned 37. Not a bad place to be, but already not my favorite. It might have been the side view of myself as we passed our reflections in one restaurant en route to the next. I don't get it. I'm drinking half my weight in ounces of water, and it's not liking I'm forking down everything in sight. Why does it stay stuck to my ass? Jeez.

It wasn't all bad. I got presents. Well, I got Vista, but I suppose I'll learn acceptance and patience later. I did get some neat stuff, however. I mentioned the box of Charles chocolates from my publisher earlier. Here's what else I am enjoying:



My best friend made some limoncello and bottled a special "vintage" for me. In case you can't read the label:

Geddy Lee-mon-cello / Cask of '43 edition (Caress of Steel reference, get the album)



From Rich, my artist friend, whom I hope to hire for my next cover. I am called Soddy on our Rush board (long story). If only this were true.



And a genuine Signals tour shirt from '82-'83, in amazing condition. I was too young for this tour, and wasn't really into Rush then. Maybe if I can perfect that remote viewing I can go back in time as well.

Next Stop, the Charmin Factory

Another pleasant weekend spent in Waynesboro, my pre-birthday celebration. I'll tell you how much wine I drank later. Now, I'd like to discuss closeout bookstores.

Sunday I took G to the Green Valley Bookfair, a ginormous warehouse outside Harrisonburg, Virginia which is open six times a year. This is one place "seconds" and massive returns go to wilt - bargain basement prices on nearly half a million books. Used to be when you'd shop at these places in outlet malls or abandoned storefronts (when they'd set up for the holiday season) you'd go in there and find books by unknown authors and thin quilting pattern collections. That seems to have changed a bit.

The Green Valley fair had some good stuff this weekend. If you have school-age children, you'd save quite a bit on reading lists. I cleaned up on Sudoku books for hubby and did my best not to go wild on the cookbooks. One thing I noticed different this time as opposed to my last trip here, however, was the abundance of erotic/sensual romance.

Last time I came to Green Valley was about a year ago. The trade romances were tucked in a back corner near the inspirationals. Not many to choose from, either, from names I didn't recognize. This time, they took up half an aisle near the front of the second building, and I found stuff from authors I know personally or have met. There were some Ellora's Cave/Pocket anthologies, a few Aprhodosia titles, and several titles buy one author I know by reputation. Also, a three-author anth featuring a Phaze author with other NYC titles. Books you would normally find at Borders for twelve bucks or more were discounted here for three apiece.

Tempted as I was to stock up, though, I held back. It's true I have a bulging duffel bag of books by my bed already, but even so it's difficult to resist a sale. It might be difficult for non-writers to understand, but seeing these books on closeout actually bothered me. Usually when you think of closeouts, you realize these are products that didn't move in the regular stores...or didn't move fast enough to satisfy the publishers. When I worked at B&N I helped monitor the bargain bin section, which consisted mainly of hardcover titles that had gone to paperback. Around this time Newt Gingrich had a novel that made the bin, and I'd read an article somewhere that described most of what didn't sell ended up "recycled" into other paper goods, namely toilet paper.

I see fifty copies of one title from somebody I know, languishing in a closeout store at 75% off the original price, and I feel bad. Now, I know most NYC pubs give authors advance payments in anticipation of healthy sales on publication, and those numbers vary. When the books don't move at the retail price and must come to places like Green Valley, I imagine it's one way for the publisher to recoup some kind of loss. It would tell me that at least fifty copies of this title have been returned to the publisher at some point, and the publisher had to eat the cost. Working with Phaze, I know for a fact that we lose money when stores return our books. This is why small pubs that utilize POD take such a big risk marketing to brick and mortars like Borders - the prestige of shelf space alongside Kensington, etc. is amazing, but the grim reality of returns can cripple you. It's killed at least two ePubs so far.

So I didn't buy any of these books. I just had this nagging feeling that if I did the authors wouldn't get the money, advances notwithstanding. It bugs the hell out of me when I tell a friend that I've published a book, and he says, "I'll be sure to check the library for it." !!!! Perhaps it's my own empathy for authors that held me back this day.

So you say, but you bought Sudoku books. Yes, I did, but it's Will Shortz. He's set for life. One thing at a time here.

I have to admit, too, the thought did cross my mind - you want so badly to be published with New York...this could be a stack of your unsold books in a few years. You think of the millions of titles published, and how few in comparison become top sellers. How many more authors languish in these bins, then possibly have to endure the fallout from it when a relative holds up a marked book. "Look what I got for two bucks!" There's a big bruise to your pride.

Damn, I hadn't meant for this post to ramble into depression. I'll stop now and will be back with the wine survey. What I can remember of it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Today's Chocolate

At the Heritage Store today I came across the Gnosis Chocolate Cashew Goji Cherry bar. Organic, raw, expensive. Yet, the notion of raw chocolate intrigued me enough to give it a try.

First point of interest, it is sold refrigerated, and I soon discovered why. As this is chocolate in its purest form (just cacao beans and cocoa butter), it melts almost immediately at the touch. I broke the thick 2.5 oz bar in two to detect a snap and while there was one, it wasn't as pronounced as one would hear from a gourmet dark. The bar is loaded, too, with whole dried berries and cashew bits. It resembles a Chunky bar in that respect, but be prepared for a taste more similar to a smooth, chocolate CLIF bar. There is no sugar or milk to fortify the chocolate, so the bar provides a natural cacao flavor unlike any traditional brand. Not bitter like a 100% cacao baking bar, just...different. No aftertaste lingers, either.

Do I like it? It's pretty good, but at nearly nine bucks a bar this unfortunately cannot become a regular habit. Still, it is chocolate for a worthy cause, two if you count your health.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What's Cooking

The contracts for Excitable Gals go in the mail this afternoon. The supplmental info (cover art questionnaire, marketing information) goes out after that. I've only realized how long it's been since I've actually had to do this sort of thing for myself rather than for other authors, and it's exciting.

I'm contemplating four different projects at once: the next Dareville novella, my next Loose Id submission, and two mysteries that are coated with dust. Not sure what I should do first, and I still have edits for coming works on the front burner! It's nice to be busy again, but you'd think the clock would expand to include more numbers to go with the workload.

As for Phaze, I'm excited about this week's releases. Dreams of Death is another stunning vampire short by Myc Black and Shayne Carmichael, and timely given Myc is recovering from an illness. Hopefully good sales will cheer both authors. The Best Laid Plans is not our first early 20th century work, but I think it's our first M/M, and Jade Falconer has delivered another winner.

And Eliza Gayle's third Pentacles of Magick book is out: The Healing. Hmm, wonder why I like that name? Well, this is a hot one, a keeper if you like MFM menage with a little M/M action on the side. Pirate's Booty by Teresa Noelle Roberts is sentimentally sexy, a story within a story to please fans of historical and contemporary. All in all, another good week for us.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Editing

I edit books nearly every day. Editing for Excitable Gals will begin once Loose-ID receives the contract. I've just received the first edits on Dare to Dream and Daringly Delicious should be ready this week as well. It's going to be a fun week, but thankfully I have a thicker skin for it as opposed to my very first experience...

(cue the wavy lines and gentle regression harp music)

When I was in the fifth grade my school decided to have the students produce a quarterly newspaper - one of those white-paper Xerox, ego-boost jobs you could take home to your parents to show your byline or picture. Each class was to contribute something creative for the first issue, and I decided to write a poem about Girl Scouting, which I enjoyed doing before landing into a Cadette troop of self-absorbed c*nts (but that's a different session for my shrink).

I labored over this string of rhyming verse. ABAB, then over again, lauding the many wonderful aspects of the organization: the green asexual jumpers, the cookies, the patches. Oh, to know my sense of accomplishment on finishing. I felt proud. I was a writer.

I showed my parents. Look, I wrote a poem. Aren't I creative? Isn't this the best thing you've ever read? They loved it, and damned if they didn't make me change nearly every fricking line.

So I take the edited version to Sister Mary Paul. My name was still on it, I maintained the concept. I was above constructive criticism, I wrote a poem for the school newspaper. Sister loved, and damned if she didn't make me change nearly every line back.

I don't remember the whole poem now, but the final line sticks out clearly: So many badges, so many projects / That they all can't be done. I felt this was true. Have you seen the Girl Scout badge book? I don't know what it's like now, but back in the day there must have been 200 badges to claim. Tall order for a ten-year-old with enough hands on her time.

Sister said I should change the line to can be done.

That didn't make sense to me. The point of the poem was to present the endless possibilities within Scouting, that so much is available to do it spills over the average time-span of a Girl Scout. There are limits, you know. You can't be earning Junior badges when you're a Senior.

"But it's not impossible, is it?" Sister posed. So the line changed again. By the time my "editors" were done there was so much eraser scarring on the notepaper that it looked like a car ran over it. To further my embarassment, Sister read the edited, edited version before the class with the following disclaimer. "Kathryn's poem is sloppy and dirty, so we won't be turning it in..."

(and we're back)

Is editing any different today? Thank Ged the track changes function doesn't leave behind any eraser shreds.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ch-ch-ch-changes

What a week. We're welcoming new friends, saying goodbye to others. New directions in writing and important decisions to make. Best way to reveal everything, I suppose, is to start at the beginning. When I get to the end, I'll stop.

First off, I received an offer on Excitable Gals from Loose-ID. After conferring with a trusted author from that house and meditating a bit, I e-mailed the editor to notify her of my acceptance. I feel this is a good decision, one that will hopefully prove beneficial to me in the future. I've read a number of Loose-ID titles and have worked with authors published there, and have yet to hear a discouraging word. I'm already planning a second submission for them.

Second, our house is growing. Phaze's parent company, Mundania Press, LLC, will assume ownership of Awe Struck eBooks in 2009. As I understand it, sales and finances are not the primary factor, but the present owners of Awe Struck have chosen to retire from publishing. Rather than close up shop and leave more eBook authors orphaned, they approached Mundania about taking over the day to day business. I think that's wonderful. In a time where authors have become weary of trying to replace victims of imploded houses, this is a good example of what can happen when you plan ahead.

Now, this doesn't mean that all Awe Struck titles will become Mundania/Phaze titles. Awe Struck will continue to exist as a separate imprint under the Mundania umbrella. Nothing will really change except ownership, and all Awe Struck authors will also be considered in-house with Phaze if they wish to submit. I think what's good about this acquisition is that where Mundania's strengths lie in sci-fi and fantasy and Phaze in erotic romance, Awe Struck does a good business in non-erotic Regency romance and inspirationals. So it would appear we are becoming very well-rounded.

As for goodbyes, we have a few. Not me. I may have accepted a contract with another house but Phaze is the first "place for my stuff" as Carlin would have put it. No, after some deliberation with Phaze staff and considering the future of Phaze releases, we have decided to retire the Themed HeatSheets after the R sheets are done in 2009. There are a number of factors behind this decision, none of which involve sales. To be sure, some of our themed sheets sell extremely well.

We have decided we would like to concentrate on taking on longer works and building up other lines like Phaze Rocks and Urban Phaze, and perhaps adding more lines along the way. Stories going forward would get original covers (though we've had some nice theme covers over the years) embossed with a line's logo. The Phaze Rocks one is awesome. Debi did a great job on it.

And, little one finally used her potty for number two. True to my word, she got the Cinderella costume I promised. Forty bucks and it's a size 6T, so that's Halloween for the next four years. She'll be wearing it to DragonCon, I'll be the evil stepmother. Bwaha.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Will Edit For Chocolate


Received a nice early birthday gift from my publisher today: an elegant assortment of Charles Chocolate truffles and caramels. Now, up until this point The Stash has only consisted of bars, because they are easy to store, though I've toyed with keeping a few truffles around for late night wine snacks. The Royal Chocolate, a shop near me, sells Joseph Schmidts, and of course you can get Godivas at most shops. I hadn't realized Charles made them too until the package arrived.

It's beautiful. It looks almost like a jewelry box from Tiffany's. Definitely a keeper for trinkets. Mine isn't exactly like the one in the picture. I got a box of flavored truffles, the caramels, and the "classic" collection, which consists of the hearts and butterflies in the lower part of the pic. Some are filled, some are solid, and there's no guide like Whitman's has. So every bite is going to be an adventure.

I sampled a truffle first, which had the flavor of lavender. The dark ganache shell crackled easily and meshed nicely with the truffle center. These are small, too, about quarter-sized and a thumbnail wide. I'll just have to be careful not to overdo it.

Today's Chocolate

Been a while since I've done something new. I pretty much behaved myself chocolate-wise while on vacation (imagine that) but did break into a new Moonstruck Dark Chocolate bar while at one of the wineries. Today, though, I finally cracked into the Kshocolat Honeycomb and Vanilla milk bar. The scent is divine (can something smell creamy?) and gives off an additional hint of lavender mixed with the deep honey aroma. That's my perspective anyway, and I don't have any lavender in The Stash right now.

The texture isn't shiny, offering a dull sheen I've seen with most traditional milk bars. This bar is sectioned into eight pillows, each stamped with the image of a cacao pod.

The first bite slightly crunched, so I got the immediate flavor of the honeycomb, and was it sweet! Allowing it to linger on my tongue for a few second brought out the intensity of the honey and the mild undertone of vanilla, almost overpowering the taste of the chocolate. Aftertaste is clean, but I was left feeling thirsty. Suggested serving size for this nearly three ounce bar is half, but I doubt I could even eat that much in one sitting. Looking forward to trying the other Scottish bar we bought in DC.

Also, got an early birthday gift: a box of Charles Chocolate truffles. Yummy! Can't wait to dive into those.

Go into the light, Carol Ann....


We're already looking into 2010 for new books. Yes, the world moves that quickly. So far we have at least one Coming Together anthology planned. It will be called Into the Light and will benefit V-Day, which works to prevent domestic abuse. You can check out the guidelines at the official Coming Together site.

At Last, our interracial CT volume, will now be two volumes and will feature an introduction from L.A. Banks. We were so amazed by the response from authors on this project, and are grateful to all of them for their time and talent. I really had hope to write a Dareville piece for that book, but time got away from me. So I might set my sights on the light, as it were, and try to connect Dareville to the CT theme - revelations and secrets. A challenge, since so little is secret in Dareville. It's all sort of out there. :)

Speaking of, Daringly Delicious is still hovering at the finish line. I can't seem to find two seconds to write for myself. Once again last night we had a potty training setback, and it's really getting me down. Little One is almost four and still sh*tting herself (no other way to put it). She is aware of when she has to go, and she is adamant about not sitting on the pot to do it. I have sat with her, offered her bribes, yelled, praised, screamed, cried, begged...nothing. Once I sat with her for 30 minutes while she sat on her little pot, waiting for her to go. Two minutes after I gave up...right in her pants. I feel as though I'm played for a fool, and it's not helping my relationship with hubby. I just don't what to do.

If only I could write that answer as easily as I write blogs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

With Apologies to Casey Kasem

Any day we make a list that doesn't include the word "shit" is a good day, indeed. Thanks for the props, Barbra!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Two great things about vacation

1) Leaving for it

2) Returning from it

It was a nice week off. I didn't get totally off the grid as I'd hoped, but I managed some time outside. You know, that big wide space away from the computer. Ate lots of yummy food and drank lots of wine. Details are forthcoming.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Coming in at number four, our long distance dedication

From Leigh to her readers: Thanks for helping Why, Why, Zed? get to number four on Phaze's July Top 20!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Put all your Geddys and chocolate in the bag and nobody gets hurt

My best friend took his family to Hershey last weekend. The kids enjoyed a craft workshop at the nearby Crayola factory on the way up and made paper bag puppets. So did my friend? Look familiar? The nose isn't quite right, but the Fenderjazz is startingly accurate.

Still waiting on those DC pix to come up. I'd post more but I'm a bit jazzed myself about being 2.5 hours away from my vacation. Part of it will be working, as I'm heading up to the Hanover Book Festival tomorrow to sign copies of Pithed and Saints Preserve Us. As this is a family event, the hot stuff was extremely discouraged, but I might sneak in a few bookmarks if I can. I'm going to the party store tonight to stock up on frogs for my table display. There's a contest for the best one. I hope the prize is a book contract.


A co-worker recently returned from Europe and brought back a bag of mini-chocolates from Choco-diffusion. It was an assortment of four flavors - milk, hazelnut, dark, and "Gianduja," which also has hazelnut flavoring. So naturally I sampled one of each - all together it's about the size equivalent of a small Ghirardelli square. The tastes are very similar to Ritter Sport - the milk has a creamy consistency and texture, the Noisette Haselnuss has that familiar nutty zing to it, while the Gianduja maintains a more powerful hazelnut taste without the nut bits of the other candy. It's almost like a milk-chocolate Nutella. The dark has a mild snap to it (but I'll take into consideration that these candies have traveled), and offers a mild coconut finish. I'll have to make a trip to Europe soon. Wait, I am. More on that later.