Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Call for New Year - F/F Erotic Romance

As my last official act for 2009, I submit for sale the erotic F/F short Last Call! First, here's all the wonderful sales copy.

400848Last Call - Leigh Ellwood
Lesbian Erotica - $.99 eBook

Buy today at ARe or Smashwords


Dejected and depressed, Janet Stanton hopes her nightly walk will improve her mood. The end of the road leads her to her best friend and a shocking revelation that could change her life. Is Janet willing to take that important first step toward love, or will she miss the last call?

Read an excerpt.

Last Call is one of many back burner stories set aside when I took over for Phaze. It is a simple romance and a brief study of an awakening - I sought to pose the end result of the impact of affection on one who rarely received it.  Wow, I didn't intend for it to sound that boring...there's some spicy girl on girl sex in there, too.

I chose to revive the project in the wake of what I deem a successful run for Share, my last F/F short. I hadn't intended to write so much F/F erotica, but I find it cathartic in a sense. Right now I have several projects open, each a different genre. I am working on an M/M novella, a cougar story, an urban fantasy and a non-erotic mystery. With Last Call as my third lesbian erotic short, I am considering doing some more to comprise a print collection. I've noticed while attending GLBT events that lesbian books tend to move better, so it would be nice to offer something to readers.

Until then, be on the lookout for Dare and Dare Alike, Dead Barchetta, and the as-yet untitled cougar. It is a Dare story, too, just need to think of a good pun. :-) If you're looking for more hot Sapphic stories, check out Phaze's EPIC Award finalist, Sapphistocated, and we sent a nomination to the Lambda Awards, so we're working on some good mojo for that. It is up for Best Erotica Anthology at EPIC this year, but it's competing against another Phaze title for the big prize. Let's just hope we don't split the vote.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Christmas Wish

To all authors in the independent and electronic arena, may you enjoy healthy sales, positive word of mouth, and respect in the industry.

To all readers, may you find that one book this season that makes you wish it wouldn't end so soon.

To all aspiring writers, may you find the time to no longer aspire and to write.

To the self-publishers, may you continue to innovate and celebrate every little victory.

May you all find one new author to enjoy, one new genre to explore, and one day to yourself to do as you wish.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Leigh

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The High-Rolling Gene

Sometimes I think my mother has an ulterior motive for wanting to visit my siblings in the Kentucky/Ohio area. Where they live, she has easy access to the casinos in Indiana - there's a nice Caesar's Palace setup along the river; it's apparently where she spent the day, hoping to double the Christmas gift fund. Mom has few vices, but if Heaven has penny slots she's golden.

I've considered, next time I'm down to visit for a landmark celebration, planning a casino party theme, maybe for her birthday or anniversary. At my old church there are occasional Las Vegas night fundraisers where a casino party rental company will come in and set up roulettes and card tables, but she's more into the slots. Unfortunately, where they live they don't have the gambling cruises because they don't have access to international waters. I've tried to get her to come here so we could take one of the Atlantic City shuttles, but she prefers the Gulf places in Biloxi.

I haven't inherited her yen for games of chance myself, though I've been known to sit on a slot machine for a while. Mom has a system, of course, and often she'll come home ahead. Me, not so much. Maybe a casino party I could fare better if I do all the hiring. :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Gift of TV: How Soon?

For Little One's birthday, we got her one of theose Disney televisions sets. Cute little thing with Mickey ears for speakers, and it's attached to a DVD player. The idea was to give her the opportunity to enjoy the occasional Dora or Wonder Pets video while giving us the television back. Now the question has come whether or not to install something like Satellite Directv in her room so she can watch Nick, Jr. independent of our set.

I'm torn on the issue. On the one hand, she's come to the age where she's playing independently, without coming to me every two seconds for something. I was about that age when I reached that stage, too, and I didn't have anything like Direct TV or a DVD player...or even a TV set to distract me. Back in the 70s, of course, you had - what, three networks and PBS? Sesame Street helped reinforce my spelling and numbers, and Electric Company helped with word recognition and phonics. What Little One watches on TV now, I don't find harmful, but the shows tend to focus more on intrapersonal skills. I know that's important, but I want her to advance in her reading. Therefore, I read to her.

A Direct TV hookup might be in the future; you can still watch Sesame Street, but I don't know what they're showing now. Might have to catch up on the last 30 years.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Leigh Ellwood's Fabulous World Tour 2010 - Give or Take Five Continents

I promised myself for 2010 I wouldn't spread myself too thin as far as cons and appearances are concerned. Yet, in looking at my calendar of commitments, I'll likely do it anyway. I'm nowhere near prepared for anything - though I'm one payment away from securing the RT Faery Ball...and I'm about 20 pounds away from a nice dress for that. If you're in the area when I am, please say hello. Here's what on tap for 2010:

January 15-17, 2010 – Williamsburg, VA – MarsCon - This is a nice small SFF con close to home. It will be my third year attending, and it's always a great time! There are late night adult panels, which I'll be doing mainly. I think this year I might actually costume.

April 17, 2010 – Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia Book Festival - Not definite, but some authors are seeing about a group table. I sold well the last time I went, and I love Philly.

April 28-May 2, 2010 – Columbus, OH – RT - I'll be manning the Phaze Club booth and sitting on the Faery Ball row Thursday night. I think I'll sign for eBook Expo and Saturday, too. We'll see.

May 25-27, 2010 – BookExpo – New York, NY - I won't have a booth or anything, but I would like to go. I enjoy the Expo.

May 28-31, 2010 – Baltimore, MD - Balticon - I've been invited to speak again this year. More details as they come.

September 16-19, 2010 – Seacaucus, NJ – Authors After Dark Romance Unlimited - This is going to be a bigger event than last year, with more tracks and authors. Not sure what I'll be doing here, but we offered to sponsor stuff. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy Sexy Cover Funtime

Amanda Kelsey of Razzle Dazzle Design just sent me my cover for GPS, the M/M short I wrote for All Romance eBooks' 28 Days of Heart. Looking at it alone is sure to send hearts pumping.



Blurbage: When Cale Durbin receives a GPS system for his birthday, he tests it out on the drive to meet a blind date. The blasted device gets him lost, but Cale doesn't mind so much when he ends up at the door of a hunk named Mike who shares many of his interests.

After the setup date fails, Cale discovers the GPS possesses a unique feature - it leads him right to Mike again! Can true happiness be found through a global positioning device, or is Cale headed in the wrong direction?

Proceeds from sales of GPS go to the American Heart Association, and it will be my third charity piece. You can still get All You Need... at ARe to benefit WHY, and in January I have a piece in the next Coming Together volume with Phaze Books!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yuletide Favorites

To get us all into the holiday spirit, I submit some of my favorite videos, ranging from the poignant to just plain nutty.

First, a pairing we'll likely never see again, so enjoy it.







Claymation. This was our Pixar back in the day.






Get ready for the Airing of Grievances.



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All You Need... Is Love

Today is an anniversary many people don't wish to acknowledge. It's surreal in a way to think it's been nearly thirty years, yet the music sounds fresh and relevant, as though we're hearing it for the first time. A few years ago, while visiting friends in Connecticut we went into New York City for sightseeing. When asked what I wanted to see, foremost in my mind was Strawberry Fields.

To get there, we had to pass the Dakota. We all know what happened there. Even today, people walk past and shiver. I have pictures taken from across the street, but for some reason I couldn't bring myself to cross and move closer. That experience partly inspired this story I've put up for sale.

I wanted to do something to commemorate the life, rather than his senseless end. With this story, while short, I hope to convey some kind of feeling about what the music means to one person. I've decided, too, to donate what I make off this story and give to WHY, an organization devoted to eliminating hunger. John supported the charity, and Yoko continues to do so - perhaps this is one little step to take. When I'm able to, I'll try to match sales with my own contributions.

All You Need... - Buy Now!
DLP Books, $.89, Gay, Erotica

Follow-up to Leigh’s story, Surveillance. On a pilgrimage to New York City to pay their respects to a fallen hero, Dean and Troy imagine a life of peace and celebrate a night of love.

Proceeds from the sale of this story are donated to WHY, promoting solutions to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

All I Want for Christmas...and Every Day After

As my priorities shift to acquisitions and marketing for Phaze Books, I am given the opportunity to glean from readers their Christmas and beyond wish lists. Often I receive mail from readers what to expect with regards to a specific author or genre, and from this and our sales I craft calls for submission.

More than once I've been asked what Phaze wants. Essentially, we accept all subgenres of erotic romance, and we wish to publish a variety of stories. If I had to craft my own wish list, I would ask for this:

Ideal word length: 25K - 60K. This is a good length range for eBooks. If you write between 40K and 60K you are print eligible, but if you write a series of 20-25K novellas we can look into a bound anthology, too. Pricewise, books at this length go for $3 to $6, and as I tell authors, the longer you write, the better the payout.

M/M Romance and Erotica - The G in GLBT remains a strong genre for us, and it's my wish to acquire more stories that emphasize the romance in this subgenre. I've had readers inform me that they have seen our titles in certain gay bookstores around the US, and I'm happy for the exposure. As most of the authors I edit write M/M, I am always open to reading more.

Interracial Romance and Erotica - I/R, particularly with an African-American heroine, is a popular genre for us. I am definitely interested in growing this type of work. Category length and novel length (45K and up) is especially in demand among readers, and while the majority of our I/R is contemporary I'd like to mix it up with some paranormal and fantasy, shifters, and BDSM.

F/F Romance and Erotica in Novel Length - Every time we set up for a Pride event, readers ask for lesbian romance. We've enjoyed critical success with our Sapphistocated anthology, and are planning to bring Lisabet Sarai's Exposure to print for our next events, but I would like to publish one or two more exclusively F/F novels in the coming year, HEA ending.

Steampunk - The submissions for my anth call are slowly steady, probably because I haven't set a hard deadline. I may need to do that to light a fire, but in the meantime I'd love to have more steampunk, het or GLBT, for the coming year.

Please note, we do accept works of 10K, and works of 5-9K if submitting for our Binaries line. Our submissions page details everything we will and will not accept.

Right now, Phaze Books is scheduled through next spring, so if you have something for next summer, we are always open. Original works for new authors to our house, please, and feel free to contact klively (at) phaze (dot) com with questions.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Me Want More Food- One Blog is Not Enough

It occurred to me that I have close to 80 posts on chocolate alone, the majority of which are reviews of bars and delights I've sampled over the past year. Given the wealth of information, I decided the subject is worth it's own space, so I have copied those posts over to a new blog, Odd Chocolates. The name should be self-explanatory - I've tried quite a few odd combinations of chocolate and savory flavors over the years - bacon, thyme, chili peppers - and as I recently went into an order with a friend for some Japanese Kit-Kats (they'll put chocolate on anything, apparently), it's only going to get odder.

Not only that, I'm going to experiment with video blogging, since the experience of chocolate should best be displayed in multimedia. We don't have WonkaVision yet, but this is the best I can do. Head over to Odd Chocolates now and watch my reaction to biting into the last of the Polly Waffle bars.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Aural Sex

Some time ago I saw a call for submissions for an upcoming publisher of audio romance, called AudioLark. I recognized one of the staff names as somebody who has worked with Phaze Books on a freelance basis, and as that person did very well by us I figured why not give it a shot. I've mentioned here before how we have attempted to put some of our titles to audio - we even had a cover template, and I went so far as to record two of my stories on my own, Double Dare and Jack of Hearts. It's still my goal to see that project through. If I could polish the audio files I have done, maybe that will still happen soon.

Anyway, I was offered a contract to have Truth or Dare recorded, and after some internal deliberations I accepted. I'm curious to see where AudioLark goes with these projects. They will launch in March with a number of titles - stories I've seen on Samhain and other eBook publishers. At Phaze Books, the authors retain audio rights, so if any other Phaze titles will appear here I cannot say yet. As for the rest of the Dareville novels, I will wait to see how the progress with Truth pans out. If the quality is good and the book is well received, I'd be happy to negotiate the contracts for the other three main novels. For now, we'll see.

It's exciting to think a story of mine will become an audio book - it's cool to think people will download the book into iPods and iPhones and listen on the plane or elsewhere. You might know I've been trying to get Truth translated into German, and that's been a pain in the ass. One day it'll happen, I have so many dreams.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Free Short Available! Standing Guard by Leigh Ellwood

A number of years ago, I'd published through the now defunct Venus Press a quickie called Standing Guard. I was inspired to write it following a conversation with a military wife whose husband had been deployed at the time. Where I am now, that's a common sight to experience, and I imagine during the holidays it's especially lonely. I don't know that a little short tale will make anybody feel better, but I hope you all enjoy it. I've decided, since it is rather short, to add it to my growing free read library.

You can find it for free at Smashwords or ARe. Right now, it's work work work on Enter Sandman for Phaze Books, Dead Barchetta, and the first Nenah West story with Nona Wesley. I'll have more on that collaboration soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Listen to Leigh


My early Christmas treat to you: an excerpt of my latest M/M release, By the Chimney with Dare, now available from DLP Books. This is a PG-13 excerpt, but the story certainly is not. Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Title, Upcoming Title


First Things First

Now available, By the Chimney With Dare! This story is part of my Dareville series of erotic romances and erotic shorts.

By the Chimney with Dare – Leigh Ellwood
Gay Erotica – $.99 eBook

eBook available at the following merchants:

DLPBooks.com
ARe
Scribd
Smashwords
1Romance

Alone for the holidays, Jimmy Carvana accepts a volunteer gig with his uncle’s limousine service, shuttling party guests to and from the local vineyard. When he’s asked to pick up Santa, he’s surprised to find a handsome, dark-haired man in a red suit as opposed to the stereotypical jolly old elf.

As Santa, Trey Jeffries delights young and old, but alone in a cozy cabin on the outskirts of Dareville, he’s willing to offer Jimmy the gift that keeps on giving!

Secondly...


I swiped these from Tilly Greene's blog. I hadn't before seen a complete list of the ARe 28 Days of Heart Campaign titles, and these came up on my Google Alerts. What a great lineup of writers!

These books are coming out one a day during the month of February 2010, with the proceeds going to benefit the American Heart Association. I don't know if this is the order of release or not, I wasn't given a specific date on mine. Will report when I know.

Exchange of Hearts by G.A. Hauser (Gay, Contemporary)
Tor: Viking Master by Ellen Margret (Historical Ancient)
Timeless Voyage by Cornelia Amiri (Historical Ancient)
Moonlit Watcher by Crystal-Rain Love (Werewolf, Interracial, Contemporary)
A Slightly Different Perfect by Sylvia Shults (Fantasy, Romantic Comedy)
Zero-G by Michele Hart (Sci-Fi)
And She Scores by Tilly Greene (Contemporary)
Wild Child by Shelley Munro (Contemporary)
A Fair Trade by BA Tortuga (Gay, Shape-shifter, Western)
Hell's Angel by Jackie Kessler (Paranormal)
Private Lies by Cat Johnson (Contemporary)
Touch of Fire by Samantha Sommersby (Contemporary)
Bride of Fire by Charlene Teglia (Fantasy)
Protecting Miss Samuels by Summer Devon (Historical)
A Shadow's Kiss by Barbara J. Hancock (Paranormal, Vampire, Contemporary)
Hold Onto the Night by Kari Thomas (Contemporary)
Liberating Lucius by Bonnie Dee (Historical Ancient)
Mad About Meg by Mari Carr (Contemporary)
GPS by Leigh Ellwood (Gay, Contemporary)
Country Loving by Robin Leigh Miller (Thriller, Contemporary)
Unshuttered by Emery Sanborne & Philippa Grey-Gerou (Contemporary)
Vanilla with Extra Nuts by Victoria Blisse (Multipartner, Rubenesque, Contemporary)
Stay with Me by Alisha Steele (Fantasy)
Love is Blindness by Sean Michael (Gay, Vampire, Contemporary)
Angels & Genies by K.F. Zuzulo (Paranormal, Fantasy)
Love Unleashed by Marcia James (Contemporary)
Sea of Sin by India Harper (Gay, Contemporary)
Sweets by E. Cameron Stacy (Contemporary)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Incredible Shrinking Writer


Today my tight jeans are no longer tight. Since I've started Weight Watchers, I've lost 25 pounds, which puts me close to 50% of my goal loss. It's made me quite happy in one respect - I don't feel like I'm depriving myself of anything on this plan. I'm not shedding tons o'weight by the week, but I notice little differences, and I'll gladly take them. The goal is to look halfway decent at the RT Faery Ball, which is why I'm waiting to buy my dress. Plus, after Halloween maybe I can catch a sale.

Speaking of shrinking, my hopes of completing NaNo have done just that. Too many Phaze things popping up that need the time more, thankfully we're coming to a conclusion this evening for some of them. Then there's my other writing, which is paid work, that takes some precedent as well. DLP Books is taking some time, and in case you're curious here's what I'm working on next:





I've been amazed by the reception of the F/F shorts I have out. I've written a number of them, but never really tried to shop them given what I know of sales with the houses I can access. DLP Books seems to be a good forum for these shorts, so my intention is to polish them for release. Last Call is sort of an angst, friends to lovers piece I hope to get up soon.

By the Chimney With Dare is my annual Christmas short - no regulars in this one, maybe next year. However, it will introduce scenery from an upcoming Dareville novel, Dare's Destiny, which has completed the outline stage. I may have to draw names from a hat to determine what gets finished first.

Mix is going to be something different. Nona Wesley had this idea and pitched it to me. The concept intrigued me, but after discussion she decided it might not fit the usual eBook houses (weird, considering how well ePubs think outside the box), and she might need help with it. So, we are pairing up under a new name to deliver an erotic serial. We've set up the home page for it already, so be on the lookout for the first release, which will be free!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Watching the Horizons for the Next Big Thing

So, Harlequin announced it would dip into the exclusively digital publishing game with Carina Press. Awesome, nice to see one of the 800-pound gorillas of the romance industry take note that eBook publishing has merit. Authors buzz about it, tweet about submitting. Life goes on.

Harlequin then announced it would dip into the self-publishing world with Harlequin Horizons. Have you submitted to any of the many Harlequin/Silhouette lines in the past only to have your hopes dashed? Well, Harlequin plans to offer you an alternative, wherein you pay them to publish your book under their banner. Essentially this is branded vanity publishing, and as you can expect the publishing world has completed a collective jigga wha? double-take as a result.

I'm hearing people call for RWA to revoke Harlequin's status as a recommended house. I'm hearing rumors that the house is losing money. Lots of speculation. If I have to say anything about it, though, it would be this: self-publishing is not a bad thing, provided you go in with a plan. Personally, if it came down to self-pubbing - and I do it, more on that in a bit - I'd take the matter into my own hands. I want to steer that bus, and handle every aspect of the venture. I don't know that having a Horizons emblem on my book is going to help sales. If I want to be published by Harlequin, I'll submit to Harlequin. There are cheaper alternatives to self-publishing than what Horizons offers.

So I've referred to my self-publishing venture, DLP Books. Since about a month has passed since I started distributing digital stories on various sites, I figure now is as good a time as any to report on my progress. Granted, it's been a month, and I'm not a millionaire yet, but I can say I've earned so far about a fifth of what I normally pull in a month with the houses that carry my books. Here's how the sales stack up:

OmniLit/All Romance accounts for the bulk of sales, I'd say about 90%. A very distant second is Amazon Kindle, then Bookstrand's shop, then 1RomanceBooks and Smashwords. Scribd has yielded no sales so far, but I keep it active for the exposure. Of the books I have out, the M/M title Long Awaited Friend is far and away the bestseller, followed by Where Angels Dare to Tread. My mysteries sell minimally, but I'll continue to write them because I enjoy the genre, and you never know where you'll find a sales spike.

Could I make a living doing this? I don't know. My plan is to invest what I make here into my daughter's 529 account. It's my hope in a few years to have enough for a few semesters...provided she doesn't go to Harvard. If she does, here's hoping for a scholarship.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Viewing Season

Earlier this year I took my then four-year-old to see Mamma Mia on Broadway. We had seen the movie prior to that, which she enjoyed, and ever since I've had difficulty driving without being forced to run the ABBA CD through the stereo. She calls them the "movie songs." As if there are no other movies that exist. I figured, one weekend while in the City, that maybe we could catch a show since it's been playing a while. Tickets, while as easy to come by as, say, Grand Ole Opry House Tickets, set us back quite a bit. I think it was worth it, though.

She sat transfixed throughout the whole show. I'm hoping one day she'll remember how she got take in Broadway so young. I didn't get to see my first B'way show (Miss Saigon) until I was in my twenties! Of course, I mean official Broadway, sitting in New York shows here. I've seen quite a few road tours. It was my hope to get to see Carrie Fisher's show this year, but I think time and opportunity are the big enemies there. Maybe for my next trip to the City I can try for some Irving Plaza Tickets for Cheap Trick or something else.

This February, though, Cats is coming to town, and I'd like to take my daughter to see that one - I was about 13 when I saw Cats and had a great time. I don't think five would be too young for her to be scared. She got through the Haunted Mansion okay, if that's a gauge. I had friends in Michigan who scored the Palace of Auburn Hills Tickets for that Star Wars in Concert thing I wanted to see - I just didn't want it too much to spend 80 bucks a head for it. Yikes! Amazing how the price of entertainment rises, it's why I rarely go to movies anymore. Somebody needs to invent an easy way to remote view so I can stay home and watch shows.

Wait, there's a TV for that.

New F/F Short, Share, Available

Share200I seem to have a two-track mind these days. Right now I'm working on an M/M novella in the Dareville universe, and here I have another F/F short available. One day I'll get back to writing het - I actually have many started. If anybody asks how I'm doing on NaNo, I'll say I have 50K written, across 50 stories. Heh.

Anyway, here's the scoop on Share. This is actually a short I'd written a while back, and only now decided to polish for public consumption. It had originally started as a Phaze Books Sparkler submission, but I set it aside and sent in Voyeur instead. I still think it sizzles a bit. Hope you like it.

Share - Leigh Ellwood
Lesbian Erotica - $.99 eBook

eBook available at the following merchants:
ARe * Scribd * Smashwords * 1Romance

Desperate to achieve release with a little help from her trusty toy, Marissa tries to be discreet and not disturb her roommate. Nell, however, is quick to convince Marissa to change her plans...and to share more than her battery-operated pet.

Read an Excerpt.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Feeling Sapphistocated


I'm a bit late into the game here, seeing as how I've been without Internet when the EPIC Award finalists were announced. Phaze Books snagged four nods this year - a new high for us, and I'm hoping we'll take something home this time. My congrats to Brenna Lyons (Matchmaker's Misery), Sapphire Phelan (Being Familiar with a Witch), and the authors of Sapphistocated and Coming Together: Against the Odds. I'm happy to say that with the exception of the Coming Together volume, I edited the nominees for Phaze this year.

The EPIC site had me listed as editor of Sapphistocated, but if we do win for that one it's my hope to find a way to split the trophy into fours. Really, the credit for that award goes to the four authors and their wonderful stories. It's funny, too, to think this book almost didn't happen because I was considering dropping F/F fiction from the guidelines. In recent days, however, I have seen there is a market for it - it's slow but growing, and it could be a force in the future. I don't really know. I don't think anybody expected M/M to take off like it did, so we'll see. Right now, Phaze is open again to F/F, particularly novel-length, which I'd prefer to receive since it's easier to put into print. For all the specialized off-site events we do, we have people asking for lesbian romance, and we always seem to come up short. Sapphistocated was a hit at a recent pride event in Roanoke, Virginia, so we'll be sure to keep plenty on hand at the next LGBT function we attend.

Speaking of F/F, my Dareville short Where Angels Dare to Tread is a category best-seller at ARe! I've found it quite encouraging, so I'm planning a follow-up to that one. I'll also have month-end stats for DLP Books to share, too, for the curious.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Roughing It

It's been a looooong weekend. If you've kept track of the weather activities over the past few days, you've heard the Mid-Atlantic coast had quite a storm. It hit us pretty hard, but thankfully we sustained no damage. Some neighbors had flooding in their garages, and our neighborhood took some water, as seen in this short video I shot:




We lost power for a few hours on Friday, but unfortunate our TV, Internet, and phone access (which are bundled through the same fiber optic setup) is inaccessible. So basically I've been "roughing it". I can't conduct business over the Internet until I'm back online. Luckily there are others who can update Phaze and take care of some things, and I don't plan to release another DLP Books title immediately, so I guess I can survive it.

I've been hopping from free wifi station to station, sneaking hours when I can. I think I might try to use the time to catch up on NaNo (sooooooooo far behind), but otherwise the time will be spent editing Phaze works. Will I survive. We'll see.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th Sale at Phaze!


Friday the 13th doesn't have to be a bad thing! All day today, Friday, November 13th, take 13% off everything at Phaze Books! Use this sales code at checkout:

FRIDAY13

Shop and enjoy!

Phaze Books
Exceptional Erotic Fiction

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Authors After Dark: After Dawn


Two weeks later, I still look back fondly on the Authors After Dark event, and am excited about the next one. Talking to Stella Price the other day, there was much brainstorming about authors to invite for the next event, and I was happy to hear a number of M/M writers have agreed to attend! I won't reveal just yet, I want to be sure it's official before the news is spread. In the meantime, you can enjoy here what you might have missed if you attended. Or else, if you are thinking about joining us in NJ next year, maybe these photos will tempt you:

The sisters Price, Stella and Audra.

100_0161

The Tease Publishing Cocktail Party with Tilly Greene
100_0162

Cat Johnson shares the writer's real secret weapon.
100_0174

One of the many wonderful reading panels at AAD. You can see Rosemary Laurey, Joey Hill, Sunny, Mechelle Armstrong, and Samantha Sommersby among the authors.

Heart-ening News!


Nothing better than waking up to a story acceptance. A while back I submitted a short for inclusion in the All Romance 28 Days of Heart Campaign. This morning I learned my M/M short, GPS, was selected!

From the ARe page:


During the month of love, when everyone’s attention is focused on matters of the heart, we at All Romance (www.allromance.com) want to help fight the number one killer of women, heart disease, and we need your help and your submissions. Beginning February 1, 2010, we will release one new short story per day for the entire month. All proceeds from the sale of these shorts, which will be offered exclusively on AllRomance.com as individual eBooks and also bundled into 4 eBook anthologies, will be donated to the American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org).

What's especially cool about this line of fiction is that Charlaine Harris has written the forward for the anthologies that will be created from the 28 stories picked. So a story will be released every day that month, then bound later on. So now I can say I'll be in a book with Charlaine Harris!

I wasn't given an exact date of release, but I'll have it on Twitter and the Web site the second I know. With my experience in "erotic altruism", as fellow author Alessia Brio coins it, I'm very pleased to be a part of this venture. Truly, All Romance/OmniLit is a force in the eBook industry - it's amazing to see their growth and success. I'm very excited for this campaign.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Now Available: Long Awaited Friend by Leigh Ellwood

LongAwaitedFriend200Long Awaited Friend - Leigh Ellwood
M/M erotica - $1.59 eBook
Buy from DLP Books

eBook ($1.79) available at the following merchants:
ARe * Scribd * Kindle
Smashwords * 1Romance


Missed opportunities with unrequited love force drummer Keith Zander to hit the road on his motorcycle. With each mile ridden he hopes to dull the ache of the truth that his bandmate Nat may never be his. But when Nat and Kurt, the third in their trio and Nat's lover, track him down with a surprising revelation, will Keith return home or keep running?

(This story features explicit male on male encounters, and multiple partners.)

Read an Excerpt.

NaNo Submit...no?

For the record, of all the times I attempted NaNoWrimo only one of the finished products went on to be published. I won't tell you which one, however, because I wouldn't want anybody poring through my backlist to hold up one and declare, "Yeah, this looked pretty rushed." I haz feelings, too. :/

Anyway, word on the Twitterverse is that agents and editors are reluctant to look at finished NaNo projects. I have one theory why - it could be some received enough of these books in December - with very little polish - from novice authors that they decided it wasn't worth digging for treasure. I can understand that - as an acquisition editor I am occasionally sent a work that read as though somebody literally hit send on the email after typing "The End." No proofing, no edits, no beta reads. I love the concept of NaNo and especially how people who think they can't write a book actually achieve their dream, but I would have to agree with some agents and editors that a rough NaNo project is not submittable material.

Now, this doesn't mean Phaze Books won't consider a NaNo project for publication. As I mentioned on Twitter today, we have contracted at least one work produced during NaNo, aside from mine. That I know of, anyway. If we've done more, I've either forgotten or the author didn't see fit to mention it. Would I contract a NaNo novel again? I might, if it falls within our guidelines and has been cleaned up for professional consumption. A seasoned writer knows well not to send a child out into the cold unless it's properly dressed. After November 30 has passed, don't submit your book on December 1. Close the file, take a few days off and decompress. Put some mental distance between yourself and the book, so when it's time to do that second, third, etc. draft your eyes aren't so tired and you can review your work more critically. Check the typos and discrepancies, because you will make plenty. If your hero's eye color changes over the course of ten chapters, it won't look good to an editor.

Anyway, as it's still November, don't even worry about publication right now, or editing. Get down the bones. There's time to worry later. Good luck!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Writing News, NaNo, and a Giveaway

First things first - I have a huge post-Halloween Trick or Treat giveaway. I came home from Authors After Dark (look out for a longer blog on that later) with a big bag of goodies. Free books from Tease Publishing and Dorchester, author promos, and other good stuff. I'm taking names til November 5. Click here to enter - US winner gets the bag, international reader gets a gift certificate. Good luck!

Secondly, it's been a creative week. Waiting to hear on a submission made - a short M/M piece that is contemporary with a touch of strange magic...depending on how you read it. I should know by early November if it's accepted. If not, I just may make it available through DLP Books, which I really enjoy. I believe I'll always pursue publication through eBook and traditional channels, but there's something to having complete control of your work, right down to distribution and promotion. It's hardly a new concept, either, but the Internet makes it so much easier. I have one more reprint work to bring back from the vaults, then a few original shorts to share in the Dareville world - including a sequel to Daringly Delicious and one for Where Angels Dare to Tread.

For you Dareville readers out there, if there's something specific you'd like to see, I'm up for the challenge. A reader asked for a continuation of Daringly Delicious, so it's in the works. That is, along with the six thousand other WIPs I have.

I signed up for NaNo again, because I'm a masochist. My title keeps changing, but for now I'll call it Project Elvis and leave you guessing. It will be urban fantasy, not necessarily erotic, but I'm pantsing this one so we'll see.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Getting busy at Authors After Dark

Sitting right now in the Dragon, Fae, and Fantasy panel at Authors After Dark, enjoying the discussion. Good turnout for this first conference, and there are already plans for next year in Seacaucus, NJ. I'll be signing at 2 today, then my panel tomorrow morning on publishing. In the meantime, you can follow the updates on my Twitter account.

I also plan to give away my AAD goody bag. Lots of free books, signed promo and other neat things for the paranormal romance reader. Click here to enter - US winner gets the bag, international reader gets a gift certificate. Pulling a winner next week.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Great Review and a Great Deal!

I'm so happy to hear Whipped Cream Reviews loved Don't Dare the Reaper! They say in part:

This is a sweet short. I loved how close Cal and Sue are, yet how open a relationship they have. These things helped make them realistic and believable. Ms Ellwood keeps you wondering which way will they go. She does a great job propelling the plot along with hints from the sexy, grim reaper, Gil. Tack on a great happy ending and you've got a lovey afternoon read.

Read the whole thing. I'm so happy I'd like to offer everybody a change to save big on the story. When you go to Smashwords ONLY to buy Don't Dare the Reaper, enter the code VW52X to get this story for only 99 cents! This offer is good only through October 25, during Authors After Dark, so if you haven't bought the book yet now is the time to take advantage of this tricky treat.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where is the Line Between Sharing and Piracy?

There's quite a bit of chatter on Twitter and beyond about the question of "sharing" eBooks. It started with a New York Times article about a woman who apparently figured out how to share her Kindle bounty with others, implying that a number of people could read one title without paying for it. From that arose the debate as to whether or not she's an eBook pirate.

Some readers and authors defend her, and claim the act of sharing with one or two friends could help an author in the long run. Other authors are uncomfortable with the idea, as an eBook forwarded is a royalty lost.

Sharing books, of course, is nothing new. I can remember visiting my aunt in Louisville when a cousin came to call with grocery sacks full of Harlequin novels and mysteries. It was a regular paperbook swap. One day I picked up a copy of Dick Francis' The Edge and became hooked. I'd go on to buy his newly released hardcovers for years after that, and now when he and his son Felix put out a book I get it on Kindle. So Dick has benefitted from that.

When my first book Little Flowers was out during its original run (btw, did you know it's back in print in eBook format?) I received a note from a reader who told me the book was "making the rounds" at a California Catholic college. Come to find, it wasn't that my book was selling there - somebody bought a copy and passed it around to several people. Oh, well. It would be nice to think some readers would have bought the book after a recommendation, but I did find out later a few readers picked up my subsequent mysteries based on that exchange. Score one for me.

Perhaps now that I'm bringing my backlist back into print, the sharing at that level may continue and encourage actual sales. That I don't mind.

If you have one of my print books and you pass it on to a friend, a loved one, an enemy...okay. I hope they enjoy it. I hope in the act of sharing it, it means you enjoyed it and are endorsing it. Maybe that act will result in your friend buying another book of mine. I've done it myself - word of mouth is still it. My only concern is the line between sharing and piracy.

(BTW, I share quite a bit of my writing online. Go to http://www.leighellwood.com/ and click on the Free Stories section. Lots of stuff there, pass it along. I have more free shorts coming.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Save $198 on my backlist!

While preparing some of my formerly out of print mysteries and YA titles for Kindle publication, I decided to vanity search Amazon.com. Oh, I about fell out of my chair when I saw the listing for my inspirational EPPIE finalist, Little Flowers, offered for $200! A steep price to pay. Maybe if I were a famous dead author I wouldn't mind so much, but you don't need to shell out that kind of cash in this economy to enjoy a suspenseful tale of crisis pregnancy, loved ones divided on the abortion issue, and the pains that drive us to our baser instincts. Get it for under two bucks instead!

While we wait for the paperback versions of my backlist, head over to DLP Books to stock up some great (and great priced) eBook novels. In addition to Little Flowers, I have three more mysteries published under my new suspense nom, L.K. Ellwood, plus some original spicy work, too! There may be more in the future, depending on my time and energy, but at $1.99 a book you just can't beat the price. Once the paperbacks are out, they will definitely be less than $200.

Of course, if you want to give me $200 outright, I won't fight you. :-) Unless, you're paying me to fight you, in which case you'll have to spot me a few rounds.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New Dareville Title on Sale!

I've planned for a while now to write at least one exclusively F/F short in the Dareville universe. This one had intended to be just a 2K quickie, but the story grew a bit and before I realized it I had written another Halloween short. So I figured why not make it available through the regular eBook channels?

Word on the street is there's a rising interest in Sapphic works, so if enjoy the genre I hope you'll give this one a shot.

Where Angels Dare to Tread
Erotica (F/F) - $1.29 eBook

Available from DLP Books for 99 cents!

eBook also available at the following merchants:
ARe
Scribd
Smashwords

October's Black Rose Festival comes to Dareville, along with a sexy party Carole Douglas can't wait to attend. While she hopes to catch more than a few interested looks with her skimpy angel costume, meeting the enchanting Bella Reeve has her ready to turn in her halo. Will the town's first Vamp Ball bring her love at first "bite"?

Read an Excerpt.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Now for Ninety-Nine! Jack of Hearts!

My Phaze Shiver release Jack of Hearts is significant in that not only was it my first work of M/M erotica, but it was also the first M/M title released by Phaze Books. As a special Halloween treat, Phaze has marked down all six Shivers to 99 cents! If you haven't read them before, they're new to you.

While you're out and about looking for some great books to add to your Kindle or other eReader, be sure to see what's new at DLP Books. There are three mysteries available now for only $1.99 each, plus the free story Seeking Cygnus. I also have a freebie coming next month for Phaze's 5th Anniversary.

This week, I also submitted a M/M short to All Romance eBooks' call for stories for their 28 Days promotion. GPS is a light romance with heavy sex (wink) about a man who takes advantage of the road less traveled. More details soon - it will be made available regardless of the verdict at ARe.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Playing and Paying the Market

Before it's earned the money's always spent...there's a lot of truth in that. I got one of my bigger royalty checks the other day and poof! Where did it go? Bills, groceries...though I managed to put a bit in the little one's 529 account. I haven't even put in money in my existing 401Ks from old jobs, and at this rate will be writing romances until I'm 90. I should probably get into Stock Trading while I still have something to invest. I know some people have concerns about having an Online Broker work for them. My mother did well with trading several years ago, and I've thought about investing in some penny stocks just to wet my feet. Maybe once RT is over and I'm no longer investing in promo at a grand scale I can try it myself.

I'm not the most financially secure person in the world (who is?), so I supposed I'd have to investigate Online Trading quite a bit to determine how to get started. How much upfront should I invest? How long should I let stocks or bonds ride before I sell? What stocks should I buy, what's hot right now? A former co-worker of mine hit it big with Internet stocks before 9/11, and I wonder if that would be a safe bet now as Google rolls out the Wave and other things.

I'm thinking more for the little one's future than my own right now. I don't know if I'll ever retire, even if I'm able to. Something about work keeps me moving and feeling better - it's nice to have a purpose, and maybe I can write for years and maintain my own office and work from anywhere. Some good fortune on the market might allow me lengthy vacation time, at least.




Going South

It appears the family will be separated this Halloween. My husband is scheduled to appear at a conference for his work over the weekend, which will require him to drive twelve hours since he doesn't fly. More than likely he'll make a stop in South Carolina - the halfway point. There's a Myrtle Beach resort we frequented in our grad school years. It was a much easier drive from Athens, Georgia, which is basically landlocked. For a long weekend at the beach, your best best was what is called the Crystal Coast in the Carolinas.

Myrtle Beach resorts are fairly nice. Having living most of my life in beach towns, north and south of the area, I know pretty much what to expect. You want to have a clean room with nice amenities - maybe a jetted tub and a balcony with a nice sunset view, perfect for an after dinner drink and relaxation. Proximity to good food is always at the top of my list, even on this Weight Watchers program (did I mention I'm down 16 pounds now? It's slow moving, but thank goodness seafood is low in points).

I wish I could go with him. We talked about me and little one flying down and back, meeting at the hotel. Yet since I have a business trip of my own soon afterward, and relatives visiting, it just isn't feasible. I'll have to wait another day to make my own Myrtle Beach accommodations, but with the way time passes so quickly it shouldn't take too long.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Call for Submissions - Phaze Books

Call for Submissions - Phaze Books

Approaching our fifth year as a noted publisher of erotic romance in eBook format, Phaze Books looks forward to a successful 2010 and beyond. We are excited to offer readers quality romances and works of women's erotica, and are presently building our release schedule for the coming year. We welcome submissions from new and previously published authors who love their romances hot and uninhibited!

Genres: We accept most sub-genres of erotica and erotic romance, and are open to cross-genres as well. Genres that sell strongly with Phaze Books include gay romance (M/M), interracial romance (especially BW/WM), shape shifters, and stories with BBW heroines - however, we have a number of bestsellers who write a variety of categories.

Going forward, we would like to see more BDSM erotic romance, menage, urban fantasy and sci-fi, and novel-length F/F works.

Special Lines: We presently have three special lines for which we always seek new work: Phaze Rocks, Urban Phaze, and Phaze Scores. See our Guidelines page at http://www.phaze.com/submissions.html for details.

Lengths: For eBook release, we want stories anywhere from 10K to 80K. Please query for works over 80K before submitting. Our minimum for print (POD) eligible works is 40K.

For authors who prefer to keep it short - we have a new line coming called Binary Stars, where authors may submit two short stories totaling 10-15K words. Two authors may also pair together to submit two shorts for this line. Feel free to query Kathryn Lively at klively (at) phaze (dot) com for details.

Style: Our readers like it hot, so we ask our authors to let their imaginations run wild. Show us your steamiest heroes, your sexiest heroines, and no holds barred, peel 'em off the ceiling passion! If you're not sure your story sets the thermostat on fire, feel free to query us before submitting.

Reprint Policy: At this time, we only accept previously published works from current Phaze authors. If you have retained the rights to an out of the print work you wish to place, please consider sending us something original first.

Taboos: As with most publishers of erotic romance, there are a few "no-no's" we'd rather not see: incest, twincest, snuff, bodily waste fetishes, and sex with minors, among other squicks. If you're unsure whether certain material in your work would be accepted with Phaze Books, feel free to query.

Guidelines: Please see our current submission guidelines at http://www.phaze.com/submissions.html for details on how to format and submit your .RTF manuscript for consideration. Response time is generally no longer than sixty days. Please advise us if you are sending a simultaneous submission (i.e. a submission under consideration by other publishers). Any other questions may be directed to Kathryn Lively at klively (at) phaze (dot) com.

About Phaze Books
Launched in November, 2004, Phaze Books is the erotic romance imprint of Mundania Press, LLC. Phaze Books offers a wide selection of erotic romance stories and novels in eBook and print format, and has in the last five years published authors who have appeared on the New York Times Bestsellers and USA Today Bestsellers lists. Phaze is proud to count among their publications a Romantic Times Top Pick, an EPPIE Winner, several EPPIE finalists, and book review award winners. Phaze Books is a proud sponsor of the 2009 Authors After Dark Conference and will be featured in a cover article in an upcoming issue of RTBookClub Magazine.

On Plagiarism

The latest kerfuffle broadcast via Twitter concerns plagiarism, in particular the tale of a fanfic writer who lifted writing from a published work, changed the names, and posted it online as her own. Apparently, despite receiving a cease and desist from the original author, the fanfic writer initially maintained he/she did nothing wrong.

I've heard people argue that there are no original ideas anymore. Even in erotic romance, you'll find stories with roots in other works. Chey McCray's Wonderland stories come to mind - using Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland universe, she wrote novels that borrowed the imagery and some actions portrayed in those old stories.

Now, take note of a few items here: Ms. McCray did not lift any passages from Carroll's works and take credit for the writing, therefore she did not plagiarize. It's important to realize, too, that Carroll's works are in the public domain, which may make it easier for authors to construct original writings with roots in such past works.

We can talk about gray areas in writing until the cows come home (parody laws, Larry Flynt, fan fiction, etc.), but at the end of the day if you intentionally cut and paste entire passages from a copyrighted work by another author into your own writing and pass it off entirely as your own, you have committed plagiarism. It is wrong, it is stealing another person's work, and it could land you in a heap of trouble.

If you are bold enough to lift work from another author, tweak even a few words and change names, and contract that work with a publisher, you put other people at risk. Not just a reaming on the Internet, either. Criminal charges, court fees, damage to your reputation.

It is theft, just as pirating eBooks is theft. Nora Roberts once called it "mind rape" when she learned Janet Dailey had been lifting passages from her books for years. Pretty ballsy, when you consider the odds of a reader who buys both authors catching the error - and it happened.

Could happen to you, too. My advice, if you want to write, create your own words.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lessons learned at the Collingswood Book Festival

I chose to attend the Collingswood Book Festival and represent Phaze Books because, truthfully, I like the area. There's something about the network of small Jersey towns that sprawl across the state - it's like you can drive two miles and you've been through five of them. If not for the frustration of driving out of your way to make a jug-handle left turn on a main road and the inconvenience of not pumping your own gas (yeah, I actually prefer to do that) I might consider moving one day. I'd stay close to the Philly area, I think. I don't know how many people would react to these thoughts, but I've not had a bad experience in New Jersey yet.

Anyway, we set up early. The tent I'd purchased specifically for outdoor events worked like a dream.





This year I decided to experiment a bit with goodies. Usually we have candy out, but that attracts children. Much as I like kids, they tend to linger around the racy covers as they're picking through the sweets, which does make me uncomfortable. Mothers aren't inclined to hang around as much. This time, I tried coffee and those small 100-calorie pack chocolate cookies. Those raised a few eyebrows ("Are these dog biscuits?" somebody asked). Then I had to explain to everybody who passed that yes, the coffee was on the house. In retrospect maybe I should have offered a free book for a cup - ten bucks. One person had a mishap and spilled coffee all over that purple tablecloth. I think this might be the last year for that.

We had two corners to work, and I think keeping books to the side to attract oncoming people from one side didn't work well. People had to walk around the booth, and they did, but sales were slow to come. I wonder, too, if it would be better to concentrate on books by authors in the area, and who are present. The booth next to us was full of authors ready to talk about their works. I had mine as well, and I realize some people are more comfortable talking about their own work because they have a strong connection to it. Even though I've read every book on our table it's a challenge to explain everything.

Robin Glasser and Don Luis from Phaze came later in the day and worked the crowds. Distributed all of their promo and sold some stuff, too. I figured out the video function on my camera and got a nice promo shot for Robin's book.


Now that I know the video works, I'll do more of that for promotion. I have three more events this month.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

You Down with DLP? Yeah, You Know Me!

Once upon a time, before I became this sexy superstar of electronic erotic romance, I wrote mystery novels. They were good, too. I won an award, and relatives actually bought them. Problem was, in my publishing infancy I knew little about properly marketing these works via the Internet, and I hadn't been able to go out to the many festivals and signings I do now. So the books languished until I eventually pulled them from circulation.

Now, with my interest in mystery writing renewed, and thanks to the rise in DIY sites that allow authors to take control of their works and marketing strategies, I've decided to bring the works back to life. So this week I launched DLP Books for the purpose of distributing my old mystery backlist (with a new pen name) in eBook and print, and in time offering some original stuff as well. I thought once about trying to place them with a publisher that accepts reprints, but because these titles had first come out as early as 2000, I anticipated a lot of revision and updating I just can't do right now. Besides, I think the stories hold up well on their own, even now. If there's enough interest, I'll expand upon them in some form.

Right now I offer eBooks through Smashwords and OmniLit, and will offer print via Lulu and Createspace. I'll also set up an online cart to sell directly. In the near future, if you happen to find me at a book fair or signing and you're not into the sexy, I'll have other options for you and I know you'll enjoy them. So far you'll find the first two Ronnie Lord mysteries: Saints Preserve Us and Pray for Us Sinners, and Murder Most Trivial and Little Flowers are forthcoming. Seeking Cygnus, a freebie, is there now.

Now, let me clarify a few things about this venture: for one, I'm not starting a new publisher. Phaze Books is enough for me as far as work goes. So I'm not accepting submissions for DLP. If somebody is truly interested in working with me, I'll do what I can to help out, but really I don't have the energy for a start-up. Of course, I welcome all millionaire entrepreneurs looking for a new gig to e-mail me.

For two, I haven't stopped writing erotica and romance. I still have titles forthcoming from Phaze, and I have works in the pipeline to send elsewhere. I still have several Dareville titles I want to finish, but in the meantime I'm also working on my first mystery in years and am enjoying treading in familiar waters.

For three, I love romance and the sexy, but I like the idea of presenting other genres in the eBook world for readers. Where e- is concerned, erotica is the bread and butter, everything else you'll find with the rest of the pink sugar packets. Hopefully soon there will be a good balance for all readers to explore.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'd also eat more cake..but I know where that gets me

I don't normally forward the "forward this or else" e-mails, but I enjoyed this one enough to share:

Passing the Purple Hat to You

In honor of women's history month and in memory of Erma Bombeck, who lost her fight with cancer.

Pass this on to five women that you want watched over. If you don't know five women to pass this on to, one will do just fine.

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER - by Erma Bombeck
(written after she found out she was dying from cancer).

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, 'Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.'

There would have been more 'I love you's'. More 'I'm sorry's.'

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it ... live it and never give it back.

STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!

Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what. Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Technorati Claim

Claimin' my blog. You can't have it.

9w8tsudkeg

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Out now! Don't Dare the Reaper by Leigh Ellwood

Don't Dare the Reaper - Buy Now!
Phaze Books, $2, Paranormal, Menage MMF

Something spooky is going on in Dareville. En route to a sexy Halloween soiree, Cal and Sue Briscoe are involved in a car accident and die...or do they? Stranded between layers of the veil, they cling to each other with the hope that whatever happens, they will stay together. As the Grim Reaper - a handsome fellow introducing himself as Gil - tries to discern their fate, the Briscoes take advantage of the moment out of time to celebrate what could be their last chance for love...or the beginning of a new life.

EXCERPT

“Sue?”

She knew that voice—though it sounded distant and full of static. Probably a faraway temptation to rejoin the waking world, but she wanted none of it. Just a few more minutes of sleep, she decided. She had no pressing appointments at her photography studio. The people of Dareville could wait for their portraiture.

“Sue, baby, come on.”

No. Behind her eyelids came into focus a clear image of ice, stretching for miles before her. Her skates laced and tied, she took to the endless rink with all the poise of an Olympic champion, twirling and gliding with ease. Figure eights, figure sixty-nines—no number proved too difficult to etch on the hardened surface. She contemplated starting pi as well, right after a double axel.

The landing she flubbed, and Sue landed face down on the ice. The dry cool of the surface numbed her skin and left a lasting impression as that insistent voice guided her back to consciousness.

“Sue!” Cal shook her now, and she finally opened her eyes to discover they weren’t in their bed at home, but lying on a dark floor.

The entire room was pitch black, in fact. Yet, there had to be some light source since she could clearly see her worried husband.

She looked down at herself, then at Cal. Neither wore a stitch of clothing, yet it seemed natural in this situation. She experienced neither a chill nor embarrassment.

“Thank God,” he said, and drew her close.

“Where are we?”

“Hell if I know, are you okay?”

“I-I think so.” Nothing hurt. She tried her legs and stood without any problems, as did Cal. She studied their surroundings, or rather lack thereof. “Nice place.”

“Could use a window or two, but sure,” Cal said.

Sue smiled, happy to know her husband’s sense of sarcasm hadn’t suffered whatever had befallen them.

What had happened, exactly? She closed her eyes to recap the events of the day, but recalled nothing unusual. They’d made love that morning, then an early run and breakfast. Grocery shopping at Jake’s and lunch with their friend Kate at the Dareville Inn. Tiny Jack O’ Lanterns lined the lattice work of the small hotel—there was to be a Halloween party for the kids there…

Halloween party. Brady and Ellie. They were on the way to the Garristons’ house when they were hit.

“We crashed,” she said out loud. “The car.”

“Yeah, but where is it?” Cal loosened his hold and stepped away. Each footfall echoed an odd sound, as though they stood in a large, empty soundstage.

“We couldn’t have been thrown, we’d be all bloody and cut,” he added. He looked about to say more, but his face paled. Sue realized he shared her very thoughts.

Perhaps, they hadn’t been ejected from the car because they were still in it—their corporeal selves, anyway.

“We’re dead, Cal?”

He shook his head, bewildered. “I don’t know, babe. I don’t know. Come here.”

She gladly eased into his embrace and pressed against him, then gasped when she confirmed her worst fear. “I can’t hear your heart beating.” She trembled in his arms, trying to sob but tears didn’t come. Cal kissed the top of her head, but beyond that she detected no other movement. His breath didn’t caress her skin. His pulse didn’t race. He, like her, just was.

At least her sense of touch remained intact, and she assumed the same for Cal. That provided some comfort in this uncertainty. She savored the scratch of a light tuft of chest hair against her cheek, and how his hand smoothed over the swell of her backside. Any other time, this would arouse her, and she felt sad. Had they lost the ability to truly enjoy intimacy in this place?

“This is too weird. Cal, you don’t think this is Hell, do you?” Despite seeming to have no major working organs, Sue managed to sense a chill shiver down her spine after all. She thought of everything she and Cal had done, the earthly pleasures enjoyed since they fell in love, and wondered how much of it counted against them in their final judgment.

He didn’t answer right away, and part of her hoped for a joke to lift her spirits. Finally, he looked up and said, “This can’t be Hell.”

“How are you so sure?”

“If it were, I’d be the only one here.”

He looked down at her. In this state—death, near-death, whatever—his eyes maintained their lively hazel color, and she saw the desire flickering within them. Cuffing the back of his neck, she pulled him down for a long, slow kiss, relieved to know not everything ended in death.

Copyright Leigh Ellwood 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

To Review: Phaze Books Current Calls for Submission

Current calls for submission at Phaze Books, erotic romance and women's erotica. First, the special anth calls:

As Yet Titled Steampunk Anthology: M/M or bi-Male Menage, one-time rights sought, payment on acceptance. Details for guidelines on this post. This is an open call until the slots are filled.

TouchAble: Stories featuring characters with disabilities sought for anthology. One-time rights sought, payment on publication. Details for guidelines on this post. Deadline February, 2010.

Lemon Kisses: Yaoi anthology. Standard Phaze rights/royalty payment policies apply. Details on this post. Deadline December, 2009.

Present Phaze Books lines open for works:

Urban Phaze: Erotic romances set entirely in one metropolitan city. Duplicate cities permitted. Min 10K words, no max. All sub-genres.

Phaze Scores: Romances with a sports theme. Min 10K words, no max. All sub-genres.

Phaze Rocks: Romances bearing title of a popular rock classic or contemporary hit. Story doesn't have to be music-themed. Min 10K words, no max. All sub-genres.

Phaze Binary Stars: Two-story collections, with both stories by one author or two, with collected work totalling 10K minimum. Great for authors experienced in flash fiction. All sub-genres.

Please review the Phaze Books submissions page for details on how to send us work.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Blubber Principle

Surely you've read Blubber by Judy Blume. Back in the day just about everything Blume wrote ended up on some library's banned list, and what's the first thing an eager young adult reader does once he/she gets wind of that? Of course, they immediately heat-sink the book to find out what the big deal is. Oh, some pre-teen is fretting about her period, that's all? But that was Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret - we'll discuss that another day.

For the benefit of those who haven't read Blubber, here's the breakdown: Jill (Everygirl), along for the ride - as it were - in her middle-school class, goes along with the unprovoked mob-like teasing of Linda (Fatgirl) as instigated by Wendy (Meangirl) and supported by Caroline (Toadygirl). When Wendy sneers, everybody responds in kind, and despite the fact that Linda has done absolute nothing to warrant poor treatment people go along with it...until the day Jill grows a sac and calls Wendy out on her Meangirlness.

Big mistake. Apparently Jill's clout couldn't match Wendy's among the legion of yes-men. Where Jill once guffawed, she now becomes the object of scorn. If that's not enough, the mean girls have accepted Linda into the fold. Now, one might expect her to tell Wendy to f*ck off, and one must wonder what Wendy told her to win her forgiveness overnight, but there is Linda gleefully swinging her bat at the pinata with everybody else. It isn't until Jill points out to Caroline that her position as Riker to Wendy's Picard is threatened that Wendy's reign of terror ends. By book's end, everybody has a new BFF except for Linda, who has been cast aside and, while it's implied she's no longer the town kickball, she's not exactly popular.

So what was the point of this story? One can easily apply it to real-life behaviors that extend way beyond middle school. What this story tells me, for one, is to exercise caution with words and actions. It's fun to point and laugh, yes, and it's fun to join in a social media conversation or thread of blog comments thinking you are immune to criticism.

Are you, though? Are you a Jill, merrily riding the waves, unconcerned about ethics until it really, truly affects you? Are you a Linda, biding your time until you can finally don your red dress and dance on a few graves? Are you a Caroline, who would rather side with a "winner" regardless of any possible damage done to others, than think for yourself? Do you ever wonder if your actions will come back one day to bite you on the ass?

Are you a Wendy? I've known quite a few Wendys in my day, and could never figure out why they acted the way they did. Insecurity? Who knows. I have learned a number of them grew out of it after college. The rest...sigh. If it's any consolation, the best revenge is living well. I'm not rich, but I've done what I set out to do.

Who am I? I'm me. I prefer it that way. To anybody who is content to fall into a category than create their own, I say good luck. Just watch for falling flensers.*






*Read the damn book.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Eight down, **** to go

I had to stare at the scale several minutes this morning to confirm that in my first week of Weight Watchers I'd lost EIGHT FREAKING POUNDS! Looking in the mirror later, I didn't think I looked any different from when I began the program, and my clothes aren't falling off yet, but I'll take eight lost over one gained any day.

I've done Weight Watchers before, but not once have I lost so much in one week. It's inspired me, to say the least, to be more mindful of how I eat and to exercise daily - even if I take a short walk. I will admit, the loss resulted in my losing a point in my daily allowance, but I see it as a challenge to work around foods I enjoy. Chocolate comes to mind. I blog enough about it, and I don't intend to give it up. I'll simply enjoy it in smaller quantities. Right now I have all my Vosges bars marked in one-point portions. One thing to note about chocolate is that dark doesn't equate to diet - don't think you can eat more of it and not be penalized down the road.

I've promised to take the little one camping this fall, too, and camp food is anything but forgiving. Right now I'm working to devise the lowest-point possible s'more. Here's what I have learned so far:

  • A marshmallow is half a point
  • A low-fat graham cracker (intact with all 4 perforated sections) is 2 points
  • The traditional milk Hershey bar is 5 points total, so 2.5 per half used per s'more, unless I use quarters, which likely knocks off half a point
Going the standard route, a s'more figures out to be 5 points each. Now I could go open-faced and knock off a point, and maybe I could use a miniature Hershey bar, which is only one point. Or I could try something really exotic and use a mini York peppermint patty. Now there's a taste sensation.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Newsletter Manager needed for Phaze Books

Twice now I have started up a monthly newsletter for Phaze Books, only to have the project fall to the wayside. As we continue to grow I would like to have a monthly, or 6-issue a year, HTML newsletter to share with our mail subscribers, Twitter followers, etc. Given my present workload, I've accepted this isn't something I can do on my own. Others on our staff have enough on their plates to take on such a project, too, so it appears we are going to outsource this.

So I'm putting the word out: we would like to take on a freelancer to handle the creation of a monthly newsletter. Basically we are looking for somebody to provide some content (interviews with Phaze authors, maybe a short thematic piece, recipes, etc.). We will provide content on sales and forthcoming releases. We aren't looking for anything too elaborate, but a nice newsletter presented broadsheet style in HTML once a month or every two months.

The ideal candidate will be somebody familiar with our house who enjoys all genres of erotic romance (i.e. somebody who won't favor a particular genre over others because he/she likes it best). This will be a paid position - details will be provided on request.

So if you know somebody interested in doing this for us, please have them contact me at klively (at) phaze (dot) com with examples of work. I'll also take recommendations for promotion companies, too. I know a lot of authors use them.

Thanks!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Girl, You're Gonna Carry that Weight...

Yesterday afternoon I meant to take a picture of myself in a nifty t-shirt I purchased from the Coming Together CafePress store. Yesterday afternoon I discovered that my body has graduated from XL to infinity...and beyond. I saw things no human being should ever need to experience. There was a spare tire, and I don't mean the limp tire you use to get your car from the side of the road to the nearest gas station. I'm talking those jumbo, waffle-fry tread behemoths that feature largely in Jeff Foxworthy monologues. Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle, watch me reach for the comfort of another doughnut. After all, what harm can it do?

It's done plenty, apparently.

There is a dry erase board in the back room of our house, at the corner of which is a number: 187. Over a decade ago I had written that number down as my weight at the time, with the purpose of shrinking it. Today that number is just above my goal weight now. I'd like to step on a scale without hearing it cry for mercy.

It's my own fault, really. Before I got pregnant I had done well - Weight Watchers, no dairy, daily exercise. Even during pregnancy I didn't go overboard with cravings, yet shortly afterward fatigue and apathy settled in. I don't work at a labor-intensive job - I sit all day. I sit all night. I watch my little girl run laps around the house and think I should join her, let her sweat with this oldie.

And dairy, Geds. I've become it's bitch again and there's no turning back, it seems. But I did take one step in the right direction by signing up for Weight Watchers, legitmately this time. Used to be I'd just download eat sheets and try to figure out the points myself. It works for a month then I'm back to old habits. No more. I have trackers and planners and hopefully offline support. My sister lost 40 pounds with WW, my closest friend nearly 70. I know the plan works, I just have to get off my ass and do it.

I just have to get off my ass.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chocolate Review: New Tree Alpha Thym

Looking for a small after-lunch treat, I went through The Stash for this wafer-like bar bought at Biagio. The New Tree company is known for chocolates that promote some kind of health benefit, and the Alpha line boasts Omega 3 fatty acids and dark cacao. The Thym disc is self-explanatory, thyme with 65% dark.

I opened the package to an immediate blast of cacao, but the thyme quickly overtook that once I got the flat disk completely out of the wrapper. The surface lacks the gloss of other high-end chocolates I've had, and the thinness of the bar highlights the grainy-looking interior - it's easy to see the flax seeds and puffed rice bubbled on the bottom.

A loud snap, and the bold taste of thyme on the palate came next, followed by the sweetness of the mid-level cacao. If you could imagine somebody knocking a jar of herbs into a vat of Nestle Crunch (with a different grade of chocolate) you'll have a good idea of the texture. If you don't mind savory flavors with chocolate, you might like this one. I wouldn't list it among my top daily choices, maybe a once in a while indulgence.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Putting away childish things

This weekend we are determined to clean out the house, and for us that means having to parse a good amount of toys and children's furniture to see what stays and what can be given away or sent to consignment. I find it difficult to believe that already four years have passed since we last changed a diaper on a baby changing table, and now we might have to upgrade the bed G is sleeping in now. Where did the time go?

We're also getting to the point where we need to upgrade her car seat, too. Right now she has this nice pink "Princess" seat that converts to an older child's booster. As tall as she is, though, she'll be out of it soon enough. In the garage we have baby strollers and playpens we haven't used in years, and seeing as we have no plans to reproduce again I don't know why we hold onto these things. Friends with little ones either have shiny new stuff or hand me downs from previous kids, so we're stuck. Voluntarily, at least.

I admit I have trouble putting away childish things in this respect. The way time has blown by, I miss everything that was when G still crawled and barely babbled. Yes, I even miss my old breast milk pump and the Boppy pillow I used to cradle her to sleep. Now she wants to do everything on her own, and it's hard to let go.

I suppose this is why people have more than one. It's tempting, I tell you.