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.