Friday Feature: His Midnight Sun by Viviana MacKade

 

 

Hey, it’s Feature Friday, so that means we have a guest poster today. Please welcome Viviana MacKade as she shares with us a little about her upcoming release, His Midnight Sun!

 

 

 

 

 

His Midnight Sun

by Viviana MacKade

 

Tormented, fierce, and broken, sculptor Aidan Murphy has judged himself guilty. He yearns for love but pushes everyone away. He longs for acceptance but has lost the key to open his heart. Until he meets Summer Williams. Beautiful and smart, Dr. Williams promises haven for a man who believes he deserves none. All he has to do is let her in and risk his heart and soul.

Summer’s managed to keep her inner light alive, even through tragedy. She’s created a new life for herself and her daughter in Crescent Creek with loving, caring and fun friends–well, except brooding, breathtaking Aidan. She’s used to keeping away from his type, though. All she has to do is ignore the pull of a man who’s turning up to be much more than snarls and storms. Will her compassion and medical instincts let her?

Love can heal a broken soul and shake up a timid heart. Or it can unleash devastation and revenge.

Will Aidan and Summer survive the hurricane?

 

Release September 15, available for pre-sale

$ 0.99 FREE with KU

On Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

I didn’t realize His Midnight Sun had a theme until well after I finished it. Honestly, I don’t write to teach, preach or any other significant and profound reason. I write to entertain. To give people a break. I like to think my stories are fairy tales for adults, where the characters go through changes and problems and tragedies, but will get to the happily ever after. The great Susan Elizabeth Phillips said that life is too short to waste with depressing books, and that sums perfectly the way I want my books to be.

An escape. Heaven knows if we all need it one sometimes.

So I didn’t have anything in mind other than telling Aidan’s story when I started.

And what do you know, I found myself with a phoenix’s story. A man who learns how to leave the past where it’s supposed to stay, who learns how to forgive himself and how to accept love. And through him, I discovered the same things. In many ways, Aidan’s story is my story, his demons are my demons, and because of him, I saw a way to boot them out.

Summer showed him the power of love–not just romantic love, but for the other people. For friends and strangers alike. Which turned out to be the theme of the book.

The healing power of love.

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1

 

Crescent Creek, early July.

With no fight left in him, Aidan Murphy sank down on the wooden floor of his home studio.

Done.

Aidan filled his burning sight with the finished, almost 7 feet tall piece of art. Hell to work on, pure and simple, but it couldn’t be helped, not when it had called to him with such powerful voice.

Two weeks earlier, he’d been wandering around the stone-site when his skin began humming, and his heart beating faster. Years of sculpting had taught him how to hear the calling, the silent scream of whatever form lay trapped inside the rocks begging him to free it.

He’d followed his guts like so many times before and laying a palm on the cold, white alabaster, had known something waited in there. He’d bought the squared monstrosity, never stopped working on it since the day it had been delivered to his address. At every bite of the masonry blade, at every kiss of the chisel and caress of the rasp, its voice had been easier to hear, pushing him, constantly pushing him to keep going, keep working.

A couple had emerged from the stone and if beauty could hurt, by God, this one would in so many ways. Those two people were set to break any viewer’s heart. Nothing happy or gleeful about them, nothing about being lost in the fallacy of love; the pair stood in a tight embrace made of disillusion and reality. Rightfully so, because wasn’t love just that? Another form of pain? A delusion?

Aidan shook his head. Whatever love was for the average person, these two people he’d given life to scratched at the thick walls of his reticent heart. He didn’t care for such shit.

Much smarter to focus on his very real, very tired body.

Too bad the small motherfucker rock poked at the edge of his consciousness, staring from the opposite side of the room.

Not the colossal couple he’d just freed from alabaster. Oh, no, the one giving him attitude was a stupid overgrown pebble slightly smaller than his fist. Why was it even in the house? He’d cut outside, it made no sense for it to be there. “Shut the fuck up,” he grumbled, rubbing exhausted eyes with scarred, dirty hands.

Never a stone’s call had been left unanswered, but… fuck it, it was too much, too soon. He needed time to return human before starting a new project and besides, what could possibly be inside that little piece of shit? A fucking bug? “Fuck off.”

Of course, the nagging didn’t stop.

Ignoring the silent pull to the useless stone, he got up, walked to the other side of the room, picked it up and all but crashed it on his desk. “Better leave it alone, matey. Next time you bug me, I’ll turn you into sable. Ugly fucker.”

Aches pulsed and hissed everywhere; a thin layer of dust, crumble of wax, and sweat covered him, made his skin prickle. For all the good clothes had done to him, he might as well work buck naked next time.

Back in front of the new statue he stood, hands on hips, looking at it–tall and strong, fiercely beautiful in its message of pain. Perfect.

A sudden ray of light stabbed his eyes, made him jerk his head in protection. Fucking morning sun. Or afternoon sun. He had no clue. It was hard to tell the passing of time when he got lost in the wild, strenuous journey into the heart of a rock.

How many days had gone since it had been delivered and he’d started working on it, four? Probably more as not bruising the stone had slowed everything down. He’d heard fireworks in the distance, so Independence Day had come and gone. Hard to say how long had passed after it.

For days he’d eaten bread straight from the plastic bag or some other easy crap when hunger punched his stomach; had drank lukewarm water from bottles scattered everywhere; slept on the couch when he made it so far from the sculpture, although most of the times he’d pass out on the hard floor until discomfort woke him up, and he’d go back at the rock again.

Ah, but what an adventure, he thought with awe as he ran a hand over the side of the sculpted woman.

Now he was done, meaning he didn’t want to have anything to do with stones for the near future.

He took a sharp intake of air when the little rock on his desk poked at his mind again. No clue as to when but at some point, the cleaning crew would come, let’s see how the rock would like it. “If I throw you back on the floor, they will get rid of you. That’s right, they’ll throw you away,” he croaked, his damned throat hurting from not having talked in days.

Aidan sat down, stretched his aching legs in front of him, and tried to lean back on his arms; his muscles screamed in protest. 

Shit, he was in pieces, worse than usual.

Giving up, he laid on the dirty floor and closed his eyes–they scratched like sandpaper.

Bed. He craved a bed more than the next breath. Decent food. A shower. After that, the little stone would stop being a bitch and leave him alone. It was only a fucking pebble, a leftover from the couple and too small to have anything special in it, anyway.

He’d wait five minutes, no more, and he’d get up, order food, hit the shower and, finally, pass out on a real bed. Satisfied with the carved couple, clean, and with a full belly.

Just five more minutes.

 

THE AUTHOR

Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her husband and her son, her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her boy, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.

 

Find me:

On my website http://www.viviana-mackade.blog/

On FB

On Twitter

Amazon Author page

 

Now Available for Pre-Order: Ghost of a Chance by McKenna Dean

 

The second in the Redclaw Security series, Ghost of a Chance, is now available for pre-order! 

Redclaw Security is an elite paranormal agency whose agents seek out and contain alien artifacts, as well as provide security and investigate matters within the shifter community. Each Redclaw Security story can be read as a standalone, though the the stories and characters are all connected with Redclaw in some manner.

Ghost of a Chance

Blurb: At sixteen, Sarah Atwell walked away from her love of horses and a promising career as a competitive rider after discovering she’d inherited the family curse. Years later, her grandmother stunned everyone by leaving Sarah her horse farm—worth millions—but with conditions Sarah might not be able to meet.

A former Redclaw agent, Casey Barnes retired when a security assignment went bad, killing his partner and leaving him as a partial amputee. His inner wolf is in hiding. He’s been living quietly as a horse trainer, but June Atwell’s death now pits him against her granddaughter for rights to the stable.

With both of them snowed in at the farm, a series of increasingly serious accidents draws Sarah and Casey closer together, but they each harbor secrets that might tear them apart.

Available August 7th, 2018!

 

“True” by Ann Everett: Book Tour & Giveaway!

Please welcome author Ann Everett as she shares a bit about herself and her newest book, True. Be sure to check out the giveaways after the author interview!

True
A Bluebird, Texas Romance
by Ann Everett

Ann is giving away five awesome prize packages. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win one of the prize packages. You may find the tour locations here

About True:

Sometimes it takes losing everything…

True Shanahan must be the unluckiest woman in the world. Either that or she’s cursed. After another failed relationship, True leaves Dallas with a broken heart and new attitude. It’s time to walk on the wild side. But when she makes a wrong turn and ends up in Bluebird, Texas, the only man she wants is anything but reckless.

…to find all you’ve ever wanted.

Ritter Malone is the town’s favorite son and has the local hero awards to prove it. Seems he’s always in the right place at the right time. But when he crosses paths with True, his life takes a turn he never sees coming. Her songwriting skills may be questionable, but her ability to turn him inside out is indisputable.
Welcome to Bluebird, Texas.

Where a chance meeting gives two people a chance at love.

Amazon Buy Link

 
Excerpt:
When Ritter arrived at the gym, he spotted Cole jumping rope. He stopped and glanced at the wall clock. “You’re late. Roommate didn’t have you tied up, did she?”
 
“Very funny. We got a dog. Stayed up playing with him. I hit the snooze one time too many.”
 
Cole ran a towel over his face, then his lips curled. “That’s not good.”
 
“What? Getting a puppy?”
 
“Naw. The we in that sentence sounds like a contract extension.”
 
Ritter stretched. “I won’t lie. I’ve gone home to an empty house so long, thought having someone there would drive me nuts, but it hasn’t—for the most part.”
 
Cole stepped on the nearest treadmill, turned it on, and ran a steady pace. “I gotta hand it to you. You’ve managed to sleep with her and keep your hands to yourself. Or have you?”
 
Ritter climbed onto the machine next to Cole’s and matched his stride. No need to confess he hadn’t exactly resisted, but he’d not passed second base—by much. Had it not been for the phone call, he would have hit a home run. He’d had the wood for it. “No.”
“Come on. No way you haven’t hit that. Especially after what you told me about her coming on to you.”
 
“That’s why I can’t let her stay. My resistance is wearing thin.”
 
Ritter and Cole’s phones sounded a text at the same time. Ritter read his, then shot Cole a look. “Turns out, we’re off this afternoon.”
 
Cole dropped his cell back into the cupholder. “I’ve never been to New Jersey. You?”
“Nope but looks like the storm is calling us there.”

 

Hello! Welcome to my blog, Ann! Thank you for answering my nosy, I mean discerning, questions!  First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write.

 Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

I like to write romance with some sass and sizzle. All of my stories are set in Texas…since I’m a Lone Star native that’s what I know most.

What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?

I grew up in Brownsboro, Texas, a super small town about 125 miles east of Dallas. When I was growing up there, the town only had 300 people. I’ve lived in bigger cities…Austin and Lubbock, but currently I reside in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. We’re in the northeast corner of the state, near the Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana borders.

How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

I wrote some in college but was never serious about it. Then on a whim, when I was in my fifties, I decided to write a short story and enter it in a contest. Before I knew it, I had 25,000 words and decided I’d make it a book!

Of the stories you’ve written, which one do you like the most? Which one would you recommend a new reader begin with?

I think Chirp is the best book I’ve written. It’s the first time I tried writing multiple storylines within the same story. It has three romances happening. Chirp and Rance. Seth and Hanna. Tom and Helga.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a published author?

Join an online writing website so strangers can critique your work. They are the ones who will offer the best advice because they don’t have to worry about hurting your feelings.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere. The inspiration for True came from my electric co-op magazine. It had a picture of a yummy looking lineman on the cover…and I thought…hey, not many stories are written with a lineman as a main character….so, Ritter Malone was born in my imagination.

Best line you ever wrote?

As an author, this is the only time I pat myself on the back. I work hard, hard, hard, to come up with the best opening line of a book. I want it to grab the attention of the reader and set the tone of the story. Here are a few examples.

From Laid Out and Candle Lit: Not only did Tizzy Donovan think her cup was always half empty, she was pretty sure someone had spit in it.

From You’re Busting my Nuptials: Twenty-four hours ago, Tizzy Donovan was naked in Ridge Cooper’s bed, screaming to get God’s attention.

From Tied With a Bow and No Place to Go: Jay Roy Hobbs held the county record for talking women out of their panties.

From Say You’ll Never Love Me: Two weeks earlier, Raynie stood in the same spot and swore off bad boys. Absolutely. For sure. Maybe.

From True: True Shanahan stopped in her tracks, cupped her ear, and listened to the throaty moans, heavy breathing, and rhythmic grunts coming from the other side of Richard’s office door. 

 
NAME THE TWINS CONTEST:
Submit your name choices via comment Ann’s blog post, http://www.anneverett.com/2018/06/15/contest-and-new-release/or to her email ann.everett @rocketmail. com. (without spaces)
 
About the Author:
Award winning author, Ann Everett embraces her small town upbringing and thinks Texans are some of the funniest people on earth. When speaking to writing groups, businesses, book clubs, and non-profit organizations, she incorporates her special brand of wit, making her programs on marketing, self-publishing, and the benefits of laughter, informative and fun.
Social Links:

Free Stories, Upcoming Releases, and More!

Because it’s a national holiday here in the US, I’ve opted to move WIP Wed to next week–so be sure to come back to participate then!

I’m considering starting a New Release Saturday as well–where people can drop in and share what they have that’s about to come out–what do you think?

In the meantime, I’m in the final edits on Ghost of a Chance, the next standalone in the Redclaw Security series.

I can’t wait to share this one with you! I see a lot of similarities between Sarah and myself: we’re both fangirls and we grew up frequently hearing how we fell short on expectations. Part of Sarah’s journey will be to recognize her self-worth, and discovering things some people see as flaws can be your biggest strengths.

As part of the run up to the next book release, first Reclaw book, The Panther’s Lost Princess is FREE until July 5th,  so grab your copy now!

Adam Mann tells us why Love is in the Air (book tour and excerpt)

Hello! Welcome to my blog, Adam, and thank you for answering my nosy, I mean discerning, questions!  First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

  • What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now? 

I have lived and worked in what is called “developing economies” in Africa and Asia for over 50 years, and as a result I had to move home every two or three years as my work contract changed.  I met a lovely widow in Vietnam in 1997 which is where I live now with some of our seven adult children and most importantly grandchildren.

School and university was in England and Ireland, but I was made redundant from my job in London in 1964 and managed to land a good job in Lagos, Nigeria of all places.  I ended up spending 12 years in Nigeria until corruption got so bad I moved from the proverbial frying pan into the fire “Libya”.  Things go better in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Botswana with short inputs into Egypt and Uganda.

Don’t laugh but then I accepted a contract in the Swat valley in Pakistan, before the famous Malala was even born, but after two years moved to Sri Lanka, and then Vietnam where I live and write now.  From Vietnam I’ve gone on short term assignments to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

  • How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

I probably first wrote because I had to – official reports, studies, surveys and so on – the boring stuff!

My first love was story telling rather than writing, and then I used to read the history of some of the countries in which I worked.   It was the “unknown” and the “blank spaces” in that history that prompted me to start enquiring and then writing.  With romance novels I wrote my first manuscript in the first person, but as the passion got hotter I really had to change!

My father worked in Singapore when I was a boy and in my early teens, and living there I became a Boy Scout, so story telling around the campfire was my first introduction to telling tales, and ghost stories.

I retired four years ago, and apart from gardening, have written ten crime and historical novels, and now over 30 contemporary romance novellas, which is really the subject that we are featuring today.

  • What gave you the courage to submit your first story to a publisher?

My first book was an historical novel, which I wrote in 1996 when I lived in the corner of a coconut estate in the north of Sri Lanka but which I sat on having been almost tempted by a vanity publisher in London! 

It was in 2014 that I came across Smashwords and publishing a book with them was not difficult.  Amazon I found later is actually easier.  Over the years I have managed to get four publishers to take some of my manuscripts – Blushing Books, Phaze Books, Global Publishing Group and eXtasy Books, as I had hoped that my eBook sales would improve with their backing!

  • How would you characterize your stories? As romance, erotica, or something entirely different?

I like writing romance, but I have to add in the sexy bits to make the story more complete and convincing, so as a result I include explicit sex in my novellas.   I don’t call that erotica.  I don’t use swear words or violence in my stories.  I am sorry but gooseberry bushes and storks with bundles in their beaks doesn’t work with me – besides that misses out all the romance, courting and passion!

  • What draws you to this genre? Have you written in other genres?

I’ve always been concerned that historical novels write about the rulers, but seldom about their families.  I’ve found many portraits and sketches, even frescoes, about beautiful ladies but often their names are missing – so I add in their wives and family life, which is largely from my imagination.

Writing historical romance was an immediate lead into contemporary romance, but I had to use areas of the world that I knew, as I had lived and worked there.  This also applied to the characters and heroines that I invented, so that as a result many are of Asian origin.

  • City Boy/Girl or Country Mouse—and why?

Ponies and dogs were an integral part of my life as a boy, and my work has always been with animals and farmers.  So I usually set my stories in rural areas as I know them better.  Cinemas were a complete novelty to me, and I did not see TV until 1953, which then I was a very small black and white grainy screen.  World Service Radio was much better and different.

  • Are you a punster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

I usually put together the overall plot in my mind, and often I get up in the middle of the night to do that!  I usually prepare a spread sheet of the plot and the characters, and then start writing.  Frequently the characters take over and form and even change the plot as I write, and for one story I had to change a tall thin blonde into a sturdy well built lady, with mousy hair, but with an attractive dominant character.

  • Research: love it or hate it?

I really enjoy research, but it does take up a disproportional amount of time.

  • Editing: love it or hate it?

I appreciate the work and responsibility of an Editor and even their advice of story content and character description.  I’ve only had one occasion to cloud my judgment when an Editor queried a statement of fact!   I am sorry but this made my blood boil, after all I am the author, and I had clearly established the facts before I wrote.  I tend to think that her “advice” was a matter of political opinion, which was quite topical at that time.

  • How much do you think that a good blurb and good cover art figure into the success of a story?

Great covers are invaluable.  The three novels in this Box Set are the result of a friend telling me that my cover for one looked a bit “home-made”.  The artist who made the three replacements has been telling me that the covers are my brand and should present the story!

Blurb is entirely a different matter.  Without a doubt there are Key Words that should be inserted in the blurb, and I wish I knew what they are. 

LOVE IN THE AIR

Excerpt:

It was very early morning when the flight arrived in Taipei, and Charlie walked with Sue-Ling to the Arrivals Hall.

“Wait a minute,” she said and disappeared into a shop.

“Here,” she said a few minutes later, “something from Taiwan so that you remember me!” and she laughed.

He handed him a small locally made toy farmer.

As she was standing close to him he kissed her forehead, and she blushed, but made no effort to go away.

“Bathroom,” said Charlie, and Sue-ling took his bag and said, “I’ll wait for you,” which was kind of her.

She watched him walk away, and made a mental note.

Tall, she decided, probably six feet, brown wavy hair, slim build, intelligent and with a lovely smile.  She guessed he’d be late thirties.

She knew he wasn’t married as he’d told her during the flight, as she’d told him she was nearly thirty and single, but she had also said there was an old boyfriend waiting for her at home.

Charlie, for his part, thought about this charming and attractive lady he’d met on the flight.  She was quite tall compared to other Taiwanese ladies, kept her black hair shoulder length, wore thin gold ring earrings, and was still very slim. But with winter clothes covering her he could not tell anymore.  Still she did have a lovely smile with sparkling dark brown eyes.

Sue-ling was waiting for Charlie, and she gave him her bag as she in turn went to the ladies washroom.

“Wrong way round,” thought Charlie, “I should have asked her first!” And he admonished himself, and when she came back she was a bit deep in her own thoughts.  They walked on together.

“You have to go that way, but I’m going over there,” Sue-ling indicated the overhead signs, “Oh yes, here’s my mobile phone number so if you give me a ring sometime, and then I’ll have your number,” and she handed him a small card.

“Good-bye Sue-ling,” said Charlie, “thanks for your time and help on the flight.

Sue-ling smiled and on tip toe kissed Charlie on his right cheek, and she walked away.

Charlie followed the signs leading to the Departure Hall, but was still thinking about her.

He dialed her number in his mobile phone, and it rang;

“Is that the attractive lady I met on the flight from Vancouver?” he asked into the phone.

“No, sorry, I can’t see her around here,” she replied, “but I’ll give you a call if I do.”

LOVE IN THE RAIN

Nobody loves like an Irishman!

By a sheer stroke of bad luck Henry gets caught in a tropical storm whilst he’s swimming in the sea.  He sensibly gets out of the water and finds shelter in a beach house, and a few moments later is joined by an equally sodden rain drenched lady.

Felicity is cold and wet and she has nothing dry to wear so she asks Henry to hold her so that they can both benefit from their body warmth until the rain subsides.

The story is set in South East Asia, and culminates in modern day Singapore, but the note above is only the start of a very long story…

LOVE IN THE BOONDOCKS

Kim has just been divorced by an uncaring husband who was more interested in her money than herself.  She finds work as a Primary School teacher in several remote villages, where she meets Dave who is working with farmer families in some of the same villages.  She finds him attractive and “sets her cap” at him.

Fortunately she speaks English so she manages to meet Dave in several locations before meeting him one evening in his small cottage, on the pretext of getting a lift to a village.

You, the reader, will have to find out what happens next…

LOVE IN THE AIR

Two passengers find some common ground on a flight from Vancouver to Taipei.

Charlie meets Sue-ling on trans-Pacific flight to Taipei after flight delays due to bad weather, and then further delays mean a long stop-over in the transit area at the airport.

Charlie decides to stay at the Airport Hotel where he can get a shower and rest a bit, and is helped by Sue-ling who joins him as she too is delayed by the weather. 

Their in-flight conversation becomes more than friendly, as they have to wait for their flight connections, and a mix-up in the hotel bathroom exposes more than just her skin as their relationship develops.

There is now a Box Set for these three Asian Love Stories

Adam Mann has written over thirty romance stories.  In many cases the heroine comes from Asia, but this is partly because that is where he has been working in remote areas for over thirty years.  Adam admires the resolve and determination of these ladies from Asia even in challenging and problematic circumstances.

Most of his stories are partially derived from his personal experience, and also based in locations that he knows as he’s lived and worked there.

He freely admits that his imagination makes up a good proportion of each of the stories.  He’s often found that romance is not always where a hard working boy meets good looking girl and they live happily ever after.  Most of his characters are a bit more battered in their lives before they meet, so their circumstances and incentives are much more clearly defined.

Most of Adam’s stories are about twenty thousand words, so not very long, and cheap to buy at Ninety Nine cents and easy to read.

Adam Mann is the pen name for romance books written by Mike Lord.

 

https://facebook.com/author/adammannauthor.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/adammannauthor.com

http://www.adammannauthor.com

https://twitter.com/AdamMannAuthor/status/686929540254322689

https://www.smashwords.com/?ref=ButterflyBooks

 

 

Please read and enjoy this story.

 

 

 

Prince of Granola by L.A. Sartor, Excerpt and Author Interview

Prince of Granola–don’t you just love that title? And this cover! Please welcome L.A. Sartor as she shares with us about this exciting new release!

Blurb:

Only One Will Win

Cacao – long a symbol of wealth, love, and power – now the center of a powerful rivalry.

The fabled Costa Rican Plantation of White Treasure, source of the rarest form of the cacao bean, is up for sale. Though two fierce competitors have been invited to bid on it, only one can win.

For Drew Hopkins, purchasing the plantation is the perfect solution to escape a life she never wanted.

For Robert Prince, it’s the perfect route to revenge.

Drew, the founder’s daughter and now CEO of HH Chocolate, heads a company whose sales are waning.  Robert, CEO of Prince Organics, a man driven by excellence, despises everything and everyone labeled Hopkins.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Will their forced proximity at the lush and exotic plantation rekindle old flames or will it fan the fires of antagonism?

 

 

Dear Reader Blurb

 

Dear Reader:

Cacao has always been a symbol of wealth, love, and power. From the ancient Maya and Anasazi peoples who drank the pleasantly bitter brew to the European noblemen and religious hierarchy who began to dine on it at their gilded baroque tables, to current times where you can indulge in gold-leafed truffles in boutique chocolate shops or bar-shaped candy off a grocery shelf, chocolate has been cherished, fought over and delighted in.

If you’re interested in an in-depth history of chocolate, The True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe is a must read.

Be sure to check out the exciting excerpt below!

Author Interview: 

Hello! I’m delighted to have you here with us, sharing about your writing process. First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Hi, McKenna, thank you for having me as a guest on your blog.  I prefer stories with a happy ending, be it a romance, adventure, suspense, or mystery.  And guess what? I currently write all four genres, though my cozy mystery won’t be out until 2019. 

You asked if there was an underlying theme.  YES, there is. Even though the characters all have differing motivations and conflicts, I think my theme is always about trust. Trusting another person with your life, your love, your heart, your child.

What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?

I was adopted as an infant by an American couple in Germany, spent several years there before moving to Pacific Palisades, California.  Loved it there. Adventure, beaches, palm trees, sunshine.  Then we moved to Colorado when I about 10. I was heartbroken to leave CA.  Now a gazillion years later, I can’t imagine not living in Boulder with a view of the icon Flatirons. The ocean still calls to me and I get my fix 3-4 times a year.  I’d be happy with a beach home to visit anytime I desired, and my forever home in Boulder.

How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

Funny you asked if I wrote as a child.  Ha, I thought I was unique, but I’ve learned that many writers start very young.  I was about 4, and no I couldn’t write, but I told my stories to mom, who wrote them down and I “illustrated them”. I gave up my passion after a junior high school teacher told me and my parents that I’d never be a writer because I didn’t want to learn grammar, I just wanted to tell stories.  Much later I regained the need to write. And it is a need. Today I have seven books published. I’ve made #1 Amazon Bestseller and won awards.  I’m truly happy to be where I am.

 

“Writers should write what they know.” What does this statement mean to you as an author?

I think it’s very limiting in, or at least it seemed that way to me when I started, and as I’ve met other authors, they’ve shared the same restriction they feel creates in that phrase.

We know sorrow, suffering, love, happiness, fear–the emotional list is nearly endless. We might not know how an attorney works or the law, or a bakery, or how an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) works, but that is all information we can find on the internet or library, as well as query people in the field.  I didn’t know anything about cacao when I started Prince Of Granola, my new release. Or how go from bean to bar, or much about Costa Rica.  I found experts who either emailed me answers or invited me to their business to watch the process.  But I did know about the pain of separation, rivalry, betrayal. 

So, don’t be limited by thinking you can only write about nursing if you’re a nurse (heck, you’re an angel) you can write about anything by tapping into the emotions you’ve experienced and then doing your diligence with research. And if your story is about a nurse, then you’re simply that much further along.

Are you a panster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

I used to proudly wear the panster badge.  It’s a bit tarnished now.  While I always knew my beginning and my ending, it would take me months to create a middle.  Then I dealt with huge rewrites and editorial revisions.  Now I’m developing my own plotting worksheet from various classes that have resonated with me.  That worksheet is work in progress. 

And lil’ miss panster, aka, me, is becoming the queen of spreadsheets for various reasons, like, ugh, expenses, but also I need book bibles for my series.  I just did a blog on them here if you’d like to see what I’ve done. 

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

Since I live in Colorful Colorado, and I mentioned above that I have to have my beach fix, my favorite spot is by a warm ocean.

Part of our day (our, meaning my amazingly patient husband should be with me for a perfect vacay) would be in the water and on the sand, with yes, sunscreen, and no, not with a mai tai in hand, that’s for after I’m done with the sun. Then go sightseeing. I always find things to add to stories this way and I make a record of them either with a camera set on video so I can record the image and my thoughts or my iPhone doing the same thing.

Later in the evening we’re either dining out extravagantly or eating local. I get recommendations from Triple D, friends and yes, internet research.  Drink in hand, we watch the sunset. After dinner we stroll the beach, darting either into or away from the tide. And a last cup of coffee before we share a kiss and dreamland claims us.  Sound sappy? Probably, but that’s perfection for me.

Do you see your writing as a hobby or is it your goal to be a full-time writer at some point in the future?

I was able to retire from my part-time “day” job at a somewhat early age. And instead of just enjoying writing, I turned it into full-time job.  I was obsessed with writing, it took over. While my husband was patient, it became obvious to both of us that I needed to find balance in my life.  My childhood phrase was “Lessie Do It.” I’m still pretty driven, even today.

So, it’s been more of a challenge than I thought to find the balance, and six years later, I’m not sure I’ve yet achieved that goal. I know I’m better at putting aside my laptop when I reach my word count goal for the day. I don’t get angry at me and the world if I miss a day (but I do try and make it up) and I almost never write while on vacation. I may jot notes, or record them and transcribe them in Dragon Naturally Speaking. And the recorder is never in a place I can’t put my hand on it immediately. Because you know, I do my best thinking in the shower and often, wrapped in a towel, I’m running for the recorder. My husband and writing retreat buddies are used to this.

Research: love it or hate it?

Absolutely love it.  As I mentioned above, information and people with information can be found by being diligent about looking.  And people, wow, they are generally so willing to help.  For instance, in my second adventure book, Viking Gold, I made connection with a Colonel (ret.) in the Danish Air Force who’d been studying Nazi sub and airbases.  The information he gave me, completely turned my story around and made it so much better than my original concept.  The submarine base in Trondheim Norway gave me chills. Today it’s pretty benign, but its history!  And so I used it, changed it a bit, but not enough to ruin the reality. I could go on and on with stories that SES told me about WWII but I’ll spare you.  😊

*How much do you think that a good blurb and good cover art figure into the success of a story?

It’s huge. I’m redoing a few of my covers and blurbs because I am able fix them now and make them better. I didn’t have the skills before, and I often didn’t know what I wanted to change in a cover or a blurb so how could I tell my cover artist?

I think it’s important to keep both fresh and updated.  To reflect the times with the blurb and be as professional as possible with the cover.  I like to try to tell a bit about the story in the cover.  In Dare To Believe, my first book and a romantic suspense, I’m creating its third cover. While the first two were done by a wonderful graphic artist, I felt the cover needed some minor tweaks.

Hey, here’s a thought, check out the cover on my website and tell me if you think the blurb at the top says enough or should I say what I’m trying to convey on the cover, Color Won’t Return To Cate’s World Until Haley Is Found?

I’d love to hear your opinion.  After all you all are readers, exactly the people I want to reach. (And if you’re a writer, hey, same goes. We read after all.)

Do you miss your characters when you come to the end of their story? Do you find ways to write sequels for them or do you become entranced with a new set?

I do write series, because I’ve found that readers love to find a character from a prior book in the new one. They and I (yes writers should be readers) feel like we’re in remembered territory even as new characters with their own conflicts, motivations and goals come into play.  It’s like a treat. 

In fact, my WIP Dream Of Me This Christmas Eve is being written because readers asked me to write about a particular minor character. We didn’t even meet in her Forever Yours This New Year’s Night, but apparently people liked who she was.  Caroline Young will now have her own story around October of 2018. The 4th book in the Colorado set Star Light ~ Star Bright series. I’m pretty thrilled that 1) people responded to me and asked about her and 2) that I finally found the right story for her.

Excerpt from the Prince of Granola:

Robert watched as Drew, garbed in that ridiculous jumpsuit, followed Isabelle up the steps to the hacienda. Just before disappearing into the house, his nemesis hesitated, turned, and gave him a brief, provoking smile.

The furrows on his brow deepened. If this continued for four days, he’d have a permanent set of ridges.

How was it that the one person he avoided whenever possible was here now, after the same plantation?

It was ridiculous that Señor Camerillo would think of selling his rare cacao beans to HH Chocolate. They weren’t in the same league as Prince Organics. Or for that matter, any other gourmet chocolate company.

HH made mass-market chocolate bars, holiday-themed shapes, and bite-sized foil-wrapped squares, all with barely enough cacao in them to call them chocolate. And Robert knew that HH was finally in the financial straits his father had predicted when he’d walked out of HH’s headquarters the last time.

Henri Hopkins had been old-school through and through, refusing to move with the times. Robert knew that Drew had started working there right after grad school, but by the time Henri had relinquished the reins of the company to her, she had a dying business on her hands.

His thoughts returned to Drew’s brief taunting smile. How dare she?

What, taunt, provoke? Why not? We’re adversaries after the same goal. And I should have done it first, showing her that she didn’t have a chance. Let her be stewing. “Jeez, get a grip. You’re not stewing.”

“Pardon? I did not quite catch that.”

Robert glanced over at the señor, realizing he’d spoken aloud.

“It was nothing,” he assured the puzzled man.

But it wasn’t.

The last time he’d seen her was over a year ago, during a corporate panel discussion hosted by the number one business show on television. She’d been charming, articulate, and had the moderator in the palm of her hand. After the show was over, Drew answered a few questions from various business reporters, then fled the room as if she couldn’t stand to breathe the same air as him.

Yet just now he’d allowed her, however momentarily, to seize the upper hand as he focused on that taunting smile instead of simply ignoring it.

Doubled with that punch to your gut and groin when she pulled off that helmet and all that glorious chestnut hair tumbled around her shoulders.

About the Author:

I started writing as a child, really. A few things happened on the way to becoming a published author … a junior high school teacher who told me I couldn’t write because I didn’t want to study … urk … grammar. I went to college, moved a few times, came home and found the love of my life (that is another novel worthy story, but for later), and got married.

I have always been a voracious reader and one night after throwing a particularly bad book at the wall (even putting a small ding in said wall), I realized that I could do better.  I told my husband, and he said go for it. I called Mom and she revealed the junior high teacher story and she told I’d been writing all the time up to that point.

That blew me away. I didn’t remember any of it.  But I started writing again, nearly the next day, pen and paper, learning, making mistakes, winning contests, then moving away from novel writing to screenwriting, getting a contract for a script and doing really well in screenwriting contests. But I wasn’t really making a career from any of this.

My husband told me repeatedly that independent publishing was becoming a valid way to publish a novel and people were making big dollars.  I didn’t believe him even after he showed me several Wall Street Journal articles. I thought indie meant vanity press. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I started pursuing this direction seriously, hit the keyboard, learned a litany of new things and published my first novel. My second book became a bestseller, and while I’m not rolling in dough, I’m absolutely on the right course in my life. Prince Of Granola is my 7th book.

Please come visit me at www.lasartor.com, see my books, find my social media links, some screenplays and sign up for my mailing list. I have a gift I’ve specifically created for my new email subscribers. And remember, you can email me at Leslie@LeslieSartor.com 

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Destiny of a Gargoyle: New Release and Interview with Chris Redding

Hello! I’m delighted to have you here with us, Chris, sharing about your writing process. I have to say right off the bat, there aren’t enough books with gargoyles as the protagonists, so I’m delighted to see your story features a gargoyle as the hero! Please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?

Hi, I prefer paranormal romance, but I also write some sweet romance. If there is an underlying theme then it would be fish out of water. I’ve found very few places where I truly fit in so the theme is close to my heart.

What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?

I live in New Jersey and have for close to thirty years. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia on the Pennsylvania side and attended Penn State. I still root for Philly teams. Where I live is actually more rural than where I grew up and I wouldn’t trade country for city.

How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?

I’ve been writing since I was ten, but for publication for twenty years. I’ve always had a passion for writing. When I was ten I was allowed to read a story in front of my class. I was the nerd. Awkward, glasses, big front teeth. When I finished reading the whole class was paying attention to me. I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

What is the draw for you in your chosen genre? Why THIS kind of story?

I didn’t always write paranormal romance, but I think for me it is returning to my roots. Being who I really am. I grew up on a steady diet of Night Gallery, Twilight Zone, and Outer Limits. I’ve always liked the freaky stuff. I think I am at a point in my life where I am comfortable enough to admit that. I think there is so much freedom in writing paranormal. Anything can happen.

I agree with you 100%. I’m a big sci-fi fan from way back, and I feel that paranormal romance allows me to have fun with world-building and kooky events happening without in a story. 🙂

City Boy/Girl or Country Mouse—and why?

Country Mouse for sure. I like green. Trees, grass. Wide open spaces. I cannot imagine living with people that close to me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a super extrovert, but I don’t need to hear people all of the time. I love that animals routinely traipse through my yard.

Are you a panster or a plotter?  Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?

I used to be a pantser. I can no longer hold the story in my head. I plot. I do the character arcs then a chapter by chapter outline. I don’t stray from it though I might add to it as I write.

Do you see your writing as a hobby or is it your goal to be a full time writer at some point in the future?

I see it as a job. I ghostwrite so I always have deadlines and it has helped me with my discipline. I also am a writing coach so if I could do some combination of my own writing and coaching I’d be pretty happy. Of course I’d have to make money at it.

Research: love it or hate it?

I love it, but I don’t do as much as I used to. When I wrote romantic suspense I had to learn more. Now I can make things up as I go along. It’s more fun. What I do research is the market. That’s a little harder and thankfully my sister helps me. She has a much more analytical mind than I do. She can distill it down so I can understand things.

Editing: love it or hate it?

Love it. I love to make my story better. I have a new editor and I’ve known her a long time so I know how good she is at story. She is one of those rare editors that can to big picture and small picture editing. She can see the types and the plot holes.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, do you find what you listen to influences the story at all?

I’ve started listening to video game soundtracks. They are designed to help you focus. Having a gamer son, he recommended a few to me and most of them have worked. I sometimes type faster if the music gets faster.  I also listen to meditation music.

How interesting! I might have to give that a try!

Destiny of a Gargoyle

Blurb:

He was born in a time when magic ruled the Earth.

Gargoyles protected fairies from goblins. His family was a group of elite gargoyles who were assigned to protect a specific fairy. His father’s dereliction of that duty cursed his sons to become stone and wait.

Now reawakened in the twenty first century where no one believes in magic how is he going to convince his fairy that she is one and that she is in danger from a goblin?

He must do that without falling in love with her.

Bio:

Chris Redding is a paranormal romance author who has written 9 novels and novellas that will transport you to other worlds. She lives in New Jersey with her family. When she isn’t writing, she walks and does yoga.

Buy link: http://a.co/3mwSfUl

Where to find me:

Chris Redding Author LLC

Email: chrisreddingauthor@gmail.com

Website: www.chrisreddingauthor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/chrisreddingauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrisredding

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/101743269602364199911/posts

Skype: Chris.Redding.Author

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/chrisredding/

 

Storm on the Horizon by Meredith Bond

Isn’t this a gorgeous cover? It’s Book 1 in the Storm series by Meredith Bond. I’ll let her tell you more about it! She’s got a winning combination that might just be my new catnip!

 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that if you read McKenna’s blog you probably like paranormal romance. But what about historicals? Meh? You can take them or leave them? What? You love historical novels? Excellent! Because I’ve got a combination that’s going to blow the wand right out of your hand.

Regency-set fantasy romance.

Yep, you read that right, fantasy romance (not really paranormal which usually involves vampires or shifters, but fantasy as in King Arthur, Morgan le Fey, and Magic) set in Regency England.

Imagine, if you will, a Regency romance—beautiful balls, dancing, gowns, witty dialogue, noblemen and women—all intricately woven through with a hidden society of magical people. These people are a part of society, members of the haute ton. They could be the hero’s next door neighbor or the man your heroine danced with at Almack’s last Wednesday. They’re everywhere and they’ve got abilities that would make Lady Jersey’s stockings fall down—literally! 😊

The Vallen are a race of people descended from Morgan le Fey and the people of the magical Isle of Avalon. They are musicians, scientists, politicians, and doctors. They are the people who are simply so incredibly talented you wonder how they can be part of the human race.

Well, that’s easy, they’re not.

Their talents are magically inspired. Think of Bach and Beethoven, Copernicus, Plato and Aristotle. They were all Vallen. Their abilities come from the Earth or the Air, Water or Fire. They are a part of society and yet are able to do so much more than anyone else. And it is their job to look out for, help, and advance ordinary people and society.

That is the Vallen.

The direct descendent of Morgan le Fey is the high priestess of the Vallen. She is more powerful than any other and is tasked with ensuring that the Vallen only use their powers for good. For centuries the seventh daughter of the high priestess took over the position from her mother on her twenty-first birthday with the seventh daughter of every seventh generation being the most powerful Vallen in order to renew the power that wanes just a little with each generation.

Tatiana Ashurst is the seventh daughter of the sixth generation. She knows that she has to marry well, not just a nobleman, but a powerful Vallen because her seventh child is going to be the Seventh—the seventh child of the seventh generation. Her parents have taken her choice out of her hands because it is so important that she marry the right man.

Her twin sister, however, will have the chance to enter society, to meet, flirt and dance with any man of the ton who catches her eye. Because Tatiana herself is denied this opportunity, she’s determined to make her timid sister’s debut fantastic, amazing and perfect. What she doesn’t anticipate is that she could inadvertently risk everything—her sister’s debut and the secrecy of the Vallen—with a flash of her own hot temper. Only one man has the ability to rein in this strong, powerful woman. Only one man is the right one for her.

The first book of the Storm Series, Storm on the Horizon, is free wherever you buy ebooks. Tatiana’s story is a novella, but is followed by three full-length novels: Bridging the Storm, Magic in the Storm and Through the Storm.

And if you really love King Arthur-type stories, you’ll love the Children of Avalon Series which describes the beginning of the Vallen world: Air: Merlin’s Chalice, Water: Excalibur’s Return, and Fire: Nimuë’s Destiny (which need to be read in that order – it’s a continuing story).

Interested in learning more? Check out all my books—Regency and Regency-set fantasy at www.meredithbond.com.

Meredith Bond’s books straddle that beautiful line between historical romance and fantasy. An award-winning author, she writes fun traditional Regency romances, medieval Arthurian romances, and Regency romances with a touch of magic. Known for her characters “who slip readily into one’s heart,” Meredith loves to take her readers on a journey they won’t soon forget.  She is currently living in Europe enjoying the Bohemian life.

Merry loves connecting with readers. Be sure to find her:

 

Website: http://www.meredithbond.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meredithbondauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/merrybond

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/merrybond/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/847484.Meredith_Bond

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/merrybond

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Meredith-Bond/e/B001KI1SNE/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1447638858&sr=8-2-ent

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meredith_bond/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/meredith-bond

Newsletter: http://meredithbond.com/subscribe/

 

Dear KU: Why I’m breaking up with you

Dear KU:

This is going to be hard for me to say, but I think we should stop seeing each other.

I know that the time-honored tradition is to say it’s not you, it’s me, but I can’t. The truth is, it is you.

See, I think you’re an abuser.

You come in with great promises. I confess, they sounded fantastic. And others sang your praises. It seemed like such a loving relationship between a distributor and an author. Writers were making money, enough to quit their day jobs and concentrate on writing full-time, and in this profession that’s the Holy Grail of promises. Who wouldn’t leap at that?

Sure, the clause about exclusivity niggled a bit. Since we’re being frank here, it bugged me a lot. But my fellow authors told me that if a book wasn’t in KU, it had little hope of reaching bestseller status within a genre, and a quick glance at sales rankings seemed to support this. I worried I was giving you too much power in this relationship, but there weren’t a lot of good options out there. Besides, the risk that you’d abuse that power was all theoretical, all down the road. Some day. Not today.

But the thing I didn’t count on was the need to feed you more and more stories in order to make your magic work for me. That’s my fault, not yours. I’m incapable of cranking out a story every couple of weeks, and the idea of collaborating on a large scale with other authors under one pen name just wasn’t a good fit for me for that reason as well. So I shouldn’t have been disappointed that my stories haven’t done well in KU. There’s a lot of competition. I’ve waffled back and forth on whether I should stay in or not. I’ve put books in and taken them out. Either way, it seemed to make little difference. The reported success stories of other authors and their exclusive relationship with you would seem to suggest that it’s more me than you.

Or that could be you, gaslighting me.

Either way, I’m done waffling. I’m saying goodbye. 

The scammers are collecting the lion’s share of your pot, and it’s obvious the system is frequently manipulated. I fully believe #cockygate wouldn’t have existed without the favorable environment created by your system. The author in question is a KU All Star. I think protecting that status is what drove the author to TM the word “cocky” and prevent any books with “cocky” in the title from being sold. Not because Amazon doesn’t have a generous return policy for those people who accidentally get a book by mistake, but because people reading other books with ‘cocky’ in the title aren’t reading hers.

Because it’s all about that page count.

You know, the page count that’s been affected by glitches that you refuse to fix. The one where you can’t tell us exactly how you determine page counts, but that’s the criteria for which we get paid–fractions of a penny for every page read, by the way. Slivers.You know, the system that  benefits us until you release your bots in an attempt to get ahead of the scammers, and then lops off heads at will with little room for recourse.

Now, I’m hearing fellow authors saying they’ve been shut out of their accounts because you have accused them of manipulating the system when they only thing they’ve done is run a promotion through your own service. Not just one or two, but widespread. I know, I know, you’re trying to get the scammers, but you keep netting the innocent instead. (Any author who would like to appeal can reach out to content-review@amazon.com if they have additional questions. The Indie Author Support Network is also seeking documentation. A quote from them: 
We are continuing to compile information and ask that anyone who has had their account suspended and/or books removed from sale on the Kindle platform, to please provide any documentation you have to indie@indieauthorsupportnetwork.com. We are looking for cases of ACTUAL suspension and content removal at this time. We understand the loss of page reads is also a major concern, but the account suspension matter has our top priority.)

Here’s the thing. It’s not worth it to me. Even without KU, 80% of my sales are through Amazon. The reason is clear–the Kindle is amazing and the website is superior. I get most of my own books (and nearly everything else) through Amazon. One of the factors in Barnes and Noble’s failure to compete is that their website is horrible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to redeem a coupon or credit and have been unable to do so. Or I follow the link to B&N to check out a special deal, only I have to log in at least three times before I can get to the page I want. I give up. Every time. I shop Amazon because it’s so easy.

So why not give Amazon the whole 100%?

Because we as authors can’t afford to have you shut down our accounts over some KU nonsense. Boom, the decree comes down and we are out of business. It’s hard enough to be an indie author without risking the ire of an impersonal god whose army of bot minions do all the dirty work. Like hiding works from buyers because they fell into an algorithm black hole. Or deciding to decrease the visibility of erotica and then mislabeling many romances as erotica. Your decisions are arbitrary enough without the exclusivity clause. I can’t afford to give you that much power over me.

We should all be thinking about what will happen to the publishing industry once Amazon owns it all. We’re already at a state where books have been devalued to the point of slivers of a penny.

Which is why I circled back to my original impression of you, KU. You’re bad for me. You’ve created a mindset where readers demand stories faster than I can produce them for ‘free’, a price I can’t afford. And while I’m not the world’s best writer–not hardly–I love stories too much to burn them as fodder for your KU fire.

When my run ends on my current promotion, we’re done, KU. We’re done.

 

 

 

Oh, What a C*ck-up!

For those of you who haven’t yet caught up with the events associated with #cockygate, this is a great post on it here, and a Twitter thread here. 

Both sum up matters nicely, as well as bring up the implications and legal questions such an action raises.

Disclaimer: I am not a copyright lawyer and do not pretend to understand the ins and outs of the case. I am only presenting the information as I understand it.

The short version is this: Kindle All Star Faleena Hopkins (who also has written under the name Sabrina Lacey) filed trademark claims for the word ‘cocky’ as used in her series of stories surrounding a never-ending family known as the Cocker Brothers, as well as the specific font used in the titles of her books. The trademark now gives her the right to send cease and desist orders to every author with a book containing ‘cocky’ in the title. They are given the choice of changing titles or facing a potential lawsuit.

Author Jamila Jasper received a C&D email from Hopkins, which she then shared with social media.

 

Ms. Hopkins does not deny sending this email, and in fact responds to the sharing of it in various places on social media. It begs the question as to why Ms. Hopkins sent this email herself and not through her lawyer. The answer may lie in the fact many authors might choose to comply with the implied threat rather than face a lawsuit they cannot afford to defend. And it costs Ms. Hopkins zilch in lawyer’s fees to do so. This cover change is being held up as an example of one compliant author. And the recent title change of another book makes readers question if the author was forced to do so or chose to do so rather than be embroiled in the current debacle.

Ms. Hopkins states in a Facebook post that she is not out to take author’s livelihoods but to prevent her brand from being diluted and that changing a tile is no big deal to authors and costs them nothing. She also has claimed it is necessary to protect her readers from sadly buying the wrong books by mistake. (Um, you’ve noticed that Amazon has a very generous return policy on books, right?)

In her view, changing a title is no big deal. Unless it comes just before the romance convention season, when banners, swag, and advertising have already been ordered. Not if you count the cost of redoing entire pages if you’re a graphic artist, or paying for new covers. Re-recording audio files. Not to mention, losing readers who are looking for a title that no longer exists–but oh look, happen to head to the CockyTM author’s works.

Indie publishing is NOT cheap, by the way. It can cost somewhere between $1-2 K per story and there’s no guarantee you’ll see your ROI back.

Though not directly related, except as it goes to show the mindset behind the brand, Ms. Hopkins alleges her readers were also upset at seeing the cover models she’s used (stock industry images) appear on other covers. And that as a result, she was one of the first indie authors to photograph her own covers. (Spoiler: she’s not)

Then there is also this:

Ironically, the font she trademarked is copyrighted by the creator, so trademarking it may be in violation of copyright here, according to the creator’s Terms of Use.

Irony number two: Same author apologized to the romance community for titling a book “Cocky Solider” when the MC, a Marine, would never refer to himself as a solider. Marines are Marines, thank you very much. Even after being informed of this by an actual Marine, Ms. Hopkins apparently stuck by her original title, stating in her apology letter that it was not possible to change the title as books had already been pre-ordered and it would cost too much to make the switch at the last minute.

Irony number three: Same author allegedly has a MC whom she depicts as a member of the Atlanta Falcons football team. Which is trademarked. And the NFL has a history of strongly defending their trademarks.

Let’s set aside whether or not the TM commission should have granted the TM. It’s being contested. You can sign the petition here

Trademarking ‘cocky’ would be the equivalent of J.K. Rowling not trademarking “Harry Potter”, but just “Harry” and forbidding anyone to use the word Harry in the title of a story ever again. Harry Potter is a distinct entity created by Rowling. Harry in the generic, is not. This would be like E.L. James trademarking “Shades”.  Fifty Shades of Grey is trademarked. It’s a franchise. The word “Shades” is not. There is no special brand associated with that. Not even Ray Bans. The word has existed and been used long before FOSG made it a household name. To make the example truly ridiculous, it would be as if I attempted to TM ‘shifter’ and banned the use of the word in every paranormal romance title featuring the same.

Speaking of E.L. James, that author appears to have thrown some shade at Ms. Hopkins by suggesting her bank holiday read would be a popular book with “Cocky” in the title that pre-dates Ms. Hopkin’s series.

The implications of this maneuver are huge. Not just in the romance genre but across the board in the entertainment industry. Romance Twitter is being utterly inventive and vicious with their #byefaleena and #cockygate hashtags, with authors are retaliating by posting remade covers of their stories ALL renamed with “Cocky” in the title, and changing their Twitter handles to include “Cocky” in their name. There’s currently a request for stories for an anthology: The Cocky Cockers. They are soliciting romance stories from all genres, that must feature a cocker spaniel, around 5 K words and submitted by 5/31/18. I’m tempted. Sorely tempted.

But the underlying concern is real. The petition to cancel the trademark was started. The Romance Writer’s Association has asked any members (and now non-members too) who have been contacted by Ms. Hopkins to get in touch with them, and they are currently talking with an IP lawyer.

Imagine if someone decided to TM “Duke”. The impact on Regency historicals would be unreal. Or what about “Love”? Can you imagine having the gall to email Elizabeth Gilbert and tell her she has to rename Eat, Pray, Love?

Sadly, for the hundreds of people I see outraged, I am also seeing people nod and say what a great idea this is–and you can see them considering being the first to ‘snag’ a popular word to claim for their very own. I’m also hearing readers say they no longer search Amazon for romance titles because the system is so gamed. Some authors have been known to place their books with all-white characters in ‘diverse’ categories because it is easier to get a ‘bestseller’ label in a smaller niche. This practices goes along with page-stuffing in KU–something I didn’t understand until I read this description on one of the KU boards:

Page stuffing is the practice of putting additional, full-length novels in the back of another novel to inflate page count (for the purposes of increasing KU payout) – usually paired with some kind of inducement for readers to click to the end, past the content they likely own already (as it’s novels already on sale in the Kindle Store). This inducement often takes the form of an exclusive short story, or special offer.

Of course, this only works if the book is enrolled in KU. And it is definitely against Amazon and KDP’s TOS, so if you come across something like that, it’s not allowed. From my understanding, authors may tuck as many as three to four other books in the same series in a KU book in this manner. Supposedly, Amazon has fixed the ‘skipped pages’ thing that was making this profitable, but I’m hearing that’s not necessary true.

What IS allowed is a sneak-peek excerpt, or a first chapter of another work as a teaser. Most authors do this. It’s considered normal.

Why do I bring this up? Someone on Twitter explained that a successful KU author–even if the name was unknown to the general population–could be looking at grossing 20-50 K a month writing romances. A month. (Quite possibly spending 1-15 K in advertising to hit Kindle All Star status, but still…) Obviously, I’m going about this writing romance business all wrong.

It explains why someone might choose to go this route, even though they have earned the enmity of Romancelandia–and possibly destroyed their own writing career. To go “Full Faleena” has already become a catch-phrase on how to shoot a successful career in the foot.

Author Jenni M Rose on Twitter related what happened when she realized she had  named a book after a popular series and reached out to the author, Mari Carr. This resulted in #BeAMari becoming a hashtag. This is the classy way to deal with perceived competition.

 

I confess, I had to laugh when I saw this post. Someone has already taken a Chuck Tingle approach in response.

Right-o, then. The object lesson here? Be a Mari.

If you have issues with the ramifications of being allowed to TM a word to prevent it from being used in romance titles, I suggest you sign the petition to cancel the trademark as listed above. Don’t berate the author on social media. Don’t one-star her books. The author has every right to TM her series, especially, as it seems, she has hopes of making movies based on them. My problem stems from trademarking a word that has been used in titles long before Ms. Hopkins laid claim to it. The Cocker Brothers might be her brand, but I dispute that she should have the sole right to use ‘cocky’ in a book title.

Hopefully, the TM commission will see this as well, cancel the TM, and we can all move  on.

UPDATE: Author and retired lawyer, Kevin Kneupper, has filed a challenge to the ‘cocky’ trademark.