Thursday, April 28, 2011

10 Ways to Support the Writer/Reader Community

Twitter began as a way for me to sell books, quite frankly. I'm brand new at this and I just knew that I needed to have a social media presence. I had no idea that I would meet tons of amazing writers and become part of this strong, amazing community - and I don't mean JUST indie authors, either.

There are traditionally published authors conversing with and supporting indies, book bloggers (who I think are angels in disguise) supporting and talking with writers who are published through tiny pub houses, indie writers who are shouting from the rooftops about their favorite traditionally published book, and so much more. It's incredible.

The outpouring of support from those people inspires me daily. They're my heroes, and they make me proud to be part of this community. With that in mind, I started thinking about what I could do to help support my fellow indie authors, the book bloggers I adore, and the traditionally published authors that I think are amazing. I thought they might be useful for you too, so here they are:

1. Buy books. Sounds pretty obvious, right? But here's what I mean. Maybe you win a book from a contest (ebook or print) and you LOVE it. Why not go buy a copy for a friend? Did you know that the majority of indie authors I've been conversing with pour their hearts and souls into a book they've created just for you, and then they sell it for super low prices - like $.99 to $3.99? That makes it easy to pick up a few indie books a week and you'll be doing a HUGE thing for the indie community!

2. Be a Book's Cheerleader. Have you read a self-published or traditionally published book that you couldn't put down? One that sticks in your mind and that you really enjoyed? Tell everyone you can possibly think of! Post it in forums, tweet it, link to it from your Facebook account, recommend it to friends, etc. Word of mouth is one of the most important types of marketing for authors and books.

3. Tell YOUR Customers. Maybe you have signed books for sale on your website. Why not put a bookmark or a trading card inside the book before you ship it out, so your customers can discover a book by another author that you love? If you're e-published, ask permission to put a small excerpt from one of your favorite books inside your book so those who buy yours can learn about the other.

4. Write a Review...or Two. If you've read a book that you really love, write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Smashwords for the author. This helps because it tells others (who may be considering purchasing the book) that someone else thought it was really great. A lot of people make decisions on books or music based on reviews from past customers.

5. Donating to Book Bloggers. None of the book bloggers I've worked with (or have communicated with on Twitter) ever charge for their services. They accept a free book in order to read it and provide their review to their readers. Has a book blogger done a particularly great job with a thorough review and helped by pointing people to your other works/website? Stop by their blog and make a little donation if they have a button. Most of them will use this for shipping fees for books and other swag that they give out, because those costs come straight out of their pockets. A small donation can help a lot!

6. Include Others on Your Blog Tour. You can really do this with any type of marketing you do. Offer to give out bookmarks or cards with your own giveaway items for your blog tours or other contests. This allows new readers to get to know other authors while they're getting to know you.

7. Join Indie Book Clubs. There are a ton of book clubs for traditionally published authors, and with the way the industry is changing, more and more indie book clubs are sprouting up. Join one, and then tell your friends about it. This is a great way to learn about recently released indie books you might be interested in.

8. Don't Discriminate. I can't tell you how many times I've seen comments like, "A self-published book is just a book that no serious agent or publisher would take." Or, "Self-published books give other authors a bad name." Not true. Yes, some people self-publish because they've had a difficult time finding an agent, but that doesn't mean their book isn't good; fantastic, even. When you think about the ratio of agents to aspiring writers, you'll easily see how agents are a bit like funnels that lead to publishers. With so many writers coming at them, things can get clogged pretty easily and amazing books get skipped over.

Of course you're going to run into self-published books that are just not good; or at least not in your opinion. However, the very same could be said about traditionally published books. I have read a few that I absolutely couldn't make it through. I felt like the book was a waste of paper and energy! But there will be other self-published books that you won't be able to forget. Don't discriminate!

9. Words of Praise. Have you read a book recently that you loved? Write the author an e-mail or a message on Facebook and let them know. I don't know about other authors, but when someone tells me they loved my book, I can't stop smiling. I'll float through the entire day with a big grin on my face. It makes it all worth it. You might not think a writer needs to hear words of praise, but in my experience, no one needs to hear them more than a writer. When he or she gives a book to the world, they're putting part of their soul out there and that's scary! If you love it, tell them.

10. Don't Give Up. Finally, if you're a writer, never give up. It might take you one book to make it. It might take you fourteen. If you're going the traditional route, you might have written so many query letters that their total words far outweigh that of the novel you've created. If you're self-published, you might be on the computer 18 hours a day building up a community and trying to create a readership. Let's face it; you won't be able to stop writing, anyway. Stories and characters and possibilities will nag at the back of your mind until you're forced to get it into a Word doc. So, why give up? Show them what you're made of.

Don't listen to statistics from naysayers because quite frankly, they don't know what they're talking about. No one (not even NY publishing houses) can 100% accurately predict the success of a writer or book. If you believe in yourself, and you have faith in YOU, no one can stop you!

Support your writer/reader community today! Do you have tips and info for how to support writers and readers? Would love to hear them; leave them in the comments below. =)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Fiction Flip

Last night, I was thinking about all the characters I love from different books and how one character might remind me of another, or how some of them are complete opposites. I started thinking about what would happen if those characters were 'introduced' to each other. That's how I came up with the idea for this fun little game. Anyone who has those characters that they are in love with and can't get over should enjoy this. So, here's the first 'Friday Fiction Flip' question:

If you could pair two characters from different books in a fight scene (where they're fighting each other), which ones would it be? 
Also, who do you think would win, and why?

I love paranormal romance and fantasy, but I read many other genres, so feel free to use any characters you want! For this week, in celebration of the book I'm currently reading (taking FOREVER because I'm on a roll writing Eagleton Coven 2), I'm going to choose Jace (The Mortal Instruments Series) and Dimitri (The Vampire Academy Series). 

This is a tough one, too. Jace has those charged weapons and Dimitri is a 'fighting GOD,' so they're both pretty evenly matched. Man oh man. I really love Jace, but I think I'm going to have to say Dimitri would win. He's got the benefit of more experience, and if he can dispatch hordes of the Queen's guardians with no problem, I think he just might be able to take Jace. What do you think?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Deleted Scene: Excerpt from Amaretto Flame First Draft

If you've read Amaretto Flame (or even if you haven't), then you'll get a kick out of this. The excerpt below is from the very first draft of Amaretto Flame, before a LOT of things were changed, cut, edited, slapped in the face, chopped into little pieces and forgotten about. I chose this one to show you because I believe it is probably the most angst-filled, tortured, brooding, hokey, back-and-forth passage I could find in the whole book and I couldn't help but laugh at it a little. At the same time, I thought it was kind of hot and I'm not afraid to admit that I, as his creator, love Jackson Vance. Enjoy!


“I don’t want to stop it.  I want you Jackson,” I whispered back, still kissing him.  His lips found mine again, and then my legs wrapped around his waist.  I was very conscious that I wasn’t wearing a shirt, and my own skin pressed into his skin, sending tingling down the entire length of me.  He tore his lips away from mine again, but his arms stayed around my waist, holding me to him.
“Stop,” he said, breathlessly.
I pulled back to look at him, and his face reflected the tortured feeling that was inside of me. 
“What?” I breathed, not understanding.  Wasn’t this what he had wanted?
“I can’t stop myself.  You have to stop,” he said, closing his eyes and pressing his lips to my collarbone.  I understood.  He thought I cared about him so he was stopping it now.
“No, it’s alright,” I said, and he looked up at me. I kissed him on the lips and the chin again.  The stubble there was rough and thrilling against the softness of my lips.
“I don’t love you,” I said, letting him know it was okay.  His entire body stiffened and he looked at me.  At the same moment, I was filled with horror because I realized that I had lied to him.  This was the other thing that I was terrified of…It didn’t matter, I decided.  It would be my own punishment, as long as I didn’t have to stop touching him now.
“You don’t.”  It was said like a statement rather than a question, but I answered him anyway. 
“No, so this is okay.  We’ll pretend it never even happened,” I added, moving to kiss him again.  He let me kiss him but he wasn’t kissing me back.  After a few more moments of trying, I looked at him again.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, letting my hands fall from his hair.  Then my back was against the cool, stony wall of his house.  He pressed me there, gently.  I felt completely wrong, having lied to him.  Now that the intoxication of the moment was wearing off, I knew that I had been wrong.  This wasn’t the way to fix me.  Suddenly, tears were in my eyes again.  I moved my legs and let myself slide to the ground, where I stood, looking at him, the wet jeans sticking to the skin of my legs.
It was only three weeks until Midsummer anyway.  I had nearly made it through my banishment.  I would go home and forget about all of this, but I couldn’t lie.  I wanted to tell him the truth.
“Okay, I lied to you again, Jackson.  I do love you and I’m sorry about that, but it’s the truth.  I don’t even know how it happened, I…” I paused, flicking my eyes to his face, and then continued.  “I know you’re used to that by now—with Paula and all of the other girls that must love you, but I just thought you should know,” I said.  A furious, confused tear fell from my lashes as I looked up at my tormentor.
“I’m going home anyway, so it doesn’t matter,” I said.  Apparently he was finding pleasure in my pain.  I nearly passed out when he smiled at me.
            Furious, I pushed past him and grabbed my shirt from the seat of the four-wheeler.  Slinging my arms into it, I buttoned it quickly, refusing to look at him. The red tint was starting to invade my eyes and for a moment, I thought about letting it out, but then I pushed it back.  Sure, right this moment I was enraged at him, but still, I did love him.  I loved him so much that it ached.
             I went to his jeep and retrieved my things, and when I started walking through the yard toward the highway, he ran up and stood in front of me.
            “Where are you going?” he asked, smiling.
            I hated that he could find something to smile about.  Another heart he’d captured?  Did he get enjoyment from this?
            “I’m going home,” I hissed, furiously.
            “Why?” he asked.
            “Because you’re cruel and I hate you,” I said. Damnit Olivia.  Another lie.
            “But you just said you loved me,” he said.
            I stopped walking, and he stopped walking backwards.  I was tired.  I felt as if all of my energy had been drained.
            “What do you want from me, Jackson?” I asked, near tears again.
            He approached me and I stayed, ready for whatever form of torture he wanted me to endure next.  He cradled my face in his hands and forced me to look into his eyes.
            “Sometimes you’re such a stupid girl,” he said, grinning at me.
            “Yeah?” I asked squaring my shoulders.  “Well you’re an a…” He pressed his lips against mine, cutting off my words.  When I yanked back from him, he kept his hold on my face.
            “What I want from you, Olivia, is for you to realize that I am completely, madly, head over heels in love with you,” he said, gazing into my eyes.  My knees buckled and for a moment I thought I would fall, but he scooped me up in his arms, cradling me.
            “No,” I said, struggling to get down.  Confusion flashed across his beautiful face before he put me down. 
            “What’s the matter?” he asked, gazing into my face as if he could find the answer to his question there.
            “I can’t…you can’t.  You don’t even know what love is,” I said stupidly, trying to find a way to stop the tidal wave of emotion that was threatening to knock me over and drown me.  It was fine for me to punish myself worse by loving him, but this couldn’t happen…
            “I know how I feel about you Olivia.  I’ve waited a long time to feel this way.  I’ve spent so long wondering what was wrong with me…why I couldn’t love anyone…” His voice was more gravelly than silky now, his face tortured.
            “Shhhh,” I said, putting my hands over my ears.  I couldn’t hear these words from his mouth.  I was leaving.  I was going home.  I was different than he was and I couldn’t live the rest of my life with these words playing over and over in my mind.  The painful tugging at my chest was much more pronounced now.  It was more like a slow ripping.
            He gazed at me, several emotions flickering over his face now.  I didn’t know what to say to him to make it better.  This was all my fault.  I should have never told him the truth.  I should have let him believe the lie but I never imagined that he would love me back.  Gently, he pulled my hands away from my ears.
            “Olivia, what is it?” His voice pleaded with me and it twisted my heart, making my chest ache. 
            “I’m different than you,” I said.  “Very different.  We don’t fit.  This can’t happen,” I started walking toward the highway again.
            “Olivia, I like different,” he said, walking with me.  “Different doesn’t matter when you love someone,” he added.
            “I don’t believe in love,” I said.  Another lie.  I had to make him get away from me.  I had to have time to think.  Somehow, I had to unravel the threads in my mind and make sense of the things that were happening to me.  I couldn’t bear to ask him to risk himself… 
            “Yes you do,” he said. “You told me you loved me.”
            “I lied,” I said.  Going for a record today, Olivia?  Shut up.
            His arm shot out and stopped me.  I turned to face him, trying to conjure the worst words I could think of to make him go.  I just had to think and it was impossible to think when his eyes were burning into me that way.
            “What?” he hissed.  “Do you feel anything for me or not?  Which is it?  I can’t keep up with you.”
            “I can’t talk to you right now.  I have to go,” I said, my face twisting with the pain I felt inside.
            He gazed at me, waiting for something.  I could see that I was hurting him.  I hated myself just then.  I was always messing things up…I could never just do the right thing.  Why couldn’t there just be one simple answer instead of everything being so complicated?
            “We’re friends, remember?” I whispered.
            “Olivia, friends do not kiss like we did back there.  Friends don’t feel so drawn to each other…not the way I do to you.  I can’t stand being away from you,” he said.
            “You’re just mad because I won’t sleep with you,” I hissed, trying to push a button somewhere that would make him let me go.
            He chuckled, bitterly.  “Yeah.  That’s what it is, Olivia.  I could have made love to you minutes ago, but I stopped myself.”
            “Well you should have just done it so you could have thrown me away like all of the other girls,” I spit.
            “Don’t be an idiot,” he said.  “I never felt a thing for any of them.  If I didn’t love you, I would have taken you just then without a thought for anything but my own pleasure.”  His words sounded sarcastic, but his face was pained.  It was the very picture of pain and confusion.
            “Well it’s a good thing you didn’t, because that’s exactly what I had planned for you,” I answered stupidly, still trying to press buttons.
            “You were going to make love to me and that’s it?  Don’t joke with me Olivia.  I know you better than that.  You’re so much better than me.  You could never have done a thing like that.  If I’d had any idea how ignorant and selfish I was being, I wouldn’t have done it in the past.  Now I see how I must have been hurting them…” His words trailed off and he looked so distressed, I thought I’d give up right then and there and jump into his arms. 
He glanced down at the ground, trying to gather his thoughts and when he looked back up at me, my heart shattered.
“Olivia, love has never been real to me…not this kind of love.  It never existed before you.  I had no idea how it felt to miss someone or how it would feel to have your entire existence resting in the palm of someone else’s hand,” he said, his eyes flaming.  I wanted to go to him, to comfort him and to protect what he was giving me.  Instead, I drew on my training and tried in vain to push the pain to the back of my mind.
            I smiled a fake, blasphemous smile at him.  “Well, I guess you’ve learned your lesson then.  My work here is done,” I said.  I turned and started walking again, praying he wouldn’t follow.  I hurt everywhere.  The blood in my veins hurt.  I kept walking until I reached the highway and started back the way he’d driven me.
            When I turned, I could see him peripherally; standing in the same spot he’d been in when I whirled away from him.  He wasn’t moving.  He was standing very still, the sunlight glinting off of his copper hair.  Keeping my face calm when all I wanted to do was scream or cry was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Vampire Academy Prize Pack Contest and Giveaway - More Than 40 Chances to Win!

Hi all you dhampirs and moroi! Love Vampire Academy? ME TOO! Here's your chance to win a huge Vampire Academy prize pack, and learn about another paranormal romance series at the same time! Before we get down to business, check out what the winner will get...

  • 1 "Little Dhampir" Pin from the Arcane Vault
    • 1 "First Lesson: Don't Hesitate" Pin from the Arcane Vault 

      • 1 Red Leather Vampire Academy Bookmark from the Arcane Vault

        • 5 Vampire Academy Scrabble Tile Necklace Charms (Team Lissa, Team Christian, Team Adrian, Team Dimitri, and Team Rose) 

          • 1 Copy of Blood Lines Pre-Ordered; To Be Shipped to Your Address Upon Publication (August 2011)
          Note: To enter the contest, you MUST be a Google Connect Follower of this blog (gotta see your pic over to the right). It just takes a second to follow! :-)

          How to Enter:

          Download paranormal romance Eagleton Coven: Amaretto Flame in your preferred format from Smashwords for FREE. Just shoot me an email to get the coupon code! This coupon will expire May 5. This earns you ONE entry into the contest. Keep reading to learn how to get MUCHO extra entries and increase your chances of winning. (Note: you can get the plain text, HTML, or Java versions if it's easier for you. You'll find the list on the bottom of the Amaretto Flame page.)

          EXTRA ENTRIES:

          For TEN Extra Entries in the Contest:  Send me an e-mail ( with the answers to the following questions (after reading the book):

          1. What color is Jackson's jeep?
          2. Who loves blue eyeshadow?
          3. What was the name of the scary ride at the carnival?
          4. What are Olivia's two nicknames?
          5. Name 3 drinks featured in the book.

          For TEN Extra Entries in the Contest: Post a review of Eagleton Coven: Amaretto Flame on your blog or here on When you add up your points in the comments below, leave a link to the review.

          For FIVE Extra Entries in the Contest: Tweet about this contest from your Twitter account using hashtag #ECAF. Leave the link to this as well. You can tweet about the contest once a day for ONE extra entry per day. You'll need to leave another comment every time you tweet it, though.

          For FIVE Extra Entries in the Contest: "Like" Eagleton Coven's Facebook page and 'share' it with your Facebook friends.

          For THREE Extra Entries in the Contest: Follow me on Twitter. Leave your Twitter name in the comment box when you add up your points.

          There you have it!!! Once you've taken the steps above, add up your points for the steps you completed and leave the total in a comment below. ((There's more than 40 chances to win!)) Make sure to leave any important links in that same comment box. Also make sure you leave your e-mail address in the comments if I can't view it on your Google Friend Connect profile. I'll need this to contact the winner!

          One winner will be chosen randomly on May 6 at 8PM EST. The contest is open to everyone. Good luck!

          Tuesday, April 5, 2011

          Real or Not Real? 7 Hilarious Comparisons Between Romantic Fiction and Reality

          Most young girls who read paranormal romance and fantasy realize they're not going to run into a sparkling vampire who will suddenly become obsessed with them. Boys who read urban fantasy probably know they're not going to find a whip-wielding, gorgeous girl who takes out demons and governs downworlders all before breakfast.'s fun to think about a steamy, exciting, or romantic scene in your favorite book and compare it to what might actually happen in reality.

          1. Heroine wakes up to find that Hero has been lovingly watching her sleep. Heroine smiles sweetly and they share a steamy good-morning kiss in the sunlight streaming through the curtains. Real or not real? 

          NOT REAL!!! In reality, Hero rolls over from a dead sleep and decides to surprise attack Heroine with a little smoochin'. Heroine turns her head to dodge the kiss because the only thing she's thinking about is getting up, brushing her teeth, and getting rid of that morning breath!

          2. Heroine and Hero are falling asleep one night when a banging noise can be heard outside. Hero hops out of bed and stands in front of Heroine, protecting her with all his muscle-bound glory. Real or not real? 

          NOT REAL!!! In reality, Heroine gasps and shakes Hero, who has likely started snoring just three and a half minutes after his head hit the pillow. "Can you check to see what that noise was?" Heroine asks. Hero mumbles that Heroine is hearing things or that a squirrel is on the roof. Heroine tries a few more times before getting up and checking the house herself, with a steak knife or pepper spray hidden behind her back...just in case. 

          3. Heroine watches Hero's brows draw together as he sits quietly. She puts her hand on his and asks him what he's thinking about. Hero looks passionately into her eyes and says, "I was wondering what I've done to deserve such beauty and grace in my life. I couldn't breathe without you by my side and I love you more than I have ever loved anything or anyone. You complete me." Real or not real?

          NOT REAL!!! In reality, Hero is thinking about absolutely nothing. Or, he's thinking about the latest game out for the PS3 or Xbox 360...or possibly about who is going to win the weekend football game.

          4. Heroine asks Hero if the outfit she's wearing makes her look fat. Hero responds with something that calms her insecurities and makes her feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. Real or not real? 

          NOT REAL!!! In reality, Heroine asks Hero if her jeans make her butt look big and Hero's brain instantly goes into *warning mode.* He immediately attempts to distract her with something shiny so he can escape before he is forced to answer the question. He is well aware of the fact that any answer he thinks of is wrong, and even when he thinks he's come up with something profound and winning, the second it leaves his lips he will spot the deadly flaw in his words.

          5. Hero has fallen so in love with Heroine that he must have her around him. Like she is a powerful drug, he is addicted. He cannot be near her without touching her skin or smelling her hair. When she is gone, he paces the floor wondering where she's at; or he follows her at a distance just to make sure she's okay. Heroine is flattered and in love with these things about Hero. Real or not real?

          NOT REAL!!! In reality, Heroine calls Hero a creep and gets a restraining order.

          6. The two love interests in Hero's life meet each other and each one realizes just how amazing the other is. Both women appreciate the other for their beautiful personalities and strength. They become great friends. Real or not real?

          NOT REAL!!! In reality, the two love interests in Hero's life meet, and their own brand of greeting includes trying to physically cut the other using only their own eyeballs and the force.  There may be hair-pulling and lots of cursing...possibly that aforementioned restraining order.

          7. Hero and Heroine can find a fairytale love that makes them forget all the heartache they've experienced in the past. Real or not real?

          REAL!!! I firmly believe that while no love is perfect, there is someone out there whose love is perfect for you. <3 <3 <3

          Do you have a funny comparison? Post it in the comments below and let me know what you think!

          Sunday, April 3, 2011

          Jackson's Poem for Slayer

          In honor of National Poetry Month, I'm posting an 'extra' that is present in Amaretto Flame, at the very end of the book. This is Jackson's poem for Olivia, his Slayer. :-)

          For Slayer
          Smoky silhouette against the night,
          What was dark is now bathed in light.
          His eyes are smiling and shrouded,
          The room of his heart is not crowded…
          Unlike the dusty lounge that goes on forever.

          The hand runs through bristled, messy hair,
          Interrupted beams of light flash in the air.
          A smile transforms his face and lingers,
          He sits, he caresses, adjusts his fingers…
          On the frets of his guitar.

          Slowly, almost painfully building,
          Notes create beauty, silence is yielding.
          His voice is raspy then smooth again, dancing
          The strings of the guitar are not the only ones prancing…
          As he unknowingly resurrects a heart.

          His eyes; they flash passion into a lonely room
          And his body sways to the rhythm of impending doom.
          And when he closes them, his face betrays a pain
          That draws out through his music and starts falling like rain…
          And it lands on her.

          Like a vampire, his voice draws blood
          And the notes, they flow through the room in a flood.
          Stop it, her heart screams, yet begs for more,
          As she drops to her knees and stares at the floor.
          And she knows that he wants to sign.

          The last few notes leave a depth that is sweet
          And across the room, their naked eyes meet.
          He bites his lip, smiles gently; his eyes shy away,
          She cries from the silence that now covers his play.
          And they stand.

          In an instant, the floor between them disappears
          She cradles his face and he kisses her tears.
          The guitar is no longer needed, as the music resumes
          They melt into each other and the passion consumes
          Although they’ve barely touched.

          An arc of color between them shoots out like a light
          And fills up all the darkness and cuts out all the night.
          He is dangerous because she is his only
          And she fills him up and there’s no trace left of lonely.
          And he is her song.
          ~ Jackson Vance