Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekly eBook Winners

Congratulations to the weekly ebook winners in Books We Love's annual Spring Fling Event!

This week's winner is Laura Warren.

Laura wins her choice of any two Books We Love ebooks or Spice ebooks. She also receives TEN extra entries into the Kindle Fire drawing May 31. Eleanor, please visit our website and make your two choices, then email the titles to

Remember, only subscribers to our newsletter are eligible to enter our contests, so if you're not a subscriber go here and sign up now. Find the entry form for Spring Fling there too!

Congratulations Laura!

Friday, March 30, 2012

How She Does It with Gina Rosavin

friend and fellow critique partner. A woman of many names and talents.

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

My characters very often are inspired not only by people I know or admire, but also by other fictional characters – a lot of times, there'll be something a specific character in a TV show or movie does or says that sparks the creative juices. Some tossed off line of dialogues, or a simple expression will spur that whole “What if?” thing in my head. It’s nothing very regimented, just sort of train-of-thought brainstorming. I’ll jot down a few ideas as to who the character is – whether it be their emotional makeup, or their physical appearance. Once I have the basics set (though they are always subject to change), then I start thinking about who would make the best partner for that character. Sometimes that character is inspired in a similar fashion, other times, it's just someone in a certain situation or with a certain problem that works well with my initial character. By this time, I’ve moved to my spreadsheet, where I use multiple worksheets to track the details such as character’s physical traits, personality traits and interests, and scene and plot ideas.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

Characters definitely come first. All of my ideas spring from that. But I don’t have any set routine, other than my spreadsheet. I have general ideas as to what the plot will be, but often it’s barely a sketch. While I do keep that worksheet with plot and scene ideas, often those are only bare bones, and the plot is very fluid as the story progresses. There are often surprises too – like in my current WIP, when a was working on a scene, and all of a sudden, my hero had not only a deceased wife, but a toddler son as well. I never originally planned for that, but it just fit perfectly and gave the character more depth as far as his internal goals.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

I usually do have some sort of idea how it should wrap up – getting to that point is a different story. But most of the time, I know exactly what the last scene should be. Sometimes it’s only a vague idea, other times, a very specific and detailed scene. I've even been known to write that scene before I actually finish the book, especially in those cases where the scene is specific. Usually, though, the final version of the scene changes as the story progresses. Sometimes, that last scene ends up being the penultimate scene or there might be several more after it. It depends on how the story has progressed. Occasionally, that ending gets tossed altogether because it doesn’t work anymore based on plot changes I make throughout the story.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

I like to use setting I know, but put my own personal twist on them. For instance, the Magiste books take place in New Orleans, a city I love. But I changed it up enough to make it a slightly alternate reality. Or, as in the case of The Taste of Magic, I made up my own country, but based on a real one. In my sci-fi story, we’re in a place I haven’t been in a very long time – the mountains of Pennsylvania. And other than the fact that my hero comes from another galaxy, it’s real PA, not an alternate.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

I research everywhere and every way I can – but mostly online, which can be tricky, since there is so much mis-information on the web. But I’ve found some reliable places over the years that I count as my “go-to” sites. I I find books that fit what I need to know, I buy them. I have quite an extensive library of all sorts of books. I just wish I had more bookcases so they’d be better organized! Most of them are dog-eared, or tagged for the places where I need specific information, and I've even highlighted and written in several of them. The bulk of my library consists of books on Edward I and the 12th and 13th centuries in England and Scotland, one of my favorite time periods. I also have lots of books on witchcraft, magic and fantasy. Those are fun to read because they can spur more ideas.

Last few days to Follow Us and Win!

We've extended our "Follow Us" contest for one day because we have a very special post coming on April 1st. Check back to join the fun!

Follow our blog on Google for a chance to win one of these sweet and savory baskets!
(Find the follow button to the right in the sidebar.)

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Short, Sweet, and to the Point

 ~*~ Publisher's Corner ~*~

By Jamie Hill

"Man hates whale, man pursues whale, whale destroys man." 

Name that book in ten seconds.

Does this help?

"When Ishmael sets sail on the whaling ship Pequod one cold Christmas Day, he has no idea of the horrors awaiting him out on the vast and merciless ocean. The ship’s strange captain, Ahab, is in the grip of an obsession to hunt down the famous white whale, Moby Dick, and will stop at nothing on his quest to annihilate his nemesis."

Apparently back in the 1800's authors weren't required to write a blurb--just the book. Somehow they managed to sell a few copies anyway. Today, with more than a million different books available on Amazon, the blurb and the cover are the only things a reader might ever see about your book. 

An eye-catching cover is a given. Without that, busy readers might not even stop to give your blurb a chance.

A catchy title might get you a second look. You've drawn the reader in. Now snag him or her with your blurb!

The blurb sets up the story, but unlike a synopsis, it shouldn't give too much away. Tease the reader with the plot. Give them a hint of what the book is about, make them want to read more. 

For my novel-length romantic suspense books which show two characters' point-of-views, I like a two paragraph blurb. One about her, one about him. For example:

Family Secrets

As if stumbling over a dead body isn't enough, Crystal Cartwright finds herself playing surrogate mother to two small boys when their father--her neighbor--doesn't come home. The kids aren't much trouble, but the thieves, drug dealers and kidnappers they're about to encounter are.

Detective Jack Dunlevy, a cop down on his luck, draws the cases no one else wants. A simple investigation involving a dead homeless man quickly changes as Crystal enlists Jack's help with the children. Drawn into a mystery that none of them could have anticipated, they're faced with a situation that will change their lives forever.

and the sequel:

Family Ties

With a couple of dead bodies thrown in, Detective Brady Marshall's stolen goods case has just become a lot more interesting. His love life takes a turn for the better when he meets Gina Morris, a feisty waitress at the club where the latest victim has surfaced. A happily unattached ladies' man, Brady isn't looking to settle down. But after meeting the beautiful Italian spitfire, his thoughts are shifting in that direction.
Gina Morris doesn't date cops. Until she meets Brady, that is, and gets won over by his dogged persistence and winning smile. With things in her past that are best left unspoken, Gina hesitates to get too close, but can't resist the handsome detective's charm. When his case runs smack dab into her past life, both of them are forced to make choices they never dreamed possible in an attempt to salvage their relationship, and possibly even save their lives.

Fun factoid (okay, fun for me, anyway). The first line of each of these books mentions a dead body. So do the blurbs. So does the first line of book three, Family Honor, coming to Amazon in 2012.
That's my style. Every author should have his or her own.

A few things to remember:

Don't write one line only, or merely use a line from a review as your blurb. (Somebody else wrote that.) Come up with some thoughts of your own. It's your book, after all.

Do double check your blurb for typos and consistency. Ask anyone who proofreads your manuscript to look at the blurb and make sure it's clean and compelling. If it's ho-hum, you need to know before the book gets published.

You spent a long time writing the book. Spend a bit longer making sure the blurb is going to get your masterpiece noticed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Meet Author Ann Cory

Ann Cory was born and raised in Oregon with an overactive imagination, and a love of words. With the loving support of her family, she’s able to devote time to her craft.

She enjoys writing sweet and spicy romance in an array of genres including paranormal, contemporary, historical, urban fantasy, ménage, and western.

BWL: How long have you been writing and in what genres?

AC: I’ve been writing for publication about eight years now, though I’ve been writing all my life. Genres I write include horror, erotica, fantasy, paranormal, western, contemporary, historical, ménage, BDSM, sensual romance, and more.

BWL: Where you do get your inspiration?

AC: Inspiration hits me often when I’m baking, decorating, or outside surrounded by nature. Inspiration can be a word or phrase, lyrics to a song, in a conversation my husband and I are having, and many times from a picture.

BWL: Tell us about your book(s).

AC: Penny Serenade: Tokens of the Heart Book One is a contemporary erotic romance that introduces us to Audrey Kessler who runs a new age gift shop – Tokens of the Heart. 

Audrey has worked hard to get where she is, and her shop has been a success with the locals. Love hasn’t been the same success. When Dominic Blume enters her shop, she wonders if he might be the one, but the first impressions are all wrong. This book also follows other characters who readers can expect to follow throughout the rest of the series.   

The shop, Tokens of the Heart, was inspired by a quaint little shop in Gleneden Beach, Oregon called The Crystal Wizard. Whenever I go there I’m immediately swept up in its magic.

BWL: What about your next book?  Will it be part of a series or a stand alone?  Can you give us a taste to whet our appetites?

AC: Currently I’m working on the sequel to Midnight’s Sweet Kiss, the telling of Olivia and Tate’s story, as well as the second and third books in the Tokens of the Heart series. Since I’m generally tackling several stories at once, along with shorter stories, I’m sure there will plenty more soon.

BWL: What are your hobbies and interests?

AC: I enjoy reading, writing poetry, dancing, going to rock concerts, baking, playing board games with the family, watching movies, and interior decorating.

BWL: What does the future hold for you?

AC: I’ll be juggling my first love, writing, with full-time classes at my local college to prepare for a job as a medical office specialist.

BWL: Where can readers find you?

BWL: Thanks Ann! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Follow our Inside Blog and win prizes!

Books We Love introduces our new blog

Inside Books We Love

featuring posts by our authors, cover artists, and publishers

Follow our blog on Google for a chance to win one of these sweet and savory baskets!
(Find the follow button to the right in the sidebar.)

Two lucky winners will be chosen from everyone following the blog on March 31. Winners will be announced on the blog April 1st, no foolin'!

Check back often for all new posts. Click the subscribe links in the sidebar to have blog posts sent directly to your email.

Happy Reading and Thanks for Following Inside Books We Love!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Website Suggestion: Top 5

I’ve been asked to provide what, in my opinion, is a “Do and Don’t” list for Author Websites. I have approached them all from the positive DO point of view (although I also mention some Don’t in many of them).

By no means is this comprehensive, I only focused on what I view as the top 5 for length purposes … and please keep in mind, this is simply my opinion. Mileage can and does vary.

* * *

1. DO have a website. First and foremost, if you are an author, in today’s internet based consumer economy, you need an author website. You don’t have to be especially tech savvy or rich to have a website. True, you could pay someone to design and maintain your website. Nothing wrong with that. But if you can’t afford that option (and let’s face it starting out, who really can?), then there are other options. Go to a website provider with templates offered. Use a blog as your website. It doesn’t even have to be perfect – just functional and most of all, provide information about your books and where to find them.

2. DO have your own domain name. Even if you use a blog as your website, you should still have a domain name that is unique to you. It is very easy to redirect a domain name to wherever you want it to go.

Also … DO have YOUR NAME in your domain name (the url that goes to your website). This one is from personal experience. When I started out, I used the name of my website as my domain name, rather than my pen name. So when readers did a search, if I didn’t have my meta tags set up right, they couldn’t find me. When I started publishing, rather than writing shorts to share for free, I corrected that mistake and purchased my pen name as a domain name. Even if you have to put the word AUTHOR in the url, or even BOOKS, whatever, having your name in your domain name is a good idea.

Unfortunately, because I already had links all over the place going to my non-pen name domain, I have to keep it around as well as use my pen name domain name. So both go to the exact same website.

Now I do know authors that have their domain name set as something else, and it works for them. I just strongly suggest, especially if you are starting out and don’t already have an existing domain name going, that you consider using your pen name as your domain name.

3. DO have information about your books on your website! This one may seem simple, but you would not believe the number of author websites I have gone to which don’t even have blurbs for the books. Just an excerpt. Excerpts are nice and all, but unless I know what the book is actually about, it probably isn’t going to sell me on it. Because let’s face it, it could be the sexiest scene I have ever read, but unless I know that it isn’t a genre that I have learned by experience I generally am disappointed in, I probably still won’t make the purchase.

Yes – many times I can go to Amazon to find a blurb, but you know what? The average reader isn’t going to be that interested – and they shouldn’t have to go to that much effort. Plain and simple. You want them to follow your buy links to actually BUY the book. They shouldn’t have to follow them to find out what your book is about. It is your job as an author to provide it.

4. DO update your website. Again, it may seem simple, but I have seen websites that are sadly out of date time and time again. If you don’t have any books in the works to mention, that is one thing. But when Amazon is recommending your upcoming book to me, and I go to your website and find that you haven’t updated it in two years despite having had three books come out in the meantime, I am going to wonder what is going on. Do you not want me to visit your website and find out what you have coming out for me to buy? As a reader I shouldn't have to hunt down information on your releases – you should be providing it to me.

I know it is hard to find time to do some of these things ...

If you don’t have the time to update your website, and can’t afford to hire something to do it for you, find a friend who has the time. Pay them in free books, cookies, having your teenager mow their lawn – whatever. Just keep your website up-to-date.

5. DO keep in mind that not all readers are on cable modems and have really fast internet connections. Dial-ups do still exist. So all those really neat animations and graphics that you think are so cute? Carefully consider just which ones you simply have to have, and cut the rest. I know it is hard – I used to have all the cute little animations and images on my website. But I learned quickly to streamline it. Why? Because every image you have on your website takes time to load – and the bigger the file, the more time it takes. Some pages won’t even show until the majority of graphics have loaded, and readers are not going to wait five minutes for all the bouncing kitties and puppies to load to read your website. They will get frustrated, and close out the site. If you are lucky, they will try again later.

* * *

Well, that in a nutshell, is what I consider the Top 5 most important things on an author website.

I will post from time to time other suggestions, and I am always open to questions … so please feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comments field.

Short Story - Maude, There's A Body - Janet Lane Walters

I began my career writing short stories but I don't write them any more. This is the last one I wrote and it took me more than two...