This weekend I attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold 2013 conference. It was wonderful to spend time with old friends and make new ones!
I gave a workshop for published authors and other advanced writers that I’d titled “The Road Map to a Successful E-Pub Career Shift”. I focused on self-publishing (a.k.a. being an indie author). I’m always a bit nervous before speaking in public, but it seemed to go very well and several attendees thanked me afterward for creating an organized presentation that really helped them know the steps they needed to take.
One of the attendees asked that I put my PowerPoint slides on the web. This morning I tried uploading the slides to a slide-sharing site, but I’m still waiting, four hours later, for the darned thing to “convert”. Then I used PowerPoint to save the slides as a movie. Should work, right? Turns out the movie file is too big too upload here. D’oh! I did send the slides to the person in charge of the RMFW website as well, so I’ll update this post if/when I’ve gotten the slides up somewhere, LOL. *SEE UPDATE BELOW
Joyco Multimedia made a recording and I got a copy on CD, but their website doesn’t seem to have anything later than the 2009 conference available, so I am stumped there.
Meanwhile, here’s the PDF handout: “Additional Resources and Helpful Stuff”
UPDATE: Slideshare finally got things working (woohoo!), so here’s the PowerPoint presentation I did. It doesn’t include all the little transitions and it doesn’t have all the info I talked about, but at least it’s something.
The sea is often a lovely and very romantic place. I’ve had some wonderful experiences on the ocean, like a pod of dolphins just outside my ship’s cabin window swimming and jumping alongside the ship for an hour. One of the fantasy romance novels I have in the hopper (working title: The Ocean Between Us) has me thinking about the ocean and all the life within it. Seeing the dolphins play alongside the giant cruise ship was quite a gift.
I recently came across a blog from Princess Cruises with some happy-making stories of love beginning at sea. Here’s a recent and romantic favorite of mine:
Anyone have any favorite sea (or love at sea) stories?
Book cover art can be evocative, intriguing, and delightful—or confusing, dull, and even off-putting. I’ve had covers on both ends of the spectrum. (Live and learn, fortunately.)
Here was my very first book cover, from the fall of 2010.
Looking at it now, nearly three years later, I still love the idea of it—the beautiful blues, the arched window, the exotic city outline, the streaks across the sky that lead the eye into the story. But I never loved the font. I tried a ton of them and couldn’t find ones that I loved. So I decided to commission someone to do a new cover, and found some stock art people I wanted to use. The result was one of my very favorite covers, even though I’ve since replaced it:
This cover delighted me…the graphic artist did a wonderful job with the color scheme, the stars, the doorway and the city outline, and they all matched the idea in my head and meshed together. I got a lot of compliments on that cover, at a time when a lot of indie covers were getting roundly booed.
And then I finished revising Kismet’s Kiss‘s prequel, The Source of Magic. I had a vision for that one, too, and wanted to see if I could do it myself. Here was the result:
The text still bothered me a bit, so after a few months I did some tweaking:
I loved #2. Flat-out loved it, if I do say so myself. And I got a lot of compliments on that cover, which made me very proud since it was homegrown. Yay!
Hmm, Cate, you say. If you loved Kiss #2 and Source #2, why did you change them?
I reeeeally wanted to keep them. In fact, I did for a long time. But take a look at them again… you’d never guess those two covers belong to the books in the same series, would you?
I knew there was a problem, but I was in denial.
Next I finished a prequel to Source and Kiss called Swords and Scimitars. I thought I knew what I was doing when I made that cover, but in hindsight…
This cover is boring. Yeah, hindsight can be blunt. I still love the deep red, and the cover model looks just like I imagine Kismet did just before he left his mortal life behind. Even so, it’s blah.
So I hired a talented cover artist to do a new one:
No question that it’s a huge improvement. But…I didn’t like the direction the artist and I were going with the mockups for the Swords and Scimitars sequel, Sword and Lute. And I couldn’t figure out a way to visually connect either of those covers to The Source of Magic and the Kismet’s Kiss covers, either.
Ugh, back to Square One.
And that’s when, after much frustration and brainstorming, I figured out a cover style I felt could work for all of the Alaia Chronicles series covers. I wanted something that would connect the books in the series and could be easily changed for each book, both with different bold colors and with an image particular to each book.
Here’s what I did for Kismet’s Kiss and The Source of Magic:
I kept my favorite pieces of the original cover for each one. For Kismet’s Kiss, it was the romantic couple, because these two people look exactly like the Kuramos and Varene in my head—plus they’re in a very characteristic pose for that book, with Kuramos wanting Varene and being his sexy and tantalizing self, and Varene yearning for him too, but doing her stubborn best to resist.
For The Source of Magic, I kept the hands reaching for each other, just like Jilian and Varene reached for each other across the worlds between them.
I like those two current covers for sure, but I can’t lie—Kiss #2 and Source #2 are still my favorites. But series branding rules the day.
The fun part was that as I kept writing, I got to add new covers that matched:
Since Swords and Scimitars had two brothers at odds and was more romantic fantasy than fantasy romance, the crossed scimitars seemed to fit well. (I had a heckuva time finding scimitars I liked, and ended up doing a lot of work in my graphics program to make the image. Again, live and learn…)
For Sword and Lute, I ended up slogging through a LOT of stock photo sites for just the right people. I am very picky about the people on my book covers. If they don’t look like the ones in my head, it’s a no-go. Fortunately, these two were a great match. I love how they fit into the heart, too.
Next came Kiss That Frog and Flirting with the Fireman. I wanted a different look for them, since they are standalone fantasy romance stories that aren’t part of the Alaia Chronicles series. White seemed like a fun change, although getting the dark borders to show up in some posts and at Amazon has been quite a thorn in my side.
So here we are, with these final six covers being the ones I’m keeping.
For now, anyway.
Wahoo! At long last, all of my audiobooks are available, thanks in large part to my fantastic narrators.
See/hear these audiobooks at
or click the covers below to see them at Amazon!
The narrators who’ve translated these stories into audio have done an amazing job, and you can listen to a five-minute sample of each book at Amazon. (Click on the story’s cover to go to its page at Amazon, then look for the “Sample” button just below the cover.)
My fabulous narrator for Kismet’s Kiss and Sword and Lute is Marie Hélène. She set up a cool audio sample of Kismet’s Kiss at Soundcloud. (NOTE: The audio starts playing as soon as you visit the link, so make sure your volume isn’t set to “11″. )
By the way, Amazon owns Audible, so if you’re new to audiobooks and want to give them a go, you can sign in to Audible with your Amazon account and get my audiobooks at a special price (or even free!) for new members. Hooray!
I wanted to get this announcement out sooner, but didn’t for two reasons—one bad and one good.
Bad reason: A nasty computer crash from which it took several weeks to recover. (I’m an overcautious type and had lots of backups, but restoring them became a fiasco on its own. Now I also have a hard drive clone that’s updated daily!)
Good reason: I’m enjoying my own real-life romance with a rural emergency room doctor who’d make a great romance novel hero. (Hmm! Oh the possibilities…)
I wish you a summer full of love and romance—both fictional and real.
Hey peeps, I joined up with 99 authors to offer books at 99 cents each at Amazon today—AND we’re giving away $990 worth of prizes. Sweeeeeeet!
These prices are available on Amazon only.
For a listing of books offered and to enter to win, click here!!
The Source of Magic is my 99-cent contribution. (It’s listed in the SF/Fantasy section.) Have it already? No worries—Amazon lets you e-gift to other people.
There are many amazing authors and books included in this deal, and many genres represented. Go check it out!
Yes, I’ve probably earned that nickname. It’s not that I hate the holidays—it’s more like I’ve been indifferent to them. I’m self-employed, which just means I have freedom to work all the time. (No, it’s not always a good thing.) Weekends are often much like weekdays to me, and coming as I did from a small and not-that-religious family, holidays weren’t a big deal to me. So I wasn’t planning to do any of the usual rah-rah this time of year.
And then, pretty much by accident, I inherited a Christmas tree. Of sorts.
My neighbors were moving, and as they were doing their final cleanup, they asked if I wanted this sad little evergreen in a pot.
I have a black thumb, mind you, and cats that have always managed to eat and/or destroy plants, so it’s usually best if I stay away from green things. But the little tree reminds me of the pathetic one in the A Charlie Brown Christmas TV special. (Did you know you could buy a Charlie Brown tree at Amazon? Heehee!)
Anyway, to my great surprise, I told the neighbors I’d take the itty bitty evergreen.
I’m surrounded by full-grown ones up here on the mountain, so this little guy has a long way to go—but he gets to stay outside on my deck (which foils the cats) and I pretty much just need to water him every now and then. Or just let the snow fall on him. I figure he and I will do pretty well for a while, until he needs a bigger pot. At which point I’ll probably just find a good place to plant him.
My tree got me thinking about celebrations in my fantasy romance novels. The celebrations in those worlds are decidedly…well, non-religious. The gods and goddesses in my books tend to be benign, with a few key exceptions—although they pay more attention to mortal affairs than the mortals might think.
And one thing that even the gods can agree on is love.
Sword and Lute is my latest fantasy romance. It’s a novelette about how true love leads a musician who’s chasing her dreams to a dying god—and to their second chance at life. There are no holidays in it, save the one new lovers make for themselves. Ahem.
So here’s my question for you: What’s YOUR favorite kind of celebration?
I’m participating in Carrie Ann Ryan’s Alpha Male Blog Hop, so a lucky commenter from Dec. 14-17 will win a $5 gift card at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Starbucks, winner’s choice—AND all commenters will be eligible for grand prizes like this:
1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $200 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!
(International commenters: YES, you are eligible for Grand Prizes #1 & #2! Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, #3 is limited to those in the U.S.A.)
To be eligible for the Blog Hop’s grand prizes, you must include your email address IN THE COMMENT ITSELF so the overall Hop administrators can contact you. GOOD LUCK!
Click here to return to the main Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop site.
Waaay back in February (heh), I released Swords and Scimitars, a historical fantasy short story about the origins of the realm of Kad. (When the immortal twin brothers Kismet and Taso fought over an enchanted sword, tragedy ensued for them both. The guilt of the fight drove Kismet into the realm of Kad, where he became its first sultan and redeemed himself through love. If you don’t have Swords and Scimitars yet, it’s FREE at most ebook stores…)
Now it’s Taso’s turn! Sword and Lute is a 16,000-word novelette (think of that as a really long short story or a very short novel) about Taso’s awakening from stone—and his unlikely rescuer, the musician Amara. Sword and Lute is a true fantasy romance, complete with a sweet love scene.
When a cursed sword slashed the god Taso, his immortality gushed into the grass along with his blood. He escaped death—barely—by transforming into stone. Centuries later, the aspiring musician Amara stumbles across the stone and inadvertently morphs Taso back into his dying body. To save him, she must sacrifice her precious lute and her life-long dream. But in return, she might find her heart’s desire…
Swords and Scimitars and Sword and Lute are the first two stories in the Alaia Chronicles: Legends series. (I consider them part of the Alaia Chronicles, but since they occur so much earlier, I’ve added “Legends” to distinguish them from the main timeline.)
Want a taste of Taso’s story? Here’s a wee excerpt for you:
“Lie down,” she said. “You lost too much blood.”
He gave her a mulish look.
She hastened over, put her hand on his chest and gently pushed him down to the earth. A mistake, because once he was down, he captured her wrist in his warm palm.
“Who are you, maiden fair?”
She shrugged, striving to keep her face composed. “You first. You’re the interesting one.”
“I wouldn’t say that.” His fingers softened their grip and caressed her skin. “Not at all.”
She gave a noncommittal smile, tugged her hand from his, and stepped away to tend the fire.
“My name is Taso,” he said at last into the silence. “And what is yours, milady?”
Her teeth clamped over her name, and then she flushed. Why should she keep it from him? It was simply a word.
But each piece he knew of her was leading to someplace larger. Deeper. Perilous.
“I’m Amara.” She sprinkled a few grains of precious salt over the meat and didn’t turn around.
“Amara,” he repeated, as if he liked the sound of it. Hells, she liked the sound of it when he said it in that mellow voice.
“This will need to cook a while, but I’m sure you’re hungry,” she said briskly, and knelt to rummage in her pack for the bread and cheese.
“Amara,” he spoke again, stopping her as easily as if he’d bespelled her. “Thank you. For your help. For your kindness to a stranger.”
She looked at him at last, and shivered. “Did I truly break a spell?”
“Why? How?” She rose and took a step closer to him. “Who are you?”
“I’m Taso.” He smiled, teasing her as firelight danced across his face.
She held still. “Are you a god?”
His chest rose with a long breath and he rolled his gaze up to the star-dusted sky. “I’m not sure.”
Right now Sword and Lute is just 99 cents!
- Amazon: http://amzn.to/VcdEjB
- Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/BN-Lute
- Kobo: http://bit.ly/Kobo-Lute
- Smashwords: http://bit.ly/SW-Lute (use coupon LM38S)
- All Romance eBooks: http://bit.ly/ARe-Lute
- Apple’s iTunes: D’oh, it’s on the way via a distributor, but might take a week or so. Keep your eye out for it here.
And more good news…
Kismet’s Kiss is now in production as an audiobook…and the narrator is AWESOME. We hope to have it out in January or February of 2013. And I hope that not long after that, the audiobook of The Source of Magic will also be published.
Want to check out what else I have available? Amazon has the scoop.
So what’s next?
I’m still writing The Soul of Magic, the sequel to Source and prequel to Kismet’s Kiss. Woohoo! 2013 is going to be a good year.
Good news first:
If you like romance and cooking…or heck, at least romance and food…you should grab the anthology Eat, Read, Love: Romance and Recipes From the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood FOR FREE.
The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood is the group of 2009 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalists (of which I’m one, and I thank my lucky stars for it, because these ladies are AMAZING).
We’ve put together an anthology of recipes (everything from breakfast to desserts and beverages to condiments) inspired by our books. Two of mine are featured: “Sultana’s Rice” (Kismet’s Kiss) and “Eat These Fries” (Kiss That Frog).
Every recipe in the anthology comes with an excerpt from that Ruby Sister’s relevant story, too, so you can sample a lot of books in many romance genres. Sweeeeet!
Here’s where it’s already free (and we’re working to make it free everywhere):
Kobo: http://bit.ly/PwznRw (international!)
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/U2VhYk (international and multi-format!)
Okay, now some bad news.
As you might remember, The Source of Magic is being turned into an audiobook (whee!) by AudioLark. Unfortunately, there were apparently some issues with the original narrator. We were hoping to have the audiobook done by August, and then by the end of the year—but now a new narrator will need to record it, so we’re likely looking at early spring of 2013. I’m sad! But it’s still in process, so keep your fingers crossed, and I’ll keep you updated when I know more.
One more tidbit of good news (I like to leave things on an up note): Today I’m revising the final scenes of Sword and Lute (Taso and Amara’s story and the sequel to Swords and Scimitars) so I can get it into the editing phrase. Wahoo! Aaaaand here’s the cover:
Sword and Lute should (should should should) be up in November. Which is going to be a crazy month, because I’ll also be drafting (I hope) the rest of The Soul of Magic, Rokad and Qiara’s story (and the first chronological sighting of Kuramos from Kismet’s Kiss). I have a cover in progress for Soul, and it’s equally yummy—but I’ll wait to show it until after I’ve prettied it up. (<= tease!)
So that’s it for the moment. It’s a winter wonderland here today, and I hope you’re having as fantastic an autumn as I am.
Here were the overall blog hop Grand Prize Winners:
Kindle Fire Winner:
$130 Amazon Gift Card:
Thanks to all the commenters and blog hop participants, and also to the administrators—especially Carrie Ann Ryan!
Let me get something out of the way right up front: I love me some alphas.
Or at least Writer Me loves me some alphas.
Person Me has a few reservations.
Lemme ‘splain. We’ll start with Writer Me.
My first published novel (Kismet’s Kiss, a two-time RWA Golden Heart ® finalist) features an alpha among alphas. Kuramos is the sultan of the desert realm of Kad. The descendent of gods and the protector of his people, he’s revered for his deeds and respected by his wives. (That’s right, I said wives—as the sultan, he has a harem.)
Kuramos takes his responsibilities to his realm, his people, and his family to heart. He’s a man who will never let you down once you’re under his protection. But being the sultan has forced him to bury his own needs so deep that it takes a strong woman—one who believes in nothing less than true love and monogamy!—to shake him to his core and make him realize all he’s missing, despite his wealth and palaces and power.
That’s the fantasy of the alpha in romance: that whoever this ultra-masculine man is, whatever his position in life, the love of a good woman is the one thing that can bring this fearless male to his knees.
Writer Me clearly adores not only alphas, but royal alpha men. (Kismet’s Kiss, The Source of Magic, Swords and Scimitars….) Even my one non-royal hero is a fireman (Flirting with the Fireman). Fireman Ben may not be a blueblood and he certainly has a sensitive side, but there aren’t many jobs more alpha than life vs. death.
Yep, Writer Me likes my heroes hot and powerful. But she also appreciates men who’ve grown up enough that they don’t need to constantly project their macho-ness (for example, the enchanted Frog Prince Alexander in Kiss That Frog: A Modern Fairy Tale).
Both Writer Me and Person Me enjoy the latter kind of man—one who knows that while a woman values feeling protected, she also wants to feel loved, comforted, and respected. Unlike in fantasy worlds, modern living in the real world means we can’t solve problems with magic, swords or threats. (In fact, Person Me very much appreciates the strong and caring beta male and has sworn off cocky alphas for some time to come, although Writer Me still loves to write ‘em. )
It takes a wise man to know how to communicate. Fantasy alphas often try—at least at first—to do that through action. That’s nice and all, but in the modern world, a real man knows how to use words. For example, if that hot, powerful guy doesn’t understand the value of giving his woman comfort (and not just in bed!), there’s no point in keeping him.
Fortunately, even in fiction, many alpha heroes learn that words are worth as much as a well-executed sword strike. When they do, they appeal to readers’ hearts and heads.
To me, those are the best romance heroes of all.
So here’s my question for you: What do you enjoy in fictional heroes that you wouldn’t necessarily want around you in real life?
I’m participating in Carrie Ann Ryan’s Alpha Male Blog Hop today, so a lucky commenter from Oct. 19-22 will win a $10 gift card at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Starbucks, winner’s choice—AND all commenters will be eligible for grand prizes like this:
1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: An awesome Swag Pack of books and reader goodies!
To be eligible for the Blog Hop’s grand prizes, you must include your email address IN THE COMMENT ITSELF so the overall Hop administrators can contact you. GOOD LUCK!
Click here to return to the main Alpha Male Blog Hop site.