Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!!


Which sister is me? I'll never tell!
I'm over at Fiction Vixen with vintage Crane
photos and anecdotes...stop by; you could
win something fabulous!
Hey everybody!! I hope all of you are enjoying a safe, happy holiday surrounded by your favorite people, you favorite pets, or at least some decent reading material!

And thanks for stopping by - you all mean so much to me. Being able to engage with readers and writers all over the world has been such a gift to me.


I'm having fun with the family this holiday. Lots of visiting, laughter, and food...am slipping into a partial sugar coma...help!! 

Hey, don't forget to stop by and say hi at Fiction Vixen. I'm there this holiday with little Christmassy anecdotes and photos from Crane Christmases past.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Visits, ways to win, & holiday mayhem!

Hi friends!

I  hope you're all well and hunkering down for a holiday full of fun, friends, family, or just relaxation with a few awesome books. Mr. Crane and I are getting ready for all kinds of Christmasy action. I have lots of prezzies for family and friends, and I'm greatly looking forward to seeing my nieces and nephew and everybody else.

And, not to sound cat-obsessed, but I put a bird feeder up by the window as an early Christmas present to the cats a couple of days ago (like getting them a TV!)  and no birds were coming to it...and I think one just now discovered it! So that's exciting.

Hey I wanted to let you know about a few bloggy  activities...

Wicked Little Pixie's 31 Days of Christmas! 
This is a really fun event full of giveaways and posts. I was there this week...comment here to win a backlist book of your choice from me!! There are tons of other authors showing up, too. It's a fun way to discover some new and fabulous books and hear about what different authors are up to these days.

Over at Wonk-o-mance
Okay, this is one of my new favorite blogs, run by a group of really clever and talented authors. Anyway, I was stoked to be invited there for an interview to talk about everything from new projects to the possibility of a certain author being whisked away from where she is working in a coffee shop by a hot band of rogues. Do stop by.

Answer one of my questions at Word Whores...
We're talking about questions this week, and I ask five of them. What do you think about cliffy chapter endings? Semi-colons in dialogue? Carolyn Crane wants to know!! 

Fiction Vixen's Blogcation
It's not up yet as of this writing, but tomorrow, the 24th, I'm over at Fiction Vixen for their Blogcation - this is a fabulous holiday event where bloggers and authors talk about all things holiday, from fave traditions to books to anecdotes. Also, you can win a $50 gift certificate!! I'll be there with a couple of embarrassing Xmas photos. I'll put up a special link to it on this blog when I can. But there's lots going on there already!! Go find it here!

 ♥ Carolyn

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas letter from Justine Jones...

Are you wondering what has become of the Disillusionists gang lately?

You're in luck:  Justine Jones is over at Nocturnal Book Reviews with a Christmas letter about what Carter, Simon, Shelby and others are up to this holiday.

Stop by and say hi at Nocturnal Book Reviews! Also, KaraKarina is holding a fabulous international giveaway along with it.

And, she's having other fun holiday guests, too, with more giveaways. Go read and enter them all.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Visiting with awesome author Gini Koch!

Leave it to another writer to ask all the crazy questions. I had tons of fun with the fabulous and fetching Gini Koch yesterday, author of the Alien/Katherine "Kitty" Katt series and the Necropolis Enforcement Files.  Drop by and say hi! And you could win, too!!

Come say hi at Gini's ...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The secret world of book cover backgrounds!!

Today I'm over at Under the Covers Book blog taking readers on a totally nerdy fascinating tour of the backgrounds of PNR and UF book covers!

This is a kind of new interest of mine. Also, I got to ask a few fellow authors about their book backgrounds. Did you think it was just colorful pictures back there? Hell no!!

Come over to the fabulous Under the Covers and say hi!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Amazon Ranking: An expose!!!

It's so rewarding when you look at the way you were, say, two years ago, and see how far you have come!! 

Mind Games, the first in my Disillusionists trilogy, came out in 2010.  OMG, I was obsessed with my Amazon rankings!  You can tell from this old post, below.

The Oddshots blog, where this originally appeared, is sadly now gone. So I'm reprising it here.


The sad state of Carolyn Crane in 2010...

*********************************


The Amazon sales ranking: An expose!

Before my book came out, I noticed that many other authors talk about the Amazon ranking, and how on release weeks, they would check it a lot to see where their book was. I was sure I would be different because:

1. I don’t tend to buy books from Amazon, and naturally, I assume most people behave as I do.
2. I’ve always heard those ranking don’t mean all that much. 
3. I’m interested in whether people actually enjoy the book—not sales, or a silly number.

So! Mind Games was released last week, and what did debut author Carolyn Crane do? Check the Amazon rankings!


I started off not doing it much, but since other authors talk about it, I figured if they check it, there must be something to it. Because Carolyn Crane is all about the peer pressure. So I started checking it more and more. Also, maybe nobody knows what it means, but the little number kept changing! Something was happening. Somebody needed to monitor it.



What is the number all about? I did some high level research.

I typed “how do Amazon rankings work” into Google and quickly discovered that the rumors are true: nobody outside Amazon really understands it. (Though some say it becomes more meaningful when you get around 1000, or into the best-seller territory of 100 or lower.) But nobody really knows what it’s based on. Sales are part of it, but there are other factors. What are these other factors you ask?


Nobody knows. Many people work hard to try to figure these other factors out. They write articles with phrases like: “the sales ranking has to be dissected dynamically” and “figures are applied to the algorithm during the calculation.”

Essentially, these people are reverse engineering the rankings, just the way scientists tried to reverse engineer Arnold Schwarzenegger in the time between Terminators #1 & #2. And we know how that ended.

 

But, back to me. The thing is, these little numbers would change, and it became weirdly entrancing. Once, my number hit the 3,000s! I felt happy! Like the book was doing well! Other times, my number would backslide and I would be a sad bear.

In their FAQs, Amazon is suspiciously vague

Amazon says “the lower the number, the higher the sales” and that the rank “reflects recent and historical sales.” Which, if you sort of think about it, are somewhat contradictory. And why not just put a number that grows every time somebody buys a book? Like a fun little meter that says, hey! Another book was bought! No. Instead, they rank your book against ALL other books on the planet in the most mysterious way possible. As if authors aren’t insecure enough. 

 

Clearly something is going on. It has all the hallmarks of an experiment— something akin to the Dharma Initiative on the TV show LOST! What is the purpose of Amazon’s Dharma Initiative-type ranking? How does it work? I have theories.

Theory #1: It is a sinister ego-crushing experiment
In this scenario, the number is based only vaguely on sales, but mostly on how many times an author checks the number.

As you may or may not know, one of the classic techniques of breaking down a person’s self esteem is to praise them lavishly (You’re 3,200!) and then withdraw that praise (248,560. Loser!) And then, when the author goes crawling back: (Hey! You’re okay! 11,350!). And the more you check it, the more it messes with your head.


Theory #2: The ranking is simply a carrot and stick trick to drive author traffic
Maybe Amazon is simply interested in driving traffic. I mean, isn’t that what big websites ultimately want? Think about it: authors are huge purchasers of books; maybe the ranking number is calibrated to get authors to visit more. In this theory, Amazon creates a believable range upon your release, that is, they “seed” your book the way a sports team might be seeded, and then Amazon’s artificially intelligent system goes to work, learning what sort of fluctuation brings you back, and what sort of fluctuation disheartens you so much, you stop checking for a day, and it modulates until it has you checking at an optimal frequency.



Theory #3: A funny joke for Amazon insiders
What if the number is way more random than anybody imagines? What if, inside Amazon’s headquarters, there is this giant monkey cage, and computer keyboards are positioned around the cage. And the monkeys are like, eeee eee ee! punching the keyboards, and everybody who walks by laughs, because they know that people write articles about the number, and authors check it incessantly, and it’s just monkeys playing! And it’s this thing that boosts employee morale. A joke they are all in on that creates togetherness.




*******************************************

UPDATE, November 5, 2012:

Oh, how sad to look back at those days when I was so hung up on a number to the  point of weaving paranoid theories about Amazon.  

This kind of behavior appalls me now. It not what being a  true writer, a true artist, is all about! I'm glad I'm over it. 

For example, my cross-genre PNR/spy/suspense romance, MR. REAL, just released this last week, and do I have it as an item on the toolbar? Actually, I don't have it on my toolbar! 

I'll admit to checking  the Mr. Real Amazon page now and then, but it's simple curiosity. A few years has put everything in perspective.



My other pen name, Annika Martin, writer of torrid bank robber erotica, recently got on a bestseller list as part of this 99-cent erotica bestsellers sale

Did I freak out? No. A rank is just a number. It means nothing! Artistic quality is what should count.  


Not to boast, but I think these past two years have allowed me to grow as a person, and truly put things in perspective. 

Hey! Thanks for visiting. If this post helps even one other writer see what a waste of time these obsessions with Amazon rank are, or gives them hope they they can change and get over their fixation on a number, I will rest easy tonight. Have a great week, people. 


Images: Terminator album cover; Monkey public domain, Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kaite Reus drops by with a giveaway!


Hey everybody!! I have a very fabulous and talented visitor today - Katie Reus! We've been bloggy-writer friends forever, but, as Katie says below, we didn't meet until AAD in New Orleans, where we had coffee and beignets and, among other things, I secretly pressed her for info on her awesome Red Stone Security series, which I've been immensely enjoying.

And look! She's here giving one away! Hi Katie! Thanks for stopping by!  

                                      ***

Thank you so much to Carolyn for having me here today! I finally got to meet the lovely Carolyn in person earlier this year at AAD and seriously, she’s just as nice in person as she is online, so I’m very excited to be a guest here! As a thank you for her being an awesome hostess, I’d love to give away a digital copy of my recent release, Miami, Mistletoe & Murder.

Romantic suspense is one of my favorite genres to read and to write in. I love the blending of romance and suspense! There’s something so hot about two people falling in love with dangerous external circumstances. Over the past year I’ve been self publishing a series of romantic suspense stories (Red Stone Security series) and the reader email I’ve received has been amazing. One question seemed to keep coming up: When will Travis get a story? I’d always planned to give him one, but wasn’t sure if I’d have time with contractual obligations to get it done this year. Luckily, things worked out so I got to combine romance, suspense AND a little bit of Christmas magic just in time for the holidays. Something else I love (yes, I’m a total holiday junkie).

So, what’s Miami, Mistletoe & Murder about?

Fierce and sexy, former Marine Travis Sanchez has always held himself back from the rest of the world, using his tattoos and piercings as armor. But when the woman he’s wanted for months is threatened, he knows it’s time to strip away the bad boy image and show her just how much he wants to be with her. As one of Red Stone Security’s best contractors, Travis is trained for almost any situation. But nothing prepares him for the most dangerous threat of all: the one to his heart.

Kind-hearted Noel Baskov’s only wish for the holidays is that her Miami coffee shop has a successful Christmas season. But her focus on work is interrupted when the family of the young girl she mentors is threatened, and the man she’s been lusting after for months steps in to handle it. Unfortunately the danger is far from over. Can this sexy and mysterious warrior protect Noel, or will he be the one to shatter her heart?

Warning: features a heroine determined to fight for those she cares about, a protective hero with a very interesting piercing, and some holiday magic.

Excerpt:

It was nearing six, which meant she’d be closing soon so he picked up his pace. He passed a few people on the street, all of them bundled up wearing hats and coats, an odd sight in normally sweltering Miami. As he neared her shop, he slowed down and forced himself to get his shit together. For all he knew, she wasn’t even working. Before he’d reached the door, Noel of all people, walked out. Carrying an oversized purse and looking at her cell phone, she didn’t even glance up. He tried to move out of the way but she slammed into him.

Her purse slid off her shoulder as her head snapped back. Wide eyes met his and her mouth formed a small ‘O’ as he steadied her. He gently held her upper arms as she stared at him for a long moment. She was slender, but not exactly fragile. There was a subtle strength he’d picked up on the first time they’d met.

“Travis.” She practically breathed his name. It was like a seductive caress, but then she shook her head and that’s when he realized her pale eyes were bright with unshed tears.

He automatically tensed, hating to see any woman cry, but especially her. “What’s wrong?”
Glancing away from him, she shook her head and bent to pick up her purse.

Kneeling with her, he started gathering some of the things that had fallen out and nearly choked when his fingers wrapped around a box of condoms with a red bow wrapped around it.

“Oh my…that’s not…well, it is mine. One of my friends gave it to me as a gag gift for my birthday.” She snatched it out of his hand and shoved it into the mammoth black bag she called a purse.

Travis struggled to talk, as he always did around her. Thinking about her and condoms in the same sentence was threatening to short-circuit his brain. He hated his reaction because it made him feel like a randy teenager with a crush. Which is basically what he had on her. A giant crush. Her tan cheeks were a bright crimson as she met his gaze again. At least he didn’t see tears in her eyes anymore. He couldn’t handle the thought of her upset.

“You leaving? I thought I might catch you before you got off work.” He was pretty sure his sleep-deprived brain had taken over but he wouldn’t complain. He needed to ask her out and if she rejected him, he’d get over it and find another place to get coffee.

Her face brightened for a moment, her cheeks flushing even darker. “Really?” Before he could answer she sharply shook her head. “Uh, I’ve got to go. I don’t have time to talk right now, Travis. But I’ll see you later.” Now the stress was back, full force. It was so potent, it was practically surging off her in visible waves.

As she started to hurry down the sidewalk to the end of her building where she usually parked, he fell in step with her. “What’s going on, Noel?” He’d never seen her like this before. Normally she had a bright smile for everyone.

She gave him a guarded look and he could practically see the wheels turning in her head. He’d taken out his ear and eyebrow piercings for his last job but he still had visible tattoos and, for some reason, he felt as if she was sizing him up.

Thanks so much for stopping by today! What do you like about romantic suspense? Or, what’s your favorite holiday? Just leave a comment and be entered to win a digital copy of Miami, Mistletoe & Murder. Open internationally until November 6 at 8 AM Central. Winner will be announced in the comments section.

A little about Katie: I’ve been reading romance since a young age—ever since I discovered my mom’s hidden stash. Luckily the addiction stayed with me into adulthood. I’m the author of the Moon Shifter series for NAL/Signet Eclipse and I also write paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense for Carina Press and Harlequin Nocturne. To learn more about me please visit my website, my blog, facebook or find me on twitter @katiereus.

**********

Thanks so much, Katie. Happy Sunday, everybody!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The crazy truth about sidekick Karen!

Happy Friday friends!!

So, I'm over at Karen Alderman's blog today - yes, there really is a Karen Alderman. How the heck did she become a sidekick character in Mr. Real?

WHAT is the story?? Come say hi at For What It's Worth and find out!!! 

PS: Also I just wanted to thank everybody for the kind word on Mr. Real! It's so exciting, I hope everybody has the best weekend.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

All about favorites at Red Hot Books!!

I was so honored to be invited by the lovely Jen of Red Hot Books for her fabu feature, "FAVORITES FROM MY FAVORITES". In it,  Jen invites authors she enjoys to talk about their own favorite reads.

I reach back into some old skool romance I recently discovered. You won't believe the cover on this, but it's one of my faves! And you can win it!!

I would suggest checking out the whole lot. What do your fave authors have on their keeper shelves? Go find out at Red Hot Reads! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wheee!! Mr. Real is finally out!

Mr. Real, my cross-genre suspense/paranormal romance/spy novel is populating through stores. I'm so excited and happy about this book...and I can't believe it's finally out.

Ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARE |  Find it soon Smashwords, Sony, Apple and elsewhere. For just $3.81!

Print: Out within the week at the usual sellers. I'll post links as they go live on the Mr. Real page of my site.

le blurb: 
The woman of his dreams…with the secret agent of his nightmares

Alix Gordon is a woman who doesn’t take life too seriously. What’s the fun in that? So when she stumbles across occult software that can bring any computer image to life, she conjures up lots of awesome outfits and accessories. And then, on one drunken, horny night, she conjures up Sir Kendall, the sexy TV ad spy . . . who looks exactly like Paul, the hot martial arts teacher who kicked her out of class three years ago.

Fighter Paul Reinhardt has good reason to hate Sir Kendall, the character he brought to life to land a part in a TV ad; he’d do anything to forget him. A cross country road trip seems just the thing . . . until Paul finds himself inexplicably drawn to Minnesota and is shocked to discover Sir Kendall - in the flesh - with the girl he’d once loved from afar. He barges into Alix and Sir Kendall’s love nest, determined to stop the madness - somehow.

But is super spy Sir Kendall transforming into something more dangerous anyone can imagine? And what will Sir Kendall do when Paul and Alix finally give into their mad lust for each other?

Blog Tour continues!!
I'm having quite the enjoyable time on my blog tour, and I've visited a trio of awesome hostesses recently:

The Qwillery: This was a great interview where we covered pantsing, plotting, and more - come say hi!

I Smell Sheep: Alpha Male Diner - juicy details about Paul Reinhardt, the hero of Mr. Real, in this crazy and fun feature.

Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks - Oh, my cover model dilemmas! Poor Julie was one of my "what do you think about this guy?" victims.

Thanks for stopping by! Hugs to all you East coast peeps. I'm really thinking about you all a lot today.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blog tour fun! Two stops, two places to win...

Just a quick update on my crazy blog tour - two stops, two fun visits, two places to win a copy of Mr. Real!!!

Thursday at That's What I'm Talking about - I visit with lovely blogger Jen to answer the question: Are all characters Frankensteins when you bring the to real life? Stop by, say hi, and comment!!

Friday at fabu Kindle-aholic - we had some fun with a very unique interview about self-pubbing and various projects, and there are pictures. Come on over to comment at Kindle-aholic's bookpile!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What is the appropriate level of heroine fear in a book?

Hey all!

 Do you wish you could understand this graph?
All is explained at Book Chick City....
I'm over at Book Chick City today discussing levels of fear in different books, and getting the heroine fear levels right.

You'll find handy graphs there, and if you leave a comment you might win a copy of Mr. Real!!

Come say hi at Book Chick City...

Top 6 rules that apply to Halloween and urban fantasy

I'm over at Goldilox and the Three Weres today with a Halloweeny post - I'm talking about rules that Halloween shares with UF and PNR as part of her Goldilox and the Three Scares event, which is full of guest posts and giveaways. I'm also giving away an advanced reader copy of Mr. Real!

Come say hi at Goldilox and the Three Weres!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Having fun at Paranormal Haven

Happy Friday everybody! I hope you're looking forward to a lovely weekend. My mom is coming up to visit. The condo is in chaos and I'm totally harried, but it will be nice to see her. I foresee an arty film and some shopping and gabbing in my near future!

Anyway, just a quick note that I'm visiting at the fabulous PARANORMAL HAVEN today with a guest post that answers the question: What would my characters from Mr. Real go as for Halloween? It's my first ever MR. REAL guest post, and I'm giving away an ebook of MR REAL, too!

Come say hi and enter to win at Paranormal Haven!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When an author (me!) envies other authors' locations...

I'm over at the fabulous Ramblings of a Chaotic Mind blog rambling on just that: my journey from location envy to location embracing...and you could win something, too!!

Come say hi and join the fun! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Interview, historical beard analysis by Penny Watson, & a giveaway!!!



Image: French painter Eugene Deveria
Hi Everybody! Today we have a special guest here at my blog: Penny Watson, author of several books including the Holiday Romance series and Lumberjack in Love.

Carolyn Crane: Welcome Penny Watson! Thanks for stopping by the Thrillionth page and congrats on the release of LUMBERJACK IN LOVE!!

Penny Watson: Hi Carolyn! Thanks for the invite!

CC: Okay, I’ll be honest, when you first started your beardy goodness bit up around 3 years ago, I was like, WTF! While I enjoy your Santa’s strapping sons holiday series, I will confess to picturing them as beardless in my mind. *ducks*

* Penny chucks Gillette razors at Carolyn’s head *

CC: LOL. Sorry! For a while now on your blog, you have had your beard of the week and I felt like, scruff is okay, but I’m not a beard person. And then beards started appearing all over. On Marky Mark. And other guys. And movie stars. And Marky Mark. And, Jenn Bennet has that hot bearded hero Lon in her Arcadia Bell series. And scruffy Marky Mark. And I started, if not to love them, to get them. But you were so ahead of your time. What do you have to say for yourself?


PW: Just call me Penelope, Trendsetter and Founder of The Hirsute Appreciation League. I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House Books. I was addicted to that series when I was a little girl, and of course Pa had a big bushy beard, and I was smitten.

CC: OMG, Pa! With his hot suspenders and broad shoulders! lol. That is so funny. Okay, as you know, I really enjoyed LUMBERJACK IN LOVE and so did a ton of other people. It’s a fun, romantic read! Are you always going to stick to bearded heroes? Will there be any more Lumberjacks?

PW: I’m so glad you liked it! Strangely, a number of readers are clamoring for a lumberjack series. Perhaps I’m starting a new, hairy trend in romantic fiction! I already have a story idea for Marcus’s younger brother which involves a lumberjack competition in New Hampshire.

CC:  I’m so psyched! You definitely have to do that.

An infamous quote from your LUMBERJACK:

His face was dark, thunderous, and absolutely freaking gorgeous. Electric blue eyes, high cheekbones, and a black lush beard that Ami wanted to rub all over.

Question: Did you do any direct beard research for this? Please elaborate.

PW: Haaaaaaa! Does downloading thousands of Hugh Jackman images from Wolverine count as research? Then yes, yes I did.

CC: Okay, readers want to know: favorite all time beards? Contemporary category. 

PW:  Robert Redford as Jeremiah Johnson
Sean Connery (salt and peppah excellence!)
Forcing myself to stop now….hee hee!

CC: Okay, thanks for that. I think you broke my Safari software with that little trip down beardy lane.

Considering that you were such a beard visionary, I thought it might be good to get your commentary on some beards through history (all images public domain from wikipedia).

Penny, let's see what you think of these beard styles, and if you see any of them coming into fashion.
  
 Image:sculptor  James Vibert (1853-1918)
 by artist Ferdinand Hodler
  
PW: Interesting combination of big bald forehead and beard-that-looks-like-a-blanket. I’m skeert.

CC: On the plus side, though, it gives you something to grab onto, right?

PW: Or a red fluffy blanket if you get cold.

Image: Nakht, from tomb of Nakht, 15th century BC

PW: Haaaaaaa! This reminds me of the little tuft of hair the Boston Celtics players were growing on their chins. Umm…I’m gonna vote NO on this one. :^)

CC:  It’s very stylized! I could see this coming in if the Celtics went for it.

Image: Portrait of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (c.1580)

PW: Beard, stache: Masculine. Weird hairline: Odd. Ruffle: Pansy-Ass. Eyes: Sad Puppy Dog     Overall: The beard saves him.

CC: This was one of the hotter beards of history I could find. I actually do agree the beard saves him. Don’t you think if you were a woman of this era that the ruffle would grow on you? 

PW: I think I would borrow the ruffle. We would probably fight over it every morning.

Image: artist Alfons Mucha self portrait (1860-1939) 
PW: Oh my goodness! The bottom half of his face looks like he’s turned into a werewolf. (And not in a good way). In fact, it sort of looks like his beard is growing over his ears. It must be difficult to hear.    Overall assessment: Get Alfons to a groomer, stat!

CC: Wait, I thought this was a hot beard! Maybe I am beard-challenged. Don’t you think he looks manly in a tousled way? Though he is hairy beyond the beard, and now that you’ve drawn my attention to his ears…do they look pointy to you? I can stop seeing him as a Vulcan.

PW: Historical Bearded Vulcan Werewolf. New genre! New genre!

Self-portrait of French painter Eugène Devéria (1805-1865).
Etching by Paul Lafond (1847-1918)
PW: You’re killing me, Carolyn! Is this an intervention? Are you trying to make me hate beards?

CC: LOL Is it working? Please, take a closer look at this beard, Penny. I would suggest printing this image out and putting it up on your wall.

PW: * Penny wipes sweat from brow in anxiety.* OK, OK, I can handle this. The side portions of his stache look like a squirrel’s tail, and the center portion looks like the hind legs of a small furry animal. * Penny winces * This is hurting me.

CC: Snort. Squirrel’s tail. You don’t think this will come into fashion? Can’t you imagine it flowing in the breeze as this man rides a bike to the coffee shop? And wouldn’t those handholds come in handy in intimate situations?

PW: Please God tell me there’s a good one coming up soon!

CC: Don’t worry, Penny, there is a super hot one coming up!!

Image: Artist Jan Mabuse; self portrait (1478-1532)
PW: Haaaaaaa! His face stops several inches before the end of the beard? How is that possible? Artistic license?

CC:  It’s a chin beard, Penny! Get with it. I understand Jon Hamm is growing one of these right now so it’s ready in time for the Oscars. Actually, I’m loving his outfit. I’m not being funny. Do you think he was a hipster of his time? Because, I sort of do.

Well, that was fun!!

PW: That was cruel, Carolyn. To offset the trauma I’m experiencing from looking at these disturbing beardy images, I’m going to spend a few hours with my Hugh Jackman jpeg collection.

CONTEST!! 


Penny is offering  awesome prizes today: one lucky winner will get a fabulous LUMBERJACK themed mug full of candy, book marks, twiggy pencils and Vermont maple syrup PLUS a free download of LUMBERJACK IN LOVE or print book. (US only)

And, one international winner will get a free download of the ebook!

How to enter: 
In the comments, tell which historical beard (from the pictures above or another one) that you like best and why. [If you are reading this on Goodreads or Facebook, come over to my blog and enter.] 

About LUMBERJACK IN LOVE

blurb:
City slicker Ami Jordan was just dumped by her back-stabbing boyfriend, has no job prospects, and can't find a decent cup of coffee in the entire state of Vermont. The last thing she needs is a sexy, bearded lumberjack complicating her life. Even if he’s smart, talented, and has the hottest ass she’s ever seen.


Tree house builder, environmental champion, and Bulldog owner Marcus Anderson has no patience for flatlanders with an attitude. But when landscape designer Ami Jordan shows up at his log cabin, he suddenly develops a hankering for a high-maintenance city gal. Now his house looks like a jungle, his recycling is in disarray, and his libido's on fire.

He's a lumberjack in love.

Learn more at Penny's website or her book blog, Penny Romance

CC: Thanks so much for stopping by, Penny!

PW: Thanks for having me! Happy Beardy Day!! 


Friday, October 5, 2012

My shocking and woeful cover drama...and YET ANOTHER NEW COVER


So, as I told everybody in tarnation on Wednesday, Mr. Real got an awesome new cover! And now I’m not going to use it!!
Not the new cover anymore!

I was so excited about the cover, too! Because the angsty guy image captured the sweaty and muscular and tortured nature of my athletic hero, Paul. My fabulous designer and I were so psyched to find him. (Su of Earthly Charms, who I can’t recommend enough! She is amazing!)

We got the angsty guy image from a royalty-free stock site, where you look for pictures you like and then pay for the rights to use them. It’s where pretty much everyone who doesn’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a live model shoot or exclusive custom art or photography gets their images. The thing is, different people can pay to use the same photo. That’s why you often see the same images on different books.

And why you see funny posts like this one that my naughty friend Chris makes in her “Misadventures in Stock Photography" series. 

So, I wasn’t too shocked when, as soon as I released the cover, I discovered angsty guy had appeared elsewhere. It’s an awesome photo! I can’t believe more people didn’t buy the rights to it. Here, a few other books I found out about after releasing my cover:


The big problem here: Juliana Stone!! *shakes fist at Juliana* (not really, she’s actually really nice). But I learned her e-novella, TO HELL AND BACK, far right, releases the exact same day as mine and it is the same genre.

Why?!?! Whyyyy?!?!
There’s nothing illegal about our having the same photo – her publisher and I both paid the same money to get the non-exclusive rights to use it. But Juliana and I are both working in the paranormal genre, both have black color schemes, and both release on OCTOBER 30!!! What are the odds of that you ask? (Shoutout to Jeffe Kennedy). 



The odds you will discover your awesome photo of a sweaty tortured guy 
is already being used...



So, needless to say, I was totally mortified to learn all this. Mostly because of reader confusion. I don’t want readers trying to buy my book and getting Juliana’s, or vice versa. That’s bad for both of us, and for our readers. So I immediately went to work on thinking of what to do!!

My scientific decision-making process 
on what to do about this cover problem!!




Anyway, designer extraordinaire Su and I talked about keeping angsty guy and just making the cover look radically different, and she mocked up a few ideas, like one with angsty guy in a field of electric blue with lightning, and one where he’s pulled way up to the front. But, none was as fabulous as her first one. This guy begs for a cover of angsty darkness.

In the end, I decided I needed a new model.  Juliana’s was out there first, and hey, I have no shortage of angsty, hot, tortured heroes coming up in the Code of Shadows series to use that photo for, but, just not on the same release day. I don’t want readers to be all WTF on release day.

I think it’s the right thing to do in this case, though I feel like a total freak for changing the cover around again. And, not to embarrass Su of Earthly Charms but she has been so amazing and nimble in getting all this handled. And responsive and talented and fabulous. And managed to whip out an amazing cover.

Anyway, Here is my new NEW cover!! 

The total, final, for sure cover!!!!

I’ll confess, I love this cover just a tiny bit more for this book, because I feel this model beautifully captures the tortured hotness of my hero, Paul, who is a fighter. Also, I love the big title, too, how it pops. And I feel like the layout looks fresh. And I swear to you, this really IS the last cover.  PLEASE! Let there be not clones to cause confusion. Pleeeeease!!! *klunk*

 I am so grateful to everyone for all your support and all my pals who gave me advice, and retweeted my cover news....and I'm sorry to all bloggers who put up my cover and now have to change it. Okay. Deep breath!! 

About Mr. Real:
Mr. Real is a paranormal romantic suspense/spy novel. Quick description: 
lonely girl uses an occult computer program to bring a sexy spy from a TV ad to life. The actor/fighter who plays the character  - and has come to hate him – is not amused. 
It comes out in print and ebook on October 30th. More info here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Look! Another cover reveal for MR. REAL

But this one is the final one! LOL. I was joking the other day with a tweep that when you self publish, the degree of control is both terrible and wonderful. I am a poster child for that.

Anyway, after more edits of Mr. Real, I realized my old cover, which I love to death on its own, because the guy looks like Matt Damon, and it's cool, does not correctly signify the genre. Well, the MR REAL genre doesn't actually exist, but it's sort of paranormal/romantic suspense/spy stuff

Anyway, here is my NEW cover. This is truly the final one.

Deepest thanks/apologies to my many victims who I have pestered over the months to give opinions on models and covers.

Special apologies also to the awesome BADASS BOOK REVIEWS where you can see my old cover. They did a whole fun cover reveal with me back when! Oh, if they only knew how fickly I am!

 Oh, old cover. It was totally my fault you went off-genre.

This new cover is by Earthly Charms, and I SO love it!!!

MR. REAL: Short description:

A lonely girl uses an occult computer program to bring a sexy spy from a TV ad to life; the actor who plays the character  - and has come to hate him – is not amused.
It's  out on October 30. More info here!! 


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday!


From Mr. Real....

Sir Kendall was so much more than a TV spy, so much more than the Denali spokesman. He was the ultimate dark stranger in a tuxedo, a magnificent male animal whose blue eyes twinkled with secrets as he lingered in dark doorways. Sir Kendall exuded a predatory charm; his sense of entitlement was arrogant, and slightly humorous—you would give him exactly what he wanted, and you would give it breathlessly. And you knew that giving Sir Kendall exactly what he wanted would be an unforgettable experience.
And that’s when it hit her: A sexy visit from Sir Kendall…it was totally within her reach now!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Hallowed Ones: Interview + lightning giveaway!


I've been so excited about THE HALLOWED ONES, the debut YA novel by author and pal Laura Bickle featuring an Amish heroine fighting terrifying vampires. And yesterday was her release day! And today she's here. 

A bit about the book: 

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.

 
Welcome, Laura! 


CC: Laura, first, congratulations on the great reviews! All I hear is that it’s just riveting and scary and exciting and impossible to put this book down.

LB: Thanks so much! I’m over the moon to hear that folks are enjoying it!

CC: I think it’s interesting and dramatic that you have this Amish character, Katie, battling chaos and evil. Especially because I think of Amish settlements as places of great quiet and order, quite the opposite of chaos and monsters.

LB:  The chaos/order dichotomy is a key theme in the story. Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time when she can experiment a bit with the outside world. She wants to explore controlled chaos, the kind of exhilaration that we all want with pushing limits and determining what risks are good ones. It’s the bright side of chaos that makes us feel alive.

Instead, the outside world is overtaken by chaos. Katie’s community is a safe haven, but she knows that evil and silence are waiting beyond her fence. She learns bit and pieces of the story of what happened, but can’t know for sure.

And order does have a dark side. The Elders of Katie’s community fear contagion and declare that no one is allowed in or out of their land. Katie becomes aware of the constraints of order as she questions rules that disturb her own moral compass.

CC: Do you have an attraction to spaces of order?

LB:  I think there’s something very comforting about order. I crave it, but rarely achieve it. I mean, my desk is a disaster area.

CC: Is there something protective about Katie’s Amishness, or is it more about who she is?  

LB: Being Amish, Katie is a very quietly strong girl. Her background has given her a great deal of pragmatism and inner fortitude, and these are qualities she’ll need in order to survive.

CC: They say that fiction is more honest than non-fiction in many ways. I think that’s true. What’s most honest bit in this book?

LB: There’s a line that I love. It’s spoken by one of the older Amish women as she and Katie take on some difficult, gruesome tasks: “God smiles upon those who quietly do His dirty work.” The underlying lesson for Katie is that one’s actions prove one’s character. 

CC: Are you surprised by how people find THE HALLOWED ONES super scary, or did you go for that?

LB: I did intend for THE HALLOWED ONES to have a traditional horror vibe. Katie has to do some tough things because no one else can or will. I wanted the violence to have a purpose in forging a strong heroine…so I don’t recommend it for the easily-squicked.

The creatures that Katie must battle are nasty monsters. They want to devour pretty much everything they touch. I think that there’s something atavistic about the fear of contagion and of death, and I wanted Katie to feel that fully.

CC: As a fellow animal lover, I think you’ll understand why I’m asking this question: Katie raises puppies to make spending money. Do any dogs or puppies get hurt?

LB: Gah! No. If I even contemplated it, I’d be smothered to death by the cats that own me.

CC: Ravens figure into this tale. Can you say a bit about that?

LB: As an Amish girl, Katie is very connected to the natural world. One of the first signs she receives that something has gone terribly wrong in the world is the ravens – they leave in a great, thunderous black cloud.

There’s a legend about the Tower of London…that if the ravens ever leave, then the kingdom will fall. As a result, there are some ravens that are kept there with their wings clipped.

But it makes you wonder if there’s something the animals know that people don’t.

CC: Does this series follow your heroine, Katie, through all the books, and how many do you have planned?

LB: There will be two books. The second one, THE OUTSIDE, is also told from Katie’s perspective. It will be released by Houghton Mifflin Graphia in spring 2013.  

More about the book here. Excerpt here

LIGHTNING GIVEAWAY! 
Up for grabs: one copy of THE HALLOWED ONES, (print or ebook); print available wherever the Book Depository ships (which I believe is the whole world, so international) or in digital form, from the vendor of your choice, assuming they have a way to give it as a gift. 

Rules: 
  1. International okay. 
  2. Your email should be on your comment or I should be able to click to it from your name. 
  3. To be entered, you must make a real comment on the interview or answer this question: What about you would a scary vampire have to fear most? 
  4. Contest ends Thursday morning CST a few minutes after I turn on my computer.