Can covers really affect the sales of books?
Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Read this and make a comment.

Never, Never, Never Give Up

It had to be the worst book cover I’d ever seen.

A young, lovely, curvy woman, getting her boobs cupped from a guy who stood behind her as he nuzzled her neck. Her jeans were barely above her see-you-next-Tuesday line and her come hither smirk told anyone looking at the cover that there would be sex a-plenty in this story.
The problem with that, there was hardly any sex in this story, but how would I know that? Because the story was mine.
When I first wrote Worth the Weight, I knew I’d written the best contemporary romance in the history of the romance genre and the best romance deserved a fantastic cover, right?
I looked at the screen again, seeing the woman, the man, and the cupping and I couldn’t do anything but sob.
This isn’t my story.
I called everyone I could think of to ask their advice. One of them was none other than my critique partner, Desiree Holt.
“What am I going to do?” I cried. “It sucks. It totally sucks.”
“Yep, it does,” she answered. “So what do you want to do?”

I didn’t know. I had no idea what to do. I wanted my story in print so badly and yet, I just knew if I let this cover on my baby, it would fail miserably.
Desiree added, “If you want to get published, you’re going to have to have some crappy covers. I know this sucks, but you can accept the cover or pull your book.”

Sucky and suckier—great choices.
I tried to talk to my editor, tell her how the book didn’t match the cover. Her response? “We know what we’re doing. The cover stays.”

After a bottle of wine and a box of Kleenex later, I thought I would suck it up and keep the cover. Ironically, rumors of the publisher filing bankruptcy started circling over the loops and again I asked Desiree for help. “Pull your book,” she told me.
So I did and for years, my book sat there.
The economy tanked and publishers weren’t taking chances on new writers as much as they were before.
I looked over the book again, revised it, and revised it again. I entered it in a few contests and it won one. The agent requested the full manuscript, but never even acknowledged she received the file. Again, a dead end.

Is this book ever going to be sold? Am I just a glutton for punishment? Am I simply nuts to be a writer, especially in a down economy?

About the time I started thinking I should just throw in the towel, walk away, I attended one of my writer’s group meetings. Again, a wonderful friend, Desiree, handed me a refrigerator magnet with Never, Never, Never give up—Winston Churchill on it.
It’s what I needed to keep pushing myself forward. I worked on other stories, kept submitting to critique groups, and continued to push forward.

By this time, I’d revised Worth the Weight and pitched it to a new publisher. Within six weeks, I’d sold it to Soulmate Publishing.
Now, being in the second round of edits, I get my book cover and it’s lovely.
Although it’s been a long journey, it seems my momentum hasn’t wained. My editor wants the next two books as well as another series I wrote while waiting for my first baby to be sold.
Everyday, I see that refrigerator magnet and know no matter how hard things get, no matter how frustrated I feel or how badly book covers might suck, good things do happen for those who weight…I mean wait.
Worth the Weight will be released November 14th, 2012 from Soulmate Publishing.

WITH A BRAND NEW COVER, OF COURSE!

 Excerpt:


        

Chapter One

Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem—Eric Hoffer
 January 2nd—Saturday
Ever end up in a bathroom stall, in the men’s room, wearing your wedding dress on your wedding day?

“Are you okay in there?” A low voice echoed off the white tiles that decorated the room from floor to ceiling.

I could taste the salt from my tears, as I tried to answer without sobbing … again. “Si.” I followed it with a quick, “Yes, I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Um, because you’re in the men’s room.”

“I know.”

He cleared his throat. “You’re in drag … that’s cool.”

“Nope, just a bad day.” I lied through sobs.

My sticky hands still bore the result of a quick get–away. When I grabbed my steering wheel during my escape, I discovered it covered with Vaseline. It certainly made gripping the wheel frustrating. With nothing to wipe my hands on, I’d turned into the first place I found.

A full service car wash.

After deciding on the quick wash, I’d handed over the keys to the attendant and made a beeline to the bathroom, but didn’t bother looking at the sign. It wasn’t until I’d locked myself in the stall, the urinals registered. But before I could leave, I’d heard a cough.

“You sure you’re okay?”

I tried to clean my palms with toilet paper, but the one–ply shredded in my hands. “Dammit. I’m fine. Just peachy.”

“Okay.” The sound of running water helped end the conversation and gave me a minute to collect my thoughts, remembering what transpired not half an hour earlier.

There I was, back in the church, the scene of my disaster.

“Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?” the man in the starched collar asked.

I answered.

The sparkle in my fiancé’s eyes faded before it dawned on me that something had gone very wrong. He stared at me.

“Did you say no?”

I blinked a few times. “What?”

Glancing sideways through my veil, I saw the pastor biting his lip.

“Did you ask me something?”

“Yes. I. Did.” His enunciation of each word, with staccato precision, made my brothers snicker.

Images of the drunk sister in Sixteen Candleswent through my mind as he continued. “Do you.” He pointed to me. “Megan Antonia Sayla, take this man.” He looked at, “Travis Michael Joseph Daniel Carter, to be—“

Travis’ mother cleared her throat. “The fourth.”

“Right.” The minister looked up, mumbled something, then returned to the service. “Travis Michael Joseph Daniel Carter. The fourth.” He smiled in her direction. “To be your lawfully wedded husband?”

I could feel the corners of my mouth lift as I took a deep breath, gazed into Travis’ eyes, and replied, “No.”

Yeah, I heard it that time. “Crap.”

Travis dropped my hands.

“What?” Mom screamed.

“Holy shit.” Dad stood up.

“I toll you, this not work. He not Italian.” My Italian grandmother, Nonna, crossed herself and started saying Hail Mary’s in her native tongue, as her husband, Nonno, woke momentarily, then fell back to sleep.

“Mama. Zitto, per favore.” Turning to his mother, my dad placed his hands on her shoulders and eased her back into the pew. “Be quiet.”

Mom’s Danish parents, we affectionately call her Bedste and him Morfar, began to speak to each other in their birth language, saying things like “What the hell just happened here?, Should we call the caterer?”, and “Can you freeze all that rice pudding?”

With all the sudden chaos, I don’t remember much until I ended up in this car wash bathroom talking to a total stranger. I shivered as a gust of frigid, January air whipped through the room. Looking up, I noticed a row of open windows.

The water stopped running and the automatic paper towel dispenser hummed.

“How do I get out of this?” I rubbed my arms with my hands in an attempt to get warm. “Now what do I do?”

A low, masculine chuckle brought me back to reality. “Probably need to get out of the men’s room, first.”

I leaned against the cold, tiled wall and deeply inhaled the cool, lemon–scented air. “Did you ever have one of those days you wish you could start over?”

Silence.

“Are you talking on the phone or to me?”

“You.” Don’t ask what possessed me to talk to a stranger. Being in that stall, I blurted out, “I feel like I’m at confession, so just go with me on this.”

He laughed this time, his rich voice resonating. “That’s a first.”

“What?”

“For me to be referred to as a priest.”

“Seems like a day of firsts. This is the first time I left a man at the altar. The first time I’ve been in the men’s room.”

“Busy day for both of us, especially me, now being a priest and all.”

Silence filled the room, again. When he said nothing else, I assumed he’d decided to leave, until I heard, “What’s troubling you, my child?”

“Seriously?” Did he really want to know? Why? Was he really a priest?

“Sure, unless you’re not Catholic. Then you’re better off going to therapy or drinking.”

I crossed myself. “Forgive me Father, it’s been six months since my last confession.”

“Is that a long time?”

“If you were a man of the cloth, you’d know that’s a horribly long time.”

“Touché.”

I suppressed a giggle. “It can be. Most people go weekly. Daily.”

“Geez, who has time for that much guilt?”

“Apparently, Catholics.”

“I guess I only know happy, guilt–free Catholics.”

“No Catholic is guilt–free. Guilt is part of the tradition.” And I felt plenty guilty today. I twisted the beading of my wedding dress between my fingers.

“You’re Catholic?” he asked.

“More like a Cathalutheran.”

He chuckled. “What’s that?”

“Catholic dad, Lutheran mom. We combined the two to get the best of both worlds.”

“Best of both worlds? Sounds very Hannah Montana–ish.” He cleared his throat. “My niece watches the show.”

“Right. During religious holidays, we have all the traditional food, but we pretend to ignore the sin of gluttony and gossip.” I bit my lip as my heart pounded in my ears. “Hence my six month absence from confession.”

“Right. I’m supposed to say something like ‘Six months? How many sins could you have committed in six months? Come back when,’ um … what does he say again?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Trying to remember how they did it in Zorro.”

My heart skipped a beat. “Which one? The one with Tyrone Powers or with Antonio Banderas?”

“Aren’t they the same? Girl in a box. Guy isn’t a priest. He’s making it up as he goes.”

“Yeah.”. Rarely had I met anyone who knew of the first talking Zorro movie, much less the confession scene. I smoothed down my dress. “Do you need help with the movie line? I’m pretty good at them.”

“No, wait. Next, he asked her if she’d broken any of the Ten Commandments.”

“Something like that.” The corners of my mouth rose. “Forgive me Father, I have broken the fourth commandment.”

“You killed someone?” His accent changed to the melodious sound of the Spanish actor.

“That is not the fourth commandment, Father.”

“Oh, okay. Tell me in what way you broke the most sacred of God’s commandments?”

My parents’ faces flashed across my mind, my brothers, my family. A sob rose in my throat. “I dishonored my mother and father today.”

“That’s not so bad. Maybe they deserved it.”

“What?” I shook my head as I placed my hands over my mouth in an attempt to keep from losing it, again, but tears ran down my cheeks. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Tell me more, my child.”

“I … I don’t know what to say.” I depleted a roll of toilet paper as I tried to dry my face. After a few moments, I realized he’d been silent for a while. “You still there?”

“Yes. This is when he sees her through the screen, isn’t it?”

“Yeah?”

He cleared his throat. “I don’t think you want me looking between the stall doors.”

His chivalry surprised me. “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.”

“It’s at the end of the scene before the captain of the guards shows up and screws it up.”

“Yeah, he’s a good bad guy.”

I took a deep breath as I tried to think. He may not want to look through the doors, but I’m generally nosy. No matter what this guy looked like, I was too curious to walk away without seeing his face. Kindness from a stranger had been an unexpected gift in my chaotic day. I needed to put a face with the voice.





Are you getting ready to be naughty?
Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Note: Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of a book from my backlist. I’ll be picking three winners.  

Okay, everyone. The  big dates are getting closer. Dates for what, you say? Why it’s the Naughty Sleepover, February 22-24, hosting by the Sassy Seven Authors. The weekend begins with a Decadent Chocolate Hour (sponsored by Decadent Publishing, of course!) that actually runs all evening and proceeds next day through a discussion with a Dom, a “special toys” party and male dancers in the evening. (Think Chippendales.) Plus we have two very special hunks who will be your hosts for the weekend.

All in good fun and a chance to go wild in a friendly environment. Check it out at www.sassyseven.com/naughty_sleepover. We even have a payment plan for registration so your budget is safe.
We even wrote a series where all the stories are based at The Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, where our Naughty Sleepover is being held in February 2013. Each heroine has her own Naughty Sleepover. And all begin in the historic bar where Teddy Roosevelt met with his Rough Riders.

All the stories are now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all the other usual virtual bookstores. So buy the stories, register for the Naughty Sleepover, and prepare to have the wildest ride of your life. 

Sugar Girl by Nicole Austin 

A guy walks into a bar… And finds the girl he shouldn’t have left behind. Their differences kept Candy and Jeremiah apart until finally, the road lead them back where they belong. But in the harsh light of the morning after can she really hold on to a shooting star? 

 Say Yes by Regina Carlysle 

All work and no play is no way to live and J.D. Stone aims to change that after a chance meeting at the Menger Hotel. When the lonely rancher meets sassy photographer, Melissa Bell, the sparks fly and passions burn hot enough to incinerate them both. 

Spank ’Em Cowboy by Samantha Cayto 

Tara hopes to survive her sister’s wedding without a wardrobe malfunction. Rob spots the voluptuous filly and cuts her from the herd. And when she craves someone to take the reins, he knows he’s the right man to saddle her up for the ride of her life. 

 More Than You Know by Cerise DeLand 

One redhead. One bartender. Lots of laughter. A desire so tender that the sheets they burn up together could set the hotel on fire. But can he intrigue a woman who’s older? What if he never lets her out of bed? Will she still want him tomorrow? 

 Overnight Sensation by Desiree Holt 

Pulled together in a crowd by an instant attraction, Abbie and Sam are powerless against the incendiary combustion that consumes them and turn a chance meeting into an overnight sensation 

 Blame it on Texas by Allie Standifer 

Everything’s supposed to be bigger and better in Texas, right? Sexy plus size model Serena Morgan isn’t convinced until Texas country star Kale Winters takes her in a night of passion. Come morning will Kale convince Serena he’s the real deal or Blame it on Texas? 



 When a Lady Meets a King by Brenna Zinn 

Lady Pembrook went to great lengths, traveling thousands of miles and assuming a false identity to satisfy her fantasy of a one-night stand with a real Texas cowboy. But when a mysterious stranger in dark sunglasses threatens to expose her scandalous behavior, a handsome King comes to the rescue. 

And it won an award!!!
Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Did you read Cerise Deland’s Rope Me In? You don’t know what you’re missing. Here’s a taste of the book that won a Superstar Award at Ellora’s Cave’ recent RomantiCon.

Knights in Black Leather, Book One

In Bravado, Texas, the men are good and plenty…and lonely.

Not inclined to remain horny bachelors, the three MacRae brothers devise a plan to find one fine woman and get the good lovin’ they deserve. One gander at the new gal in town, charming Cara Ford, and the cowboys decide to do some old-fashioned courting. Then they’ll offer her a thoroughly modern deal—all three of them, just for luscious, lovely her.

Cara has returned to Bravado to rebuild her life after cutting the cord to her self-centered husband. One man was a pain. Why would she want to tie herself to three ranchers known for their wildcattin’, no matter how sexy?

Undeterred, Jed, Harry and Will rope her into their daily lives, sweet-talk her into sharing their torrid nights, and set out to convince her that three hard-lovin’ men in bed is better than one.

Excerpt:

“Tell me, how’d you like the new bathroom?” Harry struck up a conversation as the showdown round began.

“Distracting me?” she teased. “Hang on. Let me hear your calls.” Cara drummed her fingers on the table, nigh unto tasting her win. The last to reveal her five-card hand, she waited while the men deliberated their moves.

Dinner had been the best time she’d had with men in months. Hell, years. They were funny, dear, easy with each other. And her. She caught their surreptitious glances at her cleavage too. The attention was thrilling. Her body seemed to hum with the attention. Her mind, fully engaged, had only occasionally noted the wild rain drilling down on the roof. She still wore Jed’s robe, a necessity or close to it. Beneath it she had put on her white lace bra and matching panties. So what if her breasts seemed like twice the size and hard as concrete with the sly little looks of appreciation she got from the men?

Damn good thing she had gotten a decent deal with her first two cards. Even now she waited breathless, not wanting the evening to end, but tickled that she could show them her talent at cards. Maybe they’d invite her back for a rematch and she could teach them a few things. Even funny Harry who disclaimed any slyness.

They each played cards with humor. Will gave no tells. Poker-faced was a term that fit him. Quiet, he concentrated on the cards and the board like a laser. Jed, on the other hand, tried very hard not to give away his thoughts. His efforts at diplomacy showed in a savoir faire attitude that told her he was anxious. Harry had other things on his mind. Her. She stifled a giggle. He concentrated on her robe and the boost her bra gave her breasts.

“Earth to Harry,” Jed called to him. “What’s your bet?”

Harry grumbled, then threw in five pennies.

Jed snorted. Threw in ten.

“High finance,” Will grunted and scratched his cheek as he deliberated.

“Yeah,” Jed chimed in. “What do you think of our bathroom design?”

“Well,” she began with the aspect that had captured her most about it. “It’s certainly big enough for the three of you.”

“Smart cookie,” Harry said. “Did you make use of the jets and the hand showers?”

Her cheeks flamed. Her chest rose and fell with rapid breaths. Could they know that she had pleasured herself in there? That the room was made for decadent pleasure? Of course they would suspect. They were savvy about women. And me.And I’ve just spent the last few hours enveloped in their charming company. They designed the bathroom in sumptuous style. Why not for the three of them to enjoy with one woman or more?

She licked her lips, long and slow. “Do you have parties in there?”

Very smart cookie,” Harry praised her and crossed his arms.

“We’re waiting for the right time,” Will confessed, blunt as ever.

“And the right person to enjoy it with,” Harry elaborated, his gaze locked on hers, the implication that the only woman he meant to invite to that room was her.

She absorbed that. One second. Two seconds. Thr—

She stood, pushing back her chair so violently it teetered on its back legs. Her robe—Jed’s robe—gaped open but her mind was in the gorgeous bathroom, the shower, the chaise, the possibilities of having a party in there. Naked. Wet. With one of them. Two of them? All of them?

Jed threw down his cards.

Will moaned.

Harry just admired her display, his eyes burning every part of her, sending her up in flames that scorched and told her what he wanted from her.

Was she scared or tempted? Teasing them or testing them?

Yes, Harry had forced the issue. The storm wouldn’t last forever. And as he had said, he was not a patient man.

Was she a patient woman? Should she be?

She was nearly naked and the opportunity to have them all to herself to fire her up, make them all burn together brightly could never be more perfect.

But she grabbed the front of the robe, tugged it closed and fled toward the bathroom.

If you can read this, the witch fell off…
Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Get the pun? The real biker shirt would say “If you can read this, the bitch fell off.” The second seat on motorcycles is (in biker speak) the bitch seat. Part of me cringes at the sexiest attitude. Yet I couldn’t not write this book…maybe because it’s a little taboo. When I conceived Four Bikers & A Witch, book 3 in the Warrior’s Craft series, I seriously paused and wondered if it was wrong, right or crazy. Because I was intrigued, I knew I had to write it. Bikers fighting zombies with the help of a witch! Biker culture, real biker culture, is very male dominated and rough. (Obviously, this is not all biker groups or people who ride.) Women who are in this culture are drawn to the tough men. In erotic romance, we often deal with heroines who want something that society says is wrong. Sexual submission, bondage fantasies, or the baddest of bad boys etc… So what if you were raised in this biker culture? That’s what sparked the story.

Blurb: Valerie grew up in the Vegas biker culture, seeing the tempting and dark side. Now a nurse, she can’t escape her past. Axle and Rebel Herth were kicked out of the biker gang as teens and, along with their boyfriends, run a motorcycle shop. They’ve wanted Val for years, but she won’t date anyone in the biker world. They need her witch talents to help them fight the zombies that are plaguing Vegas. Val’s best with potions but the sex spell intrigues her. She learns the ropes of fighting zombies, and rides motorcycles like a pro as her potion brews, but can she let her sexual guard down with the guys? Rough sex and dirty talk with four men who can easily overpower her is a huge turn on! How far will she go now that she’s hooked on these bikers fighting for good? Read an Excerpt: http://www.changelingpress.com/content.php?utype=note&uid=5859 Check out the whole series: http://www.changelingpress.com/catalog.php?upt=book&ufilter=series&sid=366 What I love about this series is that I can dip into a group of people or a different city and play! Cowboys, Bikers, and coming soon: GIs! Geeks! Inkers! Is there some group of men you’d like to see fighting for good and falling for a witch? Check out everything and find me at www.cheryldragon.com

What will it take to heal two desperate souls?
Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

 A warm welcome to Maggie Jamieson and her very emotional love story, Healing Notes. And check out the cover flat below. Maggie will be awarding it to one lucky commenter.
Healing Notes

by Maggie Jaimeson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Forgiving yourself is the first step, but helping others forgive may be just too hard.

Rachel Cullen grew up in Scotland with a fiddle in her hand from the age of four. She couldn’t imagine life as anything but a musician. When her husband brought her to America she was immediately embraced by the Celtic and Bluegrass communities. But after her divorce, Rachel’s life is a mess.

A year of trying to prove to herself that she’s woman enough for any man, and then a vicious rape while on tour with the band, leaves Rachel reeling. When she meets Noel Kershaw, an English teacher who is poetry in motion, she is definitely attracted. But he has a young child and he’s suffering from his own divorce. The last thing Rachel needs in life is more baggage.

First, Rachel must reconcile who she is, what she wants, and how to get there. Maybe then she’ll know how to be a part of the family she’s always wanted.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt:

After she hung up, Rachel stared out at the river behind the house. She had goose bumps along her arms. She could listen to his voice for a long, long time. Why did this man intrigue her so much? Was it just because he didn’t seem interested? Yes, that must be it.  He was safe. He had a kid and he wasn’t interested.  That meant they wouldn’t get involved.

All conversation stopped as she entered the room and the women looked at her in anticipation. She had the urge to say nothing just to be difficult.

“Soooooo, who’s Noel?” Kat took the receiver from her. “I liked his voice. Sounded real sexy.”

Rachel took a deep breath and pasted a nonchalant smile on her face. “Remember the little girl at the last concert who wanted my autograph? Noel is her father.”

“I see.” Theresa drew out the word as an invitation for more.

“It’s not what you think. It turns out the little girl wants fiddle lessons. Since she saw us play, she’s gotten it in her mind that she wants to learn.  He had no idea who to call, so he thought he’d call the main number for the band to find me. He didn’t even think I gave lessons, just that I could make a recommendation.”

“Uh huh,” Michele said, a note of disbelief in her voice.

“But he is cute, right?” Kat insisted. “And you are interested, and something could be going on, right?”

“Wrong.”

“Ah, come on, Rachel.  How can you not be interested in that voice?”

“It’s just fiddle lessons for the little girl.  The girl is sweet. I’m happy to work with her. As for the father, nothing is going to happen. Believe me.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Maggie Jaimeson writes romantic women’s fiction and romantic suspense with a near future twist. She describes herself as a wife, a step-mother, a sister, a daughter, a teacher and an IT administrator. By day she is “geek girl” – helping colleges to keep up with 21st century technology and provide distance learning options for students in rural areas. By night Maggie turns her thoughts to worlds she can control – worlds where bad guys get their comeuppance, women triumph over tragedy, and love can conquer all.

HEALING NOTES is the second book in the Sweetwater Canyon Series of four books.  The final two books will be available in 2013.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com

Blog: http://maggiemeandering.blogspot.com

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820

Twitter: @maggiejaimeson