Friday, May 24, 2013

How about some drinks recommended by Dracula?

That's right, you heard me. I've got a brand new release, but this post isn't all about promo. Plus, it's Memorial Day Weekend. So, I thought I would share a few recipes to help you party harder.

Before I get to the drinks, I'd like to thank all my dedicate fans who have been waiting for this book. This is book four in the Lilith Mercury Werewolf Hunter series. I am grateful for every single email or Facebook post that asked when the next book was coming out. I am thrilled to know you wanted to read it that much. :) So, without further ado, here are the details on Original Sin.

Peter was Lilith's first love--and the first person to call her a monster. Despite their past, Lilith would save him if she could, but when Peter is infected with lycanthropy and becomes determined to challenge Marco for the position of lupinus regalis, wolf king, she faces a hard choice. 

Warning: This book contains graphic sex, graphic violence, and graphic language. No werewolves were harmed in the making of this book.

I'm also very proud of the way the cover turned out for this one. I smile every time I look at it. In my mind (as I worked on the cover) this image represents the first time Lilith mentions Marco in Book One of the series (Red), when she saw him standing outside in the rain. Very symbolic and drool-worthy. Ha. Ha.

Now, why drink recipes and why Dracula? Well, because Dracula is also a character in the Lilith Mercury series. In this installment, he opens a club called Original Sin. When I first wrote Original Sin, I also wrote a complete menu for the club. I even wrote all the Laws of Vampiric Tolerance  They aren't things that are just referenced in the series. I actually wrote them out so I would know what I was talking about later.

So, in the name of fun and a good celebration this Memorial Day Weekend, I thought I would share some of the drinks that are mentioned in Original Sin. All ingredients should be mixed to taste. Have fun!

Kat drinks this one - 

Busted Cherry: Blackberry Infused Vodka, Godiva Liqueur & Cherry Juice

Elijah drinks this one - 

Tryst: Everclear, Jolt cola

Bade drinks this one - 

Tie Me To The Bedpost: Coconut Rum, Midori, Citrus Vodka & Lime Juice

Bade and Lilith drink this together. That's right, Bade and Lilith are drinking together.

Rough Trade: Vodka, Strawberry liqueur, Orange juice

And of course, the clubs signature drink.

Original Sin: White rum, Apricot brandy, Lemon juice, Superfine sugar, Grenadine

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Be careful what company you keep

Today marks my 500th blog post. (Yay!) In honor of that accomplishment, I wanted to offer what I felt like was good (and easy to follow) advice.

I just read a friend's post on Facebook about meeting with their author group. They said how this was a great thing for them and I was a bit envious. Ha. Ha. There are literally NO writer/author groups in my area (to my knowledge) that are worth a crap. I know of two and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone.

In the beginning when you first get published, it's tempting to run out and join a writing group. I think everyone wants to find people who will support and encourage them. My advice? Don't do that.

I'm not saying there aren't good groups out there. Sure there are. They just aren't around me. We can only judge by our own experience and here is what I found in the two writer's groups I attempted to be a part of.

The first was at one of the Universities where I used to work. I joined this group because I had always had an interest in writing and knew that I would someday pursue writing as a career. I thought I could learn something.

In this group everyone would sit around and read their latest poetry or short story and then ask for feedback from the group. That was how it was supposed to go. What really happened? The leader of the group was full of himself and barely gave anyone else a chance to speak. He was rude and criticized everyone else's work when his own wasn't up to par. This was basically a chance to sit around and bitch and read emo poetry. It was a complete waste of time, but I kept up my membership for a little while. As soon as I became published, they disowned me. Everyone was jealous that I succeeded and reached the first of my career goals. They acted as if I and my accomplishment didn't exist. In the last publication they put out (at the University) they didn't even list me as a member. You would think they'd be proud of me, right? I never went back.

My second experience with a writer's group was in my hometown. I got a nice invitation in the mail asking me to attend their next meeting. I've known the librarian in town (where the meeting was held) since I was a kid. She is a sweet lady and was probably responsible for my invite.

What happened there? Another published author was in attendance and I accidentally stole her show. She was also from the same town, but had long since moved away. She writes more traditional romance. After the main part of her speech was over people started to ask questions. Since I had been introduced, a few of these questions were directed at me instead of her. Some of the others in the group seemed fascinated to find that not only did I not use an agent, but I had published more books in 3 years than this other author had in 10 years.

That was not my fault. I didn't ramble on. I politely answered and tried to turn things back over to her. Still, I was snubbed when I attempted to speak to her afterward. Bitch. She acted like she was above speaking to anyone except the lady who had invited her.

Afterward, I went to dinner with the group while she disappeared. She was also "too good" to eat with us. I thought things went well as everyone seemed to enjoy asking me questions. But guess what? I was never invited back. Despite the fact that I have published even more novels now and gotten a few awards.

I suppose my point is, you don't have to belong to a group if you don't want to. Don't let yourself feel pressured. You've got enough to do without worrying about going to meetings, right? If being a part of a group feels right and is helpful to you, then go for it. But if it isn't, don't stress over it. Also, just because a group of people claim to be a writer's group, doesn't mean they give a damn about you and your writing.

So, what do I do for support? I have a few friends who are writers. I talk to and confide in them. I trust their opinions. I have an editor and writing partner who works with me on all my books, especially my indie titles. She is a great person and a close friend. She can look me right in the face and tell me something sounds stupid without hurting my feelings. Why? Because she isn't a bitch and I know she has my best interest at heart. It also helps that she doesn't try to read me any emo poetry.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Amazon, stress, and low sales

Many of you may have heard of Amazon blocking erotica (and erotic romance) from it's "All Category Search." After learning of this, I changed the categories on almost all of my books. The result? I've experienced an extreme drop in sales!

So, I went back today and changed them all to their original categories. If Amazon chooses to label these books as "adult" and exclude them from general searches, so be it. I was reaching more of my intended audience when the books were in the proper category. Even though my stories are "romance," putting them in that category (that is overcrowded already) made them disappear. 

Hopefully, sales will improve after these changes go into effect. 

I've also been stressing (and trying desperately not to) about the fact that I no longer have any sales to speak of on any other sites. Amazon has become the ONLY place that I make any money. Has anyone else experienced this? I make a little bit on Barnes & Noble, but my sales have never been high there. I make almost nothing on Smashwords; that hasn't changed. And most months I make nothing at all on All Romance Ebooks. I used to earn nearly as much there each month as I did on Amazon. That really bothers me, because I don't understand the change. I have no way of finding any data to know why this drastic change happened. Is no one shopping there? Are all authors noticing a decline in sales? Or do I just suck?

All I know to do is move forward. I've even considered pulling my books from other sites to enroll them in the Kindle Select Program once more. However, KDP had no real benefit that I found, other than being able to run specials on your books, like giving them away for free. I never noticed that this increased sales in the slightest. So, that idea may be worthless. Plus, I'd have to go to the trouble of pulling my books from other sites. Bleh. I don't know what to do.

I fully believe in the Law of Attraction. I believe that you get what you expect to get. I also believe that if you focus on negative things, you will attract more negative things into your life. Therefore, I'm going to post this blog and focus on something that makes me feel great, like my next book. 

I'm going to do something that makes me smile, focus on that, and try not to worry about how I'm going to pay my bills. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Amazon may consider your books porn

It seems there is always something or someone trying to persecute those who write or enjoy reading (or both) erotic romance.

Lately, all the buzz is about Amazon and their new search "feature." Apparently, when you do an "All Department Search" erotica is being filtered out.

Right off the bat I can tell you that is a terrifying prospect to me. It's also offensive to be thrown into the category of porn. My books have sexual content. So do a lot of movies, games, and TV shows. They aren't considered porn, and my books shouldn't be either. I've read several horror writers who include sex in their books. They aren't being excluded from searches. Why? Maybe it has something to do with the category of erotica?

Now I mentioned this was terrifying to me. That's because I do this for a living. I have no other job. I write. I use my income from royalties to pay my bills. I also earn the majority of my income from Amazon sales. You see where I'm going with this? It's scary.

I wonder if this will blow over. Will writers like myself continue to be able to make a living? I sure as hell hope so. It's pretty well known that erotica was a driving force for Kindle sales. At long last, people could read romance novels without anyone seeing the cover and judging them for it. Surely, Amazon realizes this?

I know several people, men and women, who were thrilled to be able to read a BDSM novel without anyone knowing. One of my friends sat at the dentist office reading as he called it, "straight-up kink" and no one knew. THIS is what sold the kindle. Sexual content. Period.

And now, after all that, WE are getting filtered? My books are not porn! There are many novels in other genres who have just as much sex in them as my books do. Is it because my stories have a happy ending that I'm getting the shaft? (Yes, the pun is totally intended.)

Besides being scary, treating erotica writers this way is just plain bad business. We make Amazon a lot of money.

Back in the day, books used to only be filtered (or excluded from searches) if there was nudity on the cover. For that reason, none of my covers have naked people. I thought I had this Amazon thing figured out.

As I was composing this blog post, I read another post that answered a question I really wanted to know. You can no longer put your book in both "Erotica" and "Romance" categories. Additionally, the category "Erotic Romance" puts your book in erotica.

Seriously? I'm going to Amazon right now to change my categories. I don't think that's an option if your books are already considered "ADULT". Once a work is considered "erotic," it stays that way. Naturally, huge traditionally published books like 50 Shades get the option to change their category. But not the little guys.

I searched for my books on Amazon in the "All Department Search" and only one was excluded, Diary of an Incubus. Yes, it has been slapped with the ugly ADULT label.

While I figure out what to do about that, I'm going to pause blogging and go change the categories of my other books. Hey, Amazon didn't bother to tell us they were doing this filter crap. Why should I play nice? I need to make a living here.

*after changing categories*

Okay, now ALL my books are in different categories besides Erotica. Here's what I did with mine.

Necromancer - Horror, Romance Paranormal

Wicked City - Romance, Fantasy

Eden - Paranormal, Fantasy

Bitten - Romance paranormal, horror

The Eternal Kiss - Paranormal, short stories

The Dread Moon - Paranormal, Horror

Object of My Affection - Paranormal, Horror

Red - Paranormal, horror

Frank and The Werewolf Tamer - Fantasy, Romance paranormal

I hope this works. My fear is that changing the categories will actually make my books harder to find. But if the filer might have been preventing them being found ... hell, I don't know.

I changed the category of Diary of an Incubus to Romance, Paranormal. If it's being filtered for the cover, then screw Amazon. I've seen a lot worse.

I would like to say that this will blow over and everything will be okay. But the truth is I don't know what will happen. I'm trying to stay positive. Maybe changing these categories will help MORE readers find me.

Whatever happens, I will survive, and so will you.