We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year at my house! And can I just tell ya how many people were like–”but we need a real turkey!”
Yes, I’m a vegetarian. No, that doesn’t mean you get a fake turkey…
In fact, I’ve enlisted my sister and brother-in-law to make TWO turkeys, and from what I hear they are going ALL out! And everyone that’s coming is bringing something delicious that they love to have every year.
So what, you may ask, am I making???
Here’s my Thanksgiving menu…that everyone will be able to enjoy AFTER we play a friendly, family game of soccer
(my meat-eating friends have devoured these in the past)
(along w/some real cheese…)
Bread Bowl w/Hummus and Veggies
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Pumpkin and Caramelized Onion Baked Ziti
Asparagus, Portabella, Sundried Tomato & Grains served in a roasted butternut squash w/a savory lime/evoo sauce
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Vegan Sausage Stuffing
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Garlic & “Cheese” Bread
Herbed Pumpkin Knots
(from Oh She Glows)
Pumpkin Brownie Pie
Looking for a sweet, holiday treat? Check out my new novella release, A KILTED CHRISTMAS WISH.
A KILTED CHRISTMAS WISH is a sexy, contemporary novella of about 20,000 words.
Down on her luck with men, Darla Strider wonders if she’ll ever meet her own kilted hero. Considering she liv
es in present day New York City, the likelihood of that happening is nil. She’s certain only a Christmas wish could make her dreams come true. Until the day Aaron Sutherland walks into her café, and changes her whole world.
Leaving his pain in Scotland for life in the States, the last thing Aaron has in mind is hooking up with a city girl. But one look at Darla and she’s got him singing All I Want for Christmas is You.
I am so excited for you all to check out my good friend Laura Kaye’s new book, HARD AS IT GETS! I had a chance to read an early copy and it was AWESOME!!! She’s here today to talk about a thing we both love in addition to romance and hot heroes–CHOCOLATE!!!
Five Favorite Chocolates
I’m thrilled to be at my good friend Eliza Knight’s place today celebrating the release of my new book, Hard As It Gets, the first in the Hank Ink series. This series has ex-military guys, a tattoo parlor, intrigue, mystery, a kick-ass heroine, and a three-legged dog. And it also has a couple of sexy scenes caused by chocolate. LOL! So, first, I’m sharing my own personal favorite chocolates, and then second, I’m sharing an excerpt in which chocolate is featured.
My favorite chocolates include:
1) Snickers. This candy has always been my absolute favorite. And, really, any chocolate paired with caramel ranks pretty high for me.
2) Godiva chocolate. Godiva makes the best hot fudge you’ll ever have. And the best chocolate dip for strawberries. And incredible truffles. And…and…
3) Chocolate chips. I love the way they crunch, and enjoy them by themselves, in cookies, in ice cream, in muffins – you get the picture!
4) Chocolate ice cream. In pretty much any form, I love the chocolate frozen stuff!
5) Nutella. The delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread is incredible on pancakes and even better in crepes. Anything would probably be better with Nutella.
Becca opened the fridge and surveyed the shelves and drawers. After all, the last thing Nick had said to her before they’d gone their separate ways at bedtime was “Make yourself at home. What’s mine is yours.” Which had left her mind churning on exactly what the full practical application of that principle might include . . . But, at the very least, she assumed it included midnight raids on his fridge. One of her worst and most favorite habits.
But the contents primarily fell into one of four categories: beer, other drinks, restaurant takeout and general leftovers, and meat.
Wrinkling her nose, she closed the lower door and opened the upper one. Icy air blasted out as her gaze landed on a two-deep stack of ice cream tubs, the double chocolate fudge brownie catching her eye in particular.
“That’s more like it.” She pushed the door shut and turned to the counter.
Nick was standing like a silent phantom at the edge of the dim light. The half-gallon
container flipped out of her hands and did a triple somersault in the air before she dove for it at the same time Nick did.
They crashed and she shrieked, her hands flush against a mountain of bare, hard flesh, and the tub of ice cream fell at their feet. His arms came around her, his greater weight nearly knocking her over and making them stumble until he’d all but pinned her against the counter.
Time froze for an instant, then Becca burst out laughing, the ridiculousness of the past ten seconds growing in hilarity the more she thought about what had just happened. She covered her mouth with one hand as her head fell back and her laughter devolved into a series of choked chortles she couldn’t control. She gasped for breath, her forehead falling against Nick’s chest.
His chest. Holy crap, the man was half naked and she was touching him. Her hand. Her face. Her stomach against his. The details of their position finally registered in her sleep-deprived brain.
He was all over her.
Do you have a favorite chocolate?
Thanks for reading!
“Edgy, sexy, and full of suspense! A great read from a great new author!”
~J.R. Ward on Hard As It Gets
About Hard As It Gets:
Five dishonored soldiers.
Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.
Tall, dark, and lethal…
Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey’s tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome–pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He’s left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander’s daughter. Loyalty won’t let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.
With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn’t expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.
Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge…
Read an Extended Excerpt of Hard As It Gets
About Laura Kaye:
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.
Want to visit more stops along the HARD AS IT GETS tour? Click HERE
I love kilts, Christmas, chocolate, hot chocolate and even hotter heroes. Add all those together with heaping spoonful of love and you have my new Christmas novella–A KILTED CHRISTMAS WISH! (Oh and guess what??? The hero–Aaron Sutherland–is a descendant of the Sutherlands from my Stolen Bride series!)
Down on her luck with men, Darla Strider wonders if she’ll ever meet her own kilted hero. Considering she lives in present day New York City, the likelihood of that happening is nil. She’s certain only a Christmas wish could make her dreams come true. Until the day Aaron Sutherland walks into her café, and changes her whole world.
Leaving his pain in Scotland for life in the States, the last thing Aaron has in mind is hooking up with a city girl. But one look at Darla and she’s got him singing All I Want for Christmas is You.
Want to read an excerpt? How about all of Chapter One??? Enjoy!
Highlanders. Oh, she wished.
Darla Strider, hopeless romantic and cynical love hater, tossed the Scottish romance novel she’d been reading aside. Highlander’s Reward… Ultra alpha hero, fiercely loyal, powerful, hot body, good in bed, not to mention his kilt… When was she going to get her reward? The Scottish hero from the novel certainly wasn’t going to leap from the pages, long sexy hair flowing, sword glinting, eyes filled with desire and ask her out to dinner followed by mind-blowing sex—except in her fantasies. And in her fantasies, she would say, yes, a thousand times yes, throwing herself into his waiting, muscular arms.
Leaning an elbow on the counter of her gourmet deli and resting her chin in her hand, she gazed out the paned glass onto the busy, holiday-adorned Manhattan street. Any minute the lunchtime rush would begin. Thank goodness her chef was in today. With Amanda, her hostess/waitress, out sick, the counter was going to get crazy. Reading time was over for the next few hours. What did it matter, anyway? She was beginning to be overly bitter about romance and a reminder of that was the last thing she needed.
One miserable, failed date after another. A couple of meaningless relationships and a series of messy nights bumping uglies. Romance, for Darla, was dead.
What she wouldn’t give to have a Highlander walk through her door that very moment. At least a free year’s supply of her prized veggie and goat cheese panini. To hear his brogue stroke her like a caress while he told her how beautiful he thought she was. She smirked. For that, she’d throw in a daily glass of sangria.
Never going to happen.
She glanced over at the miniature Christmas tree tucked into the corner near the window. Stockings hung from its branches, all in the name of holiday cheer. A little bronzed Santa sat nestled in the branches, surrounded by twinkling white lights and silver tinsel.
“Santa,” she murmured. “Please bring me one of these Highland heroes for Christmas.”
Oh, God, now she was resorting to talking to inanimate objects. Hopeless.
The bell over the door dinged. Swiping her hands on her snowman-covered apron as she stood straight and plastered a smile on her face, Darla resisted the urge to gasp at the gorgeous man who walked through the entrance. Dressed in a dazzling fitted, charcoal-gray suit, with a light blue dress shirt and shiny black tie, he looked like he’d just walked off a billboard titled, Every Woman’s Dream. Dark hair, slightly on the longish side, clean shaven, chiseled features—and those eyes. Gray as storm clouds and just as unpredictable.
Darla swallowed her shock and cocked her head slightly. “Welcome to City Café,” she said, silently cursing the slight shake in her voice. She clutched her fingers together behind her back, then quickly brought them around front when she realized she’d thrust her breasts forward, too.
A delicious grin curled his lips and his eyes raked over her making Darla wish she’d chosen her good jeans today. The ones that made her butt look bootylicious instead of I-eat-too-much-chocolicious.
“Thanks,” he said.
Darla did a double-take, her mouth falling open at least an inch. She definitely detected some sort of accent. Her heart sped up and she gave a furtive glance at Santa. Sounded Scottish, but it was hard to decipher from one syllable. There was no way… She was delusional, that was all.
“Would you like to eat in or carryout?” she managed.
He studied her for a few skips of her heartbeat. There was a wicked glint in his eyes. The kind that would normally make her melt. Okay, fine. She admitted it, the way he was looking at her, she was bound to go boneless if he didn’t look away.
“I’d like a table,” he said.
Holy, fucking, Santa Claus!
The man spoke with the most discernible Scottish brogue. Knees going weak, Darla gripped the counter to hold herself up. She blinked, staring at him and then back at her Christmas tree. Was this a joke? No. Couldn’t be. Just a coincidence. A huge coincidence. No stars-aligning, tragic romance bull, just chance.
“Is that all right?” he asked, staring around the café when she didn’t respond.
The door opened, bell dinging, as a group of three walked in, dusting snow off their sleeves. The noise pulled her out of her trance, and Darla jerked into motion, grabbing a menu.
“Yes, yes, of course.” She skidded around the side of the counter and took him to the table closest to her—selfish really. She wanted the ability to stare at him while she worked. Ugh. Maybe she should convince him to take his order to go?
“Would you mind if I sat by the window?” He shrugged, having the adorable awareness to look charming. “Just got into town and I do love to people watch.”
Darla managed to find her wit somewhere buried beneath the shock and drool. She gave a throaty laugh—hi-fiving herself for being sexy. “I love people watching, too. No problem.”
She led him over toward the Christmas tree, glaring at Santa as she went. Not fair for him to play such a cruel joke on her. “How’s this?”
Lord, was he ever…
A clearing throat behind Darla reminded her the line was starting to build. She felt her face heat. She might as well just strip off her clothes right then and there and offer herself over to her hot customer.
Instead, she handed him the menu and said, “I’ll be back in a moment to take your order.”
“Thanks.” He smiled at her.
Not the usual, thanks for the menu now leave me alone smile. No, this was a charming, I want to ask you to dinner smile. And if he asked, she might just find it impossible to say no.
Darla whirled back toward the counter, practically running behind it. Her limbs were tingling, going numb and she could barely catch her breath. Just a coincidence she kept telling herself.
And no dates. Even if he oozed sex on a platter. She wasn’t going down that road again. Besides, she had a half dozen people in line to attend to. Daydreaming about Mr. Hot Scotsman was only going to ruin her business. A chance she couldn’t take. The café was all she had. Her family was scattered across the country, and it wasn’t like she was going to beg a couch to crash on.
Jorge peeked his head around the corner from the kitchen, raising his brow. Darla pressed her lips together, suppressing a smile. Her chef knew her too damn well.
After taking the orders of those in line, she used the brief lull in traffic to rush back to her Scottish gentleman.
“I’m sorry about the wait. What would you like to have today?”
He flashed her that smile again and she gripped tight to her pen to keep from flinging it as her fingers twitched. Yeah, the last thing she needed was to poke out one of his gorgeous eyes.
“What is your favorite?” he asked.
“Hands down the roasted veggie panini, but if you’re in a meaty mood, the turkey and spinach pesto is amazing.”
“I’ll give yours a shot. If it’s not to my liking, I’ll have to come back tomorrow for the turkey.”
Her breath caught. He’d come back?
“That sounds great,” she rushed out. A blush crept up over her chest, a smile frozen on her lips. “I’m going to go put this in.” She hurried back to the kitchen, cursing herself for not being able to say something clever and witty, knowing she must look like a complete moron, mooning over the stranger like a woman who’d never seen a man before.
She’d been staring at him like a deer caught in the headlights. He probably thought she was crazy.
Plates started popping out of the kitchen window, and between taking more orders, she served lunches to those who were staying—including Mr. Hotstuff—and bagged up the to-go’s. Every time she looked toward the hottie by the Christmas tree he was watching her. A few times he tried to look away, pretending that he’d not been staring, but other times he smiled.
She was supposed to be the one staring—not him.
Damn. Double damn.
She’d vowed no more dates. Not one man was going to take off the metaphorical chastity belt she’d chained to her nether-regions. Not until she’d met a man worth it. Not until she felt that spark of love. No matter how much of a Scottish accent he had, or how much she wanted to stare into his stormy gray eyes.
Darla jerked her gaze to the annoyed looking woman. The sound of her customer’s foot tapping in front of the counter made Darla’s eye twitch.
“Welcome to City Café, how can I help you?” She plastered on her snappy customer service smile and listened to the woman complain about how she’d said hello to her about five times before Darla answered.
“So sorry, we’ve been swamped. My apologies.”
“Take out order for the Simpson Firm.”
Darla rummaged through the called in to-go’s and handed the woman two large recycled paper bags, filled with hers and Jorge’s famous paninis. She rang her up, exchanging cash and change with the woman was painful as she seemed to have an affinity to rolling her eyes.
“Enjoy.” Darla handed her the bag.
The woman didn’t bother to say thank you, but stormed out at such a jerky pace, making Darla fear she’d drop the order.
“Guess not everyone can be pleased.” Her Scottish friend had somehow managed to leave his chair and approach the counter without her noticing.
“Not always,” she said with a smile. “Are you all done?”
“Yes, best sandwich I’ve ever had. You run a great café.” He winked. “Very charming. Just like its owner.”
Her mouth fell open. Charming? He was starting with the compliments already?
“I didn’t catch your name. I’m Aaron.” He held out his hand.
She stared down at his hand for a little longer than was appropriate, but finally snapped out of it, slipping hers against his palm. His hand was warm. Fingers long.
“Are you open for dinner, Darla?” he asked.
Her stomach did a little flip and she nodded. “Um, yes, we are.”
“Darn. I was going to see if you were free to go out with me this evening. Maybe some other time.” He picked up one of the restaurant deli cards and stuck it in his pocket.
She opened her mouth to speak, but only succeeded in nodding. He flashed her one more heart-throbbing smile before walking out of the door, and potentially out of her life forever.
READ THE REST!!!
MARYLAND ROMANCE WRITERS is excited to announce its 2013 Fall Workshop
WRITING FROM THE GROUND UP
Learn the Steps Involved in Writing a Novel
This dynamic workshop will walk you through the creation of a novel from the opening hook, through plot points, world building and character building . . . all the way to the all-important black moment and The End.
We will cover the following topics:
- Pantsing vs Plotting with Lean Nolan
- World/ Character /Conflict Building with Lisa Blankenship
- First Lines / Beginnings–the Inciting Incident with Mindy Klasky
- Dragging Middles with Mindy Klasky
- The Black Moment with Christie Kelley
- After The End—How to edit/polish your finished manuscript with Brigid Kemmerer
DATE: Saturday, October 26
TIME: 1-5 P.M.
PLACE: Catonsville Library, 1100 Frederick Road, Catonsville, Maryland
COST: $30 for MRW Members and $35 for non-MRW Members.*
TO SIGN UP: Visit http://www.marylandromancewriters.com/
I had the pleasure of meeting Kimberly in NYC at the RWA Con in 2011… when we went to the sex museum and sipped on crazy beverages at the bar there. She’s a wonderful author and a sweetheart! So excited for her new release. Check it out!
Outside the Lines
By: Kimberly Kincaid
Releasing July 30th, 2013
As an ivy-league ER doctor who eats double shifts for breakfast (and lunch…and dinner), Blake Fisher has little appetite for anything other than work. Being on the staff at Brenstville Hospital means taking care of people, a need Blake understands all too well from losing his brother to cystic fibrosis eight years ago. When he’s asked to coordinate a carnival fundraiser for the cause, he jumps at the chance to help others with the disease…until it lands him side by side with the one woman he never thought he’d see again: his ex-fiancée.
Streetwise and rough around the edges, Jules Shaw is no stranger to earning a living through hard work. But when her job as the restaurant manager of Mac’s Diner puts her shoulder to really broad shoulder with Blake Fisher, she nearly balks. She’d rather dodge and deflect than admit the real reason she broke things off, but the catering contract for the carnival means big business for Mac’s, and feeding people is Jules’s lifeblood.
As Blake and Jules join reluctant forces, they quickly rediscover the spark between them. But the possibility of a future together hinges on coming clean about the past, with potentially devastating consequences. Can Blake and Jules overcome their drastically different backgrounds and learn to love again, or will they always be outside the lines?
Link to Follow the Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2013/06/now-booking-release-day-tasty-book.html
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She has written two digital novellas, Love On The Line and Drawing The Line, about hot cops and sexy chefs, with a third novella, Outside The Lines, due this summer. She is also thrilled to have collaborated on a Christmas anthology with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angell, titled The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, to kick off her Pine Mountain foodie series with Kensington this October. Kimberly’s first full-length novel, Turn Up the Heat, will follow in February 2014. She resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.
Visit her any time at www.kimberlykincaid.com or come check her out on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kimberly.kincaid1) and Twitter (@kimberlykincaid).
With the craziness of packing, etc… this post got away from me! But I still want you all to be prepared. Here is my Top 10 list for pitching at a conference.
TEN: Have a one line hook/pitch ready. Could be a sentence or a question, but gives the idea of the book.
A Highland warrior steals the intended of an English noble only to fall in love. — THE HIGHLANDER’S REWARD
Gabrielle thought sleeping with her brother’s best friend in college was a colossal mistake–until he becomes her rebound and shows her what real love is. — THE REBOUND PACT
What happens when an emotionally damaged woman travels back in time, into the arms of a dangerous, sensual Highland warrior, who challenges her to let go of her inhibitions? — BEHIND THE PLAID
NINE: Memorize your one line pitch.
EIGHT: On an index card, write down your title, one-liner, and your blurb. Carry this with you everywhere. You never know when an editor at a bar or in the hallway might ask for your pitch.
SEVEN: Be prepared to take 5 minutes to talk about your book and your characters. Why is it unique? Why should they bother paying for it? Make sure your pitch shows this.
SIX: Practice your pitch with friends. It helps to actually talk it out with someone else, rather than just what’s on the page.
FIVE: Don’t offer them your printed manuscript!
FOUR: Prepare some questions for the agent/editor you’re pitching to. Show that you are interested, and that you’ve done your homework. Make sure they acquire what you are pitching
THREE: Be prepared with a second pitch! They may ask for another book!
TWO: Take a deep breath and relax. They are people, too.
ONE: When you’re finished, don’t ruminate on anything you think was a mistake to say, or what could have gone wrong. Pitching is hard, but they are used to people being nervous. Don’t beat yourself up. Revel in the fact that you did it! Go chat with your friends!
Good morning and Happy Friday! Hope you have some fun things planned for this weekend. We will be doing a bit of unpacking, family coming into town AND I’m going to be sneaking in some time to pack a little for Nationals next week! AH! It’s coming quickly! If you haven’t tuned in already, I’ve written a couple posts in preparation for the conference (links below), and today I’m going to talk about the your budget — cash to have on hand.
- Taxi/Public Transit — Make sure you have cash on hand for your ride to/from the airport (plus tip if needed). I’ve heard from some it can be as little as $5 for the public transit (each way) and $35 or so for the taxi each way. If you can, try to double/triple up on the taxi ride! When you get to the airport, you’re bound to run into other romance authors, its odd, how we recognize faces from Facebook even if we’ve never met. Offer to ride together to the hotel.
- Food — there are some meals provided, but not EVERY meal is provided. I always bring granola bars, nuts, and things like that to snack on for breakfast or during the day when I’m hungry. But be sure to have cash on hand for morning coffee (unless you use the coffee provided in your room), lunch, dinner. Breakfast will be served on Thursday/Friday. Lunch on Thursday/Friday will be served. Coffee on Saturday. Looks like no lunch. Dinners will be on your own (used to be a dinner during the RITA awards, but its not looking that way this year). Sunday you are on your own for all meals. Try to go offsite to eat — not only will it be less expensive, but you’ll get a chance to see some of the town.
- Drinks — It may seem odd to include this in your budget, but even if you drink tea at the bar, you will most likely find yourself there. The bar is an area where everyone seems to converge and hang out. You can meet up with old friends, meet new friends and network.
- Sight-seeing — If you plan to do any, look ahead at costs. Make sure to figure in transportation, tickets, etc…
- Books — Not only do I always buy books at the literacy signing, but I also make my way into the bookstore that is set up. They always have a great selection of craft/research books.
- Hotel incidentals — you will no doubt have your budget already set aside for your hotel, but make sure to save a bit for incidentals, ie, internet, room service (if you end up getting it), hotel taxes and fees.
- Gift shop — I also tend to find myself in here for small gifts for those at home, but late night chocolate too
- Chapter events — a lot of chapters hold parties that you have to pay for to attend. Check on these prices/parties now so you can either pre-pay or have the cash to pay when/if you go.
- This item is a luxery… I forgot to check-in to my flight and got like the last spot on the plane. I had enough to upgrade to business class at the airport that morning. Not something I do every time, but something I will keep in mind.
That’s about it for what I usually run into. Remember there are always ways to save — splitting meals, bringing snacks, sharing your room, buying only a certain number of books, banning yourself from the gift shop, having only one/no drinks in the evening.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a post on pitching.
Yesterday, I wrote briefly about what to bring and what not to bring. Today I’m talking about preparing your agenda. Before arriving at RWA Nationals, its always good to have an agenda written — even if it’s loosely written. Once you arrive, it can get very chaotic, overwhelming and busy. Imagine 2000 excited women converging in one spot–loud, lol. If you had workshops you wanted to attend, gatherings, friends to meet, etc… you don’t want them to get lost in the void of chattering, laughing, and whooping.
The first time I went to an RWA conference, I was 7 months pregnant and had just returned from Disney World. I was not prepared, and I was OVERWHELMED. Ever since then, I always make sure to have a loosely written schedule.
RWA.org, even has an agenda builder on it now to help you.
Here is a list of scheduled events: http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=560
Here is the list of workshops: http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=562 (also the link for the agenda builder.
In case you were wondering… I will be presenting at RWA! Along with Laura Kaye and Stephanie Draven, we’ll be presenting: How to Tackle Taboos in Erotic Romance (CRAFT). I will also be moderating: Focus on Nook Press (SELF-PUBLISHING). If you are a PRO member and attending the PRO Retreat, you may see me there as well–I am being awarded as PRO Mentor of the Year
In addition to marking workshops, events you want to attend, check in with your local chapters to see if they will be holding any get-togethers. Email writing friends who are going to see if they want to meet for a meal/coffee/wine.
Don’t forget to schedule in some down time. Whether you need it for a nap, for writing, for calling home, make sure you don’t forget to take it. I usually come back from a conference needing a vacation! Exhilarating, inspiring, exciting as it is, conference can also be quite exhausting.
I am an early to bed person, early to rise… Yet, my husband always teases me because at conference I may not be in bed until 3am…
If you see me, make sure to stop and say hi!
Come back tomorrow for talk on budgeting… You don’t have to spend too much to have a great conference!
Today I’d like to welcome my good friend and fellow chapter mate, Laura Kaye! A New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Laura writes in several genres with both small and large presses. She’s ventured into the world of self-publishing and has agreed to answer my questions about her experience. Thanks, Laura!
- What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book(s)? Did you decide on ebook or print only or both?
When the opportunity arose to get my rights back on two books with a small press, I knew it was the right time to dip my toes into self-publishing. So I started with two backlist titles as a way of easing into it. Both books, Hearts in Darkness and Forever Freed, are available as ebooks and print books.
- What went into the process? Writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc… Share your ups and downs and how you went about it. If you used a service from someone, could you share who?
Since these were backlist titles, I didn’t have to worry about hiring editors this time around. However, I did go through both manuscripts and do some minor editing of my own. Amazing how our writing changes over the course of even a few years! I hired cover designers to create professional covers for me—for Hearts in Darkness, I hired Tricia Pickyme Schmitt, who designed the original cover for the small publisher; and for Forever Freed, I hired Hot Damn Designs. Both did a phenomenal job on the covers and that step was easy. I also hired Hot Damn to do all my ebook formatting and they really walked me through the process of acquiring ISBNs, the quirks of uploading to the various sites, etc.
- What did you do to promote your work?
A variety of things. Both books were well established before, but I still did major cover reveals, got my street team involved in shouting them out, featured them in blog hops and other blogging opportunities, and took out some advertisements, too. I didn’t do full blog tours since they were back list titles, but I do usually with new releases.
- What was the hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing? What was the easiest part of self-publishing?
Easiest was working with cover artist and getting great covers I love! And I adore the control over that process! Hardest was figuring out everything I needed to know and everything I didn’t know. I’m still not fully proficient, as evidenced by the fact that I’m paying someone to do my formatting, which more experienced self-publishers often do themselves. But I’m figuring out a little at a time so that by the time I can release fully new books, I’ll have a better handle on the whole process.
- Can you list some Pros/Cons of self-publishing?
The pros in my opinion are the control you have over the whole process, how quickly you can release a book, and the greater royalty rates you can receive. I think it’s also important that you can decide whether to also offer a book in print. Hearts in Darkness is a 30,000-word novella, and that’s not the kind of thing most publishers would take to print, but I can offer it as a self-publisher.
The cons in my opinion include the time investment required to do the business side of things, the lack of publisher support for promotion (which varies from publishers, of course, but there’s no one even built in to retweet or share my twitter or facebook posts, for example…), and finding a readership on your won. I think the latter is less challenging if you’re established, but it’s still a consideration.
- How long have your book(s) been out? How long between books if you have multiple sales—and if you have multiples did you see a bump in sales with subsequent publication?
Hearts in Darkness has been out for 5 weeks and Forever Freed just re-released. I currently have 13 books for sale or pre-order, and I definitely have had the experience of the sales bump with each new release. I saw it when I re-released Hearts in Darkness, too. Backlist is king.
- Can you give a rough breakdown of your sales numbers from your first month to the present?
I have a short time line, and only sales to report on Hearts in Darkness so far. But, I’m selling 500 a month on Amazon, 100 a month on B&N, 100 a month on Apple, and 25 on Kobo. I’d recouped my up-front costs, which were mostly the cover and the purchasing of ISBN numbers, in the first few weeks.
- What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?
Do it right and be professional. Hire editors, professional cover designers, formatters. No one should be able to look at the inside or outside of your book and know it’s self-published.
- What genre(s) do you write in? How many books do you have out? Titles?
I write in contemporary and paranormal romance and have 13 novels either out or up for pre-order. I have four series underway: Hearts of the Anemoi (South of Surrender most recently) , Vampire Warrior Kings (Taken by the Vampire King releases 8/1) , Heroes (2 out and 2 more coming in 2014), and Hard Ink (Hard As It Gets debuts this November!).
- What do you love about the genre(s)?
I’ve been interested in all things paranormal since I was a kid. I love the magic, the possibility that such things could be real, and the dark sexiness of paranormal stories. I also love contemporary stories because you could imagine them really happening and the characters being people you might actually know.
- Where can readers find you?
- Where can readers find your books? Print/Ebook?
- What works do you have coming out in the future?
My next books aren’t self-published, but include Taken by the Vampire King (August 1), Hard As It Gets (November 26), and Hard As You Can (February 25)
- Are you participating in any reader contests?
I’m almost always running a giveaway somewhere! The best thing to do is keep an eye on my Facebook or Twitter!
- There is a rumor going around that all self-pubbed books are shoddily created. What do you say to that?
I think there’s a range of quality among self-published books, with more and more high-quality books and established authors moving into self-publishing every day. You can find errors and weak stories published by publishers and self-publishers, so problems aren’t isolated to the self-pubbed. But I think self-published authors need to know they’re working against that reputation and need to do everything they can not to contribute to it.
- What advice can you offer readers of self-pubbed books in making a decision on what to read?
The New Adult books have really taken self-publishing by storm! And though many of them have been picked up by self-publishers, I’d still recommend Wait for You by J. Lynn, Easy by Tammara Webber, and Monica Murphy’s One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend. I’d also recommend books by self-published authors Eliza Knight (ahem!), Marie Force, Katie Reus, Laurie London, and Laura Wright, among others!
Thanks so much for having me here!
Thank you for being here, Laura! And for the shout-out *winks*. If you’re looking for an emotional, evocative, adventure, please download Laura’s books! She is amazing!