Another Snippet

A pretty productive day so far.  I made it until 1:30 AM last night, but wasn’t as productive as I hoped because Littlest Monster turned on Sharknado.  Luckily it was so bad I was still able to finish the scene.  It just took me longer than I hoped.  I got another 1300 words this morning before my dentist appointment, and another 3K+ tonight.  If I can get another 2-3K tonight before bed I’ll be really happy.

However, these last few scenes have been hard emotionally.  I’m getting ready to write the first LOVE scene (far from the first sex scene), although Lilly is so not ready for it.  That’s what makes it hard.  I have to show Donovan’s feelings even if he doesn’t say the words, and the same for her, while she’s thinking something completely different.  Lots of emotion under the calm surface.

And what’s sad is all of this is NEW stuff that I didn’t originally outline.  Sigh.  Using Scrivener, I’d numbered scenes 020-025 for the middle scenes I needed to add.  Since last night, I’m now on 020E because one thing leads to another!  And I still have to write 021-025, which will probably also grow too.  Then I have 017B to go back and fill in.

Then there’s all the threads and layers and special little touches I know I’ll want to add.  But I am getting there.  The book is up to just under 55K and there are definitely some hefty scenes ahead.

Skipping ahead for this snippet and it’s shorter than the others.  I’ll start highlighting a few of my favorite scenes and lines as I post updates.

He glanced around the garage once again, impressed with what she’d been able to do alone, but also realistic.  “You’re going to need a lot more space.”

“Assuming I agree to take on the job.”

“You will.”  He gave her a very rare thing indeed—a genuine smile.  “You can’t resist a challenge.”

“Are you so sure of that?”

“For my sake, I hope so.”

She sighed ruefully.  “That’s one hell of a good private investigator you hired, Mr. Morgan.  How’d you figure out all of this about me from a few sneaky photographs?”

It was his turn to look away and run his hand through his hair.  He wanted to take off his tie and loosen the neck of his shirt, but that might be too informal too quickly for her.  “I have an instinct for people.  That’s why I’ve been able to take a modest family business and turn it into an international billion-dollar company.  The numbers are just columns on paper.  In the end, it’s the people that make or break a deal.”

He spared a glance at her, not surprised to see her studying him as avidly as he’d done earlier.  “You’re a surprising man.  Donovan.”

To hell with it.  He loosened his tie to relieve some of the pressure on his throat, hoping that she wouldn’t sense what was really troubling him.  He didn’t want to think about it himself.

If I’m going to have something tight on my neck, I want it to be hers.  Because she has me collared and bound.

“Very well,” she said.  “How soon do you want to meet and go over contracts?”

He locked his knees to keep from sagging with relief.  Contracts.  Plural.  So she’s at least willing to consider taking me on as a submissive in addition to the windows.  He waited until he could reply without his voice breaking or cracking like a fool.  “Tomorrow morning, 9:00 AM.”

Her eyebrows raised.  “So quickly?”

“I never approach a deal unless I’ve already run my numbers and decided what I want and what I’m willing to give.”

“11:00 AM.  I’m not a morning person.”

No way in hell was he waiting until lunch time to settle this.  “10:00 AM,” he countered.  “And I took the liberty of writing up both contracts to make this deal as expedient as possible.  They’re in my car.”

“Contracts?”  A sliver of displeasure sharpened her voice.  “You’re forgetting my contract.  When it comes to Mistress L, my contract is the only one that counts.”

He had to laugh at that.  He could read legal contracts in his sleep.  A homemade sexual contract would be nothing to worry about.  “I doubt there’s much in your contract that will surprise me.”

She pressed the button to raise one of the garage doors.  “I suspect you might be surprised in that regard, Mr. Morgan.”

His eyes narrowed.  “Back to formality yet again, Miss Harrison?”

She followed him to his car, waiting patiently while he unlocked the door and retrieved his briefcase.  “When you slip into Mr. Douche Bag territory, I’m afraid so.  If we agree on terms—and that’s a huge if—then I’m afraid I’ll have to resort to corporal punishment to break this insufferable arrogance.”

The thought of punishment made his hands tremble so badly it took him a second try to dial in the combination to the lock that he’d done at least a million times.  He managed to hand her the stack of papers without dropping them all over her driveway or accidentally touching her.  “Insufferable arrogance?  That’s rather harsh.”

“You assume that you know everything about me just because you were able to discern that I like a challenge before we formally met.”  She started scanning the top page.  In his opinion, it contained the make-or-break stipulation of the most important contract of all.  “That doesn’t mean you know anything else about me.  In fact, I’d wager here and now you’ve made several critical errors in judgment when it comes to me.”

“Indeed?”  He leaned back against the side of his Jag and crossed his arms.  “I doubt that.”

Slowly, she raised her gaze from the paper and locked her eyes on him with such intensity he immediately stiffened.  “You want me to break the contracts with my other submissives.  That’s a pretty drastic error on your part.”

Stay calm and cool.  Don’t let her know how much this means to you.  “I’m sure you have escape clauses in their contracts.  If not, I’ll simply buy them out.”

“It’s not that simple, Mr. Morgan.  I care about these men.  I’m not going to drop them like last week’s news just for you.”

She cares about them?  He clenched his jaws, fighting to keep from retorting that was rich.  The Mistress cares for the men paying her to take them in hand.  Nice.  “I’m not going to share your time.  I’m not that kind of man.”

“Maybe it’s about time you learned how to share.  You’re not a three-year-old toddler, Mr. Morgan, and I don’t have time—”

With a low growl, he pushed away from the car.  “I won’t share you and that’s final.”

Still Going Strong

I keep shooting myself in the foot with these estimates!  60K probably isn’t going to cut it either.  I still have so many scenes left and only keep thinking of new ones to add.  Sigh.  The scenes I wrote tonight are so…

*fans self*

Yowsa.

I can’t tell you yet.  *wicked laugh*

It’s something I couldn’t have written even a year ago.  Lady Blackmyre has taught me a lot.  I understand, now, why I have to write this story before I can write Mal’s book (Mine to Break) and even Mama C’s.  Lilly is breaking down the barriers in me as surely as she’s breaking them in Donovan.  Barriers I need to shed if I’m going to do these other books justice.

Another 3K tonight and I’m just under 50K in The Billionaire Submissive.  I plan to grind as late as I can tonight, but I was up until 1 AM last night and worked today, so I have no idea how long I’ll make it.

Another snippet.

God, she’s good.  So good I’d pay a hundred grand a month to have her at my beck and call.

Donovan was sweating enough that his crisp white shirt was sticking to him beneath his coat despite the air conditioning blasting into his office.  In just a few minutes of casual interaction, she’d managed to thaw him.  He wasn’t frozen any longer, but burning up.  Raging out of control.  It was all he could do not to lock his office door and demand they reach an agreement now before she had the chance to walk out.

Gathering up her portfolio, Lilly continued the innocent yet saucy facade.  She’d lied to his face without batting an eye.  That skill would serve them both well if she were ever questioned by the media.  The last thing he wanted was for any hint of his secret desire to get out.  If it cost him a million dollars to ensure her secrecy, he’d do it.  Hell, he was throbbing so hard he’d give her a blank check.

She gave him a look that said there was a time and a place, and this was neither.  And yeah, her gaze lingered on his crotch, so she had to know how aroused he was.  Just from having her press against his back for a few tantalizing seconds.  He’d wanted to curse out loud when she pulled away, but he had to admire her effort to remain professional.  At least for now.

It hadn’t been the physical contact that had made him hard.  It was her quiet yet impressive show of force.  He’d tried to intimidate her, and she’d welcomed the challenge effortlessly.  He would have been face down on that desk in another few moments if she hadn’t pulled away.

He took her arm and drew her firmly to his side as he led the way out of his office.  The corner of her mouth quirked and she gave him a knowing sideways wink that made his cock twitch in his pants.  Yeah, he was leading the way.  But only because she’s letting me.

That was the crux of his issue.  He wasn’t the kind of submissive that was going to whine and beg and crawl to his Mistress’s feet and kiss her toes.  No.  Donovan Morgan wasn’t going down without a fight.  The difficulty was finding a Mistress who’d relish the fight as much as him.  Someone who was strong enough mentally to bend him to her will, even when he hated every minute of it.  Even if he swore he was never coming back.  Never giving her what she wanted.  She had to be strong enough to make him want to bend his pride to her will.  He had to want to surrender.

Lilly Harrison might just be strong enough to make me beg.

The thought should have alarmed him.  It certainly made him tighten his grip on her arm.  He was probably hurting her, but he couldn’t let go.  He was afraid she’d slip out of his office and out of his control before he could pin her into an agreement.  He hustled her past Miss Wruthers’s desk without pausing, even when his secretary called after him waving the phone.  As soon as the elevator doors whisked shut, he flattened his back against the wall and hauled Lilly against his chest.

The little minx laughed at him.  “Mr. Morgan, I fear you’ve lost your balance too.”

“You have no idea.”  His throat rasped painfully.  “You must accept this commission.”

She tipped her head sideways and gazed up at him with a solemn weight in her eyes that chilled the fire in his blood.  “I don’t believe that’s a very good idea, Mr. Morgan.”

“You must.”

She arched a brow at him.  “I don’t believe I must at all.”

“I’ll make it worth your while.”

She laughed, a deep husky chuckle that made him think of velvet and leather and silken sheets tangled around him.  “No doubt you’re used to throwing money at everyone to get what you want, but I’m not that easy, Mr. Morgan.”

He shuddered and pulled her closer, deliberately arching his hips into her so she’d have no doubt of his reaction to her.  It went against every stubborn arrogant bone in his body, but he forced the word out anyway.  “Please.”

Her eyes narrowed.  “Release me this instant, Mr. Morgan.”

Her voice was pleasant enough.  She didn’t use her words like a whip to lash him into compliance.  She didn’t even give him a stern look from those stunning eyes.  He’d thought them more blue than gray, but this close, her eyes gleamed like polished silver.

“Now.”

Again, her voice remained level and almost sweet.  Certainly feminine and far from mean and nasty.  He didn’t want to obey.  He wanted her to get angry and harsh with him, to wrestle him into sweaty submission, but again, this wasn’t the time and certainly not the place.  Frustrated, he let go of her and made no objection when she straightened and put a polite distance between them.  The elevator dinged and the doors slid open, allowing the noise of the plaza level to separate them even more.  Running his hand through his hair, he fought to keep his mouth shut.  His ridiculous obstinate behavior certainly wouldn’t help convince her to accept his commission, let alone open her mind to pursing a more private relationship with him.  Good submissives obeyed the Mistress without question.  They certainly didn’t manhandle the Mistress against her direct order.

Which is why I’m not a good submissive and I have no Mistress.

She turned her head slightly, whispered, “Good boy,” and then stepped out of the elevator, leaving him to follow in her wake.

Stunned, he had to throw up a hand to keep the elevator doors from shutting and taking him back upstairs.  People were waiting to get on, and here he stood with his mouth hanging open and his pants tented like a randy teenager.  Lilly paused, looking back over her shoulder with that wicked little smile dimpling her cheek, all innocence and saucy attitude that made him crazy.  He wanted to make her lose that calm amusement.  He wanted to hear her voice crack with fury, her eyes sharp and cold as she punished him.  Not winking, silently laughing at him for still standing on the elevator like a dumbfounded idiot.

Grinding his teeth, he pushed his way out of the elevator and stomped after her.  His face was on fire, blazing with humiliation and yes, relief.  He’d managed to please the Mistress, at least a little, despite his stubborn pride.  Even though obeying a simple common-sense command made his spine bristle and his stomach churn.  That whispered praise gave him hope that she might consider his offer despite his numerous failings.  And he had no doubt that his failings as a submissive would give her significant pause.

If I must trick her into accepting me at least for awhile, I’ll do it.  I’ll do whatever it takes.  Even if I have to blackmail her into accepting my contract.

Pulled a Fast Draft

I didn’t intend it, but I just realized that I accomplished the second fast draft of my writing career.  I broke 50K tonight for July so far.

However, I think I jinxed myself a little by saying I hoped to finish it this weekend. I’ve still got 7-10 scenes to grind out and they’re not little baby ones. In fact, they’re quite…meaty.  In more ways than one.  *winks*

3K today and 2.4K yesterday.  Not bad with all we had going on.  With so much ahead of me, this book might end up closer to 60K+ than 50K total (I’ve got several thousand words on a different project this month so not all of this impromptu fast draft is for The Billionaire Submissive).  I have a dentist appointment on Tuesday, so I took the day off.  I’m hoping to get some major wordage in but we’ll just have to see how it goes.

This is the next scene of The Billionaire Submissive introducing Lilly, the Mistress.  It’s a little heavy on the narrative to start, so that will probably get trimmed in revision.

Standing outside of the seventeen-story building on busy Kellogg Blvd, Lilly almost changed her mind and went home.  Sure, this was an old building and not one of those modernized shiny steel and concrete skyscrapers, but she still didn’t quite believe someone in downtown St. Paul would honestly be interested in a stained-glass commission from a relative nobody like her.  The building had once been the St. Paul Post Office and had sat vacant for years while sale after sale fell through.  Then billionaire investor Donovan Morgan had swept in and bought the building at a bargain-bin price.  Of course that was still millions of dollars, but he’d gotten a whole city block right next to the new light-rail station for a few bucks per square foot.

A brass plate next to the old-fashioned art-deco doors proclaimed Morgan Industries.  She’d done a little research before accepting the appointment, but for the life of her, she still didn’t know exactly what that meant.  He wasn’t into a single business, but owned hundreds of different companies and franchises all across the globe.  His interests and investments were as varied as his many charitable contributions.  From what she could tell, he basically just bought and sold companies, usually at a fraction of their value, which suddenly skyrocketed after his purchase.  It was like he had the Midas touch.

So what does a man like him want with a stained glass window?

Especially when he had the funds to hire a world-famous artist?

Sure, she’d finally built up enough business that she could almost pay her mortgage on just commissions and classes, but she’d been busting her ass for years.  Most of her income came from teaching instead of new projects anyway, though she’d clear her calendar if she had to in order to complete whatever Mr. Morgan wanted.  A wealthy important client like him could be the stepping stone to larger commercial contracts she hadn’t been able to tap yet.  With his recommendation, she could maybe even open her own gallery.  This one project could make her career.

Yet the same nagging doubt dogged her heels into the refurbished lobby.  Something wasn’t right with Morgan’s offer.

For one thing, he hadn’t even called her, but pawned the job off on his secretary.  Maybe ultra rich dudes like him couldn’t be bothered to hire underlings, but for a creative project like stained glass, she really needed to be able to meet with him several times.  If she didn’t have access to him, then she couldn’t guarantee he’d like the finished project, and that would devastate her.  It wouldn’t matter how much he offered to pay her if he hated the final product.  Or worse, if he didn’t even care about it.  He was commissioning the wrong artist if that was the case.

The ground-level floor had been rented out to various fast-food joints, coffee shops, and even a one-hour dry cleaner.  Business must be good, because people were scurrying back and forth like ants, jostling her every which way.  Of course it didn’t help that the appointment had been scheduled right before lunch.  A woman with blond hair pulled back in a sleek bun and dressed in a nice navy suit ruined by the hot-pink tennis shoes practically knocked her into the wall on her way to the front door.

She’d remembered that claustrophobic feeling she’d gotten inside her day job’s cubicle.  How even one less minute of fresh air and sunshine outside during her lunch break would have made her as vicious as a rabid dog the rest of the afternoon.  She’d had to quit or else go postal on her innocent coworkers.  Or start taking anxiety meds.  Quitting her job and finding something she truly loved was better than numbing herself with medication the rest of her life, even if she’d had to struggle to make ends meet.

She had to wait while the elevator emptied like an endless clown car at the circus, but she had it alone for the ride up to the top floor.  The higher she went, the more under dressed she felt.  She’d worn the only suit she’d kept from the days of corporate slavery, but it was out of fashion and frankly, a little too tight.  She’d quit caring so much about always doing what was “right” and being perfect in all ways and simply living and loving her life.  She’d never been happier and if some man didn’t like a little extra padding he could keep on walking because she felt sexy and she took damned good care of herself.  Including a little dessert here and there.

Although a big greasy cheese burger sounded really good right now.

Which was definitely a sign of nerves.  If she had to face a day without pie, she’d just give up and stay in bed.  She only craved grease and salt when she was out of her league.

She stepped out of the elevator and put on her polite smile for the waiting receptionist.  Maybe it was her imagination, but the secretary’s smile seemed more sneer than a professional greeting.  Lilly glanced down at herself to make sure all buttons and zippers were appropriately closed.  Check.  Her silk blouse was a little low cut but she wore a lace cami underneath.  She’d worn serviceable plain black heels and not her favorite fuck-me stilettos.  With a mental shrug, Lilly followed the other woman into Mr. Morgan’s office.  Screw it.  If I have to come back to see Mr. Morgan, I’m wearing the leather mini skirt and those shoes.

Since his picture was readily available in all the media stories covering his acquisitions and success, she’d known he was a gorgeous man of the tall, dark and handsome variety.  She hadn’t expected to be affected by him.  Pretty, svelte arrogant men weren’t her type.

He was pretty, and yeah, he was damned svelte in that impeccable suit.  He stood behind his desk, arms crossed, shoulders wide and feet planted, aggressively defiant and proud.  It almost made her laugh.  She couldn’t resist a wide smile, even if he didn’t know the cause.  She hadn’t even opened her mouth yet and he was chomping for a fight.  This’ll be fun.

“Miss Harrison.”  He spoke in a clipped, hard voice echoing with disapproval.  No wonder his secretary had looked at her with such disdain.  She’d already picked up on the alpha’s opinion.  “Do you have a portfolio?”

Not at all.  The large leather thing she held in her hand was merely a strange saddle she’d used on the jackass she’d ridden into town.  Of course she had a portfolio.  What artist would ever go to a prospective client meeting without a single example of her work?

She didn’t bother answering, but simply stepped closer and opened the leather portfolio on his desk.  Of course the pictures were upside down, but she didn’t change it.  She wanted to see how he’d respond.

He could have turned it around to face him.  That would have been the obvious solution.  Instead, he came around the massive desk to stand beside her.  Too close, actually.  He intruded on her personal space.

What an interesting situation.  If she were at a BDSM club and a submissive dared to approach her so boldly, she’d be more than happy to accommodate him with a little punishment and discipline to teach him his place.   In fact, a submissive would only behave such a way if he deliberately wanted to antagonize the Mistress.  Could he have any idea…?

She didn’t see how he would know.  More than likely he was just an arrogant filthy-rich asshole who was used to using his physical strength and immense wealth to intimidate people.

Still, she had to teach him a lesson in some way.  In a professional setting, though, her options were limited.  She certainly couldn’t give him a quick, hard pop with a crop, more’s the pity.  And if she wanted the commission…she couldn’t smart off in front of his subordinate.

There was more than one way to battle.  It didn’t take words.  It didn’t even take action.  She closed her eyes a moment and centered herself.  This kind of dominance involved her personal energy and will, where every ounce of her concentration, every muscle in her body, was focused on one thing.  Releasing a deep breath, she opened her eyes.  Like he’d done earlier, she widened her stance just by standing taller, easing her shoulders back, lifting from her core.  She projected calm assertive power.  The will that he would step aside and out of her personal space.  He would respect her will and her presence.  There was no doubt in her mind.  No hesitation.  He will do as I ask.  Or I’ll walk out of here without even entertaining his proposal.  I don’t need this job that badly.

“This one’s nice.”  He traced a finger over the sketch she’d done of one of her favorites.  The glass was all clear, but with different etchings and bevels, she’d created a complex window that had cast snowflakes over the entire room.  “How big was it?”

Keeping her energy focused, she user her lower voice range that vibrated her body.  “Three by three feet.”

She swore his hand trembled slightly as he turned to the next page, but he didn’t move out of her space.  “That’s smaller than what I intend.  Could you accomplish the same kind of complexity in a larger scale?”

“Of course.  Clear glass in a variety of finishes can be very striking, especially in a large space where color may be too distracting.”  She leaned down, deliberately letting her shoulder bump his as a warning.  She turned to the next page.  Even with only clear glass, you could see three crosses and a rising sun, casting its rays out in all directions.  “This one’s in a church down in Iowa, the focal point behind their altar.  The final measurements were ten by twenty, though I had to frame the window into pieces to give it the appropriate stability.”

He didn’t back away from the shoulder bump.  In fact, he bumped her back, nudging his way deeper into her personal space.  He even slid his right foot in front of hers, like he was trying to block her out from her own portfolio.

Lilly cast a quick glance at the secretary.  Rooted into place, she watched the two’s interaction with wide eyes, rubbing her arms like she had goosebumps.  Some people were sensitive to this kind of energy play, and between her calm assertiveness and his aggressive pissing-match attitude, the energy was definitely high in the spacious office.  Maybe he didn’t even realize his secretary was still watching.  “What do you think, Miss…?”

“Wruthers,” the secretary spoke with a delicate breathy voice.  “Isn’t stained glass rather…antiquated?  If you were going to remodel the building…”

He let out a low growl, whether irritation that his underling dared disagree with him or mere frustration that Lilly wasn’t intimidated, she couldn’t be sure.  “I didn’t ask your opinion, Miss Wruthers.  That’ll be all.”

Evidently the young woman hadn’t been in his employ very long, because she winced and paled, hurt by his callous reply.  She scurried out and the door thumped behind her a little too loudly.

He stretched, arching his back even while he leaned down over her work, resting his elbow on the desk casually.  For such a lean man, he was exhibiting quite the nicely rounded ass.  It was all she could do not to give him a good, hard swat and see how high he’d jump.  “Where were we?”

Lilly let her mouth quirk since he wasn’t looking at her.  Silly boy.  He really needs a good thrashing. 

It’d be all too easy to press against him, letting her body weight urge him down against the desk.  It’d be fun to have a big, powerful man like him beneath her, bristling with the urge to fight, but also strangely obedient.  Knowing he was too strong, too big, that he could overpower her at any moment, but he chose not to…  Instead, he chose to put himself into her hands, to let her do as she would.  The ultimate power rush.  That he was arrogant, gorgeous and used to being the alpha CEO in all aspects of his life only made it hotter.

Lost in such a tantalizing fantasy, it took her a moment to realize she was pressed against the back of his leg, hugging his thigh with both of hers.  Practically riding him.  Either he’d backed further into her space or she’d leaned into him.  She couldn’t remember.  Neither option was appropriate behavior in an office setting, certainly not when she didn’t even know what his inclinations were.

Embarrassed, she jerked backward.  “Pardon me, Mr. Morgan.  I must have lost my balance.”

He straightened and turned toward her, his dark eyes narrowed on her face.  “Lost your balance?”

She gave him a bright smile and without blinking or looking away, said, “I’m not used to wearing heels.”

She had a feeling he knew she was lying but he decided not to call her on it.  It wasn’t like he’d peeked into her closet and seen her glorious shoe collection.  He settled on the edge of his desk, the epitome of casual male elegance.  A wicked glint flickered in his eyes, a knowing smile on his lush lips that warned her he saw through her thinly veiled disguise that said nothing to see, just an ordinary woman with boring, normal sexual desires.  Nothing dirty or naughty here.  “I suppose you don’t get out all that often.”

“Rarely.  I’m such a homebody.”  She gave him a tiny smile back that said I know you know I’m lying and I don’t give a fuck.  “Why don’t you show me the space you’re thinking about filling with stained glass?  I can take some measurements and give you some ideas of what might work best.”

“Of course.”  He stood, managing to make the movement a delicious sinuous slide that drew her gaze down all six-foot-plus length of him.  He might have never really worked a day in his life, certainly not outside of an office setting, but his body coiled with sinew and lean muscle.  There wouldn’t be much padding anywhere on him except that delectable backside.  Nothing to stop the hard thud of a paddle.  Or the cut of the crop.

She gave herself a little shake, forcing those thoughts to the back corner of her mind.  Later, she’d pull them out and let the fantasy unwind.  She’d wonder what kind of fancy underwear he wore.  Whether he really had a model’s body beneath that expensive suit or office flab.  Whether the rest of him was as darkly tanned as his face and hands.  How he’d sound when she brought the crop down on his ass.

But only after I finish this commission.  Until then, all business.  Mistress L isn’t allowed to come out and play.

Scorching Summer: Erin Nicholas

As part of our Scorching Summer giveaway, I’m thrilled to have Erin Nicholas stopping by today!

Scorching Summer is here!

Thanks for letting me take over the blog today, Joely Sue!

ShesTheOne72lgOn June 11th, Samhain Publishing is going to deliver five Scorching Summer romances to help you kick your summer off right!   I’m so excited to be a part of the party with Joely Sue, Shelli Stevens, Harper Fox and Mari Carr!

She’s the One is extra exciting because it starts a new sexy contemporary series for me!  Counting on Love is a spin-off series from my Bradford series and I’m really having fun getting to know these new people while still visiting some of my favorite old friends.   She’s the One will be followed by It Takes Two in September and Best of Three in November with books four and five coming in 2014!  So I hope that you’ll mark your calendars for all of the hot reads coming your way June 11th and that you’ll get to know and love Ryan and Amanda in She’s the One!

Counting on Love, Book 1

Sometimes you see love clearly.  And sometimes it has to smack you in the face.

When a stranger walks up and punches him, Ryan Kaye assumes there’s a good reason.  But he’s stunned to learn it’s over a one-night stand that never happened —with his friend’s sister, straight-laced Amanda Dixon.  When Ryan confronts her about the lie, Amanda apologizes, but Ryan realizes he doesn’t want her to be sorry…he wants the night they supposedly spent together.

Amanda’s not looking to add anyone to her long list of commitments, so she was only trying to let a nice guy down easy by telling him a fling with Ryan broke her heart.  So what if the fling only happened in her dreams?  But when Ryan Kaye tempts her with the chance to go crazy and fulfill a few fantasies, she can’t resist.  Thank goodness one night isn’t enough time to fall in love…

Warning: Contains a hot paramedic who knows how to get a girl to let her hair down, a girl who thinks she prefers her hair up, some naughty laser tag, some naughty role-playing and a lot of falling in love.

Excerpt:

Ryan signaled Carrie, the waitress. “Two of whatever each of the ladies want,” he said, pointing to Emma, Isabelle and Olivia. He looked at the girls. “Stay here and mind your own business. Or at least mind someone’s business other than mine and Amanda’s.”

Emma grinned. “You and Amanda have business in common?”

He looked down at the woman beside him. He still held on to her elbow and he became aware that she smelled really, really good. Yes, it appeared that he and Amanda had business in common. How interesting. “Just stay here,” he finally said to Emma.

He tugged Amanda through the crowd to the corner near the back door. It wasn’t exactly private, but it would work for a few minutes. That was all he would have, he was sure, before Conner realized one of his friends had one of his sisters off in a dark corner alone.

“Yes, I talked to Tim Winters,” Ryan said when they were as alone as they were going to get. “Right after he clocked me and knocked me on my ass.”

Amanda gasped. “He hit you?”

“Yeah, because I slept with you.”

“I… Oh… Um…”

Ryan fought a smile. “But it’s weird. That really seems like something I’d remember.”

She rolled her eyes. “We all probably blend together after awhile.” She said it quietly, more of a mutter really, but he heard it.

“What’s that mean?” he demanded. He put a finger under her chin and tipped her head so she had to look at him. “Amanda, what does that mean?”

She shrugged and pulled her chin away from his touch. “It means that it’s got to be difficult keeping track of everyone in and out of your bed without making them all wear name tags.”

He grinned. He couldn’t help it. She was sassy too. He liked that. And liked even more that it didn’t show all the time. Emma was pretty much what-you-see-is-what-you-get. He liked knowing that there might be layers to Amanda Dixon to discover.

“Where would they pin the name tags?” he couldn’t resist asking.

For just a moment, Amanda seemed surprised. Then she smiled. “You’ll have to get the adhesive ones, I guess.”

“Might cover up something I need to see.”

“You could try only dating women named Jennifer or something.”

He smiled. “But then Tim Winters wouldn’t believe whatever you told him about you and me.”

Amanda pressed her lips together. Then said, “I’m really sorry he hit you.”

“I’ll live. What I want to know is why he did it.”

“I thought he…told you.”

She actually blushed and Ryan wondered if he could remember the last time he’d seen a woman blush. Not off the top of his head.

“I want to hear it from you.”

She looked at the collar of his shirt instead of his eyes. “I told him I had a one-night stand with someone and had feelings for him.”

“Me.”

“Yes.”

Pre-order here!

Be sure to enter our giveaways too!  Lots of fun stuff up for grabs including my football themed movie night prize pack and our big giveaway of a $50 gift certificate!

You can find out more about me and my books here:  www.ErinNicholas.com and  here:  https://www.facebook.com/erin.nicholas.90

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Promo Don’ts

 

As I gear up for Her Grace’s Stable’s release next week, I’ve had promo on my mind.  What has worked.  What hasn’t.  Where I made mistakes.  The lessons I’ve learned.

Then I thought, hey, a blog post!  And more importantly, a chance for discussion.  I’d like to hear from YOU about what you do and don’t like about author promotions.

It’s really sad, but there are some really basic don’ts that we shouldn’t have to talk about, but they’re done often and it’s annoying to the readers.

NEVER DO:

  • Never add someone to your newsletter who didn’t deliberately opt in themselves.  It’s SPAM.
  • Never @reply someone on Twitter with a random “hey look at this! buy my book!!!” that has absolutely nothing to do with the original Tweet.  It’s SPAM.
  • Never post on someone’s Facebook wall or timeline with “buy my book” sort of garbage.  It’s SPAM.
  • Never rate or review your own book.
  • Don’t create sock puppet accounts to rate/review your own book.
  • Don’t go out and negatively rate/review the “competition” just because you think it’ll make your book look better.
  • Never attack a reader or reviewer because they didn’t like your book.  Certainly don’t send death threats, hunt down their personal information online, etc.  (Yes, this has been done.)

Now here’s some facts/opinions I’ve picked up over the years.

1. Does advertising work?  Honestly, it’s impossible for me to tell.  Even when I’ve done an online ad and saw several clicks through to my site, you never really know whether it led to a sale or not.  I do advertising for name recognition, but I don’t count on it helping sales.  I probably ought to sign up as an Amazon affiliate at some point, but I just haven’t had the time.

2. Do blog tours work?  Again, honestly, it’s impossible for me to tell.  All I can tell you is it’s EXHAUSTING.  I did two huge tours last year and my blogging mojo has been out of whack ever since.  (And I’m pretty sure that my Twitter friends got sick of me tweeting about which blog I was on, sorry about that.)  It’s especially hard to keep coming up with unique ideas — much easier if the site provides a basic questionnaire or interview.  Small unique excerpts are nice too.  But the whole 500-word unique blog post is TOUGH.  There are only so many different things I can say about a book after blogging about it for months+ on my own blog!  Again, it probably helps with name recognition, but most of the commenters are hoping to win a free book (as they should) and may not go out and buy the book on their own.

3. Do mailings work?  I used to belong to Pat Rouse’s romance bookclub/bookstore list and for my first two print books, I mailed out a fairly extensive number of ARCs (considering they were all out of my own pocket and I’m with small presses).  It certainly didn’t hurt, but my print sales are an incredibly small piece of my royalty pie.  I decided it made more sense to concentrate on where 98% of my market is, and that’s electronic.  Plus I did have one bookstore return the opened package back to me marked “refused.”  Boy talk about a blow to your self esteem!

4. Are bookmarks, postcards, etc. worth the cost to print?  I find it incredibly ironic to have bookmarks printed when most of my sales are electronic…!  But it is nice to have something to sign and hand out.  If you’re not going to conferences or mailing gifts/prizes out, then save your money.  Some other notes…

promoSee this big box of stuff?  I went through it today and everything in there needs to be recycled.

Back in 2007-2009, I had a bunch of stuff printed with my Drollerie Press releases, and then the pub went out of business.  ALL of these listed the publisher, some had the ISBN, and even the ones I self published since all have new covers.  So be wary when printing up 1000 bookmarks!  Consider creating bookmarks that support your author brand beyond a single book if possible, too.

I will say that I’m very glad that I still have several hundred Dear Sir, I’m Yours bookmarks.  I love the cover, it supports the brand I’m trying to establish nicely, and it’s convenient to hand out.  After all these years, Dear Sir is still my #1 seller every single month.  Isn’t that crazy?  So it’s definitely been a nice investment. Plus I hope that if someone new finds me through this book or bookmark, they’ll go out and buy the other books in the series too.

If you do send out bookmarks, I think it’s nice to sign them.  People are more willing to hold on to something that’s signed, even if they’re strictly ebook readers.  I personally haven’t found postcards, etc. very useful.

Also, if you’re not a whiz at Photoshop or design, do consider hiring someone to design your print promo for you.  It seems “so easy” to create a little postcard based on your cover, etc. but I wasted hours and hours of time trying to get things just right and I was always disappointed in the final product.  I know exactly what I want — but I often can’t figure out how to create it!  A professional designer has definitely been worth the cost to me.

5. Do giveaways work?  Again, who knows?  I *hope* that whoever wins a free copy of my book will a). give it a try and b). love it and c). maybe review it somewhere or talk about it to a friend, etc.  But you just never know.  People do love to win free things, so I do think giveaways help with name recognition.  The bigger prizes will often draw contest-junkies though – not necessarily readers.

For me, I like giving stuff away, especially books or cute/cool little things that made me think about the book.  As soon as I saw the Jane Austen Royal Mint Stamps, I had to have a set for myself and I also knew it was the perfect thing to give away for any of the Jane Austen Space Opera books.

I love the personalized giveaways that Lynn Viehl always does – like her fantastic quilted totes.  I can’t sew, but if you can do something like that, what an awesome prize!  Handmade, beautiful items are always a treasure to win, at least to me.

Gift certificates are nice too, but you never know how the winner will actually spend it.  e.g. don’t expect them to use it and buy ONLY your books!  That’s a totally unfair expectation.  I like to giveaway a free copy of my newest book along with the gift certificate, so people can feel more open to buying whatever they want, while giving me the feeling that at least they have one of my books to try.

What else do you have to say about promotion don’ts — or better yet — what you wish more authors would do?

RT13 Swag Giveaway

I’m going to start parceling out all of the goodies I brought home from KC, including all sorts of books, pens, postcards, bookmarks, and even an Ellora’s Cavemen calendar.  I have enough goodies to make a nice package for *at least* five winners.  If I still have stuff, I’ll pick more winners from the entrants.  Each package will include a book and as much goodies as I can stuff in a mailer.

You can enter by commenting on this post and the other Rafflecoptor options listed.  In addition, I’d like to get as many reviews as possible for Her Grace’s Stable (coming June 11th) and/or Lady Doctor Wyre (already available).  (If you need a review copy, please contact me.)  If you have an online review posted anywhere (even ones you already did for either book), post a comment on this blog entry containing the link.  Even if it’s the same review posted in multiple locations, eg GoodReads and Amazon, post both links separately for maximum entries!

This giveaway is open to the planet, even if you’ve won something from me before.   Yes, I’ll ship the prize package internationally!

Giveaway closes 5/24/2013 at midnight EST.

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RT2013 Summary

Book Fair SigningI’m home from Romantic Times in Kansas City.  Sorry for the blog silence this past week but I was insanely busy and there wasn’t wireless internet at the hotel.  It was easier to do some tweeting and posting pix on Facebook via my phone.  So stop over on FB if you’d like to see some pictures of the giant book fair or my costumes.

It was a fantastic trip.  I got to meet Laura Kinsale and managed to talk like a reasonable human being until she asked if I had a card.  Then I turned into a blushing stammering idiot (but I did give her my card).  I also met Lauren Dane, Jaci Burton, and Shannon Stacey.  At once!  It was amazing.  I had dinner with my editor, Tera.  We had a blast at the Carina author get-together (AND THEN SOME!!!!), the Here Be Magic breakfast, and the Carina cocktail party.

Ann and I successfully room-mated for the second year in a row.  And we’re even still friends!

I gave away lots of masks, tons of pens, and even managed to sell a few books.  I loved meeting readers and fans and bloggers alike.  I wore my costume several times and even participated in two contests.  I walked at least a mile every single day, most days 2-3 miles.  Food was at times a problem — dinner at 9 or even 10 PM, no lunch, etc.  But I totally fell in love with Panera’s.  What a lifesaver after the crappy $20+ breakfast at the hotel the first day.

I even learned that the Sheraton was actually the old Hyatt where walkways collapsed and over 100 people were killed.  (Now we know why getting to the other side of the hotel was such a pain at times.)

I came home with two tote bags full of books.  Not as many as last year, but still a ton.  I also have a huge tote full of promo swag that I’ll be setting up as giveaways here on the blog.  Yes, I fully intend to share the wealth of goodies!

So stay tuned!

(And yes, as soon as I can swing it, I fully intend to reserve my slot for 2014 in New Orleans!)

Scrambled

I’m in full panic frenzy mode.

Tomorrow’s my last day at the Evil Day Job until May 7th and I’ve got soooo much to do!  We’re in the middle of a large project with a hard deadline, and I’ve got to try and come up with enough stuff for a very efficient programmer to work on while I’m out.  She whizzed through all the stuff I did this week already so I have absolutely NO CUSHION.

Oh, and I’m getting yet another new boss.  My current new boss gave his notice and is moving to a new department within the company.  Third boss in less than 5 months.  My mantra:  Change is a good thing.  Change is a good thing.  Change…

I still have to finish gluing my mask promo items.  We only have about 25 or so done.

I still have to find more clothes to wear during the day, although I’m covered for the nightly events for the most part.  The dress I bought for the award ceremony is gonna be snug.  Thank God for Spanx.  I want to get at least one more pair of black jeans.  Maybe another shirt or two.  I’ll see what I can find this weekend, but I’ve struck out on my favorite brand of jeans once already.

Granny brought by the cute little vest thing to wear beneath my corset.  The only problem I see with it:  it’s extremely short.  I don’t know how comfortable it’ll be if I’m fighting it all the time, but I suppose under the tight corset it probably won’t go anywhere!

I put on the beaded corset yesterday to practice lacing myself into it.  It has back ties, which are really hard to do alone.  Littlest saw me working on it and came in to help me again – by planting her foot on my butt and hauling on the laces.  *can’t breathe!!*  Thank God she’s not coming with me….  Although dang, she managed to suck me in pretty well!  (I could barely move, though, let alone sit down.)

I’m breaking in some new boots to wear during the day.  Yeah, not my brightest idea, but I fell in love with these red Dr. Martens.  In all my internet reading, I found that Dr. Martens are notoriously tough to break in, but these aren’t bad at all.  Of course I am wearing two pairs of socks with them… but I’ve been able to wear them all day without issue.  Will I be able to walk all around KC next week in them without crippling myself?

We shall see!

Yours to Take Giveaway

To celebrate Vicki in print, I’m going to give away a signed print copy of Yours to Take and a $25 gift certificate to any online bookstore (AMZ, B&N, etc.)   This time, I’ll try out Rafflecopter to manage the entries.  One of the ways you can enter is to simply comment on this blog post.

I’m working on Mama Connagher’s book, tentatively titled A Hard Woman.  If you’ve read any of the other Connagher books, what do you think about her?  e.g. is there a particular detail you have in your mind?  A habit or trait you’ve picked up from the other books?  I’m just curious to see what people think of her, even though she’s never had a POV before.

Of course you can just throw your name in the hat by commenting on this entry too.  This giveaway is open to anyone on the planet!

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