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The husband here, reporting for duty.

I have been doing other things besides reading my wife's book, Brotherly Love, believe it or not. Avoiding stabbing myself in the neck or running out in front of a Greyhound bus while screaming in terror, for instance.

Not a big fan of the romance genre. Sorry.

Anyways, one actual useful thing I've been doing is getting A Faerie Fated Forever ready for paperback. To be blunt, I never liked the original job I did on the cover design. It seemed a bit amateurish to me, which is strange because it was not the first one I ever did (that one was E-Mail Enticement). So I took the opportunity to change the front cover and make it a little more professional looking.

You should now see the new cover on our website, both in the sidebar and, of course, in the Complete List of E-Books page. I will look into how difficult it is to change the cover on the e-book sites. If it's worth the trouble, you'll be seeing the new cover on those as well.

And where else will you be seeing the new Faerie cover, you may ask? Why, on the paperback of course! The CreateSpace page is up for it already, but it won't be active until we get the proof copy and make sure everything is acceptable for you, the reader. The Amazon page selling the paperback will be up and running shortly after that.

Currently, I'm awaiting two things and I'm not sure which causes the most tension.

Just published my FIRST paperback.  Brotherly Love  is available on Amazon.  The publication of an actual physical version of a book is a momentous occasion for any writer.  It's a dream come true.  Okay.  It's the K-Mart Blue Light Special version of a dream come true.  The actual dream come true would involve a NY publishing house, an editor, a literary agent and a book tour.  But, the great thing about being a writer today is that we can take the reins of our own destiny.  Thank you Createspace and Amazon. 

My listing just went live on the aforementioned literary mecca called Amazon and I'm anxiously awaiting my first sale.  Not that I'm clicking my Createspace member dashboard every few minutes or anything.  No.  Of course not.  (Yeah, right.)

The other anxiety producing event is that my husband is actually reading the book.  He's nobody's romance fan.  Just last night he told me that he might go postal if he ever read any versions of the words pebbled and nipples in the same sentence again.   I asked if he'd have the same problem looking at them.  He shot me a look. Yeah, one of those looks.  No dear, I'm not certifiable. 

So, I'm biting my nails to see whether my husband will be able to finish the book and come up with anything nice to say about it.  Can the man I've been married to for over 20 years and produced two people with find something non-nasty to say when he finishes my book?  If he finishes my book?   

I can hear it in my head.  It's the voice of the announcer from the soap I used to watch with my maternal grandmother.  Her grandchildren called her Mammy.  We  called my maternal grandfather Spot. Don't ask.  But anyway, Mammy and I used to watch a soap called "The Edge of Night" every afternoon.  That announcer's voice is in my head now. 

What's he saying?  It goes something like this: 

Will any patron of Amazon ever click the buy button and take delivery on Mary Anne Graham's firstborn paperback, Brotherly Love?  Will the man who with Mary Anne Graham created her first and second born sons actually read her entire book?  If he does, will he be able to say something nicer than, "It wasn't completely rotten." Or even - you dreamer you - "It didn't make me want to throw up."

Stay tuned women everywhere.  As for me, like I said, I'm biting my fingernails.

My toenails are even starting to look tasty!!

Announcement time from Mary Anne's husband here!

Thanks to the wonderful new technology of print-on-demand (or as they call it in publishing circles, POD), we now present to you Mary Anne's first book, Brotherly Love, in paperback form!

You may purchase Brotherly in all of its solid, material, flingable glory from two online POD publishers, Lulu and CreateSpace.

We will publish the remaining titles as paperbacks on CreateSpace and link them via our Complete List of E-Books section here on the Quacking Alone weblog. We published Brotherly as a paperback on Lulu before we realized the advantages of using CreateSpace instead - the main advantage being a lower price to you, the customer. It doesn't hurt that CreateSpace is an Amazon.com company either, and that they distribute books via Target Stores in some cases.

As always, we will still make Mary Anne's titles available as e-books through Kindle, Mobipocket, Smashwords, and Lulu. These are the quickest and most cost-effective means of getting content out to you, so we wouldn't dream of cutting off these channels to you technologically savvy romance lovers out there, what with your iPhones and Kindles and all.

I simply recommend that you don't hurl such expensive pieces of machinery towards somebody's noggin - buy a nice paperback for that sort of thing, mmkay? You'll thank me later.

UPDATE 04/30/2009: Remember what I said about Amazon.com? Well guess what? Here it is, the paperback on Amazon.

It's almost like being a new Daddy again. With more sleep and less baby spewage.

Hi people, it's Mary Anne's hubby here. I just wanted to announce to the regular readers of this blog (both of you) that we're not just twiddling our thumbs here, we are making substantial efforts to bring Mary Anne's books to you in physical form, like with molecules and all that jazz.

The digital (i.e., electron-only) forms of her books will still be available, of course, but I know a lot of you out there are much like me - it ain't real if you cain't throw it towards somebody's head. So for us Luddites (yeah, I'm an IT guy who's a Luddite - it's like an Amish electrical engineer), Mary Anne is going to have paperback, print-on-demand versions of her books.

This involves a little effort from Yours Truly. And by a little effort, I mean a backbreaking Sisyphean task that will have me cursing like a sailor and consulting my friend Mr. Brick on exactly how to shatter the skulls of programmers who made the software involved in this brand new form of self-publishing.

So hang on kiddies. New things are coming your way! And if you're lucky, they're not hard and brick-shaped...

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I'm currently editing A Golden Forever, the sequel to Faerie.  Like all good sequels, it also stands alone as a book the reader could enjoy without reading any of the other books in the series.  And yes, when I say I'm editing, what I mean is, I'm re-editing.  Or perhaps, re, re, re editing.  Does any writer ever feel finished with the work?  Anyway, in the course of editing this time with the intent to e-publish, part of the story causes me a little concern.  

Golden  tells Viv's story of going to California's gold rush to fund a future independent of any man.  Of course, the Earl who sends her to California has his own agenda.  The Earl is using Viv as bait to reel back his son, Colton.  The son is a bastard half-breed who was abandoned once by the father as a child, and betrayed as an adult.  The P.C. issue arises with the son. 

Troubled heros can be trouble for writers too.  Colt was the result of his father's affair with an Indian maiden during the father's tour of the American west.  Colt's mother marries a tribe warrior who doesn't much like the half-breed who reminds him and his wife daily of the English noble the wife gave herself to and still loves.  Colt pays for that as a child and after his mother dies has to sell his body to widowed squaws for food and shelter.  Later, in England, he sells his body to ladies who want to sleep with the savage in order to get invited to their social affiars and to gain acceptance to the ton

The stories about the tribe are rooted entirely in my own imagination.  I selected a real tribe, the Crow, as the one to which Colt's band belongs.  Why the Crow?  It made sense geographically in the story.  I also researched the tribe and found they were much more open about sex and sexual issues than many other bands.  I consider that philosophy very positive.  I also consider it important to the story because it had to be a tribe where the women would have had enough power and self-esteem to take charge of their sexual needs - even if they did it in a way that hurt Colt.   Let's face it, they also helped Colt because he survived. Survival isn't always free and it isn't always easy.

That's where my fears about the P.C. police come in.  I proudly have Cherokee blood in my lineage.  My eldest son has golden skin year-round thanks to that part of our heritage.  We've taken the kids to the Reservation museum and the Indian Village in Cherokee, North Carolina.  The children have been taught to respect all of their heritage.  But some folks of Indian heritage object to things like names of sporting teams.  It's not an attitude we really understand in the South and none of that P.C. mania has ever taken hold here.

Many symbols of history and heritage hold mixed messages.  In my state, South Carolina, we honor those symbols for the heritage and leave the meaning to the beholder.  I worry that some of the groups may take aim at Golden  and see only part of the message.  Even so, I decided to leave the Crow tribe as the Crow tribe.  I thought of making up a name - perhaps the Eagle Tribe - but in its own way, that seemed more disrespectful.  I admire the open acceptance embodied in Crow principals. I wish the South had more of a grasp of accepting rather than judging, of opening doors rather than closing them. 

I'll put a disclaimer at the beginning of my book, advising the reader of my creative license, and urging them to visit the Reservations, study the tribe and hopefully come to respect its many accomplishments and achievements as well as its history of acceptance.  The P.C. police may come for me when I post the book, but I hope they won't.  I hope they will understand that the dangers of fighting creativity and literary vision far outweigh any benefits.   

A Golden Forever  should be posted -- or published -- soon at e-tailers around the web.  Check it out and let me know what you think. I suspect that how readers see the story may be as varied as how readers see some of those monuments and symbols.

History is as individual as the people who made it.  One size doesn't fit all.

I've found my muse to be a fickle creature.  Sometimes, I'll be working to finish one project and there she will perch, on my shoulder, luring me towards a new idea.  Other times, I'm in need of the right word or phrase or image and I can't find her anywhere.  She likes to strike when I least expect her.

That happened to me a couple of years ago.  I was at a CLE (Continuing Legal Education) Seminar.  I'd long ago decided CLE's are how the bar association mines money from its members on a regular basis.  After all, dues only get paid once a year!  SC is a mandatory bar state, so our bar gets its dues and it gets all that CLE money too. A 3 hour seminar costs several hundred dollars and lawyers have to have 14 hours a year. 

Anyway, in addition to mining for money, the seminars herd a group of lawyers who don't want to be in a room into the room.  We sit and fume and sit some more.  But a couple of years ago, the oddest thing happened. My muse showed up at a CLE!  A brilliant colleague was presenting a seminar on a statute none of us had heard of before.  The statute makes it a felony to entice a minor to commit a sexual act by e-mail. 

Mind you, all you have to do to commit the felony is press send.  A construction worker employed on a temporary job site can be playing around with his computer in Hilton Head, exchanging naughty messages with an older than her years Carolina teenager.  He might agree to meet her at Club "You're Screwed" the next night.  He doesn't go, and never intended to - he left to drive four hours to get home early the next morning.  Stupidity, but no actual intent to do anything.  It doesn't matter.  The communication is the crime!  (I won't bore you all with the group's collective opinion that the statute can not be constitutional).

Muse sat there and insisted I read the statute.  Lo and behold, at 17, a minor can consent to exchange naughty e-mails.  It puts the power in the minor's hand.  Before I got home that night, I'd composed a mental outline of my novel, E-mail Enticement.  It features a couple of trials centered around a romance between a 30 something billionaire and a 17 year old Carolina Girl.  I set it in Myrtle Beach where the billionaire owned a number of hotels - we have lots of those.  It presents a situation where the power that would normally be in the hands of the older man, landed squarely in the lap of the young girl. 

I had a blast writing E-Mail even if it was cursed by bad timing.  I finished it right before one of the Congressmen got in hot water for naughty e-mails to a page.  Sometimes, reality bites.  And sometimes, muses show up in the least likely places.

Bad timing and all, E-Mail Enticement is a great story about forbidden love, trials where truth is relative, reality may not be real and where power, like muses, can land in the most unlikely places. 

Give E-mail a read sometime.  My muse recommends it. She can be quirky, but she's not completely insane.  Me on the other hand...........

I've just published my novel, A Faerie Fated Forever.  It's up now and available at Mobipocket and partner e-tailers but is still "in the formatting loop" at Kindle.  It should be up on Amazon and available for the Kindle shortly. The setting is partly the Highland Isle of Skye in Scotland and partly Regency(ish) England.  It tells the story of Nial Maclee, a laird whose family labors under a faerie curse and of Heather MacIver, the local lass whose adoration of the laird is legendary and whose disguises to hide her unusual looks earned her the nickname, "Heather the hag." 

Faerie, and the two sequels that I've written already, were born from my perversion of a very famous legend.  I love Scottish tales and wanted to write one but wasn't sure where to start.  For inspiration, I searched the Internet for interesting historical tidbits about clans and found the one on Skye, the Clan MacLeod.  The MacLeods famously have the blood of faeries in their family line thanks to a long ago handfast or temporary (sort of) marriage between a laird and a faerie. 

In the MacLeod legend, after a year and a day, the faerie princess returned home, leaving behind the laird and their baby, Ian.  She made her hubby promise that he'd never let the baby cry.  For a long time, thanks to constant nursing care, the little one never cried.  But one night, Ian's nurses were lured away by a party and the baby cried.  His Mother came down from the land of faerie and crooned to him to soothe him.  She wrapped him in a cloth and told him the cloth was a faerie flag that could be used 3 times to call for help from the faeries.  The clan has the famed faerie flag at their castle.  It has reportedly been used twice and one use remains. 

...continue reading "The Rest Of The Story"

The big adage in publishing these days is "show not tell."  I think this adage misses a basic point about why some of us read romance.  I think it's caused many readers to keep searching for books like the great ones they used to read.  Eventually, they give up the search and stick to re-reading the classics.  So in the long run, "show not tell" means "look not buy."  I think it's cost the industry some devoted readers who have given up.

"Show not tell" means describe the characters about to kiss and describe the kiss itself.  The reader should figure out how the characters felt about the kiss from the description of the scene and the action. Woe be unto writers who dare to pop the reader into the character's head to experience the emotions of the hero and heroine!

Many of us read to take that mental journey with the characters.  If we want to see a kiss and read meaning and emotion from visual cues, then we we'll watch it on TV.  I want to know why the pair kissed, why it mattered that they kissed and how they felt about it.  I want to be inside the heads and hearts of the hero and the heroine.  I want to take the mind trip with both of them. 

Only in a book can you crawl inside the mind of a man who thinks love is a concept invented by women to conquer the male race.  Only in a book can you crawl inside the emotions of a woman so giddy with love that she'll face her darkest fear to stay in the arms of a lover.  But, of course, it's not just romance that gives tickets to ride the magic mind train.  Books will take you inside the head of a madman holding a knife, a victim about to be slaughtered, a pathologist doing the autopsy, a detective solving the crime and a juror returning a guilty verdict.

The best books are magic carpets that take the reader on an adventure in thought and deed.  I try to provide a little touch of that magic for my readers.  So if you're looking for a magic carpet ride, check out E-Mail Enticement, Brotherly Love,  or my upcoming historical, A Faerie Fated Forever. 

And keep the TV turned off.  After all, it can only SHOW you the kiss.

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One thing I've always found curious is the reaction of other writers to age differences between lovers.   Most of them accept an age span as perfectly acceptable in historical romances.  If it's in jolly old England during the Regency era, then of course it's okay for a 17 year old female to find love with a decades older man.  However, move the characters forward to 2009 and suddenly it's wrong and makes them out and out uncomfortable. 

There is distance and time enough to justify the Regency. But put the same couple in today's world, and fears over what is and isn't socially acceptable change the dynamic.  I dislike and generally refuse to acknowledge most lines and labels.  Even if I didn't, books are the best place to explore, to push the boundaries.  If you're perfectly content to follow the herd, then why would you need fiction? 

In my novel, E-mail Enticement,  a 17 year old and a thirty something fall madly in love in a hot and steamy, read it with your favorite partner nearby kind of way.  He teaches her about hypocrisy and she teaches him that you're never too old to hurt.  They battle community opinion and the law and learn that redeeming some things means losing others.  In the story, age provides the barrier that love must overcome.

In Email,  Alix realizes that the calendar is only a function of how men count time.  Mother Nature gives maturity at her own pace.  That's one of the reasons I wrote the story.  Whether it's Regency England or modern day Myrtle Beach, one size doesn't fit all. 

Love doesn't have a watch or a calendar.

I grew up in a little town in South Carolina that had a drive-in theater.  But, mind you, not a regular drive-in.  This one was special.  When my mother and my aunt drove in, my cousin and I were hidden under blankets in the back seat.  Why?  Because it showed those movies.  You know, the ones where someone moves into a new neighborhood and is greeted by the Welcome Wagon.  Before you could get back to the car with popcorn, the now naked new neighbor, the Welcome Wagon, the Postman, and the movers were grinding and grubbing all over the screen. 

(Try telling 2 pre-teen girls to sleep through that.  Also, try to explain why the forbidden children who were told to sleep were sent for the popcorn and returned with it without anyone calling the cops or Social Services.)    

The grubbing and grinding follies, if on a page instead of a movie screen, would be in the category "adults only."  I get that.  What I don't get is where the boundary begins.  When exactly does romance enter the "adults only" category?  Brotherly Love  and E-mail Enticement  both venture beyond the bedroom door.  In fact, both describe the physical encounters in graphic and - I hope - arousing, enticing and alluring detail.  Brotherly  contains a scene in a bordello with one man and several "ladies of the evening."   Neither book contains sharing of their coupling by the focal pair nor (darn it) bondage, sex toys, or overly unusual forms or foibles.  Does the writer's intent make the difference or does it take something more?  Help me out - what makes a book fit the adult only category?

By the way, I've categorized both Brotherly and E-mail  as adult only.  Does anyone have an idea whether that helps or hurts sales?  When I check out my books in the e-tailers, some (most) of the others in the same section make my stuff look and sound pretty tame.  So I got to wondering -- am I in the wrong neighborhood?

I'd appreciate someone getting out the clue gun and pointing it in my direction.