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That's right pardners.  'Tis once again time to boogle over to All Day, All Night ... Romance Divas - The Marianne's Blog.  Yours truly posted about secondary characters. 

Belly on up to the ADAN bar and tell us how you like your romance served!

http://alldayallnightromancedivas.blogspot.com/2011/03/do-you-like-your-romance-neat-straight.html

Earlier, I'd blogged that Quacking Alone's romance books would be at 25% Off for Smashwords Read An Ebook Week Promo. Then, I checked and couldn't find the books listed so I updated the blog.

SW founder Mark Coker has now advised that QA's books are in the promo.

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Go to Smashwords quick before you miss out. Grab QA Romance's full line of books and then pick up a bunch of other fine books.

Read An Ebook Week only comes once a year. Fill up your ereader while the deals last!!!

For some reason, it doesn't look like SW has ever applied the 25% discount to my books for this week. I listed them for the Read An E-book promo at that price, so I don't know why they wouldn't be enrolled.

Possibly the SW site is having problems, the staff is sick, etc. (There is some of that going round at my house too).

Either way I wanted to update my readers. I listed my stuff for the promo at 25% off - I'd never quack out the wrong info to my peeps.

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For the upcoming anniversary of Michael Jackson's passing, I repost the following which originally appeared on the blog shortly after his death.

 Okay, get your mind off of all the weirdness of MJ's latter years.  As for the criminal charges, don't go there.  Think about the music and the performances.  Get yourself in that mind space.  Maybe it'll help if you squeal "Ooh" and "I'm Bad" three or four times.  Okay, focused now? 

 His death was tragic. Having a creative force like his snuffed out so quickly, so needlessly has deprived the world of years of music and magic.  So while it's certainly his tragedy, his family's tragedy, it's also a loss for everyone who ever turned on a radio or downloaded music.  In the wake of the sudden loss there were many retrospectives and tributes.

As one of those tributes Fox re-broadcast the first American Idol finalist show of this season featuring the top 13 performing Michael Jackson songs.  I watch American Idol and enjoy seeing the group working and growing into music professionals.  It's always fun to see someone working to make their dream come true.  But I'd forgotten about that MJ show because, at the time, it was just another show.  Too bad it wasn't done later in the season with the gloved one giving the finalists performance critiques and suggestions. 

...continue reading "If Michael Jackson Wrote Romance Novels…"

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**Originally posted July 5, 2009**

Okay, get your mind off of all the weirdness of MJ's latter years.  As for the criminal charges, don't go there.  Think about the music and the performances.  Get yourself in that mind space.  Maybe it'll help if you squeal "Ooh" and "I'm Bad" three or four times.  Okay, focused now? 

 His death was tragic. Having a creative force like his snuffed out so quickly, so needlessly has deprived the world of years of music and magic.  So while it's certainly his tragedy, his family's tragedy, it's also a loss for everyone who ever turned on a radio or downloaded music.  In the wake of the sudden loss there were many retrospectives and tributes.

As one of those tributes Fox re-broadcast the first American Idol finalist show of this season featuring the top 13 performing Michael Jackson songs.  I watch American Idol and enjoy seeing the group working and growing into music professionals.  It's always fun to see someone working to make their dream come true.  But I'd forgotten about that MJ show because, at the time, it was just another show.  Too bad it wasn't done later in the season with the gloved one giving the finalists performance critiques and suggestions. 

My favorite contestant of this past season was Adam Lambert.  We all recall that he finished second.  My only explanation for that is that Kris Allen was everyman -- the one more like the average American watching on the sofa at home.  Adam has too much creative force to be contained or labeled in any one genre or tradition.  Adam will never be anyone's everyman -- but neither is Elton John and, of course, neither was Michael Jackson. 

As one of the last performances of the show, Adam Lambert did MJ's "Black or White."  Adam nailed it, standing out from the others like Sir Elton at a High School talent contest.  His performance impressed the judges too, including Simon Cowell, the one we love to hate and hate to love.  Simon's comments made me think and inspired this post.  Simon said Adam nailed it because (and I'm paraphrasing here because I didn't watch the episode with pen in hand) - To make a MJ song work , a performer has to be totally comfortable on stage, and he has to perform the song like Michael - over the top.

Why did that resonate with me? When Adam and MJ perform, they do it over the top.  When I write romance, I write it over the top.  For a writer or performer to succeed, he or she has to do it the way it comes naturally.  If Kris Allen tried to perform MJ over the top, it wouldn't work for him at all.  It worked for Lambert because that's how his art speaks to him.  It's the same for a romance novelist.  You can only write romance over the top and have it carry the reader along if that's how the story and the characters speak to the writer.  I understand MJ's approach to music because I know it must have come as naturally to him as my stories come to me. 

...continue reading "If Michael Jackson Wrote Romance Novels"

***Note - My blog has just been added to my Author Central page at Amazon. To acquaint readers there with my work, I'm posting some prior entries.  Also, it's the holidays, people.  All that peace on earth stuff is stressful and don't get me started on the goodwill part.  ****

(Originally posted May 31, 2009)

Drum roll, please! I got an actual customer review on Amazon. 

 A reader gave a brief review of A Faerie Fated Forever. She gave it 3 out of 5 stars, which ain’t bad.  Yeah, 5 out of 5 would’ve been nice but heck, I’m pretty darned new at this whole publication business.  Besides, what has me doing cartwheels isn’t the 3 stars.  It’s what she said about the book.

The reader titled her review Good Read Overall.  She said she started reading and didn’t put it down until the end, but thought there was a bit of over kill when he (Nial) finally decided he was in love.  First and foremost, I write to entertain.  When I pick up a book by one of my long time faves or by a new writer, I know it’s a success if I have trouble putting it down.  If I pick up one and read it straight through – well, that’s a home run.  Faerie entertained the reviewer.  That puts a big ole smile on my face.

The reviewer also said she thought there was a bit of “over kill” when Nial acknowledged that he’d fallen in love.  That comment only proves how smart this reviewer must be.  In Faerie as in ALL of my books, I write the love story over the top.  There’s a fair amount of tongue in cheek involved in this and it’s certainly not intended to reflect reality.  Anyone who has read this blog knows that I want my readers to escape reality.  And if you’re going to escape this reality, why not write one that women would like to inhabit? 

 My heroes are generally pretty spoiled guys.  Whether it’s in the contemporaries or the historicals, my heroes are rakes and rogues.  They’ve had too much their own way for too long and they’ve devoted a fair amount of energy to pleasure and self indulgence. When love strikes, it hits them hard but they won’t admit it.  They’re too stubborn, too certain that this is just another woman in a long train of women.  By the time they realize this one means much more, that this one matters, they’ve generally screwed up pretty badly.  Then they have to get her back, HAVE TO HAVE HER BACK, can’t live without her.  The race to redeem themselves and win her back is frantic and manic and yeah – totally over the top.  Over kill is a lot of fun to write and, judging from this review, it can be a lot of fun to read.

There’s also some justice that I believe women would like to see more of in the whole process.  Perhaps there’s even an element of Mother Nature’s karma -  You’ve had it way too easy, buddy.  You want this one?  You require this one?  You can’t exist without this one? Well good.  That’s as it should be.  But unlike the rest of your life up to this moment, it won’t be easy.  You’ll have to work to get her and you’ll have to struggle to keep her.  I can hear Mother Nature in my ear as I write, cheering on the heroine - You Go Girl.

I write over the top.  I write “over kill.”  I write stories where a great female karma shifts power to the ladies.   

So if you want to read a “slice of life” story that reflects the world we live in and work in and struggle to pay the bills in, well, my stories may not be your cup of latte.  But if you want to read about a place where men fall head over wonder worm in love, then pick up one of my books.  Heck, pick up all of my books.

The Amazon reviewer said she started reading Faerie and did not put it down until the end.  So the review essentially said that Faerie was an over the top love story that she couldn’t put down.  I like that.  I like it very, very much. 

Reader reviews and reaction are important to me.  Yeah, I’d like to be picked up by a big publishing house and have my books in stores around the globe.  Yeah, I’d love to have Shonda Rhimes, Ron Howard, Penny Marshall, Oprah Winfrey or the like call and say - Darling, I must buy the movie rights to your book.   One sale of movie rights would buy me a writer’s life.  Writing full time is the brass ring so many of us dream of reaching.

Most of us will never get the brass ring and it’s not why we write.  We write to intrigue, inform, enlighten or entertain.  For all of us, I couldn’t put it down is the ultimate reader’s compliment.  It’s why we turn on our computers and type Chapter One.  Having this reader say she didn’t put it down until the end means she enjoyed the book.  Having her call Nial’s reaction to falling in love “over kill” means she found it over the top. 

To me, the review means I succeeded at least once, with one reader.  Yeah, 5 out of 5 stars would have been nice.  But if I have a choice, I’ll take  “did not put it down until the end” over all the stars in the Amazon universe. 

Tracy Stuber, thanks for taking the time to comment on the book.  It meant a lot to me.  Guess what I’m trying to say is – Tracy Stuber, you rock!

THREE CHEERS FOR AMAZON!!!

I've given the company a hard time for its failure to clean out its Mobi closet, but people aren't perfect so I can hardly expect a company to achieve perfection.  Lord knows, I'm the poster child for flaws.  So I'm not saying that Amazon is perfect, but this week it took huge strides in becoming close enough to perfect for me.  Amazon just proved once again that it is the indie writer's best friend. 

This week, Amazon's indie writer's subsidiary, CreateSpace, entered the publishing biz.  CS has signed distribution deals with Ingram's Lightning Source and Baker & Taylor which will make books widely available to retailers and bookstores as well as to schools and libraries.  It's a big, big deal done quietly, almost under the radar. 

This quiet deal promises to change the face of publishing.   

Amazon first championed indie writers with its Kindle platform.  Yes, big publishers and major authors - if they're smart - publish on Kindle.  But the costs of such big named books brings big costs to Amazon as well.  There have been numerous stories speculating that the big e-tailer loses about $2 on each work of a Royal-published author that appears on Kindle.  Invariably those stories reach the flawed conclusion that the weight of these losses will drag down Kindle and Amazon.  Of course, the stories never mention the horde of indie work published on Kindle.

For each indie work, Amazon bears no up-front cost.  The writer sets the purchase price and Amazon collects 65% of that price for each book sold.   And more and more, buyers don't care whether the book has been vetted by a big publishing company.  Buyers want to decide for themselves and they're starting to hit the buy button more and more often for the indie works.  Each time an indie work sells, the e-tailer and the indie author profit. Big publishing shills cries of bankruptcy ahoy aside, I think Amazon is laughing all the way to the bank.  

What's the proof that Amazon is profitting from being the indie advocate?  Why, 'tis this week's new deal, of course.  Under the terms, any indie writer published on CS who purchases the pro-plan, at a cost of $39.00 per year, can enter their work in the new distribution channels.  And that's the best value out there for indie writers.

Often the cost factor will prevent authors from signing with Lightning Source or Baker & Taylor.  Those distributors require the writer to own the ISBN and then to pay a set up fee.  ISBNs are purchased in a block of 10 for somewhere between $250-$300.  Then there is a set up fee, of say $75, for each book.  That's too big a chunk of change for many indie writers, especially in this economy.  Lord knows, I blogged previously about my desire to get my books out there through LS. But in times when my family can't pay all its bills, laying out big bucks for distribution of books just wasn't happening.

So like many other indie writers, I was anticipating the day when I could get my work out there in the big, wide world.  On that day, my books could sit out there on store shelves beside works of romance authors like Julia Quinn, Johanna Lindsey, Catherine Coulter, Nora Roberts.  And my new books, the contemporaries where love and law intersect, they could one day sit beside John Grisham's work.  Heck, my last name (Graham) is even alphabetically close to his.  Well, thanks to Amazon, today is the future.

I was already published through CS and already enrolled in the pro-plan.  So Amazon made the path to my dream as easy as checking a box.  To other indie writers, I'd note that CS has no set up fees, they provide and own the ISBN, and the pro plan is only $39.00 per year.  For that price, you already got bigger royalties on Amazon.  Today, it also gives you the keys to the world.  Even I can afford $39.00 per year and my current economic balance sheets are as gloomy as anyone's. 

The move pits Amazon against the traditional publishing companies.  But it doesn't do it by attacking the walls of the Royal's castles.  Amazon has built a new castle and thrown open the gates.  It doesn't set up Amazon or CS as judge and jury.  The companies aren't screening works or deciding what Americans want.  Instead, they're banking on a future where Americans decide the next big thing for themselves, one purchase at a time. 

This move makes Amazon the Ellis Island for indie authors.  The company's Kindle success, fueled by profits made more from indies than the establishment, convinced the giant that the huddled masses did yearn to breathe free.  And in freedom, there is both choice and profit.  Our country was built on those principals and when it remembers that America is the country free enterprise built, happy days will return for everyone.  For now, at least Amazon has remembered.

Once again, traditional publishing's insular, short-sighted protectionism has brought the Royals a step closer to their own demise.  The companies could have seen the rise of devices like the Kindle as a low cost way to sell more books to more people.  The publishing Royals could have negotiated new  contracts with lower advance money and bigger writer royalties.  That would mean the writers shared not only the risk, but the reward as well.  But of course, publishers didn't do that.

Instead, the publishers closed ranks and circled the wagons.  They said, no big discounts to Amazon, never, not in a million years.  In fact, we're going to delay the release of new e-books so that we can bank bigger profits on our paper versions.  Take that, Amazon, they cried.

And Amazon took the publisher's sword and impaled them on it. 

So, book buyers everywhere, keep an eye on the shelves of your favorite bookstore, supermarket or drug store.  Within the next few weeks, if the owners of those stores and markets are smarter than the publishers, those shelves will bloom with books as wide and varied and different as the dreams and personalities of the shoppers. 

So once again, Amazon steps forward as the advocate for change and choice and the future.  Maybe an Amazon World wouldn't be such a bad place after all.