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Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, December 15, 2013

15 Dec

Upcoming Books and Recent Releases

It’s well known that I feel Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster series is one of the best Regency romance series out there, so I’m pleased to see that Avon Publishing is cleverly releasing the first three books of it (and they are AWESOME) as a e-bundle for people wanting to try it. Available as of December 17th, Cynsters: The Beginning includes Devil’s Bride, A Rake’s Vow and Scandal’s Bride and will cost only $13.59, a massive discount from the $7.99 for each book which is the standard retail price.

Angela Knight announced the prequel to her successful Magverse series, Wicked Games, will be released as of April 1, 2014. Containing not only the story that started this fantastic reinterpretation of Arthurian tales (think sexy vampires as knights and plenty of magic), it also bundles several previously released e-tales which have been revised and expanded for this anthology.

Vivian Arend’s next novel in her Thompson & Son series, Baby, Be Mine, will be published on February 25, 2014. This book combines a friends to lovers trope along with a surprise baby and amnesia when Gage Jenick takes advantage of long-time friend and hottie Katy Thompson kicking her boyfriend to the curb, even if his work is going to make him incommunicado for a couple of months. What he didn’t anticipate was that his girlfriend would have no memory of him or their incredible night together after she is involved in a car crash. While Katy wonders why Gage returns acting so territorial around her, she’s way more interested in how on earth she could be pregnant? In Arend’s hands, this is bound to be pure gold, so pre-order now!

Arend is going to win the busy bee award in February, considering that earlier in the month she also has the next installment of her Adrenaline Search & Rescue series, High Seduction coming out on February 4th. Armchair adrenaline junkies will definitely want to pre-order this puppy, a sexy chopper pilot looking for someone else to take control in the bedroom and the old flame paramedic who is more than happy to give her exactly what she needs.

Contests and Giveaways

Hustle over to Goodreads today for a chance to enter the historical romance anthology At the Duke’s Wedding, featuring stories by such powerhouse authors as Caroline Linden, Katharine Ashe, Miranda Neville and Maya Rodale. Enter by December 15th for a chance at these stories in print form for the first time!

Vampire Book Club, a blog whose reviews can always be counted on to inform, is offering a fabulous Urban Fantasy giveaway, with books by Adrian Phoenix, Jess Haines, Christina Henry and Eileen Rendahl to populate your bookshelves. Get over there before December 19th to enter for your chance to win!

With a mid-week deadline, another giveaway worth entering is for the first book of Emma Barron‘s Tropical Nights series, Exposed, which ends on December 18th. When a reporter is assigned the interview of a reclusive CEO, she thinks it’s a run-of-the-mill assignment not realizing her boss has led the company to believe that it’s a write up for a major economics journal and not the gossip magazine she works for. But both this sexy businessman and determined reporter have had their heart burned before, so as they realize that this interview is revealing their desire for one another as well as the facts, the question remains if they can get past their trepidation to find something real together.

Contemporary author Leah Braemel is participating in the Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop, offering a $10 Amazon or B&N card as a present to a lucky visitor who participated in her Rafflecopter giveaway by December 19th. For an even bigger prize (and a bit of guide through the Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop) head to P. J. Schnyder‘s blog and look at her giveaway which garners you entries via tweeting and commenting at the various participants blogs. In addition to Braemel and Schnyder (two excellent authors) they’re joined by such wonderful authors as Laura Kaye (of Hard As It Gets fame), Christine d’Abo, Christi Barth, Cat Johnson, and Dana Marie Bell among others. Enter before December 20th to see if Santa is going to give you something electronic under your tree via a $200 gift card to Best Buy if you manage to win this one!

Speaking of the Cynster saga (see the Upcoming Books and New Releases entry above), Goodreads is having a giveaway of one of the spin-off books from that Regency saga, Where the Heart Leads, the first in The Casebook of Barnaby Adair series. Currently the only entry in that series, Laurens recently announced she’ll be adding several books to it and I’m elated, as Barnaby, the aristocrat with a penchant for investigation via London’s burgeoning police force is a favorite of mine! This book is the one where he falls for the cerebral yet beautiful Lady Penelope Ashford, and it’s a doozy with some of my favorite characters making appearances. Enter before December 20th for your chance to win!

New York Times Best-Selling author Donna Grant is having a Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway on her Facebook page where she is posting lovely daily prizes for commenters (like $50 bookseller gift cards!), so head over there and start contributing! I imagine they’ll just keep getting better and better the closer to Christmas we get. :-)

It’s tough not to giggle at some of Harlequin’s titles and the Intrigue novels are usually the most chuckle-worthy. That does not stop this imprint from periodically hitting a home run, and I have to confess to putting Secret Agent Secretary , the second book in Melissa Cutler‘s ICE: Black Ops Defenders series, on my to-read list. When a desk jockey is catapulted into the arms of a handsome agent, they need to work together to foil a nefarious plan. Luckily for all of us, it’s also being offered in a Goodreads giveaway for people who enter prior to the end of December.

The erotic romance author group collectively known as the Smutketeers (R. G. Alexander, Eden Bradley, Rachel Grace, Eve Berlin and Robin L. Rotham) on their blog of the same name have begun their Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway with not only daily prizes and fabulous highlights of recent books you’ll want under your tree, but a cumulative prize of a $300 gift card for a dedicated reader who posts a comment on each day of the celebration. That’s a lot of books….

Fun Stuff

‘Tis the season for finding gifts for all the readers in your family, and game enthusiasts might want to take a gander at all the book-related board games out there geared toward readers. Flavorwire has a terrific list of 10 board games for book nerds (why are we always nerds?) including ones based on Pride & Prejudice and Beowulf, or you can get a classic like Bookopoly, geared toward middle school kids but great for readers of all ages.

I usually don’t post stuff about YA romance (probably because I think about it all the time in my day job as a young adult librarian) but I had to share the wonderful post by author Diana Peterfreund on the RITA awards and their perhaps misguided treatment of YA romance. Peterfreund has numerous successful books under the belt, many of which should be award-winners in multiple categories, but this thoughtful analysis of the Romance Writers’ Association and YA is worth a read and re-read.

Great Deals

The full-length erotic novel (gracious, that sounds dirty!) Sexual Persuasion by Maryn Sinclair is currently free on Amazon. When a woman is rescued from an uncomfortable encounter with an ex, she can’t deny the heat between her handsome rescuer and herself. But when that gorgeous man is revealed to be an attorney with one client (the local mob head), and she hears the rumors that this same man who is clearly interested in getting her in bed also was the lover of his male mob boss, she’s confused. Will his past come between them or can she be persuaded?

Erotic historical author Kate Pearce currently has the prequel to her Sinners Club series also available for free, The First Sinners. The series features men who belong to a private gentlemen’s club filled with men who have either sketchy pasts or specific predilictions – and the need to keep both quiet. In this novella, an Earl investigating possible treason deploys all his wiles at a house party in the hope of uncovering valuable evidence. What he is surprised to uncover is one innocent young miss determined to find a man who can teach her carnal pleasure (and his lordship knows exactly who can fulfill that role).

Following in today’s erotic historical romance bargains trend is Samantha Kane‘s Regency menage novel, The Courage to Love, the first of her Brothers in Arms series which is also available for free on Amazon as of right now. A dress shop owner is still recovering from a vicious rape but feels safe when surrounded by two men who served with her late husband on the Peninsula – two men she’s been in love with for quite some time. Shocked they feel the same toward her (and have a relationship with one another), her past nevertheless intrudes on them moving forward.

The holidays always come with bargains if you know where to look, and the A Naughty Little Christmas (Cowboys, Cops and Kilts) Bundle, featuring a smorgasbord of authors across genres (cowboy, romantic suspense, small town contemporary, paranormal, Highlander, etc.) is the ultimate bargain at $.99 for eight novellas. With authors like Paige Tyler, Ann Bruce and Dawn Halliday in this grouping, I’ve already got it sitting in my Kindle app to warm my holiday nights!

If you haven’t had a chance to run and buy The Theory of Attraction by erotic romance author Delphine Dryden, go run to Amazon and grab it while it’s free. With a slightly autistic scientist who happens to be a serious Dom (and definitely high on the hottie) scale and the next door neighbor who decides to help him get a promotion by being his girlfriend who can read departmental situations, this sexy nerd romance is simultaneously erotic and sweet. It would be worth paying full price for, but free? You don’t need a genius IQ to figure out that’s a bargain.

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Deals You Might Have Missed, Week Ending September 15th

15 Sep

Upcoming Books

Historical romance writer Anna Randol is coming out with the final book in her Sinners Trio, Sins of a Wicked Princess, on October 29th, and the print copy is currently discounted to only $4.79, so fans might want to leap on this while it stands. I love her writing (her Turkish set A Secret in Her Kiss blew my mind with its unique voice and setting) and this book, featuring a jaded spy ready to get out of the game and the feisty princess who may or may not be behind his final assignment looks like a terrific end to a great series.

Steampunk maven Bec McMaster has a new book coming out October 1st, My Lady Quicksilver, and Amazon has also been clever enough to lower the cost of this paperback to $4.79 for the pre-order period. This book, the third in her London Steampunk series, combines the elements that have made these books so popular – hot romance, a unique view of paranormal creatures, and an alternate history of the city that’s completely intriguing. I really need to review this series – you find yourself falling for these characters hard.

Contests and Giveaways

Erotic romance author Cari Quinn can always be counted on to provide a sensual and emotional story. Her Entangled novel, No Flowers Required, came out at the end of August to great reviews and if you haven’t had a chance to buy it yet, you may want to consider entering the Goodreads giveaway for a copy. This novel about a down on her luck florist and the sexy man whose family is about to foreclose on her shop is a page-turner, so enter for your chance to win prior to the September 21st deadline. Her even hotter book, Unveil Me, published by Ellora’s Cave and containing two novellas both set in a sex club, is also up for grabs, and you just might win it if you enter by September 16th.

Erotic romance writers Vivian Arend, Lauren Dane, Alyssa Day, HelenKay Dimon, Kit Rocha and Moira Rogers have banded together to for The Hot Spot Facebook page, a communal page definitely worth watching. To celebrate it’s grand opening, they are having a variety of giveaways, so check out that part of the page for more details.

Don’t you remember my telling you what a phenomenal author Laura Kaye is? Her latest, Hard As It Gets (OMG, the cover!), begins her Hard Ink series as of November 26th, but while you’re glancing at the clock, enter to win a copy before September 17th on the Goodreads giveaway. This story, featuring a former military man turned tattoo parlor owner and the daughter of his military commander who has always been off limits, is bound to have her usual blend of heat, great characters, and an emotional story that wins your heart.

For romance authors and bloggers, please note that the excellent blog Romance in Color is having a giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card and free advertising space and teaser promotion if you add their badge to your website. You’ll notice I’ve already done that on my sidebar, not only because this is a great giveaway, but because this blog is dedicated to heightening awareness of diversity in romance, and that’s a damn important issue. Anyone whose agreed with my lamenting about the dearth of good Native American romance or who stood up and cheered when Meljean Brook gave her acceptance speech for Riveted, you want to be reading what this talented group of readers is putting out. Even if you are uninterested in the contest, do yourself a favor and add this blog to your RSS feed or sign up for their newsletter.

Falling under the “fabulous contest” category, the announcement from Laura Kaye that several romance authors were banding together to offer an incredible prize to the writer who produces a 1500 word fan fiction piece based on one of their novels. What do you get? A free trip to the 2014 RT Convention in New Orleans! This includes registration, hotel stay and a plane ticket (between a $2000 and $3000 value) and you can use as your inspiration the work of Laura Kaye, Sophie Jordan, Cora Cormack or Jennifer Armentrout, whose website has all the details of the contest. Even the runner up prizes of signed books are wonderful, so try your hand at writing using these authors wonderful books as a base.

Fun Stuff

A lot of romance readers enjoy a fairy tale wedding, but what about if you combined your love of romance novels and weddings into…a dress? Yep, Jennifer Pritchard Bridal Design’s blog is featuring a stunning wedding dress made entirely of pages from romance novels. I wonder which ones they chose to cannibalize? Does it crackle when you walk down the aisle in it? Needless to say, there won’t be candles at this wedding.

Do you ever wonder about the pressures on romance writers to produce multiple books a year? The ever-wonderful Popular Romance project has a video clip starring editor (and professor) Sarah Frantz discussing how authors used to put out a book every couple of years, but now they are considered slackers if they do less than two annually (and that’s not counting short stories and novellas). It’s worth watching, especially the next time you’re busy thinking “where is the next one?” for your favorite series.

Yes, aspiring romance authors, it’s that time of year again – Harlequin’s “So You Think You Can Write” mini-online conference and all-around inspiration is about to begin with the friendly editors at this publishing powerhouse coming online to coach you with each aspect of what it takes to be a Harlequin writer. Considering the amazing number of top-selling writers who got their start at Harlequin (many of whom continue to publish the occasional book with them), it’s bound to be educational and (knowing Harlequin) fun.

For your dose of science this week, the Kinsey Confidential blog is going over the literature surrounding “Why Women Orgasm: Do We Really Know?” Lots of ideas, but no definitive answers. Sadly, most men are in the same place as the scientists.

September is an amazing month for readers, particularly those within commuting distance of Maryland! This coming weekend, September 19th to the 21st, Lora Leigh and 18 other fantastic authors are having a Reader’s Appreciation Weekend (RAW) in Hagerstown, Maryland. For only $100, you can hang out with your favorite authors and pick their brains for the scoop on your favorite characters and series, particularly about their new books coming out this fall. With such fabulous authors as Dana Marie Bell, Stephanie Julian, Darynda Jones (!), Mari Carr, Sylvia Day, and Bianca D’Arc, you are guaranteed a great time.

In a related note, perhaps this time more for authors than even readers, Laura Kaye mentioned the fantastic sessions to be offered at the Baltimore Book Festival, at the Maryland Romance Writers’ stage. Taking place from September 27th to the 29th, this incredible festival (which is so much more than just romance, so bring the family) is located in the Mt. Vernon area of Baltimore where they actually shut down streets and let books take over for the weekend. Take a look at the official website for directions and more information.

Great Deals

Lisa Renee Jones’ first book in her Tall, Dark and Deadly series, Hot Secrets, is marked down to only $.99 on Amazon. Capitalizing on the always dependable romance trope of three brothers who start their own security business, this first book in the series stars Royce Walker going after the prim, beautiful ADA who always fascinated him. That she’s as hot underneath as he’s guessed is a bonus – look out villains who want to hurt her, you’ve met your match!

I know you are still sneaking looking at the People or Us magazine with all the royal baby pictures, but please know you can feed your addiction by taking advantage of Harlequin’s awesome “Royal Baby” three pack of Harlequin Desires books based around a happy royal addition. Packing 463 pages from such writing powerhouses as Caitlin Crews, Maisey Yates, and Sharon Kendrick, this $.99 bargain is a must have.

Winning the “Holy Cow Who Is Their Cover Designer!” award is Harlequin Blaze‘s three pack Uniformly Hot! Volume 1 which has three books in the Uniformly Hot! series (and this series is AWESOME) by Rhonda Nelson, Tawny Weber and Karen Foley, all writers who can be depended on for great characters and serious bedroom heat, particularly when former military heroes are involved. Only $.99 for 502 pages of rippling abs, ladies. The packaging does not lie!

You know what’s better than $.99? Free! Ellora’s Cave erotic historical Western, Five Card Stud (book 1 in the Eclipse Heat series) by Gem Sivad is now available for free for people who like a combination of corsets and guns with their sexy times. A bounty hunter and a lady gambler out for revenge provide serious heat in the wild West in this full-length novel, so take a look – it costs you nothing.

Fans of BDSM literature should pick up Love Letters 1: Obeying Desire at Amazon since that’s also available for free right now. I enjoyed the third volume of this short stories series, each of which is based on different trope or subgenre, and many of the same authors write in this volume as well.

For historical romance readers who want a little free present this week, Delilah Marvelle has a tale of a titled and independent forty year old widow who definitely doesn’t want a man in her life. Lady Cecilia Stone finds her opinion changing when she receives the help of a shadowy Russian gentlemen who offers to help her travel to Russia and stop her eldest son from marrying an actress. Pick up Romancing Lady Stone for free to find out how this intriguing tale plays out!

Whew! There’s a lot going on this week. Happy reading, everyone! :-)

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of July 28th

28 Jul

Upcoming Books

The latest book in the steampunk series The Ether Chronicles by Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso is due out on August 6th and Skies of Gold is already getting great reviews from ARC readers. At only $1.99 for over 350 pages, steampunk readers need to be asking themselves why they haven’t pre-ordered this one already.

Jaci Burton, the author of the wonderful Play-by-Play series, now has the next book on her roster available for pre-order. Hope Flames will be the first book in her new Hope series, with a pairing between a damaged veterinarian and a K-9 cop. With a release date of September 3rd, I’ve already got this one both pre-ordered and in my calendar. Love the German Shepherd on the cover!

lethal pursuit copyKaylea Cross now has the third book in her wonderful Bagram Special Ops series available for pre-order and Lethal Pursuit looks to be another hot pairing from this military suspense maven. Coming out on September 16th, Cross is not only talented but affordable, so I’ve already ordered my copy, considering it $3.03 well spent.

 

Fun Stuff

Quirk Books has put together a pretend collection of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Flavors based on popular books, and it’s hilarious. You’ll find yourself wishing you could settle down with the latest release and a pint of “Berry Potter and the Container of Secrets.”

Amanda at Vampire Book Club has put together a short list of her favorite urban fantasy and paranormal beach reads that’s worth checking out if you’re wondering what goes with sunblock and your big towel this summer.

Fabulous writer Cynthia Eden is knuckling down to write a holiday themed novella and is polling her readers as to whether they want a romantic suspense story or a paranormal one. Vote on her Facebook fan page with your preference!

Romance novels are feminist works. Not sure? Listen to the podcast at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books where Sarah Wendell interviews two sociologists, Dr. Joanna Gregson and Dr. Jen Lois embarking on a research project focusing on the interactions of romance readers and writers.

One of the best parts about reading category romance is how totally ludicrous it often is. A good writer will help you suspend that disbelief, at least enough for you to immerse yourself in the the dirty goodness that is category, but occasionally you stumble across a “whaa???” novel. For a laugh out loud parsing of the missable Enemies at the Altar, take a gander at guest blogger and Ph.D. candidate Jodi from Book Thingo’s hilarious analysis. Make sure you pee first.

Did you know that Amazon sells refurbished Kindles of all types? I shouldn’t be surprised (I got my Macbook through Apple’s refurbished site and it’s wonderful and a great deal), but this is a great way for someone to afford that Paperwhite or Fire they’ve been eyeing for a while.

Great Deals

Writers and publishers are not giving up on these amazing bundles of books for a pittance (so you know they are helping sales). Loving the CEO is a great collection of five novels by different authors, all with the theme of breaking down the barriers of a business tycoon and finding love. Over 1000 pages for only $.99 and you get a romance trope in several flavors. Yum.

The always brilliant Tessa Bailey is offering the third book in her Line of Duty series, Officer Off Limits, for only $.99! You do not need to have read the other books to appreciate every word of this one, so trot over and buy this author who I cannot get enough of.

Harlequin is offering a motherload of great deals on a ton of their ebooks with participating retailers, with authors like Maureen Child, Cindy Spencer Pape, and Michelle Willingham having free or heavily discounted titles available. All of their various lines are represented, so go to their Facebook page to drool over the titles and see if there’s anything there that floats your boat. I made a note of the ones I wanted and then hustled over to Amazon to “buy” them at zero dollars. I love books like that!

Another great romance trope is the “bodyguard” idea (even that sounds sexy) and there’s now a bundle of five books covering this corner of romantic suspense. Once again, $.99 is a great deal even if you just end up enjoying one or two of them, so if you are like me and enjoy the idea of an oh-so-hot guy whose job is to…um…guard your body, you might want to check this out.

If you read this blog, you are more than aware of my love for sports books, so an ebook that contains the first book in three different trilogies is a terrific way for me to sample some new authors of the genre. V. K. Sykes, Juliana Stone and Jennifer Lyons offer both male and female (!) sports protagonists in their ebook bundle Play Hard to fulfill my need for a little healthy competition. And yes, it’s only $.99 for 550 pages.

Have a super week reading!

Technology Review: How ifttt Makes a Writer’s Life Easier

2 May

Since I teach technology all the time in my work as a librarian, I’m always thinking in the back of my mind how authors can use technology to make their lives easier. Especially after attending the last meeting of my fabulous Romance Writers of America chapter (shout out to fellow Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers!), it was especially interesting to hear the published authors in that group discuss how much of the marketing of their book falls on their shoulders. Particularly when you already have a full-time job, it’s hard to imagine putting in hours and hours being an active presence on multiple social networks, even though you know you have to be visible.

When I stumbled on a New York Times article about how to use a new program called ifttt to automate certain aspects of your life, I was intrigued and a little excited. Rhyming with “lift”, ifttt stands for “If This, Then That” and basically links your various social and online accounts using recipes to create tasks that it accomplishes for you.  With most of the major networks and platforms on there (I was happy to see Evernote, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google Reader, Dropbox, the Weather Channel, Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, your cell phone – but where is Goodreads, people? Pinterest?), and the ability to link to your phone via text or voicemail, you have a powerful tool at your fingertips.

Look at all the accounts you can link together with ifttt!

As described in their blog post discussing the origins of the idea of ifttt, the whole concept revolves around triggers and actions. While you can create your own, there are hundreds if not thousands of preconfigured “recipes” that can read a specific trigger and initiate an action for you.

Let me give you an example.  I try and keep Twitter on in the background during my day, but I’m working at my day job, so watching and responding to my Tori MacAllister account isn’t usually feasible. If I’m retweeted or add a follower, Twitter etiquette would have me thank that person for either action, preferably as soon as possible.  Enter ifttt.

Sample recipe for responding automatically to a retweet with a thank you

All I have to do is activate my Twitter account in my ifttt account and then customize the message to say whatever I want. Nice, yes? When I check my tweets, I can see the automatic ones generated by this recipe and I get a feeling of smug satisfaction.  I’m working even when I’m not working! And my high school etiquette teacher would be proud (yes, I had one of those).

For me, another detail I wanted taken care of was having my WordPress posts automatically placed on my Facebook page.  Wordpress has a social networking feature that automatically does this (under the “Sharing” menu) and while I’m often happy to use that with my Twitter account, I don’t like the format it comes out with for Facebook.  Ifttt can just suck my new WordPress posts and put them up on Facebook in the format I prefer, with no fuss or muss from me. Since I usually write my blog posts late at night after work, any extra couple of minutes I can gain are always much appreciated.  Take a look at how I can customize the post:

Sample of the action window for customization

Do you notice the “Addins” drop down menu? All that crazy punctuation and code isn’t anything I have to worry about – I just need to chose the placement and what I want from the Addins menu (you can see I wanted the default image for the post, the post title and of course, the url for it), hone the text (which is what is outside of the punctuation, in this case “new entry on the blog”) and then add it to my tasks. Done!

There are a ton of useful tasks that you can use to help yourself, managing your Facebook, Twitter and other social networking accounts among them. A great task that would help writers would be the voicemail to email feature. I don’t know if you have ever had (like I have) a great idea for a character or plot and you have nothing to write it down with.  You know that as soon as people begin hocking you to do things, you’re going to forget your brainwave, so you get cranky and irritable (okay, now I’m thinking this could just be me). Don’t fear, there is a ifttt recipe that links your cell phone and email!

I can leave ifttt a voicemail (when you link your phone number, they call to leave you a confirmation number to make the task effective – just add the caller to your contacts and you have the number you need), and it sends you a transcription of your voicemail!  How is that for a help? I’m assuming they use a similar kind of software to Dragon Dictation to use the transcription and even includes a link to the mp3 file of the actual recording.

In terms of other recipes that you might helpful (or just cool), how about sending your favorite tweets to your Evernote account for archiving (Twitter deletes the old ones regularly)? Or having ifttt text you if it’s going to rain that day? This fabulous tool could just make your writing life a little easier.

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